Tag Archive for: Left Coast Crime 2022

Just Joys — T.K. Thorne


 Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        new places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.




The whirling weeks have left me vaguely unsettled, looking for what I have “accomplished.” I am used to measuring that in terms of word count, and I don’t have many of those. Rather than wallow in guilt, perhaps word count is the wrong measurement. I decided to look back and ask, “What happened?” And specifically, “Where did I find joy?”

While I listened to the talented Lia Frederick bring my characters to life in an audio book version of House of Rose* (the first in a trilogy about a police officer who discovers she’s a witch), I pulled the grass/clover/weeds out of the moss on the brick walkway. You might call this gardening. I call it a Zen exercise.  

[* Contact me at TK@tkthorne.com to get a promo code for a free audiobook!]

During the early stress-filled days of the Pandemic, weeding the moss calmed me. It requires concentration (if you pull wantonly, the moss will pull up too; if you are lazy, other plants will take over.) One of the encroachers was a tiny flower with a deep violet base and translucent blue-white petals, perhaps large enough for an ant’s umbrella—a Japanese Mazus. I left it in the moss.


Two + decades ago, I worked in the Birmingham Police Department with two dear friends, Becky and Juanita. Becky recently had a hip replacement, and Juanita stepped up to be a full-time care-taker. (A lesson about the meaning of Love!) We visit regularly, and our tales ensure a lot of laughter, the good kind that runs deep as a river between us. Becky’s husband died not that long ago, and she asked me for a painting based on a photo he had taken on a special day. The photo is beautiful, a solitary duck and crimson reflections in the water of (unseen) day lillies on the bank above. Here my first stab at it:

The Left Coast Crime conference in Albuquerque, NM, was a mixture of delight in being with people and anxiety at the crowd after the last two years of isolating and masking.  The highlight was being with my friends, Vikki and Kevin who were experiencing a writing conference for the first time. Also loved meeting fellow Stiletto Gang members, Donnell Ann Bell and Dru Ann Love.  Didn’t get to talk much with Dru Ann (who was always surrounded by admirers!☺), but I sat at Donnell’s table at the banquet, and she kindly offered a ride to the airport, so we got to chat a bit, enough to know what a kind, generous person she is and hope our friendship grows.  
Also enjoyed extended conversations about writing and law enforcement stuff  with fellow panelists and police crime writers—James L’Etoile, Frank Zafiro, Dana King (and his wife, Corky), and Colin Conway. The best part of conferences is the people!
Brushed tangles from Foxy’s tail. Tomorrow it will be tangled again, but
today it’s a silk flag in the wind, and she is prissy, knowing how
beautiful she is (because I tell her constantly). She was a racehorse,
but during the pandemic (or perhaps because her hooves don’t grow well)
she was sold at auction with a future as dog food in Mexico if no one
rescued her. She is such a baby, wanting constant petting and treats.

Janice is almost my age (i.e., an “elder”). We met this winter at a martial arts clinic (yes, really). She rode with her sensei (teacher) from Wyoming to Alabama! Fourteen hundred miles separate us, yet we chatted via email about tying up her gutter that fell in the Laramie wind to the porch with a bungee cord, and I told her about a piece of my day. The thread of a new friendship weaving across those miles lightened my heart.  
Our old dog, Glenny, walked all the way to the barn with me today. Usually, he goes to the end of the yard and then abandons me, heading back to the house. This time I had to wait while he stopped often to read the “newspaper” of smells along the drive, a lesson in patience, but I was happy with his quiet company.

This is not Glenny in quiet-company mode. This is it’s-time-to-cook-dinner mode.

Colors in the water of Becky’s painting are giving me fits. Do I still like it?  Yes . . . no.  Frustrating. Trying to push through the fear of an ugly mess, giving the paper the paint and waiting to see what it does with it.
Took some mint to my sister (so grateful she lives nearby) and helped her move hosta plants she had grown for years to her new house and decide where to put them, as well as an ornate wrought iron gate she bought at a yard sale. (She is a yard-sale queen!) She helped me load two trellis plant stands (that she would have sold, but gave to me), into the truck. I put them in the back yard in front of the ugly metal poles of the clothesline. Any thoughts what I should grow on them?  Clematis, maybe? Only partial sun back there.
More paint on the duck. Hoping Becky will like it. Hoping I will like it. Layers defining, softening, brightening. It will never look like the photo but that’s okay has long as it evokes the wonder of the light, the quiet dignity of the duck rippling through still water, but I don’t know if it’s working or not.  Really struggling with making this right.

I was up at midnight the night before taking this to Becky because it was still not right, but in the end, I went to bed feeling it was good, or as good as I could do. 

She cried when she saw it.  
Her happiness made me very happy.

Writing this woke me to the small joys that happen every day. Looking for “accomplishments,” I miss their significant. What a gift life is.  

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

The Best Room in the House

Good Monday morning. I slept like the proverbial
rock last night. Perhaps it’s because I spent the last month in flux—a weeklong trip to Colorado, followed by page proofs due in a week,
out-of-town company, followed by loading my car with
water bottles and pre-packaged snacks for my anticipated trip to Left Coast
Crime in Albuquerque. 

2020, like so many of my author colleagues, I haven’t attended an in-person conference. But on this one, I signed up because I could drive from my home base in Las Cruces to the Duke
City. I already knew my schedule at LCC would be hectic. In addition to Mystery Writers of America, I belong to three Sisters in Crime chapters, Sisters in Crime Colorado, Guppies, and Croak & Dagger, the
New Mexico chapter, based in Albuquerque.

Coast Crime is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which depends on a massive number of
volunteers to bring together writers, readers, librarians, reviewers, and others. 
https://leftcoastcrime.org/2022/  Croak & Dagger, as the Albuquerque host, was called on to supply
the heavy lifting of volunteers. I believe Molly Moeglein, Ann D. Zeigler, Johanna Egert,
 Joan Golden, Margaret
Tessler, Donna Thomas, Janet Gregor, Don Allen, Anne Hillerman, Merit Clark, Linda Triegel, Bailey Herrington,
and throw myself into the mix were among the
many local volunteer contributors. 

To top this off, when others dropped by the Hospitality Room and saw how swamped we were, my friends Leslie Budewitz and Barbara Nickless got to work helping filling out forms and donations!

other writing chapters, including Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime sponsored events. Members affiliated with these organizations were
incredibly helpful in registration, author/reader tables, speed dating, room
and panel moderators, as well as the conference organizers Stan and Lucinda Surber who appear tireless in running this conference year after year. As
I was tasked with Hospitality and the Silent Auction, I didn’t get to attend
many panels. This was disappointing, however, volunteer for Hospitality and the
Silent Auction, people come to you.

met so many I wouldn’t have ordinarily met by being a mere author
attendee. What’s more, I got 15K steps in on Thursday, 12K on Friday, 10K on
Saturday, and 5K on Sunday (four-hour trip home—give me a break!) Was it all
work and no fun? Hardly. I had the best roommate ever. Author Barbara Nickless
and I kept each other in stitches saying, “We’ll go to sleep right after we
talk about this.” Merit Clark, who I shared an author table and panel with, was
a tremendous friend, volunteer, and champion during the event. I also got to
meet The Stiletto Gang members Dru Ann Love and T.K. Thorne!

Clark was on the ball finding the restaurants we’d escape to after a long day.
Fell in love with The Artichoke Café and Season 52 (picture of a group of us
here—Alistair “Jerry” Kimble, Matt Goldman, Barbara Nickless, Merit Clark,
Shannon Baker, Mark Stevens, and myself). Special thanks to Matt Goldman for
driving my car back to the hotel after dinner (no, wasn’t inebriated – I think he could
just sense I was exhausted and nervous about night driving in a strange city.)


also was on a panel called Graphic but Not Gratuitous, Getting Police Procedure
Right,  [pictured here hidden behind her microphone, M.M.
Chouinard], Shannon Baker, Donnell Ann Bell, Merit Clark, and James L.

When authors took the stage on Saturday evening,
I’d already met many of them. I didn’t get to meet the fabulous Kellye Garrett,
but after hearing her speak, and after more than $1,000 was raised that night
by attendees who wanted their name in her next book, I understand the
definition of “fan.” Catriona McPherson is hysterically funny and gracious, and
one of the most moving, inspirational speeches I’ve ever heard (period) was given
by Wanda M. Morris, the winner of the Lefty Best Mystery novel. Following are
the Lefty award recipients. 

do not have the exact amount of money that was raised by the auction and silent
auction, (Kudos to Ellen Byron/Maria DiRico for being an outstanding
author/auctioneer) and Ann D. Zeigler’s Great Little Library Adventure, but I’m
estimating $5,000 +/-, benefitting New Mexico’s libraries (currently state
funded) are the beneficiaries of these proceeds.

dropping off the delightful T.K. Thorne at the airport, I headed home to Las Cruces
to celebrate what I’d missed by attending, namely my husband’s birthday and our
39th wedding anniversary. I paused in listening to Robert Crais’s
Taken, to return a phone call to my friend Mike Befeler who ordinarily heads up the New Authors’ Breakfast and who couldn’t attend the conference due to knee surgery. Such a win/win ride home!

Still on the heels of Left Coast Crime, the fascinating and talented Pamela Beason will be my houseguest as she
passes through on her touring adventures – all because we reconnected at Left
Coast Crime!

On a final note, I left that event tired but
inspired, and I know I barely skimmed the surface. Overall, though, I remain convinced I had the best room/seat in the house.

 About:  Donnell
Ann Bell is an award-winning author, including finalist in the 2020 Colorado
Book Award, and the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for her first straight
suspense Black Pearl, a Cold Case Suspense. Until Dead, a Cold Case Suspense,
will be released May 31, 2022, and is available for preorder. She is
currently working on Book Three and the start of another series. You can learn
more about her other books or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or
BookBub. Sign up for her newsletter at