Thursday, October 16, 2008

"That's The Nicest Thing Anyone's Ever Done For Me"

If You know where this title comes from, I want you on my pub quiz team next time!

Was it the Bar, Was it the hospitality suite, was it the panels, it was you. Judy and I thank everyone who has thanked us and yes, you can keep them coming... but this thank you we needed to post, because the sender makes all the same points Judy and I have been making to one another. It was everything that made Bouchercon 2008 go well. If you receive an e-mail blast from either hotel and especially the Sheraton, please reply to it, and thank you, what a community we did this for.

And now, without further ado, a final goodbye,

I attended the 2008 Bouchercon in Baltimore and I have to admit, that after visiting eight of these events over the last nine years, this one was one of the smoothest, most polished Bouchercons ever. But I'm not certain that all the accolades being heaped on Ruth Jordan and Judy Bobalik are deserved.

I kept an eye out for the two ladies 'supposedly' responsible for this conference and the times that I did see them, they were almost always casually conversing with attendees, and just hanging out. The bar...often a scene of poor service and mass confusion at Bouchercon, ran almost perfectly. Plenty of staff, plenty of service, plenty of food and drink. I never once saw Ruth or Judy helping serve drinks, or buss tables.

The wide variety of exciting panels and discussion groups were well attended, and well monitored. Monitored by a very enthusiastic group of volunteers, there seemed to be no need for our two ladies to be involved. The registration desk was occasionally bombarded by the 1500 people who attended the conference, and again, even though I saw Ms. Jordan and Ms. Bobalik occasionally work the table, the volunteers handled the crowd very well.

The Sisters In Crime hospitality room was wonderfully stocked with coffee, juice and snacks and I never once saw our hostesses running in to re-supply the refreshments. The book room ran like a well oiled machine, with a generous selection of new and used volumes and it seemed that dealers and buyers all did business without any help from the organizers.

So, while everyone I talked to agreed that Bouchercon 2008 will go down in history as one of the best conferences ever, how much credit can we actually give to Judy Bobalik and Ruth Jordan? The only thing I really noticed was that they seemed to enjoy the event as much as anyone else.

It was a fabulous conference, ladies. Thanks.

Don Bruns

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home at the desk top, cat purring at my feet.....

I'm reading all these great blogs and finally have been able to read the guest author posts at Read Street. If you missed this year's B-Con and are on the fence about next year's take a look at the boards, the news, and the web site... and then follow this link.

Jim and Mike and their team shadowed us from Tuesday on and next year will be just as FANtastic , if not more so,I'm sure.

Hosting one of these things is a bit different than my usual role of attending and so I missed a lot, but I also saw a lot. And I have to give out a ton of thanks. To everyone who stuffed bags with us on Tuesday, you guys rock. Registration desk volunteers worked every day and did a fab job.To the many who monitored, moderated and participated in panels, thank you all. I have received so many e-mails crediting me for your brilliance. And a couple of special shout outs. Stacey Cochran videoed the guest of honor interviews for us. Two are on the web site now and two more will be up shortly. And Heather Drucker of Harper Collins captured a live stream feed of the Billingham/Connolly conversation which I hope to put on the web site soon.

I heard that all the publisher dinners and cocktail parties were brilliant, unfortunately, I made none but next year if I'm lucky enough to be invited, I'll be there with bells on. And I cannot believe I missed my first Reacher Creature's party in nine years(sorry Jack and Lee). I also missed a brilliant event at the Library of Congress on Tuesday evening where one half of our Lifetime Achievement Award team, Robert Rosenwald gave a not to be missed speech on the future of publishing. It will be up shortly on the LOC site and I'll send everyone a link.

I did not miss the smiles on faces as they walked down the hall. Perhaps to visit the Hospitality Suite. I need to thank Sisters in Crime and Penny Clifton in particular. I came to them and told them what I wanted to accomplish with the space, gave them a budget and they executed my plan beyond any dreams Judy or I had.

The bookroom had the best representation of titles I've seen at a Bouchercon and they all worked hard to make sure that it happened. Each and every person in that dealer room deserves a shout out and consider this mine.

My thanks to everyone also who helped with bringing Bouchercon at the Movies to us. People were so happy to have a quieter, less kinetic evening event available to them. Kinetic was available too. Mark Billingham led us all through a lively opening ceremonies. The food was superb on that evening and the speeches brilliant. Followed by the presentation of the Crimespree, Macavity and Barry Awards there was no better note to go out on than George Easter so appropriately being awarded the Sandstrom Award for 2007.

Friday was Author without Borders and the Live Auction. Thank you to the four hundred or so people who bopped in and out for the hour long Authors event, and thanks also to everyone who came from abroad to play with us this weekend. The Live and Silent Auctions brought in just under 15,000 dollars and we're going to round it up. Thanks to Dave, Cindy, Beth, and all of their volunteers. I consider this a huge success, especially in last week's economic climate.

Saturday was pub quiz and those who joined us had a hilarious time. It was also the only time I got to spend with Fan Guest of Honor, Thalia Proctor... because I was so darned busy. So it was great on many levels thanks to the great team of Ted and Gary and the camaraderie of all who participated.

And to Sunday. What could we do but laugh when the fire alarm went off? Although I ran steadily that morning, as we all sat down for the brunch, the wonderful Mark allowed me to relax and he took over the end of the event. Judy and I had a few ideas, and Mark coordinated with Ben Leroy of Bleak House Books to make them happen.
A final toast to the forever to be missed James Crumley with a guest reading by George Pelecanos and a "shot on location" short honoring our Continuing Contribution to the Genre recipient, Lawrence Block. Thank You Larry. These were fabulous precursors to the presentation of the Anthony Awards but just as special to me was sitting with Bill and Toby Gottfried when they won the Sandstrom Award for 2008. Two heroes to everyone in our community and an inspiration to both fans and writers everywhere, I teared up as they went up on stage. The Anthonys were a celebration and then... it was over...

Baltimore gave us Sunny weather, both hotels gave us above and beyond service. The wait Staff and Management of both hotels worked hard to make all of us comfortable and everything go off with minimal hitches. And as much as we enjoyed them, they enjoyed us. Both hotels have said that we are fabulous and whenever we want to come back they'll be there for us. They thank you for your courtesy, patience, understanding, and the energy you brought to their hotels.

And my guests of honor . It's so hard to let go because from Meeting John and falling just a little in love (like Jon and myself he and his partner Sarah met one another through Bouchercon), to seeing Thal again, to having a lively discussion in Barbara and Robert's suite, To the sheer quake running through my body as I was able to introduce Lawrence Block and Charles Ardai to the membership, to Laura's radiance as she acted the role of hostess to the 1400 of us there and to Mark, who I knew would be brilliant and was an even better toastmasterer than I expected....I do not want to let you all go.

As I buzzed through the membership, I saw many faces and was unable to spend enough time with anyone, such a change from last year's cozy reunion feel. Some I said brief hellos too and some I missed entirely. Where was McKenna Jordan? And Joe Wallace, I know you were there but did I see you, even? Vicki Hendricks is one of my fav people and there was no time. But next year I'm free and clear and hoping for a lot of inspiring conversation, and cocktails.... lots of cocktails.

and now, back to the cat..... he needs pets from Mom,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Good Bye ,Farewell

the complete list of Anthony Award Winners...
Best Novel: WHAT THE DEAD KNOW- Laura Lippman Morrow

Best First: IN THE WOODS- Tana French Viking Adult

Best Paperback Original: A THOUSAND BONES P.J. Parrish Pocket

Best Short Story: HARDLY KNEW HER Laura Lippman- from Dead Man's Hand edited by Otto Penzler for Harcourt

Best Critical Work: ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: A LIFE IN LETTERS by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley Penguin

Special Services: Ruth and Jon Jordan

Best Web Site: Stop You're Killing Me: Stan Ulrich and Lucinda Surber

What a weekend and I think every one had a blast.
Judy we made it...
Judy Bobalik: hero, friend, traffic coordinator, and the best co-chair I could have ever had....
She's the one who did the heavy lifting, the panels (with Jon Jordan), the time framing, and well, kept me from being overwhelmed.

It all feels right and I'm about to go downstairs and begin clean up after passing out promptly at seven last night,

we'll have more on the web site shortly and the blog will descend into silence soon....

but please everyone who was able to attend share a favorite moment with those who weren't , Judy and I were both so busy we'd like to hear more about your Bouchercon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


hey everyone, Ruth here and so sorry this is so brief. but Bouchercon? Baltimore? Fabulous. Busy. We do want to Share. So we'll have a wrap up for you tomorrow. and within hours.... Our first 2 GOH interviews will be on-line at the Charmed to Death Website. All four + the Anthony Awards will be available to you on the Charmed to Death Web Site. But today an experiment.... Live stream line video is coming up.... Toastmaster Mark Billingham's conversation with John Connolly will be coming to the web live at 3:oo p.m. So those of you at home join us 3:00 p.m. Baltimore time through either the Harper Collins or January Magazine websites.....
You don't have to miss everything! And please consider coming to Indy. I hate that my fellow mystery fans are missing this and wish everyone was here with us.

And thanks to Mark, John, Chris Mooney, Karin Slaughter, and Laura Lippman. They not only got out of bed for all of us... 12 hours before the live auction even began we had a substantial kitty because these five people are very good, or is it really bad liars!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Why I love Judy Bobalik

I cannot count the ways. From the ground B-Con....

Well, I'd hoped Jon and I could sneak away, we had a chance to see the Library of congress via the wonderful Barbara Peters. I've never been within those halls and I should have realized, but I had to send one half of my Lifetime Achievement Winner a
"I'm so sorry" e-mail when she probably isn't even checking e-mails.
But, the book bags are DONE and I mean finished, the carroll can now turn into the signing room instead of the room with all those boxes....

And you know, the folks who came to us today and agreed to help without any stipulation for anything.. I love you all, really... all book bags full as I lay my head down? Brilliant.

I have to say, and I've done book bag stuffing before.. it's a far different animal when you move the books from a remote suburb, to the truck, from the truck, to the loading dock, to the prelim stuffing room, to the main room , boxes broken down..
i THANK EVERYONE , my bruises are well earned and your help? Invaluable....

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Easy Like Sunday Mornings

What a day Yesterday was.... Work and Play...

The entire staff at this Kinkos/Fed EX are know amongst my local Baltimore Heroes. Above and beyond . This is the staff that will be packing my books.

I read the event contracts page by page yesterday (this is a different animal than the original contracts you sign). Every Mike,glass of water table and room is accounted for in writing. This is to assure going into set up the hotel and Judy and myself are on the same page. Pretty dry stuff. And then I get to the bar set ups.

"The last two years the bouchercon bars have closed early. This group enjoys a late night gathering. There were several complaints to both hotels and we should expect late evening spikes"

Thank You....

Bar Time is 2:00 people.

And I'd talk more but Ayo is dressed hungry and waiting... God, it's great to see her again.
More later....

Friday, October 03, 2008

Walk This Way

Remember this member name.

Penny Clifton...


At my first Bouchercon, I stumbled into a room they called the hospitality room. I found this room purely by accident. I’d been to a reading by the wonderful Boston writer Linda Grant. As we all exited there was a queue to the room just across the hall and Dove Ice Cream Bars were being dumped onto the table and quickly devoured by the awaiting masses. I met Shirley Kennett in that room and Anne from PA.

At every Bouchercon since then (and I’m sure the ones before), there has been a hospitality room. And they are normally not easy to find. And here’s the thing…. (I’m throwing that in just for you John) Even if the hospitality room is easy to find; for some reason people think it is not meant for them. Members, you are Bouchercon and most decidedly everyone is always welcome in any hospitality room.

So word up, come visit the hospitality suite this year…. Sisters in Crime is making it possible for everyone and that very special sister Penny Clifton has worked long hours to give our membership a sampling of some of Baltimore’s home grown treats.

We’ll save it all as a surprise but it’s going to be a great room. The Hall of Fame Lounge is an inviting and comfortable room. Our secondary bar in the evening, it offers leather sofas and comfy chairs. The Billiard Table has been re-felted. There are tables to gather around and we hope that folks will stop by to participate in the official Bouchercon Blog. You don’t blog? We’ll type It for you, share an experience that’s making the con special for you. So many folks who planned to be here cannot be. Others who think they may like to attend one day are wondering what the experience is truly like… Let’s let them know what they’re missing, let’s share. During the day you’ll also be able to find giveaways from authors you either already know or should. What arrives in the end is unclear, but a variety of bookmarks, postcards and even chat books is expected. So come and browse, have a cup of coffee or a glass of water and … the aforementioned surprises.

We are only putting food out periodically but help us to run out this year. We’ll share our info with all future cons and hope to grow this, one of my favorite parts of Bouchercon.

And back to the Sisters. They have selected the foods that will be there, they will be represented throughout the duration of the con, staffing the hospitality suite Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are doing this as a thank you to our community. In 1986 a group of female writers were talking at a convention called Bouchercon in Baltimore Maryland and came up with a concept for a new organization. It would be called Sisters in Crime. 22 years later, I think we can safely say it was, is, and will be an important part of the mystery community forever.

And Judy and I thank you….. Sisters forever…..

Green on Green

A Couple of things. There will be a green room for panelists at this years Bouchercon.
Located in the POE Room on your maps, It is just across from the signing room, and around the corner from your panel rooms. Highly accessible, we hope you'll feel welcome to make use of this room. If anyone should need help finding it ask a volunteer. We're here to help!

And yes the Auction is starting at 9:00 p.m. on Friday the 10th. It will be located in the Calvert Ballroom of the Radisson Hotel, located at 23 West Baltimore Street. Supporting the Enoch Pratt Library System and Viva House this Event is open to the public as well as our membership.We would like to thank everyone for supporting Bouchercon's annual auction. It is a joy to give back to the community hosting our convention.

coming up next.... the hospitality suite. And thanks to my favorite Baltimorian for the lovely lunch today...


Thursday, October 02, 2008

So you

So you
thought you might
like to
come to the show.

Roger Waters everyone….

Our last short story nominee is up at Charmed to Death… Laura Lippman’s Hardly Knew Her from Dead Man’s Hand Harcourt edited by Otto Penzler now joins the others. Thanks to everyone for making this happen and Otto? Serious about the hero worship

We still Need Volunteers. If you can help e-mail judy at

Yesterday goes down as one of those extremely memorable days. I did not get everything I wanted to done. But let me tell you Any Day I get to giggle with Charlaine Harris is truly memorable. What a week she’s having. And I didn’t know. I’m so embarrassed, so deeply buried in Bouchercon, I didn’t even know, and if you don’t know go take a look at the New York Times Best Seller List. Back? Charlaine Harris everyone. Give it up. When someone who has written such great books for as long as Charlaine has, who has made all those tough choices that writers do, for so long, has a week like this it feels like a win for the entire community.

We still Need Volunteers. If you can help e-mail judy at

So I got to giggle with Charlaine. Pretty Great, right? Well then I got in the car and got to go to a book signing with Dennis Lehane. The Given Day is remarkable (and John P, I have your copy). But it was great just to see Dennis again. Three years is a long time, and the last time we saw one another was

at Bouchercon. In 2005

We’ve both had some remarkable years since then. And there was a store full of people at Richard’s . Folks who’ve loved his books from the very beginning and come back to every signing, and are as proud of Dennis as a parent could be. And with Every book he comes back to Mystery One to share with a room full of people who he appreciates so much, he comes to Richard’s store when there are any number of larger non Mystery stores who would love to have him. He does it for Richard and he does it for Richard’s customers. He’s truly one of the most fiercely loyal people I’ve met in my life.

In Vegas I remember sitting with Laura and Dennis and thinking to myself how remarkable the journey they had had since the first time I met them was. And now three years later? Wow.

So the last time I saw Dennis was at Bouchercon and the next time I’ll see him? Bouchercon 2008. See a couple of really good friends are guests of honor, and Dennis will be with us in Baltimore. Because that loyalty, that friendship it is fierce. I think it’s part of what makes him a great writer. I know it’s what makes him a great person.

We still Need Volunteers. If you can help e-mail judy at

And then there was the hug from Sean. It’s good to have hugs from my friend Sean. It’s a bonus that he just happens to write books and they’re great books. Trigger City, the second in his series hits bookstores near you a week from next Tuesday. Sean Chercover, Jon Jordan and I stayed up way too late last night, talking, drinking, catching up. We hadn’t seen one another in way to long…. And So a day of mystery heroes and friends ended.

We still Need Volunteers. If you can help e-mail judy at

I am at the airport, getting ready to leave. It’s been a long time coming. Stage two begins tomorrow bright and early. I’d like to let all the folks who were in contact with me anytime after 12:00 yesterday afternoon that I’ll be back to everyone by Saturday but these next few hours are for me and my husband, Jon. Do you know Jon Jordan? He’s the best friend, son, brother, husband and mystery champion I know. And he loves me.

We still Need Volunteers. If you can help e-mail judy at

Tomorrow: Auction News (it begins at 9 pm Friday October 10th)
The Hospitality Suite and An Angel Amongst the Sisters
And anything else I can think of……