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.
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?