Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


IWSG: Meeting Diana Gabaldon and the Booksigning Thief

When I first sat down to write this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, I didn’t think I had a thing to feel insecure about (except the usual–words are hard, yo). But then I remembered. In just a little over a month, I’m going to be on a panel with Diana freaking Gabaldon, talking about tension in fiction.

Not intimidating at all. Nope, not a bit…yikes!

In truth, I’ve met Diana several times, although I’m sure she doesn’t remember me. She’s been going to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference for years, and we’ve had lovely chats in the hotel elevator, which mostly amounted to me gushing over that day’s gorgeous ensemble (the woman can dress). She was even kind enough to contribute to this blog once. So I already know she’s a lovely person, and not someone who’s going to make a panel excruciatingly awkward (been there, sadly). But still–talk about imposter syndrome! I’ll definitely have to make sure I’m on top of my game that day, which means avoiding my usual conference routine of not getting any sleep the night before I leave because I’m scrambling to pack at two a.m.

In other writing news, I’ve had some audiobooks released. A lot of you have been asking for them, so I’m happy to announce that The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, City of Ghosts, Monsters in Our Wakeand Return to Dyatlov Pass are already available, and The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts and Temple of Ghosts are soon to come. If you don’t like ordering anything from Amazon, you can also snag them directly from Audible or iTunes.

My short story What’s in a Name? was published in Unnerving Magazine last month. It’s more of a Alfred Hitchcock mystery-crime story than you’re probably used to from me. This is one of my favourite stories out of all the shorter pieces I’ve written, and I was thrilled to find a good home for it. If you’d like my read my story and some other great stories and articles, including an interview with Paul Tremblay, click the link.

The newest addition to the GhostWriters series is coming along nicely, and should be released in time for Halloween (or shortly after). If you’d like to be a part of my VIP readers team, and receive a free copy before anyone else in exchange for a review, please let me know in the comments or shoot me an email.

Once again, I had a fabulous time being a guest author at the League of Utah Writers’ Quills Conference, but this year, I came away with a funny story. When my book signing was about to start, an older fellow approached me, saying “someone had told him he should talk to me” but he wasn’t sure why. With that auspicious beginning, he pulled up another chair at my signing table. It turned out he wanted me to summarize my entire How to be Your Own Book Publicist course, which I was teaching that afternoon.Though I politely but firmly declined, he kept asking me if it was true that self-published books would never be picked up by retail stores. Before I could respond, he said a few things that set off alarm bells–like the fact his “publisher” was charging him $1500 to put the book on Ingram, which actually costs about $60. I did some quick research, and sure enough, he’d been published by a vanity press. Poor man had been scammed. But before I could feel too sorry for him, he set up copies of his books beside mine, on the signing table! At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“You’re hijacking my book signing!” I said.

“No I’m not; I have books in the store here too,” he replied. Even when a volunteer tried to shoo him away, telling him he’d be reported, the guy refused to budge. Whenever someone dropped by to have me sign one of my novels, he’d go into the hard sell, pitching his weighty autobiography of his years in the military.

As a guest author, I figured I was being paid to be polite and approachable to conference attendees, so I decided to just see the humor in it. If nothing else, it would make for a funny story. How many authors have their book signings hijacked?

But talk about What Not to Do as an Author 101. Yikes.

Book signing hijacker

Thanks to photographer Robert L. Carey for capturing this special moment.

What have you been up to this past month? Please forgive me–I’m behind on comments and blog visits again, but I promise I’ll catch up.

If you’d like to be part of my early readers team and see a sneak peek of the new book before anyone else, in exchange for a review, please let me know.

Thanks to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference for the photo of Diana Gabaldon, which was taken at last year’s conference.

IWSGThe purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Wow, that’s some nerve! And congratulations on being ina position to be nervous about your panel—you’ve earned it, and you’ll be great.

  2. Wow! And no one removed him?
    You’ve earned the right to be on that panel with Diana. You’ll do great.
    Congratulations on the audio books.

  3. I confess that while there’s the temptation to go “poor old guy, give him a pass,” I’m furious on your behalf that he took over your signing. It feels very much like a guy deciding he can just steamroll over a woman to take the place he feels he deserves, and I’m sorry you weren’t better protected by the store.

  4. OMG! The fact that this conniving, rude guy got scammed actually makes me happy. Talk about karma!
    As usual, you handled the situation with professionalism and grace.
    You and Diana are going to rock that panel.

  5. You’re a kinder person than me – I would’ve told him to leave and in no uncertain terms. That is so rude. Pumping you for information AND selling his own books at your table? Shame on the venue for not doing anything.

  6. Lucky you to be with Diana Gabaldon. Have fun and I’ll bet she remembers you. You never know. A member of our RWA chapter used to hijack booksignings the way that man did when people came up to our table. The rest of us were good about mentioning the others at the table and what each other wrote. She just jumped in to give a hard sell, chasing people away. Oh, well. Good thing you could see the humor in that situation.

  7. Fortunately all of my favourite authors are dead, so I don’t need to worry about ever sitting at an awkward panel with them. 😛

    I applaud your grace and patience for putting up with the old fart. What are you going to do? Have him physically removed? It would be well within your right to do so, but what matters is how you felt afterward. Whether he was delusional or just a misogynistic asshole, if having him kicked out and causing a scene caused YOU more stress, then it’s probably not worth it. The organizers should have handled it better.

  8. Wow. That guy had some nerve. I can’t imagine what he was thinking! You handled it with a lot more grace than most people could. Kudos to you.

  9. Dude. That’s not cool about him hijacking your book signing. *sigh*

    That is awesome about being on a panel with Diana Gabaldon! That sounds like an amazing experience. I look forward to hearing about how it goes.

  10. What great news about the audio books! Congratulations.

  11. Can’t wait to see you and Diana Gabaldon in Surrey. I forsee standing room only!

  12. Wow, what a story! Some people sure have chutzpah. What a shame he hijacked your book signing, but it sounds like you handled it with grace and kept your sense of humor about it.

  13. Shame on that guy! Glad you got through it and see the humor, though. Congrats on the audiobooks and good luck with Diana Gabaldon!

  14. Omigoodness, JH! Your book signing story is…the best AND the worse. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 Still laugh-cringing.

    I was super happy to see this post because it reminded me to not just keep thinking about it but to say it: I’ve been thinking about your upcoming SiWC adventure and wishing I could be there for every one of your classes and panels. You will rock them!

    Have so much fun and enjoy every minute of the honor you so deserve and have worked so hard to get!

  15. I’m thrilled for you. Enjoy the encounter as best you can. Lots of pics too since I can’t make it this year. Congrats on the audio books. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  16. You have been incredibly busy on the writing front and other commitments. Wow! And, yes, that’s a funny book signing story. You are such a good and nice person, JH. I don’t know what I would have done, but seeing the humor in it might not have been it. 🙂

    Sending you strength, encouragement and “self-security” for next month’s panel. You’ll be awesome and not because I said so!

  17. Very exciting about being on the panel with Diana Gabaldon! And your gate-crasher – just wow! Those kind of people count on the probability that you’re a decent person and won’t make a scene. Not sure that would play out at my signing table, but good for you for being gracious. Who’d have thought you needed your own security detail.

  18. Good on you for being polite. I’m sure I would have been too, but under the table I’d have texted my husband to come remove him. =)

  19. Some people are so rude! I feel sorry for him, but no excuse for such bad behavior. How exciting to be on the panel with a best selling author, although I’m sure you are getting there yourself. Have fun at the conference.

  20. I would bet that guy was not in the military, or at least not to the extent he bragged about. I hope you let him keep on being scammed for $1500.

  21. Wow, that trumps my experience of having someone walk around to all the signing authors with a bag of their books, trying to sell them to us and anyone who walked up to our table while they happened to be standing there. So bizarre. And, yes, it was an elderly man in this case, too. People are hysterical. And rude. Good luck on that panel!

  22. Just when I think I’ve heard it all, this idiot came along haha. Perhaps if he made an effort to be nicer to fellow writers and make friends instead of enemies, someone would have been able to stop him being scammed by his “publisher”.
    Congrats on the panel, it sounds like a great opportunity 🙂

  23. Wow! That man came and hijacked your signing and no one stopped him?
    You’ll be great on that panel with Diana–and I’ll be back to read accounts of how it went.
    Congratulations on the audio books and the short story!

  24. Congratulations on all your successes! All well-deserved!

    I have no doubt you will do amazing on the panel. 🙂

    OMG on the hijacked book signing! You handled yourself very well.

  25. Wow, what a funny story and you were very cool about it. Kudos to you. Happy belated IWSG Day.

  26. Happy Belated IWSG Day!
    You have so much going on. Good for you.
    Congratulations on the audiobooks, short stories, and the events.
    It’s cool that you’ll be on a panel with Diana. You’ll do great. You belong on that panel with her.
    Never had a signing hijacked. Not sure I’d be able to see the humor in that.

  27. Wow! I can’t believe the gall of him to do that. Start with in ‘innocent’ talk then move in to set up at your signing. Kudos to you for being so polite about the whole situation. Good luck with your panel!

  28. Yes! I’d love to be one of your early readers/reviewers. I think you have my email, but I’ll send another. That man was rude and inappropriate. Some nerve! He should have been kicked out. Ugh! Good luck on the next panel. You’ll be terrific!


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