Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bouchercon Diary - Day One

I hemmed and hawed about how I wanted to set up my recap of Bouchercon, and I decided to do this by day. Then at the end, I'm going to show some pictures of the scrapbook. Naomi asked what it looks like now, and I promised Jason Pinter I would put some pictures up so everyone could see. For those who do not know. I created a scrapbook of the six-word memoirs. It isn't complete yet, but I worked very hard to finish up the pages of the authors I knew would be attending Bouchercon so they could sign their memoir pages. I'll likely mention it throughout the posts, so you know what I'm talking about. And then at the end, you can SEE what I'm talking about.

I drove to Indianapolis early Friday morning, so I missed out on all of Thursday's events. But, that's o.k. I still managed to fit in TONS of fun in the days I was there. The drive was fabulous at 4 a.m. I hit Columbus before rush hour and Indianapolis just after. Smooth sailing all around. I was greeted in the hotel lobby by the most friendly face a traveling gal could hope for. I finally got to meet my friend Kaye Barley in person, in real life, in the flesh! Nothing beats being greeted by a warm hug from a good friend. She walked me up to registration got me all set up and turned me loose!

As I headed to the first panel I would attend, I was greeted at the door by another friendly face and another welcoming hug, this time from Craig McDonald. Of course, if you follow my blog, you know I met Craig earlier this year and I have to say that it was heartwarming that he remembered me and recognized me right away. Also standing in the doorway was Sophie Littlefield, so I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Sophie first thing. What a wonderful, fabulous human being! You'll hear me mention Sophie every day because every day I saw her and every day she was inviting me to come along! She's amazing.

The panel I opted to attend first thing was called "The Dark Side of the Fair Sex." Sophie was a member of this panel, as was an author who is new to me, but one who's book I have in my TBR pile and he (the lone male) is Derek Nikitas. The panel was rounded out with Chelsea Cain, moderated by Megan Abbott. It was a great panel. Megan is a fabulous moderator. The only thing I didn't like so much about the panel was that it was dominated by one person, and I would have really liked to hear more from the other members of the panel. But it was still a great panel; also quite fascinating to have the male who writes the female characters. That was also one of the topics that came up - the idea of crossing gender lines. And of course, it was my very first panel of my very first B'Con!

So, then there was a bit of a break because it was lunch time, so I decided to wander around a bit. Figure out where things were. I also made my way to the Crimespree/Bouchercon 2011 table where I found David Thompson. When someone you've never met in real life recognizes you immediately and wraps you in a hug, you know the world is right. So we talked a bit and then I started working on locating the room for the Guest of Honor interview. The coordinators for this event were fabulous. They had people along every step of the way, guiding the guests to the right place, where we were welcomed with this special prize:

Yes, that's right. It would most definitely be an ARC copy of SO COLD THE RIVER, Michael Koryta's first publication from Little Brown due out in June. Very excited to be able to dig into this. I was equally excited to chat with all the folks around me who hadn't read Michael's work before. Really kicked it into evangelist gear, let me tell you!

While I wasn't front row center, I was front row for the Michael Connelly interview, which was conducted by Michael Koryta. I apologize for my photo, it's not great, but my camera didn't get along well with the lights in the room, unfortunately.
The interview was great. Both Michaels did a fabulous job.

I didn't go to anything in the next set of panels because I was attending the Eiteljorg Museum panel ("The Art of the Western Mystery"). There was a bus to the museum, which left in the middle of the 3:00 panels. But, this enabled me to wander back over to the Crimespree/Bouchercon 2011 table and meet Jon and Ruth Jordan. Jon bestowed upon me the most wonderful words a person could hear: "you are part of the family." And that's what it all is, it's a family. Feeling like part of it, is feeling like you're on top of the world. Truly. Like I said yesterday, I LOVE being a part of this family.

So the next panel was at the Eiteljorg Museum. And of course, you know I picked this panel because Craig Johnson and C.J. Box were both on it.
But I found another great prize in this group of authors, Steve Hockensmith! Because of his humor and energy on this panel, Steve has assured that I will read his books. Well, at least the first, but I have a feeling these are going to be great books. And I apologize; the other two writers on this panel were Blake Crouch and Ann Parker. The whole panel was wonderful, but for me, Steve really stood out.

After, when I took the scrapbook up for Craig to sign, he recognized me and came out from behind the table to give me a hug - are you noticing a pattern here? I wish I could be hugged this often EVERY day! ;) And I took this picture of him and Steve. Steve was talking to someone and Craig just grabbed him around the neck and pulled him over, thus the rather startled look on Steve's face. But he's a great sport!

And that was my last panel of the day, but the day was far from over. Now I headed back to get ready to go to the Minotaur party that I was invited to attend. In the elevator, I ran into Sophie Littlefield and I asked if she was going over and could I follow her since I didn't have a clue where I was going. She said I could definitely come along, but she wasn't sure where to go either. Tracy Kiely was also with Sophie so the three of us took off in search of the Omni Hotel. Luckily we ran into someone headed in that same direction and found it without a hitch.

The party was awesome and Sophie introduced me to many, many people. The only regret I had was in my choice of attire for the event. I was dressed far too warmly; shoulda brought the lighter top. Oh well, live and learn. But, at the party, we saw Craig McDonald again, who was joined by his wife Debbie. Had a great time chatting with them. Turns out Debbie works for Recorded Books so we talked about audio books; LOVED that! Craig and Debbie are wonderful folks.

We also ran into Kelli Stanley, who you'll remember from her interview here. She and Sophie are, of course, part of the 7 Criminal Minds. I snagged them for this picture.

Such super, wonderful, generous people they both are. And Steve Hockensmith was there! He's a Minotaur author. Sophie introduced me, and I got to chat with him for awhile. Too very cool. I will get Steve on this blog for something other than this picture, I promise.

On the way back to the Hyatt Hotel, Sophie talked about her protectiveness of her friends. That was when she informed me that she would break the knees of my husband if he was mistreating me. I said, "o.k., but there's no husband on the horizon." Sophie will work on that, though! ;) I truly felt like I had known her my entire life. That's how comfortable Sophie makes people feel around her. She's such an amazing person.

Night still isn't over! Are you tired yet? I couldn't believe I was still going after all this fun, but I felt like I had energy to spare. Sophie, Brad Parks, Juliet Blackwell, Brett Battles and some other fine folks headed up to the Eagles Nest restaurant. If you are unfamiliar with this restaurant, it is at the very top of the Hyatt and is the kind that turns slowly while you are sitting there. So we enjoyed some time up there and then came down to the hotel bar, where I found my beloved Kaye again.

This was also the time that I met in real life, for the first time, Tom Schreck and Marcus Sakey.

When I introduced myself to Tom, I said, "hi Tom, I'm Jen." He stuck out his hand and said, "hi Jen" then stopped abruptly and said, "JEN!" and wrapped me in a huge hug. I'm lovin' this hug thing by the way! Everyone found this a bit humorous; Tom and I chatted a minute or two before I made reference to Marcus's six-word memoir and then Marcus said, "Jen, JEN?" and I got a hug from Marcus, too. Seriously, though, two of the nicest, funniest, most genuine people. Amazing writers and awesome human beings.

Afterward, I floated back up to my room. I did feel like I was walking on air from the whirlwind of wonderfulness that filled my first day at Bouchercon. I didn't know how it could maintain this level of greatness, but it did. More tomorrow! ;)


Jon The Crime Spree Guy October 20, 2009 at 6:38 AM  

I love Bouchercon. What you experienced this weekend for the first time was why I go back year after year.
The folks who are a part of the mystery community are the best.

novelwhore October 20, 2009 at 8:58 AM  

Jen - thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience! I can't believe all the authors you got to hug - glad they appreciate you and your support. Like Jon said, above, the mystery community sure seems like such a nice place (even though they pen many suspenseful stories!).

Lesa October 20, 2009 at 10:14 AM  

You got to meet Sophie, Jen! Isn't she wonderful? I'm really enjoying your description of your Bouchercon trip. I'll keep reading!

Lesa - http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

Corey Wilde October 20, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

That's a pretty wonderful day you've outlined. And the new Koryta book, too! Talk about icing on the cake!

Hilary Davidson October 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM  

"You are part of the family." I can't imagine a warmer welcome. Thanks, Jen, for this terrific post. Looking forward to hearing more!

PS Sophie is spectacular, isn't she? She's a great writer and a great person.

Craig McDonald October 20, 2009 at 11:09 AM  

It was so great to see you again, Jen. Your scrapbooks are truly works of art, and, with each added signature, extraordinary artifacts, as well.

Jen - Devourer of Books October 20, 2009 at 1:29 PM  

I love how friendly all those mystery writers seem to be, that makes it all the more special

Pop Culture Nerd October 20, 2009 at 2:01 PM  

Oh, that is too much goodness in one place. You've got me revving for next year's B'con already!

Kelli Stanley October 20, 2009 at 5:45 PM  

Jen, I flew back last night and miss you and our Bcon buddies already!! It was SO great to give you a real hug and share the experience of your first Bouchercon!! :)

Luckily for me, Sophie and I are both local NorCal people, so we get to see each other more often. But even so, I tell ya--it never seems like enough.

I've said it before and I'll say it again forever: the best part of being a writer is the community!

Take care, sweetie, and thanks again for helping make this Bouchercon so special! :)



♥Jen♥ October 20, 2009 at 6:42 PM  

Thanks everyone for sharing this with me. And yes, the mystery community is a wonderful, wonderful group of folks. I'm so thrilled to have a little corner in it! CRIME FICTION ROCKS!!

Sophie Littlefield October 21, 2009 at 1:40 AM  

As for me, I just like to hug everyone I can get my hands on, so that's my excuse :)

♥Jen♥ October 21, 2009 at 6:02 AM  

Well, I guess I need to put myself within reach a little more often then! ;) Love ya, Sophie!

Miriam Parker October 26, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

Love this post. I ALMOST feel like I was there. Check out this widget for SO COLD THE RIVER.

♥Jen♥ October 26, 2009 at 2:22 PM  

Thanks Miriam! I love the widget. It's going on the blog to-night. Michael was my first author event ever. He's responsible for my crime fiction addiction! :)

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