I’m about to send the fee in as soon as some money owed hits my account. I’m speaking, of course, of Bouchercon. I haven’t been in two years. In 2007, it was in Alaska, and I couldn’t justify the $600 air fare. ($200 on Southwest to get to Seattle; another $400 to get to Anchorage.) Also, Anchorage is five hours behind Cincinnati. Can you imagine the jet lag? California for a few days isn’t so bad.
In 2008, I really, really, really wanted to hit Baltimore, but life changes and the resulting expenses kept me home. Besides, I was new to this family man thing and wanted to spend more time with Nita and AJ. So while I missed everyone in Baltimore, I more than made up for it just staying home.
But this year?
Bouchercon is two hours away, almost close enough to commute. Yes, I’ve waited until mid-summer to apply, but for the first time, writing and web income are paying for it. Whoo hoo!
“But Jim, you might not get a panel assignment.”
Good. In Toronto, they gave me a panel after I said “No panels.” I was a neophyte. I wanted to watch. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get out of it. Besides, I was on the panel with Neil Smith and Sarah Weinman, so “No” was out of the question.
In Chicago, in 2005, Bob Randisi asked me to help with a day of programming by the PWA. I couldn’t say no, and didn’t want to. Besides, my panel had Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Eddie Mueller, and John Connolly. Basically, I just threw out a topic, then shut up.
After that? No panels. Unlike most writers, I do enjoy public speaking. I was in Toastmasters for eight years. The only thing I’ve never liked is…
Panel discussions. I especially don’t like moderating them. In my first year, not only as a panelist, but sitting in the audience, I had to deal with that guy. You know the guy. He stands up during the panel, and preambles his comment (Never a question) with, “As a novelist and author of eleventy hundred short stories…” Five minutes later, no one’s sure what he said. He was thankfully silent during my one moderation turn, but I think it had to do with my panel, none of whom would tolerate long-winded rambling.
But I really don’t like the panel format. It’s hard to gauge when to speak up and to be silent. I’d venture to say it’s harder than standup. Plus nine times out of ten, there’s always one person on the panel who is not connected at all to the topic. Hasn’t happened to me yet.
I digress. I don’t go to Bouchercon to sit on panels. For every slot, there are 300 authors vying for the seat. (This was used as a guilt trip when I turned one down once.) I am very happy to let the other 299 writers, reviewers, and superfans have a shot. (This did not go over well as a response.) The past two cons, panels have been managed by the Jordan Clan, and Indy’s crew seems equally reasonable.
Me: Jon, I don’t want to do a panel in Baltimore. I just want to sit in the bar and schmooze.
Simple. Did I mention I like Jon? He also introduced me to Red Bull.
So Indy will be my time to reconnect, bury a couple of hatchets, and hang out with writers again.
And I have to go next year. It’s in San Francisco, the only reason God created California. And 2011? St. Louis. Driving distance again.
To paraphrase Robert Parker, I’d be a fool not to.
[No My Town Mondays this week. Check out Travis's blog for this week's posts. Better hurry. Travis is dropping out.]