Friday, October 10, 2008

Bouchercon and I'm Not There

This year I've skipped Thrillerfest, Edgar's Week and now Bouchercon, taking place today and this weekend in Baltimore. O Poe! O Nevermore!

Bouchercon is the biggest mystery and crime writing conference, with many of the big names in mystery writing, and endless panels, some good, some dull, and high times in the bar. Always high times in the bar.

I went to Bouchercon in Chicago a few years ago. At that time, The Shadow Warriors was newly out and the bookstore actually sold copies. Now the rules have changed and it wouldn't be considered legitimately published and so the bookstore wouldn't have it and I wouldn't be listed as an author. How galling is that?

E-publishers are not now and never were "real" publishers, and POD is not a legitimate printing method in the eyes of most writing organizations, with more jumping on the "let's keep ourselves exclusive" bandwagon all the time. Sisters in Crime, formerly the most democratic of organizations has become "exclusive" too. It is hard to have one's nose pressed against the glass of the candy store, or book store or . . .

But that's not why I'm staying home. Instead, I went to The Muse and the Marketplace here locally, and I'm taking a writing course at Brown, and actually trying to improve my writing rather than rub elbows with other writers. I've been rubbing elbows until my sweaters need leather patches, and you know, there are people who really suck at networking and promoting themselves and I am one.

Of course I'll be at the New England Crime Bake which is only 20 miles down the road, and I trekked to Sleuthfest, and heard positive comments from the agent and editor and it came to naught. There's a lot to be said for Florida in late February-early March. Sun. Warmth. Beaches. Crab meals. Relaxation. Friends.

So it's back to writing and writing and writing and trying to write the best book possible, and then make it better, because that's the only thing that's going to count. Not schmoozing and smiling and propping my frayed elbows on the bar no matter how much more fun socializing is that sitting here staring at the screen.

Writing is hard work.

I hope this doesn't come across as a whine. As a kid you expect a level playing field and things to be fair and of course they are not and maybe you rail against unfairness and then you suck it up and become more realistic about life. I'm sure McCain rails at the unfairness of the economy diving into the toilet at this time. Not fair! So he and Caribou Barbie talk dirty about Obama. She is edging toward demagogue. I try to stay above all that.

Rolling in the gutter is for losers.

At Boucheron I would love to corner Dan Fesperman and talk about his Afghan book. So good. Wow, was it good! Should have made the best seller list, but then nothing about publishing is necessarily about quality, or even a good story, it's about what the public finds comfortable to read, those who do read, which are fewer and fewer; the public reads romances, little cozies, fantasies, thrillers with cardboard characters, and sometimes the excellent books that everyone can love. Just because many of the books that are published don't appeal to me doesn't mean they're not eminently readable.

I don't pretend to understand what resonates with the reading public. It ain't fictionalized computer crime, that's for sure. I hope when I use the vernacular, so to speak, that I don't start sounding like Sarah Palin. That's for darn sure.

O.K. off to the drugstore and a walk through town. Walking always puts me in a better frame of mind.


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