by Toni

Through the magic of the internet, I know that Alex is going to be posting a great comprehensive description of RT next Saturday, and I’ll just ditto her excellent description ahead of time. I am currently at the convention, down in the lobby because the internet doesn’t work on several floors of the hotel since it’s under construction, but other than that hiccup, the convention has been wild and a lot of fun.

I always wonder ahead of time whether a convention is going to be a good thing to have done. Let’s face it — they’re expensive. There’s the flights, the hotel, the registration fees, and then eating and drinks and any extras (like books). But I have to say, RT has been a blast. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the way that it’s been organized that’s been so terrific, the variety of events, or the welcoming atmosphere. I mean, seriously, you cannot feel stuffy and outside of the box when you see a guy dressed as a construction worker walking past you with pink wings strapped to his back. There’s an absolute sense of playfulness here, of anything goes and everyone’s accepted and, more important, every genre is welcome. The mystery and thriller events were extremely well attended.

Booksellers and librarians are everywhere. Loads and loads of readers.

I was exceptionally fortunate to be in a group of Mystery Chix and Dix and we had an absolutely terrific turnout at Mystery Lovers Bookshop where Kathy Sweeny interviewed each of us and many readers milled around, buying stacks of books. It’s pretty phenomenal to see people lug over twenty or so books to the check out counter, and then come back for more. We had a full (very large) room for our mixer Saturday morning and I had tons of books get snapped up and then sold out early at the large book signing–a big every-author-at-the-same-time event that takes place on Saturday.

I met so many people — like booksellers Maureen and Jenn and friends Debby and Laura and librarians Kim and Val (who just completely made my entire weekend) and Lipstick Chronicle friends and on and on and I’m going to leave out so many and it’s just because my computer is dying (almost right now) and there’s no outlet near here… but seriously, the friends were amazing. Barbara Vey from the fantastic PW blog was there and really wanted to make a point to reach out to the mystery and thriller communities, to have news of what’s going on with us so she can blog about it. (A truly, amazing reader. That’s the best compliment I know to give someone.) I got to get to know a lot of new people and reconnect with old friends and I’m amazed at how energized I feel about writing.

But mostly, I’m impressed with the readers and how many genres they embrace. If RT educated me about anything, it was this–and I’m truly glad I came.

Oh. And it doesn’t hurt to have a "shuck me, suck me, eat me raw" button to wear. (And I am afraid a few people got photos of me in the t-shirt.) I got mobbed for those things. Of course, people also had on a lot of leather and rubber and I’m not even entirely sure what one woman had on, but I tell you what–these people know how to have fun. I don’t think I have laughed so hard in… welll… I’m not sure I remember the last time I laughed so hard.

I’ve learned a lot, also, watching some of these women. Dakota Cassidy was utterly brilliant with her fans (we sat next to each other in the author signing), and then when she sold out, she turned around and started promoting my book. On top of that, she was just so funny and kind and generous.

Which, I think, sums up the con for me — generosity of spirit.

So, what convention have you gone to which you enjoyed, and what have you learned?

11 thoughts on “Conventions

  1. JT Ellison

    Ditto. These cons get more and more fun the more people you know. It’s wonderful to learn from the folks who’ve been at it a while, and to see the new faces. Still bummed I couldn’t be there. Maybe next year : )

  2. Stacey Cochran

    I’ve been to about a dozen conventions, and I’d have to say the one that I had the most fun at was Bouchercon Madison.

    My room was like 78 bucks a night, and Steve Hockensmith smuggled me into the St. Martin’s Press party…. does life get any better?

  3. Louise Ure

    I get something different out of each con. Maybe a new friend. Maybe a new fan. Maybe a new book. But the one I’m really looking forward to is Left Coast Crime in Hawaii next year.

  4. Rae

    My top three favorite experiences were: LCC Bristol in 2006; Thrillerfest in Phoenix 2006; and Bouchercon Toronto in 2004. What they all had in common was terrific organization and a really mellow vibe.

    Having said that, I’ve never had a really bad conference experience. Each con has its own distinct personality, and there’s something special about each one.

    What I’ve learned is to just relax and let it all flow. You don’t have to be doing something every second, and you don’t have to be surrounded by people. Attending cons gives me the chance to visit places I wouldn’t typically pick as vacation spots, and it’s great to sneak out and wander around a bit, or to find a local coffee shop and just hang out and people-watch for awhile.

    It’s all good…..


  5. Allison Brennan

    I’ll have to agree with JD–I think my favorite conference was Thrillerfest Phoenix. There was something small, intimate, and very, very “big” about it at the same time. I learned a lot, I made a lot of friends (and met Toni for the first time in person!) The RT conference in Orlando was fantastic, but I didn’t have the same warm fuzzies about Houston. I think because I came in late and left early and didn’t relax.

    I haven’t been to very many conferences, to be honest. RWA three times, RT twice, and TF once. This July I’m doing TF and RWA. Since I write cross-genre (a point Alex brought up yesterday) both conferences are good for me. Straight mystery conferences would be fun, but I don’t know if it would be a good use of my time and I don’t know if people would like me there.

  6. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Like Louise, I think every convention has something to recommend it. I’ve benefitted from each one — even those that I thought weren’t up to snuff.

    This week, I’ll head to Malice Domestic. To me, it’s one of the grandmommies of them all. The organization is usually superb and I always have a good time. I’d love to make it to a RT or RWA someday. But it’ll be when the kids are older and don’t miss me as much.

    Thanks for the enjoyable post, Toni.

  7. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I don’t think there’s such a thing as a bad conference.

    While there can be problems – and I might blog a little about the near-mythic awfulness of the hotel we just survived at RT (falling elevators, a complete blackout in the book fair) – it’s ALWAYS worth going.

  8. Amanda Stevens

    My first RT conference was in Charleston back in the Fabio days. 1992 or 93, I think. They’ve really come a long way since then, and I do think they give you a lot of bang for the buck. I’m with Allison, though, I didn’t get as much out of the one in Houston because I live there and drove back and forth. I think it’s better to stay in the conference hotel so you can be right in the thick of things.

  9. Terri Molina

    Hey Toni!

    I’ve heard RT is a great time…one of these days I’m gonna make it to one (and maybe have my own book to sign…huh) Until then I’ll have to catch you at RWA…we’ll shoot some pool! 😉


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