Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing Conferences

Larry and I spent the weekend at the Southern California Crime Writers Conference in Pasadena, California. We're still exhausted after a jam-packed weekend of speakers and panels.

Unlike some of the other conferences we attend, this one is really geared to writers rather than published authors. Oh, don’t' get me wrong. Many of the attendees are, indeed, published authors.

The keynote speaker on Saturday was Sue Grafton, author of the Alphabet (Kinsey Millhone) mysteries. Starting with A is for Alibi, Sue has crafted a protagonist with a spunky personality and personal foibles, who is both believable and likeable.

As she spoke, her voice reflected the personality of her character. She is a master of creating original and creative metaphors. These add depth and color to her manuscripts as well as to her own speech.

After the keynote, she was interviewed with a Q&A session following. She is as funny and approachable as one might expect from reading her books.

The keynote speaker for Sunday was Elizabeth George. I must confess, she was the speaker I most wanted to hear since we had seen and heard her at the Maui Writers Conference in 2005. I still quote some of the wisdom she imparted at that time.

I was sardined into a small meeting room for her workshop, along with far more attendees than the room would hold. In addition, several more were turned away for lack of space. And once again, she inspired and taught while speaking about her own writing process.

Her keynote was self-revelatory and relatable, as I had expected.

Since her book signing went long, so many of those who might have wanted to hear her interview (including Larry) decided to attend other workshops. She was well-worth the wait! She sat around a table with about a dozen of us and was interviewed. The questions were well-thought-out, and her answers were thoughtful. But she also answered our own questions with the same candor. She even revealed a bit of the background for her next book, to be released in October of this year.

And those two great authors were only the icing on the cake. The offerings were rich and varied and provided something for everyone.

Why do we continue to attend conferences? Because we get so much rich material, but also because we get enthused about the writing process again.

Writers who are serious about the craft owe it to themselves to attend conferences where they can be surrounded by the best in the business. Sit at their feet, and learn.


  1. Every conference has a personality of its own. I didn't get to this one, PSWA is too close and I can only handle so much. Might be different if I wasn't the chairperson.

  2. Totally agree with this. As writers, we become enthused by conferences. And it's better yet when you get someone like Elizabeth George with her experience, success and generosity in sharing her writing secrets and processes. Alas, I'm Downunder and the trip was impossible. Would love to have gone. Will share your insights on FB.

  3. I agree, that the conferences spark something in us and motivate us. Wish I could have been there.
    Marja McGraw

  4. Wish you all could have joined us!