Saturday, April 25, 2015

Conferences and Conventions

by Kaye George (who will also be Janet  Cantrell at the next convention)

Are these good for authors to attend? I had a publisher who insisted they are a waste of time and money. True, they do use up these things, but I could never call them a waste. I’ve gotten SO much out of them. After all, it’s due to Malice Domestic and Killer Nashville that I can call myself an award winning writer!

Besides the opportunity to win awards and put cool things on your book covers and in your bio, the psychological benefits are enormous.

I’ll never forget the time I arrived at Malice late Thursday night and, after chucking my things in my room, headed down to the bar for a drink. Vicki Delaney came up to me while I was ordering and said, “Hey sailor, can I show you a good time?” Vicki is a stitch! I joined her and a small group of writers at a table. We were the only ones in the bar. A rousing discussion of ellipses and em-dashes ensued. You can’t find fun like that if you’re not with a bunch of writers!

Then there was the time I lunched with Annamaria Alfieri in Nashville. She had attended a session that I hadn’t been able to, so she filled me in. We were talking about human trafficking, to use the polite term, which had been the topic I’d missed, but we were also talking about plot possibilities. When mystery writers get together, serious discussions of murder methods, plot devices, and the dark side of the human psyche flow. I would feel awkward speaking about those things in public if I weren’t with other writers. I wonder what the waiters at those conferences think.

When I first started attending conferences, I gained a huge amount of knowledge from listening to panel members talk about details of writing, also about publishing, submitting, and just plain keeping on in the face of the incredible amount of rejection we all experience.

As I’ve gotten published and am now speaking on panels, I find that I don’t need to attend the sessions about nuts and bolts writing so much, but still find it great fun to see the people I know behind the panel tables.

Which brings up another benefit, getting to meet people face to face that I’ve known online—sometimes for years. Sometimes I’m surprised at how short or tall people are, and by what their voices sound like, especially accents. After I’ve met someone, I can hear their voice as I read email exchanges and blog posts, and can picture them much better than I can from a tiny headshot.

Also, of course, there’s always the hope that attending mystery readers and fans will discover and like your books!

By the way, I’ll be at Malice Domestic in May and if you’re free at 3 on Saturday, my panel will be called “The Paws That Refresh”—a panel by writers who use pets in their novels. I think you’ll have time to get down to the bar to see the Kentucky Derby at 4. If you leave early for that, I’ll forgive you.


Have I missed any of the benefits of conferences?

11 comments:

Gale Albright said...

I wish I could be at Malice to see The Paws That Refresh. I'm familiar with your literary pets Quincy, Marshmallow, and that parrot whose name momentarily escapes me. You do pets well. They are a fun addition to the mystery. Do you know who else will be on your panel about pet talk?

Kaye George said...

I should have said that, shouldn't I? The panel is John Clement, Linda O. Johnston, Carole Nelson Douglas, and me, with Laura Morrigan moderating. The parrot is Lady Jane Grey, but that book isn't out yet.

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

i love conferences. Went to Malice twice. Nowadays, though I'm finding flying a bit too much for this old lady. I am going to PSWA because we can drive to Vegas. Have a great time at Malice. Going to mystery cons is like going to family reunions, you get to see so many people that you love being around.

Kaye George said...

I feel like I'm getting too old to drive, Marilyn! I'd rather fly--and nap on the way. Have a great time at PSWA!

Jean Henry Mead said...

Conferences are great fun, and the opportunity to talk about writing that you can't with non-writers. Connecting with editors and publishers sold my first few books and I'm still grateful to them for jump starting my writing career.

Kaye George said...

I totally agree, Jean! They've been very helpful to me, too.

Marilyn Levinson said...

See you in a few days!

Kaye George said...

TWO days! Or three if you're not there Thurs evening.

Linda Thorne said...

I love writing conferences. I've also gone through the nuts and bolts workshops and can move on to others. I meet people who remember me from various other writing events and the whole interaction with other writers is invaluable in my opinion and so much fun. I will be making the step to panel appearances soon too. I've never been to the Malice Domestic conference. Would love to at some point.

Kaye George said...

The interaction is priceless, isn't it? I hope to see you at a Malice meeting some day, Linda.

Morgan Mandel said...

I went to all of the Love is Murder conferences until I retired. Then, I couldn't justify paying that kind of expense without the income from my day job.