Sunday, May 22, 2022

What Rhys has been Doing

 RHYS BOWEN: My fellow Reds have suggested I share my recent exploits so here they are:

I've been busy during the last month. After two years of living as a hermit, going out with mask on to Trader Joe's I finally started traveling again--with much trepidation, I confess. I had a new book out, WILD IRISH ROSE, the 18th Molly Murphy novel, now written with my daughter Clare and I thought should introduce her to the writing community.

First we went to Albuquerque to attend Left Coast Crime convention. It was amazing to see friends after so long and Clare was warmly welcomed, given a panel appearance plus a chance to share the stage with me and discuss what it was like to work together. (Of course she had to be polite!)

Almost nobody wore a mask, which was a little intimidating, but we all had to be vaccinated so that should have been okay. I didn't hear about anyone testing positive afterward. We also had some lovely meals with fellow writers, but Albuquerque downtown was scary and dead, the hotel had just changed hands and there was NO FOOD TO BE HAD! All a bit chaotic.

Then our next adventure: we flew to Washington DC to attend Malice Domestic Convention at which I shared being Guest of Honor with fellow Red Julia. Again it was wonderful to be among friends. Louise Penny, one of my dearest friends, flew in from London to interview me. We had a fun dinner together and the interview was such a treat.









Louise even called Clare up onto the stage at the end which I thought was so sweet of her.   I also had to run the charity auction, with another friend, Charlene Harris. I had no idea how tiring this is! I was wiped out by the end, but we did raise a lot of money.

I also had to give a speech at the banquet and it was lovely to share a table with  Louise, Clare, our agent Christina and friends from the writing community including Kathy who had been a member of one of my writing workshops in Tuscany. (I also had to go up to accept my Agatha Award from last year, although there are no teapots yet, the firm having closed during Covid).


Clare announced that she had found her tribe and would be a convention junkie from now on!  She had to fly home from DC but I took the train to New York where I spent four days before the Edgar awards. During those days I toured the areas that Clare and I write about, taking lots of photos for her. I had lunch with an old friend, breakfast with fellow Red Lucy, meetings and meals with my agents and then a very grand dinner with my team from Lake Union. 




It all culminated in the Edgar's banquet. We had to show proof of vaccination and were given masks, but once inside the reception the masks all came off. So it was a little scary, knowing that people had come from all over the world. But I arrived home safely with no sniffles and a sigh of relief. (Oh, and I didn't win the Edgar but it was lovely to see my cover on huge screens around the room and to be photographed with the other nominees).





After that I needed to decompress. I was simply not used to getting dressed up, sharing meals with people, speaking at microphones--all skills I had to relearn.  I survived without getting Covid (although several people did test positive from the Malice convention, including some here). 

But no rest for the wicked, eh? On arriving home I had to clean the whole house, put away garden furniture etc before we drove back to our home in California. Now all I have to do is finish a book, do edits on another and then start the next Molly book with Clare. At least my life isn't boring any more!

How about you, Reds? Have you dared to travel yet? 

51 comments:

  1. RHYS: Wow, what a busy & wonderful April you had!! I was also at ABQ LCC and it was definitely unnerving to be amongst the unmasked indoors for 4 days, but we made it unscathed! Yes, downtown ABQ was oddly deserted and the glitches at the Clyde Hotel made things a bit annoying. I remember that you and Clare had to hold up your mics close to your mouth during the Sunday morning session. I was buzzed from my first int'l 10-day trip since San Diego LCC in March 2020.

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    1. And after getting my second booster in June, I plan to do another international trip in the summer before seeing friends in-person at Minneapolis Bouchercon. I know several people got COVID at Malice had 4 shots and still got (mildly) sick. I am willing to take the risk in order to spend more time with friends (in person) in September.

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    2. It's a crap shoot, isn't it Grace? I wish I could be at Bcon, but we had other deferred plans that come first.

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    3. ROBERTA: So true, and sorry you won't be at Minneapolis. Not very happy the US dropped the mandatory mask mandate on flights. We still have to wear masks on all public transit in Canada but that may change by September.

      Enjoy your other trip/outing!

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    4. Rats, Roberta. I was very much hoping to see you there!

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    5. GRACE: With the recent surge in Covid, I think there will be another mandatory mask mandate and perhaps another lockdown because too many people are NOT wearing masks. Yesterday when I went grocery shopping, I stopped by the deli and finally one person was wearing a mask and I was able to buy wild salmon, which I have not had for a while. The deli is next door to the grocery store. At the grocery store, there were several cashiers wearing masks. One cashier was Not wearing mask. Yes, I had my Second Booster and I still wear my mask every where!

      Diana

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    6. Grace—this is Rhys! I was at a huge graduation yesterday. I feel I’m now willing to take some risk. But my daughters were together last weekend. One tested positive, the other is fine!

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    7. DIANA: Sorry to hear cases are still surging in the US. The sixth wave has sharply dropped here in Ontario. Mandatory mask wearing in public spaces ended in Ontario in late March and in Quebec last week. It's only mandatory on public transit (buses, LRT) but I still wear my mask in grocery stores, libraries etc.

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    8. RHYS: Everyone has a different level of risk tolerance, and that's fine. Sorry to hear one of your daughters got COVID but hopefully she's get over it soon. I hope flying to Minneapolis will be a shorter trip than to NM...it took 12+ hours & 3 flights to get there!

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  2. Goodness, you have been busy, Rhys, and it sounds as if you had a lovely time . . . .

    We haven’t traveled much, just to visit family, but it is nice to be out and about once again . . . .

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  3. You've been busy. I went to both LCC and Malice and immediately noticed the difference with mask wearing. And I was one of the few who caught covid after attending Malice, glad it was a mild case. Next up is Bouchercon and I do plan to wear my mask in a crowd.

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    1. Dru, I didn’t hear that you got it too! Glad it was mild

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  4. That's quite a whirlwind, Rhys, and it was lovely to see you and meet Clare at Malice. So glad you didn't contract COVID on any of your trips!

    I was one of quite a few who did bring home the virus, despite four shots, and I was sick but didn't feel my life was in danger (no fever and oxygen levels stayed good). Like Dru, I'll be more diligent with a mask at Bouchercon.

    Otherwise we're keeping it quiet this summer, with only a New England driving trip to visit relatives. I did make a trip out to San Francisco last December to see my uncle and cousins, but I was careful in public and only saw family indoors. I plan to go out again in the fall (book research!). Otherwise I'm not ready for big travel. Maybe next year!

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  5. You were certainly quite the busy traveler Rhys! As for me, I have not done any trips and likely won't be doing any in the near future. For the most part, I still avoid being in any one place for too long. I have two things that I do on a regular basis where I'm around others for a longer period of time (Trivia Night on Thursdays, visit the comic shop on Friday or Saturday).

    Double vaxxed, double boosted but still doubly cautious for the most part. Concerts, conventions of any kind...just not willing to risk it since I can't afford to be out of work for five days or more if I get sick.

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    1. But hey, Jay, you're going to go all the way to Sandwich today to Titcomb's Bookshop - and lunch with me!

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    2. Yes, but a visit to a bookstore and outdoor lunch is a far cry from Malice Domestic or a concert. And a lot closer to my house. Also, my original reply was going to mention it but I thought I'd leave it out. I guess I did too much editing. LOL

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  6. Not a lot of travel for me, although, well, we did go to Africa last summer. And plan to go again in December with the whole family. I think I'll feel a bit like Lady Georgie, having Christmas in a wonderful safari camp on an escarpment. It will be fascinating to see what the native Kenyans think about that holiday.

    Rhys, you are a lifelong traveler, but doesn't it feel so much more exhausting now, with all the craziness of the virus? And people are just so damned rude, in particular to people just trying to do their jobs. How lovely, that Clare was so warmly welcomed. But of course she was; the mystery community is just that way, which is why we all make such an effort to gather.

    The good Lord willin' and the crik don't rise, I'm registered for Bouchercon. It's been way too long since we've been in the same physical space!

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    1. KAREN IN OHIO: Hope the pandemic will be over by the time you go to Bouchercon. I did not register because of the ongoing pandemic. An author friend is registered and they emailed me to ask if I was going. I have not travelled since I flew home from San Diego (Left Coast Crime 2020) and it was the same day as the lockdown in California. The silver lining was that we got blue skies and NO Smog for a while because of fewer cars on the road.

      Diana

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    2. Karen, it does feel more exhausting! That train ride to NY felt like an undertaking!xxxx Rhys

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    3. Can't wait to see you in 3D, Karen!

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    5. KAREN: Air travel is definitely more tiring because we are out of practice, and it's just more complicated. I lucked out on my 3 flights back in early April with short lines. Sadly, there are lines lasting 2-4 hours to get off the phone and through customs back into Canada (Toronto, Montreal). The airports are blaming the surge in travel demand & the fact that CBSA (our version of TSA) staff have to deal with COVID procedures as passengers go through security.

      Those delays and a rise in cancelled flights are definitely a turnoff in my desire to travel internationally. But I will book my flights to Minneapolis soon, and I'm also looking forward to see you in-person!

      P.S. We should organize a JRW & friends meetup at Minneapolis!

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  7. RHYS: Happy that you and Clare were able to travel to mystery conferences this year. Sounds like you were very lucky with your travels - NO covid despite several people getting covid at Malice. The photos are wonderful! How was Trader Joe's? I went there a week ago and most of the people were NOT wearing masks! Only one cashier was wearing a mask. I decided not to go back until the pandemic is over. At the farmer's market, too many people were NOT wearing masks.

    Unfortunately, we are not travelling until the pandemic is really over! There is still NO vaccine for children under the age of 5. We had to cancel travel to Chicago for my Uncle's 90th birthday. I had to drop plans to attend LCC and Malice this year. I hoped to go and I canceled because it was too risky with the ongoing pandemic.

    An author friend is planning a writing retreat in late 2023 and I really hope that the pandemic will finally be over by then. I really want to go to Bouchercon this year because Alexander McCall Smith will be there. If the pandemic is still here, then I will have to cancel that too! I really want to go to that mystery conference in Iceland and that may have to be postponed too.

    Happy Sunday!

    Diana

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    1. Diana, we’ve been going to Trader Joe’s throughout and felt quite safe. I mask up if there are too many people

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    2. Diana, Covid is here to stay. You can’t stop your life forever. There isn’t a surge in California and people are no longer required to wear masks. You need to be realistic! West a mask in crowds indoors and get on with your life!

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  8. So fun to read about your adventures and see the photos, too. We did say a brief hello at Malice - lso wonderful to be back with real, live people, isn't it? Though the news about some covid after was worrying. We had plans the next week to get on a plane to Austin, TX! To visit my sister - it's been almost 3 years. Fortunately, we were able to go. Big signs at JFK about masks; hardly a mask in sight at Austin airport. And it was still cold in NY but hot in TX so I needed extensive unearthing and trying on of summer clothes.I think I have forgotten how to pack over the last two years. Anyone else find that? No summer travel plans yet, if at all. Husband had back surgery so we need to see how he is. BUT I am going to B'con in Minneapolis. At least, I have the tickets, etc, and will keep fingers crossed.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 22, 2022 at 10:07 AM

      Yes, packing! So perplexing… Are used to have it down to a real art. With pre-packed cosmetic bags, and a truly efficient system. But now, the idea is incredibly daunting. It’s so odd how what for decades was a commonplace Way of life seems to have evaporated. All the rhythms and habits have been undone.

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    2. Rhys here—I used to be a good packer! This time I took too many and wrong things, including freezing in NY

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  9. Wow. You need a vacation! So glad you didn't get Covid with all that travel. Also sorry that Albuquerque left such a bad impression. It really is an interesting place though downtown has always had a pretty weird vibe.

    Last fall, we did a long road trip from SW Ontario around the top of Lake Superior and west to British Columbia and back again without incident but I haven't been willing to hazard airplanes or airports. My husband is on an airplane at this very moment, (a death in his family) so we will see what he brings home. He always wears a mask, though, so I'm hoping the answer is "nothing." I did consider Minneapolis in September but think I will wait for my maiden Bouchercon in San Diego next year.

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    1. Celia, we did that drive once. I loved it!

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    2. DEAUN: I am planning to go to San Diego Bouchercon to continue my abruptly disrupted vacation in March 2020. Hope to meet you in person there!

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    3. And downtown ABQ was a bit disappointing. Streets mostly deserted in the daytime, except for the homeless. I am guessing the majority of white-collar employees are working from home. There was an arts fair on Central Avenue Friday night which looked like interesting. Central Avenue sidewalks & side streets were crowded with lots of young people. Then dead quiet again on Saturday & Sunday.

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    4. Grace: I'd like that! been to bridge tournaments at that Marriott in San Diego. I'm not a fan of Marriotts in general, but the surrounding area was wonderful. And nothing to complain about with the weather, either. Minneapolis, meh. Downtown Albuquerque was built as the oilman and banker's patch and it always up its welcome mat after 5 o'clock. They've tried for years to change that, like Denver managed to do, but doesn't sound like they succeeded.

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    5. DEAUN: I don't stay at the convention hotel 95% of the time, too expensive for me. I chatted with Bouchercon chair Kim Keeline while at ABQ. The 2023 Bouchercon will be held downtown close to the waterfront & Gastown district, so there should be plenty of cheaper & more interesting accommodation options. I would rather save $60-80 US/night & use that money to buy books. I'm also not a huge fan of chain hotels...I had to stay at plenty of Marriotts, Hyatts, Hiltons etc. while travelling for Environment Canada.

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    6. There are plenty of boutique hotels in the area. However, they will be much more expensive! San Diego is an expensive city because of all the tourists.

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  10. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 22, 2022 at 10:01 AM

    Rhys, that is absolutely incredible! Incredible! And it is glamorous, and exhausting, and marvelous, and so well deserved— your success and your acclaim is the result of so many years of hard work, truly diligent devoted determined hard work, and your breathtaking talent. It is so much fun to read this, and hear you sound so happy. You have dear friends, and devoted fans, and a work ethic like no other. And your joie de vivre is unmatched! Hooray hooray hooray.

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    1. Darling Hank, I have to say the joke de giver wanes every time I turn on the news!

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    2. Don’t you love auto correct! Joie de vivre

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  11. I was on the faculty of a weekend writing seminar this past weekend, which took place in a mansion outside of Boston. It was a weekend event, and we all stayed there, and, happily, it had a gorgeous covered terrace, open on all sides, so our classes and meals were outside on the terrace. When we were inside, people were pretty diligent about masks, I certainly was. And the other teachers, too. That was a week ago, and crossing fingers, so far so good. But that Covid specter was always there.

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  12. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 22, 2022 at 10:12 AM


    Oh, rats, that wasn’t me, Hank, above.

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    1. Goggle won’t let me be me either and I don’t have my Mac

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  13. What a few weeks you had Rhys, I’m glad you could enjoy them without getting sick

    My last travel was to Bouchercon Dallas. I don’t feel ready to travel again.
    This afternoon, I’m going to my first concert since Covid . I’ll be wearing a mask at least during going in and out and during intermission.

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  14. Wow, that was a gamut if ever I heard of one!

    No travel for me yet. Hubs has developed some kind of allergy his doctor is trying to get to the bottom of and as a result, it's suggested that he put off boosters for the time being - he did have his vaccine with no reaction. End result, we are being very careful, masking, and essentially isolating until we have some answers. Travel is still on hold.

    I'm so glad that I can share conferences vicariously though Red reports.

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  15. I am following the trips vicariously of a friend and her husband on Facebook. They've been on a cruise and now are on one of the Viking river cruises in Europe after first visiting Paris. So far, so good. Our trips have been limited to road trips. One to Mississippi and then on to Virginia where I found a house to buy. The most recent, moving to Virginia. I'd love to go on a foreign trip, but until the house in Houston is ready to go on the market and then sold, we'll need to stay home. Rhys, I hope you enjoyed all the whirlwind. Consider it preparation for when you get to travel abroad again.

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  16. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. Glad you arrived home safely. Wishing I could have been at both conventions, but it just didn't work with my work schedule.

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  17. I only spent a bit of that whirlwind time with you, but it was great. You never seem to flag. Clare is delightful and slipped into her tribe easily. (Susan Shea here)

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  18. Sounds like fun but yes, also exhausting!

    Next weekend my husband and I are flying to Colorado Springs for a wedding. I'm super nervous about the time in the airport, less so about the rest of it. (It's practically impossible to maintain an appropriate distance from others in an airport!) But I take great comfort in the knowledge that even if we get infected, the consequences are unlikely to be dire, as we are vaxed and boosted.

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  19. I do love seeing your pictures and hearing about you being at the events, Rhys. Knowing that the book conventions are starting back is a great ray of hope for some normalcy. I'm so glad that Clare enjoyed becoming part of the community, and I hope to meet her soon. I'm registered and have a hotel room for Bouchercon, but I haven't made a final decision on it yet. I dread the flying.

    We haven't started traveling yet. I've had a knee problem, and that combined with the Covid risk (even though I've got the two vaccinations and a booster, scheduled for 2nd this week) has kept us home. We do go to my daughter's an hour away, as the granddaughter has lots going on. She was recently the witch in Into the Woods play at school. So, I'm not without some events to attend, but I am wondering about my 50th high school reunion the end of June. I'm set to go, but I just don't count on something right now without being there already. I go to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to see what lies ahead there, and that will definitely dictate what I'll be doing this summer.

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  20. Oh, Rhys! So jealous... you're having entirely too much fun. My only trip has been to visit my wonderful kids and grands in Brooklyn where I rented an apartment for a week and promptly came down with a beastly cold (NOT Covid the test kits kept telling me). I have some trips and in-person talks coming up: fingers crossed.

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  21. Fantastic, Rhys!!! You are a rock star!

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  22. Such excitement and honors well-deserved! May all go well as we creep out of our protective bubbles, with increased gratitude for the books that made the isolation less isolated. Brava! <3

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