Monday, October 19, 2009

Bouchercon Report

I had a wonderful time at my first Bouchercon conference, held in Indianapolis this year, but was so exhausted afterward that it took me until now to blog about the experience. A lot of my fellow mystery community cohorts have already posted their thoughts and photos, and I've enjoyed reading & viewing them. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera! So, if anyone took a photo of me with others, I'd love to get a copy. Please send it to me by clicking on "Contact Me" at my website.

I flew in Wednesday afternoon. After dumping my things in the hotel room I'd be sharing with fellow Five Star author Patricia Stoltey (who has some great posts about the conference), I registered for the conference and rushed into the book room to meet some of the booksellers. I saw that Jim Huang's The Mystery Company was already carrying my books, and I left consignment copies with Mystery Mike's and Scene of the Crime Books. I also met Steve Warne there, who is a distributor for UK mystery books in the US, and we really hit it off. I dined that night at the Old Spaghetti Factory with about thirty members of the 4MA yahoogroup, organized by our fearless leader Maddy, who had us each shout out our name & what we wrote if we were an author, where we're from, the favorite book we read this year, and our goofiest nickname. Great fun!

Thursday morning I attended the Bouchercon 101 session featuring Hank Phillipi Ryan, who gave me not one but two of her lip balms, saying the second one was for the baboons! :-) At 9:00 am, I shared the stage with Joanna Campbell Slan, Margaret Grace, Sally Goldenbaum, and Betty Hechtman for the Killer Hobbies panel. We had a standing room only crowd, got lots of laughs and gave away prizes, including two mini gift baskets from me featuring Zulu necklaces from my recent trip to South Africa. After that I signed books in the book room and enjoyed meeting new readers and getting reacquainted with existing fans. I had so much fun talking to people that I missed the next panel session. I grabbed a quick snack in the room, then manned the Hospitality Suite from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. Instead of serving ice cream as I was supposed to, I spent the time explaining why there wasn't any ice cream (mechanical failures with the machines).

After that was the Sisters in Crime librarian tea with lots of scrumptious goodies, lots of mystery authors, and a panel discussion about Why We Love Librarians featuring Charlaine Harris, SJ Rozan, Nancy Pickard, Carolyn Hart, and Eve Sandstrom. I donated a copy each of A Real Basket Case and To Hell in a Handbasket to the book giveaway and came away with a lovely teacup and saucer and a full tummy. Next, I listened to the announcements of who won the Derringer Awards from the Short Mystery Fiction Society, then snuck out of the room before the other awards were announced to join some fellow MidnightInk authors for dinner at Weber Grill: Keith Raffel, Cricket McRae, Jess Lourey, Lisa Bork, and Deborah Sharp. I ate just a salad and beer after the filling tea. After that I headed over to Gameworks for the Extravaganza. Over dessert and decaf coffee with whiskey, I watched the Author Talent Show. Parnell Hall and Peter Lovesey earned my votes for best laughs for their ditties, though fellow Coloradoan and Five Star author Mike Befeler was a close third for his stand-up comedy. Then my roommate Pat and I raced cars, doused fires and slaughtered zombies on the video games until collapsing into bed at midnight.

Friday morning dawned hard and early, and I slurped down lots of coffee at the Sisters in Crime breakfast where we voted in our new slate of officers, including Marcia Talley as President. Next I attended the Setting as Character panel with William Kent Kruger, Debby Atkinson, Tom Corcoran, Jonathan King, and Eric Stone. Then I popped into the First Novelists "speed dating" event to hear some new authors (including Lisa Bork) tout their first books. After having "been there-done that", it felt good to be on the other side of the table and find out about some interesting new talent. Then came lunch at Buca di Beppo with the Sisters in Crime online Guppies chapter, followed by the Michael Connelly interview at the Convention Center.

My energy was flagging by this point, so I took a brief rest in the room before boarding a bus for the Eiteljorg Museum and the Art of the Western Mystery panel with good friend Ann Parker and Scott Montgomery, C. J. Box (who signed two Joe Pickett mysteries for me while waiting for the bus), Craig Johnson, Blake Crouch, and Steve Hockensmith. Then I headed over to the Marion County Public Library for the Indiana Authors Reception where I chatted with Colorado author Lori Lacefield, who I discovered grew up in Indiana, and with Debby Atkinson and her sister over snacks. I ended the day at the bar with fellow Five Star authors and Tekno editor John Helfers, where we talked about the Five Star/Tekno relationship and future plans.

I got up early again on Saturday morning for a 7:30 am breakfast with some fellow Mystery Babes, including Dana Cameron and Toni L.P. Kelner. Then I sat with prolific short mystery fiction author and friend, R.T. Lawton, to listen to the State of Mysterious Short Fiction panel with Terence Faherty, Clark Howard, Melodie Johnson Howe, Janet Hutchings (editor of the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine), and Linda Landrigan (editor of the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine). At 10:30 am, I taught my Mystery-themed Gift Baskets session in the craft room to a class of about thirty. We had great fun constructing creative baskets out of assorted Halloween goodies the craft room committee had purchased for the workshop. I sure hope future Bouchercons include this new idea of a craft room. I heard a lot of compliments not only about my session, but about all of the craft sessions and the concept in general.

After a quick lunch with Pat, I attended the IMBA and the Dilys Winn Award panel with Robin Agnew, Greg Bruss, Sean Chercover, William Kent Kruger, and Louise Penny, which was unexpectedly hilarious. A sucker for humor, I followed this with The Humor Panel, featuring Alan Gordon, Donna Andrews, Chris Grabenstein, Harley Jane Kozak, and Allyson Roy. Then I attended the Anthony Awards Ceremony and was especially pleased that Chris Grabenstein won the Best Children's/Young Adult category. Dinner was munchies served at the reception following the awards, then I had a glass of wine at the bar with fellow Crimespace member Curtis Hawkins and some other Colorado authors. Okay, Crimespacers, Curtis and I were at the Hyatt bar between 6 & 7 pm. Where were the rest of you? At 7, I headed over for the amusing Chris-and-Donna show at the live charity auction at the Artsgarden, as the two tried to get folks to up their bids. The desserts there were just too yummy to resist. After that, I soaked in the hot tub to ease my old, tired muscles, took a hot shower and hit the sack.

Sunday morning, I joined the crowd at the Book Bazaar, jostling to reach the authors whose books I wanted. I ended up trading my tickets for books written by authors whose last name was between J and M so I only had to negotiate one row. I beat a hasty retreat to drop the books in my room, then I attended the Would I Lie panel with Dana Cameron, Charlaine Harris, Ed Lin, and Eric Stone competing to win honors as the best liar to questions posed by S.J. Rozan and the audience. A good time was had by all. After that, I closed out my consignment accounts with the booksellers, packed and checked out of the room with Pat, and we met Bonnie Ramthun & her hubby Bill, and Cricket McRae for lunch. I found out there that the Mystery Through the Ages silent auction item that Patricia Stoltey, Mike Befeler, Bonnie Ramthun and I had donated, for a character name in our next four books, went for $350. We were gratified to raise so much for the charity! After lunch we shared a taxi with them and Laura DiSilverio to the airport, where we all caught the same flight to Denver after taking turns nodding off.

10 comments:

Lois said...

I won one of the little gift baskets, so thanks. The chocolate is gone, but the rest made it home OK :) Was a wonderful convention, and I chose many of the same panels you did

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Lois,
I'm so glad you liked your gift basket. The chocolate wouldn't have made it out of the ROOM if I won it! ;-)

Jody said...

Yay, Beth, glad you enjoyed Bouchercon. It's lots of fun. I've been to two (Austin and Madison) & am saving pennies so I can go to St. Louis in 2011. It's quite an experience for a reader & I'm sure you had double the fun as an author there for the first time.

Patricia Stoltey said...

As I read your report, Beth, I realized that Bouchercon had so much to offer that our experiences were very different, although we both obviously had a wonderful time. I think I'll always remember the zombie shoot, however, as being the highlight of Bouchercon.

Beth Groundwater said...

Yeah, Pat, there's nothing like shooting zombies together to cement a friendship. ;-)

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

I'm always looking for new YA authors in cool genres, so thanks for the tip on Chris Grabenstein!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for sharing. I haven't been able to attend many conferences, but this looks like a good one.

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds like you had a really busy and wonderful time.

Dorothy McFalls said...

Sounds wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I wish I had been there. Maybe next year!!! :-)

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Beth, I really enjoyed being with you on the Killer Hobbies panel. You are always so well prepared! And when I visited your craft session everyone looked like they were having fun. I'm going to make up one of your baskets for a friend whose daughter is too scared by masks to go trick-or-treating. Thanks again!