WHY I LOVED LEFT COAST CRIME
1. The panels. Lots of interesting and informative discussions. And my own pet opinion was confirmed: There are two kinds of writers--those who outline and those who don't. And they will never understand one another.
2. The Tattered Cover Bookstore on Denver's 16th street pedestrian mall. A smaller version of Powell's in Portland (my favorite bookstore ever)--hardcovers, paperbacks, used books, books you don't find at the local Barnes and Noble. Two floors and two evenings of browsing fun. (And not all for myself--I bought books for my four kids and my husband. Okay, so I bought myself more. Sue me.)
3. The Book Room run by Tom and Enid Schantz of Rue Morgue. Almost every break between panels for three days I spent in the book room--buying books, eyeing handcuffs and t-shirts, and standing in line for author signings. Which brings me to . . .
4. The Authors. They're real, they're funny, and they're kind. At least all the ones I met were. Some of my favorites:
Stephanie Barron--writes the Jane Austen mysteries, of which I owned all but the most recent. So I bought the most recent and had her sign it. We had a good discussion about Lord Harold and hateful email. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll have to read the series, which begins with JANE AND THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT SCARGRAVE MANOR).
Aileen Baron--wrote her first book at the age of 75. She's a Near Eastern archaeologist and her books are set in Palestine in the late 1930s and 1940s. She had the funniest line of the conference--when she said that American women of that period weren't allowed to run digs, but many British women did. Her explanation? "I think it has something to do with field hockey." I even got her to sign that line in my copy of her book.
Craig Johnson--he writes about a Wyoming sheriff. I've wanted to read his books for a long time. So after listening to him on a panel, I bought the first and had him sign it. We discussed living in the West (he's from Wyoming) and how Easterners don't quite get the idea of audiobooks the same way Westerners do.
Carl Brookins--I sat next to him at the banquet dinner. He is a true gentleman. And anyone who write about a character named Sean Sean who isn't Irish is someone whose books I want to read.
Laura Benedict--her first published novel came out last year, ISABELLA MOON. Another one I've had on my list to read, and I couldn't buy it fast enough after listening to her speak on a panel called Mindgames and Manhunts. She's everything I would like to be--polished, professional, self-deprecating, funny, and truly kind. She was the first author I've ever asked to sign a book and she talked to me as though she'd never been more delighted in her life than to meet me. I was so charmed, that I bid on and won a silent auction item that she offered, which I'll get to later.
And speaking of charming . . . MARCUS SAKEY--His second crime novel came out in January. I've heard his name (I suppose "seen" is a more accurate word) on DorothyL, but would never have approached him at LCC if not for the fact that he has wonderfully curly hair. Does that sound odd? I'm sure he thought so. But when I explained that my son has cancer and has lost his hair and that his biggest fear is that it will grow back in curly . . . well, he was graciousness itself. He signed a book for my son (admonishing him not to use any of the words in the book) and wrote him a note and let me take his picture. I have never in my life done anything like that, but he made me feel like I was only a mother, not a candidate for institutionalization.
5. The Silent Auction. There were gift baskets, signed books, character names and other wonderful things up for auction. (All the proceeds benefited the Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic in Colorado.) I bid on two critiques and won them both. (Well, okay, my friend Katie bid on one for me so I wouldn't look greedy.) For a total of 85.00 I won a 15 page critique from Chris Roerden, author of my favorite mystery writing book HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR MYSTERY. And I won a 30 page critique from Laura Benedict. I can't begin to express how excited I am about both. (Hmmm, not being able to express myself doesn't bode well for my critique pages.)
6. The Volunteers. Christine Goff was absolutely splendid, both as an organizer and a person. Katie and I bought a book for a friend and wanted it signed, but it turned out the author had had to cancel at the last moment. Christine knows the author and she volunteered to get the book signed and mail it to us. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from an attendee's point of view and I thank all of those who worked so hard to make it look effortless.
7. My friends. Katie and I knew we traveled well together. We've spent ten days in Dubai and Oman, we've driven to Portland to visit my dying birth mother, so four days in Denver was nothing but pleasure. We talked, we listened to Bill Bryson's NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND as we drove across Wyoming, we talked some more, and we met Becca. I've known Becca for almost five years now through our online class and critique group, but I've only met her briefly in person twice. I was a bit nervous about sharing four days and a hotel room with her, but I need not have worried. She is a kindred spirit, in all the wonderful Anne of Green Gables ways possible. We're planning to do our future book signings together. And we're figuring out what the other one can offer at future silent auctions.
I don't think there was anything I didn't like about LCC. (Okay, so I did learn that no one should ever follow me when I'm both walking and talking--I apparently can't talk and find my way out of a paper bag at the same time.) But when people ask what's the best thing I came away with, I have a simple answer . . .
I came away with inspiration, motivation, and the absolute assurance that this is the world I fit in. I am a writer. I will always be a writer. I am not odd, I am not crazy, and I am not stupid for wanting it. My writing may be slower this year as I spend time in hospitals and make sure Jacob gets well, but it's not going away.
Totally worth the time and money to rediscover that truth.
Thanks, Left Coast Crime.