What I'm reading: Out of Range, by C.J. Box; Undercover in High Heels, by Gemma Halliday (Nook); Come and Find Me, by Hallie Ephron (bike)
Last weekend, I attended my second Left Coast Crime conference, held in Sacramento, California. Although some might have grumbled about the rainy weather, when I go to a conference, I expect to be attending sessions during the scheduled event, not sightseeing, so it didn't bother me at all. (Not enough time to extend the trip, so it was conference-only for me)
The first workshop I attended was on e-publishing. It was a two-session presentation, but I could only stay for the first part. Sadly, the presenter had a lot to learn about creating Power Point slides that people behind the first row could see. Also, she publishes exclusively at Amazon, so her data were skewed and didn't really give a decent overview of so many more options available to those who want to go indie. However, I don't know what she covered in the second hour, so perhaps she did expand the horizons.
The second hour, I was lured to a panel on "Breaking the Rules" because Dr. Doug Lyle is always good for a laugh. The topics touched upon characters who do things their own way, and what the author can do to make them credible. Those in licensed professions have rules and standards they must follow. Dr. Lyle mentioned that he wanted his character outside of the medical profession, so he never finished medical school. This freed him from having to follow the rules.
Friday highlights included a panel on the pros and cons of using real places in stories. If you use a real setting, get it right, because readers will tell you that Main Street doesn't intersect with Maple Avenue. And, common sense also dictates that if you're going to set a scene in a restaurant, it's probably not smart to give your characters food poisoning.
Another interesting panel covered Publicity, Reviewing & Social Media. Panelists shared what's worked for them (or their clients), and pointed out that 30 minutes a day, in 10 minute intervals was enough time to spend with social networking. The new terms of service for Pinterest came up, and it was recommended as the new big thing. (I'm not going there yet). Social media should be used for name recognition, not promotion.
The panel given by law enforcement experts was most useful to me. They debunked a lot of the TV/Book/Movie myths. Pathologists don't go to crime scenes. The best tool a crime scene investigator can have is a flashlight, to provide oblique lighting. When asked about their favorite television shows or movies, almost everyone on the panel said they don't watch cop shows. They prefer comedy, although when pressed, they said Law and Order and Forensic Files were "acceptable." The rest relied on what they called, "Tricknology"
The best new investigative tool? Facebook. (So be careful what you put on your wall!)
In a related panel, a retired FBI agent pointed out that the FBI didn't get "computerized" until 1995. Prior to that, all records were kept in a huge room filled with filing cabinets, and the staff that worked there could locate anything you needed.
Dr. Lyle's pet peeves: the one-hit knockout punch (and even if you're lucky enough to knock out the bad guy, he'll only be out for a few seconds, and when he wakes up, he'll be MAD), and the one-shot kill. He's seen too many people with a dozen gunshot wounds still walking and talking. Especially if they're drunk. In fact, his comment was, "You can't kill a drunk."
After a discussion of fingerprints, Dr. Lyle said he was watching the arrival of a new identification system—the antibody profile. Everyone's will be different, although they will also change over time.
And of course, the Real Highlight of the conference was the panel on Sex in Mysteries. I shared the table with Allison Brennan and Deborah Coonts (and they brought a bottle of champagne, so tongues were loose!). Judging from those who approached me afterward, a good time was had by all.
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