The Mourning Coffee

My Favorite Animated Movies

I don’t know about you, but for me, summer is a time of movies…and usually the animated kind. I have a dear friend with whom I have a very special pact: when animated movies come out, we go together to see them.

I confess I’ve developed some favorites over the years (beyond all of the Disney classics). Here they are, in no particular order.


Despicable Me (Illumination) 2010
I simply love this series. What a great “villain” Gru is. And who doesn’t love those little yellow Twinkie-like minions? They are totally adorbs! Did you know that “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is coming in 2020, and a Despicable Me 4 is in the works? Can’t wait!

Inside Out (Pixar) 2015
This is a great take on the conflicted emotions and angst that take place in a burgeoning teenager’s brain. I love the point it makes about how important it is to feel sadness and not just happiness all the time. The most hilarious part of this movie for me personally is at the end, where they go into dog brains and cat brains to see what they’re “thinking.” A total riot.

Toy Story (Pixar) 1995
It’s hard to believe this series has been around for nearly a quarter century. I really admire whomever came up with the concept of toys coming to life when their owner isn’t around. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the whole gang are such great personalities. It’s so sweet that they live just to make Andy happy and will go to any lengths to serve and protect him. And Toy Story 4 just came out recently, with the toys being passed to a new owner and now having new adventures. I hope this series continues.

Shrek (DreamWorks) 2001
Another one where I can’t believe how much time has passed since the first movie. One of the most clever and original animated movies ever! I just adore the whole fairytale world conjured up in this series. I’ve read that there is a Shrek 5 in the works. Yay! Hopefully there will be plenty of Puss in Boots in it. I love that adorable little cat.

Up (Pixar) 2009
Such a sweet and moving story about a widower who ends up on a buddy-adventure with a young boy who is a stowaway aboard his balloon-powered house. The sequence with Carl looking at the scrapbook of his beloved wife always moves me to tears.

The Incredibles (Pixar) 2004
I wish there were fewer than 14 years between installments of this series about a superhero family. And the superhero uniform designer, Edna Mode, is just awesome. More please!

Megamind (DreamWorks) 2010
This movie didn’t do as well as the box-office as it deserved to do. Will Ferrell is wonderful as the totally insecure evil villain who secretly longs for the news reporter (Tina Fey). And who thought up a piranha in a fishbowl as an evil sidekick? It’s not often that you’re rooting for the bad guy in a movie, but this villain is just a good guy painted blue.

Honorable mentions for me would be The Secret Life of Pets, How to Train Your Dragon, and Chicken Run.

For the record, I’ve never seen Frozen. I know, I know, I must be the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen it. I have no idea how I missed that one.

Do you have any favorites in this list? Am I missing any really fabulous animated movies?

Just a reminder

I will be appearing at the one-day Murder As You Like It Conference in Mechanicsburg, PA, on August 10, 2019. There will be various panels and a book signing in an intimate environment. It’s a great way to get to know some new authors while also reconnecting with your favorites. And if you want to talk about your favorite animated movie, I’d love to chat with you!

Murder as You Like it Mystery Conference
Sponsored by the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop
Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (about 10 minutes from the bookstore)
5000 Simpson Ferry Road
Mechanicsburg, PA
My panel: “There’s a Mystery for Everyone”

My Favorite Vacation Spots

Now that we are headlong into the steamy days of summer (at least, here in Maryland it’s pretty hot and humid; I hope it’s breezier where you are!), it got me to thinking about summer vacations. I imagine we all have our favorite places to go to get away from it all, don’t we? Where we can completely forget about the stresses of daily life and just enjoy ourselves?

I have two destinations that I treasure above all others: Williamsburg, Virginia, and London, England. Well, all of England to be honest.

I suppose that the two are related, aren’t they, since the country’s founding was rooted in those leaving England for a wild new country so full of promise?

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Why I love Williamsburg: There is just something so transforming about walking the cobbled streets of Williamsburg. The Colonial Williamsburg organization has done a tremendous job at creating authenticity while, quite frankly, making everything convenient and easy for the modern tourist, too.
You can take a ride in a horse and carriage, listen to the historical personages of the day orate in the open air, dine at a tavern lit only by candlelight, and witness craftspeople ply their trades in the same manner that they were done in the 18th century.

My absolute favorite place to spend time is the Kings’ Arms Barber Shop, more informally known as the wig shop. The first time I walked into this small shop, I was entranced by the horsehair, the powders, the knotting frames, and so much more. Led by master wigmaker, Betty Myers, this group of artisans is unbelievably talented. And friendly. And fun. I am proud to call them my friends. Pictured are wigmakers Regina Blizzard and Debbie Turpin followed by a photo of Terry Lyons holding a shop creation.




Christine gets her head measured for a wig by Terry Lyons.

London, England

Why I love London: I suppose that has an obvious answer—because my books are predominantly set there. Getting to perform on-site research there is great fun. But it’s more than that. There is such an ancient history there, and it is connected to my own American history. There is something awe-inspiring about walking into a thousand-year-old cathedral that leaves you feeling a bit small. London is also home to many great works of art and architecture. I can think of no better way to spend a day than browsing through a museum or nosing my way through a stately home. I’ve had the good fortune to visit the city nine times. I have yet to see everything.

In the words of famed writer Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”

Here I am Tower Bridge. You can see the Tower of London behind me along the Thames riverbank. You can go up into one of the towers of the bridge. I’m afraid of heights so that wasn’t my favorite thing although I did do it.


At the White Tower inside the Tower of London. The Tower of London is an exceedingly popular attraction and there are lots of crowds. But it is a must-see place.



Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London. If you entered the Tower by this gate, you stood a good chance of not ever coming out.

westminister-bridgeA really windy day on Westminster Bridge outside the Houses of Parliament. I couldn’t get my hair under control and simply gave up.

At Hever Castle on a day trip out of London. A truly bucolic setting. Anne Boleyn watched Henry VIII approach her family’s home for the first time from one of the windows on the front of the castle. If she’d known what was to eventually happen, she probably would have run screaming into the countryside.

Speaking of traveling to fun places, this is a reminder that I will be appearing at the one-day Murder as You Like it conference in Mechanicsburg, PA, this August. There will be various panels and a book signing in an intimate environment. It’s a great way to get to know some new authors while also reconnecting with your favorites.

Murder as You Like it Mystery Conference
Sponsored by the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop
Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (about 10 minutes from the book store)
5000 Simpson Ferry Road
Mechanicsburg, PA
My panel: “There’s a Mystery for Everyone”

What about you? What is your favorite vacation spot? Are you headed anywhere this summer that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Murder is More Fun at a Mystery Conference!

I recently had the pleasure of attending Malice Domestic, a mystery fan convention held yearly in Bethesda, Maryland. It was my sixth year in a row to attend Malice, and I love it more each year.
The convention brings together both readers and authors of traditional mystery fiction, and each year they present fan-voted Agatha awards in various categories. (Yes, named for Agatha Christie.)
For readers, it’s a great opportunity to meet their favorite authors in a personal way—at panels, at meals, at special events, and even casually in hallways.

For authors, it is a truly fun way to interact with current fans and potential readers. We also get to meet one another. After all, mystery authors are also fans! There are many authors whom I see just once a year at this particular convention.

Speaking of which, I was happy to spend time this year with Anna Lee Huber, Clara McKenna, and Victoria Thompson at this year’s conference. Pictured left to right: Anna Lee Huber, Clara McKenna, Victoria Thompson, and me.


artless-demiseAnna Lee Huber is my fellow anthologist for THE DEADLY HOURS, coming your way in late 2020. Anna is quite prolific and has several series she works on simultaneously (Lady Darby, Verity Kent, and Gothic Myths). My favorite, though, is her Lady Darby series. To me, Anna really evokes the atmosphere of 1830’s Scotland, and I really love the relationship between Lady Darby and Sebastian Gage. The latest book in this series, AN ARTLESS DEMISE, just released in April, and features a knotty mystery blended with the very real history of body-snatching. Check it out!

Clara McKenna is one of the sweetest authors you would ever want to meet. I managed to snag a copy of her debut novel, MURDER AT MORRINGTON HALL. Totally love this cover! The premise is intriguing: “Set in 1905 in Hampshire, England, McKenna’s delightful debut and series launch introduces feisty American heiress and horse breeder Stella Kendrick and Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst.” I can’t wait to read it. See more about Clara here:

trinity-placeI’ve gotten to know Victoria Thompson primarily because we tend to end up sitting next to each other at book signings! (Thompson, Trent…) By happy coincidence, we both write in the Victorian era, although her Gaslight Mysteries are set in New York City and take place in various well-known city spots of the late 19th century. Her latest entry, MURDER ON TRINITY PLACE, released a few weeks ago. The series has more than 20 books in it, so binge away! Vicky has also written quite a few historical romances. Learn more about Victoria here:

I hope you find a new author to love among these three.

I also encourage you to attend a mystery fan conference if you have never done so. There are several across the country, so perhaps there is one near you! Here are a few of the more well-known ones:
Malice Domestic, held yearly the first weekend in May in Bethesda, Maryland. I’ve been a guest auctioneer for their charity auction the past few years. Loads of fun—maybe I’ll see you there next year?

Bouchercon has a different theme each year and rotates around the country. 2019 in Dallas, 2020 in Sacramento. Plans are underway for 2021 in New Orleans and 2022 in Minneapolis.

Left Coast Crime, occurs in early spring and rotates around the west coast each year. For 2020, the conference will be in San Diego.

I also want to mention to you that I will be appearing at the one-day Murder As You Like It Mystery Conference in Mechanicsburg, PA, this August. There will be various panels and a book signing in an intimate environment. It’s a great way to get to know some new authors while also reconnecting with your favorites.

Murder As You Like It Mystery Conference
Sponsored by the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop
Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (about 10 minutes from the book store)
5000 Simpson Ferry Road, Mechanicsburg, PA
My panel: “There’s a Mystery for Everyone”

Crabs, Clams, and Oysters, Oh My!

I’ve mentioned before that I am currently working on a book that is totally different from my Florence Nightingale and Lady of Ashes series. It is what I would term “Women’s Fiction,” and takes place in my home state of Maryland, a state really rich in history, water activities, and seafood cuisine.

I decided I wanted to bring some of that cuisine to the novel, in the form of a waterman named Kip who owns a family seafood restaurant. And that’s all I’m saying about him for now!

To perform research on the seafood industry in Maryland, I recently went to my local Friends of the Library book sale.

I confess right here that “research” is just an excuse to go buy a bunch of books. Who’s with me on that one?

Among other books, including a cookbook devoted to crabs, I discovered this little 1964 gem—a pamphlet, really—put out by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service. In less than 20 pages, it describes for me how to catch clams, clean them, and prepare them. Where else but at a library used book sale could you find such a thing?

The pamphlet cost 30 cents in 1964. I paid $2 for it and consider it a good investment! I’m glad to have this information to use in the manuscript, as I do work very hard to be as accurate as I can be on any topic I explore in my books because YOU, dear reader, deserve it.
           My treasure find at my local Friends of the Library book sale: “How to Cook Clams.” Not only                 does it describe how to buy and shuck clams, it offers more than two dozen methods of preparing           them.

Molded Clam Salad, anyone?

Molded Clam Salad

2 7-ounce cans minced clams
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup clam liquor and water
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/4 cup chopped pimiento
1 cup cooked peas
salad greens

Drain clams and save liquor. Soften gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Heat liquor; add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add next 7 ingredients. Chill until almost congealed. Fold in egg, pimiento, peas, and clams. Place in 1-quart mold; chill until firm. Unmold on salad greens. Serves 6.

Speaking of seafood, Maryland is home to the U.S. Oyster Festival, which occurs the third weekend of October each year at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds. This year marks the 53rd annual festival. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, it features entertainment, various vendors, and, of course, oyster-based food. You would be amazed at the number of dishes to be made from the humble oyster.

The centerpiece of the festival, though, is the National Oyster Shucking Competition.
It is exactly what it sounds like: men and women in separate competitions to see who can shuck (open) 24 oysters in the least amount of time. The winners of the shucking competition go on to compete in the International Oyster & Seafood Festival in Galway, Ireland. That event is sponsored by Guinness Beer.

However, in my opinion the oddest thing at the Oyster Festival is what is known as an Oyster Shooter.

Served in a shot glass, it contains the following layers:

  • One plump oyster.
  • Topped with a dollop of cocktail sauce.
  • Finished off with a splash of beer (I guess Guinness would be the preferred brand!).

You then dump it in your mouth in a single hit, blending it all together as you chew and swallow.
Now, I don’t know about you, but this seems like three things that do not belong all together. However, oyster shooters are very popular at the festival.

So, tell me, dear readers:

  1. What has been the best find you’ve ever gotten at a book sale?
  2. Have you ever had an oyster shooter? If so, what did you think?

Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below. 

Well, I’m off to writing again. I’ll leave you with a bit of brief commentary on seafood from Felix.

 “Human, I *Iove* clams, crabs and oysters! You got some? Put ’em right here on my plate.” –Felix

Violet Harper’s Newest Short Story

I am pleased to announce that I have another short story being published, this time as part of Malice Domestic’s annual anthology. This year’s volume is entitled “Mystery Most Edible,” and features food-themed stories. Violet is on another adventure in “Mrs. Beeton’s Sausage Stuffing.” Violet Harper fans know exactly what she thinks of the revered Mrs. Beeton, so what could the famed domestic authority Mystery-Most-Ediblehave to do with Violet solving a murder? All will be clear inside the pages of the story!

The 2019 Malice Domestic anthology is available on Amazon and at most leading bookstores.

I’ll be signing this book at the Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, May 3-5, 2019. The complete list of authors and their stories included in this anthology includes:

  • Brown Recluse by Marcia Adair
  • A Slice of Heaven by Laura Brennan
  • A Death in Yelapa by Leslie Budewitz
  • Pie Sisters by Richard Cass
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Murder by Lynne Ewing
  • Pig Lickin’ Good by Debra H Goldstein
  • Quiche Alain by Marni Graff
  • Snowbirding by Kristin Kisska
  • The Blue Ribbon by Cynthia Kuhn
  • Up Day Down Day Deadly Day by Ellen Larson
  • The Extra Ingredient by Joan Long
  • Carne Diem by Sharon Lynn
  • Sticky Fingers by L.D. Masterson
  • Sushi Lessons by Edith Maxwell
  • Killer Chocolate Chips by Ruth McCarty
  • Dining Out by Rosemary McCracken
  • Bad Ju-Ju by M.A. Monnin
  • The Cremains of the Day by Josh Pachter
  • The Missing Ingredient for Murderous Intent by Elizabeth Perona
  • Canning Season by Adele Polomski
  • Diet of Death by Ang Pompano
  • Gutbombs ‘N’ Guinness by Lisa Preston
  • Turn the Sage by Stephen Rogers
  • Death at the Willard Hotel by Verena Rose
  • Deadly In-Flight Dining by Sara Rosett
  • Honor Thy Father by Harriette Sackler
  • Bring It by Terry Shames
  • The Gourmand by Nancy Cole Silverman
  • The Last Word by Shawn Reilly Simmons
  • Bull Dog Gravy by Mark Thielman
  • Morsels of the Gods by Victoria Thompson
  • Mrs. Beeton’s Sausage Stuffing by Christine Trent
  • First Day of the Year by Gabriel Valjan
  • Murder Takes the Cupcake by Kate Willett
  • The Secret Blend by Stacy Woodson

Christine’s Craft Room

I really love writing. Seriously. So much so that it almost feels a hobby because it doesn’t feel like work (shh, don’t tell my agent I said that!). I know how blessed I am to feel that way because so many people are in careers or situations they don’t enjoy.

Contemplating that got me to thinking about my actual hobbies—which of course I don’t have nearly enough time in which to indulge.

Any scrapbookers out there?

I started scrapbooking many years ago, after a woman in my neighborhood dropped off a card inviting me to a crop event at her house. Because I am a pack rat when it comes to memorabilia, I knew I had discovered the perfect hobby for me. I’ve made countless scrapbooks documenting my life. I guess it’s what was done before you could document your life on Facebook!

It’s fun to go back through the books and see pages decorated with pictures and ephemera from trips and events. Goodness, I even have scrapbooks containing Christmas cards and letters that are sent to me.
Right now, I’m working on a multi-volume scrapbook documenting my mother’s life. It really helps me re-connect with her even though she has been gone over 3 years now.

For several years I made my own Christmas cards, and would even give sets of personalized cards to friends and gifts. Alas, I eventually found it to be too much work to keep up with. However, the rubber-stamping supplies work quite well with my scrapbooking supplies!

I tried beading for a while. Literally everything I made fell apart because (1) I get too excited about beads and load pieces up with ridiculously heavy beads and (2) I was never good at judging the right size wire to use for individual projects.

I’ve done a tiny bit of sewing but have never attempted more than a few straight lines. Like with a placemat. A friend helped me shorten some 84” curtains to fit a canopied bed I bought. I helped remove stitches and re-pin the curtains, but she worked the machine. It was probably better that way!
Some crafts work for me, others don’t. I think a lot of the fun is in trying things out.

In the end, though, I think half of my fun is in organizing my supplies. I hereby present to you my craft room! Do you enjoy any fun or unusual crafts? I’d love to hear from you about it.

A look inside my craft room

craft-roomThis is a 4’x8’ counter laid across some stock Lowe’s cabinets—and I can manage to spread across the entire thing while working a project, as you can see here. Plus Marcus needs room to supervise me!

craft-roomHow daunting is this? These cases containing all of my waiting scrapbooking projects!

craft-roomAll of these cases are full of cardstock. Why no, I’m not a hoarder at all! All of these papers are most necessary!

craft-roomEverything not scrapbooking is in here: sewing machines and supplies, beading materials, paints, and so on.

craft-roomHow many scrapbooking and rubber-stamping supplies does a single crafter need? Apparently, quite a bit.

She Shall Not Grow Old

I recently had the great joy of seeing They Shall Not Grow Old in the movie theatre. Have you seen it? Director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) took old World War I footage from the Imperial War Museum and worked some magic with it—slowing down and smoothing out the shaky recordings, then colorizing much of it and adding in realistic sound effects. In the background, bits and pieces of old memoirs were read aloud.

For 90 minutes, the audience was transported to 1914-1918, to experience what trench warfare must have been like for the Allies. It was truly breathtaking—and sobering.

It got me to thinking about Florence Nightingale’s participation in a wartime effort, and the fact that she, too, shall not grow old in our minds. One reason why she won’t, is that we have a single recording of her voice, recorded on a wax cylinder in 1890, 20 years before her death in 1910 and almost 30 years before the end of World War I.

No doubt it would have been a very strange experience for her to have her voice played back for her via the peculiar machine!

In the recording, she offers a blessing to her “dear old comrades” from the Crimea. She loved the British troops, and they adored her right back.

I wonder what she would have thought about Great Britain getting involved in such a massive conflict as World War I—followed by World War II not two decades later! She would have had much to say about the organization of field hospitals, I’m sure.

Here is Florence’s brief voice recording. It’s crackly and imperfect, as you might imagine from the technology of the time. Enjoy, dear reader.

Remembering Caesar and Claudia: Bibliophile Felines who Enjoyed Great Mystery Books

Longtime readers and Facebook followers know that I have great affection for my cats. Unfortunately, this year I have had to put down two of them.

Caesar was 17 when his kidneys began failing him, resulting in his death in March. He was a great cuddler and I miss snuggling up with him on the couch.

Claudia was 15 when she followed Caesar in July. She had also been ailing, but she loved Caesar and it almost seemed like she gave up once he was gone. They rest together now in the new kitty cemetery.

I got to thinking about the joy pets bring into our lives, and being that this is a time of year to express thanks, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos of Caesar and Claudia as a tribute of gratitude to their way-too-short presence in my life.

Favorite Feline Quotables & Photos

“So, yeah, I just read through the synopsis for A GRAVE CELEBRATION, and now I know whodunit. If you want to avoid me telling everyone on Facebook who it is, I want payment. Ten Pit-r-Pats and a tidy pile of Little Friskies chicken flavor party mix will do nicely. And you need to fix that scene where Violet runs into trouble at Port Said. Not enough tension.” ~Caesar

“There, I’ve finally finished up the Declaration of Independence. I bet Jefferson ends up taking credit for it.” ~Claudia

Not dead, just passed out drunk on catmint.

“Everything comes to those who wait… except a cat.” ~Mario Andretti, retired American race car driver

“Please don’t ask us to use cat beds when we can more effectively deposit fur on the back of the couch.” –Caesar and Marcus

Rest in peace, Claudia and Caesar.

Giving Thanks to My Readers


Lisa M. of Hampden, MA
JudyAnn L. of Mansfield, MO
LuAnn S. of Orion, MI

Warm congratulations to each for winning an eBook copy of A Grave Celebration, undertaker Violet Harper’s suspenseful adventure at the Suez Canal’s grand opening ceremonies. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Christmas, everyone! May your stockings be stuffed full of books or e-book gift cards!


Enter for a Chance to Win an eBook of A Grave Celebration

giveawayIt’s November. Time for beautiful fall foliage, those first cups of hot chocolate or pumpkin spice latte, and turning attention to how we will spend Thanksgiving with our loved ones.

As for me, I will confess that I skip the pumpkin spice lattes and go straight to the Christmas-y peppermint mochas. Yum!

However, even as I take those first delicious sips this year, I am thinking about how thankful I am this year for YOU, dear reader. If not for you and your enthusiasm, I wouldn’t have any books on the shelves. You keep me gainfully writing all year long.

To express my gratitude to you for being so special to me, I am offering a Rafflecopter giveaway of three (3) digital copies of A Grave Celebration, Book 6 in the Lady of Ashes Series.



Why am I giving away this book in particular?



November is not only a time of gratitude, but November 17 marks the 149th opening of the Suez Canal—and Violet Harper is on the scene!

Pictured: The opening ceremonies at Port Said, Egypt.



What will you find in A Grave Celebration?

a-grave-celebrationViolet and her husband Sam are attending the long-anticipated opening of Egypt’s new Suez Canal. The canal is the mastermind of the brilliant French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Fireworks, galas, and canal cruises are all part of the planned festivities at ports along the way. Tensions abound across the various European delegations in attendance. The Prussians, Dutch, French, British, Austrians, and Russians all have political grievances against each other, made worse by internal struggles inside Egypt itself.

All of this animosity is forgotten, though, in the midst of clinking glasses and deafening cheers. That is, until a seemingly innocent Egyptian is found stabbed during an evening of fireworks.

To keep the grisly affair out of the international newspapers, de Lesseps and the Egyptian viceroy, Isma’il Pasha, insist that there be no investigation, but Violet is determined to make a quiet inquiry. Who may have wanted the man dead? Or, rather, who didn’t have hatred for the French, whose total mastery of the Suez Canal meant they would be controlling canal shipping for the foreseeable future? Was the man the simple victim of a local criminal? Or is someone conducting a vendetta against the great man de Lesseps himself?

When a delegate’s servant is also found murdered, it becomes obvious that there are evil forces among the revelers, who will stop at nothing to keep Violet from discovering the truth.

Can the intrepid undertaker discover who is wreaking havoc during the canal’s grand opening ceremonies without risking her own watery grave?


What Does Christine Do When She Isn’t Writing?



Photo: The Historical Novel Society Board food tasting at the Gaylord National Harbor. See the hard work this is?

I’ve always believed in volunteering for conferences and other events that I know run on volunteer power. It’s not only a duty in my mind, but something magical seems to happen whenever I do it. I’ve met people who have become dear friends through volunteer work. I met my agent through volunteer work. And I’m excited to see what happens through my work with the Historical Novel Society-North America Conference, scheduled for June 20-22, 2019.

I stumbled into this quite by accident. This biennial conference was held in Portland, Oregon, in June 2017. The conference moves from West Coast to East Coast to Midwest and back again. I jokingly observed to a board member that the conference should come to the Washington D.C. area in 2019, since it would be in my vicinity and I wouldn’t have to fly to the conference.

Next thing I knew, I was the venue chair for the conference!

(Some of you are saying to yourselves, “This is why I don’t volunteer for anything!” Stay with me.)
We went through a rigorous property search and ended up contracting with the Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Convention Center, a really spectacular hotel. It had been a long time since I’d done anything like a hotel negotiation, so it was fun to dabble in it again.

The board met at the Gaylord in June of this year for its pre-planning meeting, where the details of the conference begin to get hammered out. It was fascinating to watch (and participate in) the nitty-gritty of how a big event like this gets put together on pure volunteer power. I’ve already made new friends on the board and can hardly wait to see how the event unfolds next year.

It’s definitely a lot of work, and I’m not sure I could do it long-term, given that Violet is already yelling at me about getting her next book wrapped up, but working on a writers’ conference is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

As an added bonus, there will be a Readers Festival during the conference, on June 22, 2019. The doors will be thrown open for readers to attend their own special sessions to meet their favorite authors, as well as having the opportunity to meet 120+ authors and purchase personalized books. I’ll have further details as we get closer to the date. If you live in the area, I hope you’ll mark the date for this huge event.