Saturday, October 17, 2009

Canadians go south: blog in progress

This weekend Bouchercon, the biggest convention of the year is happening in Indianapolis, Indiana. Several people who are attending have promised to send blog updates throughout the weekend. As their messages arrive, I'll post them here. So come back often during Saturday and Sunday for our electronic postcards from the edge.

Saturday afternoon
Which best selling crime writer wore a black, wide-brimmed bolero hat and a plunging neck line? Sara Paretsky striding purposefully to the panel on Telling Women's Stories. Clearly she wanted to set the tone for the panel, which included Kate Flora, Liza Cody and Mary Saums, with Barbara Fister as moderator.

I heard tell that Michael Connelly spent an hour and a half yesterday signing books after his fascinating interview by fellow crime writer Michael Koryta. Wow his hand must've been sore afterwards. I'm afraid the line-up was too long for me, but I did treat myself to one of his books.

This morning while waiting in line for my omelet I met the crime writer that had probably travelled the furthest, Stanley Trollip from South Africa. He writes a series based in Botswana under the pseudonym of Michael Stanley. And Deborah Atkinson from Hawaii also spent a fair bit of time on a plane getting here.

While it was great fun to see Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, Peter Lovesey, John Lutz and Sara Paretsky minus her hat and plunging neckline on the same panel this morning, I'm afraid it was a tad boring. Rather than listening to them expound on Edgar Allan Poe, I would've much preferred to hear them talk of their own experiences as best selling authors. Needless to say the signing line afterwards snaked along the mezzanine leading into the signing room.

Tony Bidulka treated Vicki Delany, Barbara Fradkin and myself to a stretched limo ride complete with pulsating threads of coloured lights and bubbling champagne. We were on our way to one of Indianapolis's top restaurants, the Meridian and had a fabulous meal. Somewhere there is a photo immortalizing this ride. I'll send it in once it is found.

Shortly the Anthony awards will be announced. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Canada's Louise Penny's book The Cruelest Month will win the award for Best Novel.

Saturday morning
Barbara Fradkin
Things started off with a bang on Tuesday with an eighteen-hour road trip from Ottawa to Indianapolis. Imagine four ladies of a certain age (along with two dogs for part of the journey) packed into a red Jeep that was stuffed with luggage before it even arrived at the third passenger's house. A hat box, moose antlers, and a hockey stick were piled high above the suitcases, laptops and garment bags in the luggage area.

We were guided on this trip by two GPS's - Vicki Delany's ever-patient Jill and by Mary Jane Maffini's considerably less patient Jeeves. Neither "J" liked the route we had chosen and kept having to recalculate after failling to divert us on their chosen path. Those GPS's can be noisy when they get fired up!

After the requisite breaks for coffee and other necessities of middle age, Jill finally led us safely into Indianapolis. Despite circling the block about a hundred and fifty times, we managed to get everyone safely delivered to their hotels.

Thursday morning was a blur. The conference hotel was abuzz with autors, readers and other attendees, all whizzing up and down the escalators from the dealer's room on the third floor to the panel rooms and registration desk on the second, and to the Starbucks on the first. I spotted old friends like Doris Ann and Sally Fellows, authors like Donna Andrews and Rick Mofina, met the effervescent Kaye Boone, and generally raced around getting ready for both the Auction basket and our panel. And what a panel it proved to be."

R.J. Harlick (Cross-posted with R.J.’s permission)
Well, Barbara, Mary Jane, Vicki and I made it to Indianapolis intact and still speaking to each other, even laughing together. Although I wasn’t sure if Jill, Vicki’s GPS, and I were still on speaking terms, since on several occasions I refused to follow her insistent instructions. When we didn’t take the highway to Detroit, whose multi-lane highways I definitely wanted to avoid, she kept insisting we turn back. Finally we had to turn her volume down, until she agreed that the route we were following along almost empty and much less nerve wracking roads would do just as well. But I will say that Jill came through in Indianapolis, when I accidentally took the express lane of the downtown highway and found ourselves sailing past our turn-off. Jill managed to get us on the right road and to our hotels. So Jill, you done good.

As you can see from the photo we had a great time with our O Canada panel yesterday, with Tony Bidulka in his Saskatchewan cowboy togs as the added attraction. I thought Vicki with her moose antlers was rather fetching myself and of course, Mary Jane set a new standard in Mountie attire with her frilly red blouse. And I bet you didn’t know Barbara was a closet seamstress. She made that excellent rendition of a Grenadier Guard’s hat. The less said about my hockey helmet, the better. I decided I would never make it in the NHL. I couldn’t wait to take off that tight, hot, barely-could-talk-in helmet.

From Elizabeth Zelvin
I'll jump in, since I'm at Bouchercon myself and catching up on the week's blogs before I get my war paint on and plunge into the day's activities. I think this year's convention will be remembered as one of the best Bouchercons. The Hyatt Regency Indianapolis is a winner, with its huge atrium and glass-walled elevators, which not only provide an airy setting but allow attendees to spot their friends from 15 stories up and participate in the general conviviality from the moment they step out of their rooms. Among my personal highlights so far have been my panel on Murder, Therapy, and Social Work with Roberta Isleib, Margaret Fenton, Lois Greiman and a lively audience of 75 or 80; my half hour signing slot with a couple of thrilling firsts: a LINE waiting to get my autograph (not the length of Lee Child's or Charlaine Harris's, but you've gotta start somewhere) and a reader with my TWO books in hand (
Death Will Help You Leave Him hit the shelves on Tuesday); and the author talent show on Thursday night, in which I shared the stage with a stellar lineup including MC Don Bruns, Peter Lovesey, Parnell Hall, LJ Sellers and other remarkably talented and funny performers. I'll be singing and playing my Martin backpacker guitar again as one of Three Deadly Dames celebrating our new releases with "conversation and more" and a cash bar outside the book room at 2 pm; the others are Louise Penny and Jeri Westerson. Oh, and I must mention the Guppies lunch--more than two dozen members of Sisters in Crime's online chapter for what was originally "the Great UnPublished," now 400 strong; now published authors around the table included our own Sandy Parshall (and me), Hank Philippi Ryan, Lisa Bork, Sheila Connolly (Sarah Atwell), soon-to-be-published Daryl Wood Gerber (Avery Aames), and others I apologize for forgetting. As you can tell, I'm into the schmoozing aspect of the convention, but there were many wonderful panels. The most exciting for me was Telling Women's Stories, with Barbara Fister moderating a no-holds-barred discussion with Sara Paretsky, Liza Cody, Kate Flora, and Mary Saums.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds like fun! Enjoy...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Julia Buckley said...

Sounds wonderful, ladies! Sorry I wasn't there.