Monday, March 16, 2015

Left Coast Crime Thoughts

I arrived at Left Coast Crime Conference in Portland, Oregon Thursday before noon. I deposited books with the book seller at the conference and dropped off my gift basket for the silent auction. Proceeds from the silent auction went to S.M.A.R.T. (Start Making A Reader Today).

I had lunch with fellow Windtree Press author Pamela Cowan and Debbie Burke from Jan’s Paperback Books.

I visited with people I knew and attended the last workshop for the day, “Gotta Stay Fresh: How to keep a series from getting stale.”  The authors on the panel were: Vicki Delany, D.V. Berkom, Becky Clark, Philip Donlay and Mike Lawson. It was a good blend of seasoned authors with long series and authors who only had a few books in a series. My take-a-way from this session was to age your characters- don’t keep them at 29 or whatever age they are. Don’t have the Jessica Fletcher syndrome where the main character finds a body every  time they step outside their house. Make sure there is some time between discoveries. (This can go with the aging thing) And write a main character who shows growth and that you want to hang out with for 6 or 100 books.

The guest speaker that afternoon was Phillip Margolin.  He was funny, witty, and not what you would expect from a person who defended criminals for a living before he became a full-time author.
That evening I retired early. ;)

Friday morning there was a New Author breakfast. Those of us who had published our first mystery or thriller were asked to give a one minute spiel about our books. There were 35 new authors.

The first session I attended was “Death in a Small Town- Rural and suburban crime fiction.” The authors were Terry Shames, LeslieBudewitz, M.P. Cooley, G.M. Malliet, and Cindy Sample. The take-a-way on this one to me dealt with how the setting comes in to play with the collecting of clues. In small/rural areas there is gossip and more chance of someone seeing something where in a large city people tend to have blinders on.

Next was my panel. “How did that body get there? The amateur sleuth.” I had a good time answering questions and getting to know my panel group: Lori Rader-Day, Allen Eskens, Barbara Petty, and Ilene Schneider. Every one had a different type of amateur sleuth and it gave the audience a well-rounded vision of how you can use an amateur sleuth.

After the panel we were hustled to an area where they had book signing tables set up. I continued conversations with my other panelists and autographed a couple of books.

 After lunch with Vella Munn and her friend,Jennifer Greer, who has a book coming out in June.  I attended “She Said, She said; Writing the female protagonist.”  The panelists were MegGardiner, Lisa Farrow, Darrell James, Frances McNamara, and Carole Sojka.  This one had little take-a-way for me. They mainly discussed their characters and Darrell told us the reasons he felt he could write from a female perspective.  To be honest, I didn’t see that it’s such a stretch. Women authors write from a male perspective all the time and no one seems to make a fuss over that. Anyway, the questions from the audience were interesting
Then I attended a workshop with 5 FBI agents. This one was interesting! They were from the Portland Bureau. All good looking, well educated, and funny. They represented: Child Exploitation Task Force, Cyber Task Force, Local Terrorism, International Terrorism and the Swat Team. The terrorism task force heads scanned the room continually and their faces were blank and stern. The Child Exploitation agent was very reserved, the computer task force guy was introspective, and the Swat guy acted like a normal guy. He wasn’t in a suit and told more jokes.  We learned what each task force did and how they work with other agencies.

The guest speaker in the afternoon was Timothy Halliman. He’s a world traveler and his books sound more character based with a small amount of mystery in them.

Having been invited to the Chanticleer  Dessert later that night I stayed at the conference hotel.  I sat in the bar with Pamela Cowan, Debbie Burke, Cory Lynn Fayman, his wife, and Nancy G. West.  

I attended the Left Coast Crime 25th Anniversary Celebration where they had door prizes, hors d’oeurves, a magician, and a song led by L.J. Sellers. After that I wandered to the second floor and the dessert party. I visited with some readers there then hoofed it back to my hotel, three blocks away.

Saturday morning started with a breakfast hosted by Sistersin Crime. We had a nice continental breakfast then they had a panel of Representative Nancy Pelosi, Chief of Portland Police, and a detective. They told us about their careers, their firsts on the job as police officers, what it felt like to be pulled in front of the IA, how things have changed
The rest of the day for me was getting ready and attending my own booksigning at Jan’s Paperback Books.  I had a good turnout at the book store and enjoyed visiting with Tracy Weber who was also signing. The trip to and from the book store to the hotel was an adventure for me since I’m not used to driving in that much traffic. Thanks to the lady in my phone navigation system I made found my locations effortlessly.

That night was the awards banquet. One of the panelists on my amateur sleuth panel was up for best first mystery. Allen Eskens won! I was sitting at his table for the dinner. He was truly humbled and in awe that he won. I was excited because of the books I read by my fellow panelists his was my favorite
Sunday I headed home. I enjoyed the conference. I don’t know if I’ll make the conference next year in Arizona, but I think I will try to get to the one in Hawaii in 2017. It may be the only way I get there since hubby doesn’t want to go to the island.

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