I signed up for my very first Bouchercon—Bouchercon 2015— in July 2014, exactly one week after I signed my publishing contract with Barking Rain Press for The Hanged Man’s Noose.
For those who aren’t quite sure what Bouchercon is all about, here’s the “official” explanation: An annual crime fiction event that brings together authors, fans, publishers, reviewers, booksellers and editors for a four-day event that takes place in a different city each year. This year it was held in Raleigh, North Carolina. Next year it will be in New Orleans, and in 2017, it will be in Toronto.
I hadn’t even left Toronto when I met my first Bouchercon veteran, Rob Brunet, author of Stinking Rich, at the airport (thanks Rob for taking me under your wing!).
I arrived in Raleigh on Wednesday morning, the day before the festivities began, but that didn’t stop me from diving right in. After checking in and unpacking, I went for a two-hour walk around the city and acted like a tourist. The weather (high 70s and sunny) was spectacular.
When I arrived back to the hotel, I dropped off my charity basket donation. Proceeds from the auction go to Read and Feed, a local charity that provides food and books to low-income, elementary school children. Participation was voluntary, but one of my mottos is paying it forward and I’m all for promoting literacy. Congrats to Sarah Byrne, top bidder for my basket. Sarah won a signed copy of The Hanged Man’s Noose, a family pass to the Sandwich Glass Museum, a one-year subscription to New England Antiques Journal AND gets to become a named character in A Hole in One, the sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose, currently in progress.
Next I connected with James M. (Jim) Jackson, author of the Seamus McCree mysteries and current president of Sisters in Crime Guppies. I’d never met Jim in person, but we’ve been longtime email friends. I happily accepted his invitation to wine and dine at the Twisted Mango with him and Jan, his partner in crime.
An early morning (I was up at 4:30 a.m.) made for an early night. I wanted to be ready for Day One.
Beyond networking and meeting readers and authors, Bouchercon is known for the diversity of its panels, each one 50 minutes in length with a moderator (also an author) and four or more authors weighing in on everything from writing for television to social media solutions. With seven or eight panels going on at the same time, it was sometimes difficult to pick, but I was VERY glad to have selected New Faces – Best First Novel Nominees. Moderated by Margaret Maron, the panel included Kristi Belcamino, M.P. Cooley, Julia Dahl, Allen Eskens and Lori-Rader-Day, who won the Anthony for The Black Hour. Be sure to check out their books!
Following the New Faces panel, it was back to the Twisted Mango for the Sisters in Crime Guppy lunch. It was fabulous to meet so many Guppies and the make-your-own tacos weren’t bad either!
Next up was a panel on effectively using social media, an American Guest of Honor Spotlight with Dr. Kathy Reichs (of Bones fame) and Tom Franklin (you have to read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), and wrapped up with the Opening Ceremonies.
The day started with the Sisters in Crime Breakfast at the Marriott. A room filled with many sisters and a few brothers, it was great to meet more Facebook, Twitter and email friends, not to mention the many authors I’ve read and admired over the years.
The afternoon included meeting some new readers (thanks Cathy and Liz!), more panels (I especially enjoyed one called Beyond THE WIRE, BOSCH & TRUE DETECTIVE: TV Crime Evolves, which was moderated by Lee Goldberg (Monk, Diagnosis Murder). The day finished with a Crime Goes Global Reception and a glass of wine with some fellow authors.
My big day finally arrived. It started with the Meet the New Authors Breakfast, sponsored by Crooked Lane Books. Each new author (there were 55 in all) were allowed 60 seconds or less to explain our book. (Those who tried to go over were given “the bell” and cut off.) Here was my pitch:
A freelance journalist
An antiques shop owner
A greedy real estate developer
The Hanged Man’s Noose, where small town secrets, high stakes real estate wrangling, and subterfuge lead to murder.
I ended with an invitation to my panel (more on that later).
I left the breakfast, caught another panel, bought a copy of Murder Under the Oaks, the official 2015 Bouchercon anthology, and went to the multi-author signing. Not all the authors were there, but a good many were. Great fun!
At 1 p.m. it was time for my very first panel ever: Crime Beyond the White Picket Fence with moderator Donna Andrews, and Maya Corrigan, LynDee Walker and Tom Franklin. I was nervous at first, but soon felt comfortable answering questions, thanks to my fellow authors, who made it a whole lot easier (though following one of Tom’s responses—which involved armadillos—was a bit of a challenge!) Not a flawless performance, but I learned a lot, and fellow Barking Rain Press author Ricky Bush assured me that I “held my own up there.” (Thanks Ricky!)
An author signing followed the panel. I even signed a couple of Bouchercon 2015 programs!
Saturday ended with the Anthony Awards Ceremony and a closing reception. It truly was magical to be part of a live ceremony celebrating the best in crime fiction.
The final day. A couple more panels, packing and back to Toronto, and finally, home. If I were to sum up Bouchercon 2015, I would do it in three words: Exhausting and exhilerating. Would I do it again? Heck, yes. I’ve already signed up for Toronto in 2017. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Thanks for reading!
But wait, there’s more! Sign up for my quarterly newsletter. The next issue will be in November 2015 and will include a “Fact in Fiction,” more Bouchercon and book signing highlights, upcoming events/interviews, and a giveaway!