Tag: Wink of an Eye (page 1 of 2)

Bouchercon, the Shamus, and a missing car

Margaret maron

Wink of an Eye in the book room, before it sold out.

I’ve been back from Bouchercon a week today. I think I’m recovered now.  It was my first big conference/convention and the one word that describes it best is overwhelming.  I could spend hours detailing my fan-girl moments with all the greats. All the thought-provoking panels and show-stealing panelist with their one-liners. Having lunch with friends and peers you see once a year. Rubbing elbows in the bar with the leaders in the industry.  Discovering the book stores in the book room no longer have Wink of an Eye isn’t because they shipped it back to the publisher, but rather because it sold out. Sold out. A good problem to have in the grand scheme of things.

But I won’t spend hours telling you all that stuff. I’ll get to the nitty gritty of what you want to know. No, Wink didn’t win the Shamus but man, is it ever in good company! I never knew so many well-known, A-list authors have lost that award. To lose in the same category as some of the names who have lost the Shamus is humbling. Made me feel like quite the somebody.

All of that—the Bouchercon experience, the Shamus Award, the stories!—take a backseat to the story you’re waiting to hear. The missing car.

Let me just throw this out there and see if you can piece together the puzzle. Like I had to do…

  • Ten parking decks located within four blocks of one another. Unfortunately, each parking deck can accommodate 4,567,823 cars. Dark blue cars.
  • Not knowing until it’s too late that leaving the parking stub/ticket from the little electronic dispenser thingy in your cup holder is not a good idea. If it had been in my purse, I would have found it. Eventually. Probably sooner than it took me to find my car.
  • All parking decks look basically the same. They’re made of concrete.
  • As writers, we invent details for the reader to visualize. We can’t actually be expected to notice such real details as a parking deck name.
  • The City of Raleigh actually has an entire department called “Parking Ambassadors” who do nothing but help people find their lost cars. The guy who helped me was super friendly. He said the weekends were their busiest time because you know, people get drunk and can’t find their cars. I wasn’t drunk. And it wasn’t the weekend.

Go ahead….piece it together. I’ll give you time. Like oh, maybe three hours to link it all together.

On the Road with Gypsy and the Cheese Guy

I haven’t posted in a few weeks because I’ve been on tour. You know, the book tour. It’s taken me to far-away places like Burlington, Graham, Asheboro, Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. And Mebane. Can’t forget Mebane. I even graced the lobby of the O’Henry Hotel, a swanky place in Greensboro. You may be thinking Burlington as in Burlington, Vermont. Or that Graham is the town in Texas, or Arizona. True – there are towns in those states with those names. Of course there are also towns in North Carolina with those names, too. Guess which towns I visited?

My travels with that Private Eye named Gypsy may not have taken me across the country, or even the state line, but I have learned some valuable lessons so far. Like no matter how important you think you are, someone will always misspell your name.

Not once. Not twice. Not even three times. Four times. Yep, four times my name was misspelled on publicity posters and press releases. The posters even had a picture of the cover of the book with my name spelled correctly, yet the graphic artists apparently didn’t make the connection. The host bookstores were horrified when they learned of the mistakes, but I assured them it was all well and good.  Keeps one humble.10153676_1040074639351505_2093175272172025536_n

At one of the smaller, independent bookstores, I sat in the cafe prior to the reading/signing sipping on a $4.00 cappuccino I paid for chatting with the store owner/manager. When the start time for the event rolled around, the owner shook his head and said “looks like the author is a no show.” Yes, the publicity flier they had posted in the cafe, on the store window, at the register had my picture on it. But they had my name spelled right.

I was second billed at a book fair with 20 other authors. Rather impressed with that one. Until I realized I was the only author present who wrote genre fiction. Me and Gypsy—right smack in the middle of the poets with their chap books, MFA grads with their literary short story collections, and non-fiction authors pushing their photo-heavy “travels with” books. But me and Gypsy sold right many books so maybe there were closet genre readers in the crowd.

And then there was the cheese guy. it was at the same book fair with the literary minds. The host staff waiters and waitresses worked the crowd, offering trays of gourmet delectables. Everything looked so yummy, and carb rich. I noticed one of the other authors asked a waiter if they could perhaps bring something a little less carb heavy. She got a beautiful cheese tray so I followed suit and asked for the same. The waiter was happy to oblige and brought me a gorgeous marble tray with two different chunks of cheese, a variety of crackers, grapes, and warm pecans rolled lightly in confectioners sugar. Oh my! A nibble here, a nibble there…and I was wondering if it would be, like, really tacky to wrap what I hadn’t eaten in a napkin and stuff it in my bag to take home? But I never got the chance.10418877_10203180163046814_8643532505995193040_n

It’s kind of an unwritten “rule” at signings, book fairs, etc…to place your snacks or drinks in a corner of the table, behind a stand-up poster of some sort so your bag of Doritos and Diet Dr. Pepper aren’t on public display. Well, my cheese tray was behind my stand-up poster of Wink of an Eye, clearly out of public view, and totally understood for my consumption only. At least I thought so.

So I’m standing there behind my table chatting up a closeted mystery reader and this guy—a middle aged guy so it wasn’t like he was a kid—comes around behind my table and starts helping himself to my cheese. He even asked me where the knife was since the cheese was in chunks—a clear indication is was for one person and one person only. I was a little shocked so barely squeaked out that they didn’t bring a knife. Wait for it…it gets better. The man whips out his pocket knife and starts carving up my cheese! He helps himself to most of it and picks through the warm, sugar coated pecans for the better ones. He then went on about his merry way.

Sigh. Keep it humble, folks. You never know when they’ll misspell your name or steal your cheese.


Photo by Patti Phillips




Wink of an Eye Makes SIBA Long List!

Woke up to this this morning. Doing a happy dance. Wink made the long list for “Best of” by the SIBA. Check it out then go to your local indie book store’s website and vote.

SIBA Book Awards

On the road

Touring is such hard work…Wink of an Eye has been out a week now and I’ve traveled to Greensboro, High Point, and Burlington doing readings and signings. Don’t tell anyone but all three are within a 30 mile radius of home. Didn’t have to pack an overnight bag or anything! Loving this journey 🙂


Wishing and hoping…

My Greensboro writing group

My Greensboro writing group

Grands Paisley and Ava dropped by to show their support

Grands Paisley and Ava dropped by to show their support

Sold out in Greensboro!

Sold out in Greensboro!

My Asheboro writing group

My Asheboro writing group

Listening to a reading in Greensboro

Listening to a reading in Greensboro

Every author's dream—a line for your book!

Every author’s dream—a line for your book!

In Burlington

In Burlington

Before the sell out...

Before the sell out…

Thank you, Patti Phillips!

Thank you, Patti Phillips!

The Countdown…Day 0


The Countdown…Day 1

1 Day. 1 Way.

Want to know how Michael Moran got his nickname “Gypsy?” Many people have asked and there’s been all sorts of speculation, but only one real answer. If you really want to know, the answer will be revealed in my next newsletter. You can subscribe by entering your email address in the button on the sidebar. And just so you’ll know how special you are to me, the newsletter isn’t shared over social media—it’s by subscription only.



The Countdown…Day 2

2 Days. 2 Random Paragraphs

I squeezed my eyes closed. That was not what I wanted to hear. Even if I took the Fifth, I’d never make it out of the courthouse alive. “If I have to testify, I might as well put a bullet through my own head and save him the trouble.”

Burke sighed heavily, pressing his fingertips to his forehead. After a long moment, he pointed a stern finger at me. “If anything happens to that boy, it’s on your head. And if anything happens to me…you inherited yourself a kid.”


The Countdown…Day 3

3 Days. 3 things to know about Wink, Texas.

1) As of 2014, Wink’s population is 951. Since the year 2000, Wink has seen a population growth of 1.60% The median home cost in Wink is $39,500.

2) In June 1980, a giant sinkhole formed in Wink. In May 2002, a second sinkhole opened up about a mile from the first. The sinkholes are called Wink Sink #1 and Wink Sink #2. Number 2 is much larger and measures in places, 900 feet wide or three football fields!

3) Singer Roy Orbison spent part of his childhood in Wink. The town is home to a Roy Orbison museum.

Wink Sink #2

Wink Sink #2


The Countdown…Day 4

4 days. 4th paragraph & more, 4th chapter

Although the air in the volunteer center was nice and cool, I drew in a breath and held it when I entered. The smell of ammonia was so strong I could taste it. A heavyset woman in flowered scrubs was leading a young woman with more challenges than anyone deserved to the restroom. The woman in scrubs eyed me suspiciously.

“I’m looking for Rhonda Walker. I’m her brother,” I said, hoping to put the woman’s mind at ease.

“Oh—so you’re Gypsy!” She smiled broadly. “Rhonda never mentioned how handsome you were.”

I winked at the woman. “You remind her for me.”


The Countdown…Day 5

5 Days. 5 women.

1) Claire Kinley – junior high & high school sweetheart, only woman Gypsy ever considered marrying.

I reached out, grabbed her, and pulled her to me. Her warm tears rolled down my bare chest. I lifted her chin and gently kissed away each tear, wishing to God I could stop loving her.

2) Sophia Ortez – smokin’ hot reporter helping Gypsy with his investigation.

That wasn’t part of the deal, Gypsy. I don’t tell you how to run your investigation and you don’t tell me what to write. That was the deal.

3) Rhonda Walker – Gypsy’s younger sister.

Gypsy—why is everything you own packed in boxes? And why are those boxes in my front yard?

4) Angie Moran – Gypsy’s mother.

Oh my God. My mother was going to prostitute herself to pay my hospital bill.

5) Gram – Gypsy’s grandmother.

Nothing like discussing your private parts with your eighty-year-old grandmother over morning coffee.


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