Monday, June 12, 2017

Why Conferences?

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

Why do we attend conferences?
Shortly after our first book, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was published, I suggested we attend the Maui Writers’ Conference (now defunct). We had already planned a trip to Hawaii 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. Plus, 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 sessions. Fortunately, we had several more days in Hawaii following the conference, because he never went surfing.
We heard some terrific speakers, learned a great deal, which we still use, met 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 understood when we complained, “My characters won’t leave me alone.” They nodded sagely. They related in a way non-writers never could.
Our first book was 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 enjoyable, and some of the attendees have become dear friends. We attended this one for many years.
I met one of my writing partners at the first EPICon. Together with three other friends, we wrote 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. This partner also introduced us to her publisher, with whom we had a long and valued relationship. This company published the 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 editing clients.
For quite a few years, we presented classes and workshops at EPICon. Those became the foundation for speaking engagements. We now speak for many groups and organizations.
Through a friend we met at EPICon, we learned about the Public Safety Writers Association.


We have attended their conference, too. This one is for first-responders and those who write about them. We have gained a great deal of technical information at this conference, and again, met some fabulous people.
In 2014, we attended the Left Coast Crime Conference in Monterey, CA, where we saw the publisher of Ghost Writer, and met and renewed friendships with several authors. We also visited a friend in the area since we were already there.

In March of this year, we attended Left Coast Crime again, this time in Honolulu. We felt as though we had come full circle. Our first conference was in Hawaii, and we had returned.

So, why do we attend conferences?

  • ·         We have opportunities to network with other writers and industry professionals. We only see some of these folks in person at conferences, and it’s nice to reconnect with old friends.
  • ·         We meet new people who will most likely become friends. We have much to share.
  • ·         We may find new opportunities, like the person who invited us to be her guest on her podcast.
  • ·      We learn the latest information on the publishing industry. Today it changes almost daily, and it’s important to stay current.
  • ·         We attend workshops and panel discussions where we learn a great deal. This year, Hallie Ephron gave a dynamite class on how to evaluate the relationships between characters. I know I will use it from now on. Larry attended a terrific session on processing a crime scene. The information will certainly make its way into our books.
  • ·         Larry won one of the drawings. Heck, this is another bonus.
  • ·         We return home inspired and ready to get back to writing again.