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Honey, I'm Home - Bcon, part 2
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Favorite and/or really WOW moments at Bouchercon:

The chance to talk for a long time (by convention standards) with Bill Pronzini. When I thought about it, Bill and Marcia (Muller) are so much my standard against whom I measure behavior in the mystery community. Hadn't thought about it but I met them (my line being" I've known Bill and Marcia so long that when we met, they were married to other people") back in maybe 1976 or so, right after moving to the bay area. They represent, to me, both the best of writers - their work is SO superior - and the best of fans - they like this community, they hang out in it. A few years ago, after deciding not to attend more conventions, they started changing their minds, mostly because friends of theirs were being honored as FAN guests of honor.

So at one point, there was an empty chair next to where they were signing in the dealer's room at Chris and Lynne's table and I slid into it to grab five minutes with Bill and ask him a favor. Marcia had a longer line, but when someone came up to Bill, THEY had a pile of books. The joke I remember hearing 20 years ago was "what's rarer than a signed Bill Pronzini book?" And of course the answer is "an unsigned Bill Pronzini book". Later on, bill and Marcia, along with a bunch of folks - Margaret Maron (wait til I tell you about how nice SHE is later on) and Jim (aka J.J.) and Bette Lamb (whom I met about the same time in the bay area) were in the lobby post-banquet and I sneaked (snuck? snork?) up to Bill and we caught up with each other. That was just SO great.

Another fun thing, which is a newer development in fandom is meeting friends for the first time; what I mean is that you can become friends over the net with someone and not have a clue what they look like and meet at a convention after developing a friendship for months or even years. Ten years ago, I met a friend from the skating fans list when she picked me up at the San Jose Airport when I flew in to attend Nationals. At this Bouchercon, I met people I've gotten to know via email and DorothyL: sometimes we go back months. Karen Olsen and I have known each other for quite a while; finally met at Bcon. I met Phyllis Vanlandingham whom I'd conned into attending Bcon and then realized, as she hugged Jerry Healy, that she did NOT need my mentoring, for crying out loud. Piffle. If you know Jerry, you know everyone. First off, because he's one of the BEST human beings on the planet; second because he is VERY fan-friendly and third, he's forever making sure everyone knows everyone. And he's darn cute. And Marty and Annette Meyers, without whom it feels like less of a convention, as Stu and I have had a habit of seeing them first thing when we arrived at various events over the years.

And while the net means we don't need to know each others' age or race or hair color or place of birth or whatever, I dunno about you, but it can HELP to "see" someone to be sure you remember them when you've been having email conversations with 14 different people. So now when I email or read a post on DL, it helps me focus. Just as when I met Pammy or Bev or Maddy Van in past years after getting to "know" each other. Cornelia and I met something like four months after developing this intense email conversation.

There's the "hi howareya" convention experience; Lauren Haney and I hold, I think the record at one convention for bumping into each other; it began a good tradition though so at least I get to catch up with her, but given that I see some folks never, and she and I see each other five times, well, it's always funny. Ditto Denise Hamilton whom I ran into a dozen "hi" times as we headed in opposite directions. And grump, happened too often with Laura Lippman and I'm beginning to resent THAT one. Hmph.

Seeing folks whom I haven't seen in a long time is always fun and seeing Keith and the Keithbaby, seeing Jeff Abbott, and oh my goodness, Linda BARNES, whom I have not seen in probably close to ten years (and seriously, SERIOUSLY did she have to look exactly the same as the last time I saw her? I appreciated it - made it simple to recognize her but really, now). Seeing Ellen Hart, whom I haven't talked to since that horrid accident and hearing how she's doing right from her. And seeing an old friend, Eleanor Taylor Bland, who's been so kind to me over the years. And the WONderful Jerry Healy, about whom I can go on and on. But won't. I figure everyone knows, so I think I'll hold out to be bribed. And then we'll see if I go on about him or shut up - what's worth more? (man I'm loopy, aren't I?)

And at LEAST getting to say hello and maybe do the hug thing with Robin Burcell, and Lee "drinks on the house" Child, and Paula Woods - why don't I get to see HER more often, darn it - and Marcia Muller and Jan Grape and one of the BEST, Kate Derie, who when I grow up I wanna be just like (parse THAT). And Libby Hellman who always manages to say the NICEST damn things to me. And the Teds -Hertel and Fitzgerald; without them, it's not really a convention (you know that feeling? You have fun but it's just not RIGHT until you get to see certain friends? That something's missing?) (Ted F and I got perkied at by a St. Vincent de Paul person; euuuu! Perkiness, icky!) And catching up a bit with Rob Lopresti - oh yeah THAT's the other book I brought home, courtesy of Rob, his SUCH A KILLING CRIME which I've been waiting to read ever since he told Stu and me about it some time back, as it's set in the village in 1963 during the folk years, aka the Great Folk Scare.)

And I got to reconnect with Melodie Johnson Howe and Bones Howe, which was so nice. I was a bit concerned because some time ago, I sent an email message on to Melodie - I didn't have her email so had asked someone to forward it - and it was rather um, shall we say profane. But it was a joke that the three of us had shared years ago and meant something to us. I was rather worried that a) she didn't remember and/or b) she didn't remember ME and/or c) had gotten the message and was offended. (It had to do with earthquakes and our reactions to them.) Happily, she a) remembered, b) remembered me but c) had never GOTTEN the message.

And of course, the reality of seeing and hugging Barbara Seranella in the firm but very pliant tender flesh was a joy.

Meeting writers who are new to me since last time around and getting to say the magic "I like your work" is fun. Mark Cohen, Reed Coleman (to whom I said, we have a friend in common, Shira Rozan" which is a guarantee of a bond for a good reason), David Housewright,

Then there was the frustration part of the convention: the never getting to see part, which yes, is part and parcel of just about any convention that's bigger than 100 people nowadays, especially one as physically spread out (more later on THAT) as this so NEVER meeting Charles Ardai was frustrating. Not getting to talk with David Montgomery - that's TWICE now, dammit. Totally missing Debbie (DC) Brod and Sara Paretsky. Never seeing Al (Max Allan) Collins, though I think he was there, yes? (Not seeing Peter Guttridge but he WASN'T so that's less bothersome. We did a panel together a while back and he was such fun to work with.) Not once seeing Elaine Flinn for more than three minutes, dammit and I'm SO glad she got the Barry. And Carroll Johnson, who was so thoughtful to ask me to join her program item and we were going to sit down and talk about things and we never got to.

Hanging out at the LCC 2006 table turned out to be a good way to get some time with Bill and Toby Gottfried, and of course Adrian and Jennifer Muller. Getting almost no time with Louise Ure, except when she rescued me and saw that we made our airplane on time 9more o THAT later too). And Maggie Griffin, where were you and how come we NEVER manage to find time to talk? And seeing Lynn and Chris but no drinks this time. And not ever getting more than a few wonderful words with Gary Warren Niebuhr, without whom fandom wouldn't be much fun and WITH whom every convention is guaranteed to be good. Great. So funny your stomach hurts.

And two of the finest and bestest times for me were catching up a bit with Stephen White, one of my favorite people in the world and with Harley Jane Kozak who won TWO awards and, (MAJOR HUGE but interesting ASIDE starting here) as I pointed out to her in email is the ONLY multiple award winner in any book category (fiction that is- I think Les Klinger might have gotten more than one award for his non-fiction annotated Holmes) by winning the Edgar, the Macavity and the Anthony for her debut DATING DEAD MEN (which I just typoed as "DARNG DEAD MEN" which is a whole other topic). This is after I checked the list of this year's Edgar, Shamus, Macavity, Agatha, Anthony and Barry awards. I find this truly a fascinating factoid, since I'm assuming (read "hoping") that it reflects the breadth of taste in mystery fiction.

But just for the record, these awards, pretty much the biggest ones, some given by readers, some by writers, some juried some not gave "best mystery novel" to

T. Jefferson Parker for CALIFORNIA GIRL (Edgar), Kent (William Kent) Krueger for BLOOD HOLLOW (Anthony), Ken Bruen for THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS (Macavity), Lee Child for THE ENEMY (the Barry), Ed Wright for WHILE I DISAPPEAR (Shamus) and Jacqueline Winspear for BIRDS OF A FEATHER (Agatha). For the record, I read three of these. I tried two others and didn't get 50 pages in. None thrilled me. None made my list for best novel for 2004. I'm feeling SO WEIRD. I don't think any of my favorites even made it onto the nomination lists for best novel. However, er, um, I did nominate whenever I could, DATING DEAD MEN by Harley Jane Kozak. What this means, I haven't a clue. The only time I found another of my favorites on a list was seeing Naomi Hirahara's SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI up for the Macavity and as I'm not a member of MRI, I didn't nominate.

So my back's whining and I'm not nearly done so there may be a part 2, subpart b, but I should blog this now and try to catch up later and then on to part 3, wherein Andi discusses the stuff she DIDn't Get to do, where she screwed up, WHOM she owes big time and what went not so right.

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