As a new author, I spoke on two panels.
The first was "Putting the SUPER in Supernatural." It was wonderful to hear author Lee Killough's thoughts on the supernatural, since her works are so different than mine. If you haven't had the chance to pick up one of her books, do it! She has a fresh take on vampires and werewolves. I have added her Killer Karma book to my "to be read" pile -- though that pile has suffered a population explosion in the past week.
The second panel made me much more nervous, since it covered religion in mysteries. I really wasn't comfortable with the topic, nor was I overly familiar with the other authors on the panel. Sharan Newman writes both historical mysteries which take place in the middle ages and non-fiction titles dealing with some pretty controversial topics. Marilyn Meredith has thirty published titles, including one series featuring a Native American deputy sheriff and her pastor husband. Shannon Baker's debut novel covers the three "big religions": Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And the entire panel was moderated by David J. Walker, a former priest turned author. No pressure, right?
(By the way, they were all super nice people, and each of their books are now gracing my "to be read" stack.)
I think a good part of my nervousness can be attributed to the fact I don't see Ghost Mountain as being a religious book. There is some spirituality there, of course, but I don't think there's much religion. To me, religion is the big umbrella. It's the rules we, as lowly humans, are supposed to follow. It's the list of d0s and don'ts and cans and can'ts. Spirituality, however, is the way we follow those rules. It's the feeling we get when we know we're on the right path, or when we witness a beautiful sunset. The experience works best when a person is both religious and spiritual, but I've know religious people who weren't very spiritual and some deeply spiritual people who avoided religion like the plague.
That sort of leads me to the question I have: Are you religious or spiritual? How do you combine the two?
P.S. I think I'm more spiritual then religious, for those who are wondering.