I woke up this morning with a throbbing headache, and when I peeked outside my hotel window, it was indeed raining—the Human Barometer’s Super Sinuses are never wrong. But that put the kibosh on my planned zoo trip—the rain, not the headache, as I never go anywhere without my industrial strength Advil gelcaps and emergency caffeine pack.* And since I hadn’t signed up for the Awards Brunch—in retrospect, a mistake— I really had nothing planned that I couldn’t do just as easily at home.
Coincidentally, I received that morning a rather long and frightening statement from my credit card company. The personalized thank you with the close-up photos of the CEO’s children’s new braces was an unnecessary touch, but effective.
And I kind of missed the family.
So after breakfast, I checked with the desk clerk to make sure I could check out early without paying for that last day and went upstairs to pack. I’d arrived with two suitcases that zipped shut without (much) difficulty. I left with two misshapen suitcases that had taken a bit of convincing and three bags full of books.**
The weather cut me a break for a nice long stretch of I-55N, so I was able to admire some of the pastoral scenery and quite a lot of concrete. This triggered my latent OCD about twenty miles from Peoria—nothing looked familiar, there weren’t any signs, and I was certain I’d missed the turnoff and was now well on my way to Canada. Thank heavens for rest stop maps.
But because I apparently can’t travel anywhere without a certain amount of tension—presumably to counter my natural inertia—the Maintenance Required light went on right after Peoria. I skipped lunch rather than stop or even idle in a drive-through, in case the car wouldn’t fire up again. But one of the things Bouchercon taught me was keep a granola bar with me at all times, so I was fine.
My husband and kids were out and my MIL was napping when I arrived, which gave me the chance to unpack, start a load of laundry, sort through my new library, calm the cat the heck down,*** and place the kids’ presents on their beds.^
Then I waited. And waited. And . . .
I was home.
But enough about that.
Bouchercon is a blast, y’all. It’s energizing and exhausting and serious and flippin’ hilarious. People sing, people zing, people bellydance in the bathrooms.^^
It’s amazing how brilliant all these people are, and how remarkably kind and helpful—and normal, most of them. Within given parameters. I’m not naming names.
They’ve all been there, you see. They know all about blank pages, indecipherable spreadsheets, frightened booksellers, absent agents, stubborn publishers, crumbling writers, disappointing cover art, empty book signings, the seduction of Amazon rankings, the hyper-theoretical calculus of the NYT Bestseller lists. And even the superstars, or so I hear, turn to their friends and colleagues for reassurance that no one is going to point a finger and tell them it’s over, they’re frauds, and who did they think they were fooling?
That, I think, might be what Bouchercon is for. It’s a celebration and a reassurance. And a rockin’ good time.
I’ve already shared thousands of other people’s wise words over the past few days, but I believe I collected one of the most important quotes on the first day.
A beautifully dressed woman sitting a few rows in front of me was asked by a young lady whether she was a writer or an agent. Perhaps an editor?
The woman smiled and said, “No, dear. I’m the most important person here. I’m a reader.”
*Two Irish Breakfast and three Assam tea bags with a handful of artificial sweetener packets, often taken all at once in hot water. I don’t drink coffee and pills take too long.
** The image represents the contents of one bag, by the way. Though I’m absolutely certain that if you are, or ever have been, a Bouchercon attendee, you still said, “Only three?” Yeah. I’m a librarian and one of the perks is ordering books with taxpayer money—and I have a list.
*** He lost his tiny kitty mind, crawled all over me—I was standing up and he’s declawed in the front, so I still don’t know how he managed—sneezed in my face, and then got the hiccups and fell off my shoulder. Did no one pet him while I was gone?
^ Before I left, I made a strategic visit to the hotel shop, as the very first thing our kids do when my husband or I come home from an overnight trip is knock us over with enthusiastic hugs because they missed us so very, very much . . .and also because this makes frisking us for gifts that much easier.
^^Just snake arms and a hip drop or two. Hush, I was making a point.