Saturday, August 6, 2011


This post is part of a rolling blog--see the list at the end for other writers who have posted on the same topic.
Conferences?  Exhilarating, expensive, exhausting, but never a waste of time. At each one I’ve been to, I’ve made new friends and connections. And at one, Love is Murder in Chicago (every February) I connected with two of my current small press editors. Love is Murder celebrates the entire mystery genre from hard-boiled to cozy, with all things in between. We have the Poison Lady (a.k.a. Luci Zahray , a pharmacist in her day job) who teaches us how to poison our characters, and cops-turned-writers teaching us about crime scenes and guns. When these guys set up a mock crime scene, they give two prizes for interpretation: 1) most accurate, and 2) most creative…Other favorite conferences are Magna cum Murder , a lively weekend conference in Indiana in October, and Malice Domestic , a medium sized house party in Maryland/D.C. every late April. Unlike LIM, Malice attracts the writers of cozies and traditional whodunit mysteries, a la Agatha Christie (not surprisingly, the coveted Agatha award is a teapot).

The only conference I’ve attended in my pajamas, though, was an online mystery con sponsored by Poisoned Pen Press a few years ago. It was great fun—we had podcasts, chat rooms, video conferencing, and asynchronous posts on all the usual topics. People I met online later showed up in person at other cons.

What all of this conferences have in common is camaraderie and the joy of interacting with people. Since writing is a lonely business most of the time, writers love to mingle and swap experiences as well as meet fans, potential readers, editors, and agents. There’s another advantage: some editors and agents are so overwhelmed with submissions that they are choosing to accept manuscripts only from people they’ve met at conferences. And doing a pitch session (speed-dating for writers) is a great way to make that crucial connection.

Best of all, I come home happy and energized and convinced that I want to keep writing as long as I can hold a pen or tap on a keyboard.

Check out the next blog in this roll by Kathleen Kaska.

And also: KT Wagner
Mollie Bryan
Ryder Islington


Mollie Cox Bryan said...

I've yet to go to a mystery conference. I plan to go to several next year when my book comes out. Malice Domestic is at the top of my list. I'd like to attend Bouchercon this year, if I can. Have you been to it?

Kathleen Kaska said...

Love is Murder sounds like a conference I'd like to attend. And I love Chicago.

Sarah Wisseman said...

Chicago is great, but February is not usually the month I would choose...but Love is Murder is a great conference.

KT Wagner said...

"Bypassing the slush pile" is frequently cited as a reason for attending conferences. It's also a chance for writers to meet agents/editors and get a better feel for whether styles/personalities/interests are a good fit.