The guy pictured to the left is famed mystery/suspense writer David Baldacci. He served as Keynote Speaker for the annual SleuthFest conference sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. The conference was held at the end of February in Boca Raton, Florida. I attended along with several hundred other mystery authors and writers.
Gathering with colleagues to help improve your craft is always a great experience. While the conference is still fresh in my mind, I want to share a few observations.
I first started writing in 1987. I joined a local writers group and nearly every week I could be found browsing the shelves of the writing section at my local bookstore. I would swap books on writing with other writers, and share stories of best practices. Not long after I joined Mystery Writers of America, I attended one of their regular meetings in New York City. It was great to rub elbows with people who had figured out how to get published.
Over the years, I would attend one-day workshops on writing as well as multi-day conferences. Every one of them was a positive experience, and this most recent Sleuthfest was no exception. These days, going to a conference is less about learning new tricks than getting reminders of the tried and true aspects every writer needs to be successful. No matter what profession we are in, it never hurts to tune up our skills.
One of the first sessions I attended at Sleuthfest dealt with incorporating all of the senses into writing (see, hear, taste, touch, smell). Of course, I've known that advice for years. But it never hurts to be reminded. And that session reminded me, as we even did a few writing "practices" to incorporate those senses.
The other advantage I find in going to conferences is the opportunity to network with other writers, over lunch, in the hallways, after dinner. It is great to hear about the journey these writers take and compare/contrast to my own.
Not only do I write mysteries, but the process of writing is a mystery... because Life's a Mystery.