Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CCWC 2017 Recap

I recently attended the California Crime Writers Conference here in Southern California where around 200 like-minded individuals got together and talked about writing and the publishing biz. Let me tell you. The conference just keeps on getting better and better.

Over the years, I’ve attended a number of fan-focused mystery conventions, but this is the only conference geared toward writing I’ve been to. I’ve attended every CCWC since its start in 2009 and co-chaired the one in 2011. I credit the 2013 conference with helping me get published since it’s where I met the managing editor of Henery Press who now publishes my Aurora Anderson mystery series.

CCWC is put on every two years by the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime and the SoCal chapter of MWA. It takes lots and lots of volunteer hours to put together. My hats off to everyone who contributed, including this year’s co-chairs Sue Ann Jaffarian and Rochelle Staab.

The two days were jam-packed with information and opportunities to mingle with other crime writers. Attendees could pick from workshops in four tracks: Writing Craft, Industry/Business, Law Enforcement/Forensics, and Marketing. I spent most of my time in the marketing track because I feel like that’s where I need the most help. Still, my favorite workshop was the mock crime scene. We learned all about how the FBI processes a crime scene. It was fun and educational.

The crime scene

Volunteers suited up to investigate the scene

This was also my first foray into moderating a panel. It was titled Obi Wan Kenobi: Veteran Authors’ Strategies to Survive the Publishing Force with panelists Sue Ann Jaffarian, Patricia Smiley and Jeri Westerson. We had a great conversation, talking about how to survive the ups and downs of the publishing industry.

Obi Wan Kenobi panel

The conference fee included breakfast and a sit down lunch both days. Saturday, the keynote speaker was Hallie Ephron and Sunday was William Kent Krueger’s turn. Both were great speakers and left us inspired. The event closed with a short interview with Hallie and Kent, as he likes to be called.

Both of the keynote speakers also put on workshops on writing. Hallie’s was on harnessing characters to drive plot and Kent’s was on how to build suspense. I didn’t get a chance to attend either one, but those who did go told me they were wonderful so I purchased the recordings of the workshops. Yep, every session was recorded. CDs and mp3s were available at the conference. You didn’t have to wait and order them afterwards. Though you can. Here’s the link in case you’re interested:

There was also a cocktail party on Saturday evening where I had some wonderful conversations with people I’ve known for a while and some I just met.

Overall, it was a great event. Sure, I was tired afterward, but I met some great people and came away inspired to write. Isn’t that what a conference is all about?

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