Left Coast Crime is coming to my home town, and it coincides with the publication of my first book, Murder Casts Its Spell. It can’t get any better. Time for me to enjoy this conference to the max.

Not knowing any better, I usually participate in conferences for writers and fans of crime fiction by going to the panels and keynote speeches. I even take notes, although I have to confess I never reread them. Years later I come across scribbled notes with cryptic references to char arcs and plot pints (sp?). At the presentations, I don’t ask questions, because, horrors, that would call attention to myself. And I thought I was doing the right thing.

My confidence was recently shaken when a friend told me to forget that and hang out at the bar, because that’s where all the action is. She assured me that at the bar she’s made great friends and learned lots of cool stuff. This lady is a smart, successful author who has jillions of followers on Twitter, which shows she understands the modern world.

And, to make Left Coast Crime 2016 even more exciting, she told me that the conference hotel has two bars. Obviously, she regarded this as a real plus, since it doubled the action arena.

So what’s the problem? I’ve been shown the way. All I have to do is stroll confidently into the bar, walk up to a stranger, and thereby make a lifelong friend and, ideally, a valuable contact in the crime fiction world. For my friend, who is a stunning brunette, and an extrovert, the plunge into alcohol, loud music, and dark nooks, is a perfect opportunity.

The problem is that I am a classically trained introvert. A barroom scene equates to a cocktail party, which is my idea of hell. Having to fling myself on strangers in a loud room for a brief, meaningless chat—no!

Now that you’ve asked, let me tell you that my idea of heaven is dinner with one to two friends in my home or a quiet (what a thought!) meal in a restaurant. One can have extended conversations and not feel obliged to make the discussion fit a pattern. You just talk, and let the idea and feelings roll out.

What should I do? Am I doomed to stride into a bar and thrust myself into a conversation? If all I do is attend panels and keynote talks, am I doomed to failure? Please instruct me on what to do!