An exciting week of firsts!

leftcoastcrimeI figured a good way to kick off my blog would be to share my exciting week of “firsts”. The big first was attending Left Coast Crime, my first conference as an author. I have been so focused on writing Ice Shear and its sequel, and the opportunity to be around my fellow authors (and fellow readers!) was just the shot in the arm I needed.  Plus, the locale was amazing. Sometimes I forget that I have the beach only an hour away. Of course, Campbell doesn’t have sea lions.

There were so many highlights that I struggle to pick just a few, but here are a few standouts for me:

1. My first panel.  When I got the word that I would be participating on the Deadly New Voices panel, I was thrilled, followed by a bit of panic that came from wondering what in the world I was going to say that could help the audience. There was no reason to worry. Our audience made us feel at home, and my fellow panelists Lori Radar-Day, Sherry Novinger Harris, Carlene O’Neil, and Holly West were delightful and smart. We all shared what it was like to find an agent or publisher, and none of us had straightforward paths to success: there were failed novels in most of our pasts, reworking, revising, and all those other “r” activities. The thing we all had in common? We never gave up.

2. Inspiration.  When I was in high school, I picked up Sue Grafton’s C is for Corpse. I was one of those kids who read everything she could get her hands on, but Sue Grafton’s book was the first where I thought I want to write books like this. Sue Grafton was charming a delightful, and she gave a great tip that was really helpful as I tackle my second book: listen to my shadow self, that voice that tells me the story to tell, even when it isn’t safe or wise.

The other source of inspiration was the award winners. Seeing some of my favorite authors and favorite books honored, including Louise Penny, Cara Black, Brad Parks, Catriona McPherson, William Kent Kreuger, reminded me how wonderful the best mysteries are in the strength of their writing, the depth of their characters, and how their heroes wrestle with huge life and death issues.

3. Great panels. Sue Grafton was just the start of the great panels. After going through the painful process of picking just one in each time slot, I attended some great sessions that changed the way I thought about female heroes, how location can add to the tension of your story, forensics, and even sex scenes, which proved to be the funniest panel of the conference.

4. A book signing. That high pitched squealing sound you heard on Friday afternoon? That was me doing my first “book” signing.  William Morrow sent along 50 advanced readers, and I got to sit beside some of my idols and sign them for the crowd. Probably none of the signatures were legible—my hands were shaking—but I managed to make it through the signing, grinning all the way.

A pretty exciting week for me! This week I return to my laptop, working on the revisions of my second book. I’ll be digging into it with extra energy, though, carried along by the fantastic weekend at Left Coast Crime!

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