Bouchercon 2016 in New Orleans

 

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Wow.  What a weekend.  (What is a weekend?)

I was lucky enough to get registration for Bouchercon through one of my Sisters in Crime Guppies who unfortunately was unable to attend this years conference.  Having being to Malice at the beginning of the year, I thought I knew what to expect.  I didn’t.  It was huge!  And everyone was awesome!  And the panels were super interesting!!  And I met some agents for when I finally finish my book!!  And the hotel was lovely!!!  And I brought home 13 new books!!!!  It was book reading/writing heaven.

Having never been to New Orleans before,  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew the reputation it had (heck, my brother just went down there for a Bachelor party a few weeks ago).  Now, I’m a pretty staid individual.  I don’t really drink that much anymore, I tend to like to relax.  Going to bed early is my most favorite thing in the world.  So, basically everything that New Orleans is the antithesis of.  The only good thing about being a 24/7 city, was that I could get Beignets at Café du Monde at 6am….there aren’t many people out at that time of day (except for a few ladies of ill repute getting busted by the police).

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Lest you think that it is any cooler and less humid at 6am, let me tell you it’s never not humid there.  It’s disgusting how hot and sweaty I got just walking back to the hotel in the morning.  On Sunday, I took the hop on/hop off bus to tour the cemetery and I almost collapsed from walking in the soupy air.  It just took it all out of me.  (but the beignets were delicious and well worth the trip!)

But back to the conference.  A lot of the same authors were there that I saw at Malice which is great.  On the way down from Boston I sat with Clea Simon (fellow cat lady!).  Unfortunately we didn’t talk until right when we got off the plane, but I made sure to see her panels and talk to her at the signing!

At the cozy mystery panel, I actually talked to an agent about my book and will hopefully be querying her at the end of the fall (when my draft is finally done).  A little bit of fate plays a role, the agents name is the same as my main character and my new kitten.  So hopefully that’s a good sign!

I went to a bunch of panels throughout the weekend.  The first being about small towns and how to incorporate them into mysteries.  While listening at that panel, I realized that I don’t even know how Massachusetts investigates homicides.  Which then made me think of the only police guy I know, Mary’s brother in law Kris.  So hopefully I’ll be able to glean some insight out of him to make the story more accurate.

Another panel I went to was about historical mysteries.  I’ve already extolled my love for Deanna Raybourn’s books in a previous blog post, but she was one of the panelists as well.  She talked about how women got written out of history, and so now it’s time to bring woman voices in.  All the women on this panel said the same thing….historical mysteries resonate because they have similar themes as to the issues we have now.

The next couple of panels I went to all had to do with the genre of mystery I’m writing:  Cozy.  There was a discussion of the difference between “Hardboiled” and “Cozy” mysteries and the alleged feud between the two (there isn’t any.  All the panelists were adamant about that).  Then a discussion of the “common person/amateur sleuth” which most cozy mysteries tend to have.  Which mine has.  It’s just a person with an emotional tie to the crime who keeps asking questions.  Then finally a cozy mystery panel.  I prefer cozy mysteries because of the lack of disturbing violence.  You get the impression of a violent act, but not the actual grisly details.  To me, that’s more interesting than going into an anatomy lesson of how a person was killed in detail.

For those cozy mystery panels, I wore my most whimsical outfit of the weekend.  A bike dress I picked up in Salem a few weeks ago, and my gorgeous cat flats from Torrid.  I think it helped draw a lot of attention to me, which is good, because I talked to so many people!

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I met some book fans, other authors, and agents.  There were several cocktail parties that we got to attend, and I met my fellow Sisters in Crime guppies as well!  I made sure to wear my pin just in case.  That afternoon, there was a parade down Canal St of all the people involved with Bouchercon.  Even though it was raining, it was still super fun.  I met some other writers huddled under cover and exchanged information to hopefully keep in touch!

The fine day was all about completing the writers process for me.  A panel about getting out there with your finished novel started my day off.  They mention networking, getting and agent, and persistence being the main keys to getting published.  There will be a lot of rejection, but if you want it bad enough, just keep going.  One of my favorite quotes was “Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft”.  You can always fix it later.  It will never be perfect and always get a good editor!

Finally, I attended a panel about “Nailing the Ending”.  There was a lot of talk about leaving the characters with some questions as the end to transition into more stories.  Also, in real life we tend to have a lot of unanswered questions, so in books sometimes we want a satisfying ending with all ends tied up.  That’s not real life.  Most of the authors like the ending of “Gone Girl” because of the lack resolution.  I hated it, and I still hated it (in case you were wondering).

That final day I decided to do some sightseeing.  I did a self-guided cemetery tour (which I could do again….they are fascinating places).  Walked a bit of the Garden District:

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Hit up the WWII museum.

Saw inside Mardi Gras World.

Watched a surprise parade.

Passed by Bourbon Street.

Passed through the French Quarter.  (Spent more time there earlier on Beignet day)

Then collapsed in a sweaty, soggy heap at my hotel by the airport before coming home yesterday!

All in all, a good conference trip.  Provided me with more inspiration and a hope to get a first draft done by the November Crime Bake here in MA.

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