Wednesday, March 7, 2012


By Deborah Sharp
I wonder if Charlaine Harris (she's pictured, left) has to chase ducks out of her writing spot? Or is she so rich and famous from her Sookie Stackhouse books she has someone to do it for her? A duck wrangler, if you will?

I'm thinking about that this morning as I've gotten up for the third time from my Florida porch and run shouting and waving my notebook at a particularly bold Muscovy drake. He prefers my backyard pool -- and its formerly white deck -- to the river only a few waddling duck steps away.

So far today, it's Duck 2; Deborah 0. Not only has he managed to distract me from writing, I also slipped in a smear of duck poo. Splat. Even though Charlaine is a known duck-lover, I bet even she would have conjured up a vampire by now to dispatch this particular duck.

What do my duck issues and Charlaine Harris have in common, you might ask? (I know I am.) She was a a guest of honor at Sleuthfest over the weekend in Orlando. I'm on the board of Mystery Writers of America/Fla. Chapter, which sponsors the annual event. It was one of our best ever. I'm so proud of the many volunteers and board members who do waaaaay more work than I do to make Sleuthfest one of the top mystery conferences in the nation.

Charlaine was incredibly kind and gracious, even sitting in the audience at panels when she wasn't scheduled to speak. As far as I know, she didn't kill a single duck while in Florida.

The point is, all writers have irritations and distractions, even Charlaine Harris. Of course, hers include things like her publisher demanding she do day-long visits to book warehouses, where she must autograph her work over and over (and over and over and over and over and over ...) This is so stores across the globe can be shipped signed copies to sell. So far, I haven't been irritated or distracted in such a way.

What about you? What distracts you from doing your job? What's most irritating about your work? If you're a writer, and not yet as successful as Charlaine Harris, here's a multiple choice answer to get you started:
A) Chasing critters (or family members) from your writing space.
B) Royalty statements that make your tax guy laugh.
C) Spending more at conferences than you make all year.
D) Stretching to make a blog post point by taking the name of Charlaine in vain.
E) All of the above.


G.M. Malliet said...

"Charlaine was incredibly kind and gracious..." She absolutely is - really a terrific lady. Wish I could have been there, Deborah!

Beth Groundwater said...

Oh boy, what distracts me is what I can see out the window of my writing office--the fantastic Breckenridge ski area and its Colorado champagne powdery slopes.

Kathleen Ernst said...

So many mystery writers are kind and gracious-- volunteering their time to present conferences or a myriad other things that help support and encourage other writers. I attended Sleuthfest once - a great con!

Keith Raffel said...

Sleuthfest was the first mystery conference I went to as a writer. Met all sorts of people who are friends still. Stuart Kaminsky, a prince among men and a writer nonpareil, ended up blurbing my first book. Great memories. Like Gin, I wish I could have been there this year, too.

Deborah Sharp said...

Gin, and Keith, too: Wish you'd been there. We'd have had fun. Maybe next year?
Beth: Oddly, one of the interesting things Charlaine said is she has to write facing a wall because she's too distracted by the view out her window. Great minds...?
Kathleen: Amen, lots of nice folks in the mystery community.

Unknown said...

The beach (walks). The salt marsh (walks). Facebook (I'd rather be walking!)

Deborah, I plan to be there next year - Sleuthfest has long been on my list, I just haven't gotten there. But next year, book in hand!

Alan Orloff said...

It was a great conference--you and the other organizers did a fantastic job. (It was also great seeing you!)

Here's what distracted me: seeing Charlaine Harris in the audience at my panel! I hope she picked up a tip or two :)

Robin Allen said...

Food, internet, laundry, food, hot baths, knitting, food, the lint on my rug, the books on my bookshelf that need to be rearranged by size. Food. No by color. Food. No in alphabetical order.

Deborah Sharp said...

Robin: Ha! I'd write more here, but I'm distracted by food ...
Alan: Hey, I bet Charlaine was HAPPY to learn from Alan Orloff, the master.
Sheila: Yay! Would love to see you at S-fest. Will you be bringing the dogs for show-and-tell ;-) ?