One for the Books

One for the Books

Bruce Robert Coffin here, waxing nostalgic. The third annual Maine Crime Wave has passed into the history books. Sponsored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, this year’s conference, held at the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Library, was attended by more than seventy people, many of whom made the drive from out of state.

The weekend began Friday evening as the accomplished Gayle Lynds introduced the inaugural CrimeMaster Award recipient, Tess Gerritsen. Gayle read aloud comments made by other well-known literary figures regarding Tess’s many contributions to the genre. After receiving the award, Tess was interviewed on stage by Portland Press Herald’s own Chelsea Conaboy. They discussed everything from writing novels to making movies. Tess’s shared experiences inspired us all.

Saturday morning opened with coffee and conversation but, like most thrillers, quickly ramped up into panels and writing workshops conducted by the likes of Kate Flora, Jim Hayman, Chris Holm, and Gayle Lynds. The highlight of the morning was a panel moderated by Katrina Holm, during which Tess Gerritsen and her agent Meg Ruley shared their vast publishing experiences with the audience.

I was honored to share a morning stage with fellow debutants Dick Cass, Maureen Milliken, and Brendan Reilly. Barbara Ross did her best to keep the newly-minted scribes in line. In the afternoon Kate Flora moderated Law and Disorder, starring Roger Guay, Lynne Raimondo, and yours truly.

There were panels on queries and the writing biz, panels on where we come up with novel ideas (literally).

Attendees were even provided an opportunity to pitch ideas to Literary Agent Ann Collette and to compete in a friendly two minute reading competition.

Following lunch, Maine’s Attorney General Janet Mills and AG Criminal Division Chief Lisa Marchese presented updates on several recent successful prosecutions of Maine cold case homicides.

At every writer’s conference I extract myself just long enough to take it all in. It’s always fun to see so many positive interactions taking place. Those instances of fan adoration when writing superstars, like Tess Garritsen, take the time to chat up one of their readers, or to autograph their latest novel. And there’s the time honored tradition of agents and writers exchanging business cards, many of the latter still chasing that holy grail of publication. Curious customers perusing a wide array of the latest titles stacked atop tables at the bookstore in the hallway. Each eye-catching cover vying for the reader’s attention, until finally one of them grabs ahold. Have I read this one yet? is a common question, often asked aloud by avid followers of a series. Prospective readers examine a book’s copy, then either replace it on the stack or pony up the cash. Purchasing a new book from one’s favorite author is much like paying the carnival ride attendant before climbing aboard, and there’s always a gleam of excitement in the buyer’s eyes. Each one of us has experienced this anticipation before being whisked along on an exciting new adventure, perhaps while seated next to our favorite protagonist, or even villain. Hello, Clarice…

Whether you’re an avid reader, writer, or simply a fan of the mystery genre, you should definitely consider attending the next Maine Crime Wave. This was one for the books!

About Bruce Robert Coffin

Bruce is a retired detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine's largest city. Bruce also spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, where he earned the Director's Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive. He is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron Mystery Series from HarperCollins. His short stories appear in a number of anthologies including The Best American Mystery Stories 2016. Bruce lives and writes in Maine.
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8 Responses to One for the Books

  1. Gram says:

    Sounds like a grand time was had by all. Someday maybe I can make it to one.

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  2. You said it Bruce! Can’t wait until next year!

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  3. Kate Flora says:

    There are so many stages of experience at conferences. For this “old hand,” much of the pleasure is reconnecting with writers I’ve known for decades and often only see at these events. People disappear, reappear, get discouraged, share joys and accomplishments. The biggest surprise, Bruce, and I know you’ve already recognized this, is that the crime writing community is amazingly kind, welcoming, and supportive. Who would expect this from people with such dark minds? But you have already felt this embrace, haven’t you?

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  4. Gayle Lynds says:

    We had so much fun and learned a lot at the Maine Crime Wave, and you captured it, Bruce! Thanks for the grand memories, and as Maureen said (paraphrasing here) … can’t wait for next year!

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  5. Karla Whitney says:

    Well said, Bruce, and thank you. Maine Crime Wave guests, panelist, information and inspiration continues after the event. I always return to work with batteries recharged. Thanks all.

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  6. Sandra Neily says:

    Bruce….thanks so for taking the time to visualize it again for us….and share it with folks yet to attend. Well done! And special thanks to Gayle and all the volunteers for making such a rich day possible. Very, very generous.

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