(one tiny complaint--why do they always have to turn up the air conditioning so high! Freezing.)
For me it's always like a high school reunion, catching up with old friends. But this time it's a special treat because my agent, Meg Ruley, is here to share it with me. She came a day early and we went on an adventure into the desert and had tea at an English tea room. Not many of the New York publishing crowd attend are here, but Thomas and Mercer treated their writers to a fabulous dinner.
We started with a mercifully brief opening ceremony, thanks to witty toastmaster Catriona McPherson. Guests of honor were introduced (Greg Hurwits, Ann Cleves, Chantelle Aimee Osman) and nominees for awards were presented with plaques. And there was good food (always important)
Here are the nominees for Bruce Alexander and the Lefty award for most humorous.
The consensus is that a panel moderated by Simon Wood was the standout on Friday--it was called A funny thing happened (war stories from veteran crime writers) and I don't think the audience stopped writing once for an hour).
On Saturday I moderated the Liar's Panel, with veteran liars Gary Phillips, Parnell Hall, Kelli Stanley and Carolyn Haines. Lots of hilarity. My favorite lie when Parnell claimed he had done voice overs for children's books and he was Peter Pan and Gary Phillips was Tinkerbell. For those who don't know him Gary has the biggest, deepest voice in the universe.
Then Saturday night was the banquet. Food not bad. Catriona did a great job as toastmaster, moving things along, being witty and adorable as always. Lots of money was raised in her live auction for charity. Then came the Lefty awards. Gigi Pandian won for book set in the Western US. Louise Penny for book set outside our geographic region. Donna Andrews for humorous novel AND Rhys Bowen for best historical, Malice at the Palace. Lots of celebrating at my table. It was lovely to have both my agent, Meg Ruley, friend Bob Dugoni and husband John with me.(and you can't really see but the award is a cactus in glass. Stunning.)