I heard Bouchercon before I saw it.
Late on Thursday afternoon, I was lucky enough to find a meter across the street from the Marriott Hotel right near the Mississippi River. I fed the meter, donned my blazer, and sauntered across the street. The closer I got to the front door, the louder the sounds became. Sure, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but when I opened those front doors to the Marriott, I think the entire convention population was centered in the bar. And everyone was talking.
And I smiled.
As this is my first Boucher time, this will be the one that all future convention have to measure up to. From what I've seen after a day and half, this is a spectacular convention. Registration went smoothly. In no time, I had my badge, program, and was directed the big room full of books. And when I say they are filled with books, I'm not kidding. There were four long tables with stacks of books arranged alphabetically. With the six tickets I got as part of registration, I got could pick six free books!
I got the lay of the land that first afternoon, but most of the panels were already done by the time I arrived. Didn't get a chance to go to a single panel until yesterday morning. Probably the highlight of my Friday panels focused on Ellery Queen. It goes without saying that the convention like this attracts writers like myself — who are just starting out — all the way up to writers like Lee Child, Harlan Coban, and David Morrell and everyone in between. Bill Crider—and boy was it great to see him—asked me what I thought so far. My only word was "big." Sure, I had to get over a little trepidation—there’s Otto Penzler. There’s Joe Lansdale—but it soon went away when I remembered they're all just normal folks here for the same thing: love mystery fiction.
As for the city itself, this is my first time to visit New Orleans itself. I have family who live on the North Shore, but in every visit, we never crossed the Causeway. New Orleans is one of those towns where its 18th and 19th century self is still apparent. Living in Houston, where most roads are wide with lots of space, even downtown, there are a few streets in NOLA where it seems like the buildings seem to be crowding right up against my car. Oh, and another thing: I'm from Houston, so I’m used to humidity. New Orleans humidity is another thing entirely.
It goes without saying that the bulk of the focus on Bouchercon is in the traditionally published field. To date, I am independent, but that doesn't mean independent writers like myself aren't present. We are, but you have to know where to look. When I met Dana King, I also met Dale T Phillips, another independent writer and publisher. He and I struck an hour-long conversation about what it's like to be an independent writer, the pros and the cons. In fact, Dale was the first person to buy a copy of one of my books and asked me to sign it. Have to say, that was pretty darn cool. I nearly asked Dana to snap a photo of me signing a book at Bouchercon. I reciprocated by downloading one of his novels for my Kindle. I also met Danna Wilberg and Angela Crider Neary.
I suspect that today it’ll be much of the same. Panels, meeting people — I’ve seen Jay, Russell, and Holly but haven’t had a chance to meet them — and more panels.
I have to give a special shout out and thank you to Thomas Pluck who tipped me off about Scene of the Crime books. I got two of my novels on their table. My third book, Wading Into War, is on display at Basement Books. Thanks to both of y'all for accommodating me.