What happened in Reno…

…gets blogged about right here at Chicks on the Case! Today we share our most memorable moments from another awesome Left Coast Crime convention.

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

Every morning since I’ve gotten home (still soooo tired!) I wake up thinking I’m going to spend another fun and busy day in Reno with the Chicks. I must keep dreaming about Left Coast Crime, I guess. It’s a little disappointing that I no longer have a Starbucks to run downstairs to for multiple iced teas, no more ducking outside for gulps of fresh air to counteract the 24/7 casino smoke (yes, there was a filtration system in the hotel and no, it did not work), meeting up with new and old author and reader friends, and discussing the merits of various lunch places on a daily basis. (Rosie’s, the 24-hour diner, worked out best—ask Cali-healthy El how much she enjoyed the gravy soup on her biscuits.) All the panels were awesome—wish I could have been in multiple places at once—and of course banquet night was a blast. (I almost cried during El’s acceptance speech, but totally lost it for Kellye’s—the person next to me was concerned and had to keep patting my shoulder). I regret that I promised two Chicks I would try my luck at the slots and was so busy (and exhausted) that I never got around to it. The Author-Reader Connections were of course a thrill for me and I can’t wait for the next conference. Sadly I won’t make Malice next month due to my daughter’s wedding, but you can find me starting April 1st at Camp NaNoWriMo, working on a brand new series alongside several of my fellow Chicks. And yes, I realize that’s April Fool’s Day, but after such a great conference, I’m extra-inspired!

 Ellen Byron


My favorite moments at LCC always involve the Author-Reader Connections. These offer wonderful opportunities to get up close and personal with the people who actually buy and read your books, God bless ’em. Last year in Hawaii, I wound up rooming with a reader who’d done one of my ARCs the previous year in Phoenix.

I did three ARCs in Reno. The first I co-hosted with my friend Howard Michael Gould, a fellow TV writer and newcomer to the mystery world. We treated four readers to a buffet lunch and had a grand time chatting about the TV business. Next up was the now-legendary—at least in my head!—Suite Life Wine and Cheese Party with my fantastic fellow Chicks. You can read all about that and see some terrific photos on Cynthia’s Wednesday Chicks post. Finally, Lisa and I, along with Leslie Karst, hosted “pizza and pleasantries” with what was supposed to be six readers. Sadly, two of them never got my email about where to meet, so they missed the lunch. But they were great sports about this, confirming my belief that mystery readers are the bestest people in the whole wide world.

Vickie Fee

vickieMy first time at Left Coast Crime, and as soon as I walked into the hotel I heard Marla Cooper’s voice over the din of the bar crowd. I hadn’t seen her in a year, so it was music to my ears! Other highlights for me included the Chicks’ author-reader party (with several bottles of wine and like 30 pounds of cheese!), sharing the cozy panel with Lisa Mathews, Eileen Rendahl and Pat Batta, with Ellen Byron as our fab moderator; co-hosting a table of great folks at the awards banquet with the delightful Cynthia Kuhn, and of course, seeing Kellye and Ellen pick up Lefty awards (they both made me go misty with their shout out to the Chicks). In addition to hanging out with the Chicks, which is always a blast, I had such a good time visiting with fellow authors, including Eileen Rendahl, Angie Sanders, Kathleen Valenti, Libby Klein, Debra Goldstein, Keenan Powell, and Eleanor Cawood Jones. I danced it out with Ellen, ate my weight in bacon at Rosie’s—and my time in Reno ended much too soon. Til next time!

Kellye Garrett


This was my first-ever Left Coast Crime, so it would have been memorable regardless, but there were so many amazing and memorable moments. It was so nice meeting some of my favorite authors as well as other people who love to read mysteries as much as I do. Of course, the highlight was winning the Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel! I’m still shocked that I won and that I managed to make a coherent acceptance speech. It helped that my editor, Terri Bischoff, and all five Chicks were in the audience. Seeing their smiling faces made me way less nervous to talk in front of a room full of people. I was also glad that I was able to thank them all in person and share how much they mean to me. On my flight home, I wrapped my Lefty in so much black tissue paper that my bag got tagged by airport security! The security guard while swabbing it for explosive materials: So are you left handed?

Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

The 2014 Left Coast Crime was the first conference I ever attended, and it’s become my favorite. This year was even better, because all my Chicks were there! I hadn’t even checked into my room yet when I ran into a friend from LCC Honolulu in the check-in line, and when I went down to the hotel bar (which is the de facto social hub of conference social life) it was full of people I know and love. That’s my dream in life! Everyone might as well have yelled “Norm!” when I walked in. It spoils me for all other bars where you’re not greeted with hugs and immediate rearranging of chairs to make room for you at the table. Our Chicks happy hour was a definite high point — and coincidentally the suite ended up being an adjoining room to mine, which put me party-adjacent. There was laughter, there were tears, there were trophies, there was Chinese chicken salad, there were awkward group photos… I want to live at Left Coast Crime year round!

Cynthia Kuhn


Mystery conventions are motivating in ways I can’t even articulate fully—it’s a blur of wonderful elements. Left Coast Crime featured panel after panel of terrific authors, lots of shared wisdom, and so many fabulous conversations with reader/writer friends both old and new (♥︎). I also loved the Supper Club, Sisters in Crime Guppies Meetup, Noodle Lunch, NoCal/SoCal MWA Night at Blind Onion, Suite Life Happy Hour, Rosie’s, Banquet Night (congrats again, Ellen and Kellye, on your Lefty Awards!), Lobby Bar, and Lunch at the Airport. It sounds like all we did was eat and drink—ha!—but I don’t mean the food. I mean the talking and connecting. And the laughing. So much laughing. Thanks, all, for the kindness and inspiration.

Did you guys go to Left Coast Crime this year? Have you gone in years past? Do you plan to go one day? If so, drop us a note in the comments below!

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54 thoughts on “What happened in Reno…

  1. Oh my goodness, you guys have the best times! I would love to come one day! So many amazing writers in one place would be my heaven! Congrats to the award winners, although aren’t all of you winners? I know we readers are!
    Have an amazing weekend!

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Told you I was stalking you! Yes, I am ALLEDGEDLY working, but kept refreshing this page, waiting for the post. 😂
    It sounds like such a great time! I’ve never been to LCC, although I plan on trying to save up for next year. As soon as I figure out where it is, I will see what my 💵 says.
    I am thrilled you all had a great time and we’re willing to share with us. So many events, so little time. All the 🎉. All the 🥘 and 🍷 . All the panels. All the fan 💕 and friends . All those shenanigans (although no one is talking about those). What happens in Reno hits the AP wire in Las Vegas only, so no worries. Your secrets are safe. Jealous! Congrats on the 🏆 chicks. Someone should have 🎥 your acceptance speeches so they could have been posted. Or at least shown us pictures of 🐥 bawling with pride.

    I can’t wait till Malice to see if we go for two! What table do I sit at? FYI, I am volunteering to 📷, so everyone there better smile for me! If Kellye wants to here about our office drama queen (my character she doesn’t believe is real) find me. I’ll prove it with true stories.

    And, if anyone wants to talk about taxes (thanks for the reminder Lisa) or embezzlement for a future motive for murder, tag me! I got stories out the you know what!

    Thanks again for the fun recap. What a blast!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh, Chicks. Your highlights made me wish we could go back next weekend or, as Marla said, just live there! Loved loved loved seeing you all. I’m missing you terribly and looking forward to the next time we can all converge somewhere. In the meantime, I’m just going to giggle today about “30 pounds of cheese”… 😀 ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  4. LCC sounds like so much fun! I have never been, but you all are making me want to go. I will be attending Bouchercon this year though, because it makes more sense for me to travel to Florida from Las Vegas than to Reno. It will be my first writers’ convention, and I’m so excited! Please tell me some of you will be there.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. It would be easy to stay broke with all the conferences around! Bouchercon this year happens to be less than an hour away from where my sister lives, which is the main reason I can attend. Commuting from her place won’t be as much fun as staying at the conference hotel, but it will certainly be cheaper.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. So far the only conferences I’ve done are Bouchercon and Malice (will be at both this year), but I just registered for Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis in October. Crime Bake and LCC are on my bucket list.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Lack of sleep fueled by coffee in the morning and bourbon at night, talking and listening to amazing writers and readers all day long between the two–this is conference life! Bring on Malice Domestic!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. For our author readers, put California Crime Writers Conference on your bucket list. It’s a combined effort of both SinC/LA and SoCalMWA that takes place every two years. The next one is in 2019. It’s a fantastic craft conference with four different tracks. I would not have been able to finish my last book if Hallie Ephron and Kent Krueger hadn’t inspired me with both their keynotes and workshops. Here’s a link to last year’s conference. http://www.ccwconference.org/program.html

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sounds like it was a fabulous time.

    And I find mystery conventions inspiring for me, too. Inspiring me with all kinds of books I want to read. If only I had the time….

    Liked by 3 people

  9. There is nothing else quite like Left Coast Crime. Its size makes it very intimate and easy to meet and get to know favorite authors. And if nothing else, there is always someone there who loves to talk about books (mysteries at LCC) and shares the same love of reading and collecting books. Thanks to the Chicks, once again, for making LCC so memorable. You are all very special and warm and inviting to your readers.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. An absolute highlight of Left Coast Crime in Reno for me was achieving the title of Honorary Chick, complete with oath and badge!! Am I the first?. What a Fun loving group of talented writers. I will look for. you at Bouchercon swinging my 🐥 tote bag.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aw, Mary Lou, we were excited too! Yes, you were the first pin-ee and Honorary Chick oath-taker. It was lovely to meet you. Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm. (Still amazed that you read all the nominee books ahead of time. You should get an award for that!)

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I have been going to Left Coast Crime since 2000 but the more recent ones have been more memorable and fun with the Author-Reader Connections where I got to meet several of the Chicks (Ellen, Marla). And it was nice to meet Kellye and Cynthia this year! This is my favourite mystery convention. Hope to see you in Vancouver next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Total blur, so much fun and I was dreaming about it when I got home. I just finished unpacking yesterday and haven’t quite settled into real life, trying to get the little things done before diving into Camp NaNo on Sunday. It was great seeing y’all. LCC has become one of my “must go” cons.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Keenan, it was so much fun visiting with you! I claim a top bunk in our Camp NaNo “cabin.” Although I won’t be getting much sleep if I’m going to finish this first draft by the end of April!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Yes, exactly! Total blur. Keenan, so wonderful to hang out with you. (You’re ahead of me. My suitcase is still packed. Shhh. Went right back to work and haven’t had a second to do it yet. Although I did rip open my book box as soon as it arrived. Priorities.) Good luck to NaNoers!

      Liked by 3 people

    3. I’m with you, Keenan–it’s taking me a while to readjust to real life. Camp will help fill the void, I’m sure. But campers, please: no smoking behind the cabin or I will have to throw you and your cigs in the lake!!! (Like, for real.
      Still recovering from 5 days of Golden Nugget Secondhand “Filtration” System.)

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Congratulations, Ellen and Kellye! Two very well-deserved awards.

    I’m sooo jealous that I couldn’t make it out to LCC. I’ve never been before and everyone’s pictures and stories are giving me serious FOMO.

    However, I will be at Malice, so I hope to see you all there! And I might make it to Magna Cum Murder since it’s fairly close (well, driving distance at least) to where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

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