I finally did it: I survived my first Boucheron. I’ve flirted with the idea of attending the world’s largest mystery convention for several years now, but I’ve always ended up getting intimidated by the sheer size of it. Everyone says it’s fun, but the word I most consistently hear used to describe it is “overwhelming.”
This year, it was held in New Orleans and, with 1,800 registered attendees converging on an unsuspecting Marriott on the edge of the French Quarter, it promised to be even bigger than usual. But rather than getting swallowed up, I had an amazing weekend. I connected with old friends, made new ones, met bookstore owners and bloggers, hung out with readers, and learned to truly appreciate the power of community.
One of my favorite things they did this year was let us pick what books went into our book bag. Normally, you get a tote bag with five or six books, several of which you aren’t really interested in, which leads to feelings of guilt as you try to decide whether to sneak them onto the swap table or leave them in your room for housekeeping. But this year, we got six tickets and access to a whole room full of books—at least a couple hundred to choose from. In other words? Heaven. I’m truly excited about every book that I took away, and don’t have to worry about what to do with that thriller set in Nazi Germany.
New Author Breakfast
Seven thirty in the morning. Five thirty back home. I was bleary eyed. I was sleep deprived. And I had to get up and talk about Terror in Taffeta in front of a banquet room full of people. I sat next to Nancy Raven Smith and Susan Bickford—fellow Guppies and Sisters in Crime—and Nancy and I both refused to eat until our part was done. It was awesome hearing everyone talk about their books, and I added several titles to my To Be Read pile. I’m not naming names, but one of the pitches was hilariously dark and graphic, and maybe I was feeling a little delirious, but hearing about it over my morning coffee sent me into a fit of silent giggles not unlike Mary Tyler Moore at Chuckles the Clown’s funeral.
Ellen’s Book Launch
Fellow Chick Ellen Byron threw a book launch party that was just about danged near perfect. Her Cajun Country series is set in Louisiana, and Body on the Bayou came out the Tuesday before Bouchercon. Talk about great timing! She found a cool little art gallery just around a couple blocks from the hotel, and the place was packed with fellow writers and well-wishers.
Did I mention that in the book room, 1 out of every 10 books had “Girl” in the title?
I’ve always been jealous when people breezily mention at a conference that they “have to” go to a party hosted by their publishing company, and this year it was my turn! Minotaur had a party for its authors in a bar around the corner, and I got to meet my fellow Minotaur authors (and by that I mean they’re published by St. Martin’s under the Minotaur imprint, not that they are half-man, half-bull). St. Martin’s is located in the Flatiron Building—my favorite building in New York—and one of the guys from marketing promised me not only a tour, but that he’d take me up on the roof and all I have to do is climb out a window. I’m already looking into plane tickets.
The schedule was jam-packed, and at any given time there were seven different panels competing for our attention. Each one was only fifty minutes long, and since there were five or six authors on each panel, there wasn’t really a deep dive on any given subject. (This might be where some of the famous Bouchercon Overwhelm comes into play.) But it was interesting getting to hear dozens of authors talking about their work, and in each panel there was something that resonated with me. In other words, you don’t have to write about gritty urban settings to get something out of the Gritty Urban Settings panel.
I was on the humor panel on Sunday morning, and since the lobby was full of people hugging each other goodbye with rolling suitcases in tow, I was sure no one would be there—but it was packed! It was lively, fun, and amazing, and for me it ended up being the highlight of the whole conference.
The Wicked Cozy Authors hosted a Cozy Meetup the day of the New Author Breakfast, and even though I was ready to collapse into an exhausted heap at that point, I couldn’t resist having a little corner of the conference reserved for cozies. It was fun mingling with other like-minded authors from all over the country, including getting to meet people in real life who I’ve only ever talked to online. It was a whirlwind, and I met a bunch of people I intend to keep in touch with! (Thanks, Wickeds!)
Hanging out at the bar is a time-honored conference tradition, and I have a million stories that took place outside of official conference hours. Okay, not a million, but enough to fill a whole separate blog post. Next year, meet me there and we’ll talk.
Marla Cooper is the author of Terror in Taffeta. She is proud to report that all five of these copies, seen here in the Bouchercon book-buying room, went home with readers.
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