I see you, John!

Sleuthfest crowns the Mandingo--Sexiest Man
Florida in February--now, that's nice.
Add to that a mystery conference where hundreds of writers of all skill levels and tiers of fame mingle, and it's heaven.
I've spent the last few days talking writing with writers, and there's not much I like better. I listened to agents and editors explain their thinking on the changes in publishing. I heard writers list their struggles and realized we all have the same ones. And I spoke on writing dilemmas, trying to help others solve the nuts-and-bolts problems of writing: How do you get past a plot-knot? How do you get your word count down to a number agents will accept--or up to that number for that matter.
The private conversations are fun, too. Catching up with one of my earliest friends in the business and meeting several new ones. It's funny, but I often know right away if a person "gets" being a writer. Many are living on a dream that's far from realistic, but some realize writing is more work than dream; more compulsion than inspiration.When I meet that person who hasn't made it yet but has her feet on the ground and is willing to persevere, that's someone I enjoy talking to.
There's a little glamor, too, though not as much as you might think. James Patterson was slated to be yesterday's luncheon speaker, but he didn't show up. Dave Barry is scheduled for this morning, and I'm excited about that.
At conferences, I always volunteer because I like to be busy. This time that meant meeting the agents and editors as I ushered authors into pitch sessions. They seemed like kind and patient people, doing an impossible job: trying to tell by talking to someone if that person is capable of writing well.
There was a cocktail party Saturday night, given by those agents and editors. It was very nicely done, and the Sleuthfest organizers announced the voting results for the sexiest man at Sleuthfest, all done in fun. They all got boas, and the winner got a plastic flamingo. Heady stuff.
And of course there are THOSE moments. When I sat down at a table for lunch the first day someone said, "You're Maggie Pill? When are you going to get that third book out? I can't wait!"


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