OR WHERE THE HELL IS THE NEXT PANEL?
The first time you do something can be exciting, terrifying , magical or even confusing. This is usually the case whether it's your first time having sex or your first time scaling Mt.Everest. I experienced all these emotions and more at my very first THRILLERFEST.
For the uninitiated THRILLERFEST is the annual gathering of fans, writers and industry professionals in the literary fields of suspense, mysteries and eponymously thrillers. It's a whirlwind five day event that combines the anxiety induced paroxysms of a first date with the casual camaraderie of people trapped in an elevator for ten awkward minutes with the halcyon euphoria of meeting your idols in the flesh while holding a cocktail and trying not to trip over your words.
THRLLERFEST is held every year in the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The city that never sleeps but seemingly takes a lot of power naps. After enjoying my first rip roaring Bouchercon last year I had high expectations for THRILLERFEST.
Two minutes after I stepped in the hotel I ran into John Sanford.
My first THRILLERFEST was off to a rocking start. After a few false starts I acquired my credentials which included the familiar lanyard , a bag of wonderful books and a nifty hat that doesn't fit. That is not the fault of THRILLERFEST... my head is so large it has it's own gravity field.
Thursday night was a maelstrom (I know it's similar to whirlwind but that's the only way I can describe it.) of handshakes and business cards as I made my way from the bar to the cocktail party and back again. Along the way I saw a lot of old friends and made some new acquaintances. I don't think I made any enemies. At least not on purpose. I found myself surrounded by writers in every stage of their careers. Grizzled veterans, naive newbies and middle of the road journeymen or women like myself. I'd like to report more of what I saw Thursday but I am old and passed out early.
Friday was the first full day of panels and let me just say this. I've been to a few conferences now and I know everyone does there best to make the map or guide simple and informative but for the life of me I can never find any panel on the first day of any conference. I wander down the hall like a member of Shackleton's voyage lost and on the verge of cannibalism.
But I digress.
The panels by and large are informative and inspirational in equal measure. We got to pick the brains of some of the most successful crime and mystery writers working today. One of the people who stood out to me was Karin Slaughter. At times hilarious and heartfelt. Tender and tough she dispensed great advice with just the right amount of snark that any good writer would appreciate.
Friday night ended with another party and more hand shaking and even more business cards. I ran out because my chronic low self-esteem ensured I didn't bring that many because i didn't think anyone would want my card.
Saturday was the last day of conferences but for me the three highlights were getting Jennifer Hilier to sign my copy of Jar of Hearts. Getting Stephen Hunter to sign my copy of Dirty White Boys, after which I followed him onto the elevator. I swear I wasn't stalking him but the President of Taiwan was also at the Hyatt and elevator became a precious commodity in light of her security detail and staff. The third highlight was Jennifer Hillier winning Best Novel at the awards banquet.
All in all I had a fantastic , wonderful interesting and somewhat intoxicated time at THRILLERFEST. Yes it is a tad bit pricey but if you can go I recommend you do go. The only way to make your dreams come true is to chase them.
Now I said at the outset that THRILLERFEST was five days. Technically it is. However the first day is basically classes and workshops. The next day is a Thunderdome of pitches to agent's and editors for writers looking to break in to the business. I didn't attend these meetings because I am pleased to announce that my 2nd novel BLACKTOP WASTELAND was acquired by Flatiron Books through my agent Josh Getzler of HSG and Associates.
How's that for a plot twist?
Shawn Cosby is a writer from Southeastern Virginia. His first novel MY DARKEST PRAYER is available from Intrigue Publishing via Amazon. com His 2nd novel BLACKTOP WASTELAND will be published next year by Flatiron Books.
follow him on Twitter @blacklionking73 or at his authors page on Facebook S.A. Cosby Author .