Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bouchercon Auction - The Final Frontier

Bouchercon 2008 is over and so are the Bouchercon Auctions. Beth Fedyn, Cindy Tambourine and I spent a great deal of time on the auctions the last few months and it's difficult to remember the last time my office floor was clear of packages labeled "Media Mail". But it was well-worth the effort. We grossed $12,266 combined for the two auctions.

Our top bid of $1500 was for a character name in Laurie R. King's next book. Our top animal character was $900 for a guinea pig in Sandra Parshall's next book. And, oh by the way, she hadn't planned that little bugger in the book, but thinking on her feet, she did what she had to to support the auction. Sandra, you are a trooper.

Many people assisted us and we'd like to thank you sincerely.

We not only received wonderful donations from a generous author community, but many authors went above and beyond to help us during the auctions. Barbara Graham donated a gorgeous quilt table runner and her book: Murder by Serpents: The Mystery Quilt, and then chipped in many hours at the Silent Auction table giving Cindy and me timely breaks. Bill Cameron, Julie Compton and Julie Hyzy also pitched in their time. Sandra Parshall helped us at the Live Auction. I apologize if I forgot anyone. Consider it the result of Bouchercon burnout.

We also had great help from the fan community. At the Live Auction, Al Abramson, Carl Brown, Joe Vigna, Kate Buker, Jodi Bollendorf and Janet Costello pitched in, watching those colorful fan paddles raise the bids higher and higher. We had plenty of fans helping with the Silent Auction and unfortunately I don't have their names, but we thank them immensely. We also want to thank "Mystery Mike" Bursaw for the use of his credit card facility, which saved us a great deal of money.

We have to thank Chris Grabenstein and Donna Andrews for once again providing a brisk, efficient and funny Live Auction. Donna was under the weather and still persevered. Chris making a sentence out of Julia Spencer-Fleming's book titles busted my gut.

We have to thank Judy and Ruth for trusting us with the management of the auctions and for the support they showed us. We asked for a Silent Auction banner and the colorful paddles for the Live Auction and they didn't blink. I think those things helped make the auctions more special.

This was quite a different Bouchercon for Cindy and me. We loved working with Beth Fedyn and thank her for all of her efforts to keep us sane and on target.

We managed to have meals with some great people. At the Guests of Honor dinner Wednesday night at the Enoch Pratt Library we sat with Jon, Ruth, Mark Billingham and Reed Farrell Coleman. Mark was humorous and engaging, and Reed Farrell Coleman is one of the nicest people in crime fiction or anywhere. Spending Saturday evening with Chris Aldrich and Lynn Kaczmarek of Mystery News had us reminiscing about meeting on Compuserve in 1994 and in 1995 attending our first conference together: Eyecon in Milwaukee. Our Thursday dinner with Maddie, DJ, and the rest of the 4MA gang was great and we thank you for your company.

At the Silent Auction tables we were visited by a bunch of people whose names I recognize from Dorothy L and other groups, and we appreciate you taking the time to introduce yourselves.

Thanks everyone. We'll see you in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bouchercon VI - A Last Update

Bouchercon Auction VII

I have time for this last update and then we’ll be ready to auction.

We’ve learned that Peterson Method handwriting is not the greatest skill many of our generous bidders possess. This can be a problem in the Silent Auction, especially when people with similar names are bidding. For instance, this year we have eight Andersons, 15 Johnsons, a bunch of Halls, Hills and Hales…well, you get the idea, I hope.

This year thanks to a great idea from Ruth and Judy, each Bouchercon badge will have a number on it. This is your auction identification number for the Silent Auction. So when you’re bidding, you’ll see a space for your name AND your badge number. Please use this when making a bid on an item. It will make our job a lot easier in identifying the bidders, and it will ensure that you are correctly identified if you are the winning bidder.

This auction stuff is a lot harder than we thought.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bouchercon Auction V

Bouchercon 2008 is just a few weeks away. Beth, Cindy and I have been busy preparing for the Bouchercon auctions. I think there is great reason for you to be excited.

In case you don’t know the names of the two charities receiving this year’s auction proceeds, they are The Enoch Pratt Free Library and Viva House. You can read an excerpt of Laura Lippman’s experiences at Viva House here.

I’ve mentioned a few items available in the auctions in prior posts, and if you don’t mind, I’ll mention a few additional items just to whet your appetites. I hope you’ll find these of interest and really help our charities out when it’s time to bid.

Characters are everywhere in crime fiction, and if you bid well, they just might have your name attached. Could Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell be conferring with you on a case? Could Thomas H. Cook put your name through some heart-wrenching drama? Brutality (not to exclude intelligent and thought-provoking) is a word often used in describing David Corbett’s work and you might just find he has brutalized you by a crime boss or street thug. Donna Andrews (do you want to be a bird?), J.T. Ellison, Marion Moore Hill, Michael Bowen, Robert Ellis, M.J. Rose, Charlaine Harris, Libby Fischer Hellmann, J.A Konrath, Gayle Lynds (imagine it’s pitch-black night and you’re leaping from a moving train), Toni L.P. Kelner, Richard Stevenson, Jane Cleland and Zöe Sharp all can set you down for mystery eternity. Sandra Parshall will give you animal naming rights (have you ever wanted to name a poodle, Spike?). Get your name down and buy a copy of the book for all your relatives. It will make next year’s birthday or holiday shopping so much easier.

But, you might ask, “what else is available in the auction?” Your name is John Smith or Mary Jones and it just doesn’t seem that exciting to have it set out as a character. How about books signed by your favorite authors?

Ken Bruen has provided three impossible-to-find firsts, one of which is The Guards in Russian. Bill Fitzhugh is offering a copy of Slim and Howdy signed, not only by Bill, but by Brooke and Dunn too. Kathy Lynn Emerson, Trey R. Barker, James Scott Bell, James R. Benn, Declan Burke, Reed Farrell Coleman, Robert Fate, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Barbara Graham, Sophie Hannah, Julie Kramer, Lisa Lutz, Rick Mofina, Priscilla Royal, Marcus Sakey, Stanley Trollip, Caroline Todd, and Caroline Wall have provided a great array of books for your bidding pleasure.

There are also some items that you can’t read, but will create memories, laughs, or continuous hours of pleasure. John Harvey has offered to spend some time with a winning bidder over a drink or a coffee. Manuscript critiques are available for those hoping to test their creative fiction skills. You might get a great deal bidding on a special Indy 500 basket, including entry to next year’s Bouchercon in Indianapolis.

When you’re ready to participate in the auction, we’ve added a couple of nice touches that should make your auction experience a little easier. For the silent auction, we have a banner that will ensure you locate the auction table and have time to check out all of the items available for bid. For the live auction, in addition to wonderful auctioneers and great items to bid on, you will have your very own colorful Bidder’s Paddle to make sure that Donna and Chris can see you when you raise the bid one more time. Pretty neat, huh?

We are going to have fun in Baltimore!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bouchercon Auction IV, Eva Cassidy and Vacation

Bouchercon Auction: Beth Fedyn, Cindy Tambourine and I continue to prepare for the Bouchercon auction and wow are we getting cooperation from the author community.

In the last couple days we received some wonderful Bouchercon auction donations. Jeri Westerson contributed a medieval history basket, Rosemary Harris contributed a gardening basket and N. M. Kelby contributed a Florida basket. All are filled with signed books, hats, gardening tools, specialty drinks and more great stuff. I think you’ll be delighted bidding on these outstanding auction items.

Jonathan Santlofer has not only donated a character name, but a character sketch. So if you want your mug set down in mystery fiction for all time, keep your ears open for Jonathan’s item to be open for bids. Wallace Stroby has donated a “Greetings from Asbury Park” basket that will include a Rock and Roll guide to NJ, and oh yes, some great books too. If you like television along with your mysteries, Hank Phillipa Ryan has a great basket for you. Her “Are You Ready for Prime Time” basket includes signed copies of her Charlotte McNally books and items from Law & Order, SVU, CSI and West Wing. Do these folks have imagination or what? Save your money and get ready to bid.

Music: A new Eva Cassidy CD, “Somewhere”, has been released. Eva has been dead for 12 years, but because of a large cache of recorded performances, live and studio, her parents have been able to produce an eighth album of previously unreleased songs. Cassidy’s popularity continues to grow as more and more people are introduced to her original songs and new arrangements of popular songs. If you haven’t heard this artist before, start with “Songbird” the 1998 posthumous release that gained a huge listening audience in the UK and slowly found its ways back to the States.

Vacation: I hadn’t really said much about our vacation stops so here goes.

We hit a couple mystery bookstores: Big Sleep Books in St. Louis, MO and I Love a Mystery in Mission, KS. We bought a few books, because we can’t help it, and because Helen Simpson at Big Sleep and everyone at ILAM were so darned helpful. Our buys included Lie Down with the Devil by Linda Barnes, the latest in the Carlotta Carlyle series, Billy Boyle by James R. Benn, Winter of the Wolf Moon by Steve Hamilton, and Shooting Gallery by Hailey Lind. Of course there were more, but…

The highlights of the trip were the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, KS and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

The Cosmosphere is associated with the Smithsonian Museum and includes an IMAX theater, a planetarium, a flown SR-71 spy plane, a full-scale Space Shuttle and much more. Walking through the museum you can follow the course of the space race as the Soviet Union and USA competed to outdo each other. A special gallery following the German inventions of the V-1 and V-2 rockets is intense and unsettling, but phenomenally well-done. There are great exhibits to interest kids and adults alike.

The National Cowboy Museum is absolutely the most striking museum I have ever visited. Interiors are done with marble and rich woods. Large-than-life marble sculptures welcome visitors down various hallways. Life-size sculptures of John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Bill Linderman, Abraham Lincoln and various rodeo and western performers are scattered throughout the museum. The Art wing includes paintings and sculptures

from the greatest western artists including Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, James Reynolds, Howard Terpning, Bill Owen and Duane Bryers. Western TV and movie performers, wild-west show performers, rodeo performers all receive their due. Exhibits showing examples of western life from cattle drives to military dress and weaponry to a typical western town cover all aspects and people of the western past. This museum is a hidden jewel that many more than the 200,000 annual visitors it receives should visit.

There is a lot to see in the United States and years ago when I set the goal to visit all fifty states, I didn't realize how much fun it would be. Attending Bouchercons is just one way to start building up your list of states and fun places to visit. How many states have you visited and what are some of the fun things you've seen?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bouchercon Auction III, Vacation and McCain's Homes

Well we’re home from a great, relaxing vacation. We traveled through eight states and stayed here and there. Now I find out that John McCain has seven houses. We were probably close to one of them and could have stayed overnight and saved a hotel bill. Oh well.

Vacation was a real blast. Cindy and I traveled to the center of the USA. We flew into Kansas City on Thursday morning and traveled through Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, drove along the edge of Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and then rolled across Missouri back to KC. We put 2100 miles on a Toyota RAV4, which is a nifty mini-SUV, and never tired of the driving. We saw a wide variety of sites, met a lot of nice people, and we ate real well. With one exception (breakfast at Denny’s), we ate no fast food. Can you say “steaks and barbecue”? Well, more about vacation later.

We may have taken vacation from work, but we didn’t take vacation from the Bouchercon Auction. We kept in touch with folks who wanted to donate to the auctions and it paid off.

We’ve received plenty of generous offerings from the mystery community that I think are going to make this a very exciting auction. For instance: how about a signed first edition of Lee Child’s first Jack Reacher novel: KILLING FLOOR? How about a drink or a critique (your choice) with the inimitable guest of honor, Baltimore’s own, Ms. Laura Lippman? I can sense your excitement from here. Okay, one more sample. Our gracious live auction co-host, Chris Grabenstein, has offered a Ceepak Six-Pak – a signed copy of all four Ceepak books, a box of taffy, and well, I’m going to keep the sixth item a surprise, but it just might be relevant to the scene of the crime in Ceepak #4: HELL HOLE. Pretty cool, right?

We've cooked up a couple more ideas to make your auction experience more pleasurable, but I'll hold those until next time.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bouchercon Auction II

Early response has been great for the auction, with a healthy number of character names, theme baskets and signed first editions pledged. Thank you authors for your generosity.

I forgot to mention in the first post, but if anyone would like to volunteer some time monitoring the silent auction table or doing some running during the live auction, let me know.

On the personal side, today's my birthday and I received some great books: SWAN PEAK by James Lee Burke, A WELCOME GRAVE by Michael Koryta, PHANTOM PREY by John Sandford and BLOOD TRAIL by C.J. Box. Yesterday my Hard Case Crime delivery brought BABY MOLL by John Farris, which was originally published by Fawcett in 1958. Friday I received my DEADLY PLEASURES magazine and my Steeler's Digest newspaper, so the reading shall be fine.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bouchercon Auction - Charmed to Death

This year Bouchercon 2008: Charmed to Death is being held in Baltimore, MD from October 8-12. One of the highlights of Bouchercon is the Bouchercon Auction.

The Bouchercon Committee annually chooses a worthy charity in the host city to receive the proceeds from the auctions. This year the Committee has chosen two recipients: The Enoch Pratt Free Library and Viva House. You can read more about these charities on the Bouchercon website:

Chris Grabenstein and Donna Andrews have agreed once again to act as our dynamic duo auctioneers for the live auction.

Curious what works as items for the auction? Items of interest in the past have included signed first editions, character name in an upcoming book, manuscript critiques, a modest-sized basket that incorporates a particular theme from your books, or maybe something that ties in with a series character and signed. Use your imagination. Keep in mind that winning bidders may be carrying the item(s) on an airplane, so consider convenience. The deadline for item submissions is September 24th.

If you're coming to Bouchercon and you have something you'd like to donate, please contact the Auction Committee at We will contact you to confirm the donation and provide you an address to send your item(s).

Thanks in advance for your generosity,

The Bouchercon Auction Committee

Dave Magayna Cindy Tambourine Beth Fedyn

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Staples is Stupid

I encountered one of those situations yesterday that makes you shake your head and wonder, "What in hell is wrong with these people?"

I run a small business and I'm the only one in my office. I occasionally need office supplies, but not often. I had decided to use Staples because they offered a 2% rebate back when I used my AMEX card (they don't anymore) and they had a couple stores convenient to me. I signed up for an online account. I continued to use them, but because I didn't order $50 to qualify for free shipping, I'd stop into a store when I was out running other errands.

So yesterday, I needed a few things and decided to sign on and enter an online order. Staples Online rejected my signon. When I tried to enter my email address to have them reset my password, the site didn't recognize my email either. This is the same address at which I had received two Staples coupons in the past week.

So I called Staples Customer Service. They tell me that because I hadn't ordered anything online "in the past six months", my ID, PW and email were expunged. Yet they had just sent me coupons to use just days earlier. Go figure.

So the lady in Customer Service tells me, it's real simple, all I have to do is sign up again. When I was quiet for a few seconds, she asked me if she could help me with that or anything else. I said, "Yes, can you give me the web address for Office Depot?" When she told me she couldn't help me with that, I just said, Well, goodbye then."

Bad news on the author front. Andrew Britton, who wrote one of my favorite books of 2007, THE ASSASSIN, died last week at the age of 27. Britton died at his home in Durham, NC of a previously undiagnosed heart ailment. Britton was a big talent and was receiving comparisons to Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum. His first book was THE AMERICAN and his third book THE INVISIBLE was just released. All three feature Ryan Kealey, a former Special Forces soldier, now a CIA Operative. The Raleigh Chronicle did a nice article on Britton here:

Enjoy it while you can. None of us gets out of this alive.