Tuesday, November 1, 2011
We spent this past weekend in Muncie, Indiana, attending Magna cum Murder, a mystery conference sponsored by Ball State University. This was its seventeenth annual, and I’ve been to most of them.
We generally drive, and this year was no exception. We took a friend along. Judy was good company and an excellent driver. We left around nine Thursday morning, took I-94 East to I-39 South down the middle of Illinois to I-74 East and stopped for the night a few miles short of Indiana.
Things didn’t get started on Friday until around 3. We signed in and renewed acquaintances, introducing Judy around. Ellen went off to a panel, but I got distracted by a vendor: Mattie Coleman and her wonderful hats! She had some outfits as well, but I didn't see one I had to have. There were a lot of gorgeous hats and I couldn’t decide which one to focus on. A purple one was beautiful, but way too big. There was a magnificent black one, but I have several black hats. On the other hand, there was a red one with an upright brim shaped like a fan. And a very elaborate lavender straw. And a shimmery golden straw mod-style cap with a fancy bow. Which one? Oh, this was going to be difficult! At four, I went to a discussion led by Jeanne Dams – who wears a mean hat herself – on the book every attendee was supposed to read, Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie. It was lively and some really interesting insights were revealed. Was the murder victim a bitch or sadly lacking in insight? Did Christie miss an important clue?
Saturday morning I went to a panel called “The Wave of the Future,” on why Ebooks shouldn’t be a thing to fear. It was aimed at authors considering Ebook publishing and very informative. At the noon luncheon, guest of honor Parnell Hall was interviewed. On full display was his wacky sense of humor. After lunch I attended a panel “You Drive A Car, I Ride a Horse,” on western novels and their curious similarity to mysteries. At four I had my first book signing, in anticipation of my first panel, which had an unusual title: “You Know What’s Cool? A Billion Dollars.” It was on using the Internet to entertain and increase a fanbase. A lot of good suggestions were offered, while I offered a complaint that following all the suggestions would take a lot of time away from my writing – and also call for a level of computer sophistication I didn’t have and wasn’t sure I wanted to acquire. We went back to our hotel to change into dress-up for the banquet. It was a delicious pork loin meal, and it was followed by a fantastic talk by archaelogist Bob Brier on the possible murder of King Tut. He made a very convincing case, backed by slides, using the history of the period - he was succeeded by his vizier who married his frightened, unwilling widow - as well as physical evidence.
Sunday at nine was a panel “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” a look into how spirituality relates to mysteries. The panelists were intelligent, educated and thoughtful. At ten-thirty I was on my second panel: “It’s Not a Vacation, It’s Research,” on locales, how they are chosen and the fun of finding an interesting, tax-deductible setting. It was followed by another signing, then another luncheon, then fond and sad farewells and starting for home. We didn't break the trip home, but made it on one big gallop, arriving some time after midnight. I didn't get up for water aerobics Monday morning.
Which hat? I bought all three!