I sincerely apologize for my tardiness in getting this post written for you. Left Coast Crime was such a wonderful time this year (except for transportation back to the airport, but we'll not go there--I might cry). I think I said this last year, but in case you weren't around then or I am mistaken, this is such a great conference and if you enjoy mystery and crime fiction, you need to attend at least once. It's the perfect size, the programming is wonderful, you have great opportunities to interact with others. It is really a gem in the crime fiction world. I hear say that Hawaii is the destination in a few years. I might be starting to save up for that one! Anyway...let's talk about Monterey.
If you follow the Facebook page, you may have already seen the video of Toastmaster Brad Parks introducing Guest of Honor Sue Grafton for her interview. For those who did not see it, I give you, "Keep Away from Alphabet Sue":
Throughout the course of the interview Sue Grafton shared many fun stories. She was animated and engaged. She talked about her frustrations writing in Hollywood--and not selling the rights to Kinsey Milhone, the books that came before A is for Alibi, the trouble she's having with her present novel (X), and the great support she gets from her publisher. She spoke about "Shadow" and the "death cookie" and how she knows someone is the child of an alcoholic. Sue wowed the crowd and Brad did a stellar job giving her the platform to do so. An exceptional interview indeed!
Brad didn't get much of a break on that Thursday as he had to turn around and MC opening night. Here he put on his liturgical robes and led the convention in the crime fiction reader's prayer. You can see the prayer in its entirety here and pray it yourself tonight.
As always, opening night was a nice chance to mingle and chat. A very special treat this year was getting to meet my online friend Sarah RH. I've made some of the best friendships online but getting to meet the people in person is always the ultimate treat.
In an effort to keep from writing a mile long blog post, I won't detail all the panels I attended. It's kind of late for that and I'm sure you'd get bored anyway. So I'm going to give you a Top 10 list of things I took away from Left Coast Crime panels:
10. There's now a frozen yogurt shop in Buffalo, Wyoming called THE COLD DISH. I want to visit it!
9. Tim Hallinan was motivated to be a writer after he wrote his teacher a love poem.
8. There is a humor ghetto in crime fiction. Did you know that? I love humor in my books...topic for another blog post later, so tune in again on that topic.
7. Lou Berney used Trip Advisor as a weapon in his novel Whiplash River. A lot of readers like to use Goodreads or Amazon that way, don't they? Wielding the powerful review!
6. Tim Hallinan, David Morrell and Sophie Littlefield all agreed that bad sex writing is worse than any other bad writing. Amen to that!
5. Lisa Brackmann, in a discussion on gender in crime fiction, said PTSD is PTSD regardless of gender. The difference comes in the additional obstacles women have to overcome in the military.
4. In a screenwriting panel, I learned there's a saying in Hollywood: "It's the only place on Earth you can die of encouragement."
3. Kent Krueger said he never understood winter until he moved to Minnesota--through his books, he wanted to help anyone anywhere understand that winter. (I'm sure that's especially true after this winter, right?)
2. One of Marcia Clark's goals in writing the Rachel Knight series is to depict the reality of female relationships.
1. And the top item goes to Kent Krueger who gave kudos to mystery readers saying they love to do a lot of the work in the reading process. So the writers only have to provide them a snippet and they take it from there.
A special award must be noted for Johnny Shaw. He made Brad Parks swear in front of his mother during their panel.
As a teacher I assured my students there is no such thing as a stupid question. As a panel attendee, I've learned how very untrue that really is. *sigh*
The programming was truly outstanding at this convention and I enjoyed every panel I attended, as well as the panel I moderated. We had standing room only--wow! So thanks to everyone who attended and to the great panelists with me: Janet Rudolph, Maddee James, August McLaughlin and Chantelle Osman. We had a great time talking about social media, but we could have talked MUCH longer.
The panels are always fun and I always take away interesting tidbits from them, but the true gems of these conventions come in the most unexpected encounters. I loved talking with Johnny Shaw and Erica Ruth before the awards banquet. I had the opportunity to meet several spouses--and parents--at this conference. So nice to meet people I hear about but haven't ever seen. I got to talk about dogs--and Harry Connick, Jr.!--with Lou Berney. Having dinner with Sophie Littlefield, Juliet Blackwell, Gigi Pandian and Maddee James was another highlight. I didn't have near enough time with my dear friend Lesa Holstine, but even if I had spent every minute with her, it wouldn't have been enough time. :-)
So, when you make your plans for your next convention, attend the panels--they're definitely great fun. But make sure you snatch up your own little gems as well!
Happy Reading, my friends!