First day at Left Coast Crime

Honolulu, Hawaii – what could be better after the horrible winter we have had? Well, how about sharing it with a group of crime writers and a book store filled with tempting crime fiction of all descriptions? If only my suitcase was bigger.

I was excited to see copies of my own book, Murder is Uncooperative, in the conference book store run by Barnes and Noble. 

My morning started out with an exciting round of author speed dating. Pairs of authors rotated among 20 tables, pitching our books to readers at each table. I was lucky to be paired with Elena Hartwell  (@Elena_Hartwell). We got to hear each other’s pitch many times over, so good thing we got along. I will definitely read her book.

And I met the organizers of Left Coast Crime 2019, which will take place in my hometown of Vancouver.

The afternoon ended with Cocktails with Crime Writers of Canada, a large, noisy mingling of writers and readers.

 

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It’ll be a crime if you’re not there

If you love mysteries and other crime fiction, there are two upcoming conventions taking place in Canada. Check them out. #mysteryconvention

Bouchercon 2017 is scheduled for October 12 – 15 in Toronto. This is a huge conference – there are already 1,200 people registered – and it attracts the big name authors you’ll find at the top of bestseller lists. (At my very first Bouchercon,  I met Lee Child in the elevator!) This year’s guests of honour include Louise Penny, Megan Abbott, and Christopher Brookmyre. @Bouchercon

Left Coast Crime’s Vancouver conference isn’t until 2019 but planning is already underway. You can register soon at a much lower rate and get involved as a volunteer. Maureen Jennings will be the Canadian guest of honour and Cathy Ace has been chosen as toastmaster.

Both of these are fan conferences, where readers have a chance to meet their favourite authors, discover new ones, and come home with a pile of books!

 

 

Housing co-ops and the civil rights movement

I’ve seen what a difference an affordable home can make in people’s lives. But I had no idea about the role co‑op housing played in the civil rights movement in North America. #housing #BlackHistoryMonth

Thanks to CHF Canada for sharing this information for Black History month and to David J. Thompson and the National Association of Housing Co-ops for documenting these important stories (follow the links below to link to newsletters containing the full versions.)

In Murder is Uncooperative, all Rebecca wants is a safe, affordable home. Many people struggle to find affordable housing. For some, available options were even fewer because of their colour. Co-operatives provided a solution.

  • In 1958, famed entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte and his young family found it difficult to find an apartmentin New York City and he ended up sending his (white) publicist to the rental broker to collect a lease agreement for an apartment. A year later, Belafonte led a consortium that bought the apartment building and then offered co‑op shares to the tenants, creating a desegregated housing co‑op.
  • Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice and the lawyer who won the historic “Brown vs The Board of Education” case that opened the doors to desegregation, was exposed to co‑ops early in his career. In 1958, Marshall and his family moved out of the Edgecombe Apartments (which would later become co‑op apartments) and into the Morningside Heights Housing Co‑op in the upper east side of Manhattan. His focus in co‑operative organizing was to develop interracial co‑operatives, and he fought for a fair regulatory environment, taking the Federal Housing Authority to task for their discriminatory ‘redlining’ practices.
  • Bayard Rustin’s co-op apartmentin New York City, in the South Penn Housing Co‑operative, became the initial hub for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – the 1963 protest featuring by the Rev. Martin L King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

 

Characters come to life

I’m very excited that the Central Ontario Co-operative Housing Federation is dramatizing Murder is Uncooperative as part of their Co-op Service Awards dinner. Rebecca and her fellow co-op members will be featured in a mystery dinner theatre performance on February 16. The event recognizes housing co-op members for contribution to their housing co-op, the greater co-op movement, or the larger community. I hope it is a fun evening and congratulations to all the award winners.

My first book review!

Delighted to read this in the latest e-news from the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. Thanks to my former employer and their staff for sending this out to their network.

HOUSING CO-OP MURDER MYSTERY THE PERFECT READ (OR GIFT) FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Finding affordable housing can seem like the answer to all of one’s prayers. At least Rebecca Butler thought so when she secured a three bedroom unit in ‘Waterview’ Housing Co-op. A dead body found in the co-op office makes her wonder if she’s made the right move.

So begins the plot of “Murder is Uncooperative.”

Author Merrilee Robson previously worked for CHF Canada as Program Manager, National Communications and is a former president of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC. She was also the founding president of Trafalgar Housing Co-op in Vancouver.

She says she came up with the idea while working for co-op housing. “The phone calls I received were very interesting. Although many people love and enjoy living in their co-op, it can be difficult for some.”

Co-op members will relate to the protagonist’s search for housing, and with the relief she feels when she finds safe, secure, affordable housing. And they “will find the descriptions of meetings funnier than those who don’t live in a co-op’, says Robson, “but the story is accessible to everyone.”

“Except for a killer, the people in this book are just like your co-op neighbours,” says CHF Canada’s Director, Corporate Affairs Nick Sidor. “Merrilee has nailed the co-operative experience but added a macabre twist.”

You can purchase your co-op murder mystery online throughChapters Indigo or through  the publisher North Star Press.