Wednesday, June 16, 2021

CCWC 2021 Recap


I spent last Saturday attending the California Crime Writers Conference - Pandemic Edition. CCWC is a joint effort of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the SoCal chapter of Mystery Writers of America. It’s held every other year and is usually a two day event. The pandemic turned this year’s into a one-day virtual event via Zoom. All of the presentations were recorded except for one. They should be available on the website sometime in the next few weeks.

Past conferences were two-day events with around 200 attendees. In a normal year, there are 4 panels going at a time. I recapped the 2017 Conference here on Type M. You can read about it here to get a sense of what a normal year looks like.

Even though we couldn’t get together in person, the virtual event was still a lot of fun. There was a variety of things, all interesting in their own ways. We had a fifteen minute break between events.

The first panel at 9 a.m. was The Exquisite Joy of Finding Out: How to Research Your Novel. SinC/LA President Anne Louise Bannon moderated. Panelists were Anne Perry, Jeffery Deaver, Naomi Hirahara and S.A. Crosby. Panelists talked about researching for both contemporary and historical stories. YouTube was mentioned, which I admit I’ve gotten a lot of useful information from. was mentioned for online access to newspapers from the 1700s to 2000s. Jeffery Deaver also mentioned he used Natural Reader to read chapters of his WIP to him. I'm going to check this one out myself.

The next panel was Some Like It Hot: Adding Romance and Sex to Your Mysteries. Paula Bernstein moderated with Victoria Thompson, Deborah Crombie, Toby Neal and Pamela Samuels Young as panelists. I missed about 5 minutes of this one because my laptop decided it wanted to reboot itself during it.

Then came Police Procedurals 2021: Social Justice and the Pandemic. SoCal MWA President Jessica Kaye moderated with panelists Rachel Howzell Hall, Faye Snowden, Ausma Khan and Isabella Maldonado.

Next was the presentation that I was most interested in (and the only one that was not recorded): Identification of the Buckskin Girl: Forensic Genealogy and Cold Case Resolution presented by Elizabeth A. Murray. She is a forensic anthropologist and college professor. You may know her name from several books she’s written or the two Great Courses series she’s done: Trails of Evidence and Forensic History

In this presentation she talked about how they identified a body found in 1981 many years later through the use of genetic genealogy. I’m used to hearing about using this method to identify perpetrators of crimes, but this was a nice reminder that it can also be used to identify victims. In 1981, they had fingerprints, a photo of the face of the deceased, dental charts and autopsy results. Over the years, efforts had been made to identify her, even using palynology (analysis of pollen) to see if they could link her to a specific area. It was a very interesting presentation on how they finally identified her 37 years later.

The last presentation was Publishing in a Pandemic: A Glimpse of the Future Opportunities & Challenges with Jane Friedman. Jane Friedman talked about the state of the publishing world. How books sales dramatically increased during the pandemic and so many other things. She also talked about Kindle Vella, a way to publish serialized stories. It’s going live for readers in the summer. They don't take rights for this, but an author can't use Vella to publish a work that has been published as a book. This is one I hadn't heard about.

That’s my very short recap of the conference. The videos should be available for you to view soon. This year’s conference was fun, but I’m looking forward to an in-person conference next time around in 2023.

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