Seattle Shakedown Newsletter

July 16, 2023

This newsletter is going out to all registrants of Tucson 2023 and Seattle 2024. Tucson registrants will remain on our newsletter list through the Lefty Nomination period in mid-January. (Not sure if you are registered for Seattle? Check the Seattle Attendee page for your name.)

Meet the Seattle Shakedown Co-Chairs

Co-Chair Laurie Rockenbeck
As a part-time private investigator with a background in journalism, Laurie Rockenbeck takes notes on human behavior and the darker side of humanity to fuel her fiction. Her work features Seattle’s only trans male homicide detective and a pro-domme turned PI. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC-Riverside-Palm Desert. When not writing, Laurie knits, cooks, reads, and spends time with her family. [website]

Co-Chair David B. Schlosser
Writing as dbschlosser, David B. Schlosser is an award-winning fiction and non-fiction author and an award-winning editor. Currently president of the Mystery Writers of America Northwest chapter, he is a frequent presenter, moderator, and panelist at fan, writing, editing, and communications events. He's taught high-school debate, community-college crime fiction, and university writing. In his first career as a political consultant, he delighted and offended people in the pages of New York Times and Wall Street Journal as well as on “Hard Copy” and “Inside Edition.” Since the mid-1980s, his fiction has appeared in print and online. His non-fiction and journalism have run under his and other's names in business and trade publications, academic and scientific journals, and print and online news and culture outlets. Recently, his short story “Pretzel Logic” was republished in Best American Mystery Stories 2020 after appearing in Die Behind the Wheel: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Steely Dan. “Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up,” appeared in 2021’s Coming Through in Waves: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd. A Kansas native who earned degrees at Trinity University and University of Texas and lived in nearly a dozen states, he now calls the Pacific Northwest home. He lives near Seattle with his wife and their dogs and works as a user experience design leader for a global tech company.

Co-Chair: Brian Thornton
Brian Thornton is the author of twelve books — most recently the three-novella collection Suicide Blonde. His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, The Big Click, Shred of Evidence, the Akashic Books anthology Seattle Noir, and the late, lamented BULLET UK. Down & Out Books published his double-volume collection of crime fiction by some of the top authors in the genre, and inspired by the music of jazz-rock legends Steely Dan (Die Behind the Wheel and A Beast Without a Name) in 2019. “Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School” recently appeared in the Anthony-nominated Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Warren Zevon. He does all of his own stunts, loves the color blue and singing in the car with his wife and son, and lives in Seattle, where he has served numerous years as President of the Northwest Chapter for the Mystery Writers of America.

We are introducing two of our Special Guests in this newsletter: Guest of Honor Robert Dugoni and Toastmaster Wanda Morris. Our next newsletter will feature Guest of Honor Megan Abbott and Fan Guest of Honor Fran Fuller.

Greeting from Guest of Honor Robert Dugoni

Many years ago, I had received 42 rejection letters from publishers and agents and seriously questioned whether leaving the law to write novels had been a good idea. My sister-in-law, Arlene, suggested I speak to childhood friend, Michael Collopy. Mike had given up a career at IBM to pursue his passion, portrait photography, He has since become one of the premier portrait photographers in the world. Mike told me something his father, also an artist, had told him when he struggled with his new career. “Follow your dreams and the money will come. Follow the money and you lose your dreams.”

Being recognized by Left Coast Crime as its 2024 Guest of Honor is the fulfillment of one of my dreams — recognition that maybe I did make the right decision and I do have a future in this writing career.

Writing has never been easy, even after 25 published novels. Being a novelist isn’t for the faint-of-heart. It’s hard to stare at a blank screen and contemplate filling 400 with roughly 100,000 words. It’s hard to take rejection. It’s hard to take criticism. But we do; don’t we? We do because writing is a passion that won’t let us quit and always brings us back to the keyboard.

My journey began in the sixth grade when a kindly nun told my mother she thought I was getting in trouble in school because I was bored. Sister Mary Williams suggested I read more. It was an act of kindness I will never forget. My mother had been an English literature teacher before she started having ten children. She handed me books and helped me find others at our library.  

I fell in love with a boy named Charlie at the Chocolate Factory and a Hobbit on a journey. I learned to escape from an island prison in The Count of Monte Cristo; I caught a swordfish and learned of obsession in The Old Man and The Sea; I sought glory as a teenage soldier in The Red Badge of Courage; I wept when Piggy fell to his death in The Lord of the Flies; I came to understand mercy in Of Mice and Men; And racism and injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird; And I dreamt that just maybe, someday, I might see my name on the spine of a book on a library bookshelf.  

When I was older, I said A Prayer for Owen Meany; cried when Captain Call went home alone to Lonesome Dove; walked the road in The Stand; rooted for Andy Dufresne to escape prison in The Shawshank Redemption, wished Paul Edgecomb could free John Coffey from The Green Mile; and learned how two reporters took down All the President’s Men.

There have been struggles and setbacks along my journey. There are struggles for all of us; aren’t there? But we find a way to fight through those struggles; don’t we?

In 2016 I had a stroke. For three days I thought my career had come to an end. But it was only another obstacle, and we writers know that characters overcoming obstacles is what creates great stories.

While recuperating, I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing and I learned of telepathy, which made me recall a panel I was on with the great Diana Gabaldon who described the art of writing as magic. Both asked, “How does a writer sitting at her desk touch the heart and soul of a person she’s never met and never will, living in a small little town she’s never visited and never will?

It dawned on me that Diana and Stephen King were saying the same thing. Get out of your head. Stop directing the traffic. Let the characters come alive and speak and move and tell their story to your readers. Write from your heart, so your story can touch readers’ hearts.

I went into my office, closed the door, and listened to classical music. Nothing happened. Not right away.

But not long after, a young boy woke me at 4:00 a.m. He said he grew up in Burlingame, California with ocular albinism - red eyes. Sam Hell told me his story of being bullied by his classmates and teachers, about his mother and his father, and about his friends Ernie and Mickey. I just transcribed it.

I wrote the first draft of The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell in five weeks. I wrote it from the heart. It’s gone on to become one of my best selling novels all over the world.

So I believe in telepathy. And I believe in magic. And I believe dreams really do come true. Thank you for helping me reach one of mine.

Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite police series set in Seattle, which has sold more than 9 million books worldwide. He is also the author of The Keera Duggan legal thriller series, The Charles Jenkins espionage series, the David Sloane legal thriller series and  several stand-alone novels including The 7th Canon, Damage Control, and the literary novels, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell - Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, for which Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award and The World Played Chess; as well as the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series. Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction and a four-time winner of the Friends of Mystery Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He is a two-time finalist for the International Thriller Award, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, the Silver Falchion Award for mystery, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than thirty countries and translated into more than thirty languages.
        Website, Facebook, and twitter @robertdugoni

Greeting from Toastmaster Wanda Morris

Hello Left Coast Crime Family,

I am Wanda Morris, your Toastmaster for Left Coast Crime 2024 Seattle Shakedown! I can’t tell you how honored and excited I am to see you all in April.

So that you’ll know a little bit about me, I write mystery thrillers from Atlanta, Georgia. I am a wife and mother of the three most wonderful kids in the world (okay, I’m a little biased!). My road to becoming a published author was a long and jagged one filled with tons of self-doubt and rejection, all in pursuit of doing that thing we all love—reading and writing great stories.

If you’re anything like me, coming together every year at Left Coast Crime feels more like a homecoming than a conference. It’s large enough where there’s something interesting for all types, whether you love noir, cozies or something in between. And yet Left Coast Crime is intimate enough in its vibe to feel comfortable even if you’re a first-time attendee. It’s a place and time where I can meet up with old friends and look forward to meeting new ones.

This year we’ll be gathering in Seattle, Washington, a town that is the epitome of cool with its foodie-focused Public Market Center and fantastic restaurants to the arts and music scene. I love travel, great food, and music. A city like Seattle offers the perfect place to incorporate all three of my favs in this upcoming conference.

So spread the word and let’s have some fun next year when we all come together for the Left Coast Crime Seattle Shakedown. I can’t wait to see you!!


Wanda M. Morris is the acclaimed author of All Her Little Secrets, which has been praised by Karin Slaughter as “brilliantly nuanced” and reviewed by The Boston Globe, LA Times, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seattle Times, and South Florida Sun Sentinel among others. It was named as one of the “Best Books of 2021” by Hudson Booksellers and selected as the #1 Top Pick for “Library Reads” by librarians across the country. It was selected as a Book Buzz Pick by Good Morning America, serialized in Entertainment Weekly and a Marie Claire book club pick. All Her Little Secrets won the 2022 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel and a finalist for 2022 Georgia Author of the Year for Best First Novel. It was also nominated for the Anthony Award, the Strand Critics Award, the Macavity Award and has been shortlisted for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize. All Her Little Secrets has been optioned for a one-hour limited series on Showtime executive produced by and starring Emmy-award winning actress Uzo Aduba. Her new book, Anywhere You Run, was named one of the Top Ten Crime Fiction Books for 2022 by The New York Times. It was also selected as one of the Best Books of 2022 by NPR, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. It has been named as one of “Fifteen Standout Historical Fiction Books to Read This Year” by Oprah Daily. It has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist. Wanda is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, and serves on the Board of International Thriller Writers.
   Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Left Coast Crime 2024 Charity

Each Left Coast Crime Convention raises money to support a local literacy organization with funds raised through silent and live auctions. The 2024 beneficiary is Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program which works to close the literacy opportunity gap that too often leaves children in communities of concentrated low income behind. Having access to books as a child is the foremost predictor of future academic advancement, even controlling for parental income and education level. Literacy can help break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, which affects families of color disproportionately. Books are some of the most important tools we have in the fight for economic equity and racial justice. Page Ahead serves Head Start and ECEAP preschool programs and elementary schools (typically kindergarten through second grade) in Washington state where 65% or more of their students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. By giving young students furthest from educational opportunity access to books and reading resources, Page Ahead works to close the literacy gap before it forms.


Seattle Shakedown Anthology: A Killing Rain

The Puget Sound is beautiful, lush with green trees, sun-sparkled waters, wide-open spaces, and white-capped mountains. It’s also rich with darkness, with gunmetal-gray skies, rain-slicked streets, and deep shadows that give cover to its darkest secrets. Small wonder that our corner of the country is an in-demand lifestyle destination and skyjacker D.B. Cooper’s choice of locale to disappear forever with his ill-gotten riches (possibly at the hands of Sasquatch). Not to mention that the greater Seattle area is still the serial-killer capital of the world.

It’s that delicious dichotomy that the Seattle committee hopes to capture in stories, for a new anthology of short crime fiction to be released in conjunction with the return of the Left Coast Crime convention to the greater Seattle area, for Seattle Shakedown April 10-14, 2024. Our anthology — A Killing Rain — will be published by Down & Out Books, and profits will benefit the Page Ahead literacy program and Left Coast Crime.

We’re looking for submissions of stories between 2,000 and 5,000 words. The only thematic guideline? Stories must say something substantive about the Puget Sound, as a setting either real or imagined, as a desired destination or a hellscape one desperately desires to escape. How much or how little of this you depict is up to you.

Submissions close September 3, 2023. Those selected by a select committee of story readers, headed by anthology editor Jim Thomsen, will be paid $100 upon acceptance and a signed, standard-form contract.

Submission Details
Submit via email to:
Include your name, the title of your story, and the word count in the body of your email. Any format is fine, but we will be editing and sending edits back to you using Word in Track Changes mode. Remove identifying information other than the name of the story from your word document, as submissions sent to the editor for final selection will be evaluated “blind.” Address questions to the same email. We will let you know, quickly, that your submission is received, and we will send invitations to publication on September 13. 

Sponsorship at Left Coast Crime

Left Coast Crime encourages organizations to sponsor a variety of events such as the Opening Reception, the Awards Banquet, the Friday “Meet the New Authors” breakfast, the Saturday breakfast, and the Hospitality Room. Other options include sponsoring one of our Guests of Honor or supporting Left Coast Crime by sponsoring products such as the convention book bag or name badge holder.

Please email Lucinda Surber if you are interested in learning more about our sponsorship opportunities.