Tag Archive for: Left Coast Crime

Left Coast Crime Vancouver

Judy Penz Sheluk

I’m Canadian, did you know that? Born and raised in Toronto and have lived within a two-hour drive of that city ever since. Many Americans are surprised when I tell them I’ve never been to Vancouver, British Columbia. After all, it’s in Canada too, right? Except Vancouver is over 2,000 miles away from Toronto! Not exactly next door. And while I’ve always wanted to go there, travel in Canada is expensive and (here’s a secret) I’m not exactly earning Steven King money.

Then the good folks at Left Coast Crime agreed to host their 2019 conference in Vancouver! At last, a reason to visit, with the added bonus of being able to write off at least a portion of my travel. I’m already planning my (non-tax-write-offable) side trips to Whistler and Victoria and have booked a full week at the host hotel.

What’s also exciting is that this is my first Left Coast Crime, I have two books released in 2018 (A Hole in One and Past & Present) to talk about to anyone willing to listen — and I am also the Crime Writers of Canada LCC Member Liaison (a fancy term for making sure our members have their CWC buttons, and for organizing a silent auction gift basket on behalf of CWC – so far we have 27 members attending).

The countdown is on! 

PS If you’re going, I’d love to meet up with you sometime during the week, even if it’s just for a quick cup of tea or coffee. Leave a comment and we’ll figure it out. Judy 

Left Coast Crime


I’m heading out this morning for Left Coast Crime.

Left Coast Crime is the big reader-oriented mystery conference that’s always held somewhere on, well, the left coast. This year it’s in Honolulu. I know, a sacrifice to head to Hawaii when we still have snow on the ground, but I’m up for the challenge.

Rather than author focused panels about craft or industry/publishing, the sessions are totally focused on books. Gotta love that, right? My panel is financial crime in mysteries, a session that’s right up my alley. Come by and say hello if you’re at the conference.

I’m eagerly waiting to catch up with author friends and make new ones.

Have you ever been to a reader-focused conference?

Cathy Perkins is currently working on new story in the So About… series.  She started writing when recurring characters and dialogue populated her day job commuting daydreams.  Fortunately, that first novel lives under the bed, but she was hooked on the joy of creating stories.  When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure.  Born and raised in South Carolina, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd. 

Coming out of my comfort zone

I’ve recently attended my sixth Malice Domestic Convention where I had a great time. I came out of one comfort zone when I first attended this conference and stuck like glue to my friend who convinced me to attend. Also, I was traveling all alone to the unknown where I only knew the one person. Six years later, I’m all over the place and I like it.

The following year, I attended my first Bouchercon in St. Louis and once again, I was going into the unknown, traveling to a city I’ve never been to and knowing only a few people. I had a good time and there were moments where it got overwhelming with the crowd that I had to escape to my room. Again, coming out of that comfort zone.

At the Albany Bouchercon, I was asked if I wanted to be on a panel and my immediate answer was “no.” Going forward one year and at the Long Beach Bouchercon, not only was I sitting on a panel, but I was also moderating a panel for the first time. Talk about double anxiety. I was a nervous wreck right up to me sitting on the panel and then moderating one the following day. Again, coming out of that comfort zone.

When I attended Bouchercon Raleigh, there was a comfort zone I was not sure I could do and I’m happy that I didn’t have to address that one.

In February, I headed to Phoenix to attend my first ever Left Coast Crime convention and once again, I was moderating a panel and sitting on a panel and yes I was nervous, but once again, I’m coming out of my comfort zone.

And early in the month, I moderated my first panel at Malice Domestic and yes, I was nervous, but I was better prepared for all that needed to be done and it helped that I had met most of the panelists at other author events. Once again, coming out of that comfort zone.

Next year I tackle another comfort zone, traveling direct (11 hour flight) to Hawaii and I’m thinking I want to wade in the waters in Hawaii. If that is accomplished, that is a BIG coming out of my comfort zone.

So readers, have you come out of your comfort zone and done something you never thought you would?

Confessions of a Conference Junkie


Writing conferences cost money, take precious time out of one’s schedule, and always seem to have chicken on the banquet menu.  Despite their bustle, loudness, and sense that people are constantly out to sell themselves, I love attending them. I am a confessed “Conference Junkie.” Whether the conference is fan oriented like Malice Domestic or Bouchercon or more devoted to the craft of writing like Sleuthfest or Killer Nashville, I always come home having learned something and, more importantly, having made new friends.

In some ways, networking at conferences is my favorite part.  Although I tend to be an introvert,

there are numerous ways, besides the bar, for me to meet, mingle and make an acquaintance who grows into a friend. One of the best ways to interact with four or five people is being a panelist or a moderator. Not only does one get to know the other panelists through email exchanges before the conference and often a meeting before the actual panel, but the wider audience attending the session has the opportunity to put your

name and face together. Because of my panel participation, I’ve made friends who have invited me to join a group blog, people who as Facebook and Twitter friends reciprocally share the good things happening to us, and writers further up the food chain who have given me golden advice.

I will always remember Malice Domestic 2012 as the place I acquired my first two loyal fans. I was participating in the New Authors breakfast when two women randomly sat at the table with me because the seats at the table they really wanted were filled.  As one of the twenty-four new authors summarizing my book and my life in three minutes, I decided to stress the fact that my book, Maze in Blue, was designed to be a beach or airplane read – fun and fast. I topped my presentation off with an anecdote that left the room laughing and convinced the two women that not only had they not made a mistake sitting at my table, but they wanted to purchase my book.  A year later, as I walked into the Sisters in Crime breakfast, the same two women grabbed me, told me how much they enjoyed Maze, and asked if I would join them for coffee or a drink. In the three years that have followed, we always make time for each other – they’re my fans and I’m indebted to them for being avid readers of my works.

Killer Nashville is one of my favorite writer-centric conferences because I found the publisher for my newest book, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery, there.  The KN panels, which I have been lucky enough to be on since Maze in Blue was published, are geared toward skill development or specific topics of interest to authors. In addition, usually, Sisters in Crime offers an educational workshop that sells out and is fantastic and Mystery Writers of America offers an equally impressive opportunity to socially network.

Private agent and editor critiques are available at Killer Nashville but rather than pitch sessions, one can sign up for agent and editor roundtables.  The roundtables each have ten to fourteen registered writers and two of the featured guest agent/editors. The first two pages of each roundtable participant’s work is read aloud and orally critiqued by the agent/editors, who also can express whether they would like to see more of the manuscript. In addition, everyone in the room has a paper copy of the pages on which they can dash written comments that are handed back to the authors.  In my case, Deni Dietz gave me some solid comments, but also asked to see the entire book. Within days of receiving my full manuscript, she purchased it for Five Star.

Some of the other well-run conferences I have attended and plan to go back to include Sleuthfest,

New England Crime Bake, Murder in the Magic City, Murder on the Menu and the Alabama Writers Conclave. The latter three tend to draw more regional attendance, but their workshops and execution are just as good as some of the more nationally recognized conferences.  The Alabama Writers Conclave this year will be in Birmingham from July 15-17 while Murder on the Menu and Murder in the Magic City are always held in February.

In the next year or two, I hope to be able to report attending some of the other ones that everyone raves about like Left Coast Crime and Police Writers Academy.  Let me know about some of the other ones I need to add to the list this self-confessed “Conference Junkie” should attend.

My First Left Coast Crime 2016

It was called The Great Cactus Caper.

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. 

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. 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, Einstein Bros. Café, Terrace Café and Compass Arizona Grill. I mostly had breakfast at Steve’s Greenhouse Grill. 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 Dating and ended with the Opening Ceremonies and Welcome Reception. 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, Me and Lucinda Surber.

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.

Saturday, once again started with the Discover Mystery Breakfast hosted by Poisoned Pen Press. 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. 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.

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

Have you been to Left Coast Crime? Any other reader/author conventions? Next year Left Coast Crime is in Hawaii.

Beyond Sun Worshipping

By Cathy Perkins

Sun Dreaming….

Phoenix (and warm sunny weather) are on my schedule for next
Left Coast Crime kicks off the Great Cactus Caper in Phoenix on
February 25 and runs through the weekend.  I’m really looking forward to it. 

have my panel assignment – Romance Under the Gun, Friday at 3 PM. Come join me!
– volunteer assignment, and books arranged for the store. 

Still have to pack…
Left Coast Crime is a reader/author event so the focus is on
books rather than sessions for craft,
marketing or business.  (I might’ve had a fan girl moment or two at past events.
😉 )  

It’s a great chance to meet and talk with readers and to catch up with
writing friends.  Since this year’s event is right around the corner, I shared a
few scenes from Monterey and Portland, host cities for the last two years.
Readers – Have you attended a reader oriented event? Likes?

Authors – Same question, plus how to you think it compares
to strictly writing conference events?
award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark
suspense and light amateur sleuth stories. A contributing editor for
International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill, she also coordinates the
prestigious Daphne du Maurier contest.

When not
writing, she does battle with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on
another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children,
several dogs and the resident deer herd.

How Do You Decide Which Mystery or Writing Conference to Go to?

Going to mystery cons are so much fun–and I used to go to a lot more than what I do now. The main reason I’ve cut down is I no longer enjoy flying. I’ve always had to change planes at least twice and often three times. Once I had to change concourses which meant a bus ride and going through security again.

Back when it was easier, I went to Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime no matter where they were (well in the U.S. anyway.)  After a while it was like going to a reunion because of meeting old friends–some of whom I met at previous cons.

One of my favorite cons was Mayhem in the Midlands which is no longer in existence. Too bad, Omaha was a great place to visit. And that was part of the whole experience, because all these cons are held in different cities, there is the opportunity to see places you’d never get to otherwise.

I went once to Love is Murder and loved it. Being a California native, what I didn’t love was flying in right in front of a snow storm–though loved the snow once we got settled in the hotel. Also loved meeting new people, and spending time with old friends too.

I’ve been twice to Malice Domestic–loved it, but it’s just too far away.

Left Coast Crime is another favorite–and I will be going to the one in Monterey CA–that’s drivable for me. Whether or not I’ll go to Bouchercon (also in CA–Long Beach) hasn’t been decided. Driving in L.A. traffic is another things I’ve given up.

One writing conference I go to every year is Public Safety Writers Association’s conference. The participants are made up of men and women in many public safety field, active and retired: police, FBI, dispatchers, firefighters, the Air Force equivalent of NCIS, on police psychiatrist, most of whom write mysteries or want to write mysteries and a small contingent of mystery writers who have figured out this is a good place to make friends with people who know how it really is. A small conference, it’s easy to really network.This one is always in Las Vegas in July–another I can drive to, and the month it’s held makes the hotel price cheap.

Epic is a conference for e-published authors and publishers. I’ve been to most of them. This is small and moves around each year. Whether I go to anymore will depend upon where they are

The big question is why go? First off, it’s fun. Mystery readers attend Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime. An author can meet readers with a little effort (means speaking to strangers), being friendly, and handing out business cards or bookmarks. I’ve met several readers this way who have since become my fans..

Because most of us are mystery fans too, it’s great to see your favorite authors and tell them how much you love their books.

What Mystery or Writing Conferences do you go to, and why?


Coming very, very soon. #13 in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series!

What Are Your Feelings About Big Mystery Cons?

Recently I read a blog post from an author titled, “Why I Quit Going to Bouchercon” and some of the things expressed I’ve been feeling.

My hubby and I have been to several all over the U.S. We had a great time, especially exploring cities we’ve never been to before and wouldn’t have visited were it not for Bouchercon. Did it do anything for my career as an author? Not a whole lot. To even get my books into the book room, I always had to negotiate with the book dealer who wanted the standard 40/60 cut which meant I didn’t make a dime on any book sold. (I bought the books I brought with me at that same 40% cost.)

Being with small presses doesn’t impress the Bouchercon committees. In fact, I read the minutes of one of those committees after a Bouchercon I’d attended and several members actually came out and said “too many small press authors attended, discouraging the big name authors.” Does that mean my money isn’t as good as anyone else’s? After all, I paid a hefty fee to go, stay in the convention hotel and the transportation to get there and back.

My last Boucheron was the recent one in San Francisco. I went because it was close enough for me to get there fairly easily. I didn’t even bother to try to get my books in the book room. Hubby didn’t go and I roomed with an old friend I hadn’t seen for awhile. I had a great time schmoozing with people and wasn’t impressed with the panels I attended. Especially the one on e-books. The panelist, all published by big name publishers, didn’t know much of anything about e-books. This would have been a great panel for small press authors to shine, but they weren’t asked.

A big plus, is I have made friends with some wonderful fans of the mystery genre who have become fans of my mystery series.

Left Coast Crime is smaller and a bit more small press author friendly. I’ve already signed up for the one in Monterey CA. (Also easy for me to get to.)

There are other smaller cons around the country like Love is Murder (been once and loved it), Malice Domestic (been twice and it is also a great conference), Killer Nashville (been to one and thought it was fun) and I know there are many others in the Midwest. Public Safety Writers Association is the smallest one I got too because I get to learn a lot from experts and small press authors get to shine.

For me these days, I’m weighing in the problems of traveling when you’re older. I can no longer run through an airport with my carry-ons to get to my next gate on time which is 1/2 mile away, whether what I’ll get out of the conference or convention will be worth the cost (and I do count meeting and making friends with readers).

What are your feelings about these conventions and conferences for writers? And if you are strictly a reader, if you go, what do you like best? What are your favorite cons and why?


Left Coast Crime Report

Today I came home from Left Coast Crime in Sacramento. I arrived by train in California’s capital 1t 12:30 p.m. and my panel was at 2:45. Whew! I checked into the hotel, took my suitcases to my room, headed back down to the reception area and registered for the conference.

I’m not exactly sure what else I did, probably found something to eat, but it was soon time to head for the room where my panel was located. Going anywhere involved going up or down two flights of stairs (until someone pointed out the way to use the elevators–unfortunately on my 3rd day at the con.)

My fellow panelists are in the back row from left to right:
Susan C. Miller, Clark Lohr, Vicki Doudera
Front row left to right: Me and Madeline Gornell

Our subject was Writing for Small Presses

The room was packed, and I think we did a great job telling why we’d gone with small presses, our experiences good and bad, and we were asked many, many questions. I even had one your woman ask to pick my brain privately. Of course I agreed and she talked to me for about 20 minutes.

Was this good way to sell books? Not particularly because we were told not to bring our books to show despite the fact that we were herded to the book room to sign books that no one really knew what to look for.

However, that did not keep me from have a grand time. Best of all was seeing so many author and reader friends that I haven’t seen for far too long. I received and gave so many hugs, sat in the lounge and gabbed away, ate goodies and talked some more in the hospitality room, shared wonderful meals with so many friends.

All the panels I attended were great, the author sparkled.

Everyone asked about my husband who stayed home to fix our oven. It’s amazing how many remember his name.

Monday morning I received my 4 a.m. wake up call. Got ready, finished packing. Looked over the hotel bill they’d shoved under the door–and of course it was wrong. So before I could check out I had to spend time with the desk clerk explaining what was my part of the bill and what belonged to my roommate. A taxi took me to the train station and I was on my way home by 6:45 a.m. The train sure beats going by air and it was lots cheaper.

Now that I’m home, I playing catch-up like crazy. And tomorrow is the first day of my blog tour for No Bells. The first stop is here: http://blog.marjamcgraw.com/

I’m giving away copies of prior books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series to the person who comments on the most blogs. You can find the schedule on my blog site,Marilyn’s Musings

 To tell the truth, I think I’ve got far too much to do. 

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith


In My Mind, I Run Like a Kenyan

Rachel Brady

Lee Child made what I thought was an interesting remark at Left Coast Crime earlier this month. Paraphrasing, it was that the fun part of writing is the daydreaming, and that the hard part is getting the words onto the page.

Ain’t that the blazing truth.

I’ve been thinking about that remark for weeks. Somehow I’ve had the notion all this time that getting words onto the page is easier for everyone else than it is for me. Given a choice, I’d rather visualize scenes hundreds of different ways than actually sit down and write one down. Why? Because the version I choose might not work, and then I’d have to cut all those pages.

I know: “Get over it.”

But still.

It takes a long time to put down thousands of words. Cutting them is hard. Why not decide first how I want the book to go, by daydreaming through dozens of plot lines, and then writing down the version I decide is best? For me, daydreaming is oodles more fun than typing words. Many writers say they have to write, that they are addicted to writing. Not me. I’m addicted to daydreaming.

A few years ago, David Morrell shared an interesting story about daydreaming that I’ll never forget. Coupled with this new statement by Lee Child, I grow hopeful now that my Writer Imposter Complex might possibly be unfounded.

The keyboard does not call me. I don’t get a charge out of putting down the words. My charge is always in the imagining.

In this regard, I fervently hope that my future as a writer will parallel my history as a runner. There was a time I did not enjoy running. The only thing I liked about it was how I felt afterward, and fortunately that feeling was good enough to keep me lacing up and coming back. Writing, the actual act, is a little like that for me now. Making a synopsis, staring at a blinking cursor, struggling for a word, or figuring out the best way to express an emotion is often frustrating. As with my running years ago, writing is frequently painful while I’m doing it. But, like the running, I feel an indescribable sense of accomplishment when it’s over. Huge. It’s the buzz that keeps me coming back.

Twenty years later, I’m still running. Now I actually love the run while I’m doing it. I feel disappointed when I miss a run and I’m always looking forward to the next one.

Today I’m daydreaming about a time when writing will feel like that.