I only went to one writer’s conference this year. Ideally I attend two or three, but, you know, that gets expensive! I made the hard decision to forgo Thrillerfest and Bouchercon (my usuals), and instead attend something truly special: Iceland Noir (“A literary festival celebrating darkness in all its forms”). Jessica and I were excited to go—the conference was to take place in November, so daylight and temperatures would be at a minimum, the odds of seeing the Northern Lights at a peak, and the chance of hanging out with fellow bleak literary minds a guarantee.
Then two things happened: Jessica got covid, and an Icelandic volcano explosion became imminent.
Jess tested positive the day before our flight. To underscore the suckiness of this, this was her first time contracting covid. We sit around home most of the year; why couldn’t that damn virus hit us then? But she had to cancel and I went to Iceland without her, only to learn days before the flight that a potentially sizable volcanic eruption was likely to happen about ten miles from the airport.
I wasn’t worried about any actual danger, mostly because the Icelandic people assure you it’s only a big deal to locals in the immediate area (the small town of Grindavik was evacuated and remains so, though no eruption has yet occurred as I’m writing this). But if you followed the U.S. or U.K. media you were led to believe the entire country of Iceland would soon explode and forever supply the world with ice cubes. If you followed Iceland media, you were told to keep calm and carry on. So carry on I did!
I guiltily went on the tours Jess and I had booked: a Northern Lights viewing and a Golden Circle day-tour. While both tours were amazing, we’ve vowed to go back together so she can experience this wondrous country as well, and also visit the many things I didn’t see.
The conference was fantastic – an intimate gathering spread out over multiple locations in Reykjavik. Highlights included interviews with Neil Gaiman, Dan Brown, Louise Penny, and Iceland’s solitary forensic pathologist, Dr. Pétur Guðmann Guðmannsson . I was on a panel about family secrets, which explored the appeal of dark domestic thrillers.
Some pics for you below, and wishing you all the happiest of holiday seasons.
Praise for my upcoming release, The Father She Went to Find
“The Father She Went to Find is a blast! I loved Penny Bly, the genius who can remember every line of every book she’s ever read and the details of each meal she’s ever had. Not to mention, she has an amazing talent for creating portraits that reveal the inner nature of the person being drawn. Her journey across the country to find her missing father kept me reading throughout the night. A thriller with heart, amazing characters, and plot twists I didn’t see coming. A true page-turner, this book is a winner from one of our best crime novelists.”
–David Heska Wanbli Weiden, award-winning author of Winter Counts
RELEASES APRIL 2, 2024
New episodes of Making It Up are out! This month I chatted with novelist Carol Dunbar (A Winter’s Rime), fantasy romance author and BookToker Hannah Nicole Maehrer (Assistant to the Villain), and author/professor Edward Cahill (Disorderly Men).
What’s Entertaining Me
Jess and I were sitting on the couch the other night scrolling through the holiday-movie section of Netflix, and boy did the offerings look terrible! Granted, I’m not one for most rom-coms. But neither do I care much for the other categories in which most holiday movies fall:
- Princes/princesses/knights/royal babies experience light holiday peril in a castle
- Teens and adults magically inhabiting each other’s bodies in order to learn about real holiday spirit
- Princes and princesses switching bodies, also usually in a castle
- Teen wanting a boyfriend/girlfriend for Christmas
- Adult wanting a forever-partner for Christmas
- Widow/widower going through the holidays alone, realizing the spirit of their departed still lives on inside them (and also usually in a tree ornament or in an old, unwrapped gift they never had the chance to open)
- He’s an evil real estate mogul plotting a land grab, she’s a cupcake designer/ingenue trying to save her grandparent’s farm, etc.
- Creepy old men spending too much time alone with little kids—performing dubious magic tricks—because they kinda look like Santa
For my money, the best holiday movies are (in no particular order):
- Die Hard
- Love, Actually
- Bojack Horseman Christmas Episode
- Home Alone
- Nightmare Before Christmas
- A Christmas Story
- Christmas Vacation
- Trading Places
- The Holiday
- The Ref
- Groundhog Day (technically a holiday!)
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
Don’t agree? What’s your favorite?
Photo of the Month
More Iceland! My buddy took this amazing shot of the radical landscape in this unique country. Here’s his description of the photo:
“At Þingvellir National Park in Iceland, the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are gradually rifting apart above sea level. Here, Earth’s geodynamism is visceral. “ Photo credit: Michael Williams.
Update from my Kids
My daughter’s flight home for Thanksgiving got diverted to deal with a medical emergency on board. I haven’t the slightest idea where her dark soul comes from.
Update from my Pets
The hell did she do with Santa?
Humor of the Month sent to me by a friend
I’m so excited to announce a writing venture Jess and I are launching: Unbound Writer. This will be the new company and brand under which we will be offering coaching & mentoring services, writing retreats and workshops, online classes, and more! For now the offerings will live on my current website HERE. You’ll be hearing more about this over the next few months (and I’ll be polling my newsletter list to gauge interest), but for right now know we are actively setting up dates for the next writing retreat in Boulder, likely in late April or early May.
More to come, but if you want to know more now, shoot me a message and let’s chat!
That’s it for now! Until next month…