Left Coast Crime 2017 convened in Hawaii. The allure is almost too obvious to mention. There’s—well—the setting, the elaborate Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki. Warm weather, sunsets on the beach, Diamond Head in the distance.
For many attendees the conference was a great excuse to escape a March roaring in like a lion. Almost every participant I talked to had extended his/her stay. Sisters in Crime Guppy President, Jim Jackson, and his wife, Jan Rubens, planned a month in Hawaii! Even Danny and I, who hale from temperate Santa Cruz, stayed a week. A conference in a vacation destination clearly entices writers to take a break.
The Hawaiian flavor permeated the conference from the POG (pineapple, orange, guava) juice served in the hospitality suite to the braided leis given to each award nominee at the reception—held outside on the Great Lawn. Toastmaster Laurie King literally let her hair down, releasing her famous bun into a cascade of silver. As we strolled around in our muumuus and shorts, Ghost of Honor, Earl Derr Biggers, and his creation Charlie Chan, haunted the setting. The first panel I attended, Real-Life Experience: Authors Tell All opened with free mimosas. Now there’s a ploy to get people to talk.
As usual, the conference gave me an opportunity to see writing buddies from other parts of the country and to meet and read authors new to me, like Maia Chance who participated on the Eye to Eye With the P.I. panel with me. I am thoroughly enjoying the first book in her series, Come Hell or Highball. Our panel was moderated by my crime writing idol, Allen Eskens! As moderator, he read a book from each panelist. He liked Black Beans & Venom enough to give me this blurb, “It is the mark of true talent for a writer to be able to deliver her readers completely and believably to another world, and in Black Beans and Venom Vinnie Hansen has done just that. Set in the vibrant and gritty back streets of Cuba, this cat-and-mouse hunt for a missing woman is full of intrigue, suspense and authenticity.I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.” That alone was worth the price of admission.
So what could possibly be wrong?
It’s difficult to organize a conference in a place where one poached egg costs $4.25! Compare the room-rate of $209-$249 a night to that for next year’s LCC in Reno–$82. And the room-rate in Honolulu didn’t even include room Wi-Fi or parking, both part of the package in Reno.
The time and expense of getting to Hawaii and staying in Hawaii clearly lowered attendance. Quite a few authors appeared on three different panels, good for them perhaps, but not as stimulating for the audience. And maybe its just my guilty conscience speaking, but I feel tourist distractions pulled attendees away from conference events. Usually the Liar’s Panel, a perennial favorite, packs the room. Not so this year, in spite of a stellar line-up–Rhys Bowen, Donna Andrews, Lee Goldberg, Parnell Hall, Catriona McPherson.
Finally, Honolulu isn’t my idea of paradise. It’s a bustling city, thick with tourists. Danny and I took a morning off to follow the ant trail of people up Diamond Head. I’m glad we did it, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
The Sunset Pillbox Trail on the North Shore, where we spent our first few days on the island, was much more satisfying. On that hike, we encountered only a few locals, the vistas were just as spectacular, and the brightly graffitied pillboxes were more interesting than the structures atop Diamond Head.
I have no regrets about attending Left Coast Crime 2017, but look forward to the more economical Left Coast Crime 2018. If I win enough at blackjack, it may not cost me a thing. 🙂
What’s the best or worst conference you’ve attended conferences? What made the conference that way?
Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher and award-winning author. Her Carol Sabala mystery series is set in Santa Cruz, California.
Her forthcoming book, Lostart Street, is a stand-alone novel of mystery, manslaughter and moonbeams.
Here’s a sneak peak at the cover:
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Shannon EspositoApril 4, 2017 at 11:23 am
First, congrats on getting a blurb from one of your idols! That’s huge. Yeah, I have a hard time combining conferences and sightseeing. The conference itself is soooo exhausting that the last thing I want to do is play tourist. Maybe if I was younger & healthier I’d feel differently but when I go to Hawaii (bucket list!) I don’t want to be working at the same time. And conferences are work, no matter how much fun that comes along with them.
Vinnie HansenApril 4, 2017 at 12:02 pm
Yeah, Shannon, I’m really jazzed about the quote from Allen Eskens. But you’re right. Conferences are exhausting without trying to work in any “extra.”
K.B. OwenApril 5, 2017 at 9:22 am
When I kept seeing those awesome pics coming from peeps at the conference, it was hard not to feel jealous! Glad you had a good time, but yeah, I’ve heard that Honolulu is crazy expensive. Congrats on the blurb!
Vinnie HansenApril 5, 2017 at 11:48 am
Thanks, Kathy. And yeah, expensive. It wasn’t even a poached egg that cost $4.25. It was boiled.
Kirsten WeissApril 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm
Color me in for LCC Reno!
Vinnie HansenApril 6, 2017 at 10:55 am
Kirsten, so glad I’ll see you in Reno! LCC just got even better.
Kassandra LambApril 5, 2017 at 10:26 pm
Congrats on getting that blurb, Vinnie!!
And I’m with you re: Honolulu. It’s an interesting city, but I liked other parts of Hawaii much better. One of these days I’ll make it to LCC.
Vinnie HansenApril 6, 2017 at 12:17 pm
How about Reno, Kass? Would love to see you there.
Kassandra LambApril 6, 2017 at 8:01 pm
Have to give that some thought. That’s likely to be the furthest east they will ever get.
Vinnie HansenApril 7, 2017 at 11:35 am
A couple of years ago LCC was in Colorado Springs, However, after Reno, I believe the conference travels to Vancouver. So, it probably will be a while before it goes any closer to you.