...all of them. I love all the conferences. Where else can you go, hang out with friends, talk writing, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, eat at expensive restaurants and have Uncle Sam pay for half of it?
Okay so Uncle Sam doesn't really pay have of it - he just demands less excessive tribute because you are working and he knows you are pumping money back into the economy and... and we really do work there, honest.
For example - at Thrillerfest in NYC - I as an unagented, amature writer schlepping my manuscript around met a dazzling young agent by the name of Barbara Poelle - and after I confused her with a pitch that sounded something like two wookies arguing over who gets the last slice of space pizza (Ray's Original of course) she reluctantly said - real quiet like and perhaps hoping I wouldn't hear her - "Okay so send me ten pages."
Fortunately what she read was much better than what I pitched - to the point where her e-mail to me was something like - "are you the same guy I talked to at Thrillerfest? Anyway, if you are, I'd like to represent you."
To which I replied " OORREHHEYOOO" - Which anyone who speaks wookie will recognize as "OKAY - No problem."
Actually, did anyone else find it odd that Chewbacca would basically grunt three syllables which Han Solo would translate as "Chewie thinks the theory of relativity and super symmetry do not really connect well at the sub atomic level, and therefore there must be a third, as yet unknown, theory that will bridge the gap between the two of them and open up a whole new world of possibilities."
Really Han? You got all that from "OOOHRREE OOW"?
I know - I digress - and don't even get me started about why Chewie never had any clothes on. I mean what if he saw a cute girl wookie or took a liking to Princess Leia or Han's leg?
OKAY - Back to conferences - so the Thrillerfest is awesome - hands down the best. I also Like Bouchercon and found Killer Nashville to be fantastic.
But my favorite conference moment was the first one I ever went to. It was the Maui writers conference. It was 2002 or 2003 and I had written a manuscript and thrown it in a drawer years prior and my girlfriend at the time had convinced me to go the conference. I figured what the heck - its a trip to Maui - that doesn't suck.
So I went and I signed up kind of nervous like and I snuck into a few of the panels and watched and listened and I distinctly remember the feeling of my eyes opening - here was information I didn't have - professionals talking about writing about character and plot and theme. Here was access I didn't think I could ever get, rubbing shoulders and sitting down with agents and editors, talking with authors that had sold millions of books or even those who had sold thousands of books - or even one book. Here was inspiration, so much so I hit every panel I could, every day, right up until the last night when Bryce Courtney gave the keynote speech and I just sat there in awe and realized - specifically at that moment - this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Unfortunately, the Maui Writers Conference, which morphed into the Hawaii Writers Conference has gone by the wayside. But its not just the conference itself that matters, its the act of going. Its that first step, that leap of faith into a different bigger world.
I'm guessing we have a fair amount of aspiring writers reading this blog - if you're reading this you know I would urge you to go to any decently represented conference. Go for inspiration, go for the education, go for the friends - and the beverages. Because writing is a lonely enough business as it is, and we don't want to end up like the Uni bomber. Maybe that's why Uncle Sam is willing to pay half the bill - its safer that way.
And now a special announcement - Because those of us at Criminal Minds are truly bent on World Domination - not only did my novel Black Sun come out in bookstores yesterday, but today September 1st, Joshua Corin's complex and multifaceted novel While Galileo Preys hits the bookstores.
A little teaser for you:
"If there were a God, he would have stopped me."
That's the message discovered atop an elementary school in downtown Atlanta. Across the street are the bodies of fourteen innocent men and women, each quickly and cleanly murdered. the sniper Galileo is on the loose. He can end a human life from hundreds of yards away. And he is just getting started.
Where others see puzzles Esme Stuart sees patterns, and these outside the box inductive skills made her one of the FBI's operatives. But she turned her back on all that. She now has a husband and a daughter and a Long Island home far removed from the bloody streets of Atlanta.
But as Galileo's murders escalate, Esme's beleaguered old boss at the Bureau needs the help of his former protege. But how can she turn her back on her well earned quiet life? Could she ever justify such a choice to her husband? Her daughter?
And what will happen when Galileo turns his scope on them?
-- It sounds intense and I can't wait to get my hands on it.
Learn more about it at http://www.joshuacorin.com/
And you can find details about Black Sun at http://www.authorgrahambrown.com/
Black Sun is the second book in the Hawker/Laidlaw series.
It picks up two years after Black Rain, reuniting the characters in a race to discover the truth, as the world counting down to December 21st, 2012 and a cataclysm that may - or may not be - of human design.
Hope you enjoy it.