Having just returned from the Left Coast Crime Convention in Reno, I am ready to dive into more writing. Writing conferences can do that for me. I always get ideas for new stories, just listening to other writers and attending the various sessions. I hear ways to improve my own work, ideas for increasing productivity but also ways to stimulate my writing brain cells.
But since this is also a readers' conference it was also an opportunity for me to be just a plain reader too as I listened to panels of other writers talk about where they get ideas, how they formulate stories and everything else reading and writing related. There were excellent panels on writing short stories, writing a series, and how to come up with dastardly, but individual villains. Writers who were just starting out told their stories alongside long-time writers who had dozens of television series under their belts in addition to writing best sellers.
For each of us, it is the story that counts and we all write in a variety of different ways. We did agree that we keep more of the romance behind closed doors and we try to keep it balanced with the murder mystery. We also like to keep things playful as a way of showing the romance, and since we mostly write a series, while there might be a contented ending to the romance, it doesn't always end up being happily ever after, but we do solve the mystery.
Other panel discussions were enlightening for a number of reasons. I discovered several new writers I know I want to read, like Janet Dawson and her California Zephyrette mysteries. I've ridden the Zephyr several times, but didn't know that back in the 40s and 50s, they carried hostesses who rode the trains. What a perfect way to set a mystery!
And that is another reason to attend a readers' convention like Left Coast Crime -- the discovery of new authors. Another author I met -- D. R. Ransdell -- writes a mystery series featuring Mariachi player Andy Veracruz. And the stories sound like fun reading.
Needless to say I came home with a big pile of books and new authors to read. Next year Left Coast Crime moves north to Vancouver, B.C., the setting for several of my suspense books, including Deadly Messages and Shadows from the Past. I am already making plans to attend. I know I'll not only meet some new authors, and find some new books to read, but I might get a new idea for a story set in the northwest. Writers' conferences can not only rejuvenate a writer but they can also bring new ideas too!