This is supposed to be THE mystery writer's conference. WRONG!!!! It is for mystery readers so they can meet their favorite authors and maybe a new one or two.
I paid for this conference in December, 2011. I was really looking forward to going. They had an all star line-up. Mary Higgins Clark...life time achievement award; John Connolly to emcee; Robin Cook; Les Roberts and some of my Facebook friends, Rhys Bowen, John Gilstrap, C. Hope Clark. I was going to at least hear some of them speak. I booked my hotel in December so I would be sure to have a room. There were to be about 1800 people at this conference. Cleveland, Ohio was the host city.
Every year since 2009 I've heard people rave about this conference. It's where mystery writers go. It is the be all end all of mystery writer's conferences. It's been on my bucket list. So I skipped the Midwest Writer's Workshop and the Writer's Police Academy to attend.
Let's start with, I could not get my books in the book room for sale. My publisher had no luck and they would not even answer my publicist. How am I going to get my name out there if I can't get my books where they can be seen? I was even willing to transport the books.
Then I was told since I registered early I could probably get on an author's panel. I could speak about stories in small towns, the trials of getting from self-published to published, the list goes on. I kept getting up dates on how the panels were coming.
Do I want to donate for the silent auction? Sure I'm all for that. I put together a basket with a hand made afghan, four of my books a coffee mug and two types of cocoa mix. Money collected was going for the Cleveland library system. I believe in supporting libraries.
Nothing on the schedule until opening kick off at 7pm on Oct 4th. I'm good should arrive in time to do that and be there for sessions on Friday and Saturday and finish up by noon on Sunday. Then two weeks before the conference I learn the sessions start on Thurs. at 11 am. Say what????
Followed by a letter asking me what I want to volunteer for???? Why am I volunteering at a conference I paid to attend????? But I sent them a list of things I'd be willing to do.
Day before I leave I get one session to take care of and they put me in the hospitality room for two hours. I could be missing a session I really want to play waitress????? Okay, I suck it up. I can do this.
I leave after teaching on Wed. and drive until 11pm landing at a Hampton Inn in Sandusky, Ohio. Not the best night's sleep but I write that off to being excited about the conference.
Arriving in Cleveland, every road my GPS wants me to take is blocked. I finally get to the hotel and get parked. Oh did I mention no one had told me it would cost me $24/day to park in the hotel lot. I go in register and they hand me a nice zippered bag filled with books. Wait, why? Because our authors are giving them away.
I attend the first session. Southern ladies and their writing. It is at this point that I discover this is not a writer's conference but a readers' conference. These people on the panel are giving anecdotes about writing and how they happened to set their books in the south....all but one was a southern lady. The other was a northern transplant. While they were entertaining, this is not what I had hoped for.
When the session was over I checked at hotel registration to see if there was a chance I could get into my room early. Not likely. Check in is not until 4pm and at the Marriot Rennaisance they adhere to that. So I went to the hospitality room. OMG.....diabetic coma here we come. Cookies and chips. Not a yogurt, slice of cheese, or hard boiled egg in the house and no fruit. I've not eaten since 8 am and it's after noon.
The schedule does not allow for lunches. I am discouraged. Bought $10 worth of tickets for the silent raffle. Attempted conversation, but I was the outsider. Not made to feel welcome. Which surprised me, but then I was not a featured author so I was no one. My books were not in the book room so I was not considered a real author.
Finally I could check into my room. Room....supposedly a suite. It was a meeting room with a murphy bed. You know those beds that come out of the wall when needed? Seriously unwelcoming. I could not use my laptop as I refused to pay an additional $14/day for internet. It was free if I wanted to stay in the lobby. I did not. Next item was to find food. I took my bag of books to my car, then went in search of food. By now I have a splitting headache and am not pleased at all. I find a food court in a mall adjoining the hotel. Seriously???? Anyone who knows me at all knows I really hate food courts. I got a six in sub, some chips, and a bottle of water. Thinking this is too much bread not enough protein. But the other options were worse. Took the food to my room and spent the next 10 min. trying to get the door to lock. Got the door to lock and headed for my overnight bag in the car.
By now I not only have a headache, I am frustrated to tears. I refuse to cry. Get my bags and the book I had brought to read. Leaving my laptop in my trunk. Moved the car so I would not be trapped in the morning.
Back at my room, we have the door not locking issue. I refuse to touch the TV for fear they will charge me for that, too. I forgot to ask at the desk. I opened my book to read and ate my meager dinner. Then I changed into my pajamas and crawled into bed with my book while texting a couple of friends. Finally by 9pm I had made the executive decision that this was not worth it, I was leaving in the morning. Set my alarm and attempted sleep.
I am NOT nor will I ever be a city girl. Street noise was constant and I was four floors up. I had shoved a chair in front of the door. Not feeling all that safe. I tossed and turned. I was up by 6 am having slept all of two hours. I was checked out and on my way out of Cleveland before 7 am. I was home by 1pm.
I am crossing Bouchercon off my bucket list and marking it total waste of time. I did get to hear Robin Cook speak, but was not close enough even with my telephoto lens to get good pictures. This conference is for a chosen few authors to represent themselves. The rest of us are out of luck. It is misnamed. It is a READERS conference. It has nothing to do with writing.