...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Honey, I'm Home - pt 1
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Okay, it's Tuesday. Monday was a holiday, Sunday was Sunday. I can't wait to see the mail today, as I haven't gotten any books in the mail in DAYS and I was getting pretty damn spoiled recently.

What do you MEAN why do I need books? I was just at a Bouchercon, for crying out loud! They GIVE away books. They SELL books. What's my problem?

Well, my problem is that I still don't have a book buying budget really to speak of and going to a Bouchercon alone gets complicated because I have to be able to manage all my gear while using a motorized scooter. Yes, there are bellcaps and stuff but really, honest, don't you try to pack so if something messes UP, you can manage your stuff? I do. And that means that I dumped something like eight of the twelve books that came in the bookbag. I KNOW Dennis Lehane was one of our guests of honor but I still think that a paperback of MYSTIC RIVER, which is a few years old and as someone said "everyone who wants it has a copy by now" was odd to see. As was a Coben paperback but then, the whole GET LOTS OF BOOKS in your bookbag thing at mystery conventions is a) relatively new tradition and b) often an effort in duplication when you're a reviewer. And you're as picky as I am. So I took four, took all the magazines, since Steven Torres has a story in one and Marcia and Bill had a story in another and one was the Strand for Stu and one was Crimescene which is new to me - horrid layout, even if it looks interesting, I'm going to have a hard time with the design and text - and sent back the rest. Including the hardcovers. Including the hardcover of one writer whose behavior I've decided is so appalling that even if I DID like his books (tried one, ugh) he'd be off my list for good.

I came home with two books that I didn't start with. I brought three, and read maybe five pages in one; WHY I even bother, when I know I don't tend to read at conventions, I don't know but it's soothing. It's comforting to know that should I get stuck in the room for several hours, or not be able to sleep, it's like home and I have books to read.

I bought - big surprise - Marv Lachman's history of mystery fandom. Believe it or not, I did NOT buy it thinking I was in it. I honesttogod did NOT look for my name when I bought it and took it upstairs. I assumed I was NOT in it. Then standing talking wiht 3 friends, all of whom ARE in it, and giggling as they got their copies and DOVE (dived?) for the index, and Kate, who published it said "oh, you do need to look", well, I gotta say, that Marv's more detailed than I realized. Marv is an excellent researcher, remembered or cast his net for things and noted stuff in the book I had, well not forgotten, but didn't know ANYone else but say Stu and me and maybe one other person knew. I guess I hadn't been as reticent about something as I thought. Stu is mentioned as well and I was really excited because about what Marv said.

And Cornelia - my friend, my roommate and my other self, I swear, SO often - says that she would like the book to be "required reading" for folks. Especially convention attendees, so they would know and understand what goes into the convention thing, who all these people are. When you see a "fan guest of honor" many of you, I'm sure, have no idea why we would do that or who that person is. I don't blame you; I don't know lots of them, especially for regional conventions held in places where I haven't lived. But bless her for that thought because whether it's why someone's opinion might matter in a situation, or why they're a fan guest or whatever, fandom MATTERS. And I love that folks who aren't into it might want to know about it, about where these conventions come from, and these magazines, and these awards.

A year ago, after the new editor of the Sister In Crime newsletter had written that the term fan was demeaning and should not be used, I wrote back. To her total credit, she published my response in full. Speaking as someone who's BEEN a "fan guest of honor", which to me was one of the highlights of my adult life, and a HUGE honor, I took her (and Walter Mosley) to task because fandom - s.f. and mystery - has been my world, my cultural circle for something like, what 30 years. I found science fiction fandom in my mid twenties. I don't KNOW how other people find friends, people with whom they share experiences and ideas and wonder if it weren't for that, where I'd be. I was part of a political scene for years and had friends there, but I recall once, during those years realizing that I hadn't been to a party that wasn't a fund-raiser or a cause party for so long. And it was great and intense and exciting but PHEW.

I don't have kids, so there isn't PTA/soccer/playdates/Little League. I'm not religious so I don't have friends from temple. I'm not a political party person, though I'm political so I don't have my friends from the precinct, caucus, party. Fandom is awesome. Because for me, not only is it where you find friends but it's where you can easily find NEW friends. AND the one thing we share in common, no matter what, is that we read. Science fiction fans and mystery fans are people who like a written medium - at least the ones I know the best. And that often implies (not always, of course) that you share other values. Not politics (good grief, MANY of my good friends in fandom hold opinions far to the right, but we don't talk about that stuff), but an appreciation of oh, libraries and how people express themselves, and comics that make jokes about Theodore Sturgeon (Sturgeon's Law - 95% of everything is Krab - says the shirt I have with the Frazz strip on it. Long story, I'll explain if you write me. But the fun part too there? EVERYone at the sf party got it, one guy went and bought his own shirt and THEN I got to tell the cartoonist - whose work I adore - "I knew Ted Sturgeon. He woulda liked this strip, I'm sure". And got back 'YOU KNEW THEODORE STURGEON?" And realized oops, I'd name-dropped but yes, I had and it was no big thing, in the sense that Ted WAS Ted and not Mr. Sturgeon and was available and part of a wider community as well as a brilliant damn writer gone way too soon. Dammit.

I will never stop being in awe of writers. As time goes on and I can call many of them my friends, I will never stop thinking that they are a big deal. They ARE a big deal.

But the ones who are fans, and those who are "just" fans and readers are so special to me. I had SO DAMN MUCH fun at Bouchercon last week. Why? In humongous part, in huge part, because I had great conversations with people. Many of them writers, many not. We talked about books. Or not. We talked about beer. Or travel. Or people we had in common. Or health issues (gack - but they are of importance and value nowadays.)

So okay, this will be part one of GODS knows how many blog entries on this year's Bouchercon. I'll try to keep it organized but, much like the convention itself, that's difficult to do. What I remember and want to tell you about why it was fun will probably be most interesting but most scattered as I recall, two posts after this one, that oh YEAH, and I also got to meet X and see Y and hear Z and….

But everyone's Bouchercon is different so let's hope my report(s) are interesting enough and from a different perspective than anyone else's. You'll find no pictures here - I don't take them nor have a digital camera, and I remember events better by word than image. Mostly.

So part two, which I'll post later, will have specifics and stories and I hope you hang on and come back; I gotta run and do errands right now, and laundry (hey, I thought I DID all that) and I'll see you later.

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