Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two to go, With Charmed's # 1

Pretend it's Friday,
Yesterday went by too fast. Judy and I were on the phone Thursday evening and we're both getting pretty psyched here in the midwest. The Convention feels real. Abstract moving into let's get going and do this. Today I'll be updating twice, beginning with Mr. Ted Hertel who was the first person to sign on for Charmed to Death way back when. Member number 1 is part of the home team in my heart and with the rest of the 99 Bouchercon Committee, entirely responsible for my commitment to this con.

From Ted

My Bouchercon memories stretch back to the first Milwaukee con in 1981 when I knew Gary Warren Niebuhr only as some guy who occasionally sold me books out of his house and who thought I might be trying to rip him off when I gave him a check instead of cash. I hadn’t even known there was such a thing as mystery fandom – thought I was the only one crazy enough to collect books and want to meet authors. So picking just one memory out of nearly three decades of fandom might be impossible. But I’ll try.

Should I talk about that ’81 Bouchercon where Mickey Spillane sat in the audience doing the Mystery Science Theater 3000 thing with his movie The Girl Hunters, yelling hilarious comments at the screen the whole time? Or the 1990 London convention where nothing seemed to go right, where we struggled with the worst venue ever, where tours were cancelled without notice or refund, where P.D. James inscribed a book to my wife Maggie as “Neggie”? No, probably that’s not it. Or the ’93 Omaha con where the hotel was under construction and there was so much noise and confusion no one could figure out what was going on. Yes, I think I’ll start there – or at least right after that, since on the way back in the car with Gary, Beth Fedyn, and Bev DeWeese, Gary spent literally hours outlining plans for a convention honoring the Private Eye Writers of America, the convention that would become the first Eyecon, held in Milwaukee in 1995. Gary asked each of us to take a job (I was Local Arrangements Chair). And it was after that very successful effort that Gary and I took the plunge and agreed to put on the second Milwaukee Bouchercon as co-chairs.

We worked for 3 ½ years to coordinate that convention and had a great time doing it. We weren’t sure at first if our friendship would survive the process (I mean, come on, the man wouldn’t even take my checks without running six credit checks on me, along with requiring two forms of identification!), but it did and it’s still going strong (not to mention many other friendships that grew out of the experience). So that’s a great memory.

But beyond that, probably my other favorite memory of the whole experience was working (though Doug Greene, of Crippen & Landru) with Richard Dannay, son of Fred Dannay, one-half of the Ellery Queen writing team, to obtain permission from the Queen trusts to put on a performance of a Queen radio play entitled “The Adventure of the Murdered Moths.” And what a cast we assembled. My wife Maggie played the part of Nikki Porter, Michael Z. Lewin was Inspector Queen, Gary Phillips was Sgt. Velie. Other cast members included S. J. Rozan, Parnell Hall, Ed Goldberg, Les Roberts, Keith Snyder, Sandy Balzo (as The Anacin Girl) and Jerry Healy (as The Announcer). Gary did the sound effects. Max Allan Collins and his wife Barbara were the guest detectives who had to solve the crime (Al did a respectable job with a plausible solution). And I had the opportunity to play the role of my favorite fictional detective, Ellery Queen himself. The event was the best attended of the entire convention. It drew over 450 people – standing room only in one of the very large convention hall rooms. It was a great time with a tremendous cast of characters – and I do mean “characters.”

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Baltimore!

Friday, May 30, 2008


With three days to go until the big announcement today's memory comes from Sean Chercover, Sean's second book Trigger City will be out in October.
First Bouchercon Memories

Sean Chercover

My first Bouchercon was Toronto ’04. Not only my first Bouchercon, but my first mystery convention . . . and my first fan convention of any kind, for that matter.

I had no idea what I was in for.

It was also a bit of a “coming out” for me. I’d made many online friends on the RAM (rec.arts.mystery) Usenet group. They knew me as a fellow online fan, but most did not know my secret.

See, I’d written a book. Well, a manuscript. But I’d been reluctant to tell anyone until it was done. I set Bouchercon as my deadline for revisions. Now I was done, and ready to look for an agent.

So I came out. Told people about the manuscript (and had some copies to give out to online friends for feedback).

They were all very kind, and none said, “You idiot – what makes you think I would want to lug 356 loose pages in a box, all the way back to . . . California . . . Pennsylvania . . . Wisconsin . . . England.”

No, they were very kind and took the damn pages with them. And they were, without exception, supportive of my crazy idea that I might actually be able to write one of these things.

Meeting these online friends was a fantastic experience. Jon and Ruth immediately took me under their wing and introduced me around. And the RAMmers suddenly had faces to go with their names. Mark Allan Miller and Kat Richardson and John Purcell and Jen and Jeremy and Sandi and Sarah and Patricia and Soren (who is missed, and will be forever) and Mitchy and Rik and Beth and Donna and on and on…

It was quite a party, and online acquaintances quickly became good friends.

And this is where I first learned of the welcoming and supportive nature of mystery authors. It is so often repeated that it sounds trite. But it’s true.

Joe Konrath took me to a nearby bar and told me everything he’d learned about the ‘finding an agent’ dance. Many authors graciously ignored my fanboy moments and offered encouragement and advice. Lee Child was exceedingly kind. Walter Mosley pretended not to notice me staring at him like a hero-worshiping puppy.

The after-hours bar scene was intense, and little sleep was had that weekend. And I picked up a new addiction. A Bouchercon addiction.

It’s an addiction I never want to kick.

See ya in Baltimore.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Four Days to Go!! And Memories to Grow On

Let’s Count Down Together

The Anthony Nominations Are Coming!!!

Sunday, June 1st all will be revealed. Check Back Here Daily for doses of memory and appreciation while we all wait.

Today’s Memory is from American GOH Laura Lippman. I have no huge preamble, I’m glad we met and am excited to read everything she writes. She is someone who inspires me on a lot of levels but mainly I’m happy to call her Friend.

I have attended 11.5 Bouchercons to date; I give myself only half-credit for St. Paul, in 1996, because I wasn't a registered attendee, just a pre-published writer lurking on the fringes -- having a drink with my editor, going to a publisher's dinner where I met some kid named Dennis Lehane. I wonder whatever happened to him?

But of all the outstanding memories -- my bridal shower in Madison, winning the Anthony, losing the Anthony (William Kent Krueger is my kryptonite!), taking Chris Mooney as my Bouchercon husband, laughing late into the night with my frequent roommate, Sujata Massey -- my best memories are what I call the Bouchercon breaks. Because Bouchercon, lovely as it is, can be overwhelming. And to truly enjoy it, you need to remember to take a time-out. To drive to Big Sur, as Sue Trowbridge and I did in 1997, when our futures seemed as winding and unknowable as the road before us. Or even a simple lunch, as Keith Snyder and I enjoyed in Denver in 1999, where we ended up talking about theremins; I could carry my end of the conversation only because a theremin features prominently in Marjorie Morningstar. A bike ride in Anchorage. For the past few years, I've also tried to have dinner with writers I usually see only at Bouchercon -- Mark Billingham, John Connolly, my aforementioned Bouchercon husband Chris, Karin Slaughter. A meal, a drink, a walk -- a few minutes away will actually enhance the Bouchercon experience.

With Mark and me as officiants, if you will, -- hey, it's a kind of religious experience -- that might be hard to do this year in Baltimore. So it goes. As those who have heard my spiel on the road know, I firmly believe that book tours are about readers. At Bourchercon, this is even more true, and it's a delicate balance. As much as we solitary writers delight in the company of our peers, the readers take priority. So while I advocate Bouchercon breaks, it would be a shame to attend only to check-out altogether.

Meanwhile, what Bouchercon memories do others wish they had? I'd give anything to have been there when Ruth and Jon met. (Legend has is that Val McDermid and Ian Rankin did witness this.) Or to have been a fly on the wall when James Crumley and Ken Bruen spent an evening talking in Las Vegas. Also, I recall a rumor of John Connolly wearing a cowboy hat. And Alison Gaylin table-dancing. Or was it Megan Abbott? But now I fear that we are in the territory of Bouchercon myths and legends, perhaps a future topic for this blog.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

From the Front

Bouchercon News!!

Hi all. Thanks to all for the number of early registrations. We are well on our way to a great Membership for 2008. People have not only registered early but they’ve booked their hotel rooms as well and as a result the Sheraton City Center is now full. There is space in the Radisson . Remember to mention Bouchercon-Charmed to death for the room rate of 175 a night (single)/195 a night (double). The two hotels are literally side by side and have a 15 yard walkway connecting them which leads right onto the events floor.

The deadline for submitting selections for the Anthony Awards is passed. We have begun to tabulate your nominees and offer thanks to all who participated. It was a gratifying percentage of the membership. For John’s peace of mind I ask everyone to refrain from trying to submit votes. We will announce our nominees on the 1st of June.

We’ve been working on the auction and just this week the remarkable Janet Costello has had to withdraw as our Auction Chair for personal reasons. She will still be attending the big dance and I’m sure we’ll all want to be as generous as the mystery community always is.

Finally, Judy and I have to thank all the organizations and publishers who’ve offered sponsorships, the writers and mystery experts who’ve offered to be on panels and the many individuals who’ve offered ideas, suggestions, their time and their support.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What Bouchercon kick started

I have a lot of Bouchercon memories. A lot of them swirl into a hazy mix of excitement and joy. An over whelming feeling of trying to be everywhere and do everything. And after doing it for years it doesn't go away.
A defining moment for me was obviously meeting Ruth at Bouchercon. It changed my life in a lot of ways and led to other moments.

We started the idea for Crimespree at breakfast in Las Vegas and decided to go for it by the pool later that weekend. I remember celebrating my sister's birthday in Austin, screaming and jumping when Barbara Seranella won an Anthony in Madison, watching newcomer Steven Booth sign books in DC, meeting a very outgoing New Yorker named Reed in Austin and thinking "wow, he's enthusiastic!"(who would later become one of my favorite people), watching Ian Rankin tell Loren Estleman that he's a huge fan, Sara Paretsky wearing a London Bobbie's hat in Toronto...
The list goes on and on. I could literally do this for hours.

Most of my memories are of meeting people for the first time who would go onto become close friends, people from all over the world and all walks of life. Being surrounded for four to five days by more than 1500 people who share a passion for some thing with you is an incredible experience. It's like a drug that always leaves me winded and wanting more.

But my favorite memory after meeting Ruth would have to be Chicago. Barbara Seranella came to the conference, still recovering from treatments. I cried when I saw her I was so happy. The next day she was passing out onions to people and she threw one to me from the escalator. They were wrapped with a note that said
"You can eat the onion, I'm keeping the liver".
I still have the note.

And when ever I think that the magazine may be a little too much for me, when I get tired of doing the day to day things that I don't always want to do, when ever I debate taking the easy way I think of that note and Barbara who said to me in Chicago "Nothing stops me from coming to Bouchercon".

Jon Jordan