Sometimes I think I’ve heard everything there is to know about writing and the publishing business but, of course, I’m always wrong because things change. Mystery fan conventions like Bouchercon or Left Coast Crime are fun, because you get to attend panels, listen to your favorite authors wax poetic, get books signed and mingle in the bar. However, if you’re serious about writing and you want to learn nitty-gritty tips to inspire your process, or learn about the latest trends in the publishing business from editors and agents, you should consider attending a writers’ conference.
The California Crime Writers Conference is a biennial, two-day event that began in 1995 as a one-day conference organized by Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. In 2007 after years of success, the conference partnered with the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America to become the even bigger and more comprehensive CCWC.
As 2012-2013 president of SinC/LA, I co-chaired CCWC in 2013, which featured keynote speakers Elizabeth George and Sue Grafton. The inspirational keynote speeches given by these two writers were worth the price of admission.
|Sue Grafton, Hank Phillippi Ryan, moi, Elizabeth George (photo by Robin Templeton)|
But, of course, there was more to discover. Attendees in 2013 chose from a host of workshops in four tracks (Craft, Business, Law Enforcement/Forensics and Nuts and Bolts issues) lead by bestselling authors, law enforcement and forensic experts, plus top agents and editors. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. One award-winning author told me the conference featured the best law enforcement/forensic track she had ever seen in all her years of attending conferences.
The 2015 CCWC is shaping up to be another winner. This year, I’m co-chairing the Law Enforcement and Forensics track, which will include homicide detectives, an FBI agent and firearms trainer, a forensic entomologist, an expert on serial killers in the medical field, a forensic psychiatrist, among others.
Too often writers collect information about forensics and law enforcement from watching TV and film. Many of those “facts” are fiction. CCWC allows a writer to learn firsthand from experts who will share their knowledge and answer questions about how homicide detectives handle a crime scene, what firearm a character might use and why, how insect activity reveals clues about a death, how a serial killer thinks and how to avoid common mistakes when writing about forensic evidence.
However, the most compelling reason to attend a writers’ conference is for the opportunity to network with fellow attendees. Writing is a solitary pursuit. Writers need to charge those batteries by basking in shared experiences. Whether you’re looking for an agent, a critique group, an independent copy editor or just some conversation with fellow scribblers, think about attending a writers' conference, especially CCWC, since I'll be there to hold your hand. Invest in yourself. Register. Learn. Share. Succeed. You deserve it.