Left Coast Crime, an annual mystery fan convention, is coming to Sacramento this weekend. This not only marks the first time I've attended this particular convention, but the first time I've attended any convention, and I can't wait to see what really happens at these things. The women in my writing group attend conferences on a regular basis, and they always come back with interesting tidbits about the state of publishing, which panels were most informative, or who was seen out and about. Based on these comments, I've formed an idea in my head of what I think the conference is going to be like, but I've discovered that when I imagine something ahead of time, reality rarely matches. I'm picturing authors in fedoras and/or scarves sipping scotch on the rocks in the hotel bar, rooms full of books, books, and more books, and panels so crowded that latecomers have to stand in the back.
Speaking of panels, I need to put on my detective's cap (if only I really had one) and decipher the titles of the panels to figure out exactly what each panel is about. Is "In the Nick of Time" about finishing your manuscript with mere seconds to spare, or writing a thriller where the main character rescues the victim moments before they're killed? "Cultures and Communities" could cover a wide range of topics, as could "Barely Legal." I'm hoping "I Wish I Knew" has authors providing a list of insider tidbits they wish they knew earlier in their careers that they can now share with the rest of us, rather than the authors sitting around and listing things they still wish they knew, like how to pick winning lottery tickets or how to embroider a pillowcase. I noticed a couple of panels I'm interested in occur in the same time slot, which means I'll have to pick, but I'm sure all the panels will be fun and interesting. There's really no wrong choice.
I also need to figure out what to pack. I plan to print off part of the manuscript for my second book and give it a read-through as I sit in my hotel room in the late evenings, although I suspect I'll be so wiped out from the events that, instead, I'll zone out in front of the television and use the manuscript to keep my clothes flat in my suitcase.
Still, I'll pack the first hundred pages. If I spend all my time riding up and down the elevator, hoping to bump into a famous author, I can always read the pages when I get home.