Best conference I’ve ever been to. I can’t believe I almost didn’t go, that I waited until the last possible minute before signing up. Not long after I arrived, I met Phil Hawley at the registration desk where he was volunteering, and he made me feel very welcomed. Then I met the hardest working woman on the planet, CJ Lyons, who was this year’s chair for the conference and it is a testament to her amazing organizational skills that the conference went so smoothly and was so much fun for the rest of us. I hung out a bit with Karen Dionne who runs the terrific website for novelists, Backspace. In that session, I saw Dusty (JD) Rhodes, where I informed him that I’d been stalking him across the internet. (The stalking continued all weekend.) And later at the welcome reception, I finally met Allison Brennen, who was just a super super cool person to hang with. (Allison answered a billion questions, made me feel like it wasn’t too cray to have that many questions, and was generally just a blast to hang out with.) I also met Rob who was just a terrific friend all around… and I can’t believe after knowing him for about five years, we’re just now meeting. He was a real joy to hang with, as well. Brett was a tremendous amount of fun and his book (like Rob’s) sounds fantastic. As — quite honestly — did the rest of the Killer Year’s debut books. Of course, there was the awesome JT Ellison and her husband Randy (who cracked us up over dinner), and another Killer Year alum, Marcus Sakey, whose book is first up at bat in January of all the Killer Year’s efforts. Finally, somewhere along the way, I met our other Killer Year founder, Jason Pinter, who just rocks.

By that evening when we hit the bar, I started losing track of the order of the great people I got to meet. There’s the incomparable Sarah Weinman, the terrific Elizabeth Krecker, (whose narrative non-fiction book really sounded terrific), the sweet MG Tarquini (who really should have won “best smile” because when she smiles at you, you cannot help but smile back). (Oh, and MG had the really sad, SAD I TELL YOU, job of driving Barry Eisler around while he and Joe Konrath signed stock around the Phoenix area. You almost wanted to hate MG for that, except then she’d smile and you’d forgive her.) There were fun people like Natalie Collins and Debra Webb (I’m not sure of her blog?) and David Terrenoire and Stephen Blackmoore (who, yes, I do owe a drink to) and… geez… on and on and on. I am forgetting to link to some really wonderful people.
The seminars were great, though I missed a few I’d really have liked to have cloned myself in order to attend. (See Allison’s blog for a good smattering of some of those.) The awards banquet was by far the best I’ve ever attended. Have you ever been to an awards banquet where the food was exquisite, the entertainment either had you laughing out loud (constantly) or had you wishing you had room to get up and dance? Yep, it was that much fun. I would link to all of the authors who were on the panels and who were great about hanging out at the bar where they mingled and such, but I have just smacked against the wall of exhaustion from the weekend, so I’m going to direct you to some of the other links above because several of them have given more detail, if you’re curious.

Next year, the ThrillerFest will be in NYC. You can bet I’ll be there.