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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

My first reader's convention done and dusted...

I'm back from Bouchercon - the international mystery reader's convention.  Wow, that was a lot of fun.  I didn't take any pictures because they'd have looked like just a mass of random people.  It didn't occur to me to take pictures with the authors I met either.  Oh, wait, I did, once, with Kimberly Belle, but that's because I already know her and we took the pic to send to our mutual friend in the Netherlands (from her phone - so I don't have a copy.  I'm terrible at this.)

 

A random list of my impressions:

 

- I was genuinely surprised at the number of authors who openly admitted to not really caring whether or not they got the facts right in their books.  One openly stated he thought the day would come when readers stopped caring about factual accuracy all together.  To which I say, Oh dear boy - not in my lifetime.  His day job is in a hard science (obscure enough that naming it would identify him).  Also, he said this on a panel about FORENSIC SCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY!

 

This attitude was prevalent in every panel where accuracy came up as a question - including the historical mystery panel.  Which, by the way, Deanna Raybourne was fabulous on; she's a very charismatic and fascinating speaker.  She, thankfully fell on the side of 'hell yes it has to be accurate'.  I was sorry not to see her on any other panel.

 

- Everyone attending is genuinely nice and open without being in your face.  Lots of organic conversation without any pressure; chat a few minutes and then wander off.  I was trying to find an author to buy her (last copy) book and a total stranger sat down and FB PM'd her to arrange a meet up between us.  

 

- There IS however, a very, very slight scent of desperation running through the crowds and it was entirely self published authors trying to pedal their books.  It wasn't problematic at all, and frankly, I'd have expected more of it.  I had two guys trying to sell me their Jack-the-Ripper books even after I told them "I am SO not your demographic" - but they were cool about it; I think they were just using me for target practice after that, honing their presentations.

 

 - So many of the authors were so likeable that it caused me a bit of angst; I like them but they write stuff that's not my jam.  Fortunately, a few of them might be MT's thing. 

 

Personal highlights or 'things I experienced':

- The panel I attended on The Crime Novel as Social Reflection abruptly and utterly blew up with one of the panelist throwing his chair back and stomping out, and an attendee tearing a strip off the moderator.  He was not a great moderator, in fact, though I'd have just said he was annoying and short-sighted; the man on the panel obviously took him to be more antagonistic.  It was awkward, but Amy Stewart got everyone passed it by announcing she had free books.

 

Speaking of Amy Stewart - I bought a couple of her art pieces (she paints, and she's really damn good at it, imo), right before Bouchercon started, so we'd chatted via email about meeting up - and we did and she's great.  She also very nicely signed two of her botanical non-fiction books for me.

 

- At the panel called Yin and Yang - Cozy and Noir, Robert Randisi, a panelist and an author who has written over 700 books, offered a dollar to the first person to raise their hand and ask a question.  I happened to have a question for Donna Andrews (she's exactly who you'd imagine she'd be if you've read her Meg Langslow series - I admire her a lot), so I got the dollar.  He insisted I take it, so I asked him to sign it; I now have a signed dollar from Robert Randisi.  :)

 

I met Otto Penzlar - editor of many mystery anthologies and the owner of Mysterious Books in New York City, from whom I've bought most of my vintage mysteries over the years, including a few from his personal collection (the cheaper ones).  We had a couple of really great conversations about books and golden age crime mysteries; he is a genuinely lovely man.

 

I attended the Ian Rankin interview yesterday, and he's hilarious!  

 

But by far the biggest thing to happen to me was both horrifying and awesome.  I have long been a fan of LynDee Walker, who wrote a series called Homicide in High Heels, published by Henery Press.  Every one of the 6 books in the series was outstanding, but the covers and the series name always worked against her. Her stories are anything but the shallow, fluffy mysteries implied by both.  

 

About 6 months ago, I found out her publisher dropped her and I was pissed.  Seriously, this was the best current series in my personal stable and it didn't deserve to be dropped.  Luckily, she got all her rights back and found a new publisher who has re-released the books with new, far more fitting, covers and announced a 7th coming out by the end of the year.  YAY!

 

I noticed she was on a couple of panels but I always had conflicts, so I didn't count on seeing her, but my sister noticed her name tag (we all wore them) while we were in the hospitality suite and pointed her out to me.  I worked up the gumption to approach her and say hello and thanks for finding a way to keep on with the series.  She is really a lovely person and we got to chatting about all sorts of book related stuff and when the subject came around to authors reading reviews, (she tells new authors not to, or, if they do never, ever to respond) GoodReads came up.  

 

I started: "I left GoodReads when Amazon bought them out, and joined a different social book site..." and before I could even mention what site it was, she suddenly broke in, looked at me and said "You're not Jen from BookLikes are you?". 

 

...

 

Oh shit.  

 

Which, btw, was exactly what I said.  Followed by "you're not supposed to know who I am!"  

 

Picture me, if you will, completely floored, red faced, and madly scrambling mentally, trying to remember if I ever said anything hyper-critical about her books.  I mean, I know I love the series, but even series you love sometimes do things that bug you. 

 

So here I am absolutely gobsmacked and desperately trying to recall my reviews, and she continues, explaining that she's been quietly following my posts, complimenting me on my writing (I am certain by this point she was trying to talk me out of my impending aneurism), and telling me that she checked my page after every release, taking note of certain things I said (I didn't ask which ones, because, oh shit!), and then she whipped her phone out and looked up one of her books on Amazon and showed me where her publisher had used something I had written as a pull quote.  

 

I've been cited by a publisher - I am DYING of shock.

 

I'm pretty sure after that my entire vocabulary was reduced to "oh shit" and something about anonymity.

 

She really is a wonderful person though - we met up again and had a very nice chat where I used lots of non-scatalogical words and I'm only sorry we couldn't have actually had a sit down with a drink and just talked about books.  

 

As the icing on the cake (for her, though she doesn't know it happened), at the Cozy/Noir panel the moderator asked everyone to recommend three authors that the audience may not know about, and Donna Andrews did an entire bit about LynDee's books and said exactly what I've always said about the covers and series name.  She not only gave them her highest recommendation as great soft-boiled mysteries, she also mentioned she'd read an arc of the 7th book and said it might be the best one yet.  

 

So now I'm dying for the 7th book to be released!

 

I'll wrap up this much longer than intended post with a short mention of books acquired at Bouchcon.  Yes, books were acquired.  MT even ended up with the new Bosch book that's not out yet, and the new Ian Rankin book yet to be released anywhere.  No, I don't know how many, and I refuse to count because, let's just say, it's bigger than a breadbox.

 

 

I will neither confirm nor deny that those are all full of books from Bouchercon.

 

My TBR pile is, however, irredeemably screwed.