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?