Monday, June 8, 2015

Why Attend Writing Conferences

We just returned from a weekend at the California Crime Writers Conference. As always, we had a great time, saw old friends, met new ones, and learned a great deal.

We’ve attended conferences since shortly after our first book was published, and we’ve been asked why. Here’s my answer.
I suggested we attend the Maui Writers’ Conference a few months after we published our first book, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park. We had already planned a trip to the island for the same time, and one of my favorite authors, Gail Tsukiyama, was a presenter. Larry said he’d rather surf. That is, until he found out one of his favorites, Terry Brooks, was a speaker. Oh, and he realized the cost of the conference was tax-deductible.

He finally agreed to go, but said he’d drop me off in the morning, go surfing, and pick me up in the afternoon, except for the time Terry was scheduled. I agreed.
Once we arrived and he saw all the topics available, he decided maybe he’d go to one or two. It was a good thing we had another few days in Hawaii following the conference, because he never went surfing. Alas, the conference is no more, but we still have the memories.
We heard some awesome people speak, learned a great deal, which we’re still using, met some wonderful folks with whom we’re still in touch, and had a blast.
One person we met became the inspiration for our protagonist, Agapè Jones, in our cozy mysteries, Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise.
We enjoyed spending time with others who understand when you complain, “My characters just won’t do what I want them to do.” They nod sagely, because they’ve been there, too.
Our first book was named a finalist for the EPPIE award, so we decided to attend the EPIC conference (EPICon) the following year.

This conference was smaller than Maui, but some of the attendees have become dear friends.
I met one of my writing partners at the first one. Together with three other friends, we’ve written the six Aspen Grove sweet romance anthologies: Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, The Art of Love, Directions of Love, which won the EPIC eBook Award, and our latest, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe, soon to be available as an audiobook. She also introduced us to the independent publisher, who published our romances as well as our mysteries.
We also met the publishers for whom I have edited and formatted as well as several of my freelance clients.
For quite a few years, we presented classes and workshops at EPICon. Those became the foundation for speaking engagements, which we’ve been doing a lot more of recently.
Last year, we attended the Left Coast Crime Conference in Monterey, CA, where we got together with one of my publishers and several of her authors for dinner. We’d met her through a previous conference.

While in Monterey, we spent an evening with a friend who lives there, attended some great presentations, and participated as presenters on panels, made new friends and learned more about our craft. We also got to hear Elizabeth George and Sue Grafton again. We’d met both of them at previous conferences.

Why do we attend conferences? We have opportunities to network with other writers and industry professionals. We learn a lot. We keep current on the state of the publishing industry. We return home inspired and ready to get back to writing again.