Note: I wrote this post a year ago before I attended my first Bouchercon in Raleigh and thought it might be helpful to share with this year’s new batch of Bouchercon virgins.I’ve been a mystery lover since I was a kid reading Nancy Drew. I still love reading mysteries, have taken to writing them, and have always wanted to go to Bouchercon, which I picture as a long weekend party for mystery lovers. This year I am finally attending Bouchercon. Here are ten reasons I have been longing to attend this fabulous conference:1. Bouchercon is a fan conference. Fan is spelled R-E-A-D-E-R! I love readers. I am a reader. A reader is the acorn from which the writer-tree grows. There is nothing more delightful than being in the company of fellow readers who understand and share their obsession with mysteries. While I love a conference where craft is the focus, I am looking forward to lots of discussions with and recommendations from my fellow book lovers.2. I am unabashed about being in awe of the authors who write the books I read and love. I look at the list of authors who will appear and see names like Lawrence Block, Meg Gardiner, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Karin Slaughter, Joseph Finder, Rhys Bowen, and I could go on and on. These authors not only will be present, but also will appear on panels where I can hear them recount their stories about writing.3. Speaking of panels, where else would I ever be able to attend panels like, “What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of the Working Cadaver Dog,” “Jewish Noir,” or “Criminally Young at Heart”? The biggest challenge is which ones to chose from a schedule twenty-four pages long. It’s like being at a smorgasbord, trying to figure how high you can pile food on your plate.4. Books, lots of books. They sell books at Bouchercon! They have something called “The Book Room,” which I’m fairly certain will become very familiar to me. There are at least five bookstores selling mysteries. Two are local, but the others come from quite far. Mystery Mike’s comes from Indiana. Ryan Books travels from New York City. And the winner for farthest distance is Scene of the Crime Books, which travels all the way from Ontario. I have a feeling my “To Be Read” pile is about to get higher and my wallet thinner.5. Awards. The Anthonys are awarded by attendee vote at Bouchercon. There are a number of categories. The books written by nominees for Best Novel happen to sit on my bookshelf with only one left for me to read before the conference. Looking at the nominees and winners from Bouchercon over the years, I see the names of authors and books I have relished. I’m routing for hometown author, Hank Phillip Ryan, this year, not just because she’s from Boston. Truth Be Told was a fabulous book. But all of the nominees are terrific writers.6. Meeting social media friends in person. I admit that I love how Facebook and Twitter have managed to make the world smaller and easier for me to get to know so many writers and readers I otherwise would never get to know. But now that I have been introduced to so many new friends, I cannot wait to meet them in person.7. The “Goodies.” Okay, I admit being a tad jealous when one of my writing buddies shows off a clever key chain from an author and brags she “got it at Bouchercon.” It’s not the keychain; it’s the Bouchercon experience I want. Well, maybe it’s the keychain a little.8. The food and drinks. Most of the tales about Bouchercon are prefaced with a setting, just like in the books we all love. The setting invariably includes scrumptious food and drinks, often associated with the location of the conference.9. Getting out of Dodge. Bouchercon always occurs in exciting cities, like San Francisco, Anchorage, Chicago, and next year, New Orleans. I’ve never been to Raleigh before other than for a flight stopover. I‘m looking forward to stealing a few hours and exploring Raleigh.10. Time for my little confession. The part of me that is somewhat introverted has been a little intimidated by the vastness of Bouchercon. But I’m ready to dive in and enjoying the “Bouchercon experience,” and to no longer being a Bouchercon virgin.