“Why are you here?”
That was the question posed to me, Vicki Doudera, by another writer in Sacramento, California, at this past weekend’s “Left Coast Crime” conference. He had just noticed my nametag — specifically, the “Camden, ME,” line under my name — and, being someone who knows his abbreviations, realized I had come a long way, baby.
Why did I travel clear across the country for this gathering of crime writers, readers, publishers, and editors? Lots of reasons, it turns out.
First, my newest mystery, DEADLY OFFER, takes place in California, so a trip to meet some mystery readers there made sense. I signed copies, met folks who knew my series, and introduced myself to others who did not. I talked about this blog and made interesting connections, such as meeting Lea’s publisher (nice guy!) and a woman who met Kate once in Boston. (Her name is Michelle Weiss. She says hello.)
Connections were made in other ways. I rekindled friendships with writers, both from my publisher, Midnight Ink, as well as West Coast authors I met last year in San Diego and enjoyed. I made face-to-face contact with people with whom I’ve corresponded only through email, and I roomed with a writer who I think will become a good friend. I find these kinds of interactions so enriching — not just socially, but creatively as well. There is a synergy that comes from gathering with others who share your passion, and I felt it very acutely in Sacramento.
Left Coast Crime also afforded me the opportunity to try a few firsts: moderating my first panel, for starters. I led a discussion of “Small Presses” and enjoyed both the experience and the chance to get to know my panelists, pictured above. Judging from the comments after the panel, I did a good job keeping the discussion on track and yet lively.
Being in Sacramento was a first as well. The conference hotel was downtown and only a few blocks from the capitol building. My roommate Shannon Baker and I rose early every morning and took long walks around the park, to the historic section of the city, and down streets with great Victorian architecture.
Finally, I had a chance to attend some informative panels (yes, I did go to the one on “Sex & Mysteries” and will fill you in at a later date) and have many new ideas percolating through my brain. Did I have to travel all that way for that to happen? Who knows. But leaving the Maine mud for an occasional orange, grapefruit or palm tree can’t be all bad.