Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | October 2, 2012

Arizona trip, part 2

The husband had to leave before this section of the visit, so now it’s just the kids and me, driving back to Phoenix from Tucson and finding our way to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Scottsdale. Readers, it’s AWESOME! It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1920’s and it’s gorgeous. So, so grateful for the incredible wonderful rate that we got through Poisoned Pen Bookstore so we could afford to stay there. HUGE swimming pools – salt, not chlorine, big, big room, and it’s just incredibly detailed everywhere I looked. It’s a whole resort with golf and spa and all, but all we did, besides the stuff at the bookstore, was hang out at the pool and eat. Go here for the photo tour.

The first night we went to a book signing by Louise Penny for her newest book, The Beautiful Mystery. I would highly recommend her series, the first of which is Still Life: An Inspector Gamache Mystery. They can be read without reading the previous books, but I do think you would miss much of the back story. Louise is a lovely, thoughtful woman and was interesting and engaging, warm and very friendly. I had met her at Bouchercon in San Francisco two years ago and met her very charming husband, Michael, there as well.

The next day I spent almost all of the day hanging out at the pool with a friend from CA also there for Laurie’s launch party. If you look closely you can see the girl child emerging from the bottom of the water slide. ย  Then, it was off to Poisoned Pen for the launch party for Laurie R. King‘s newest in her Mary Russell series, Garment of Shadows. It was webcast and there is a brief glimpse of the back of my head. Barbara Peters, the owner of Poisoned Pen, runs these like an interview for most of an hour and then gives some time for questions from the audience. Afterwards, the author sits at a table and everyone lines up with their book(s) to be signed. This time, Barbara confessed to having taken a Valium for a strained neck or shoulder (I can’t remember which) and it made her quite talkative. Poor Laurie really didn’t get nearly as much time to talk as she should have. But, it was still good. If you want to hear it, it may still be up at the bookstore website, here. See me in my caftan since the book is set in Morocco and so it was a Moroccan-themed party.

After, we went back to the hotel and about six of us, along with Laurie, hung out having a beer in the beautiful bar, chatting and laughing. Totally awesome. I really am in awe of the woman since she is so incredibly talented and almost scary intelligent. She is, however, warm and friendly and funny so I managed to relax and enjoy it.

I have heard both Laurie and Louise talk about their writing and find their rather different approaches fascinating. It amazes me that anyone is talented enough to write and craft a book worth reading since I am totally devoid of the ability to create story. I remain incredibly grateful to those who can write since I love to read so much. Laurie’s approach is to have a concept of the plot in mind as she writes. Her first draft, she says, would be about 75 or so pages long, basically an elaborate outline with bits of conversation and action. Her revisions consist of fleshing out what she has written, sometimes going back to rewrite scenes so that they make more sense and support the development of the plot and characters. Louise has said that she writes everything including the kitchen sink into her first draft, so that her revisions consist of pruning and trimming and cleaning up and removing all the extraneous words. I gather there is no one or even two ways to write. Both Louise and Laurie end up with well-plotted books, full of wonderful characters, deeply thoughtful and interesting, and yet they each get there in such a different way.

On Thursday, I’m flying to Cleveland to attend Bouchercon, the Mystery Writers of America annual convention. I’m sure I will have more to say about authors and writing when I return.



  1. You partied with Laurie R. King? You are my hero! She rocks. I just finished reading her last 3 books so far, including Garment of Shadows, which was great. And so very unexpected. She’s great at that.

    And next a convention. You traveling maniac, you! Hope you have lots of fun and meet great, wonderful, nice writers.

    • Wasn’t Garment of Shadows excellent? Laurie totally rocks, I agree.

      And here I am in Cleveland, trying to figure out where I’m going!

  2. You are not “totally devoid” of the ability to create story. You just created wonderful stories of your Arizona adventures!

    Some of my favorite people will be at Bouchercon. Have fun! Did your husband enjoy the Bruce concert? I did!

    • Well, okay. I can’t create believable characters and plots though. Yes, husband loved the concert – he always does and has to tell me ALL about it in excruciating detail. ๐Ÿ˜€ Anyone I should wave to while I’m here?

  3. New post, new post! I love it when you write and share. With pictures even!!!

  4. I, too, am in awe of LRK == what an amazing writer!

    • She is amazing, but, you know, you are a remarkably talented writer yourself. You have vivid characters, evocative descriptions and a great voice of your own.

  5. Wow! This sounds like so much fun! Can’t wait for the update from Bouchercon. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. It looks like much funess was had ๐Ÿ™‚

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