Oh, y’all. I had no idea there were these things called fan conventions for books, and wow have I been missing out!
After staying up waaaay too late gabbing with my friend Chris, who graciously booted her fourth-grader from his room so I’d have a place to sleep Thursday night, I zipped down the street to Dulles airport and found the fab Larissa Reinhart. I feel like I’ve known Ris forever, but we actually “met” last fall, online, since she’s in Georgia and I’m here. She writes the Cherry Tucker Mysteries for Henery Press, and I was SO excited to meet her in person Friday morning. I’m happy to report she’s as adorable and sweet in person as I thought.
We got to the hotel and after some finagling, we found a parking spot in the garage and got our room keys. We registered, got our goody bags (and found our friend Gretchen Archer‘s new book DOUBLE WHAMMY in them!!!) and grabbed lunch just in time to hear the head of the Washington Crime Lab speak at noon. Not only was Max really helpful, he was funny! A great program.
We paused in the hallway to ponder our next move (panel or coffee) and were stumbled upon by our amazing editor at Henery, who neither of us had ever met. She is just as nice in person as she is on email and the phone. She also looks waaaaaay too young to be so successful. I am desperate to know what kind of moisturizer she uses.
We also met the ever-amazing book blogger Dru Ann Love, and fellow Henery authors Diane Vallere, Susan M. Boyer, Gigi Pandian, Christina Freeburn, and Wendy Tyson. We bumped into Hank Phillippi Ryan in the hallway, and she stopped to talk to Ris and Susan, then hugged us all and complimented our writing! I got to see some of my idols, including Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben, from afar at the opening ceremonies. The publishing house took us to a lovely, yummy dinner, and then I headed down to the cocktail reception.
The elevator doors opened and I almost walked right into Laura Lippman! I stammered. I said “I can’t talk to you, you’re Laura Lippman!” She smiled and said “sure you can! Come over here. What do you write?” We talked about reporting, Texas, life, and writing for almost an hour! She was lovely and gracious and gave me wonderful advice, and I love her more now than I did before.
I slept in a little and Ris and I found a Starbucks a few blocks from the hotel for breakfast, then watched Gigi interview Aaron Elkins (AARON ELKINS!!! And he was charming and funny and so nice). Then we bumped into Dru Ann and crashed her group for lunch (best cheeseburger ever. I think they killed the cow in the kitchen). We ran downstairs to watch our pal Susan dazzle on the New Kids panel, because she was nominated for an Agatha for Best First Novel. Such fun!
I met: Maggie Barbieri, Liz Lipperman, and Shelley Giusti, among others.
Wait, it gets better. At the cocktail reception before the banquet, I turned away from the bar to find myself staring straight at Harlan Coben! He smiled, put out a hand, and said “Hi, I’m Harlan.”
“I’m a little starstruck,” I said.
He whipped his head back and forth. “Why? Who’s here?”
He then proceeded to get a beer and talk to me and Ris until they opened the dining room doors! We had drinks with HARLAN COBEN. I may have pinched myself. A few times. He was funny and charming and taught us some colorful new words my hubby will love, and also gave great advice.
I have to say, it’s wonderful to meet your heroes and find out they’re great people, not just great talents.
We thanked him and excused ourselves to go into the dining room and find our nervous friend. Dinner was great. Dessert was awesome.
AND SUSAN WON THE AGATHA! Woohoo!
The Hen House after party migrated to the bar, where Harlan came over to congratulate Susan. She was starstruck, too.
This was our busy day, with a very early breakfast, followed by Ris’ panel, my panel, and our signing.
The new author breakfast was a lot of fun, and big thanks to all the fans who sat at my table! I hope you enjoy Nichelle!
Ris was great on her Arts of Death panel, and I tried to sound awake on mine, Cozy in the City, with Con Lehane, JJ Murphy (who writes Dorothy Parker SO well I thought he was a she) and Triss Stein.
I signed some books, and also a tote bag, programs, and an iPad. I talked to Harlan and Laura (who wrote the nicest note in my copy of Life Sentences) again, and then met a friend for lunch, listened to Laura’s interview, and packed up to head south. I was glad to see my family, but I have a weekend of amazing memories I’ll hold dear forever. Thanks so much to everyone who had a hand in it!