Do you prefer to meet your favorite mystery author when s/he swings through on a booksigning tour, or do you prefer to go to fan conventions, or do you prefer to make friends online or what? How do you best like to approach your favorite author?

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All of the above. I'm lucky to live in New York City, where I have plenty of opportunities: book launches, parties, meetings of MWA and Sisters in Crime, the Edgars, and more. And I'm on the MWA and SinC lists, DorothyL, CrimeSpace, Murder Must Advertise, and MySpace too. On top of that, I can visit writers' group or individual blogs and make friends by posting a comment--or inviting them to come and do a guest blog or let me interview them for Poe's Deadly Daughters. When I go to Malice or Bouchercon, I'm amazed at how many writers I already know online or f2f. And even better (as everyone knows about mystery writers), they're all terrifically nice people. :)
And, we were so pleased to have Liz with us for an At Home last year.
Hello, Janet. Janet is a good friend to many authors. And I just e-mailed you, Janet.
Online, or at talks/conferences. In real life I wouldn't have the confidence to approach a favourite author unless I had a really burning or killer question to ask them.
Please remember that authors are even more terrified. :)
I agree with you about author's being terrified.....especially if they're just beginning....I went to one book signing for an author that had not spoken often, and she was charming and did very well, but her hands shook....and she looked a little uncomfortable in her own skin at the moment. I went, not only to offer support but to see how she conducted the signing (I was going to be speaking at Murder by the Book in a month so I wanted to see what to expect)...it was very enlightening for me, because it reassured me that I'm not the only one who is a little intimidated by speaking to a group and not knowing what to anticipate:)...

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