Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Weekend at Bouchercon 2015

How lovely to give Benedict Cumberbatch a hug.
My trip to Bouchercon in Raleigh, N.C. started Wednesday morning because I wanted to spend my first day with my friend Judy Hogan on her little farm. We first met at Malice in 2010, and although we only see each other at the Malice events, we have become online friends because we each have a small farm.

Judy in front of her chicken run. 
Judy picked me up at the Raleigh/Durham airport a little after five. Well, sort of picked me up since the radiator on her truck broke and all the fluid ran out as she was pulling into the parking garage so we had to wait for a tow truck to come. When it finally arrived we hired a taxi to take her the almost 30 miles to her home. I enjoyed my time at her home. She fixed me a lovely dinner with most of the ingredients something she’d grown as well as homemade wheat bread.

The next morning the rental car that was to come at 9:00 a.m., but didn’t arrive until about 9:45. Then we had to stop at the rental place for Judy to fill out all the paperwork and the agent had to go over everything with Judy about the car before we could take off for Raleigh. It should have been an easy ride, however, Judy was not familiar with automatic transmission, so we sort of bunny hopped the first mile until she realized she shouldn’t keep her foot on the gas and hit the brakes at the same time. I kept laughing and teasing her. Once she figured it out, she did quite well and we got to the Marriott where I shared a room with KM Rockwood.
Paula Benson and Barb Goffman at the Guppy luncheon
We arrived in time to go to the Guppy luncheon at the Twisted Tango. There were many Guppies there I knew from attending Malice, and some I knew only from Guppy digests. Not only was the buffet full of delicious food, but the camaraderie was heart-warming. Jim Jackson had us all introduce ourselves at one time. Karen Pullen had arranged this luncheon, and we gave her the money for the luncheon. She certainly chose well as this restaurant was across from the two hotels where Bouchercon was held.

After lunch, I went to register and get my bag of books and lanyard. While waiting for Judy, who wanted to put her books in our room, I sat down and visited with some writers. Then I went to the book dealers’ room and bought a few books. I left the Sheraton and went back to the Marriott to see if Judy was there and ended up visiting with people I knew in the lobby until eventually she showed up. So actually I didn’t attend any panels Thursday.

Thursday evening there was a BBQ outside under a huge tent for all attendees of Bouchercon – good food, lots of friendly conversation with other writers. The ones I was sitting with were among the last in the tent, so we went back to the Marriott lobby to continue our conversation along with others already there.
Leslie making a speech to the huge crowd of SinC members. 
Friday morning started with a delicious Sisters in Crime breakfast. Again, I was so happy to be a part of such a wonderful organization. There wasn’t a gloomy face in the room, only lots of laughing, and friendly get-to-know you conversations with those at the table we hadn’t met before. Leslie Budewitz our new SinC president was introduced and made a speech after chapter presidents were acknowledged.

Since breakfast ran over, the first panel I attended was at 10:00 “Write What You Know, the Day Job or Not” with Deborah Lacy as moderator. The panel consisted of  Catriona McPherson, Joe Clifford, Nancy G. West, and Suzanna Calkins. It was a very good panel. Catriona is always delightful and funny.

Judy, a friend of hers, and I went to the Twisted Tango for lunch. From there I went to the panel “Preventing a Mystery Series ‘Jumping the Shark’” The moderator was Francine Mathews (Stephanie Barron) with Nancy J. Cohen, Candace Robb (Emma Campion) Lisa Unger, and Laurie R. King. It was an interesting panel, however they’d opened two rooms for it which were packed, and I don’t think the panel was on a raised dais, because from close to the back of the room I couldn’t see even the top of anyone’s head. Still it was interesting and rather upsetting because Laurie R. King said her next book in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series was going to be something like “The Murder of Mary Russell.”

After that I went to my room for some down time from all the social stimulation and noise. I’d heard there were 1500 people attending Bouchercon this year. Even with Malice I need some down time to relax and read.

At 4:00 I attended the “Importance of Book Clubs and Young Adult Literacy” panel. The moderator was Tina Whittle, mother of Kaley Whittle, one of the teens. The other two teens were Destiny Geddis and Mathew McGrath plus the non-teen B.K. Stevens, who has written a YA and once taught high school English. It was a lively panel with quite vocal teens giving their opinions on what they like and don’t like in YA books. Destiny made me laugh with her dramatic  eye rolling and throwing up of her hands, etc. The other two were good at expressing their feelings, too, but without all the drama. I liked B.K.’s comments, also. All in all, it was a fun panel.
I didn't get a picture of mine, but you get the idea.

Friday evening SOHO Press, had a reception. Kathleen and I  didn’t get there right away, and by the time we did, almost all the hors-d’oeuvres were eaten so we only got three small samples. We did much better later at the ‘Death by Chocolate Reception put on by the Southeastern Chapter of MWA. There was a huge crowd outside the door before it opened, and when it opened there was a stampede, but well worth the wait. The woman in charge begged us not to be greedy and take more than one. All the chocolate desserts were exquisite and although I only chose one, they all looked scrumptious. I chose a most delicious brownie layered on top with chocolate frosting and nuts. One woman at our table ignored the request and had 5 or 6 different desserts. When she finished those, she was eyeing the desserts as if to see if there were more.

Saturday morning was the New Authors & Publishers Breakfast. It was interesting, too, and there were books on every table for us to choose from. I took one.

My Saturday morning panel was “Human Nature: Our Fascination with Law Breakers & Law Enforcers in Fiction.” Hank Phillippi Ryan was the moderator, and she’s always a joy. Sarah Paretsky wasn’t there, and I forget who took her place. Also on the panel were Lawrence Block, David Housewright & Michael Koryta.  It was an interesting panel.

My afternoon panel was “You are what you read – The Influences in your Writing,” moderated by R.G. Belsky, with panelists Dorothy Cannell (always funny), Timothy Williams, Susan M. Boyer, and Diane Kelly. Another good panel.
Sacred Heart Cathedral 

I met Shari Randall at 4:30 in the lobby to go to Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Because it was raining, she ordered a cab. The church was beautiful inside and out, and what impressed me the most was the diversity of members. The very large church was packed. They even have a Mass in Spanish. It had stopped raining when we left so Shari and I walked the five or more blocks back to the hotel. It was a lovely although very cool walk.

When we returned we met the other Writers Who Kill members except for Sam and Jim, but Jim’s significant other, Jan, joined Paula, Shari, Kathleen and me on our rather long walk checking into numerous restaurants all with long waiting time to get a table. Eventually, we found one that had a table for us. It was rather loud, as were all the restaurants we checked, but the food was good so it didn’t matter so much that we had to shout to be heard at our small table. Paula called for a large cab/car to take us back to the hotels.

Kathleen and I went to one panel Sunday morning – “Choose your voice: First, Third or Omnipotent in Mystery Fiction” moderated by Debra H. Goldstein with panelists M.L. Rowland, Bill Crider, Patricia Coleman (P.R. Morris) Julieanne Holmes (J.A. Hennrikus). Again it was a good panel.

After that Kathleen and I checked out, and her friend Mary Stojak she’d came with, kindly offered to take me to the airport on their way home.

It was a good conference, and I enjoyed meeting people, attending some of the panels, eating with friends, although I regret not taking more pictures. But overall still nothing is better in my opinion than coming home. Maggie, my collie, heard my car pull in, and raced out the door and down the sidewalk to greet me when my friend Laura opened the door. The cats were happy to see me, too, even though Laura took excellent care of them. She also swept my house, made fresh flower arrangements and had supper in the fridge ready to be heated up. Although the hotel bed was quite comfortable, it’s nothing like my own bed. And it was so nice to have my morning oatmeal and newspaper, and later feed my ponies and hens, and especially to get my morning walk in the woods after five days of being gone. I know Maggie enjoyed it, too.

Have you ever been to a mystery conference?
What did you like best about it if you've been to one?
If you haven't, what do you think you would enjoy most?


Jim Jackson said...

It was great to see you at Bouchercon, Gloria. The best part for me is being physically present with the mystery writing and reading community. It's such a great group of people.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

I so agree with you, Jim. Several months ago at an open mike poetry reading at a library, I remember a black man who almost bounced into the room with a huge smile declaring he had found his people. His poetry was chilling it was so wonderful. My friend and I insisted he join our writers group, and he did and everyone of us listen with absolute awe when he recites it. Up until then none of his friends or even his wife understood his passion. It's sort of like that at mystery conferences, isn't it. These are our people.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks for your post about Bouchercon. It sounded like a lot of fun. I wish I could have been there.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I've never attended a mystery convention. I enjoyed reading about your "something of everything in moderation" approach.

Warren Bull said...

I have not attended Bouchercom. Now it is on my list of things to do.

Gloria Alden said...

Grace, I wish you could have been there, too. I hope you make it to Malice next spring.

Margaret, if you ever do attend a mystery conference, I suggest Malice Domestic. It's smaller and in my opinion and many others much friendlier.

Warren, the next one is in New Orleans. I think you'll enjoy it.

Shari Randall said...

So nice to be in the same place with people who share the same passion for reading and writing mysteries! This was my first Bouchercon. I've done a couple of Malices. Malice is a bit smaller and there is only one hotel to deal with - a good "beginner" conference. Bouchercon, with its two hotels, was a bit overwhelming at times.

Kara Cerise said...

It sounds like a fun conference, Gloria! Judy's homemade wheat bread must have tasted so good.

Patg said...

I've attended conferences for close to 30 years. First, SF, then mystery. The best part smoozing with friends and meeting new people. Panels are fun too. I'd like to get back to Malice, but LCC is a real favorite.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, I agree, although personally I prefer Malice because it seems a little more manageable. There were people there I know, but never saw because of the crowds.

Judy's homemade wheat bread was absolutely delicious.

Pat, LCC is so much closer to where you live so the air fare would be much cheaper. However, if you ever do make it back to Malice, I'd enjoy seeing you there.

Judy Hogan said...

Gloria was a great help as I tried to find all the buttons on this new Nissan. I never found the high beams. I guess I did finally learn how to drive a car in these hi-tech years. I thought Bouchercon overwhelming, though I did enjoy certain panels. And seeing Malice/Guppy friends. I will be blogging on it, too, if not Sunday, 18th, on Sunday 25th on Gloria was the ideal guest, swinging with our punches as we coped with a broken pickup, a car I was scared to drive, and my panic at realizing I'd parked in a monthly lot instead of an hourly one. Fortunately I didn't get towed. Judy Hogan

Gloria Alden said...

Judy, I had great fun with you, and really appreciate what a good hostess you were. I hope to see you in Malice again this year.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Gloria, what a great post! It was so terrific being with you, Shari, Kathleen, and Jan for our dinner excursion. Jim and Sam, you missed a real adventure. I have to give full credit to Shari for calling the cab, I just flagged it down. How wonderful to get connect and spend time with dear friends. It was my first B'con, too. I'll remember the moments of togetherness

KM Rockwood said...

Great adventure, Gloria. Hope to share a room again at Malice!

Kait said...

Sounds like a wonderful time, Gloria. What a great report.

Gloria Alden said...

I shut down early last night and missed these comments.

Paula, as always I so enjoy meeting you at conferences. What a warm and friendly
person you are. I look forward to seeing you at Malice next spring.

KM, of course we'll share a room next year. You're a great roommate and easy to
be with.

Thank you, Kait. I only wish you could have been there and hope you can make it to
Malice next spring.