Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Bouchercon 2022 - Land of 10,000 Thrills by Martha Reed

I felt jolted by climate shock as I pulled my jeans, socks, and nubby sweaters out of my Tupperware storage bins to pack for Bouchercon Minneapolis 2022. After Florida living for four years, I had forgotten how comforting a beloved sweater could feel, like being enveloped in a warm bear hug from a dear friend. If the sweater smells like a cedar chest, even better.

At first, my humidity-trained body rebelled, saying “Whoa. What are you doing?” when I stuffed my feet into real shoes versus wearing flip-flops, but once we arrived at the Minneapolis airport, I began to experience the chilly 70-degree temperature and I re-appreciated my fleece-lined wardrobe choices.

I learned a new word at BCon this year: “hygge.” It’s a Danish and Norwegian word that means “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality.” As usual, the conference was jam-packed with professional and newbie writers, agents, publishers, readers, and fans, all of whom pretty much settled in and occupied the Hilton Hotel’s lobby bar.

I did, too, because this year I had a great cause to celebrate. “This Time for Sure,” the 2021 Bouchercon anthology edited by the phenomenally talented Hank Phillippi Ryan, won the prestigious 2022 Best Anthology Anthony Award. 

My short story, “The Honor Thief,” is in the anthology with stories by David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Danyanti Biswas, Alan Orloff, and more. A PDF of “The Honor Thief,” is a free read on my website. Here’s a link: https://www.reedmenow.com/short-fiction

After the conference, instead of flying back to St. Pete right away, I tacked on an extra four days to work on my WIP and to catch up on my conference-induced delinquent word count. Two Florida Gulf Coast Sisters in Crime friends and I rented an SUV. We drove three hours north to a lakeside cabin in the woods for a working writer’s retreat and some unsuccessful fishing.

I joked that this plan sounded like an elevator pitch for a B-rated horror movie. The experience has been anything but that. It is heavenly to toast S’Mores around a crackling bonfire while sharing a challenging “Drop A Hatchet” round robin story before falling asleep huddled under a hand-stitched quilt while the lake gently laps against a dock and the loons warble each other “good night.” Pure hygge.

We’ve decided to try this post-BCon writing retreat next year at Bouchercon 2023 in San Diego. We’re thinking of exploring Santa Barbara and the Pacific Coast. If you’re familiar with that area, what are your suggestions? Have you ever extended a conference into a writer’s retreat? How did it work out?


  1. The idea of a post-conference writing retreat sounds fabulous! I'm jealous. Congrats on the anthology win!

    Bouchercon wasn't in my budget this year, but I definitely intend to go next year.

    P.S. Stay safe, Martha. Hurricane Ian sounds terrifying.

  2. Hi Annette - The great thing about the post-conference retreat is that it gave me the time to think over and absorb what I learned before immediately jumping back into the distractions of real life. I hope you go to San Diego. They have great Mexican food there. LOL And yes, when I wrote this blog I wasn't thinking of adding a hurricane to the 10,000 thrills. We're as prepared as we can be: hurricane shutters, car gassed up, bottled water, batteries, non-perishable food (mostly tuna and saltines). I'm glued to the hurricane tracker.

  3. That retreat sounds delightful. And Santa Barbara is gorgeous! (You'll want to read Maddie Day's NACHO AVERAGE MURDER in preparation...)

    Stay safe, and please post hurricane-check-in updates.

  4. Hi Edith - I've heard that about Santa Barbara - we've got it on our radar for our potential Bouchercon 2023 retreat. And I just watched the latest storm tracker - it looks like Sarasota will be Ian's landfall. Between the wind and the storm surge Wed and Thurs will be extreme. I'm keeping my eye on it, and I may go stay with friends on higher ground. I need to make that decision today or hunker down. Still checking the data.

  5. A post conference retreat - ah, you know how to live, Martha!
    I'm watching Ian and keeping my fingers crossed he misses you. Keep us posted!

  6. Hi Shari - I can't take credit for the idea as much as I enjoyed it. We stayed in Lisa Malice's family lake cabin. It was divine, so relaxing even though I caught zero fish. I did catch up on my word count. As of now, it looks like landfall is Sarasota, south of us. We did just move all the condo cars to higher ground - shades of the Pittsburgh Confluence Retreat. Hurricane shutters are up, supplies are in. I wasn't planning on this nine months into my new condo, but I got to meet all my neighbors!

  7. Congratulations for having your story in the award-winning anthology. As one who lives at a higher latitude than St. Paul, I was rather amused at your need for fleece at a temperature where I'm slightly warm in shorts and a t-shirt. It's all about what we are acclimated to.