I am back from the PSWA conference in Las Vegas and came home to New Orleans to hear the oil spill had been capped, the cap was knocked off by a robot, and they were trying to get it recapped last I watched the news. That's what I get for putting on the news instead of the soaps.
My weather man doesn't love me anymore- he says there is a "system" that will probably be a named storm soon. Early in the year to be watching for hurricanes. The Princeton model, which is supposed to be somewhat accurate, had it developing into a hurricane and hitting New Orleans. Not the time, I tell you.
But back to Vegas. I actually learned a few things that I wrote down this time that I think will help my writing. Small things about pacing to build suspense, voice, and putting characters in the most uncomfortable and difficult places or situations possible. The info came at a great time, as I'm trying to get Jambalaya Justice finished to send it off to my publisher. I actually rewrote the beginning in Vegas, after being inspired by one of the speakers.
Speaking of inspiration, thriller/horror writer Simon Wood was the keynote speaker and spoke about writing a thriller. While Gumbo Justice falls more into mystery, I incorporate a lot of thriller elements to build up suspense, and his talk was quite helpful. Of course, with his British accent I could listen to him recite the dictionary or the phone book and be enthralled, so maybe I'm not the best judge. He was quite charming and approachable, not to mention funny.
That's one thing I have to say about the PSWA conference--nearly everyone has a great sense of humor, and nobody gets bent out of shape if you poke a little fun at their expense. For the most part, the writers who show up are from every level, from the unpublished to those with tens of books, but it's a small enough function with a single track so everyone gets to know everyone else somewhat, and for the most part, everyone checks their egos at the door.
The hotel was also nice, off the Vegas strip but just barely. We could see the strip from our window. More than the hotel, the food at the conference was top notch. Living in New Orleans I hardly ever find food elsewhere that satisfies me emotionally, and I have to say this was one of the first times away from home that I was able to find food I actually consider good.
All in all, the conference and Vegas were quite a treat. Now I just have to worry about what may be coming to New Orleans in the next few months weather-wise and oil-wise. If it gets bad, maybe I can go back to Vegas.