Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

So, you're going to Bouchercon for the first time

I'm on the train for Bouchercon this morning, my ticket and flask in a death grip as I battle the hordes trying to snag good seats on the 11am Silver Streak.

some very interesting characters on this train!


Bouchercon starts tomorrow and if any of you are planning to attend here are some tips:

1. Wear comfy shoes. This is not the time to dress up in snazzy heels. The programming is divided between two locations (argh!) so you'll be doing some hiking.

1a (prompted by a midnight email from a friend)  You'll fit right in if you wear jeans. Most people do not dress up for this.

2. Take a look at the panel offerings and mark the ones you want to make sure to attend. Get to those early (like 15 minutes ahead of time) to make sure you get a good seat.

3. If you can't decide between two panels,  pick the one that's in the room that you want to be in next or will be in before hand.

4. Go to panels where you have no clue who the authors are or what kind of books they write. Finding new authors and new books is one of the great pleasures of this convention.

5. Unless you're an autograph hound, skip the autographing sessions. Maybe it's just me, but I hate standing in line.

6. The book room is a feast. You'll need to survey the inventory at least twice before diving in. Which reminds me: bring an extra suitcase for books. Trust me.

7. Talk to total strangers. The book room is an ideal place to do that.  Obviously don't interrupt conversations, but if you see someone looking at the books, ask if they have a favorite author they like to recommend.

If by any chance you're in the book room with Lee Child, ask him what he's reading. He's a very nice man (ie he won't snap your head off) and the man is VERY well-read.

8. There are going to be a LOT of authors at Bouchercon. If you get a chance to say hello, do so. They are there to meet readers.  After you say "I love your books" and the author says "thanks" you can ask what they're reading now that they love.  Authors love to talk books. And asking about someone else's book is much easier for them than gushing fan noises.

9. If you want to ask a question at a panel, write it down first. A lot of readers get tongue tied in the Q&A and don't know how to stop talking. If you write your question ahead of time, you can read it, and then STOP, sit down, and listen to the answer.

10. If a panel is dreadful, you can leave.

11. Turn off your damn cell phone in the panel.

12. The early in the day panels, and the last panels of the day are the most sparsely attended. The authors on those panels are generally pretty darn glad to see you.

13. If you read this blog and you run into me, say hello. No matter what else I'm doing. Well, if Jack Reacher is sweeping me off my feet, stand aside, but other than that!

Normally I'd say "any questions" but I"m on the train and wifi is problematic so I'll try to answer anything in the comment column tonight from Raleigh.


David Montgomery has a nice list of B/con tips on his Facebook page too.


61 comments:

Sam Hawke said...

Have a great time Janet and anyone else lucky enough to be there!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Echoing Sam. Everyone enjoy (Colin, Donnaeve, are there others going?) who're heading that way. And here's a toast (with tea, not whisky. Too early in the morning) that Jack Reacher will be there to sweep QOTKU off her feet.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I hate my job. It keeps me from doing all the good stuff like carrying Janet's bags to the train, filling her flask and letting her walk through puddles on my coat.

Donna and Colin I am so with you this weekend, if not eye to eye than in spirit. Somebody has to hold down the fort on Carkoon. I'm on it Colin. Kale and lima beans be damned.

nightsmusic said...

Have a wonderful time! (love the picture too)

Oh, by the way...today is NATIONAL KALE DAY!!! For all those Carkoonians...

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I wish I was going to be there. I am stuck in Carkoon. I can't wait to hear all about it. I would totally join 2Ns in assisting Janet with her bags and scotch :/

SiSi said...

Oh, how I wish I were on a train to Bouchercon this morning! Have a great time, Janet and my fellow woodland creatures.

Colin Smith said...

Ooo... some great tips there, Janet. And David! Especially #1/1a. I had some really nice heels to wear but, oh well, I guess it's the tennis shoes and jeans.

Seriously, I need to remind myself of something David said in the link Janet posted: "You're paying too much to be bored." To me, that's not so much an incentive to leave panels if they aren't floating my boat, but to be sociable and talk to people I wouldn't otherwise ever get to talk to. That's the tough one for me, but I just need to suck it up and do it. If you're at Bouchercon and you see me skulking away in the corner, please come up to me and remind me I said this. :)

It's NATIONAL KALE DAY? Maybe that's why my certificate from the Department of Alien Foreign Travel came through this morning! Yay--Felicia Buttonweezer signed it, so I'm good to go!!

See you in Raleigh, Janet and Donna! :)

Oh, and to add to what Janet said, if you read this blog and bump into me, please say hi. Yes, at last you'll be able to tell me to my face to stop hogging the comments and get a life. ;)

AJ Blythe said...

I really wish I was going =(

Something to add to Janet's point #6:
If you don't want to pay for extra luggage take pre-paid post satchels/bags. Then you can post your clothes back and take the books in the one suitcase you took with you (priorities!). Plus, no dirty underwear will ever go missing from the post, but the latest Lee Child...

It's possible I'm speaking from experience.

Donnaeve said...

I had a good laugh at #11 and #12 on David M's list. Don't be That Guy. (or Girl)

I'm overwhelmed by the number of panels, and have yet to decide which ones to attend. I'll have to get on my A game, though since my time there will be limited due to family obligations.

Having said that, I'm excited, and hope I don't miss the opportunity to meet QOTKU. My plan is to skulk around the bar...

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Enjooooy the train before the madness. I wish I was going. I'd love to clink glasses at the bar with the Shark and to meet Colin too.

DLM said...

This is great advice beyond Bouchercon; it's my strategy for James River Writers' conferences as well. This year we won't be splitting locations, but good shoes are a must, and TALKING TO PEOPLE. JRW is 10-16 to 18 this year, and we will be Janet-less, but I continue to dream. :)

One point to add: it is not in the least difficult to open and close doors relatively quietly. Please do not be the twerp who interrupts everything by walking in as if nothing were going on. Everybody paid for this, including (presumably) you, so don't be disruptive. Phones, doors, loudly whispered chats with your New Literary Best Friend, or your old friends, in the middle of a panel: no. Don't make me swat your paws.

Amanda Capper said...

Oh how I wish I was with SiSi on that train to Bouchercon.

Hard to win. If you have a job, you've got the money to go but not the time. If you don't have a job, you have the time but no money.

Solution: stay home, save some money, and finish the freakin' book so that next year, you'll have something to flog when you to Bouchercon.

Have a great time Janet, and Colin, and Donna, and everyone else. I want to see pics!

Colin Smith said...

Amanda: And then if you have a job and a family, you have other important claims upon your time and money that make going to events like this difficult. This is why I'm jumping at the opportunity to go to Bouchercon this year, since it's just a few hours away from me. I'd love to do a NY writing conference sometime, perhaps the Writer's Digest conference. If Bouchercon, a fan convention, is as good as I expect, something like the WD conference would be awesome.

I wish you all could be in Raleigh, I really do! :(

W.R. Gingell said...

Like the other Aussies on here (and everyone else, by the sound of it :D ) I can't say how much I WISH I could go! Alas, Australia is too far and too expensive to travel from. One day when I'm a rich and famous author....

...or, yanno, someone dies and leaves me a wad of moolah.

Colin Smith said...

Janet: Since this article will be relevant every year, at the risk of repeating what others have said, some typos to correct:

* the title: "So, you're goint to Bouchercon..."
* #7: "ask if they have a favorite author they like to reccomend."

Those are the ones I caught. Feel free to delete this comment once you've corrected them. :)

Joyce Tremel said...

I'm sad I'm not going this year, but I wasn't quite up to it. I've instructed Annette to give you a hug for me. I'll see you at Malice in the spring!

Laura Mary said...

Have fun everyone! I'm currently day dreaming about a feast of books now...

Karen McCoy said...

Yup, ditto Colin. I wonder what a "goint" would be? A swollen joint?

Feel free to delete this one too...

Les Edgerton said...

I'll be in the bar, Janet. Oh--you knew that, didn't you... I'll be saving you a drink. If you get a chance come to the Noir@Bar at Common 414 (bar next to Sheraton) on Thursday night to see a bunch of us getting rowdy and reading. Hope I get a chance to see you! It's always a highlight of B-Con when I do!

LynnRodz said...

#13 makes me want to hop on a private jet and be in Raleigh. If you read this blog and you run into me, say hello. No matter what else I'm doing. Well, if Jack Reacher is sweeping me off my feet, stand aside, but other than that!

Believe me, if I had a private jet to take me somewhere, in normal circumstances, Raleigh wouldn’t even make my list of places to go. Sorry Raleighians, Raleighers, Raleighites, but walking up to the QOTKU and telling her, “Step aside, Janet, Jack’s all mine.” would be too delicious to pass up!

Have fun, Janet!

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I'm sad I'm not going, but I am heading to Surrey in a couple of weeks. I shall hook up with Miss Janet, and hopefully some shark baits, somewhere down the road next year.

This is pretty solid advice for many conferences. I am dressing up a bit for Surrey simply because the tote with my good jeans somehow got moisture in it and my pants are all moldy. Very unhappy about this. Fifteen pairs of high dollar jeans to the trash. It's cheaper to buy skirts I can take in later than jeans I will not be able to wear.

Anyway, I will probably look like the southern family's crazy relative, but that's fine.

I hope y'all have a blast. I hope Janet gets swept off her feet. Everyone take notes and make blog posts later.

Jenz said...

A tip I learned from author Steven Brust at ArmadilloCon: The magic phrase for getting an author's attention is, "Can I buy you a drink?"

I did buy him a drink, and he was awesome to hang out with. I learned a lot from him, and it was really fun, too.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Theres...theres a book room?

I really need to go to a conference...and I think this is one of them... NOW.

Looking forward to everyone's return and recap!


Beth said...

I really wish I could be there. I picked the wrong weekend to take a vacation. I hope you all have a great time! Raleigh is a great city, and the weather this weekend should be much better than last!

Colin Smith said...

Janice: I'll take pictures of the book room. Or should that be The Book Room...? :)

If Bouchercon is as good as everyone says, I might have to write a blog article, or two.

John Frain said...

Speaking selfishly, I hope Jack Reacher doesn't show up. We can't afford to let him whisk the queen away. Whether it's the six-foot-six book version or the five-foot-six movie version, paws off the fins.

BJ Muntain said...

Colin: As Janet said, you have the perfect reason to start conversations - reading. If you see someone sitting alone in a panel, sit beside them and ask them what they're reading. Or ask them something about this panel (which you're both interested enough to attend).

I know it's hard to break the bounds of introversion (I'm a pretty quiet introvert), but it's a lot easier to talk to a stranger if you know the stranger is interested in the same thing you are, simply because they spent a lot of money to be at that conference too.

I know it's easy to say 'don't be scared' - so I won't. But you know what? There will be people there even more scared than you are. And they'll probably be less scared if they meet someone else like them there. Funny how less out-of-place you feel when there's someone else with you who feels the same way.

As for 'hogging the comments and get a life': Colin. You have 6 kids. If that isn't a life, I don't know what is. And if that's not a reason to take a few minutes here and there in your day to talk to adults... ditto.

David Montgomery's post: #18 confused me. I thought that was why Janet and Ms Slithery Poelle went to Bouchercon...

Some day I'll get to Bouchercon. Some day, I'll even get to North Carolina. I was online-chatting with a friend last week, daydreaming about book tours. Cheap book tours for me would be in the Pacific Northwest (as I have friends I can stay with in British Columbia and Oregon). New York City would also be fairly inexpensive (although I do like to splurge there), as I have an open invitation to stay with a very good friend there. But think of all the places I could go!

I'd like to think that, once I'm published, I'll also be able to go to all the authorish shindigs out there, like Bouchercon and many of the science fiction cons, and so forth. It would give me a good reason (including financial reasons) to travel. I might even get off this continent for once.

This year, it doesn't look like I'll even get to Surrey, BC. I've gone 10 years in a row, and this will break the streak. Stupid money. I wanted to meet Julie!

Anyway, I hope all you folks have the best time ever. And if there's drunk dancing on tables - go watch to support Janet, if nothing else.

Colin Smith said...

BJ: Thanks! And yes, I'd like to meet Julie too. If she was going to Bouchercon this year, I'd light a fire in the parking lot of the Sheraton just so we can gather round with marshmallows on sticks and listen to her tell stories. :)

And if there's dancing on tables anywhere near me, I'll be posting the videos... :)

Julia said...

Have a blast!
Watch out for water.

I have nothing else useful to add.

All of my partials finally got sent last week and then somebody shrunk the word count sweet spot on me.

Well.
No, they didn't. I just realized that I wasn't in it. So I'm revising. A lot. Putting more BANGPOPFIZZ! into my MS (the historical fantasy, not the crime), as per recommendations from WDC last summer, and getting the crime ready for Crimebake in November. Hope to have time to put more BANGPOPFIZZ! into that one for that con.

I think.... it's possible...

WDC may have turned me into a con addict. I went to my own League's con a cpl weeks ago and was almost hysterical with disappointment. If one can be such a thing. Almost emailed Janet and begged her to come shake some sense into people.

Anyway, I just KNOW those of you going to Don't-Drown-Con are going to have an awesome time.

Hope y'all are well here on the blog.

Bye.
Nemo

Donnaeve said...

The Old North State - particularly Raleigh, got some rain, but more around 3-5 inches over those days - not like South Caroline, so no worries about getting wet. We've ordered special weather for The Queen, beautimous skies, beautimous wall to wall sun (after not seeing it for 12 days, I think that's what's in the sky) and hopefully, BCon will live up to all our expectations.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks, Julia! Hope you're well yourself. :)

We had a lot of rainfall late last week and over the weekend in NC, but we're into a pretty good dry spell at the moment. I'm not aware of any flood warnings on the eastern side of the State, and I don't think there are any up for the central part. The worst of the flooding was in our southern neighbor state, SC. Worst in 1,000 years, I hear. :(

Colin Smith said...

Yes, Donna--I see your request for the big yellow fiery ball in the sky to make an appearance was approved. Well done! Mind you, nothing less for QOTKU... ;)

Panda in Chief said...

And of course all the Reiders will have a Kale corsage or lapel pin to identify them as Reid readers. Wish I could be there, but alas, it's across the country. I know many of my favorite writers will be there. Have fun without me and a drink for me!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Colin, Donna and the Queen, I suggest what Panda in Chief said, have A DRINK FOR ME, for ALL OF US who would love to be with all of you but alas can not.

Julia said...

Order up a Virgin Kale Mary.
:D

kdjames.com said...

Yes, our weather has cleared nicely after several days of gloom. We got just under 8 inches here (Raleigh) spread over several days, but it's hilly so there shouldn't be any standing water to deal with. Sunny and warm, with those fabulous Carolina blue skies you all might have heard about. Raleigh is beautiful.

I am so disappointed I won't be able to attend this con. Words are inadequate. It helps, sort of, to hear others in the comments expressing similar frustration.

Two things I'd like to mention (disagree with?) about the list:

- Yes, dress casually and absolutely wear comfortable shoes. But it's a wee bit unusual to see people wearing jeans here. Not to say you can't, but some type of khaki pants is more likely for casual attire.

- About choosing a panel to attend. It's a wonderful idea to meet and talk to people you don't know and haven't heard of, whether you're a writer or a reader. But if you're a writer hoping to learn something at the con, my advice is to choose panels based not on subject matter but on who is presenting. You want to listen to people who have experience and success doing the thing you want to do. Believe me, you will learn something from them, no matter what subject they're discussing.

But absolutely, if you're in the bar or the hallway or the book room, don't stand there waiting for some "famous" person to notice you and say hello. Start a conversation with someone you've never heard of. Discover a new favourite writer. Make new friends. Some day you all will be the writers other people are packing the room to hear.

I DO expect to hear recaps from all those attending.


Hi, Julia! Good to hear your voice over here again!



Julie.M.Weathers said...

KD,

Yes, I agree we can learn from almost everyone. Having said that, I've learned the hard way just because someone is a great writer doesn't always translate into a great speaker or teacher. I'm no longer too proud to slip out and find another workshop I might glean something from.

With most conferences there is such a variety of workshops and panels on subjects you really do want to attend you're have to make tough choices to begin with. It would make no sense to me to attend a workshop on facebook greatness with an interesting author when I can attend a workshop on sword fighting.

I'm going to take advantage of workshops and panels that address my weak spots as much as possible.

That's me, though.

Steve Forti said...

Sounds like a blast. One of these days I'll have to crash one of these shindigs. Have fun!

BJ Muntain said...

So nice to see you, Julia! Remember: a 'sweet spot' for word count isn't a law. But BANGPOPFIZZ! is very important in a novel, and I heartily recommend using as much as possible. It's like the stout in stout cake - is it possible to have too much?

(Remember: I haven't had stout cake in over 5 years, because, funnily enough, you can't get it in a gluten-free version. But I have memories...)

Amy Schaefer said...

Enjoy yourselves, conference-goers! I'm going to spend my final ten weeks in Paradise just writing, writing, writing. And occasionally collecting mangoes.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Julia,

Glad you got those partials off and good to see you again!

kdjames.com said...

Julie, I bow to your greater experience. I'm such a clueless naif, all I have are weak spots. It would be almost impossible for me to find a panel where I wouldn't learn something about writing. Still, if forced to choose (I'd happily attend ALL THE PANELS if I could), probably I'm going to go with experience over wet-behind-the-ears. Sort of like I do with reading this blog. Although, I have to say, if I'm ever at a con and there's a workshop on sword fighting . . . you couldn't keep me away. :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Bah, BJ. You have to come.

Vicki Pettersson just posted on her blog about Surrey and Books and Writers. She's a doll and always has been.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie: I think there is three chances in a hundred I might be able to attend. Only one of those chances would allow me to pre-register.

But, if any of these chances come through (and yes, I'm praying like crazy) I'll be there.

And then we must meet. And I will buy you a drink or dessert (your choice).

Craig said...

I hope all of you have fun. I am, in some ways, glad I am not going. I have some bad habits and would end up playing in the water downstate. I used to help with those kinds of things as a job, now it is just habit.

Is anyone else having trouble with the query question e-mail address? My e-mail won't send my question for some reason. I know that I am plugging it in right but it ends up with a semi-colon on it and won't go anywhere.

nightsmusic said...

@Craig

When you paste the address in, is there a space at the end of the address? If so, most email programs put the semicolon in anticipating another address entry.

Craig said...

Nightmusic, I didn't paste it. I typed it in and did not put a space on the end. I might try making it a contact and see if it likes that better. I'm not having problems with anything else so it just doesn't like the address.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

KD,

No need to bow to anyone. As I said, this is my preference. I did a blue pencil with a poet and I don't write poetry to speak of, but I was intrigued by the way she uses language.

Since I don't travel well and funds are limited, I have to pick my battles and make the most of them. Panels I go to may boil down to which ones don't involve going up and down stairs. I just have zero interest in learning about Regency writing, writing memoirs, self publishing, facebook, writing sex, writing for teens, courtroom thrillers, picture books, etc, which are all being offered at Surrey. I'm sure I could learn something from them, but there are other workshops that will help me more, I think.

Each person has to make the most of their experience.

BJ, come to Surrey and I'll buy you a drink or ten. The B&W crew will be out en force this year.



nightsmusic said...

@Craig

Hmmm...unusual because the semi-colon is a placeholder for the next address entry. You must be using Outlook. Do you have another email program you can try sending from?

John Frain said...

I have solved the mystery of Bouchercon. Professor Colin is guilty. He did it in the Book Room. With the hardcover anthology.

New game, anyone?

Craig said...

Night music, I'm stuck with windows live mail. Outlook isn't compatible with this version of Windows. In fact I had to print out the Outlook crap when we had this computer built and plug it back in by hand.

What you are saying is how I thought things worked too.

nightsmusic said...

Outlook, Livemail, they're both Windows, unfortunately, and though I'm a PC person (dual-booted with Ubuntu) I use Gmail for everything except my work account. That's Office365 which isn't any better than the old Outlook and the WindowsLive. But I can pick them all up through Gmail so it solves a LOT of problems! You might want to consider that...

kdjames.com said...

Julie, thanks for clarifying. Honestly, all I could think when reading your first comment to me was, "She's right. Who the hell am I to give anyone advice about this? Especially over here." I should have phrased my initial comment not as "advice," but as "what I would do." We're all at different stages and want different things, and come from different backgrounds of knowledge and experience. What we each want from a conference is going to vary widely. I'm totally with you on the stairs issue, though. My knees are treacherous and unforgiving (hence my absence from B'con this year).

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Julia, so nice to see you back. I have thought of you so often.
And Colin, did you remember to pick up the kale corsages and lima bean confetti?

BJ Muntain said...

That's right - you had knee surgery earlier this year, didn't you KD?

I'm with you folks on the stairs. For me, it's my ankles. Especially going down stairs. My ankles will sometimes turn sideways a bit as I step down, and when I do step on the side of my foot, my ankle turns right over.

I have been afraid of stairs ever since the last time I sprained an ankle. I fell down most of a flight of stairs - head first. So I always always always take the elevators. Even if they're slow. Even if they're crowded. I just don't trust my ankles anymore.

Besides, you get to share the elevators with such lovely writers and agents. And as you're all squooshed together at the back going down one whole floor, you have enough time to say, "Hi! Sorry about that elbow. What do you think of the conference this year?"

I so so so so so want to go to Surrey this year. I may have to make some calls tomorrow... Don't know if they'll do any good, but I can try, right?

Colin Smith said...

I did what where?! I'm here, in Raleigh--well, about 30 mins from downtown Raleigh. Not a bad trip from Carkoon, though the in-flight meal was nothing to write about. So I won't. Oh, okay. Kale wraps with lima bean mush. What did you expect? :)

So tomorrow... writers... books... Janet and Donna... 8-O

I can only try to sleep tonight... :)

kdjames.com said...

Colin, glad you escaped Carkoon and arrived safely! Although, 30 minutes out from downtown is pretty close to no longer being in Raleigh. It's not that big a place.

BJ, yeah, total knee replacement. And while that's healing well, it's not at 100% yet. The real problem is the other knee, which is still completely messed up (read: painful as all hell). Good news is, now that I've found a surgeon who knows how to fix the problem, once I get the other knee sliced and diced and it heals, I'll be in great shape. It's just going to take a while. Longer than I had convinced myself it would. :-/

Colin Smith said...

kd: I'm staying with my sister-in-law in Holly Springs, which is about 20 miles from Downtown Raleigh. Not as close as staying at the Sheraton, but a lot cheaper. :)

BJ Muntain said...

Best of luck, KD. Here's hoping you'll be able to go to Bouchercon next year, even if it is farther from home.

For those there this year: Have a great time!

W.R. Gingell said...

Get well soon, KD!

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Thanks Colin - cannot wait to see THE BOOK ROOM!

And I am making a list of conferences for next year - I plan on selecting two and making every effort to go. After reading everyone's comments, this Bouchercon is on the list...