Tuesday, February 2, 2021

I'll be There!

Terry Shames here. This is our question for this week: It’s your first writer’s conference after the Covid-19 crisis has been contained – what are the first three things you do after checking in to the hotel? 

 I crossed my fingers last week and signed up for Bouchercon in New Orleans, hoping that by then there will be enough people vaccinated to have a live conference. I’m almost paralyzed with the excitement of what I will do when I first get there. 

First, let me say a few things I won’t do: 

 1) I won’t go outside for a walk. It’s August in New Orleans. Last time Bourchercon was in New Orleans, it was September and still so hot and humid that when I took an afternoon walk I had to stop in at a cafĂ© to get a glass of iced tea to keep from fainting. That only seems dramatic if you know I’ve never fainted. This time I will only go out after the sun is down. 

 2) I won’t stay in my room for more than five minutes after I check in. That’s how long it will take me to unpack. What I will do is head straight for the lobby. They could hire me as a greeter, because I want to be there to see everyone walk in. And to hug them. Hug. 
                    HUG from author pal Timothy Hallinan at Left Coast Crime

Hugs may prove problematic. If things haven’t gone really well, we’ll probably still be wearing masks and keeping distance. It will be hard not to hug, but even seeing people in person will be a thrill. Even in a mask. Then, off to the bar. Repeat the above. 

 I go to conferences for three things: 

1) To hear the latest industry news (okay, let’s be honest, gossip) 

2) To catch up with writer and reader friends 

                            Jim Ziskin and Kim Faye catching up at the last NOLA

3) To go to talks and panels that are of interest.
7 Criminal Minds authors Cathy Ace and Terry Shames on a panel.

Bouchercon is not the ideal conference to start back with because it’s so big! I have a feeling that being in the presence of so many people after being isolated for a year is going to be overwhelming. Fine. I’m ready to be overwhelmed. 

After a year of Zooms and phone calls and emails, I’m ready to hear snatches of conversations, peals of uninhibited laughter, unexpected voices. I’m ready to be in a room where I know a lot of people. And I’m also ready to be in a room where I know hardly anyone. I’m ready to find out about new writers, and to celebrate experienced ones. I’m ready to see expressions that are beginning to recover from the shock I see on faces in Zoom meetings. 

 You can get a lot of industry news and views and gossip on Zoom. You can see panels and hear talks and get inspiration from industry professionals and other authors. But it just isn’t the same thing as hearing conversations and going to panels in person. I can’t wait!

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