by Wilfred Bereswill
Since Annette Dashofy had so much fun organizing and babysitting the PennWriters Conference, I thought I’d stick with the theme. While writers conferences are in full swing, there have been many that have been cancelled or delayed due to the economy. Last week, over at The Outfit, a blog of Chicago Writers, Barb D’Amato wrote about the seeming demise of mystery conferences in particular. So is it all about the economy, or is it something else? Is The Internet and its virtual world making it easier to stay home and get your fill of authors teaching about writing? Personally, I think it’s a little of both.
I’ve gone to a number of conferences both pre and post publication. I can tell you that since I’ve been published, conferences have become more fun and relaxed. Even with the pressure of being on panels, I’ve been much more relaxed at the last couple of conferences I’ve been to. You see, I’ve always been comfortable speaking to groups from my business life, but sitting in front of an agent or publisher is like getting called into the boss’s office and him saying, “Close the door and have a seat.” The stomach does a flip and food that you’ve just eaten seems insistent on making a return visit.
The most memorable of panels I’ve served on was at Magna Cum Murder in Muncie, IN. last year. I had the pleasure of working with the Barb Diamato and Austin Camacho. We decided on going almost completely unstructured, coaching the attendees to write a flash fiction mystery. We got off to a rousing start and, while it took a little time, the group really got into it. I think if we had another hour, we would have had an awesome story. It started with a man driving his big rig down the highway, when... SPLAT! Something falls out of the sky and hits the big truck. The plot was actually intriguing enough, I thought about pursuing it afterward.
Back to the economy. I’m really hoping the economy doesn’t affect Printers Row this coming weekend. I’m heading up to Chicago for my first literary festival where I’ll be signing at Big Sleep Books tent on Saturday afternoon and maybe again on Sunday afternoon. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the fabulous authors I’ve come to know up there and a few I’ve yet to meet: Tasha Alexander, Laura Bradford, Andrew Grant, Barb D’Amato, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Joe Konrath, Marcus Sakey, Sean Chercover, Jeffery Deaver and Sara Paretsky. I’m sure I’m missing a few, but if nothing else, I plan on having a good time and I hope if you’re in the Chicago area, you’ll come by and see me.