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Left Coast Crime 2016: The Great Cactus Caper
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: February 25 – 28, 2016

Left Coast Crime is a convention of fans and authors who gather during the first quarter of the calendar year in Western North America (as defined by the Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii) to celebrate crime fiction.


It was called The Great Cactus Caper and what happened in Phoenix, of what I remember, gets recanted on this blog.

Authors, fans, booksellers, editors, librarians, publishers, oh my! Loads of fun at every corner and in every bar (okay there was only one bar, but it had many corners).

Seven hundred and counting. That’s how many were registered, which makes Left Coast Crime a shade larger than Malice and much smaller than Bouchercon. A perfect compadre to the other two major reader/author conventions.

I found the atmosphere and relaxation quotient to be a cross between the other two conferences and that’s where I coined the phrase “introvert break” because I was able to do this multiple times and not miss much of the conference.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency and it’s a beautiful hotel, nice and airy. I found the perfect spot to people watch as my friends started trickling in. Inside this hotel there were four places to eat, Networks Bar and Grill (lunch, dinner and drinks), Einstein Bros. Café (bagels), Terrace Café (breakfast) and Compass Arizona Grill (never made it up there). I mostly had breakfast at Steve’s Greenhouse Grill. Other restaurants sampled were Majerle’s Sports Grill, Seamus McCaffrey Irish Pub, Marston’s Café and I know I’m forgetting a place. All dining experiences were excellent.

I started the convention out by volunteering with book stuffing and ended with assigning guest to the dinner table for the banquet. A fun time was had with my partner, Ann Hogsett. My other volunteer responsibilities were taping the signs to the wall with the author’s name prior to their signing time.

The next day was the start of the conference and I was more or less prepared for the panel I was sitting on, but before that, I enjoyed the several panels that I did attend which started with Author Speed IMG_2051Dating and ended with the Opening Ceremonies and Welcome Reception. Ran into several friends and had gabfests and just had a relaxing day of the convention. Then it was time for my panel and I had a good time sitting up on the dais with a nice group of friends. It is always a delight to see friends in the audience – sort of tampered down the nervousness. PANEL: Fans and Reviewers Talk Their Favorite Books with Bill Fitzhugh moderating and panelists: Katrina Niidas Holm, Lesa Holstine, Dru Ann Love and Lucinda Surber. The day ended in the bar.

The next day was another day of panels that started with the Continental Breakfast featuring Debut Writers and ended with the Have Your Cake and Murder Too Dessert Reception. I also attended the Meet the Canucks Reception where we had to get the answers from the Canadian authors and correct answers won a prize. I got a copy of Unreasonable Doubt by Vicki Delany. I also signed up for the author/reader connection with Seventh Street Sleuths authors: Lori Rader-Day, James W. Ziskin, Jennifer Kincheloe, Lynne Raimondo, and Terry Shames at the Hyatt Regency Network Bar & Grill. I had a good time gabbing and listening to all that was around me. The day ended in the bar.

Saturday, once again started with the Discover Mystery Breakfast hosted by Poisoned Pen Press. Ann and I IMG_2127table hosted for Tina Whittle who was under the weather. Saturday was also the day I was moderating the PANEL: The Making of a Cozy Murder: What defines a cozy? with Ritter Ames, Donna Andrews, Carolyn Greene and Camille Minichino sitting on the dais. It was a good panel and I started out nervous but felt good when it was over.

Then the rest of the day was spent, yet again, attending panels, eating, drinking and volunteering. This was also the night of the banquet where the Lefty Awards was given out and it was fun. I sat at Cindy Brown and Kate Dyer-Seeley table and we played a few games and took pictures with our masks. They also had an auction prior to the awards and it was fun listening to the bids, I believe one item went for $2,000.

Then it was time to give out the awards: Donna Andrews won the Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel; Rhys Bowen won the Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel; Gigi Pandian won the Lefty for Best LCC Regional Mystery Novel and Louise Penny won the Lefty for Best World Mystery Novel. And once again, the day ended in the bar.

The last day of a fun-filled weekend comes to a close with the usual dining, gabfest and the Closing Panel Interview with Guests of Honor. Then it was time to say goodbye until the next time. The day did not end in the bar.

The pictures will tell you how much fun was had at my first Left Coast Crime convention.

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Thank you for reading about my wonderful time at Left Coast Crime. Have you attended a reader/author convention before?

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