Top five favorites from the Raleigh Bouchercon:
1) Southern hospitality. From the airport shuttle driver to the museum docent to the hotel staff, the people of Raleigh are remarkably friendly and outgoing.
2) Weather. We received a little rain, but overall it was very pleasant early fall weather. Not too hot, not too cold. This was important as the conference took place in two adjacent hotels, requiring walking outdoors.
3) Short Mystery Fiction Society lunch. This informal gathering at the Plaza Café provided an opportunity to meet in person members of SMFS. And author Terrie Farley Moran autographed for me a copy of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine containing her recently published short story.
4) Readers. I met dozens of mystery readers. Some fans astounded me with their voracious appetites for fiction. Bouchercon fans plan vacations around the world's largest mystery conference, taking in local sights as well as attending the conference. My favorite reader and fan was of course Chip Cowell, who purchased my novel Stone Cold Case, and requested my autograph.
5) Grits. I nearly made it out of town without sampling grits. I'm no stranger to grits, having spent my formative years in Oklahoma. I keep them stocked in my pantry. My last lunch at Bouchercon, shared with authors Patricia Coleman and Liesa Malik, we all chose wonderful cheesey grits as a side dish in the Marriott Hotel restaurant.
Stay tuned for more to come!