Monday, October 15, 2012

Bouchercon Part 1 & A Facebook Giveaway

Well, I may get the record for latest Bouchercon post, but here it is finally. Prepare for photos and fun!

Bouchercon was, of course, in my back yard this year. And as always I had a fantastic time meeting up with friends from all over the country who all share a love of crime fiction.

My good friend and fellow blogger, Lesa Holstine, flew in Wednesday and I picked her up from the airport. Do you think I thought to get a picture of us together? Jen, fail #1. But we were roommates for this - her first - Bouchercon. I'm so thrilled I could share her first Bouchercon with her.

Thursday kicked off the official festivities. I only attended one panel, and that was the "What an author will do for a story" panel with Sean Chercover, A.C. (Andre) Frieden, Jamie Freveletti, and Sam Reaves. The panel was moderated by PR rep extraordinaire Dana Kaye. These authors have traveled all over the world in search of their stories.

Jamie Freveletti and Andre Frieden

Sean Chercover says his lack of focus ignited his travel and various forms of employment and that ultimately resulted in his stories. His big piece of advice for sparking ideas, though, was to indulge in a "shath." For those who are not familiar with a "shath" it is when you sit in the bath tub and run the shower over you...thus, a "shath."
Sean "argh, matey" Chercover and Sam Reaves

While Sam Reaves has a strong background in languages, which was helpful with interviews abroad, he says, you can't write a travel log. The research is interesting, but that alone doesn't make for a great crime novel.

Sam Reaves and Jamie Freveletti
My other adventures Thursday included interviewing Sophie Littlefield and Juliet Blackwell, which hopefully you watched on Thursday. I also picked up's fearless leader, Maddee James from the airport, attended the St. Martin's cocktail reception - and was able to chat with Steve Ulfelder, who is absolutely wonderful - and had dinner with Brad Parks. I decided to forego the opening ceremonies at the Rock Hall. As I mentioned, this is my backyard, the Rock Hall wasn't a big sell for me.

Friday kicked off with the Mary Higgins Clark breakfast. It was geared toward librarians, but some reviewers and bloggers were invited as well. Mary Higgins Clark is a charming, humorous, vivacious lady. Whether you're a fan of her work or not, she was a super fun guest of honor for this breakfast.

Mary Higgins Clark

Criminal Element's fearless leader, Clare Toohey and Tracy Kiely

Following the breakfast was my first panel as moderator. It was the "Old Friends/New Friends" panel with Parnell Hall, Mary Jane Maffini, Jeff Cohen/E.J. Copperman, and Libby Fischer Hellmann. We had a full house and I thank everyone who came out. Several people stopped by to say "hi" and I want you to know that meant the world to me. So thank you!

We had a great conversation about series characters. I was fascinated by Jeff and Libby's differing views on writing characters of the opposite sex. Jeff has taken his experience with the women in his "real" life and build on those to create his female protagonist, while Libby learned early she thinks too much like a female to write a male protagonist.

Mary Jane Maffini is absolutely delightful and shared experiences with us about making friends as a librarian and bookseller as well as writing with one of her best friends, her daughter. Parnell Hall talked mostly about how his books don't sell, but he would be willing to play the role of the Puzzle Lady in a movie if the offer ever presented itself.

The panel I attended after mine was called "Eve of Destruction." The panelists were all interesting, spirited and fun, however, the moderator spoke for the first 22 minutes of the panel and pitched her sister's memoir coming out later. Epic Fail!

Sophie Littlefield and Tracy Kiely

When the panelists were given the floor, a discussion ensued about female characters. Sophie Littlefield pointed out that we're more accepting of relateable characters now - characters with foibles; characters who aren't perfect. And Rochelle Staab pointed out that she feels there's an expected vulnerability for female characters that doesn't exist for males.

Tracy Kiely and Rochelle Staab

This was my first experience hearing Deborah Coonts on a panel and now I'm determined to read one of her books! She had me laughing when she told a story about her male fans writing her to ask for less feminine book covers. They have to take the covers off the books so people don't make fun of them reading! Gotta love it!

Sorry, I wasn't able to get a great pic of Deborah Coonts because of the champagne bottle. Bummer!

Whew! Friday was my busy panel day. A lot of great people to see and listen to. The next panel was the Ex Libris panel (a.k.a. the panel). I wasn't able to do any tweeting from this panel because it was a dead zone for my cell phone, which was a real bummer because it was such a fun panel: Jan Burke, Marcia Clark, Jim Conway and Carter Wilson and moderated by Maddee James. They are a blast, let me tell you. They were creating fake first sentences for books - both their own and others. The one thing we all definitely took away from this panel: they like to drink. I think every book covered included a first line about some alcoholic drink!

Jan Burke and Marcia Clark...Jan looks like she's up to something!

Two of the nicest people you could meet: Marcia Clark and Jim Conway

Marica, Jim and Carter....looks like that line was especially funny!

Debut author Carter Wilson

The other thing that was abundantly clear was that they are all extremely talented writers.
All the panelists hard at work on their first lines!

Not done with Friday yet! Are you still hanging with me?

I attended the "Morally Challenged Characters" panel next. This panel included Lou Berney, Elizabeth Hand, Seth Harwood, and Chris Holm. It was moderated by Ali Karim. Again, it's fascinating for me to hear about how writers approach their stories.

Ali Karim, Lou Berney, Elizabeth Hand and a sliver of Seth Harwood

Lou indicated that he prefers to have a jumble of characters without any set designated roles for them. However, he also pointed out that if you have an unlikeable protagonist, you need to make sure the antagonists are sufficiently unlikeable to still make the protag look better.

Elizabeth likes to push her character to the border of where she'll go and what she'll do. While Chris Holm likes to discover the line his character won't cross and then put him in a situation that gives him no choice but to have to cross it.

Sorry about the lack of photos on this panel. The room was HORRIBLE for taking pictures. There were big pillars directly in front of where I was sitting. I moved to take this photo, but had to go over to the right side to be able to get anything at all...Jen fail #2.

So that was my crazy Friday line-up of panels. I'll save my final two days for tomorrow's post because I want to make you aware of a giveaway I'm doing on the Facebook page if you haven't seen it already. I do giveaways over here regularly and have some new ones coming up, but this is a FB page exclusive this time.

I took a Jen's Book Thoughts tote bag to Bouchercon and collected signatures from many authors. The bag has signatures on both sides. Some of the authors who signed it include: Lee Child, John Connolly, Karin Slaughter, Kelli Stanley, Alafair Burke, Marcia Clark, Michael Koryta, Steve Ulfelder, Brad Parks, Sean Chercover...whew, you get the idea. I'll include a card for the lucky follower with the names of everyone who signed the bag. To be in the drawing for the bag, you just need to be following the Jen's Book Thoughts page by Sunday, October 21st. I'll do a drawing and pick a name to win the bag and goodies from Bouchercon.

Just as I do periodic giveaways here on the blog, I'm going to start doing periodic giveaways over on the Facebook page as well. This is just the kick off.


bermudaonion October 15, 2012 at 6:24 AM  

It sounds like an exhaustingly wonderful time!

Ali Karim October 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM  

The one bummer about B'con is that you get so little time, I guess we met at the opening for like 2 mins and then didn't see you again! Next time Jen, we must schedule a breakfast or lunch!

lag123 October 15, 2012 at 12:55 PM  

Ill bet you had an awesome time!!

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Jen October 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM  

Kathy it always is! It always takes several days to recover from the fun!

Jen October 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM  

Ali, ABSOLUTELY!! And I'm looking forward to next time. :-) xo


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