Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Planning a Writers Conference

For the past few years I've been the conference chair for the Public Safety Writers Association's writing conference. When I started we had about 16 attendees. The latest one in July, we had 50.

This is a different type of conference because everyone who comes wants to learn to be a better writer whether they are a retired cop, FBI agent, police dispatcher, Secret Service agent, coroner, lawyer, fireman, police psychiatrist, forensic expert or someone who wants to write mysteries that might include people of these professions. Because these are the people who attend, these are the people who offer to speak.

Fortunately for me, when one conference is over, these experts come up with ideas about what they'd like to talk about for the next conference. We don't pay anyone who speaks, nor do we comp them, they must pay the conference fee just like anyone else.

Because most come wanting to learn how to write better we also have panels about settings, etc. One of the funniest panels was called Cop Talk. A former police dispatcher asked questions of four former officers, things like, "What was the most embarrassing thing you did while on the job?" These guy were hilarious and surprisingly honest.

The most popular speaker talked about writing screen plays and TV scripts. My favorite was the police psychologist.

It does take a lot of planning to arrange the program so that something that is lively will be on at 9:30 so everyone will show up, something that will keep everyone awake after lunch, and a speaker or panel so engaging that no one will leave until the day is over.  It came together well this year, and I hope I can pull it off again for next year.

If you'd like to know more about the conference and what went on, you can go to the website http://www.policewriter.com/ and read the after conference newsletter and see some of the photos.

I had a wonderful time even though I did have to work at keeping everything moving. 



  1. Good for you, Marilyn! Sounds like an interesting and informative conference.

  2. I'm only sorry I got so sick I had to go home before I could be part of the Cop Talk panel.

    It was a great conference from what little I saw of it.

    Kathy Bennett - L.A. Cop (ret.)
    Authentic Crime...Arresting Stories
    A Dozen Deadly Roses - Top 100 Barnes and Noble Nookbooks &
    Amazon Top 100 Police Procedurals

  3. You did an amazing job, Marilyn. This was my third PSWA conference, and it just keeps getting better! I look forward to next year already. We were sad that Kathy B had to leave early due to illness ~ we missed hearing about her experience.

  4. Kathy, I was sorry you had to leave too. We're going to do the same panel next year too, and if you come I'll be sure you're on it.

    Kathleen, it's work but I really do like doing it.

    Susan, I've really enjoyed watching this conference grow and I'm always amazed at the wonderful people who come and are willing to speak with no compensation whatsoever and have to pay to come to the conference just like everyone else.