Friday, June 16, 2017

Eenie Meenie Miney Moe To Which Convention Do I Go?

There’s only so much time, and there’s only so much money, while the opportunities are plentiful. How do you decide which writing conferences and conventions to attend? (ie, what are your criteria?)

by Paul D. Marks

Funny you should ask, since I spent this weekend at the California Crime Writers Conference in Culver City, CA (Los Angeles). In fact, I’m writing this the night I returned home from the conference – so that’s one I decided to attend. It’s put on by the Los Angeles chapters of both Sisters in Crime and the Mystery Writers of America. I’m on the board of the latter and have been on the board of the former (a long time ago). That sort of helps in determining whether or not to go 😉 . However, I would go anyway. This is one hell of a good conference that’s put on every two years by these groups. It’s local – well fairly local for me. And that helps. But one still has to pay for the conference and maybe the hotel.

My Panel at CCWC this past weekend:
The Long and Short of It: Short Stories and Novellas vs. Novels
L to R: S.W. Lauden, Me, William Kent Krueger, Kate Thornton, Travis Richardson

As the question says, there’s only so much time and so much money and tons of conferences and conventions. And, while I might like to attend many conventions/conferences, one necessarily has to limit the ones we go to. If the event is local that certainly makes it easier to decide to attend. No airfare. Though sometimes even for local events I might stay in the hotel where it’s being held. It’s just easier than going back and forth, especially as we live kind of off the beaten path.

Bouchercon, Long Beach

Another thing that might make me want to attend is if I’m nominated for an award. But sometimes you don’t know that by the time you have to register. Sometimes it’s the city where the event is being held that draws you in, besides the event itself. I really wanted to go to Bouchercon in New Orleans. And we’d made reservations but due to the usual “circumstances beyond my control” I had to cancel. It would have been nice to hit Left Coast Crime in Hawaii too. Luckily those are both places I’ve been to a lot so I didn’t feel totally let down not going.

Bouchercon 2015 - Raleigh
L to R: Elaine Helms, Paul D. Marks, Art Taylor, Tara Laskowski, Janet Hutchings, Rick Helms

The Edgar Awards are always in New York and are the Big Kid on the Block of mystery/crime awards, akin to the Oscars in Hollywood. I didn’t know if I’d ever have a chance to go to them, but luckily I did get to go to the last Edgars a few weeks ago since I won the Ellery Queen Readers Award and was EQ’s guest at the Edgars. And I would love to go again…especially if I’m ever nominated 😃.

The quaint house we bought in Albany during the 2013 Bouchercon.
See, you never know what'll come of going to a convention 😉 .
And Bouchercon is the Big Kid of mystery/crime conventions/conferences. I’ve been to a few and really enjoyed them all. Love being able to connect with people I’ve met online, or people I don’t get to see in person that often, and to meet new people. We went to Bouchercons in Raleigh, NC and Albany, NY, two cities we might never have visited if not for the convention. And while we enjoyed Bouchercon we also booked a couple of extra days so we could explore the “neighborhoods,” and enjoyed them both. We’ve been to other Bouchercons as well, but in cities we already “knew.” There’s also the ITW convention, which I’d like to attend someday. And Malice and so many others. It really is hard to choose.

The Food Truck Day Celebration, right outside the Bouchercon hotel in Raleigh.
Who knew?

Even if you’re an introvert, you still might want to check some of these out. Most people are friendly and the writing community is very supportive. It might be uncomfortable at first, but eventually you’ll become part of the flow.

Hanging out at the bar -- a Bouchercon tradition.

My wife, Amy, usually comes with me. It gives us a chance to get away and spend time together. And we always have a good time.

Amy, on our way home from Left Coast Crime in Monterey, CA.

Of course, I’d like to attend as many conventions as I could, for the comradery, the networking, fun, adventure, excitement! And the food. But it’s impossible, so it really does come down to where they are, how much they are, how well suited to my writing style they are. Possibly if I have a book coming out that also would motivate me to want to hit the road.

I doubt you’d go wrong attending any of the established conventions/conferences. There’s always something to learn, people to meet and places to explore. Have fun!


And now for the usual BSP:

My story Twelve Angry Days is in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, on sale at newsstands. Or click here to buy online. If you like food and you like mysteries, I think you might like this story.



Dietrich Kalteis said...

I agree with everything you said.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Dieter.

Unknown said...

If only we had transporters. Anyway, it will be good to get out the door and be part of the flow - and get to meet you all!

RJ Harlick said...

Since you are a fan of Bouchercon, are we going to see you in Toronto, Paul?

Paul D. Marks said...

Transporters would be good, RM! Hope to meet you in person some day.

Paul D. Marks said...

Unfortunately, RJ, I'm not going to make it to Toronto. I really wish I could. It would be great to meet you in person too.

Kate Thornton said...

Paul, it was such a pleasure to be on the Short Story panel with you at CCWC. You are so intelligent, witty and funny, and I loved your story about drawing on the LAPD and living to tell the tale. Please give my best to Amy - and a big thank you to her for the fabulous picture. I love it! And both of you.

Paul D. Marks said...

Ditto, Kate! Enjoyed being on the panel with you. It was fun and a great panel. And I didn't know Steve was going to ask me that question. But it's one of those stories that's fun to tell today but was pretty intense at the time.

Cathy Ace said...

Super piece - and photos! :-)

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Cathy.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I've done all those conventions--including once to the Edgars. But now, I find it difficult to fly, and don't have much extra money, so I've limited myself to the Public Safety Writers Association's conference in Las Vegas--we can drive, the hotel is inexpensive, 3 great lunches come with the price of the con, it's small so I pretty much know everyone or will by the time the conference is over--and I get to hang out with mystery writers and a bunch of folks with public safety backgrounds: cops, dispatchers, FBI, and more.

Dianne Emley said...

It was great seeing you and Amy at CCWC! Great piece. It is always hard to choose which cons to attend, but I use most of the same parameters as you. I'm not going to B'con this year but will be at LCC in Reno next spring. You?

Unknown said...

Great advice. The same is true for those of us who write sci-fi too. Comic cons and other science fiction expos are good networking opportunities for writers like me. It definitely seems like the attendees at most conventions are quite friendly and inclusive.

Paul D. Marks said...

Marilyn, the Public Safety Writers conference sounds good. Especially if you can drive to it. I think that definitely makes it easier to decide to attend.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Dianne And same here, good to see yo and Charlie too. I don’t think we’re going to Reno, but I’m not 100% sure yet. It would be fun though, and another chance to hang with you guys.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Stephanie. I’m sure there’s a feeling of friendship and affinity whether it’s mystery or sci-fi conventions. And on top of the business side, panels, networking, etc., they’re just a lot of fun, aren’t they?