Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The KoD Retreat--Or How I Spent My Weekend Up Close and Personal with an AK-47

I grew up with guns. My grandfather was a hunter and an exceptional trap-shooter with a collection of trophies that bore witness to his skill. My father, too, enjoyed these manly pursuits and my brother followed in their firearm footsteps, snagging more than a few trophies of his own. I’m familiar with firearms. As a trooper I qualified yearly on the firing line and in various training exercises involving both civilian and bad guy pop-up silhouette-types. Okay, so I offed an innocent bystander or two during my training tenure. Those ‘shoot-don’t shoot’ moments can be brutal. And, as it happens, deadly to poor little Johnny on the tactical course. Sorry, pal.

This past weekend I had an opportunity to mix and mingle with an outstanding group of mystery/thriller/romance writers and industry professionals at the RWA’s Kiss of Death Mystery Supense Chapter’s annual retreat. And there were a number of memorable moments, let me tell you.

The retreat started out with a bang. Relax. I’m talking figuratively here despite the subject line of my blog. You know Margie Lawson. Right? She’s the brilliant brainchild of the EDITS technique of self-editing, the empress of empowering your characters’ emotions, the dynamic diva of Defeating Your Self-Defeating Behaviors, the reigning queen of ratcheting up your rhetorical devices and all designed to take your writing straight to the level of bestseller. So, when I heard Margie was going to be in Omaha at the retreat, I was like, “I’m there.” I wasn’t disappointed. By the time Margie finished her crash course on Deep Editing for Suspense utilizing multi-colored highlighters, my wip was a veritable rainbow of colors. So were my fingers and hands and one pants leg but that’s another story for another day. (I was a tad bit careless with my highlighters the first time out, but I’ll get better.) I felt like I’d been empowered when the session winded down--way too soon for me. I had been given a terrific technique for editing and polishing that would complement my own tricks of the trade.

The weekend was off to a killer start. That night after introductions, we were treated to a ‘chilly’ reception from sensational romantic suspense author, E.C. Sheedy speaking on Writing the Cold Heart: The Chill of Romantic Suspense, followed by a decadent desert buffet where we had time to mingle with the other attendees.

Saturday morning featured the incredibly gifted author, Erica Spindler, who presented The Big Thrill: Taking your Novel to the Next Level of Suspense. I was absolutely riveted. The thrill was huge! Next up was Scott Eagen of Greyhouse Literary Agency and he gave us a refresher course in ‘keeping it real’ in romantic suspense. Then Scott teamed with agent Miriam Kriss, of the Irene Goodman Agency, in a cold read critique. All I can say is that I was verrrry glad I hadn’t submitted any pages. Talk about the brave souls who did. I pay homage to their courage.

Following lunch we presented a quick regional author panel and I was excited to be included along with fellow authors Kylie Brant, Pam Crooks, Cindy Kirk, and Roxanne Rustand. A book-signing followed the panel (I still can’t believe Erica Spindler bought a copy of MY book!! How incredibly cool is that????) and I took advantage of some free time before dinner and the evening session to explore Omaha’s Old Market section. Then it was back to the hotel and more food and Danny Agan’s, Anatomy of a Murder Investigation. Danny (pictured with yours truly and Ak-47 makes three at the top of the blog page) is a retired homicide lieutenant with the Atlanta Police Department. Danny was a wealth of information (and the supplier of a crime scene complete with mannequin stiff plus an assortment of deadly hardware to handle) as he took us through the initial call to a homicide with the responding or first officer at the scene, through the forensic procedure, interview and interrogation methods, legal requirements relating to searches, as well as general information relating to law enforcement. Danny answered a host of questions from each of us like a true southern gentleman. By the time we were through with him, I even think we had convinced him to write his own book. The stories he could tell… I came home with priceless Kodak moments, too. I’ll twist Trigger Happy Halliday’s arm to see if she’ll help get those posted on the ‘witness’ page of our website so you can enjoy them, as well. It’s not everyday you get a picture of a literary agent holding an AK-47.

Gee, I hope Miriam doesn’t see this…!

Sunday morning Danny finished his presentation and a speaker panel consisting of our wonderful workshop presenters gave us the chance to pick the brains of these professional writers and agents and lawmen. I met so many wonderful writers and fantastic folks!

I was so jazzed when I left the retreat I couldn’t wait to get home and write. Of course, ‘real life’ derailed my little literary locomotion. There was that stack of laundry to see to--the one so tall I mistook it for Shaquille O’Neal when I entered the laundry room. And the fact that I hadn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep. Plus the criminology homework I’d put off. And the term paper I really needed to work on. And the day job. And I suppose kids do need to be fed now and then. And there was the college take-home mid-term that turned out to be six essay questions from hell. (What on earth did I get myself into?) And two cars that needed attention, one book that REALLY, REALLY needs to be written, and now, thanks to Margie Lawson, a finished book that needs to be re-written. Sigh.

Can you tell I had a blast at the retreat? Oh, yeah, it was a chiller-thriller of a weekend for sure. Thanks so much to everyone who worked so hard to make the retreat a success and a big thanks to all the participants for being so danged nice. I loved meeting each and every one of you!

Next year? Portland, Maine or bust!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

39 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gemma Halliday said...

I am completely jealous. Sounds like you had a blast! Next year, I'm so there.

And, yes, send me the pictures! I can't wait to see more.

~Gemma

Tori Lennox said...

I'm extremely jealous! It sounds like a fun time!

Christie Craig said...

Kathy,

It sounds fabulous. I'm tad green as well. I'll have to check into that chapter. I've heard so many good things about that whole chapter. I've been wanting to join for a while.

Crime Scene Christie

Faye Hughes said...

Oooh, Kathy, I'm so jealous!! I'm also a little scared. Girl, you look too comfortable holding that AK-47. LOL.

Faye

Kathy Bacus said...

Wish you could have been there, too, Gemma. With a lower number of attendees (they cut it off at 50 generally) the retreat is intimate and casual and you have more time to connect with other writers. Not much time to snooze, but those who attend National and other conferences are well-equipped to deal with that. I'm so glad I decided to attend.

And I'll email you the photos tomorrow so you can see what you might want to post.

~Kathy~

Kathy Bacus said...

Yep, it was a great retreat, Tori, with tons of information packed into two days. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to write mystery/romantic suspense.

~Kathy~

Kathy Bacus said...

The on-line resources from the KoD chapter are well worth the meager investment to join the chapter, Christie. If you want the answer to a question relating to crime, law enforcement, criminal procedure or just general info about most anything, you'll find someone on the loop will have the answer or know where to send you to get it. It's been a valuable resource.

~Kathy~

Kathy Bacus said...

They don't call me 'Bullet Hole' for nothin', Faye!

Seriously, having the chance to 'play' with the various weapons was great. Handling the weapons also made it clear what types might work best for given scenarios in various writing projects. So doubly cool.

Made me miss law enforcement big time, though.

~Kathy~

Chris Redding said...

First off, I'm not jealous about Margie because she's a good friend. And I can pick her brain whenever I want, but I am jealous for the crime scene workshop
Portland Maine? I can drive there in seven hours. Piece of cake.

Estella said...

Sounds as if you had a blast!

Kathy Bacus said...

Now I'm the one who's green, Chris. You're telling me you can ask about things like back-loading, juxtaposition of opposites, and polysyndotin any time you want to??? You lucky, lucky woman!

I think I hate you... ;)

~Kathy~

Kathy Bacus said...

Yep, it was an awesome retreat, Estella. I learned tons. (I also probably gained tons, but we won't go there.)

~Kathy~

Angie Fox said...

Great picture! Sounds like a top notch weekend. I was all set to go to the KOD retreat when it was in San Antonio, but that was the year the hurricane got in the way.

Glad you're back safe and ready to hit the keyboard - after the laundry, kid feeding, school work and mortgage-paying work is finished. Yeesh. I think I'm tired just typing that list.

Kathy Bacus said...

Yeah, I remember the year it was in San Antonio, too, Angie. I didn't go but had friends who did. Seriously not funny.

As far as the list of 'to-do's' awaiting my return home, whenever I get crabby about the head of household demands, etc. I just remind myself that at this time next year I'll likely be returning to a tidier--but infinitely quieter--home and decide I have it pretty good just the way it is.

Thanks, Angie!

~Kathy~

Nathalie said...

It sounds like you had a great fun... while I was at home battling a very bad cold!

lila n. said...

Sounds like a nice trip... and like Nathalie... I was at home... studying :(

Lily said...

You grew up with guns... your neighbors must be very nice and friendly with you ;0

Shel said...

Kathy -
I just got my copy of Calamity Jayne Heads West today - I can't wait to read it! In fact, I'm going to do that right now.

Thank you!

Dru said...

Sounds like you had a fun time.

Stacy S said...

It sounds like you had a great time. I'd love to go to something like that or RWA sometime. I'd freak out just seeing all the authors.

Kathy Bacus said...

Bummer on the cold, Nathalie. Hope you feel better soon!

~Kathy~

Kathy Bacus said...

Nothing like home security provided by Smith & Wesson, Lily!

:)

~Kathy~

Kathy Bacus said...

Let me know what you think of HEADS WEST when you finish, Shel! I hope you enjoy it.

~Kathy~

Kathy Bacus said...

RWA National is still a little intimidating to me just by virtue of sheer size, Stacy, but it's a wonderful place to meet and mingle with folks you'll never have a similar opportunity to hang with.

Sometimes less is more, though, as in the case of the KoD retreat. It was wonderfully informal. I wore jeans most of the weekend...Sweet!

~Kathy~

Thanks for popping in, Dru.

Jana DeLeon said...

The KOD retreat sounds great!!!! I'd love to make it next year. I guess I'll have to see. :)

Carol said...

Hi, I'm new to this blog. My friend Melissa Lawson Keith told me about it. I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone!

It doesn sound like it was a great retreat. I'm glad you had a good time!

OnlinePharmacy said...

fmrmDr Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

buy viagra online buy viagra online deal herbal vi said...

xMzbWb Wonderful blog.

meridia effectiveness said...

Good job!

coalville utah moore motel said...

Hello all!

name said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

chicago blues tour said...

Please write anything else!

chocolate companies tours in denver colo said...

Good job!

list of insurance company said...

Thanks to author.

ringtones said...

Wonderful blog.

said...

Thanks to author.

cheapest cialis generic said...

93WodR actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

download free said...

Thanks to author.