What Good are Conferences? by Kaye George

I admit, I love to attend writing conferences and conventions for selfish reasons. They are THE places to connect with other authors, ones I communicate with, but rarely see—authors that live all across this country, and sometimes in other countries, too. There’s nothing better than hanging out at the bar with a bunch of murderous colleagues. We “get” each other and speak the same lingo. There’s another selfish reason, and that is the connection with readers and fans, especially at the big conferences.

But there are far better reasons to attend cons like Killer Nashville. It’s a good size, for starters. Not bewilderingly large, but with a good healthy attendance of dedicated mystery buffs. Also, the possibility of being recognized with an award or even a nomination is always dangling out there. The ones I’ve been lucky enough to receive take a place of honor on my webpage and on the covers of the books, when possible. When the first novel in my Cressa Carraway series was nominated for a Silver Falchion in 2013, it was such a thrill! Even without bringing home the actual Falchion, the honor of the nomination lives on forever. Well, that publisher failed and the book is out of print, but as soon as I get a new home for it, you’d better believe that the nom will be featured on the cover. (Have I mentioned how rocky the road of an author is?)

There once was a publisher of mine who refused to admit that awards, or even conferences, were worth anything. She never mentioned them on the website of her now-defunct small press (a different one than the one mentioned above—small presses have it tough). One wonders if her attitude had anything to do with the failure of her business. It had a lot to do with me leaving and self-publishing the book I had entrusted to her.

I’ll always believe that this Silver Falchion nomination for the Cressa Carraway book, EINE KLEINE MURDER, and Agatha nominations in 2011 and 2013, are what succeeded in getting me the best contract I’ll probably ever have, for the cozy Fat Cat series. It was torpedoed when Random House bought Penguin and decimated the cozy imprint, but was definitely a shining top-of-the-hill moment. Hey, what can I say, as mentioned, the life of an author is a roller coaster ride, long, dull, lulling moments, with lightning thrills thrown in to make everything worthwhile.  

The other hilltop experience was actually WINNING the Silver Falchion in 2016 for the anthology MURDER ON WHEELS, by the Austin Mystery Writers. I wasn’t able to attend that year because of family circumstances, but one of our writers, Laura Oles, was there to accept the award from none other than Anne Perry. I swooned at that, and I wasn’t even there!

I’m sorry I can’t attend again this year, but I’ll make every effort to get there in 2022.

One of Kaye George’s quirky claims to fame is having lived in nine states, many of which begin with the letter ‘M.’ Though a native Californian, Kaye moved to Moline, Illinois, at the tender age of 3 months. After college at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and marriage to Cliff during finals week their senior year, she and Cliff touched upon Sumter, SC, Lompoc, CA (very briefly), and Great Falls, Montana, during his Air Force career.

Their first son was born on a very cold winter night at Malmstrom AFB in Montana (minus 80 degrees with the wind chill, minus 40 without). They stayed in Dayton, Ohio for a whopping six and a half years, and had another son and a daughter there.

Then on to Minnetonka, MN (Kaye’s favorite of them all), Plano TX, Troy MI, and back south to Dallas, Texas. They stayed there for about 17 years, then lit out for Holliday, Taylor, and Hubbard, all in Texas. Their most recent trek was to Knoxville, TN where they were empty nesters while accumulating grandchildren. The three children are all exceptionally good-looking, intelligent, and socially well-adjusted, as are their offspring. She lost her husband to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in 2017 and took a brief hiatus, but she’s back to writing now.

Kaye has been a janitor in a tractor factory, a mental health center secretary, a waitress many times, a bookkeeper, and a short order cook. She’s also been a mainframe computer programmer and a nurse’s aide along the way.

Kaye is also a violinist, arranger and composer, an award-winning short story writer, and the author of five different mystery series with three different publishers, one self-published, and one currently orphaned. She has accrued four Agatha Award nominations, one finalist position for the Silver Falchion, a Derringer short story nomination, as well as national best-seller status with her Fat Cat series written as Janet Cantrell. She has had over 50 short stories published. The first Austin Mystery Writers anthology, MURDER ON WHEELS, which she helped organize, won a Silver Falchion at Killer Nashville. She is also proud of DAY OF THE DARK, an anthology of eclipse short stories she put together for that event in 2017. She reviews for Suspense Magazine and writes a column for Mysterical-E. 

Kaye is a member of Sisters in Crime, the online Guppies chapter, as well as the Smoking Guns Knoxville TN chapter, which she helped organize. She served the Guppies as treasurer, then president for a two-year term. If you’re not familiar, it is an online chapter of Sisters in Crime devoted to assisting and supporting unpublished and newly published mystery writers.