I’m still coming down from the sleepless nights and smoky miasma of Left Coast Crime in Reno. A conference attendee would be hard-pressed to find cheaper hotel rates, and I did win $82 playing black jack, but five days at the Nugget murdered my sinuses!

I flew into Reno before the official start of LCC. Volunteering at registration on Wednesday afternoon passed the time quickly and allowed me to meet many participants–at least those whose last names started with N-S.

I arrived early so I could try out the Author Speed Dating at nine Thursday morning. Pairs of authors move from table to table (20 total with two of them designated as resting tables). The authors give two-minute pitches of their books to willing listeners. This was an exhausting experience, but I did hone a pitch for my series and was teamed with the lovely Diane Kelly, author of several series, including Paw Enforcement. We went to lunch afterward. This kind of connection is what LCC is really about. After a panel or two, I was more than ready for that drink at the Oyster Bar with The Guppies!

An important part of LCC is the New Authors Breakfast on Friday. It featured 21 authors this year, including NorCal Sisters in Crime Nancy Tingley and Susan Bickford, both nominated for Best Debut Mystery. A joy of LCC is the many titles to add to my To Be Read list.

With Nancy Tingley, nominated for Best Debut Mystery.

The Santa Cruz area was well represented at the conference. Poe poses here with us: Peggy Townsend, (me) Vinnie Hansen, Mary Feliz, Leslie Karst, and Katherine Bolger Hyde. We are all members of NorCal Sisters in Crime, although we’ve formed a Santa Cruz group with 5 other Santa Cruz mystery writers called Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.

In addition to the always hilarious Sex Panel and Liars Panel, this year included an improv session with Naomi Hirahara, a Guest of Honor. Very entertaining! In this Arms Through bit, the little green arms belong to Naomi. I am so proud of myself for volunteering to participate in one of the improv acts! Naomi even mentioned SANTA CRUZ NOIR, due out in June, which contains stories by Naomi Hirahara, Peggy Townsend, and moi.

Peggy Townsend and I clown with Naomi Hirahara.

Naomi joked that the improv served as a warm-up act for G.M. Malliet’s interview of the other Guest of Honor, William Kent Krueger. For those who are wondering, yes, there will be a follow-up book to Ordinary Grace titled This Tender Land.

Some attendees dress to the nines for the Saturday Night Banquet. Here’s NorCal sister Katherine Bolger Hyde looking quite exotic. 

Ghost of Honor Mark Twain regaled us with The Story of Grandfather’s Old Ram. And, of course, the Lefty Winners were announced:

Best Humorous Novel: Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron, Best Historical Mystery: In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen, Best Debut Mystery: Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett, and Best Mystery: Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger.

I could barely function by the time of my panel on Academic Mysteries Sunday morning. Given the exodus from the hotel, my fellow panelists, Bourne Morris, Cynthia Kuhn, Maggie Topkis, and moderator Randal Brandt, were all thrilled by the turn out of about 40 stalwart souls.

I’m still recovering, but am glad I gambled on Crime on the Comstock.