Thursday, April 18, 2024

Left Coast Crime: Seattle Shakedown!

Wendall -- every other Thursday

Since I’m the only representative of Murder is Everywhere who can report on the Left Coast Crime Convention first hand, I figured I should. 


Left Coast Crime ran April 11-14

The annual convention is always my favorite, because it feels, at least to me, more intimate and friendly than Bouchercon, and I’m able to connect with both readers and author friends more fully than I do elsewhere. This year, the convention took place in the Bellevue suburb of Seattle at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which turned out to be a great, easy venue, where you could actually get food and drink when you wanted it. . . 


So wonderful, always, to get to hang out with Grace Koshida, next year's LCC Fan Guest of Honor!

Always so great to see author and filmmaker Danna Dennis Wilberg

With the ever fab Tim Maleeny


Our totally transcendant Toastmaster was the great Wanda Morris.


Wanda Morris on the left, being interviewed by Lefty Winner Tracy Clark

Author Guests of Honor Robert Dugoni and Megan Abbott joined Fan Guest of Honor Fran Fuller, and Ghost of Honor, John Okada. All of the living guests were as open and lovely as they could have possibly been, and I’m grateful to the convention for introducing me to John Okada’s work.


I never take enough pictures, but happily others do and are willing to share, so here’s the rundown of the week.


James and I flew out of Burbank airport early Wednesday morning and were met by my sister, Kim and her husband Ray, who took us out for a day at and around Pike Place Market. It was just as great as promised. James and I shared (thank God!) one order of biscuits, gravy, cheese, chorizo, and jalapo while sitting by the water, and had fish and chips later, with a different stunning view. 


Some tourist destinations totally live up to their hype.

Biscuit Bitch extravaganza!

Perfect place for biscuits

Fantastic magic store downstairs

Bodies hanging everywhere

We were too early for anyone to throw fish at us, but James still snagged a few salmon samples. You can read about the market here:


We got to the hotel around 4pm and, once we unpacked, I was able to meet my dear friend Baron Birtcher’s wife for the first time and join the two of them for a few martinis(!). We got to talk to various other writers who showed up on and off through the night. 


Matt Coyle with lobby backdrop

The martinis precluded my staying for all of the Noir at the Bar readings, including selections from friends like Matt Coyle and Terry Shames.  But by all accounts, everyone was fab, even in the corner of a bright, echoing lobby, which made it a bit more like LED at the bar.


For the last six years, Matt Coyle and I have partnered up as the “Screwball and Screwed Up” speed dating team, but this year we were wait-listed. We missed the stress, of course, but made up for it by having an Author Connection breakfast with a few readers. We loved meeting and talking with them.


Matt and I had breakfast with Marisa and she was kind enough to come to my panel

Thursday was full of interesting panels, including “Hot, Hot, Hot: Mysteries Set in Tropical Locations” where pals Baron and Leslie Karst joined Eric Redmond and Rosalie Spearman to talk about their experiences in, and writing about, Hawaii. I also loved “The Secret Habits of Writers: Routines, Superstitions, and Lucky Pens” where moderator Glen Eric Hamilton did a masterful job of getting trade secrets out of Megan Abbott, Lisa Lutz, and Wanda Morris.


Megan admits to having a specific time she starts writing every morning

Wanda, of course, was responsible for one of the highlights of the conference—Toastmaster’s Dance Night. It had been many years (too many!) since I’d done a Soul Train line and those of us who braved the floor had a blast. Thanks for such a great idea, Wanda! Happy to be too old to be embarrassed about this photo.

The whole Soul Train thing was a blur!

Friday was a bit busy. Both James and I had panels in the morning, me on the “Lefty Best Humorous Mystery Nominees” panel and him on the “Every Story is a Mystery” panel. 


With Jennifer Chow, Leslie Karst, Lee Matthew Goldberg, and Lucinda Surber

James explains how true crimes are still mysteries

After that, we had lunch with a few friends and then disappeared to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary on the lowdown. That night, we went out to a lovely French restaurant not too far from the hotel and had a stroll around Bellevue on the way back. I’m obsessed with this octopus statue, as you can tell.



Saturday we had breakfast with members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, hit a few panels and then were whisked away by one of James’s oldest English friends for a “surprise.” It turned out to be brunch at the Salish Lodge, which stood in for the Great Northern Hotel exteriors in Twin Peaks, with a view during lunch of the waterfall and river made famous by dead Laura Palmer.


James's elbow and the Twin Peaks falls

Tourists still come to this viewing point

We rushed back to put together all the ridiculous animals items for our Author Hosted table. 

Animals, animals everywhere

Our wonderful guests

We had wonderful—and game—guests and a lot of laughs, the biggest of which was Cheap Trills winning the Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery. 


Note missing earring!
Amazing, hand carved award, filled with 300 ball bearings. . .

I still can’t believe it, and am so grateful to the conference and everyone who voted. Although I carried my napkin to the stage, lost an earring on the way, and half sobbed through most of my speech, at least I didn’t trip. I think Cyd Redondo would be proud. Other winners included Naomi Hirahara for Evergreen, Nina Simon for Mother-Daughter Murder Night, and Tracy Clark for Hide.


I was lucky enough to have another panel on Sunday morning, where I joined the “Dogs and Cats and Birds, Oh My!” panel with four writers who focus on dogs in their books. 


With fellow authors C.B. Wilson, Margaret Mizushima, Joanna Campbell Slan, and Cynthia Baxter

Representing the undomesticated

I was the token bird person, celebrating underrepresented/endangered creature voices. We had a blast. Then it was goodbyes and airports and home. Still exhausted, but feeling happy and so lucky to be part of this community of writers and readers.




  1. Sounds like a party from start to finish! And once more congratulations on the Award!

    1. Thank you so much, Michael. Yes, this one was fun and for me, especially memorable. Wish you all could have been there.

  2. WENDALL: You had an amazing time at this year's LCC. I'm so glad I was able to find some time to chat with both you and James during the 4 days together.

    And hooray that you and James were also able to sneak away to Pike Place Market, your 20th wedding anniversary dinner & Salish Lodge.

    Huge congratulations on your Lefty humorous award win! I ran up to give you a big hug as soon as the ceremony ended. The hand-carved Lefty award is stunning.

    Hope to see you next year at Denver LCC!

    1. Grace!!! It meant so much to me to have you there that night, after all the support you've given me and Cyd over the years. Thanks a trillion times for all your help (and photos!). xx

  3. I've never been to a Left Coast Crime conference, and you made it sound like great fun. And how terrific that you won the award!

    1. Kim, as I said, it's a good one to dip your toe into, just because it's smaller than a lot of the others and everyone is really open and kind. Hope to see you there one year and thanks for the kind words on the Lefty!

  4. LCC looks like a hoot from start to finish! I must watch Twin Peaks again, I don't think I understood it the first time. Congratulations on the award!

    1. It was fun, Caro, wish you had been there. Thanks for the kind words and truly, I'm always a little suspicious of anyone who says they understood Twin Peaks!

  5. Unforgettable!

  6. The party follows you everywhere, Wendall! Congratulations again on your long deserved award, and for bringing so much joy to so many attendees at LCC. Sorry to have missed this year and the in person joy of your victory--all of which means you'll just have to win again in Denver. :)

    1. Ha! Thanks so much for the kind words, Jeff. Really do wish you and Barbara and all our MIE compatriots had been there to share this with, but I'm lucky, as always, to have you all here. xxx