Highlights Reel – Left Coast Crime 2019

When my husband contemplated coming with me to Left Coast Crime in Vancouver, I said, “It’ll be rainy and cold. It won’t be much fun taking in the sights in March.” Wrong. So wrong. Vancouver was the first highlight of the conference–sunny, abloom and full of wonder.

Seaplanes in Coal Harbor, a few blocks from the conference hotel.
Burrard Station, about a block from the hotel
A steam-powered clock in the Gastown area–perfect detail for the steampunk crowd.


On Wednesday evening, I participated in Hijinx and Hot Chocolate, pitched by Becky Clark and  Libby Klein as a way to start the convention with 10 new friends. Becky and Libby guided participants to a nearby chocolate shop and treated us to hot chocolate before we settled back at the hotel for word games. Chocolate and word games–my idea of heaven.

A generous and clever ice-breaker.


I enjoy contributing to LCC by volunteering at the registration desk. That’s where I spent Thursday morning, meeting even more new people. Because, hey, this convention is all about networking.

Thursday evening I could have been drunk as a skunk! The NorCal Chapter of Sisters in Crime launched its new anthology with a party–a free drink for authors and participants. Then Mystery Writers of America had a gathering, also offering a free drink to members, and finally, I wanted to check out Noir at the Bar (to see how it was organized, mind you).

This gorgeous new anthology contains my story “The Last Word.”


The Lefty Best Novel Nominees panel. I’d read, and loved, all the authors on the panel except Matt Coyle. As it turned out, I was seated at his table for the Saturday banquet. Now I’m reading and enjoying his book Night Tremors.

The other nominees included Terry Shames, Lori Rader-Day, James W. Ziskin, and my absolute favorite, Lou Berney (who went on to win the award).

The Sex Panel. This is always a favorite, featuring some truly horrendous and hilarious sex scenes (not for the modest).

Holly West and Rhys Bowen watch Lou Berney squirm and blush as he reads aloud an R-rated sex scene.


While the Liars Panel was fun, the tribute to Sue Grafton was more meaningful and moving. Sue Grafton had been asked a couple of years ago to receive her Lifetime Achievement Award at this conference. As we all know, she sadly didn’t make it. Her daughter was in attendance to accept the award.

Sue Grafton was my role model as I embarked upon writing mysteries. I’d been reading in the genre from a young age, but when, as an adult, I came across an American female writer writing about a tough (and tender) female P.I., I thought I’d stumbled upon nirvana.

I particularly loved this frame from the slide show. It reminds us all to persevere and not to place too much stock in reviews.


I’d be remiss not to mention the banquet in my Saturday highlights. The food was good and my table hosts, authors Matt Coyle and Baron R. Birtcher, couldn’t have been more gracious! Matt Coyle will be the Toastmaster for LCC in San Diego, 2020.


That would be my own panel, of course, Setting as Character. As a stream of people roll their luggage toward the exit, it’s always a little worrying who is going to show up for a nine a.m. panel on a Sunday morning. To top off the anxiety, at the last minute, one of our panelists could not make it to the conference because the Russian consulate lost her passport!

But Elena Hartwell, John Billheimer, and I had a full room of friendly faces and a lively discussion led by moderator Bryan Robinson.

At the end of LCC 2019, I was completely drained. I had not been planning to attend LCC 2020 in San Diego, but now–knowing that Matt Coyle will be toastmaster and wanting to see all these great people again . . . . Plus, five cohorts from Santa Cruz Women of Mystery attended this year and last, definitely adding to the fun.

Santa Cruz Women of Mystery (left to right): Leslie Karst (nominated for Best Humorous Mystery), Mary Feliz, Katherine Bolger Hyde, Peggy Townsend, and Vinnie Hansen.



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