by Toni L.P. Kelner
I have conventions on the brain this week, conventions past, present, and future. In January I attended Arisia, last weekend it was Boskone, and I'm preparing for next weekend's trip to Sleuthfest. Later on this year, I'll be at Malice Domestic and Bouchercon, and I'm considering attending others as well.
Now every convention requires a fair amount of preparation: travel, hotel, panel preparation, packing, shopping, school wrangling, guinea pig care, and so on. So why do I keep doing these things?
Of course, my excuse is that it's for business. At Arisia and Boskone, which are science fiction conventions, I'm promoting the anthologies I co-edit with Femme Charlaine. At Malice and Bouchercon, I'm pushing my mysteries. And at Sleuthfest, I'll be talking to other writers, so the promotion will be at a minimum. (Theoretically...) But the fact is, I really enjoy conventions. And here's why.
- I get to hang with friends from all over the country in one place. At Boskone, I spent time with Femme Charlaine from Arkansas, Joshua and Ginjer from NYC, and even locals like Sarah who I don't get to see all that often. As long as I've been in mysteries, Malice and Bouchercon are like old home week!
- I make new friends. At Arisia, I met Jan and Byron and then renewed the acquaintance at Boskone. I met Kate at Crime Bake in the fall, then say her again at Arisia and Boskone. I'd exchanged e-mails with Seanan, but only got to see her in person at Arisia.
- I visit places I might not have ever gone to on my own. I don't think I'd ever have picked Indianapolis or Anchorage without Bouchercon being held there in different years, but I was charmed by both cities. I don't always see much of the city other than the convention, but in Anchorage I snuck away for a flight over a glacier and I took a cable car tour of San Francisco. And when I can, I take an extra day or two to see some sites. I've been to the Smithsonian several times during trips to Malice, and when I went to Madison for Bouchercon, I snuck out for a day to see the Circus World Museum at Baraboo, a place I'd always wanted to go.
- I make some good business connections. I've met with editors at almost every convention I've attended, many of whom I've eventually done business with. And if I haven't, I might do so in the future.
- I get books. There are freebies galore and there are book rooms filled with dealers who have books I can't find elsewhere or might not have ever known exist. Heaven!
- I attend the convention panels myself--I like hearing other writers talk about their work, and I always learn something. (Even if it's only how not to act on a panel...)
- I get to party! I am not, at home, much of a party animal. But at conventions, I feel comfortable hanging at the bar or dancing at the late night parties and listening to bands. Sometimes, very rarely, I even wear a costume.
So even though this Wednesday, I'll be packing like a maniac and fussing about it the whole time--"Where are my black slacks?" and "Why did I say I'd do this convention?"-- and on Thursday, I'll be dealing with the casual indignities of airplane travel, by Friday, I'll be happily ensconced at Sleuthfest and having a terrific time. Femmes Dana and Elaine will be there, too.
I hope to see some of y'all there!