Bouchercon is the world's foremost mystery fan convention (sorry other ones, Bcon IS the cat's pjs)
I've attended many of these cons over the years and each year I learn something. The year I went to Indianapolis I learned not to take any work. I was gone from the festivities for so long (working on a line edit) that my clients sent a recon team to make sure I was still alive.
In San Francisco we all learned to make sure the bar would be open past ten.
This year we really learned the hard way that walking uphill to the convention center from the closest hotel was a bad idea. Several regular attendees who have limited mobility were restricted from full full participation and that's so not-cool. Even otherwise able-bodied folks who'd had injuries and were using canes during recuperation found the back and forth to be very difficult.
And I'll probably back down on this one but right now I'm forswearing attending any Bcon that doesn't have a hotel attached to the convention center. Not being able to run up to my room for some down time, or to drop a bag o'books, or check my email ended up being exhausting to the point I had to miss a big chunk of Saturday.
And someone always has to learn the hard way that getting drunk and trash talking an author is a fast way to land in purgatory forever. One thing I know from attending a bunch of these is that there may be 3000 people there, but we all know each other. (This wasn't me or any of the Fabulosity)
There were some real highlights as well:
Katrina Holm moderating the "Don't Ask Me Why: my characters have a life of their own" panel was pure joy. She'd clearly spent time doing careful preparation. She was not only familiar with the authors, she was familiar with most of their books. She asked interesting and innovative questions. At the end of the panel I wanted to buy and read ALL the books by the authors. That's gold for an author.
Dana Haynes doing an author choice segment on getting from start to finish in a novel was eye-opening. I know Dana's a talented writer: he's my client! But I'd never seen him teach a class and I'd really never heard him talk about his writing process. At the close of the 30 minutes I'd learned more than a few things and I have made it my mission to get him in front of more writers. He was great! If you don't believe me, ask any of the 20 or so people who were there too.
Josh Stallings. My pal Chris Holm plied me with liquor on the first night and mentioned Josh's memoir and his novels. I just happened to see Josh pass by in the hall at the end of a panel the next day. I waylaid him and mentioned Chris's rave review. Josh had a copy of his memoir which I was glad to take and read. It gave me great pleasure to flummox him enough that he could not remember his email address. Tormenting writers...the highlight of my day.
Laura Lippman. One of the stars of the mystery writing community of course, but you'd never know it from hanging out with her. She's fun and approachable and genuine. I was talking to her about shoes (of course) with two other people. A fan came by, paused briefly, then turned away. Laura immediately reached out to reel her back and include her in the conversation. I admire Laura tremendously. It doesn't hurt that she's an amazing writer to boot!
Gilbert King. Oh my dear godiva, I may have sprung a lung shrieking with delight to meet him. Gilbert King is the author of Devil in the Grove and if you haven't read it, go buy it immediately. I think every person in America should read this book. I may have said that so often this weekend that people think I have a stake in that book but I don't. Farley Chase is Gil's agent and he's brilliant.
Charles Benoit. A bunch of us were lounging on the bar couches when I spied a man who was clearly a writer but sitting by himself. Are you here for Bouchercon I inquired. Well, yes he was. And what is your name I asked? Charles Benoit. Well! I recognize that name and readers of this blog should too. "Did you write a book called YOU?" I asked. No sooner had he said yes than the estimable Brooks Sherman leaped to his feet, thrust an elbow in my path, shook Charles Benoit's hand and extolled the virtues of YOU for five minutes. Wait! I shrieked, WAIT! I loved that book TOO! No matter, I was roadkill on this lovefest. Those two became bosom buddies and I was left to swill my drink.
But the moment that was utterly surreal tops it all. A total stranger walked up and hugged me. Now, I"m not sure if blog readers know this but my friends and clients all do: Do.Not.Hug.The.Shark is a standard practice here. I don't like it, and I don't do it. To have a total stranger come up and embrace me was so odd that I thought perhaps she'd confused me with someone else. Next year, I'm bringing a purse size cattle prod just in case.
And next year is in Long Beach, California. Time to register, make your hotel reservations and clear your calendar!
Note to self: never hug the Shark. Wait, do I really need such a note?
An excellent recap, Janet! Thank you.
Funny, but I never for one moment took you for the huggy type. Perhaps I've been reading your blogs too long. I guess some people think "Shark" is a term of endearment. Like "Killer" or "Gouger." :)
What we all want to know is: did you come back with enough swag to warrant another fabulous writing contest? :D
I never hug unless the hug arms are outstretched by the other person first.
I heard the discussion about the venue on FB. Nobody was defending it. Still SO sorry I missed it, but the whole point of spending the big bucks to stay at the nice place rather than the Motel 6 on the edge of town is to have seamless access to the public space and your private space, as well as spontaneous room parties. However, the lone writer sitting at the bar is pure gold. That's how I met Peter Straub.
How fun that you got to tuck away your fins and be a fan-girl for the weekend (author flummoxing aside). Devil in the Grove is already in my TBR pile from the FB discussion.
Long. Beach. Calendar. Marked.
I promise, if I ever get to meet you I will not hug or embrace in any way your sleek self. Actually I'd probably be so beside myself I'd pee my pants.
Note to self, Depends.
Boy oh boy. What a post.
I just ordered YOU, and THE DEVIL IN THE GROVE. I have on hold I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE and then ran across your list of sox knockers for 2010 and got CROOKED LETTER CROOKED LETTER. I'm partial to books where the setting is Mississippi, for a lot of good reasons...Square Books, Larry Brown, Holly Springs, catfish, Field Trials, oh, and William Faulkner. That's the short list.
Wish I'd known you don't hug, Janet. I would have laid one on ya! It would be an honor to be slugged by the Shark... I looked for you later for that intro you were going to give me, but we must have been in different bars... It was just great seeing you, however briefly.
Butch, you talk a good game but I know you'll be smart enough to avoid the anvil in my fist.
Anvil in one fist, HOOKED!in the other of course.
Yay! I am stirring up BCon 2014 trouble on Facebook. Steven Ulfelder and Simon Wood are down for a go-cart race.
Oh yikes, I had no idea about the Don't Hug The Shark rule, and I know I have violated it multiple times, including at Bouchercon. Nevah again!
Oh gosh I hug everything in sight so maybe you would still be the huggable type, idk, what to do...*hugs a wall*
Really, though, you're such a nice person! I probably wouldn't be able to bring myself to make eye contact, let alone talk to you, but if I had the chance, I might hug! After all, you're the nicest agent I know virtually, after the Slushpile Hell's Greg Daniel - snarky on the outside, lovable all else!
Alafair, you have immunity.
I recall no plying, lady. But it was a pleasure chatting with you. And I agree -- Katrina's panel was the finest I saw all weekend. Of course, there's a slight chance I'm biased...
Big fan of Laura Lippman here! I met her once at a book signing years ago and she was just so nice.
Added YOU to my TBR list!
When people insist on hugging you without your permission or approval, it's about them, not about you. They think they're bestowing this great gift of themselves on you, when what they're doing is – hugging you! Ugh.
Maybe the mystery hugger thought you were someone else that she knew. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, I was getting a tour of the stage with a group of about a dozen people, when we were told to make way for one of that evening's speakers who needed to practice. Jesse Jackson walked to the podium, pausing to shake the hand of everyone in our group. When he came to me, his eyes lit up with (false) recognition and he gave me a big bear hug and asked how I had been doing. My tour companions were greatly impressed, but I was just confused. I had never met Mr. Jackson before!
Great wrap up post. I'm nodding my head in agreement, even if I didn't meet the same people, drink at the same bar or stay at the same hotel. I think we may have met in passing?? Working on my BCon13 post now, and trying to find web friendly pix. yep. trying...
Also useful on crowded trains and to get to the head of the line at a book signing:
No one ever mistakes the Shark for anyone else. Ever.
"Roadkill on this lovefest"? Why can't I write lines that good?
Despite my less-than-gentlemanly behavior, I did enjoy meeting you and promise to track you down to chat some more, forswearing all Brooks Shermans till I do.
(And I, too, will be passing on any conferences without the hotel's attached. When we do chat I'll tell you about my stalker who promised to smash my head with a rock.)
This "no hugging" doesn't include air kisses on the cheeks, or does it? (Just checking in case I ever meet the Shark in person!)
When you spotted somebody who was clearly a writer? You really are a shark, if writers are like blood in the water!
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