Monday, October 22, 2018

Bonus Bouchercon Coverage

We went over my panel highlights at Bouchercon a few weeks ago but anyone who knows anything about Bouchercon knows the panels are just the appetizer; what happens later is the main course.

The Beloved Spouse™ and I checked in Tuesday afternoon and immediately caught a good vibe from the hotel when the bellman arranged for a refrigerator that arrived inside of five minutes and TBS was able to talk us into complimentary Internet in the room fifteen minutes later. (She didn’t lie. My mother did have a broken hip and it was a great help for us. Still, the hotel wasn’t required to comp us.) Kudos to Josh and Caitlin.

Not knowing the area or where to eat, we took a trolley ride on an impulse, as one was pulling up to the hotel as we stepped out looking for lunch on Wednesday. Terrence was better than a good tour guide, he was an entertainer who hooked us up with The Moon Under Water for lunch on Wednesday. And Thursday. Dinner on Saturday. Three meals in four days and not a disappointment in the bunch.

We had a delightful dinner in the hotel dining room on Wednesday with Terrence McCauley, his lovely wife Rita, and a “new” acquaintance we got to meet in person, Frank Zafiro.

Thursday was an event that will likely never be overshadowed no matter how many Bouchercons I attend. Terrence and Rita had about twenty of us for a private dinner to launch Terrence’s new Western, Where the Bullets Fly. A chance to spend quality time with old friends, make new, and enjoy an excellent meal. Nothing I write here can do it justice. Suffice to say I was humbled to know both of them thought so highly of my friendship.

Friday night was the annual Shamus Awards dinner with the Private Eye Writers of America. We shared a table with Renee Pickup, Danny Gardner, and his lovely daughter, and had the usual great time. Congratulations to all the winners, and the nominees. There are a metric shit tonne of books released each year. To be blessed with even a nomination is a supreme honor. (Said the man who has been twice nominated but never won.) The evening was enhanced by getting a ride to and from the festivities with Mike Pett of Express Taxi & Sedan, who chauffeured us (and John Shepphird on the way back) in a spotless black Town Car—yes, a Raylan Givens Special—and provided what amounted to a sit-down comic routine all the way. You need a ride in Tampa, call Express Taxi & Sedan. (Phone number available on request.)

The Shamus dinner was but the first half of Friday’s twi-night doubleheader. Down & Out Books commandeered Hops and Props, just a few blocks from the hotel, for festivities that went on well into the night. Another chance to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and get entertained by the guy who wasn’t the bartender, though he spent all night behind the bar.

Saturday had no special events but was still a special evening. I’m lucky enough to have been to nine Bouchercons now and people still speak to me. I’d hate to single anyone out because I saw and chatted with so many people on Saturday (and Friday and Thursday and Wednesday) but to start the evening at the bar by running into Peter Rozovsky, Pam Stack, and Terri Lynn Coop and to conclude on the veranda with Terrence and Rita, Jeff Hess and his lovely wife, and Tim O’Mara gives you a pretty good idea of the kind of evening it was. Long story short, I don’t think I spent an unpleasant minute the entire weekend. Kudos to the organizers, moderators, panelists, readers, writers, and hospitality industry workers for making the entire weekend special.

No weekend is perfect, and I do feel the need to make a few less than sterling comments in the hopes folks won’t make these mistakes in the future.

Sound systems were a bit of a problem throughout. Microphones all over the hotel popped Ps and had irregular tone quality. Such is life but it was at times disconcerting.

Note to moderators: never volunteer you haven’t read the author’s book, and if you’re going to mention a book, get the title right. And do at least a modicum of research. Don’t ask an author if he’s from Boston only so he can answer that he’s from New York. Another tidbit: don’t let the authors introduce themselves. It implies you haven’t taken the time to prepare and some will use the opportunity to tell their life stories, sucking up half your time.

Why do they put lemon in water pitchers? It makes the water feel not as wet when you’re dying for help with a dry throat. Water’s been perfect for a bajillion years. Let it be.

Enough quibbling. The 2018-2019 hiatus between conferences is 416 days, much longer than usual. Good thing the vibe from St. Petersburg will carry us through.

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