Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Five Top Mystery Conferences

I'm in Helsinki, not attending a writer's conference, so I've asked my friend, Lori Rader-Day, to guest post. Lori is the author of The Black Hour and the just released Little Pretty Things. I've read them both and they're terrific - starred reviews and award nominations - terrific. Check out her website,  - Clare 

by Lori Rader-Day
When this guest post goes live, I’ll just be home from one of my favorite conferences—not as an attendee this time, but as a faculty member. That’s a milestone I’m pretty excited about, but I also just like to talk about writers conferences. Because I’ve been to a lot of them, I get asked about them all the time.

The topic is also exceedingly appropriate for 7 Criminal Minds because I owe this guest post opportunity and pretty much everything great that has happened to my writing career to meeting one of my host criminally minded at—you guessed it—a conference.

In the three years since I walked into my very first Bouchercon and decided I needed to make Clare O’Donohue my friend, I’ve finished my novel, got an agent with her help, published two books, and sold a third. So yeah. Conferences can be the beginning of something good.

So where should you go? A few suggestions:

Left Coast Crime
Winter, West of the Mississippi

Host to a wide range of crime fiction, large enough to meet new people, and small enough to get the hang of things quickly, Left Coast Crime might be the perfect mystery conference. The event moves around from year to year, so it might be closer for you one year over another—but always on the sunny side of the country during March. Reader-friendly. Packing tip: Leave the down coats at home to leave room for all the books you’ll be taking home.

Malice Domestic
Spring, Bethesda, Maryland/D.C-area

Malice Domestic specializes in traditional mysteries—cozies but also their slightly darker sisters in amateur sleuth and psychological suspense. Frankly, that means is a woman’s writer’s world at this annual late-April/early-May conference, but men should feel welcome, too, especially if they write women characters well or charming characters generally. A reader-friendly conference and a great place to get your books signed. Packing tip: The best dressed mystery conference of them all.

Midwest Writers Workshop
Summer, Indiana

It says it right there in the name of the event: you’re here to work on your craft, not just listen to published authors talking about where they get their ideas. The course offerings range widely, from poetry and memoir to romance, thriller, and mystery, and the sessions are small enough you’ll get your questions answered. Special all-day sessions are available on a range of topics. Packing tip: Bring your manuscript for add-on pitch and query letter sessions with pros.

Autumn, Every Year a Different Port

This conference may be a moving target on the calendar and on the map, but that means certain years it might be in your own backyard. This year it’s October in Raleigh, North Carolina. All kinds of mysteries, a full multi-track schedule of you’re your favorite authors. This is the biggie for mystery writers, but it can also be overwhelming for a newcomer. Pair up with another newbie to share expenses and have a panel buddy. Reader friendly. Packing tip: The only evening wear you really need is whatever is most comfortable for sitting in the bar, talking to your new friends.

October, Indiana

Yeah, I know. I go to Indiana a lot, but I’m from there and these are good conferences, I promise. Magna is a tidy little conference on the circle in downtown Indianapolis, small but well run and organized with lively panels, a homey feel, and an international flavor, thanks to a partnership with the British crime-writing event Crimefest. Very reader friendly. Packing tip: Colts gear is always welcome, come fall in Indiana. They’re a little touchy about Denver Broncos gear, though.

There are certainly other mystery and thriller conferences to try out—and that’s what you should do. Every chance you get, try to surround yourself with other writers and the readers who appreciate them. These are the conferences where I fit in best, but don’t just take my word for it: Figure out where you and your work belongs, and then make the most of every chance you get to be among your peers.

I also haven’t been to every single event out there. Maybe you’ve got a favorite? Leave it in the comments!


Meredith Cole said...

Thanks for being a guest at 7 Criminal Minds, Lori! Can't wait to meet you at Bouchercon this fall (in person!).

Susan C Shea said...

Lori, the word is out that your second book's a winner - congratulations! See you at BCon and thanks for showing up here at Criminal Minds.