I’ve been involved in Murder in the Magic City for a few years, picking up authors at the airport, moving baskets for the silent auction and boxes of Bud's Best Cookies. I’m the only one with an SUV big enough to haul all that stuff in one trip.
Margaret Fenton, president of the Southern Sisters chapter of Sisters in Crime put together great panels of mid list authors, as usual. You can find a list of them here: http://www.murderinthemagiccity.com/
The two guests of honor were Nancy Means Wright and Chris Grabenstein. There were panels on creating the perfect protagonist and creating the perfect villain. The last panel of the day asked the question: Can murder make us laugh? Most mystery authors use humor to bring the tension down and give the reader a break. It was during this discussion that Joanna Campbell Slan told a hilarious story about stopping her BMW on a road, shooing away some turkey buzzards and picking up a dead armadillo. She soaked it in borax and put polyurethane on the outside. I think she said that she uses it to hold her pens.
The ninth year for MMC was a good one. I got to meet and talk to Jeri Westerson, among others. She writes the Crispin Guest medieval noir series about a disgraced knight who has had to reinvent himself as The Tracker. I’ve read all three of the books and really enjoyed them. Crispin has his own blog. You can read it here: http://www.crispinguest.com/my_weblog/
Watch the series trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/user/TwoRockMediaProd#p/u/1/HuXU55en0Ms
CJ West was the lone self-published author present. As the publishing industry implodes under its own weight, more authors may take that option. With the popularity of e-readers like Kindle and Nook it may be a viable alternative if they have a following and a backlist. Everyone was talking about it and I admire his courage for addressing the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. You can find his work at http://22wb.com/