|Carol and Mary Higgins Clark at Bouchercon (and me)|
One of the best ways to get involved in the mystery community is to go to a fan convention. It's actually how I met most of the bloggers and authors that write for Mystery Playground, including Kerry Hammond. I've been to many of these conferences multiple times and I can tell you that mystery lovers are a friendly and fun crowd.
All of these conferences offer book signing opportunities and unlike other fan conventions, there isn't a separate charge to get something signed - book, t-shirt, bag - whatever. they also have wonderful book rooms, full of new and old book delights for sale and free books in your registration bag. Many of the conferences also have sessions oriented towards authors rather than fans, but that's part of the fun.
Here's the schedule for 2017, with a few details on what you can expect. There's a little something for everyone.
Sleuthfest, Feb 23-26
Boca Raton, Florida
Sleuthfest is oriented towards mystery writers instead of fans, but everyone is welcome. It's a smaller conference and the interaction is high. I've met so many long-time friends at this conference, it's a favorite.
Keynote: David Baldacci
Guest Authors: Jeff Lindsey, SJ Rozan, Jane Cleland, Jess Lourey, Reed Farrel Coleman
Left Coast Crime, March 16-19
Left Coast is a medium sized convention with 400-500 attendees. It's big enough to draw big name authors, but small enough so you can actually meet them. There are tours available so you can see sights outside of the convention with other mystery-loving fans.
Lifetime Achievement Guests of Honor: Faye and Jonathan Kellerman
Guests of Honor: Dana Stabenow, Colin Cotterill
Toastmaster: Laurie R. King
Malice Domestic, April 28-30
Focused on traditional mysteries in the style of Agatha Christie, "Malice" as it's affectionately called, draws between 300-500 people each year. Despite it's name, you couldn't find a friendlier bunch of friends and fans.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Charlaine Harris
Guest of Honor: Elaine Viets
Fan Guest of Honor: Lucy Zahray
Toastmaster: Marcia Talley
Poirot Award: Martin Edwards
New England Crime Bake, November 10-12
Held in New England each year, Crime Bake hosts a many authors from that region but also around the country. This conference is for both readers and writers. I love the intimacy of this conference.
Guest of Honor: Lisa Gardiner
Bouchercon, October 12-15, Toronto
This is the granddaddy of all the mystery conventions, which also makes it the biggest with between 1000-1700 attendees. Because this convention is bigger, it draws more authors both new and established for you to get to know. The best place to meet your favorite authors here is in the book signing line or at the bar.
Canadian Guest of Honor: Louise Penny
American Guest of Honor: Megan Abbot
International Guest of Honor: Christopher Brookmyre
Bcon 4Kids Guest of Honor: Chris Grabenstein
Distinguished Contribution to the Genre: Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
These are just the conventions that I've attended. If you have a mystery event that I missed, please feel free to add it below and I'll include it on our list.