Okay, so I’m no veteran. But I’ve now got three B’cons under my belt, and I’ve picked up a few pointers along the way. Some I’ve leaned through my own idiocy and others I’ve learned just by watching the circus. I share these as a public service, and invite you to add to the list, or correct me where you think I’m boneheaded.
1. Don’t obsess over the panels. My first B’con, I tried to go to as many panels as possible, and it practically killed me. You can only absorb so much information before your brain melts, and the real action is in the bar anyway.
2. Speaking of the bar – drinking is fun, but. Not pointing fingers here. Just saying. Tipsy and charming is good. Drooling and incoherent, not so much. And vomiting on someone’s shoe is probably not the best way to make a first impression. Having said that, last year in Chicago this guy vomited on my shoe, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. He had food poisoning, however, so that doesn’t count.
3. You’ll see friends with whom you’d like to spend more time, but sometimes you won’t get a chance. You will be like ships passing in the night. You’ll wave at each other a few times, across a sea of people. When you’re free, they’ll be busy, and vicey-versey. You’ll feel bad that you didn’t get more time together. But the thing is, this happens to everyone, and your friends will not take it personally. So try not to sweat it too much. You can only do what you can do.
4. Even after a few of these things, you may experience a few fanboy (or ~girl) moments. And you’ll kick yourself afterward. But crime writers tend to be very kind souls, and they usually pretend not to notice, so just remove your foot from your mouth and pretend it didn’t happen. At least that’s what I did (a few times).
5. If you decide to take off your clothes and jump in the lake, first check for onlookers holding digital cameras.
6. If at all possible, stay in the convention hotel. I say this because I didn’t. The ability to pop up to your room for a quick nap, or even just to get away from everyone for some quiet time alone, makes a huge difference.
7. Pork is good.
8. In the weeks after Bouchercon, the blogosphere will be full of B’con wrap-ups, and many of these posts will consist mostly of inside jokes (see #7) that will only be understood by a handful of folks who where present at the genesis of the joke.
9. The highlight of your B’con experience may not actually be about you. Friendships formed in the mystery community can run very deep. This hit home as I watched Jon and Ruth Jordan take the stage to accept their well-deserved Anthony Award for Crimespree magazine. What a rush!
Now it’s your turn. What have you learned at Bouchercon?
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