This past weekend, approximately 200 hundred mystery fans and writers gathered together in the Dedham, Massachusetts, Hilton to participate in Crime Bake. It was a horrible weekend in New England, weather-wise, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the attendees, all enthusiastic mystery lovers. We were treated to a lunchtime talk by Sue Grafton, creator of the “alphabet” mystery series and the fabulous sleuth, Kinsey Millhone, in which she listed ten things writers shouldn’t do in their writing. I was dismayed to find that I am guilty of oh…all ten.
But that aside, it was a great conference. Great panels, lots of interesting conversation, and a boxed lunch (my all-time favorite mode of food delivery). I met some great people at the banquet Saturday night including Dana Cameron, Paul Tremblay, and Jedediah Berry, where we all participated in trying to solve two murders that took place right before our very eyes when we weren’t growsing about how our dinners were being interrupted by the aforementioned murders.
I’m a newcomer to conferences, having only started going this year. I went to Malice Domestic in May with the northern half of Evelyn David, and now have gone to Crime Bake, which I most certainly will attend again next year. I’m not sure how much selling goes on at these conventions; remember, I come from a college textbook background and selling at conventions is what we do. But I do know that it’s great to meet other writers and fans (I fall into both categories), and to hear about how other people navigate the stormy and lonely seas of writing. I know that after having attended these two conventions, I have been spurred to write more and complain less. I always get inspiration from talking about writing and mysteries and I write more words that sound better together when I come home. (This post may not be an example of that, but hear me out.) I learned about fellow Stiletto blogger Rachel Brady’s participation in Nano Wrimo, where in you write 50,000 words in the month of November, no editing allowed. I was exhausted just listening to her talk about trying to reach the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month—most of my books run from 80,000-90,000 words when they are finished so 50,000 is no small feat—but then I remembered who I was talking to: writer, mother, rocket scientist, and all-around fabulous stiletto-wearing gal. Who, if not Rachel, would be able to undertake this task successfully?
Thankfully, November is half over so I don’t have to participate in Nano Wrimo. But something tells me that next year, Ms. Brady will be knocking at my door.
Marilyn’s post yesterday says it all: treat yourself to a conference. I was nervous about attending my first conference but I’ve learned that the mystery community is generous, accepting, and wonderful. You may meet one of your favorite authors, or find out that you have a fan or two. Going to a conference gives your solitary writing life a context and a purpose. There are more of you out there than you ever imagined and it’s nice when you can all come together to celebrate and discuss what you do and love.
Hey, Stiletto Readers: what are your favorite conferences and why?