Monday, April 1, 2013

Left Coast Crime - Part I

Rabbit, rabbit! Right? Kind of funny saying that the day AFTER Easter. I hope you all had a great weekend.

So, you know I traveled to Colorado to attend my first Left Coast Crime. And I have to say, it was a great experience. I liked the size of the conference and the resort was absolutely lovely. I personally would have preferred it in the summer, but some left-coasters who don't get to see snow very often enjoyed it. Here's a view of the scenery Friday morning:

This was the same view Saturday morning:

This was also the reason Lou Diamond Phillips had a difficult time getting to Colorado Springs, but more on that later. Despite the weather, we had a grand time.

Thursday was our panel on social media. I video taped the panel, but unfortunately the view wasn't wide enough to get everyone. So, it's only a partial view. When I have that available on YouTube, I'll let you all know. But we touched on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads (too bad we didn't have the Amazon topic to throw in), Pinterest and Google Plus. Time prevented us from addressing blogs, websites and newsletters, though. Our panelists were so wonderful and all had unique perspectives, so the conversation was great and we received many compliments. The greatest thing I heard from people was that they learned something something from the panel. Yay!

The next day started off with a panel about literary influences, followed by a panel on the anti-hero. The discussion on the anti-hero was rather fascinating and revealing. Questions such as "is there a line your anti-hero can't cross" and "should the reader judge the anti-hero" came up. I think readers are going to judge all characters no matter but whether they're justified in doing so is the real question. This brings to mind for me the idea that readers should first and foremost ask themselves if the author is doing what he/she set out to do. John Gilstrap says the problems arise when you have the anti-hero step outside his/her own code.

The panel was all male and I wonder what direction some of the questions would have taken if there had been a female on the panel. It was pointed out later in the panel that Zoe Sharp writes a female anti-hero. That may very well have changed the climate of this panel, but it was insightful nonetheless.

One of my favorite panels of the weekend was the "Lighter Side of Death and Dismemberment" featuring Deb Coonts, Harley Jane Kozak, Rochelle Staab, Brad Parks and Chuck Greaves. These folks know how to avoid taking life too seriously. While I had a hard time believing that Brad Parks is the shy quiet one in his family, the fact that Deb has made it her life's mission to embarrass her son sounded like a parental truth.

The idea of humor in the darker books of crime fiction came up and humor as a defense mechanism was discussed. Most professions that encounter regular horrors like law enforcement, the medical professions, etc. have a way of dealing with what they witness every day. To people on the outside that may come across as sick, but for those in the trenches, it's the only way to remain healthy. So humor is true to life for these people.

I have some video from this panel as well. I need to do some editing with it, but will hopefully have that done soon so I can share. I think you'll enjoy a little tidbit from this panel.

Following this humor panel, I attended another absolutely hilarious event and that was the Truth or Dare panel. The folks subjecting themselves to this were Brad Parks, Toast master David Corbett, Guest of Honor Laura Lippman and Parnell Hall.

The questions and dares were posed by Rhys Bowen. At first everyone was willing to respond to the truths: what non-living writer doesn't deserve their fame? What's your birth name? What's the worst thing anyone's ever said or written about you? But when the question of "What LIVING author doesn't deserve their wealth or fame" no one was willing to answer and the dares started. 

Several of the dares dealt with singing, but when they arrived at Brad, he was given a blind fold and then Jan Burke came to the stage and stood next to him. He had to determine who Jan was without looking. And yes, we were all a little concerned about this! No lives or limbs were lost, however.

To top off this night, Brad Parks and I went to dinner at a dive called The Hatch Cover. Brad had been in the "Concealed Weapons Fashion Show" as James Bond and was decked out in a tuxedo. I fit in much better in my jeans and sweatshirt. As Brad describes it, when we walked in the record scratched and everyone turned to look at the first tuxedo to grace the Hatch Cover. The tuxedo may also have been the reason the waitress carded Brad when he ordered a beer. He was astonished and had to brag to everyone that night about being carded. A success Friday at Left Coast Crime I would say!

I'll have more on Saturday tomorrow, so stay tuned!


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