Last weekend was the California Crime Writers Conference, a bi-annual two-day conference sponsored by Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and the Los Angeles chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Since I’m on the board of Sisters in Crime/LA, I’ve been working on the conference. Specifically, I’ve been in charge of volunteers among the attendees to help out with various duties during the weekend. They are much appreciated.
The conference sold out early. It’s limited to 200 particpants, and it was filled up long before the deadline. Our guests of honor were Hallie Ephron and William Kent Kruger, great mystery writers and very nice people.
There are four tracks: Writing Craft, Industry/Business, Law Enforcement/Forensics, and Marketing, and each track has four panel sessions per day, so there are lots of options to choose from. I went to several panels as well as spending time in the Auction Room selling raffle tickets and helping with the silent auction for the beautiful baskets, most made by one of our members. I also spent some time in the Book Room where attendees could choose free books.
My favorite panel is always Author Idol where actor/writer Harley Jane Kozak reads first pages submitted by attendees to a panel of agents who listen and raise their hands when they decide they would not read any further. The agents are pretty brutal, but nonetheless, a number of first pages make it past that judgment, and one is awarded the prize of being the best first page. Harley Jane is terrific, the agents are tough, and the whole process is a lot of fun.
I was on a panel in the Marketing track called Visibility: Getting Yourself Known. That’s not my best skill, but I made my contributions and had a good time.
On Friday night cozy authors read from pages of works submitted by noir authors and vice versa. It was terrific to get a feeling for how a noir author darkens up the writing of even the coziest author.
All in all, I had a great time. I was pretty exhausted by the time the conferenc was over. Fortunately, I stayed over Friday and Saturday nights at the hotel, so I didn’t have to cope with driving the freeways back and forth.
The next California Crime Writers Conference will be in 2019, and I will no longer be on the board. Nonetheless, I plan to attend. It’s always a delight!