A year of small triumphs and some disappointments. But we soldier on, looking to the future and wondering--always wondering--what it will all mean.
I started the new year Skyping to the Hugh Embry Library in Florida and chatted with fans and fans-to-be! I do love Skyping, so let me know, libraries and book clubs, if you'd like to set up a chat.
Then I left for New York City for my last national board meeting of Mystery Writers of America as the Southern California chapter's president. 2014 was my second year as president and I tried to cram more good things into that last year of my term. I hope I succeeded in some small way.
And then we do what we always do come January; head on over to Quartzsite Arizona for feasting, camping, and shopping for junk and jewelry at the world's biggest swapmeet, what I like to call Crapopolis.
Then at the end of January, my fourth Skyler Foxe book, Foxe Fire, written under the pen name Haley Walsh for my LGBT mystery series, released (you can click on the book cover to order, if you are interested).
And the next day I was off to Cerritos to their fabulous library for Murder on the Menu, an awesome luncheon with oodles of authors. With Padmini Prabhakar on my left, organizer extraordinaire, and Janet Dawson, president of the Cerritos Friends of the Library.
The authors (in the back)! And the folks who put it all together (in the foreground).
In February, I visited another library, Thousand Oaks (this will become a theme!) and then I showed up on a few panels at the Genre LA writers conference in North Hollywood.
We had a big project at home designed to conserve water in our droughty California. We pulled out our front lawn--a real water guzzler--and installed grapevines, much more drought tolerant and great for my home-brewing, wine-making husband. It's not much now, but in a few years, we will look like Chateau Westerson.
Below is ONE of the THREE refrigerators in our garage devoted to beer and wine-making. And this particular picture makes my husband, Craig, a hero to men everywhere.
And some people say I'm prickly.
Signing at a booth with bestselling author Tim Hallinan.
Signing with Best selling author Anne Perry.
Always talking--on a panel with Deborah Crombie and Jenn McKinley.
And our MWA booth, below.
Then the very next weekend it was off to Monterey for Left Coast Crime, where I would be on more panels with more schmoozing. Starting to sense a pattern here.
I read for Noir at the Bar...
Made everyone wear princess hats at my table at the banquet, even the men!... and had a good time doing my job. It's a nice job. On the way back home, driving through the Central Valley where all the food is grown I brought back these amazing strawberries. Look at them! Got a whole giant box of them and not one of them was bad.
Then it was the Ladies of Intrique Luncheon in Huntington Beach, and we were all treated to a bit of an earthquake. But it didn't effect the proceedings. Ah, California! (Oh dear. I seem to be wearing that outfit a lot.)
Some of my favorie authors in this bunch. From left, Patricia Wynn, Naomi Hirahara, Jan Burke, and Patricia Smiley.
I began April at another library in Rancho Bernardo and then did a photoshoot for my newest Crispin Guest book, the prequel, CUP OF BLOOD.
Then it was time for the LA Times Festival of Books on the USC campus:
I Skype-chatted with the folks at the Bettendorf Library in Iowa in May. Had a few interviews for the newspaper, and our local NPR station in June. I got to read for another Noir at the Bar in beautiful La Jolla along southern California's coast (below).
At the end of June it was a trip to Las Vegas Nevada to the American Library Association conference where I got to sign and give away books at the Sisters in Crime booth! Met up with characters like Laurie Stevens and Dave Putnam (below). So many authors!
And in July I released my first self-published book, the Crispin Guest prequel, CUP OF BLOOD!
We launched, as usual, at our favorite indie bookstore, Vroman's in Pasadena:
Crispin showed up for a photo op.
Medieval food and spirits. (Sir Up of Seven)
A good crowd for the summer, when we usually launch in the fall.
Also in July I talked to the Southwest Manuscripters at the Palos Verdes Library. And in August I was nabbed for jury duty. Hang 'em! Threw good money after bad paying for a blog tour--never again! Then took a vacation in September on the Central Coast in Cambria, one of our favorte spots. Lots of reading, tanning, shopping, and wine tasting in Paso Robles. Look, I'm so windswept!
By October I was visiting the San Bernardino Library and then sold books and watched jousting at the Tournament of the Phoenix in Poway.
I chatted up the ladies at the American Association of University Women at their luncheon in Seal Beach along with fellow speaker Julie Rivett, granddaughter of one of my author idols, Dashiell Hammett. That puts me one degree of separation from him!
I also released my first historical novel! Well, not the first historical novel I ever wrote, certainly, but my first published one.
In November, my fifth Skyler Foxe Mystery, DESERT FOXE released from MLR Press.
Then it was off to Bouchercon, the big mystery fan convention.
There were a few problems, like not putting my picture in the program book. They had these big graphic thumbprints as placeholders instead, but I fixed mine.
At an author speed-dating breakfast with the short story queen Barb Hoffman.
With reviewer extraordinaire Ali Karim. (There's that damned outfit again!)
And then this picture of our panel that I stole from Mara Purl. Mara is sitting beside me. On the other side is Brad Parks, then Darrell James and Kim Hammond our moderator. We had them rolling in the aisles with laughter.
Then a stint at the Sun City Library before we headed off for our Thanksgiving camping trip.
Not so good in 2014 were the continued setbacks. My paranormal is still looking for a home. So is my medieval caper series. And so is Crispin, for that matter. We think he has a home for the next two books at least but there are delays. I won't be going to Malice as I had planned, or to the Tuson Festival of books in 2015. The budget is still tight. Let's hope for better things, some forward momentum in 2015, shall we?
What am I talking about? Of course there are good things ahead in 2015. My short story will appear in the upcoming serial anthology DAY OF THE DESTROYERS, edited by Gary Phillips. I'll be delving into the vault and releasing another historical novel set in Tudor England about the dissolution of the monasteries called ROSES IN THE TEMPEST. And who knows what else will be written next year?
But while I've got you here, allow me to thank all the fans and readers who have made it a very GOOD year. You came through for me. You reviewed the books on Amazon and Goodreads, you commented on guest blogs where I appeared, you showed up to my events! That is all very much appreciated. Keep up the good work. And I hope to keep up my end of the bargain and keep bringing you fun stuff to read. Thank you! And have a very happy New Year!