this post by Travis Richardson
Two weeks ago I had a fun and exhausting time at Bouchercon, “the world mystery conference.” This is my fourth year to attend and it was held in Long Beach, CA. From Thursday through Sunday, it seemed I was on the go trying to see writers I admire and say hello to friends I’ve made over the years. Along with 2000+ attendees we went from panels to author focus rooms to signing rooms to the bar to special events and then back to panels again. Starting out on Thursday morning at 8:30, I went to an Author Speed Dating event where writers paired up and table hopped to groups of readers, pitching their books for 5 minutes (2.5 minutes per author). I was fortunate get there early and pair up with hardboiled fiction writer and memoirist, Josh Stallings. Amazingly, with as much chaos as could be imagined, the event started out smoothly. After a couple of tables, we developed a rhythm. We were both LA writers nominated for awards at the conference (Josh’s memoir All The Wild Children and my short story “Incident on the 405” were both up for Anthony and Macavity Awards). I would start off with elevator pitches about my two novellas and a line about my short story while handing out promotional buttons my wife made. Josh batted cleanup and talked about how he came to write such a personal, heart wrenching story. (You can read the first few pages on the Amazon link above to see how nakedly open and honest he is.) Only when additional writers and fans began to arrive late (think Los Angeles traffic) did the gears of the machinery begin to gum up the dating process. By the time the event ended at 11am, my voice was already hoarse.
My wife, who was up in our room, made me promise to get up there by 11:30, a deadline I barely made as I kept running into friends along the way. This trend happened throughout the conference. Occasionally I stop and talk to somebody I knew through social media, but had never met in person and would miss a panel as a conversation ensued. And for everybody I saw, I felt like I missed several more people I wanted to talk to. At 4 pm, I moderated a panel of amazing short story writers. They were Craig Faustus Buck, Barb Goffman, Robert Lopresti, Paul D. Marks, and Art Taylor. Craig, Art and I were up for short story awards, I got to tease Art about a “Vote for Art” campaign that a museum in my neighborhood had this summer. The panel was terrific and time flew by. I could have asked many more questions when I opened it up the audience.
An hour later, we were at the opening ceremonies for Bouchercon. As a nominee, I was given a certificate for the Anthony, which I will frame. The award would be announced on Saturday, but I didn’t expect to win as international bestselling author John Connolly was competing against the rest of us. They also gave out other awards including the Macavity which I didn’t think I’d win because Connolly was nominated as well (although I stood closer to the stage than earlier with nominee Matt Coyle). But then something strange happened, when the winner was announced, it wasn’t the best selling Irishman. It was Art Taylor who I had publicly teased a couple of hours earlier. It was wonderful. I had a “one of us” type moment.
The night capped off by walking back from dinner with Scott Adlerberg (a friend I’ve known through Facebook, but never met in person), Stephen Buehler and John Sheppird in the rain. Something that hadn’t happened for Los Angeles several parched months. And that was just Thursday (with a lot left out).
I’ve run out of time, but I’ll try to add pictures and more content to this post later. If you write crime and have an opportunity to go to Bouchercon, I highly recommend it. It is overwhelming and intimidating, but the attendees are open, wonderful people. More soon!
Are there any conferences you’ve been to and recommend?
Travis Richardson is fortunate to be nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity short story awards for “Incident on the 405,” featured in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines and anthologies. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime LA newsletter, reviews Chekhov shorts at www.chekhovshorts.com and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella is KEEPING THE RECORD. www.tsrichardson.com