Friday, November 2, 2007

A Venue to Die For

It appears that I'm tardy for this post, and I apologize but, frankly, I've been "on the road," jetting home from my camel-ride at the pyramids just in time to board another plane to a speaking appearance in Bellingham, Washington--the Washington State Emergency Nurses symposium, "Learning From Murder." I was the keynote speaker. And for me--an ER nurse for three long decades--this was a dream come true--a venue to die for!

Aside from the fact that these folks paid to jet me from (barbecue and Tex Mex) San Antonio, Texas to (Starbucks and seafood heaven) Seattle, and put me up at the fabulous waterfront Hotel Bellwether--I had the goosebumpy honor to address a roomfull of folks that I consider to be contemporary American heroes: nurses. Trust me, they are in scare supply these days. Plus, though I've spoken to countless groups assembled in libraries, book clubs, ladies clubs, and churches, it was SO COOL to be surrounded by people who truly speak my lanuage--just as I said at the opening of my speech: "

. . . a roomful of nurses; this is so great! It's like I've finally landed in a country that speaks my languge. You know know what I mean. Right now I could say something awful about, say . . . gallbladders, and not a single one of you would turn pale and drop your bagel!"

Plus, there's the very nifty fact that the heroine of my mystery series, Darcy Cavanaugh, is an emergency nurse herself. And because of that, I could tell these gathered nurses, in all sincerity, that they are the heart of Darcy Cavanaugh, that I write my books to honor them--a golden moment for this author, trust me. Not to mention that my just-released book, MAI TAI TO MURDER, is based on the premise that nurse Darcy Cavanaugh is teaching teaching a writers' workshop at sea, entitled "A Nurses Guide to Murder." A perfect match for the WA nurses' "Learning from Murder" theme--and a segue into the book excerpt that I shared:

" . . . We'd spent the last hour re-hashing the subject of strangulation and then reviewed diagrams of a human torso with the location of vital organs, and the estimated quantities of blood loss from wounds to the various sites. We fielded questions about how fast a victim would die, what it looked like when intestines protruded from the belly, how purple and puffy a face might get, and well . . . a smorgasbord of pre-lunch trauma. I was fairly certain there'd be a run on the vegetarian lasagne."

And my keynote welcome was followed by fascinating presentations from a nurse-turned-coroner, a pallilative care nurse, and an introduction to "club drugs 2007." Sort of CSI, House, Grey's Anatomy, ER, and Scrubs . . . with continuing education credits. There were laughs, life-saving camaraderie, and--for me--an impressive new glimpse into the dedication of these folks who hold our lives in their able hands.

I ended my keynote with one other book excerpt--Darcy's epiphany at the end of Mai Tai to Murder:

"And truths I didn't tell her, too, like the fact that I love being a nurse. Even if it means long hours and gritty realities--with no luxurious respite of afternoon tea. And that I'm going to do my damndest to bring as many new folks onboard this profession as I can, because we need them. And because nurses are heroes in my book . . . "

I meant it. Cross my heart. And I thank the Washington State ENA for allowing me the opportunity to be surrounded by my peers once more--and to applaud them for the heroes they are.
Oh, and just to prove these folks' heart: the crime scene murder tape (above) depicting a dog, was amended with a little note that said that the animal died "of natural causes."

So, who would your dream audience be--what is your "venue to die for?"


Keith Raffel said...


You're from San Antonio? Oh, nuts. Just spoke there last night and flew back this morning. Next time.

Candy Calvert said...

Oh rats--obviously, I missed that in your travel schedule. We're in the Hill Country (Boerne) just 20 minutes northwest of SA. Where did you speak?

Mark Terry said...

Venue to die for?

How about Grand Master for the MWA?

Candy Calvert said...

Whoa--lofty, indeed. That seat last warmed by Stephen King.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

My dream audience is always anyone in the legal field. As you said, Candy, they speak my language. A few well chosen lawyer jokes and I'm in!

Next weekend, Legal Secretaries, Inc. is flying me up to Sacramento to be their Saturday evening banquet speaker. The event is being held in Grass Valley, about an hour north of Sacramento.

Keith Raffel said...

How about discussing Two Graves with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Yup. That would do it for me.

And Candy, I was at the San Antonio JCC.

Candy Calvert said...

Sue Ann--I'm thrilled about your speaking event, and you'll be flying into my hometown! Nevada City is a neat place--quaint, great little eateries and wonderful galleries. Enjoy!

Keith, hope you got a chance to enjoy sights in San Atone. You are quite the traveler, aren't you?

Felicia Donovan said...

Candy, I know exactly how you feel. On Friday, I was the keynote speaker at US's "Women in Science and Technology Forum" where I did a lively, multimedia-based "CSI vs. Reality" presentation.

These young women were incredibly inspiring and harkened me back to my teaching days. More importantly, they got a little glimpse of the real story behind law enforcement - the triumphs and frustrations - and why crimes rarely get solved in 60 minutes. I gave a quick lesson on the science behind body decomposition - rigor mortis, livor mortis, etc - and not one grew pale.

These venues are truly invigorating.

Candy Calvert said...

Felicia--sounds fascinating, and like YOU should have been at my murder symposium in WA!


PS--and yes, we do have to tone it down for the Garden Club. ;-)