Would I want to go to Alabama on another fab road trip with Jaden Terrell? Add to the equation that we would be meeting up with some of the other TROUBLE writers to speak at MURDER IN THE MAGIC CITY in Birmingham and MURDER ON THE MENU in Trouble’s very own home town of Wetumpka! Hmmm—do you want to guess how quickly I said, “YES!!”?
After the drive from Nashville (that flew by, not due to Jaden’s driving, but to her sparkling conversation), we all gathered at our hotel in “the Magic City” for a pre-supper cocktail party, courtesy of event planning organizer Margaret Fenton, which was just the fun appetizer to an excellent dinner at the next-door Oriental restaurant. We didn’t even need the adult beverages (though they were indeed there) to have a blast.
Carolyn Haines, the real-life Tammy Lynn (for whom Trouble’s owner was named), Rebecca Barrett, Susan Y. Tanner, Hope Harrington Oakes, Laura Benedict, Maggie Toussaint, Jen Talty, Greg Herren, Beth, and Margaret were fantastic weekend companions, and I was thrilled to meet these amazing members of our not-so-secret-club. Everyone’s personality shone through, and we got along as well as I’d known we would. There was enough variety, though, that it became easy to see how each of us would come up with such completely different—though compatible—stories involving our favorite feline detective. And our godmother (think family, not fairy, though she does tend to make dreams come true) Carolyn was at the center, making sure everyone met each other and felt welcome.
The next day (February 3rd), we were at the Homewood Library for the 15th Annual Birmingham Mystery Conference. Margaret passed out cool gift bags to each of us, along with the other mystery writers on panels there. Her mom crafted some great auction baskets that benefitted Rehome, Educate, Adopt, Love (REAL), an organization that helps provide classroom education about pets, and spay/neuter/vaccinate and help find homes for pets (especially those who have medical issues or need rehoming).
They provided a very nice deli lunch and barbecue dinner—as well as another cocktail hour. Everyone at the conference couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive when we spoke, signed, and visited with them. We hated to leave, but couldn’t have been more excited to go to Tammy Lynn and Trouble’s hometown and soak in that atmosphere!
When we journeyed to Wetumpka the following day for the Friends of the Wetumpka Library fundraiser, I wondered if Alabamians (is that a word?) all were so gracious and welcoming. They were just as hospitable as in Birmingham, and gave us each a library card (to use for e-books checked out from their library) and a lovely silver cup, along with a very nice lunch before the panels commenced. They even had the town’s mayor welcome us, so we felt quite official.
Once again, we had a great audience who asked insightful questions and seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. And our own Tammy Lynn and her crew did a great job with the fundraiser there for the library, so we were really proud of her.
Somewhere along the line, Greg dubbed us The Mad Catters—a moniker we jumped on with great delight. Carolyn immediately started planning for us to pose for a future group photo wearing Mad Hatter-style top-hats and decked out in cat makeup, to be applied by makeup artist extraordinaire Jaden. (Something to look forward to, right?!)
Wetumpka is such a charming town, and it was fun to imagine which house might be our little Trouble’s. It was sad to leave our fellow Mad Catters at the end of the day, but we all had to go home and start plotting his next adventures. So—stay tuned!
A Louisiana native who now lives in Nashville, Michelle Broussard Honick previously worked for country entertainers Ronnie Milsap and Tammy Wynette. A journalism graduate of Louisiana State University and student at its first-ever coed summer school program in London, she has written for numerous national music publications and nine produced mystery dinner theatres, as well as co-writing the book Ghosts, Gangsters, & Gamblers of Las Vegas. Michelle has two rescue cats (the nearly twenty-year-old tortoiseshell calico Belle and the much younger black cat Brady, who inspired two names in this story), and she is thrilled to write in the Trouble series that’s spearheaded by her favorite writer, Carolyn Haines.