By The Time I Get to Phoenix

Reduced head shotBy Stephen Buehler

Left Coast Crime, a conference for mystery writers and readers is being held Feburary 25-28 in Phoenix. Usually around 400 – 500 people attend and is primarily dedicated to people west of the Mississippi but anyone can attend. It’s a chance for writers to meet and hang out with other writers and to meet the wonderful readers who participate. It’s also a chance to maybe meet an editor or publisher or agent. So there’s business and pleasure to be had at the conference.


I try to treat it like a working vacation. I’ve never been to Phoenix so I’d like to get out and see some of the town, try a restaurant or two and maybe visit a magic store. Seymour, my dog will be staying with a friend and I know this might sound cruel but I’ll have four days where I don’t have to walk him 3-4 times a day. I’m sure I’ll miss him but it will feel good to be free of the responsibility for someone else for a couple of days. Plus I like to travel, see new cities and feel like I’m living the life of luxury with someone else to make up my bed. Okay, I still usually make up my hotel room bed but at least I can leave dirty towels on the floor. Okay, I feel too guilty doing that too so I hang them up but, at least I can wake up to a new view out the window – once I open the heavy drapes.Seymour -  haircut 6-3-15When you attend the conference as a writer you hope you have something new to talk about, a new mystery novel, novella or even a short story. I have none of those. So I attend the conference with some trepidation with nothing to brag about. I am rewriting a PI novel, which a publisher interested in but if anything comes of that it will happen after the conference. I’m not embarrassed or sad I don’t have something new to talk about as I know it’s a matter of timing but I would feel more confident if I did.

So far they have not announced panels. I like to be on a panel and talk about writing. It’s a fun time and I feel I do a good job with my stand-up comedy and magic background. It’s a time where you can bond with your fellow panelists, writers that you probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. Plus it’s a platform that can introduce you to new readers and authors that might not have heard about you otherwise. I also like to moderate panels, which I’ve done several times. I do a lot of research and prepare questions that I think will make the panelists shine and be entertaining.LCC 2014 panelBrian Thorton (M), Stephen Buehler, Barry Graham, Travis Richardson, Allison Brennan – LCC 2015 Portland, OR

If you ask almost any author attending, they’re favorite place they like to visit at a conference is the bar. Not that authors are necessarily big drinkers, okay some are, but it’s the place that authors and readers can sit down and really talk to each other. Writers exchange information about publishers, what they’re working on and war stories from the writing trenches. You can sit down with a stranger and say, “Are you a writer or a reader?” and from there you have a conversation going. At the bar it’s much easier to approach an author who you admire and tell them that. Who knows, a longer conversation might follow.

Even though it seems like a vacation I don’t feel right about sleeping in late. There’s too many breakfasts, writers to meet and panels to see. And I usually stay up late, you guessed it, schmoozing at the bar so I don’t get as much sleep. I hate to use an old saying, but, “After my vacation I need a vacation.”Luxury hotel suiteFor me, the best part of the conference is after the conference. It’s a time I’m filled with a renewed drive to do more writing, keep in contact with my new friends and finally get some sleep.



How do you feel before a conference? Are you going to one this year?


Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology.  He is expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant and magician.

This entry was posted in advice, anticipation, anxiety, conferences, Conventions, Left Coast Crime 2016, magic, Magician, Panels, Phoenix, Seymour, Stephen Buehler, unique, vacation, Writing Conference. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to By The Time I Get to Phoenix

  1. I’m looking forward to LCC too. But as with any conference, I know I will need to pace myself (and I’m not just talking about drinking at the bar). I get overwhelmed socially easily and will need to make sure I take plenty of timeouts alone in my room or away from the conference chaos. It helps to have a fun town to explore. Phoenix has some great bookstores including Poisoned Pen and Changing Hands (one of my favorites. It has a bar inside the bookstore called First Draft). It’s almost more stress free in a way if you don’t have a short story or novel to push on everyone. You can just relax and the important thing is you’re meeting people and letting them know that you’re polishing something. I think we’ll both have a great time. Great post, Stephen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wranglers says:

      And you guys already know each other. That helps. I’ve been to Phoenix many, many times. Cher’ley

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cher’ley,
        Yes having people you already know who be at the conference does help. Since Sarah, Travis and I are in a writers group together we all have somebody to talk to. I’ve been to the last 2 LCC’s and met authors not from my area and we’ve become friends and it will be good to see them as well.
        Thanks for reading my blog.
        – Stephen

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah,
      I expect to have a good time in Phoenix but as I said it does bring anxiety. I will probably feel more comfortable when I find out if I’m on a panel or not. I forgot Poison Pen was there. I already found they have two magic shops I can check out too.

      Hmmmm, maybe now I’m getting excited for conference.
      Looking forward to hanging out with you there!
      – Stephen

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike Staton says:

    Sounds like a fun conference. And I agree, you on a panel has to be a gas (isn’t that what they said back in the 50s?). Shock the audience with a magic trick, eh? A little advice, though; don’t make your hotel room bed. Lol. Back 15 years ago when I worked for a training company and did a lot of traveling, I was taking a shower in a Ramada Inn a small Arkansas mill town. I stepped out of the shower into the main room and… presto… there was a cleaning lady walking through the door. “Don’t worry,” she joked. “I’ve seen plenty of naked men in my life.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mike,
      That’s a funny story about the cleaning lady. I usually reserve my magic tricks for the bar area and just try to be funny and entertaining while on a panel. I’ll let you know after the conference as whether or not I make the bed.
      – Stephen


  3. I hope your conference is enjoyable and fruitful.


  4. Wranglers says:

    I love Conferences. I usually go to two or three a year. Don’t worry about not having a published anything to brag about, the other attendees are more than happy to use that time to tell you about theirs. You do blog regularly for a rather large writing blog group. WW&W has 20 members. You certainly don’t get any rest (I don’t want to miss anything). I like to take a lot of pictures. At my first conference I met Sue Grafton-love her. Last year I met Jeffrey Deavers, he was very interested about my truck driving experiences. He sat with me several times to chat. I met a lot of other rather famous people too, and I het to meet all my facebook writing friends in person. Okay, I’ll stop, but everyone should at least try to go to their local conference. West Virginia has theirs in March or May, can’t think this morning. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cher’ley,
      Don’t get me wrong, I love conferences too, but they can bring me a touch of anxiety. At the LCC in Monterey I moderated a panel on real PI’s who writer about PI’s. It was a good panel and I think we gave the audience their money’s worth. Later that day, while listening to Sue Grafton being interviewed she mentioned she was at my panel and said some complimentary remarks. Yikes, I was glad I didn’t know she was in my panel’s audience, I’m sure I would have been more self conscience.
      I agree about every writer should attend at least 1 conference a year. As I mentioned, I return home with a renewed spirit about writing.
      – Stephen


  5. Doris says:

    Enjoy Phoenix. It is a unique and fun place. Love the suburbs also. Do some traveling on either side. Love Wickenburg. And of course, enjoy that conference. They are great fun. Doris


  6. Great, encouraging post, Stephen! I’d like to attend a few more children’s writing conferences as I have several works in progress in that genre, and I’m excited to get back into that once again. I love learning more about writing, meeting other writers, and applying both the knowledge and the contacts when I return home. I love the Phoenix area, especially in January, February , and March — there are so many places to explore there, so I hope you get to take a few extra days and take in the blooming desert … and warm temps! Best to you, Sarah, and Travis at the conference!


    • Thank you Gayle,
      It’s good to know I’ll be in Phoenix at the right time in the year. At the Ca. Crime Writers Conference I met an editor of a small publishing company and is now interested in my book, so good things can happen at a conference. I have a feeling Sarah and I may play hooky from the conference at some point.
      Thank you for reading my blog.
      – Stephen

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sarah,
    We did find the best Bread Place on the way to Monterey so I guess we’ll have to find the best pizza place in Phoenix.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ellen Byron says:

    I’m very much looking forward to it! I love the conferences. I’ve gone from feeling like I’m outsider who doesn’t fit in to feeling like I’m part of a big, wonderful, mystery family. See you at the bar!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Kathy Waller says:

    I attended my first Malice Domestic last year and hope to go again this spring. I’m always exhausted by the time I get to the hotel–flying!–but if the Austin-to-Phoenix trip is as easy as it used to be, I might get to LCC with enough energy left to exhaust myself at the conference. My friend and mentor Kaye George used to bring back reports from there. She made LCC sound like a place where you could have a lot of fun tiring yourself out. Enjoy, Stephen, and bring back all the news.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy,
      I hear Malice Domestic is a great conference. I really want to go. I don’t think I’ll make this year’s though.
      I have found that the mystery writing community very inviting and warm.
      Let me know if you make it to LCC and maybe we can meet up.
      – Stephen

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wranglers says:

    Wow, sounds great. I like mystery and have thought of writing some. I wrote a short story murder mystery that was published and my long time friends didn’t know what to say as they didn’t think that was me, so would have to have a pseudonym. We are in Phoenix area now and it has rained for five-six days straight until today which was mostly cloudy. Also quite cool so hope the weather straightens out for you. Have you ever eaten at the Organ Stop Pizza? Wonderful pizza and a stupendous concert on the mighty Wurlitzer organ. It’s in Mesa. You only pay for the pizza, the concert is a side benefit. May you take home many gems and a great memory to inspire you in your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. S J Brown says:

    I have only attended on conference WV Writers. However I have been there several times and I love it each time. I always plan to search out another conference, but never seem to have the time. Maybe this will be the year I add another one to my schedule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SJ,
      I would highly recommend a conference this year. Search one out, even if it’s close to home and you don’t have to stay there overnight. Here’s the secret – you find out everyone else is just like one, which the same worries, doubt and love of writing.
      – Stephen


  12. Nancy Jardine says:

    Attending writer conferences isn’t something I’ve done yet, but might manage it this year. I can see very easily why you need a vacation afterwards, Stephen- I’ve felt that too when I’ve attended weekend schools/ summer schools while doing my degree studies and teacher courses.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love conferences but it’s been ages since I’ve been to one. I miss them. I love to sleep but at conference I’m up early every day because I don’t want to miss the workshops. I love sitting in the bar talking writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Travis says:

    Hey Stephen,

    I know what you mean about the excitement and anxiety. I usually try to blank out my mind so I won’t feel nervous. Just show up and go with the flow. The problem is that in retrospect after the conference I remember people I wanted to see and talk to. Teresa says I should make a list of things I want to accomplish there. I agree, but never make the list. Regardless, we’ll have fun there.



  15. Joe Stephens says:

    I’ve been to lots of teacher conferences, but I’ve yet to go to a single writing conference. I’m excited to be planning to attend a weekend retreat in Febuary. I’ll let you know then. 🙂


  16. I’ve never been to a Writer’s Conference, but I hope to go some day. It sounds not only like a good time but one where a writer can pick up a lot of knowledge. Lord knows I need that! lol Have fun, Stephen, and bring back lots to share!


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