Panels Galore-NY and Boston Adventures


I took the bus into New York on Wednesday, grabbed a delicious chicken cobb salad near my friend’s apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, and then prepped for panel at MWA-NY meeting that night.

I made a bad call about the subway and rode it to the Village. My best friend and I have a history of getting turned around on those damn diagonal streets. It’s always been a problem. So of course, I end up accidentally walking southwest instead of northeast.

Upside is I got to see some of my old haunts. And of course, I was early so I still arrived perfectly on time to the Salmagundi Club.

It’s a really cool space. Historic feeling. Perfect for the MWA meeting. There’s a room for the actual panel, another room for the bar and a third room for the dinner. Great flow and lots of opportunity to chat and meet amazing authors.

As I got my drink, I bumped into Laura K. Curtis, S.W. Hubbard, and Jillian Abbott–my fellow panelists and chatted with them. They are lovely and funny and charming and I am definitely adding their books to my tbr list!

After drinks, Jillian and I ended up eating together and I had a great time getting to know her. We were joined by fellow author Mitch and the hour passed far to quickly!

The food was delicious–steak, scallops, tomato soup, salad, veggies, mashed potatoes.

After dinner, we adjourned to the meeting room for the MWA monthly meeting and panel.

Big thanks to Laura K. Curtis for being a wonderful moderator! The panel went so fast! I learned so much from my fellow panelists. I wish I could have taken notes during our panel. We had a good crowd and there were lots of questions. Laura said we’d continue the discussion on the MWA-NY blog so when that happens, I’ll link to it.

Key takeaways were:

There are no short cuts in self publishing. You have to be involved in everything, even the stuff you delegate. You are the project manager and have to make sure all the pieces come together.

You also have to be willing to try things and then check and see if they lead to sales. If not, move on to another marketing tactic.

Marketing and promotion are a major part of self publishing. If you hate doing it, you can hire others to help, but it’s a money to time tradeoff. Also, you still have to know what they should be doing and make sure they do it. And keep in mind it’s your book, no one cares more than you do!

There are tons of resources out there and Google is a great place to start. Keep in mind the landscape changes so what worked for one person or what worked a year ago for sales may not work any longer. Tactics change, strategies don’t.



The next day was my day off in the city. I went to the dentist–no cavities. Got to see my friend Ant’s new digs out in Jackson Heights and walked around the historic district there. Grabbed some delicious Indian food for lunch too.

Came back to the city for dinner with Brett at Green Bo. We ordered our three favs. I picked up a few new scarves in Chinatown. Then we subwayed back to his place for Chinese pastries and a bad horror flick, Blood Lake.

Friday I took the bus home and got ready for Arisia where I was on a panel about friends of authors and how to support them with Crystal Huff (who was a terrific moderator), Timothy Goyette, Deborah Kaminski, and Elizabeth McCoy.


Saturday, we drove to Boston (Me, Mom, and Aunt Sue). We stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch and dinner. Arisia was cool. Love the costumes. I got to have a drink with Toni Kelner and get her to sign her newest release. She’s one of my favorite authors to sit and chat with. My panel went well. I love when I can share a couple stories that make the audience laugh.

The big takeaways are:

When they are first published, authors look to their close friends to write reviews or at least read the book and give them feedback.

The more prolific an author is, the less she/he expects you to read and review their work.

Authors appreciate a response when you ask to see their work. If you don’t end up reading it, just say so. Don’t make them ask. It’s awkward for everyone.

You can always find one nice thing to say about something. Even if you don’t particularly connect with a book, try to find the positive when you are talking to an author friend about it. Remember they spent years working on this. You wouldn’t want them to tell you that your newborn baby is ugly, even if it is. Show them the same consideration. While honesty may be appreciated, tact will keep a friendship intact.

We didn’t get to it during the panel, but there are lots of ways to support authors that don’t involve buying the book or writing a review. I have a blog post where I talked about other ways to support author buddies.





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32 Responses to Panels Galore-NY and Boston Adventures

  1. kford2007 says:

    How do you find all these panels? I don’t even know where to look. – Your pics are amazing. I love reading your travel stories and I’m over the moon thrilled for your success. 🙂

    • I belong to MWA-NY. They emailed members about library panels and I volunteered to talk about self publishing. It was a year later that they emailed and asked me to be on this panel. I researched fantasy conventions and then applied to Arisia’s panels. It’s lots of hours of work to research and apply. Thanks! I love taking pictures. I’m lucky I have friends in NY, so the cost to go there is low. With Boston, we just did a day trip. Thank you! Hugs.

  2. Ally Bean says:

    Good takeaways, some of which apply to blogging as well as “booking.” 😉 Your time in NYC sounds like it was fun and informative. The best combo there is, imho.

    • Thanks. 🙂 I try to add in a day of fun when I’m in the city because I have friends I want to catch up with there. I can stay with my best friend for free so it makes sense to tack on another night. I love when I can combine work and fun. 🙂

  3. Loved your descriptive account of your visit and all those wonderful photo’s… So pleased you enjoyed.. and so good to see you eating well ;-)… Have a fabulous week Kourtney xxx Love Sue x

  4. Pete Denton says:

    Sound like more great trips and you always have me with pictures of food. 🙂

    As you attend more and more panels, how much do you feel they’ve helped your approach to writing in general? You’re passing on so many good tips and experiences for us, I wondered where you think you’d be without them?

    • Thanks.

      When I started out in writing, I attended tons of conferences and took voracious notes at every panel I attended. I think that definitely helped me tremendously. When your a panelist, it’s a bit different. You have to be formulating useful answers to questions, showing some personality, charming the audience, and trying to remember that cool thing your fellow panelist just said. 🙂

      There are tons of ways to learn about the craft and the industry. Panels provide a terrific source of information. I am also a huge fan of Writer’s Digest magazine. I think of each issue as a mini conference that I can attend at home. I read PW and Media Bistro daily updates too. I think that I’d probably be less further along in my career if I never attended a panel, but I don’t think everyone must attend panels. 🙂

      • Pete Denton says:

        I’m glad that you’re getting so much out of them. I keep intending to go to more events. Maybe something to try in 2016. 🙂

        • It’s hard to plan to attend events. Life can easily get in the way. I’d recommend setting a goal of going to one writing meeting for an organization you belong to or a one day event or a weekend conference. Whatever you can afford money and time wise. 🙂

  5. First, it must be so cool to just get on a bus and go to New York 🙂 It sounds like you had a productive and fun few days Kourtney.

    • LOL. It was cooler when I lived in the city. Now, it’s a 3 hour ride so I get a lot of editing work done. The train is only 1.5 hours but the station is an hour from my house. 😉 Very productive. Very fun. I’m glad to not have any events for a while so I can buckle down on revisions to Six Train’s sequel.

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    Sounds like some great panels. Thanks for passing on the take-away points. That’s always helpful for the rest of us. What is MWA? I feel like I should know this, but my mind is a blank.

    • I had a great time with my fellow authors. You’ve probably heard it at conferences. 🙂 Mystery Writers of America. It’s a national writing organization for mystery and thriller writers. I highly recommend joining it. Also Sisters in Crime. Both are great groups for mystery/thriller writers.

  7. Lori says:

    Thanks for sharing the great info. Glad you had a good time.

  8. Thanks for sharing the takeaways, Kourtney. Good stuff indeed. I always enjoy your food photos…yum! 🙂

  9. jmmcdowell says:

    So much to know about! And from what I read these days, so much of what applies to indie writers is helpful to those with “traditional” presses, too. Your tips are always fantastic, but those photos are a strain on my attempts to keep eating more healthy foods! 🙂

    • Yes there is. From what I’m hearing, traditionally published authors have to handle more and more of their promo stuff. Glad you found them helpful! LOL. Yes, I get cheat days. Had two in January.

  10. Awesome takeaways. Especially the point about “you can always find one nice thing to say about something.” I keep that in mind when I’m reviewing, as I can’t help but read as an editor these days. I do it as a job, so I’m constantly finding things that could be fixed — even restaurant menus aren’t safe from me! Thanks for the tour!

    • Thanks. I think it’s especially important when you are reviewing a friend’s book too, if you want to maintain the friendship. LOL. I have that problem. I read as an author and I get annoyed over incomplete plot arcs or bad character development. 😉

  11. Whew! Writer-tourist! Your take-aways are realistic and useful. Enjoyed your observations about being in the audience vs being on the panel. You’ve also hit the target with saying events give a chance for opportunities and to hone your craft – smart!

    • Yes, it was a very busy few days there. It’s funny because people ask me about takeaways from panels and it’s really hard to remember what was said when you are thinking about what to say next. The are great opportunities to network and learn. I really enjoy going to them when I can. 🙂

  12. EllaDee says:

    Love the photos – you look fantastic, and I had to laugh, once again, snap!… the G.O. cut six inches off my hair. Your new glasses look good too, the style is great.

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?