Leslie Karst

LCC 2020—It Went By So Fast!

Like everyone who’d registered for Left Coast Crime this year, I was faced with the decision two weeks ago whether or not to attend, given the health risks posed by the COVID-19 virus. Since I’m in good health with no respiratory or immunity issues, I determined to go. After all, it’s one of the best mystery conventions in the world, and would be my only opportunity this year to see many friends in the mystery community who regularly attend the event. (Not to mention the fact that I was one of the nominees for the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery—along with fellow Chicks, Ellen Byron and Cynthia Kuhn!)

I arrived from Hawai‘i at the convention hotel in San Diego on Wednesday night, just in time for a late drink at the bar with a group of convention attendees—including my roommate, Ellen—and then hit the sack, ready for four days of going to and being on panels, singing at the Author Cabaret, hosting Author-Reader Connections, and general all-around schmoozing.

It all started out well. After checking in at the registration desk Thursday morning, I dropped off a stack of bookmarks at the swag table and then headed off to listen to the terrific panels the LCC committee had organized for that day. Later that afternoon, I was on the “Culinary Cozies: What’s Cookin’?” panel, along with Maya Corrigan and G.P. Gottlieb, and Mark Baker moderating, which was great fun.

culinary panel

our marvelous panel participants

After the book signing that followed the panel (with no books to sign, alas, because the vendor had declined to send anyone to actually sell the books, out of COVID-19 concerns), I headed back to the registration area—only to learn that the convention had been cancelled, effective immediately.

Whoa.

What followed was a bit surreal: attendees wandering about the hotel, their faces reflecting the surprise, confusion, and sadness we all were feeling. But I heard nary a grumble or complaint. (Note: LCC couldn’t cancel the convention until they were forced to do so by the county/state, as this mandate was what triggered the “force majeure” clause in the insurance policy, ensuring LCC would not lose the money invested in the event, which would have bankrupted the organization.)

Many attendees decided to stay on for a day or two, so that we could at least continue to socialize (at a proper distance, mind you)—which of course was one of the primary purposes of attending the convention. Here’s a photo of breakfast the next morning (the lei were provided by Cynthia Kuhn, who had brought them for her author-hosted table at the cancelled banquet).

breakfast

l to r: Terri Bischoff, Nadine Nettman, Cynthia Kuhn,
Fran Vella, Laurie Sheehan, Amy Drayer, Leslie Karst,
Kathy Valenti, Ellen Byron, Catriona McPherson

After breakfast, Ellen, Laurie, her husband John, and I decided to spend the day at Balboa Park, and we had a fab time visiting the Air and Space Museum, the Japanese Gardens, and the Museum of Photography.

mercury capsule

This space junkie was thrilled to get to squeeze
into a replica of the Mercury space capsule!

By Saturday, however, the hotel was starting to resemble a ghost town. (The gal at the reception desk told us they were now at 19% capacity, and it was only going to go down from there.) My flight home, however, wasn’t till Monday morning, and I was not looking forward to a lonely two days in the hotel all by myself.

Thank goodness for Sue Ver Voorn, a reader I first met at LCC 2017 in Honolulu! Sue took me under her wing, insisting I come stay with her for my last two nights, and not only provided room and board and drove me to the airport, but also gave me a tour of the beautiful city of San Diego, including the fabulous mid-century breakfast joint, The Waffle Spot.

waffle spot

me with the Waffle King and Sue
(the fried chicken and waffles were delicious!)

Sue’s warm and generous welcome was a perfect example of why I so adore our community of mystery writers and readers, and why I so love Left Coast Crime.

AND—look at the wall hanging Sue has!

chicks rule

In retrospect, if I had it to do all over again—even knowing the convention would be cancelled at the end of the first day—I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

P.S. When I finally made it back to Hawai’i, I put myself in self-quarantine, just to be safe and ensure that any nasty virus I might have picked up in California did not spread to anyone else. Please stay home, everyone! We can get through all this!


Readers: Do any of you have a heart-warming story regarding this year’s LCC (or any other event that’s occurred since this virus has swept across our land)?

28 thoughts on “LCC 2020—It Went By So Fast!

  1. You all look like you had a great time despite everything being cut short. Personally, I think the best part about conferences are all of the interactions that take place outside of the structured events. But I do feel bad for everyone who had panels scheduled after day one. When do you find out who won the Leftys?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I love to see how we’ve all banded in our communities. Lots of acts of selflessness to go around. A huge high five (or high elbow these days?) to Sue for being another great example of warmth and generosity!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Honestly, that Thursday had a weird vibe to it. I was still having fun, but it just didn’t feel like I was expecting.

    That panel was definitely a highlight for me. I enjoyed myself, and I’m glad you did as well.

    Seeing the fun you and others had on Friday almost makes me wish I had stayed on instead of leaving as soon as the cancellation notice came down on Thursday. However, the overtime I worked this last week and I’m facing this week makes me glad I worked that Friday.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Would have loved to have breakfast with that fab group! Glad you had fun and camaraderie despite the cancellation. And I’m coveting that Chicks Rule banner just a little!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Thank you, Leslie, for this recap. Love that waffle house picture!

    You articulated it beautifully, and I am also glad that I attended. Even seeing everyone for a single day was rejuvenating and fabulous…priceless, really.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. What a lovely, heartwarming post, Leslie! I loved every bit of LCC 2020, even though it was cut short. The picture of you, Sue and (King?) Waffle is beyond fabulous, and I, too, covet that Chicks hanging. (Perfection!!) This community is the best. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Having canceled my plane from NYC 2 hrs before it was due to take off at 6 am, I am still heartbroken that I missed the chance to see so many good friends, especially my fellow Chicks. I’m glad that everyone had such an amazing time, though, and I really enjoyed this fun recap, Leslie. (Mr. Waffle, wow.) Next year? *Sniff*

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thank you for this great post. It is heartwarming as one of the co-chairs of the event to find that people still had a great time and to see our community come together during the difficulties. Stay safe everyone, and thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are my hero, Kim. It was clear that a full LCC 2020 would have been one of the best ever! And that fact that a single day of it was so very wonderful is proof positive of that. Thank you so much for all your hard work and all the time and energy you put into this. We love you!!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Kim, I read in the program that you all were working on the conference for three years. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for those of you who put so much time, care, and effort into it to have to cancel. But: please accept MUCH gratitude–the time we did have together was terrific! ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Great recap, Leslie, of your time at LCC2020 and San Diego.

    Like with you, things started off well Thursday morning with informal greetings in the hallways near the swap table. I had gone on a Thursday lunch author-reader connection with Maya Corrigan at a nearby Greek restaurant. Kaye George (the other host) had decided not to travel due to health reasons, so fellow Chick Ellen Byron came along and shared plenty of fun tales (and Cajun/Catering Hall mystery swag). And sweet Ellen drove us to and from the Marriott to dodge the rain.

    I missed several afternoon panel sessions and returned after 5 pm to learn that LCC2020 had been cancelled by the County.

    As others have said, they cancelled the convention but not our camaraderie.
    Glad to see you had fun the next day at Balboa Park and that sweet Sue took you in for the rest of the weekend. And yes, I want that Chicks Rule wall hanging.

    I have been going to LCC since 2000 (Tucson) and it is by far my most favourite mystery convention. I am so looking forward to continuing the camaraderie and good times with you and the rest of the Chicks in Albuquerque.

    Liked by 2 people

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