Muse du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. I also satisfy my creative muse with sewing, cooking, writing and reading. These are my thoughts and adventures with whichever muse drives me each day. You can find more of my art at

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Location: New England, United States

Monday, October 13, 2008

BOUCHERCON 2008...a Convention Review!


Well, I’ve been greatly anticipating this year’s Bouchercon in lovely Balitmore – as much for it being my first mystery convention as well as being my first Bouchercon. I’d only been reading about them for the last few years and dreaming wistfully. My husband and I hopped a train south and arrived early afternoon on the Thursday to find the convention in full swing. I was attending, while he was going to do a marathon tour of art galleries and museums in both Baltimore and Washington – he needs inspiration too!

I missed the panel with author Wendy Roberts on it, but managed to catch the one with my blog-buddy Cornelia Read on it. However: no Cornelia! According to some ladies in the audience, she had to cancel the con at the last moment due to a health problem. Dang: that was disappointing. I’d been really looking forward to swapping funny stories with her in the bar. Get well soon, Miss C. – I missed you! So, that being the case, I darted across to the Jungle Red Writers (mystery author blogsite) panel and really enjoyed that. At that stage, I was already boggled by the size of the panel audiences: some had standing room only! That rarely happens at the Science Fiction Conventions I usually attend. I was really tired about this time and starting to feel the inward despondency that I felt at my first American convention years ago: I didn’t know anybody. So I started reading lots of name badges and searching faces. And so spent two days looking for my friend Patty Smiley, whom I’d never met face to face before. You’d be surprised at just how many people no longer resemble their publicity photos! I was tooling down the main corridor to the book room on Friday when I happened past a trio of men talking. I gazed at them and did a double take. The middle guy had distinctive eyes that gave me pause. I excused myself and asked him if he was Jim Born (aka, James O. Born, Miami police procedural author). He looked down – he wasn’t wearing his name tag – and then up, surprised. “How did you know?” he said. I grinned “Your eyes and upper face bone structure, and your shirt”. We both looked down at his shirt which sported a Florida State logo. Come on, you gotta put clues together when you’re at a mystery con! We chatted for a few minutes, and he remembered me from my comments on the Naked Authors blog and also from having sent him some NASA info in the past. Jim is also a big science fiction fan and loves my hubby’s artwork. I promised to introduce them later. Jim has read all of John Scalzi’s SF books and my Bob paints the covers, so he was chuffed. After that, I ran into a couple of SF fans that I knew, and immediately felt much better.

Convention Baggie full of Goodies...

I didn’t spend much money at all in the Bookroom/Dealers Room all weekend. I felt that it would be like a bursting dam if I did. One book would be the beginning of a huge avalanche – and I didn’t fancy dragging it all home on the train. Books are HEAVY. The fabulous convention baggie with all of its book, magazine, and t-shirt contents already weighed a ton and would take days of mooching through the reading material when I got home. I did however, discover a vintage Baynard Kendrick “Duncan MacLain – Blind Detective” novel which I duly purchased and promptly read after a victory lap around the Bookroom. Kendrick’s novels are hard to find, but by gum, they’re a damned good read. Witness bleary-eyed me the next two days.

Patty and Me...
Saturday dawned and Bob tooled off to forage for breakfast and art, while I tootled on down to the lavishly food-appointed Hospitality suite. I was sitting with my coffee and yoghurt, people watching when a name tag on the balcony above caught my eye. I stood up and said “Patty! There you are.” She blinked and looked down, and then hurried down to say hi. Finally, I got to meet the lovely and talented Patricia Smiley face to face. She writes the Tucker Sinclair series and is blog-leader on the Naked Authors site. Patty also likes my recipes, and is, strangely enough, partial not only to making my fruitcake, but eating it. We had a great chat over breakfast, and then, full of enthusiasm, she dragged me off to meet people. I love this woman to death. Patty introduced me thus: “Oh, *** you must meet Marianne Plumridge. She’s working on her first mystery novel, and she is also a wonderful artist. Marianne also comments on Naked Authors.”…Or variations thereof. And then I got to mention about my book reviews, etc. Patty made everyone give me their business card, and I was mortified to have to admit that I’d already used up the four of mine that were in my card case. I somehow missed packing more. I spent the rest of the weekend scribbling my blog address for anyone who asked. They were all so good natured about it. These people were a lot of fun and so gracious. Patty had to disappear for her panel, and I cruised a bit more.

Remember what I said about people no longer resembling their publicity photos? Well, I’d been looking for a gorgeous red-head while trying to spot Patty, until Jim Born put me right by informing me she’d gone blonde. The heads up really helped, Jim, no pun intended.

Hank Phillippi Ryan and Me...
So, I got to meet the fabulous Hank Phillippi Ryan who is an investigative reporter out of of Boston as well as an Agatha Award winning author; Carolyn Hart, author of the Bailey Ruth mysteries; JoAnna Carl author of the Chocoholic mysteries; Louise Ure, whom I chat to on blog comments lists; Karen E. Olson; and Jerry Healey and a whole plethora of other people that morning. Thanks so much, Patty.

Reading passing name badges made me just a bit awestruck as there were so many I knew from browsing bookshelves and reading magazines and reviews. A very brilliant constellation of stars, to be sure.

Patty, Hank, and me....

Main corridor of the convention hall - which looks about a quarter busy than it actually was!
It was really, really crowded most of the time, but the orderly line you see here is everyone lining up to get books signed by Lawrence Block. Which brings me to...

Lawrence Block signing books for fans....

Jim Born got to talking to my hubby, Bob, and invited us both to the Berkley party on Saturday night in the bar. What a great party! I got to meet a few extra people, and we ran into some we already knew. Apparently Claire Eddy from TOR Books had already run into Bob and he’d told her I was writing a novel, bless his heart. So when I met her at the party she asked me about it. I gave her a short run down, and Claire must have heard something that tweaked her interest, as she asked to read the finished manuscript. I know Claire from the SF conventions and our many years working with TOR, and I know full well not to expect ANYTHING at this stage of my writing career, but WHOOHOO anyway. It was a nice boost to my otherwise humble ego.

Bob and Jim Born...

Claire Eddy and I...

Other things I did, saw, or people I met:

- I attended the huge opening reception on the Thursday night and got to see many awards presented. The Barry’s, the Macavity’s, and the Crimespree Magazine awards. Major author Laura Lippman and convention guest of honor welcomed us and gave a great speech. Toastmaster, Mark Billingham, who is an brilliant English mystery author as well as a leading professional standup comedian was a total hoot.

- I talked to several authors in passing, and lunched by chance with an absolutely lovely lady called Maggie Toussaint. Maggie writes across genres from romance to mystery and suspense. We traded information. I will be ordering at least one of her books this week, and am looking forward to reading it.

- I forced myself not to say perkily “I’m a writer!” at every given opportunity. Apparently this is what newbies and first time convention goers say when asked. Fully aware of my few pro publishing sales – in a totally different field – I tried to be diginified and say “I write”, and then proceed to tell briefly about my few articles, short stories, and my ongoing book reviews. I spent a lot of time scribbling my blogsite address. Curse the missing business cards!

- One thing I found was that everyone is eager to share news and information, laugh together over things, and genuinely enjoy each others company at this convention. I started as many conversations as were started with me and thoroughly enjoyed them all. It was really heartening.

- I have soooo many books to buy and read now, and have started bookmarking author websites and blogs to peruse on a regular basis – just from listening to people talk on panels or talking to them personally.

- I went to the Anthony Awards Brunch on the Sunday and chatted over lunch to two lovely English ladies. One was Natasha Cooper, author of the Trish Maguire novels. I scribbled down my blog address yet again and she did the same for her website as she too had run out of cards.

- Received a copy of a Lawrence Block novel with my lunch, and was given an ARC (advanced reading copy) of Barry Eisler’s new novel, FAULT LINE, on the way out of the brunch. I read Eisler’s on the way home on the train and it isn’t even due out till next February. Gotta figure out the book reviewing policies on that one, as I WILL review it, it was so good.

There is so much to digest. Most of all, though, I really want to get cracking on writing my own novel.

So, cheers for now,

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Blogger Michael A. Burstein said...

A great report! Thanks!

1:00 PM  
Blogger Marianne said...

Wow, Michael, that was quick off the mark. It's super long and I only just finished posting it!! I'm in awe, kind sir.

So, will we see you and Nomi at Boskone next Feb? The months are speeding by. :-D

I had a great time at Bouchercon!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Michael A. Burstein said...

We will most definitely be at Boskone.

I'm amused to see that Larry Block has changed his look yet again...

1:07 PM  
Blogger Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Marianne:

What an absolute treat! And you captured Bouchercon perfectly. I'm just incredibly impressed that you still have enough energy left to write such a glowing and comprehensive post about it! (I'm completely zonked...)

It was wondeful to meet
you. It was my first Bouchercon, too...we can be the class of 08. So--we can have a class reunion next year in Indianapolis, okay? If not before.

Keep in touch...and thanks so much!

3:04 PM  
Blogger Marianne said...

Hi Hank!
Thanks for stopping by. :-D

I felt that if I didn't get all my impressions down in writing straight away I never would. So, I go the errands out of the way this morning and then pounded the keyboard for an hour. The notes and scribbles I made during the con, and the business cards I collected made all of the difference. :-D The biggest thing is to decipher all of the scribbled commnets I made about my manuscript during the weekend, then batten down hatches and repel boarders so I can get some work done on it. :-D

I'm currently about five book reviews behind the eightball right now, and they are calling me too.

Ooh. Class reunion in Indianapolis next year...that's sooo tempting. I'll have to do some machinations with the schedule.

Know the zonked feeling. I'll be popping a painkiller and muscle relaxant tonight before I end up in full blown migraine mode. Still, I had to get the message out about Bouchercon...

So lovely to meet you, Hank. :-D
See you on the blogs,

3:42 PM  
Anonymous patty smiley said...

Marianne, meeting you in person was FABOO! And as you learned, Bouchercon is totally exhausting but great fun. Thanks for the lovely pictures.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Marianne said...

Hi Patty!

Glad you got home safe. :-D Meeting you was the highlight of Bouchercon. Gonna catch up on sleep real soon now.

Cornelia is doing better. I heard from her today.


8:04 PM  
Anonymous Annie Morris said...

Dear Marianne,

So lovely to hear about your con experience!

I'm still recovering from Conflux the other weekend. Such fun to be had. Spent the day facilitating my beads being raided in the most fabulous way. (VBG)The beading table was seriously popular with the kids, and hell, even a fair few adults.

Watched Lewis do some incredible things with Sculpy, and Marilyn do the most amazing teeeny weeeny native animals and birds on a lovely piece of very old wood. Oggled at her incredible handbags. Swoon.

Has inspired me to attack some Vinnies bags that have been languishing in the cupboard for a *cough* year or so now.

The only thing missing from our creative corner was you and Bob... Maybe at a future con ay?

Next year I'm hoping to do some Artist Trading Cards and 'project runway' costume -y thangs

Hope you're not suffering too much pain from all the Con going! Ride the wave of creative energy and get into your novel!

Love to you and Bob


5:50 AM  
Blogger Marianne said...

Hi Annie!

Wonderful to hear from you. :-D

Bob and I are missing Conflux. Have thought about dropping Down Under next year, but will now have to see how the work and finances go. However, we are fully paid up attending members of Melbourne Worldcon in 2010 - it will be my first AussieCon! :-D

Have to talk to Lewis and Mal: been trying to find the time for weeks now. Great on all of your creativity. I'll have to get Mal to send pics of her handbags. Her tiny paintings are LEGEND.

Artist Trading Cards? What will you draw/paint? Project Runway things?

Bob's painting, and I'm trying to write around other things demanding my time. :-D It's going along at a steady pace.

Much love to you guys,
PS: Grace is looking lovely - she's going to be a knockout, just like her mum, in years to come.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Karen Olson said...

It was great to meet you at Bouchercon, Marianne, and talking about Rhode Island quirks!

10:49 AM  
Blogger Marianne said...

Hi Karen,
Thanks for stopping by. :-D
It was great to meet you, however briefly - and yes, Rhode Island quirks are worth a thesis alone. :-D I'm still getting over the fact that they name food after furniture, here. :-D Gotta love that coffeemilk. Hope your friend still gets her regular fix. :-)


11:04 AM  

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