Despite all the wonderful speakers, panels and writer camaraderie, this year's SleuthFest had one missing piece. Author Barbara Parker. Her cancer had recurred, and she was spending her final days in a hospice, surrounded by family.
She was one of the first authors I met at my very first conference, and I was impressed by her workshop on crafting a mystery. I'd never read anything of hers, so I began with her first book in the "Suspicion" series. Even though I thought I'd created my 'perfect hero' in my first attempt at writing a novel, her Anthony had my Randy beat.
Barbara he always had time to talk to beginners, treating them as though it would only be a matter of minutes before they were published. I showed her the first pages of the mystery short story I was trying to write, and her eyes opened wide. "You have really gotten better!" she said. She asked me to send her the whole thing, and after she finished, she told me to call her. We discussed it for almost an hour (I think she would have gone on, but her cell phone battery was fading.).
Barbara Parker passed away last Saturday. The tributes pouring onto the Florida MWA chapter loop all say the same thing. She shared. She never let you feel there was an "I'm published. You're not" attitude. She will be sorely missed.
And, although I can't pretend that my qualifications come close to hers, in the spirit of sharing, I will send anyone who requests it a copy of my Dialogue Basics handout from the SleuthFest 2009 panel. All you have to do is send me an email requesting it.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society