I’ve never been to a Left Coast Crime convention before, but I hope to attend more often in the future. Readers, writers, editors, and mystery lovers of all kinds come together once a year in a spirit of fun and learning to explore the intricacies of mystery writing. I had a great time meeting famous authors and librarians, lawyers and aspiring novelists. Here are some of the highlights:
The venue for this year’s event was the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Tucked into the Rocky Mountains, this resort had all the amenities one could hope for in a convention of this kind — lots of room, free parking, huge bar area with two pool tables, and a swimming pool that looked great. I saw people swimming the first couple of days there, but with Saturday’s blizzard, that activity seemed to fall away as a big attraction. Still, the warmth inside was enough to make up for any snow worries, and everyone seemed to have a great time in this super mountain resort.
SPECIAL WORKSHOP ON CHARACTER WRITING
David Corbett, author of Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book) and Blood of Paradise (nominated for an Edgar award among others), gave a workshop on the Art of Character (another title of his). For three hours he entertained, taught and played with the audience of 50, helping all of us to grow our characters with more depth and emotion.
“Emotional story is your authority–trust it,” said David. He then gave us five ways to find that emotional story:
- What is your character’s greatest fear?
- What is your character’s greatest moment of shame?
- Where is the “I love you” moment?
- What makes your character say “you can’t make me do that?”
- What is your character’s moment of incredible fear?
Along with this presentation that was full of great quotes, instruction, and inspirational moments, we were each given a copy of David’s book, The Art of Character to take with us. I can hardly wait to dig into that one.
PANELS, PANELS, PANELS!
Oh my goodness! Have I mentioned the panel discussions? There was everything from where the publishing business is headed to secrets of living with a writer. I particularly liked Ask the Editors, with Deni Dietz moderating a panel of editors who talk about receiving manuscripts and what they look for. The other panelists included Terry Bischoff of Midnight Ink, Diane O’Connell and Jodie Renner.
EDGAR AND FRIENDS
I could go on forever about the people I met or became better acquainted with during the convention. Wonderful experiences all around. I had particular fun with Catherine Dilts, whose novel, Stone Cold Dead, will come out in December. Cathy brought a trophy from the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America group–a bobble head of Edgar Allan Poe, our organization’s mascot. We played “where at Left Coast Crime is Edgar?” and enjoyed setting our hero in all sorts of interesting scenes.
I can’t say enough about the experience of meeting with people who don’t aspire to write, but love the written word. They make me feel like there is hope for civilization yet. There is no one I admire more than a person who reads, and reads widely. At the conference I met three sisters who are also lawyers. They spent a good deal of time with me talking about the special needs communities they help and the volunteer work they do. And to top it off these sisters said there were six sisters all together, all of whom are lawyers! Wow.
I also met a librarian who did me the honor of accepting a copy of my ARC (advanced reader copy of a novel), and seemed excited for the opportunity. Talk about your ego-boost! I hope she likes it, and I can go to her library to chat about writing mysteries.
There is so much more I’d like to tell you about; the seeing my bio in print, the evening at the bar, the thrill of being on a panel, and on and on. Please know that if you have a chance to go to Left Coast Crime next year in Monterey, California, it’s well worth the trip.