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.