It’s taken a week, but I think I have a handle (remember saying that?) on the convention that absorbed four days of my life, Bouchercon 2013. It was held in Albany, NY this year and I just had to go. I'm only twenty five minutes away, for heaven't sake. Anyway, for those who have no clue, Bouchercon is a big mystery writer’s convention held every year since 1970 and named after Anthony Boucher, a science fiction / mystery writer who died in 1968. Gobs of awards are handed out, famous writers speak and lots of networking is done. Most of the time, however, is spent engaging in panels.
Briefly, that’s when 2 – 6 authors sit at a table behind microphones and hold forth on various topics. The range of those topics is vast and I applaud the folks who come up with them. So – here are the notes I took while listening.
The #1 most important thing to do – first off – is to “write a damn good story.” Reed Farrel Coleman made sure we understood this. He’s the founder of Mystery Writers of America. On that same panel (about promotion) we were advised to have a social media presence with lots of links, to check out the promotion that went into The Hunger Games, to be responsible to your publisher, and to coddle our fans.
Don’t fall in love with your words, fall in love with writing. I guess that goes along with another piece of good advice “always choose clarity over art.” Yup. Anyone who reads you doesn't want to have to re-read ‘cuz they didn't get it the first time – or the second. I abandon books where I have to do that too often.
I couldn't remember why the name Marcia Clark sounded familiar to me until she was introduced on the panel about making the law thrilling. Of course! She was the lead prosecutor at the OJ Simpson trial – who could forget that one? And now she writes books. Very interesting to listen to her as she expounded on a few of her cases. Got a picture of her and her friend, Laura Caldwell, out in the hallway later. Laura is a lawyer and writer, too. Very savvy ladies.
In the amateur sleuth panel we collectively wondered why there are so few male writers in this genre, never mind characters. Perhaps male readers miss the little details that cozies leave out like over the top violence, graphic sex and frequent dropping of the F bomb and other unsavory expressions. Who knows? But if you include those things the term “cozy” goes right out the window into some other, grittier room.
Who I met
Marni Graff has a website here and was on a panel. When that was over she hopped in to listen to another one and I sat right next to her. She told me to send my book and she’ll review it for me. Woo Hoo.
Barb Goffman won the Macavity Award for her short story, The Lord is My Shamus, and invited me to friend her on Facebook. She was on a panel and nobly defended her right to keep writing the short stuff. Good for her.
Robert Knightly is a local author of two police procedurals, “Bodies in Winter” (I read it – excellent) and “The Cold Room.” He invited the Mavens of Mayhem, authors and agents to his home for a buffet supper. I’m a Maven. I went. His lovely wife, Rose, put on a great spread and I hobnobbed around the room, loving every minute.
Sue Grafton and I spoke briefly in the ladies room. I had to kind of elbow another fan aside (my apologies) so I could ask why she’d stood to sign her books the day before. Sue said she liked to look her readers in the eye. Nice. She has a soft southern accent and is quite thin.
I told Anne Perry I hoped to become a fan and bought the completely wrong book, the last in her Monk series. I’ll get the other books and read them in order, but in the meantime I have a signed copy of “Death of a Stranger.” Some guy from Wisconsin was selling them at his table in the book room for five bucks. Anne has a cool British accent.
Hank Phillipi Ryan moderated the last panel on Sunday morning called Big Shot – Guests of Honor Tell All. Tess Gerritsen was bright and full of advise and stories. Anne Perry was thoughtful, Steve Hamilton reserved, Sue Grafton funny, and Chris Aldrich spoke to the heart of every fan. A wonderful peek into all their lives.
I got through the whole thing more happily with my awesome bud, Karen, by my side. It was so nice to have someone to compare notes with, eat with, run to the ladies with and all the other “withs” we do as friends. For over 30 years now.
We got tons of free books, met fans and writers, gobbled up the pretty good food at the receptions and one luncheon in the hospitality area. We simply had an unforgettable four (intense) days. I wish such a time for all my writing friends.
Thanks for reading.
Image: Free Digital Photos