Bouchercon 2018

Holy cheesenips, y’all. I meant to write this post a week ago when Bouchercon was fresh in my mind, but I was so exhausted I made it about fifty words in and had to give up because I had no idea what I was trying to say.

Here’s take two.

First and foremost, it is NOT pronounced Boo-sure-con. It’s pronounced “BOW-sure-con.” Or, as Kevin said, “Boucher, like voucher.” (I know, I know. I’m still not clear on the “sure” vs “cher.” But if you slur that part, no one notices!)

Kevin had to convince me to go, because I have the world’s biggest Imposter Syndrome going where, well, just about everything but writing in particular, is concerned. However, I’m really glad he did.

I had a couple strokes of luck that made this a really wonderful experience. First, I had a writer friend that I’ve previously only known online who said she was going too. We made plans to meet up, so I knew I wouldn’t be the awkward loner wandering around and staring as everyone chatted with their bffs and had a good time.

Second, a local friend decided last minute to go and needed a place to crash. In exchange for using the “hold my suitcase” bed in my room, they let me follow them around and insinuate myself into their social circle. This was great, because they have the most amazing friends.

Bouchercon is a hybrid professional/fan mystery book conference where both industry folks and avid readers mix it up for wild book-themed shenanigans. There are panels, book giveaways, and awards for everyone. Want to hear your favorite author do a reading? Hit the bar. Score free signed books from the biggest publishing houses? The hospitality suite. Find out who won the Anthony for Best Debut? To the ballroom! My new friends were constantly saying “Oh my god, that’s Tim Dorsey,” and “I ran into Karin Slaughter in the bathroom.” I had to admit, I’d only come to keep the celebrities humble, because I didn’t know anyone they were talking about.

Tim Dorsey is very sweet though. Total dad.

I did meet a bunch of authors who I did read or otherwise idolize though. That’s the thing about Bouchercon; although there are educational panels, the big draw is the socializing and networking that happens between and after the structured occasions. I met a big-name book reviewer, an acquiring editor (who gave me their card!), and so many amazing writers that I’m, hopefully, going to be friends with forever. People talked until the small hours (usually over a frosé ) about where the mystery genre was going and where they wanted their place in it to be.

There was also a lot of sports talk. Apparently there were some exciting…baseball? Football? games on. (My back was to the TV.)

I know that professional conferences are extremely expensive, but if you can afford it, I can’t recommend going enough.  Sisters in Crime, at least, has “educational grants” that you can apply for and put toward conference expenses, and I know sometimes organizers will give discounts if you ask or if it will benefit them to have you there, like my friend who got a reduced rate because they write for a big website.

Between the panels where I learned new things and the friends and contacts I made over the course of those four days, I left Bouchercon feeling rejuvenated and inspired. And as an introvert, I never expected that to be a case. But sure enough, I came out of the experience tired enough to sleep for three days but like I could recommit to my career and like I’d found a place where I, as a writer, belong.

Anyone else have an amazing conference experience? What’s your favorite professional con? Did you see me at Boucher? Let me know!

P.S. My manuscript is at 70,000! Isn’t that nutty?

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