Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bouchercon 2012

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

Just when I thought the weekend couldn't get any better, I got to meet Mary Higgins Clark.

Laurie Stephens, Martha Reed, me, and Annette Dashofy
The Pittsburgh SinC crew (that's me, second from the right)
When I made my hotel reservations for Bouchercon 2012 last spring, I had no idea what I was getting into. As the conference rapidly approached, I got excited. And nervous. And sometimes flat-out petrified. I had chosen one of the biggest crime fiction conferences to make my "industry event" debut. What had I been smoking? Yes, Bouchercon is primarily a fan event (that is, there were no times set aside for pitching agents or learning craft), but there were going to be some big names there. I joked that while I hadn't yet started dreaming that I was attending a panel stark naked, I was getting jittery. My biggest fear was that I'd be talking to some published author and he (or she) would say, "Honey, give it up."

Hank Phillippi Ryan channels Richard Dawson
I needn't have worried. I'm sure other genre authors will say the same, but the crime fiction community is the best. I knew good things were in store when the first person I saw was Hank Phillippi Ryan. Some poor footwear choices and bad directions had put me in some serious pain - and fortunately my friend Annette swooped in (I mean really - you know you've got a real friend when she literally gives you the shoes off her feet).

I attended some great panels (Family Feud Jungle Red style, and a rip-roaring Sunday event on red herrings top my list). I spoke to great people, other writers and fans (shared a cab with a retired Cleveland Housing Authority officer who insisted on buying me a drink when she learned I was a writer), including a chance meeting with the lovely Rhys Bowen. I drank my first chocolate martini. And no, it won't be the last.

And did I mention that I met Mary Higgins Clark?

Not once did someone say, "Give it up." To the last, everyone was encouraging and friendly. Hallie Ephron (go get her books, now) recognized me from a chance meeting last spring. Hank (go get her books, now) recognized me from Twitter - and may I say she gives great hugs? The message was always, "Don't give up. Keep writing. Keep learning. You'll make it."

The lovely & elegant Rhys Bowen
And that's why I go to these things. I've written before that a writer's life can be lonely. We sit for hours, days, weeks, in front of a screen, pouring out our hearts and souls. Yeah, we can connect with others through email, or Facebook, or Twitter. But somehow, none of that quite compares to a hug, a smile, a conversation.

Nothing on social media compares to hashing out ideas over lunch with a friend. Virtual enthusiasm pales compared to the energy of like-minded others. Yeah, social media introduced me to a lot of people I wouldn't otherwise have met, but to meet them in person? Wow. I came away so energized, so enthusiastic, so ready to jump right back into writing and really make it work.

I'll get more of that this weekend when I attend the "Retreat to the Woods" writers' retreat with my local Sisters in Crime. But after Bouchercon, I really feel confident using the word "sib" to include authors such as Hank. Because the people I met this weekend are my sisters - and brothers - in this wild, wonderful, sometimes hair-pulling, adventure. I'm grateful for all of them and could not be happier I found them. As soon as those hotel accommodations are announced for next year in Albany, I'm there. More than ever, I feel like a writer. This is my community, my "family," my tribe.

And did I mention I met Mary Higgins Clark?


  1. Did I mention that I met Mary Higgins Clark, too? ;-)

    1. And if it weren't for you I wouldn't have had the guts to speak to her!