Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life Goes On

by Holly West

Bouchercon 2014 has ended.

It's amazing to me how you can immerse yourself in something, full force, for five days and then, in a flash, it's over, almost like it never happened. Oh, you have the memories of course, and the much needed shot of enthusiasm for your craft, but during Bouchercon, life as you know it stops and then resumes just as suddenly when the conference is done. It's somewhat jolting.

This was my first Bouchercon as a published author. I participated in Author Speed Dating, the New Author's Breakfast, and sat on a historical fiction panel. I played my first game of Bouchercon poker and won $16. I met my fellow Do Some Damage bloggers, Jay Stringer, Alex Segura, and Kristi Belcamino. I watched my friend, Matt Coyle, win an Anthony Award for his debut novel, Yesterday's Echo. I marveled at the fact that six years ago, when I attended my first Bouchercon in Indianapolis, I was a fan with aspirations to be a writer myself. Now I'm published and I'm taking part in the conference the way I'd only previously dreamed of. It's wonderful and weird at the same time.

I'm home now and my life looks like this:

Most of these boxes are filled with books.

My husband and I are moving out of Los Angeles in a few weeks to a house in the Northern California area I grew up in. I'll be living in the same town I went to high school in. We'll have five acres of land (a significant upgrade from the 4250 square foot lot we currently live on). There will be oak trees and manzanita bushes instead of palm trees and bougainvillea. Our property features a set of abandoned train tracks and a seasonal stream (officially termed a drainage channel).

It's a California Gold Rush town, which appeals to the historical fiction writer in me. I pictured PJs Roadhouse, a local bar, while writing my Shotgun Honey story, "Pass the Peanuts." I'm looking forward to writing more stories set in the area because while the characters I'll encounter there might be different than the ones I meet in Venice, they will be characters just the same.
Sutter's Mill in Coloma, CA
It's a considerably more conservative place than I'm used to, which is something I find daunting. I'm a little bit afraid of being the only atheist liberal within one hundred square miles. For the first time in my life, I've considered gun ownership a distinct possibility--not because I'm afraid of people but because there are wild critters about that might require something more than a "shoo" to keep them at bay. Bears and bobcats and mountain lions--oh my! Don't worry, I don't think it will come to that, but our long-haired chihuahua, Stella, will need a rattle snake vaccine.

Overall, I'm looking forward to this move. I'm not so much leaving LA as I am returning to family and friends, which feels wonderful. But I'd be lying if I said I was one hundred percent okay with our decision to abandon the place I've called home for over twenty-five years--my entire adult life. It's not easy.

We've lost two beloved dogs during our time in Los Angeles: Kramer and Stuart. When I packed up their ashes yesterday, it reduced me to tears. I wondered if perhaps this would be the way I'd allow myself to process my conflicted feelings about this move, because so far, the only tears I've shed have been about them. Or maybe the reason I'm not crying all the time is because deep down inside I'm ready for this and I just don't want to admit it to myself. Either way, I realize how tremendously fortunate I am that I have choices in life and people who care about me no matter where I choose to live.

Next week I plan on talking about ebooks versus print, because it turns out I have opinions about it based upon my own experience as an digital-only author. Stay-tuned!


Nigel Bird said...

Boucheron does sound ace. Good luck with the move and the conservatism - maybe you'll encourage a few more liberal atheists out of the woodwork.

Kristi said...

Such a pleasure to meet you and Jay and John McFetridge and to see Alex again in person!
And awesome to be in the debut author silent auction basket with you - $120 baby!
For a sec, I saw the boxes and saw they were full of books and thought those were your books from B'Con. More coffee please!

John McFetridge said...

I thought they were boxes of books, too ;)!

Sorry I missed you, Holly, good luck with the move.

Holly West said...

Most of those boxes do contain books acquired at Bouchercon, just not the one in Long Beach. Great meeting you too, Kristi, and John, sorry I missed you.