This week, I’m going to Killer Nashville, a great conference for mystery writers and readers. I am looking forward to it after having finished my third Skeet Bannion novel and turned it in on my deadline. It will be a time to celebrate books, readers, writers, and the mystery field. And did I mention it’s in Nashville? I am ready for Music City, USA.
I’ll be on a panel called “Fiction on the Fringes: Writing about Other Cultures, Closed Societies and Countercultures.” Appearing with me will be Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., Bharti Kirchner, Jill Yesko, and moderator Stacy Allen. We’ll be discussing writing about universities, the Cherokee, Jewish and (East) Indian communities, and the worlds of hackers and street people. I think it should be a fascinating panel.
My husband and I are carpooling to Nashville with Julie Tollefson, a friend from Border Crimes, our local Sisters in Crime chapter. We’re not staying at the conference hotel but with Lorraine Lopez, a dear friend and wonderful literary fiction writer. And while we’re at Killer Nashville, we intend to run around with other great writer friends like Hilary Davidson, Chris and Katrina Niidas Holm, and Debra Goldstein. These are people I’m so fond of and, with the exception of Julie, seldom get to see.
That’s one of the things that sends me to writers conferences—friends in the business who live far away and are as busy as I am, so we seldom see each other. The AWP (Association of Writers and Writers Programs) national conference held in late winter at various large cities around the country is a big one I almost never miss. Over 1,200 writers and publishers gather each year, and I can’t walk from one spot to another without constantly being pulled over by someone I know. Some of my favorite people in the world I only see at AWP anymore.
Then there are book festivals. Tucson holds a legendary book festival that numerous friends want me to attend, and I hope to do that soon. Los Angeles also puts on a famed book festival that friends and my poetry publisher in California would like me to attend, so I will try to make that happen in the next year or two. This fall, I’ve been invited to read at the Brooklyn Book Festival in New York City and at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY, just outside of the city, so September 20-23 will see me in New York. Again, many friends in the writing world will be there, and it will be a great opportunity to see them, as well as my agent and editor.
However, the main reason to go to these conferences and festivals, at least for me, is the readers who flock to them. It’s a wonderful way to make contact with readers from different parts of the country and a grand way for readers to meet and hear their favorite authors and learn about and find new favorite authors. At a conference or festival, a writer can connect with readers in a way s/he seldom has a chance to connect at other times. So, let’s hear it for all the wonderful conferences and festivals around and all the great people, usually volunteers, who work so hard to make them happen successfully!
What conferences and festivals do you like to attend? Why or why not?