Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: bouchercon

logo_15It’s the gathering of the year for the mystery/crime fiction community this week.  It’s the World Mystery Convention aka Bouchercon.  This year, it’s in Raleigh, North Carolina.  If you live in the area, you can still attend.  For those who are going, here’s where you can find me over the weekend.

Panel: Research: Alcohol, Drugs, Guns and the Psychology of the Insane
Featuring Jay Stringer, Tom Savage, Lachlan Smith, Austin Camacho and me.
Friday, October 9th, 1:00pm.

Interview: Toastmaster Spotlight
I’ll be interviewing this year’s toastmasters, Sean Doolittle and Lori Armstrong.
Saturday, October 10th, 8:30am:

Panel: Does the character profession’s shape their sleuthing?
I’ll be moderating Rosemary Harris, Sasscer Hill, Sandra Brannan & Meredith Cole.
Sunday, October 11th, 8:30am:

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Well, I pulled it off!  I’m back from Long Beach, California and the biggest gig of my writing career (thus far).  I was the toastmaster for this year’s Bouchercon (aka the World Mystery Convention).  I was honored to have been asked seeing as over the forty-five year history of the convention there’s been less than thirty toastmasters.  Past toastmasters have included Lee Child, Val McDermid, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, William Kent Kruger, Reginald Hill and Sue Grafton.  So while I was honored, I was pretty nervous about the role.  I kept thinking, shouldn’t they have gotten a grownup for this?
Besides me, this year’s guests of honor were Jeffery Deaver (Lifetime recipient), JA Jance (American Guest), Eoin Colfer (Young Adult/Children’s Guest), Edward Marston (International Guest) and Al Abramson (Fan Guest)—who to their collective credit never mistook me for a hotel employee.  In all seriousness, despite having not previously met these people, they were very sweet to me and we worked well as a group.
My Toastmaster Award before I broke it
Of all the guests of honor, the toastmaster is the tough one as that poor sap has real work to do.  I had to preside over the opening and closing ceremonies, the live auction, present the Anthony Awards and generally act as the hype man for the event.  The job that concerned me most was running the opening ceremonies because it sets the tone for the convention and I have to come up with a speech.  Around two thousand people attend the convention and about a third attends to the opening gala.  Luckily for me around fifteen hundred decided to attend…so no pressure there.  I’ll be honest, public speaking is something I do, not something I enjoy, so as people poured in, my nerves grew.  Impressing fifteen hundred people of all ages and backgrounds is a hard thing to pull off.  But it looks as if I pulled it off, according to Publisher’s Weekly.  They called me ‘witty.’  I was hoping for erudite or urbane, but I’ll take witty.  I wonder if I can quote them now???
One of the perks of being a guest of honor is an interview.  The wonderful Catriona McPherson—a Scot and fellow ex-pat—got the job of interviewing me.  I think we needed subtitles for the American audience. 
Every Bouchercon supports a local charity or two.  This year was the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and WriteGirl.  So, I want to mention my charity item winners: Barb Kreisel who paid $350 for a poster featuring me from my motor racing days, Janet Costello who paid nearly $200 to have lunch for me and Sarah Byrne who paid for our lunch, Danna Dennis Wilberg who donated handmade chocolates in a ‘Simon Wood’ box and to all the people who bought DID NOT FINISH in the run up to Bouchercon.  I donated $110 to WriteGirl because of it.
If I didn’t have enough on my plate during the convention, I had a couple of extracurricular events.  I was elected to the national board of Sisters In Crime. Apparently, sisters are doing it for themselves but only when I’m around.  I also ran off to do some filming.  More on that another time…
Sue Grafton getting her autograph from me
Of all the things that happened during the convention, there was one stand out moment—and that was went Sue Grafton tracked me down for my autograph.  It was quite a surreal moment.  I’m still a fan boy at heart and I’ve been quite lucky to have met some of my favorite authors and even luckier to call some of them friends but I’m still weirded out when something like Sue—who I’d never met before—chased me down.  The weirdness continued when Gayle Lynds tracked me down for a congratulatory hug.  I met over Gayle over ten years ago when my first book came out and she helped me recognize my particular brand of storytelling.  She’s been a supporter ever since. 
All in all, I’m very grateful to the Bouchercon organizers for picking me to be their toastmaster.  It was an event to remember.  I cherish their faith in me and the lovely award they gave—that I promptly broke.  Sorry about that.
I also want to say thanks for all the support of my friends who attended and all the Bouchercon attendees who laughed at my dumb jokes and seemingly meant it. Thanks to the TSA for choosing my bags to examine, empty, bend and crease everything I didn’t want creased.
Finally, to all convention planners looking for a toastmaster, I’m available.

Categories: shelf life

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As people are aware, well I hope they’re aware, I am the toastmaster at this year’s Bouchercon (aka the World Mystery Convention) to be held in Long Beach, California next week.  With every Bouchercon, the convention supports a couple of local charities.  This year, it’s the Long Beach Library Foundation and WriteGirl.
I’m doing my best to support both these auctions.  Last month I auctioned off a poster of me from my motor racing days that went for $350.  The proceeds went to the library foundation.  Now, I’m doing something to benefit WriteGirl, a charity that encourages creative writing and mentors teenage girls.
So between now and the Bouchercon live auction on November 14th, I will donate the royalties from the worldwide sale of the first Aidy Westlake novel, DID NOT FINISH.  This applies to the paperback, eBook and audio book and isn’t restricted to where it’s bought. 
If you haven’t read the book, I hope you’ll buy a copy.  If already have the book, I hope you’ll give it to someone.  At the very least, you’ll share this message or direct people to this post.  You’ll be making a difference in someone’s life.
Thanks to all.

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I’m this year’s Bouchercon toastmaster which I find quite astounding as I was starting out just over a decade ago.  Naturally, I’ve going over my B’con experiences over the years and I was thinking about my first Bouchercon.  It was in Austin, Texas in 2002 and I came to it with that new author smell.  My first novel, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, was only weeks old.  Being a brand new author, everything was new, everything was a whirlwind, as was my arrival to Bouchercon.  I’d done a book signing at M is for Mystery, had dinner then gotten on a midnight flight to Austin.  I arrived at the conference hotel with just enough time to check in at registration before being shoved in the direction of my first panel, still in my clothes from the night before, luggage and book bag still in hand.  Now I had to speak…in public…to people.  Not my forte at the best of times, but it’s the thing you do for queen and country…and for publishing.  I don’t know what I looked like to the outside world but on the inside I was a nervous wreck.  I was on the new author panel and I took refuge in the notion that it would be an empty room seeing as a Walter Mosley was being interviewed in the next room.  Unfortunately, the room was fairly full.
I met my moderator and fellow panelists.  We talked game plan then got down to it.  I can’t say as we went live, all my nerves disappeared and I blossomed, but I did OK, despite a quaver in my voice.  Talking about a book and its inspirations always helps to take the edge off. 
At the end of the panel, a group of men totaling around six or seven approached me.  Oh God, angry hordes.  Maybe I hadn’t done as good a job as I thought I had.
But these men were happy to see me.  They wanted to know if ACCIDENTS was my first book, if it was in its first printing and was it available in the book room.  The answer to all these questions was yes.  These men were even happier to see me.  They were book collectors!  And first books were important. 
These guys escorted me down to the book room and bought books.  Seeing how green I was they bought me coffee and proceeded to tell me about the birds and the bees of books.  They taught me how to sign a book properly, the importance of print runs, first printings, book collecting and book speculation.  These guys just weren’t just buying my book, they were investing in me.  If I made it big, my first book would be quite valuable.  One guy told me he’d bought a dozen copies of Ian Rankin’s first book and was now selling them for $1,500 each.  I just hoped they could profit from me like one day.  J
Over the years, a number of people have provided me with invaluable advice which has made me a smarter writer and it started with these men at my first Bouchercon and I shall forever be in these men’s debt.  I look forward to Long Beach what I’ll learn this year.  Hope to see you there and all you have to do is pop over to registration to secure your spot.

 

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I’m the toastmaster for Bouchercon 2014 in sunny Long Beach, California.  Bouchercon is the world mystery convention and it’s kind of an Olympics for the crime fiction community.  There’s no award for the 100 meters sprint, although if you’re a criminal, a good 100m time would be an asset.  I’ve not really talked much about it because I’ve been waiting for the organizers to come to their senses and get a proper grownup to emcee the event.  It doesn’t look they’re going to change their minds, so it looks as if I’m it.
 
I don’t take many things seriously, but I am taking this role seriously.  First off, there’ll be over 2,200 people in attendance, so I’d better bloody give it the attention the role deserves.  Secondly, I’ll be the 45thToastmaster and I’ll be following in the footsteps of Harlan Coben, William Kent Kruger, Laura Lippman, Lee Child, Jonathan Gash, Reginald Hill, just to name a few.  I have a strong tradition to maintain, so I need to be on my A-game.  Thirdly, there’s the 2014 Guests of Honor themselves to consider which include Jeffery Deaver, Edward Marston and J.A. Jance.  They don’t want dope fronting for them.  Lastly, the organizers have put their faith in me by selecting me, so I owe a lot to them.
 
So what does being toastmaster mean?  It means I have to keep festivities moving at the formal events, keep people in check if someone decides to act out and of course it means the big speech at the opening ceremonies.  This is the icky part for me.  Public speaking isn’t something that comes natural to me and speaking to big crowds is kind of scary, but it’s something that I’ve had to develop over the years.  Usually, my approach for speaking events is to have a topic in mind, talk off the cuff and stare into the stage lights so that I’m blinded by the fact that are people in the room with me.  That won’t cut it for Bouchercon.  I need to be considered.  I have to follow on from the previous forty-four toastmasters.  This has been the tough part.  I’ve listened to a number of past Toasties (my slang for toastmasters) and they’ve all managed to put an original spin on the convention.  I was picked for the Toasty job back in 2010 and to be frank, I’ve had no hook for my speech…
 
…until now!
 
Now, I can’t go into details, but I will say no one has gone in the direction that I’ve chosen.  So I feel I can hold my own with my predecessors.  Phew!
 
Getting a handle on my duties couldn’t have come soon enough.  The convention is little more than a year away and there’s a lot of work I need to do and prepare for.  There are a number of extra-curricular events associated with the event I’ll be involved in, some I can’t mention yet.
 
Anyway, the clock is ticking and should be clearing your calendar in order to be there.  If you need what’s what, go to the website.  I expect to see you there.

Categories: shelf life

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I’m packing my bags because I’m attending the Bouchercon convention in Albany, New York tomorrow, which should be fun. I’m going to be quite busy while I’m there, so for anyone going, here’s where you can find me over the weekend.

Book Signing at Mystery Mike’s 
Friday, September 20, 9:45a.m.
 
Panel: Entertainer–Keeping the Readers’ Attention
Friday, September 20, 1:50-2:45p.m.
Catriona McPherson (Moderator), Jane Cleland, Hannah Dennison, Russel McLean, Claire O’Donohue and me

I hope to see you there.

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