Monday, March 15, 2010

Left Coast Crime for 2010

I took Thursday and Friday off work. I spent every night at home. But I attended this year's Left Coast Crime.

The idea behind Left Coast Crime is a mystery convention in the Western half of the United States (although they have traveled to England once I know of as well as trips to Alaska and Hawaii over the years). This year, the convention was at the Omni hotel in downtown LA, so I had to go.

And I had fun. I spent most of the weekend wandering around from one panel to another. Unlike the last one I attended (2003, when it was in Pasadena. Sensing a theme?), this time I didn't necessarily go to panels that were filled with authors I already knew. Sometimes, I just went to ones that sounded cool.

That's how I wound up at the panel for co-authors. It helps that I knew Lee Goldberg, the moderator, is always entertaining. I also enjoyed the humor panel that included Donna Andrews and Parnell Hall. With those two, how could you miss?

I am proud of myself, too. I can't think of any books I bought that I wasn't already interested in before the convention started. I bought two or three books a day, but they were all books I had been considering for a while.

And I got to talk to lots of authors. Had a nice talk with Donna Andrews about the recent MacMillain/Amazon dust up (she's published by one of MacMillain's companies). I talk to Sue Ann Jaffarian about becoming a character in Odelia #7 (when Odelia takes on the mud run). And I finally got the third book in Kris Neri's Tracey Eaton series. I've only been waiting for the book for 10 years. (And I'm not exagerating). And I might become a character in the next book in that series, too.

For a few days spent sitting around, it was exhausting. The traffic down Friday morning didn't help, although I never had bad traffic coming home. I flew down there Saturday morning. And since I went down late morning on Thursday, it wasn't so bad then, either.

There were a couple of bad parts. The only parking the hotel had was valet parking, which meant I had to be escorted to my car any time I want to switch out books. I took too many to get signed to carry them all with me all day. And it was expensive, even had half price. Saturday, I parked a couple blocks away in a pay all day lot for half the price we were being charged. That was much nicer.

The evening receptions turned out to be duds. The first night they ran out of food fairly early. Learning my lesson, I showed up early for the second one about half a dozen blocks away at a bookstore. But the bookstore was so small that they had to keep people waiting outside the door. After a quick trip inside, where there wasn't any good place to stand, I left.

Saturday lunch, the food was late, which was another bummer. But I was finally able to eat and get back to my car in time for the first afternoon panel. Our hotel was right by Angel's Flight, billed as the shortest railroad in the world. We got to ride that down and back up once. I would call it more of a venicular than a railroad, but it was cool for the history factor.

I met quite a few people and was surprised once again at how pleasant everyone in the mystery community is, even the best sellers who were there. And I met one woman who grew up in my home town and now lives in my current town. Can't get over that one.

All in all, it was a very good time. I would consider going to more if I could aford them. But travel and hotel are just too expensive for that.

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