Great Fun On The Left Coast

A well-run convention is a pleasure.

I just attended one – Left Coast Crime 2012 in Sacramento. Many kudos to co-chairs Robin Burcell and Cindy Sample for putting on a terrific convention, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This get-together hit all the right notes.

When we began the Perseverance Press blog in the fall of 2011 we did a Round Robin Q&A discussing our takes on the future of conventions and booksignings. Many of the authors who responded to the questions feel that conventions, particularly the smaller regional conventions like Left Coast Crime will continue to be venues where writers and readers connect.

I thought about that this past weekend at LCC in Sacramento. The smallness of the convention is one reason I enjoy LCC. I’ve attended most of them over the past 20-plus years, all over the map of the Western United States, from San Francisco, Anaheim and Monterey in California, to Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Washington, and the Big Island of Hawaii.

For me, Bouchercon has gotten too big and overwhelming. It’s a long and expensive trip when the convention is locate in the eastern part of the United States, outside the country. Left Coast Crime is usually more manageable in terms of travel and time away from home.

This year, the convention was a train ride of less than two hours duration on Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor. Instead of dealing with traffic on the interstate, taking the train gave me an opportunity to work on the train book or gaze out the window at the egrets congregating in Suisun Marsh.

I frequently combine my convention-going with vacation, research, or both. This year, I went up to Sacramento the day before LCC started, so I could do much-needed research at the library of the California State Railroad Museum. I wound up spending two afternoons combing through file boxes at the library, finding plenty of useful material. I also visited the Crocker Art Museum and saw a wonderful exhibit of artwork by plein air painter Edgar Payne, with whose work I was not familiar.

Going to LCC in Hawaii gave me the opportunity to see the Big Island, which I hadn’t visited before. In addition to the convention, I fit in volcanoes and birding trip. Last year’s LCC in Santa Fe got me to a place I’ve always wanted to visit, Acoma Pueblo, the sky city west of Albuquerque. Then I drove up through the Jemez mountains to Bandelier Nat Monument and Los Alamos, site of the Manhattan Project.

Next year’s LCC in Colorado Springs will allow me to revisit sites I remember from my younger years, growing up in Colorado, such as the Royal Gorge. And I plan to visit the town of Cripple Creek. It’s another place I’ve wanted to see, after reading Cripple Creek Days by Mabel Barbee Lee, a memoir of Ms. Lee’s childhood in that rough mining camp during the 1890s gold rush.

LCC is also an opportunity for me as a writer to connect with fans, many of whom I’ve seen time and again at these conventions, and to connect with other writers as well. I have many friends in the writing community in California, especially the Bay Area, but it seems that sometimes we don’t see each other unless it’s at one of these conventions.

On the first night of the convention I sat down with a fellow writer I hadn’t seen in a while. We discussed our e-book experiences, getting our backlist converted and available as e-books. I glanced up to see another writer I’d met at last year’s LCC in Santa Fe, a writer who has far more experience in the e-pub arena than my friend and I do. It was instructive for the three of us to compare notes and get ideas.

On another afternoon, I sat down in the bar and chatted with another writer. That brief conversation may lead to my writing a short story for an anthology.

I hope my fellow Perseverance Press writers who were at the convention also had a great time.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Janet. It was a pleasure to have you and all of the Left Coasters in our capitol. And who doesn’t love our Railroad Museum! I totally agree that the size of LCC (almost 600 this year) and the ambiance of the Sheraton made it a perfect spot for getting together with old friends and making new ones.

    Thanks for the nice post.

  2. I agree with Janet that this year’s LCC was one of the best. The hotel layout lent itself perfectly to gathering in many areas throughout the extended lobby, and Cindy and Robin did an amazing job of keeping things run smoothly. For me, with my special needs of carting a dollhouse around, Pat Morin (and Larry) was like my private sherpa.

    And especially nice was having time with John and Susan!

  3. I’m envious of all of you at Left Coast–here I am at the other end of the universe. Well, in Vermont, that is. But in three weeks I’ll be at Malice Domestic, a delightful, quite intimate conference just outside of DC. And then Crime Bake in Boston next November. Now I wish I lived in mid-America, able to attend all 3! Too much to do, too little time. Carpe diem.

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