Hey, all —
Whew. The first Left Coast Lesfic conference came and went, and wowzers, what a blast! Before I get into the overview, I just want to profusely thank Sapphire Books for putting this event together; all the authors and readers who participated; and the host hotel and staff: Casitas Laquita.
And thanks to Luan, the book vendor who came down from Oakland!
People. We held workshops and panels right out by the pool. How much more awesome could that be? Everybody was relaxed, having fun, and engaged. Because of the mellow atmosphere, it felt like a writing-themed vacation, and I can’t tell you how great that was. Here’s hoping for a repeat next year!
Also, the silent auction (which included things like wine and book gift baskets and some more RACY things) raised nearly $500 for the local LGBT community center, which worked with Sapphire Books to help pull this event off. THANKS, everybody, for your generosity!
Here was our workshop setting:
Why, yes. Yes we DID enjoy ourselves.
But we also did some WORK.
Day 1: I (that would be Andi Marquette) did a workshop on building characters (you can check out some of the things I talked about HERE). Then author Linda Kay Silva did a workshop on plot after which we broke for lunch and awaited Linda Kay’s key note speech on curiosity and finding stories. The post-lunch panel included a discussion about women in uniform and writing accurate portrayals of military and law enforcement characters. Author Lynette Mae anchored this one, and brought along a colleague who is a long-time police officer (as Lynette Mae is) to talk about realism in law enforcement novels and take questions about what readers expect from their characters in law enforcement and the military. Brenda happened to be the wife of detective LJ Reynolds, who some of you know on Facebook. The last panel of the day was a discussion panel (and author readings) about paranormal and spec fic as genres. I read from my latest sci fi novel, The Edge of Rebellion and Linda Kay Silva read from one of her zombie novels.
After all that, we attended a reception in downtown Palm Springs at Lulu, where we had awesome appetizers and wine. Thank god LJ Reynolds was there to make sure our table was constantly supplied with appetizers. She charmed the waitstaff into bringing us full plates. 😀 LJ, that mac n’ cheese was to freaking DIE FOR! And then we took a stroll downtown enjoying the street fair. After which I had to jump into my rental and go retrieve author R.G. Emanuelle from the airport.
Day 2: We kicked off the day with a workshop on realism versus make-believe and how those play in a story with authors Beth Burnett, Baxter Clare Trautman, and Karelia Stetz-Waters. The next workshop featured R.G. Emanuelle and Lee Fitzsimmons of Desert Palm Press on editing, self-editing, and prepping a manuscript for a publisher. We broke for lunch after those workshops and then I (that would be me — Andi Marquette) delivered another keynote on words, power, and women writing.
The third workshop of the day was a great Q&A session with an attorney who specializes in LGBT family law, and she discussed changing laws regarding same-sex marriage, and some of the things that we should think about if we’re planning on getting married and where we’re planning to do that.
After a break, we launched into a panel discussion on romance and how we define it as writers and readers and how different authors incorporate it into stories or feature it as the main point of the story. I, author Barrett, Beth Burnett, and Lynette Mae participated in this one, and it got lively, right down to terminology for…um…”love” parts. Heh! The next event was an author reading featuring Baxter Clare Trautman and Lynette Mae, both doing seriously awesome (and even juicy) selections from their work.
We then broke for dinner (BBQ!) and listened to a great band into which LJ Reynolds’ wife Brenda got roped to play the drums. Seriously. I am not making that up. And she was freaking awesome! Then we all headed downtown to catch a performance (just for the LCLC crew) the hilarious comedian Shann Carr.
I’d like to note here that NYT bestselling suspense author Amanda Kyle Williams arrived. She was scheduled to do a talk at the Palm Springs Public Library on Saturday and also to hang out with the LCLC crew and participate in a panel here and there. Which she did, and I will discuss that as part of…
Day 3: The first workshop of the day was on action, pacing, and avoiding writing speed bumps by Linda Kay Silva. Then, Catherine Wilson did a workshop on building brand, doing promotion, developing your networks, and working in mainstream markets. Can I just say here that Catherine Wilson seriously freaking rocks? Okay, I just did. And YOU, dear reader and fellow author, need to go read the first book in her series, When Women Were Warriors. It’s free (hit that link). And it’s awesome. And you’ll be part of the Catherine Wilson author net of luv, networking, and creative flow. Or something super groovy like that. So go read it.
After all this awesome-ness on day 3, we broke for lunch to regroup and prepare for even more awesome-ness, which kicked off with an author panel on writing and creating a series. Those on this panel included Andi Marquette (that’s me), Amanda Kyle Williams, Lynette Mae, and Baxter Clare Trautman. Barrett moderated, and we all fielded questions from the audience and addressed questions Barrett had that helped direct the panel and opened lines for discussion. I’m a fangirl of everybody on that panel, so I was having a blast and felt pretty honored to be part of it. Thanks, y’all!
Then we had a poetry reading, with Jaynes Pehney who also runs LesficREADER on Facebook, and LeeAnn. It’s great to get poetry at a gathering like this. The world needs more poetry, and it was really cool to hear the different approaches and topics of these two writers.
The next reading was romance-ish, with Beth Burnett, R.G. Emanuelle, and Barrett. Beth read a hilarious excerpt from one of her novels (I believe it’s this one), R.G. from a forthcoming novella that features food and cooking and had quite a few audience members wanting to know more. Amanda Kyle Williams teased her about writing “food porn.” So stay tuned for that, titled Add Spice to Taste. And Barrett read from her forthcoming Balefire, which promises to be a super cool story.
But we weren’t done yet! Oh, no! We headed over to the Palm Springs Public Library where Amanda Kyle Williams spoke on her development as a writer, how she came to write Keye Street, and her start working with Naiad Press. Williams has shared this story in the past, about how she finally was diagnosed as dyslexic, and how she finally started to read her first book at 23. I’ve read a few interviews with her, so I knew a bit about her amazing journey into writing, but I’ll tell you what, there is no way you get the full impact until you hear and see her tell her story. She has a delightful, dry sense of humor and she’ll leave you with not only her story, but inspiration to live and write your own. Thanks, Sapphire Books, for bringing her in. And thanks, Amanda, for agreeing to hang out over the weekend with us and being willing to share your story so widely. Her talk really wrapped up the LCLC on a high note.
So let’s hope this becomes a regular thing. Because it was just the ticket. A mellow, good vibes kinda place with great discussions and sessions and awesome entertainment. And it was great to meet some folks for the first time and hang out talking about writing. Thanks again, Sapphire and all the others involved in putting this together. And thanks to my fellow authors who attended and did panels and workshops, and thanks to you, the readers. Hopefully, we’ll see you next year!