There's sort of a discombobulating feeling to know that the biggest event is mystery is starting tomorrow -- with many people already on their way into Chicago -- and the only way I'll be there is by hologram, astral projection, or some other device that's only been invented in Star Trek reruns. But what can a girl do -- priorities, alas -- but offer up her bullet-point advice to newcomers? So, to wit:
1. When in doubt, go to the bar. I shall be repeating this particular point several times throughout this post.
2. Reader, writer, or anyone, you must make the acquaintance of the dealer room. Hopefully it will be much bigger than 2 years ago and not quite as cavernous as last year. It's not only a valuable place to make contacts, lighten your wallet and buy great undiscovered gems, it's always proved the failsafe place for me to get some needed R&R in the midst of running around like a crazed loon for four days in a row.
3. Watch Jon Jordan eat breakfast.
4. Make sure to leave the hotel at some point and get some fresh air, see the city, or otherwise do something not BCon-related. It's downtown Chicago, for god's sake. (Then again, if you're a geek like me, your definition of "fresh air" is to sneak out of the convention hotel, blag your way into the Roosevelt University Library and spend a few hours finding all this....)
5. There will always be a panel that everyone went to that you didn't, or a party that other folks got to that you didn't, or some amazing happening that you weren't a part of. Hey, with 1500+ people attending, there are thousands of individual Bouchercons all happening in the same space with only some degree of overlap. And then the fun is that you can swap stories the next day (or year, or decade...)
6. Remember to get sleep. 4 hours a night should just about do it.
7. As someone (Andi?) has already pointed out, you can fly thousands of miles to see someone who lives in the same city as you. And never see them any other time that year. There will also be people you run into constantly for no good reason, while others you will miss completely, even though you had the best intentions. That's why BCon happens every year.
8. There will be folks who firmly believe in the adage that "What happens in BCon, stays in BCon." Stay away from them. The adage is not only not true, but hundreds of people will find out in due course and the only reason it stays an official secret is that someone with really loose lips hasn't blabbed to the right virus propagator.
9. It's more fun to congratulate the winners after the awards they won are over than to be there in the first place.
10. The first ten minutes spent on Bouchercon waters will be confusing, fright-inducing and otherwise weird. And then you will meet someone you know -- probably in and around the hotel bar -- and everything will take care of itself. It always does.
Have fun, everyone! See you back next week.