By Kay Kendall
Today I’m sitting in for Stiletto Gang colleague and friend, Marjorie Brody. A sudden death in her family has left her with an unbearable list of things to do. Pinch-hitting for Marjorie gives me the chance to make back-to-back posts exploring the burgeoning phenomenon of conferences designed both for readers and for writers.
Back in the days before I was a published author, when I contemplated a writing career, I had no idea that there would be so many opportunities to hobnob with other writers—and with readers too. I had always thought that the life of a writer was a solitary one. Then I discovered the wealth of conferences that blanket this continent. The list of seminars for aspiring writers is long, and almost as long is the list of conferences for both readers and authors. I swear you could spend your life going from meeting to meeting. That is, if you had the money to do so.
I have ended up loving the networking and marketing and meeting readers and other writers so much that it’s easy to forget about the writing at the core of it all…which remains sitting alone in that room and facing an empty screen and throwing type up on it. For me, that is torture. Once I get past the first draft, then the rest is glorious.
Starting in 2004, I began attending one regional writing conference per year. Then, beginning in 2011, I started attending Bouchercon. It must be the world’s largest con aimed at fans of mystery authors. Then in 2013, the year my first book was published, I attended three conferences in one calendar year, and that has remained my standard to this very day. If my budget and my writing calendar allowed, however, I would do even more. The most marvelous part of these gatherings is meeting many people who were Facebook friends and now have turned into real ones, not just virtual.
Three days ago I returned home from the annual ThrillerFest in New York City, sponsored by International Thriller Writers. ITW celebrates its tenth anniversary this year so the conference was even more star-studded than usual. I participated in an authors’ round table, renewed old acquaintances, made new ones, sold some books, and networked like crazy. In tomorrow’s post I will talk in detail about some of the famous writers who spoke at ThrillerFest.
The month of October will begin with Bouchercon in Raleigh, North Carolina, and end with Killer Nashville in Tennessee. Half the size of ThrillerFest and Bouchercon, Killer Nashville is an exceptionally supportive and friendly gathering. My more introverted author pals are drawn to smaller conferences like this one. At each event I’ve attended, one of these introverts confides to me how difficult it is to endure so many people at once.
But now I am back in my author’s lair, facing that empty PC screen. The nasty thing keeps whispering to me that I must start writing my third mystery featuring my amateur sleuth, Austin Starr. Tentatively titled Tombstone Blues, this will be Austin’s most dangerous adventure yet when she and her husband David tangle with Russian spies in Cold War-era Vienna. It opens only a month after the conclusion of Rainy Day Women, and David is still mad at her. Because she . . . but wait! I’m about to give away too much. I must stop. I want this to be a spoiler-free zone!
Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. She is a reformed PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. RAINY DAY WOMEN published on July 7--the second in her Austin Starr Mystery series. The audio-book will be out soon.