2012 has been a big year for me. To say I’m grateful is an understatement. My recently completed novel manuscript, A TWIST OF HATE, finalled for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and was first runner-up in the Claymore competition. Another of my manuscripts, BLOOD UNDER WILL, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold for Mystery.

Close up of the exquisite Al Blanchard Award.

But the highlight of 2012 came a little over a week ago, courtesy of the New England Crime Bake Conference, where I received the Al Blanchard Award for my short story “Out to Sea.” I knew about the award for several months but was sworn to silence. If any of you doubted I could keep a secret, consider yourself proven wrong.

My single Crime Bake regret? No camera handy. I arrived in Salem (the setting for my next project) five days prior to the conference and jumped into research mode. I took hundreds of photos and vids. Suddenly, it was conference time, and I became a photog slacker. *hangs head in shame*

But I digress … where was I? Oh yes, wonderful, marvelous Crime Bake. This year’s theme, “A Deadly Business,” was ideal for legendary thriller writer and guest of honor, Joseph Finder (“surprise, reverse, reveal” – remember that).

Every Crime Bake panel hit home, straddling the line between informative and entertaining. Who said learning can’t be fun? What is really going on in traditional publishing? Are you sure you don’t need an agent? What are the keys to branding yourself? Do you read your draft manuscript on your e-reader? Hint: you should.

And let us not forget the costume banquet: Femme Fatales and Lady Killers. I’m always surprised when I hear writers say they don’t enjoy dressing in costume. Me, pass up an opportunity to climb into another character? Not on your life. The costume banquet was one of the reasons I’ve always been drawn to Crime Bake.

In case you’re curious,  I went as Lucretzia Borgia. Poison anyone??? Okay, so my poison bottle was filled with Tic-Tacs—I had airport security to grapple with.

Best of all were the people. What an extraordinary group of attendees and organizers! Many thanks to Co-chairs Margaret McLeanBarbara Ross and to the Crime Bake Committee and Presenters who made the event happen. Your hard work and efforts created memories I will cherish for a lifetime. You are awesome, and I’m already looking forward to next year!

❦  ❦  ❦  ❦  ❦  ❦  ❦  ❦

My story “Out to Sea” is included in Level Best Books Best New England Crime Stories 2013: BLOOD MOON, a terrific (and eclectic) anthology with crimes to satisfy every taste from sweet to salty.

Available on the Level Best Books websiteAmazon, Kindle, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble, Nook. And don’t forget to add BLOOD MOON to your GoodReads reading list!