There are few things I enjoy more than spending several days with other crime writers. Writing is often a solitary experience, so the opportunity to connect with friends to debate all aspects of the craft and business of crime fiction is something I look forward to. Discussing the issues of plot structure, character arcs, how to poison imaginary people….
I was thrilled that my short story titled, “The Deed,” was chosen for this year’s Bouchercon anthology. We had a fantastic turnout of readers, and I learned that many readers collect every edition of the anthology. My good fortune included sitting next to John Floyd, whose talent is outshone only by his generous nature. This year’s lineup of short stories includes a bevy of accomplished authors, and I can’t wait to steal an evening so I can read every single story. All proceeds benefit Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT), so if you didn’t pick up a copy at the convention, you can order it from BookPeople or online.
The challenge of Bouchercon is that there are so many events happening that you simply can’t do them all. There were several panel options in every time slot for the entire four days of the show, and I realized that many of the panels I wanted to attend were scheduled at the same time of my own panels or other events. You have to sit with the program and prioritize where you want to be. And make time for the bar. Some of the best conversations I had took place in the bar.
One of my favorite panels was given by Luci Zahray, affectionately called The Poison Lady, and she will scare the hell out of you and make you laugh all at the same time. She generously gives her time and expertise to crime writers across the country, and her presentations are always packed with information. If she’s on the schedule, I make sure to attend.
Another panel that I add to my favorites was “More Real Than the Housewives: Unlikeable Women. Moderated by Katrina Niidas Holm, the panelists were Megan Abbott, Jennifer Hillier, Angie Kim, Laura Lippman, and J.M. Redmann. The conversation around the issues pertaining to how female characters must/should act in fiction in order to be accepted/rooted for by the reader/etc. was fascinating. There were too many relevant points to list here, but I agree with the panelist who said that she preferred that a character be interesting above all else.
I served on two panels, the first titled “That’s What She Said: Snappy Dialogue,” and the experience was fantastic. We had a wonderful crowd. Donna Andrews was a thoughtful moderator and my fellow panelists—Hillary Davidson, Dana Haynes, Matt Iden and Lynette Eason—made the hour fly with their wit and clever banter. My stomach hurt from laughing when it was over.
My second panel, Co-Authoring, moderated by Manning Wolfe, focused on the process of co-authoring a book project. Her Bullet Books project, which includes my novella titled LAST CALL, offers readers a way of enjoying a shorter story while traveling on a plane, train, or bus. Reading while driving is probably not a good idea. We had several authors serve as panelists, including Jay Brandon, Billy Kring, Bill Rodgers, Kay Kendall, V.P. Chandler and Scott Montgomery. Co-authoring a book is a different experience than writing solo, so we wanted to explore the topic in the hopes of helping our audience decide if this was something they might want to try in the future.
How did I miss the class on lock-picking? I’m still bummed about that one.
The Sisters in Crime breakfast starts SO EARLY but is well worth the lost sleep. It’s another opportunity to catch up with friends, hear the latest updates from the Board, and hear how certain projects such as We Love Libraries, We Love Bookstores and others have progressed throughout the year. I also love the webinars and classes that are offered, and I enjoyed talking with other members to learn which aspects of SINC they enjoy the most. Oh—and the pancakes were SO GOOD. I’ll get out of bed early for pancakes.
The most important part of this year’s conference, though, was the time I spent with friends. Truly, it’s the people who make this community so special, and I’m grateful to be part of it.