Friday, June 28, 2013

Crime May Not Pay, But You Meet The Nicest People!

One of my favorite aspects of writing mysteries is that I can be in complete control of the process, from beginning to end. Such independence was not possible when I was a songwriter back in the 1980s and ’90s. Although I could pen the lyrics and compose a melody line and chords to go along with them, the song was never “complete” until I got the band together and we worked out a full-fleshed arrangement. And unlike with fiction writing, a song doesn’t really exist until performed or recorded, which also (at least for me) requires the assistance of others.

But as with many things in life, there’s a downside to the independence inherent in fiction-writing: It can be a lonely calling. And discouraging, too, when those rejection letters start pouring in.

Luckily, there’s an antidote for us—it’s called a writers conference. I attended my first one last weekend, the California Crime Writers Conference, in my mom’s hometown, Pasadena.

Tournament of Roses poster in the hotel hallway

The main reason I signed up for the conference was to attend the classes. And, for the most part, they were terrific: lectures on how to bring your characters to life, crime scene investigation, and page-turning techniques; panel discussions on outlining vs. seat-of-the-pantsing, marketing, and the role of agents and editors.