Since 2011, one of my favorite bookstores and author events has been the Mechanicsburg (PA) Mystery Bookshop’s Murder As You Like It. Deb Beamer has one of the most fantastic and “author-supporting” indie bookshops in the northeast. Murder As You Like It is a one-day event featuring a team of authors meeting with fans, speaking on panels, speed-dating, and generally mingling for the day. And of course, selling books.
The day brought in 16 excellent authors (well, 15 of them and me) and about 75 or so fans. There were panels such as Why Research Is Important; Cops, Crimes, and Blurred Lines; and my fave (because I was on it) Country vs. City Crimes. But my absolute favorite event was the Author Roundtables—speed dating for writers where we spent five minutes meeting with a table of fans (there were a couple dozen tables) and telling them about ourselves and our books. We answered questions, took a breath, and moved to the next table. Fab time. The roundtables teed up fan questions during the panels and energized us authors and the fans into some great discussions.
The real fun of the roundtables was my very first table with Dottie and Carl—fans from nearly twelve years ago! When I sat down, I knew I’d met them, but after years of signings, work travels, and getting old in the brain, I couldn’t recall where. Dottie quickly reminded me we’d met at an event—very possibly my first Murder As You Like It—and they’d been fans ever since. Why, you might ask? My best-selling novels (none are yet)? My dashing good looks and physique (ah, not even close)? My witty charm? (Hah!) No, it was my explanation those twelve years ago as to why I write thrillers and murder mysteries. Dottie explained that I was speaking at the event and said, “I love writing murder mysteries because I get to bring in characters from my real past . . . and kill them. Like if you’re divorced, like I am, you get to kill your enemies over and over. And you know what? It’s legal.” Actually, Dottie said I claimed to have said “kill my ex-wife over and over” but truly, I’d never say such a thing. Not me! Still, Dottie and Carl have been fans ever since and were thrilled to see me at Murder As You Like It. They bought my last two books, had me sign away, and promised to continue following me on my future novels. And, most importantly, they continue to tell friends and family about my work. Here’s a surprise back at you, Dottie & Carl—you made my day! I’m a fan of yours, too. Thank you so very much for the great memories, the support, and for passing my name along. It’s why I continue to fight the fight and write books. You’re the best!
Another of my fave things about Murder As You Like It, is catching up with dear friends—Deb and her staff included—like Dick Belsky (R.G. Belsky), Annette Dashofy, John DeDakis, Con Lehane, and Dennis Royer. Oh, and meeting new author-pals is great, too—as in all the rest of the team that was there—Bill Peschel (who I actually met from previous Murder As You Like It events), Nicole Asselin, Matty Dalrymple, Peter Hayes, Sarah Ickes, Liz Milliron, Sandy Nork (a great panel moderator), Lissa Redmond, Karen Shughart, and Greg Stone. A more delightful and engaging crew couldn’t be found! If you’re not reading and following these folks, you should be. Great people. Great authors. Great personalities. Hunt them down and buy their books! But remember, stalking is illegal. Even if you buy their books. (Now, if you want to stalk me, I won’t report you if you buy at least ten.)
Oh, and my new publicist also attended—the incomparable Gina Hott. Gina drove thousands of miles to see me (well, maybe 40 miles) . . . and not to see me. But I can think that if I like, it’s my blog. But I know the truth. She was there spying on me so she could crack her whip and drive me to blog, post, and write some more. What a warrior she is! Oh, woe is me. The life of an author!
Now, a special word here. So much I could say about the event and the authors, but not enough page space. Still, I have to mention my long-time pal, Dick Belsky. Dick writes the award-winning Claire Carlson mystery series and thrillers under the pen name, Dana Perry. Dick’s a former journalist and a fab writer. But most importantly—especially to me and many authors and fans—he’s a down-to-earth great guy who supports the author community. We met more than ten years ago at some event and became fast friends. We did many book events together, and even were the keynotes at an earlier Murder As You Like It Deb Beamer had several years ago. That year, Dick and I were “Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, etc.” delivering an impromptu back-and-forth discussion of each other’s works, lives, and loves. We told jokes about our lives, bantered about writing, and generally raised hell with the audience who loved it. It was a huge success and Deb has already asked us to repeat the performance—with new material, of course—in the coming year. As an author and world traveler, you meet thousands of people. Perhaps like me, I don’t connect with someone all that often who forms a lasting, bonding friendship. Dick is one of the exceptions and a founding member of “The Tribe” at Killer Nashville (See my next blog post!). He’s funny. Genuine. Gifted. And above all, full of stories and life. Like all of us, he’s not without his own struggles these past years, but he continues to rise above it all. He has also risen above many of the authors around him—me included. So, other authors—find him at your next event and say hello. Listen to his stories and life lessons. Laugh. Enjoy his persona—you’ll be better for it. Fans—buy his books and read great stories. Follow him on social media and pass his name along to others. He deserves it.
Okay, enough about me!
A last recommendation. Support your bookstores, even if the prices are more than Amazon. A bookstore is a gathering of amazing stories and even more amazing people. Go to book events and shake hands with those who are already stars and those of us still reaching for them. Deb and the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop are some of the reasons many of us authors exist and continue to fight the fight to become bigger sellers. They are the reasons some of us won’t quit. Ever. So help out—support your bookstores and authors. Pass along the names of both. Enjoy the stories, the authors, the store owners, and the staff, and above all, lose yourself in the amazing world of books.
Author’s Note: No animals, authors, or books were injured in my creation of this post. I on the other hand was already damaged before I started writing it. There’s a joke in there somewhere. Truly.