Festival of the Written Word and Some Exciting News!

On November 5th, I will be one of the featured writers at this year’s Festival of the Written Word, hosted by the Chesterfield County Public Library.

festival of the written word 2016

Festival of the Written Word has something for the reader and writer in you! Embrace your creativity and immerse yourself in literacy, ideas and imagination. The 2016 Festival of the Written Word will include live readings, workshops, panel discussions with local authors and food. It’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy.

I was involved with the festival last year, speaking on a panel about romance and mystery. I’m excited to hear the other panelists and the featured speaker, Kristen Green, this year!

In addition to the events listed on the flyer above, the festival will include readings by various authors, workshops for writers of all ages, panel discussions with local authors (including me!), and, of course, delicious food provided by Firehouse Subs.

It’s a great idea for readers (and writers!) to take advantage of such festivals and literary events at their local libraries. They are typically free and open to the public!

Other featured authors include:

Stacy Hawkins Adams
Jean Anderson
Nancy Wright Beasley
Bill Blume
Tina Glasneck
Kristen Green (Featured Presenter)
Valley Haggard
Ann Marie Halstead
Lorraine Heath
Doug Jones
Pamela Kinney
Lana Krumwiede
Vivian Lawry
Cathy Maxwell
Fiona Quinn
Steven Smith
Guy Terrell
Heather Weidner

For more information and a detailed schedule, check out the festival’s website. Hope to see you there!

(Also coming up is the CCPL’s “Murder at the Library” event!)

In other news, I recently wrote an article for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They have a weekly column entitled “In My Shoes.” I wrote an article, “Repair or redecorate after breast cancer?,” about the process following radiation, multiple surgeries, and a “persistent non-healing wound” after my breast cancer diagnosis. Check it out!

The Gaithersburg Book Festival: A Premier Event for Writers and Readers!

 Collage of photos taken at Gaithersburg Book Festival, May 21, 2016
Last weekend I participated in the 7th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival, and I cannot praise it too highly. It had something for everyone! There were writing workshops for adults, teens, and children. The Children’s Village features storytellers, puppeteers, jugglers, authors, and magic, all encouraging reading, writing, and a love of books. There were exhibitor booths catering to adults and children, a variety of food vendors, and live performances by poets and singer-songwriters. And there were book sales!



The official bookseller for the even was Politics and Prose. They sold all of the books represented on the program. I bought two, having been captivated by the authors’ presentations I attended after finishing my own presentation and signing. Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt, who had an engaging conversation/interview with Alice McDermott.



The second book I bought was “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf. They presented jointly. She is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello, and a professor at Harvard. He is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation professor of history at the University of Virginia. They were a dynamic duo, talking about what promises to be an atypical biography of Jefferson (e.g., covering music and religion), and answering questions clearly—and patiently!


There was also a used book sale by Friends of the Library Montgomery County, MD. I bought two books related to three of my passions: popular culture, old books, and dictionaries! For which I spent a total of $8.


Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms was published in 1848! It explains what a chore is (the equivalent of char in England), and polk, meaning sack. Needless to say, it’s my oldest slang dictionary, and it nicely illustrates that what was slang 200 years ago has moved into—and sometimes through—mainstream English!


GBF drew participants from near and far. I met authors from New York, Texas, and London—to name a few. Some of the famous authors were highlighted on the festival poster, for example, Juan Williams.


Well-known or not, everyone was articulate and professional.


But enough about attending. As an author presenting there, I couldn’t have been treated better!


Before the event, my primary contact was Carolyn Crosby, the Senior Program Supervisor. She was not only friendly and gracious but well-organized and responsive. She made sure I had all the info I needed ahead of time, from hotel reservation to maps to advice on rain gear.


The festival hotel, Homewood Suites by Hilton, was spacious, comfortable, and provided shuttle service to all events. They gave us our GBF book bags, containing all the important stuff (program, shuttle schedule, maps) and no throw-away junk. It’s a classy bag, heavy canvas.


On Friday evening, there was a VIP Reception from 7:00 till 10:00. The food was great and plentiful, and there was an open bar. Presenters mingled with those involved in producing the event. I met Jud Ashman, Founder and Chair of GBH and currently mayor of Gaithersburg. He is articulate and humorous! He’s shown here with me and M.Tara Crowl, who writes fantasy fiction for middle-schoolers.
Vivian Lawry, Jud Ashman, M.Tara Crowl at Gaithersburg Book Festival VIP party
Vivian Lawry, Jud Ashman, M.Tara Crowl

Gaithersburg Book Festival is a rain-or-shine event.

All of the programs are under tents—and this year it was rain, with temperatures in the low-50s. GBH is a class act, and they provided all the presenters with umbrellas.


umbrella with Gaithersburg Book Festival logo
Gaithersburg Book Festival umbrella


The weather dampened people but not spirits. Attendees could choose among 10 presentations at a time, each in a tented pavilion: Dashiell Hammett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken, James Michener, Gertrude Stein, Rachel Carson, Jim Henson, Willa Cather, Ogden Nash.
Dashiell Hammett Pavilion at the Gaithersburg Book Festival
Pavilion where I spoke


I was on at 10:00 a.m. in the Dashiell Hammett Pavilion. Debbiann Holmes and I talked about Making Fiction Real. We seem to make a great sister act. Maybe we should take it on the road.
Vivian Lawry speaking at Gaithersburg Book Festival, holding copy of Virginia is for Mysteries
Virginia is for Mysteries was with me at Gaithersburg Book Festival
Enthusiastic, upbeat volunteers were everywhere.They kept the presenters on time starting and ending. We were escorted to the pavilion for the presentation, then to the signing area after. People seemed okay waiting in the rain to get books signed.


Readers at the Gaithersburg Book Festival waiting in line for author signing
Signing line
By definition, presenters were VIPs. Besides umbrellas and book bags, we had reserved parking, special registration, and a VIP lounge with refreshments all day.


Gaithersburg Book Festival information and parking pass, "Author/VIP Parking"
Gaithersburg Book Festival information and parking pass
But perhaps the most striking aspect overall was the universal enthusiasm and the breadth of community support. Just look at the number of partners and sponsors they have!


List of Gaithersburg Book Festival partners and sponsors
Partners and Sponsors
I want to go again! And you should go, too. It might even be sunny!

Virginia is for Mysteries Events

The Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II book tour is here. I’ll be speaking at events in bold.


March 12, 2016Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II Book Tour

Slover Library

235 East Plume Street

Norfolk, VA 23510

1 – 4 pm


March 15, 2016

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Arts

2200 Parks Avenue

Virginia Beach, VA 23451

5 – 9 pm


March 19, 2016

Coastal Crime Fest

Russell Memorial Library

2808 Taylor Road

Chesapeake, VA 23321

10 am – 4 pm


March 19, 2016

Virginia Festival of the Book

Sisters in Crime Table

Omni Hotel Atrium

212 Ridge McIntire Road

Charlottesville, VA 22903


April 2, 2016

Barnes and Noble

Libbie Place Shopping Center

5515 West Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23230

12:00 noon – 2 pm


April 9, 2016

Fountain Bookstore

1312 East Cary Street

Richmond, VA 23219


June 25, 2016

Churchland Public Library

4934 High St W

Portsmouth, VA 23703

10 am – 5 pm

Virginia Is For Mysteries, Volume II Launch: A Good Time Was Had By All!

Libbie Mill Library hosted the Virginia is for Mysteries launch
On Saturday, February 27, Libbie Mill Library hosted the launch of Virginia Is For Mysteries, Volume II. We were the first author event at the new library!


The launch included a panel presentation on Pathways to Publication, moderated beautifully by Mary Burton. Panelists included both traditionally published and independently published writers of short stories and novels. I served on the panel along with Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Kristin Kisska, Adele Gardner, and Teresa Inge. We represented a wide range of genres: romance, fantasy and horror, historical fiction, memoir—and of course, mystery!
Vivian Lawry at Virginia is For Mysteries launch
Besides those on the program, a number of Sisters in Crime contributors attended, along with more than seventy others.
Sisters in Crime Central Virginia at Virginia is for Mysteries launch party
L-R: standing, Yvonne Saxon, Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Kristin Kisska, me, Ken Wingate, Heather Weidner, Rosemary Shomaker; seated Teresa Inge, Adele Gardner, Maggie King, and Lee Wells
Virginia is For Mysteries: Volume II launch (Photo from Sisters in Crime--Central Virginia
Virginia is For Mysteries: Volume II launch (Photo from Sisters in Crime–Central Virginia)
The audience was thoroughly engaged and asked lots of good questions—before buying books and devouring the cake!
Virginia is For Mysteries book launch cake
All the authors present signed books on request.
Vivian Lawry signing her book at Virginia is For Mysteries book launch
We were especially pleased that Sherlock showed up—and tolerated being womanhandled with great stoicism.
Virginia is For Mysteries book launch with Vivian Lawry, Kristin Kisska, and Sherlock
Visit the SinC-CVA website and the individual authors’ websites to see more photos and read more about the event.


Do join us for all the fun at the next event!

My First Time at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival

Banner from Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival,
Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival

I had to leave home at 8:30 a.m. and didn’t get home till nearly 10:00 p.m. But it was definitely worth the time! The commute was a reconnect with Heather Weidner and Maggie King. Lots of conversation about everything from work life to pets.

The Center for Cultural Arts is attractive—white columns, brick walkway, garden sculptures. On the way in and out, I was too encumbered to take pictures. Oh, sigh. Opportunity lost.

Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival table with Virginia is For Mysteries, Heather Weidner, Vivian Lawry, MARIA HUDGINS, TERESA INGE,
Our dark, sinister location at Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival – (left to right) Maria Hudgins, Vivian Lawry, Teresa Inge, Heather Weidner

Our table location—just inside the door, first on the right—was a blessing and a curse. The blessing was that everyone entering passed our table first, all adhering to the U.S custom of keeping to the right. The curse was that we were backed by a bank of windows, and all my photos there are dark and sinister looking. Heather got better pictures.

But I did get seeable pictures of Mary Miley, Fiona Quinn, and Maggie King. Mary Miley, former president of the Central Virginia Chapter of Sisters in Crime, is the author of the Roaring Twenties mystery series. Two are published (The Impersonator, winner of the Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel award, and its sequel, Silent Murders.) Two more in the series are forthcoming.

Mary Miley
Mary Miley

Maggie King is author of Murder in the Book Group. Fiona Quinn is the author of the Lynx series: Weakest Lynx, Missing Lynx, Chain Lynx, and co-author with John Dolan of Chaos is Come Again.

Fiona Quinn and Maggie King
Fiona Quinn and Maggie King

Our panel presentation on getting published was scheduled for 5:00—the last hour of the festival—and I was a bit skeptical. But the room was packed! We talked about everything from traditional to DIY, short stories to novels, pen names to web presence. The attendees were engaged, asked lots of questions, no one left, and when the 6:00 end time arrived, the security guard had to clear the room because he was closing the building. What a high!

Advice for book signings: Be Prepared. Never go to a book signing with only one pen!

photo of pens on table at Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival
Never be without a pen

Read More About the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival