By Linda Lovely
|Danielle Dahl and me at Booksmith signing.|
How does an author who writes romantic suspense and mysteries stay motivated? For me, writers’ conferences and other events that let me spend time with and learn from fellow authors, publishers, agents, editors, law enforcement experts and, yes, readers are a big factor. Today I’m taking an enjoyable look back at the 2014 conferences and author events that kept me inspired and were plain old fun. Some are annual musts—Georgia RWA’s Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta, the Writers’ Police Academy (moving to a new Wisconsin home in 2015), and a book signing at The Booksmith, my local independent bookstore in Seneca, SC.
I add other conferences/events as budget and geography allow. For example, in 2015, I’ll attend my first Bouchercon. It’s in Raleigh, NC, the first time this huge conference will be held in driving distance.
For authors making up their 2015 wish lists, here’s what I enjoyed most about the 2014 conferences/events I attended.
February: Murder in the Magic City & Murder on the Menu This is an Alabama double-header. Authors spend one day in Birmingham, the next in Wetumpka. I drove down with several author friends and we had a grand time. The hosts treat every author like he/she is a NYT best-seller. It’s a great chance to meet and talk with readers as well as fellow authors. I offered a character name as an auction item to raise money for the library and I’ve had great fun getting to know the winner—Deborah Holt.
May: SC Book Festival Here’s another opportunity to chat with readers about what characters/ plots/ writing styles they enjoy most and what would make them recommend a book to others. Had lots of fun working the Lowcountry Romance Writers Association booth with fellow romance author Synithia Williams.
June: Sisters in Crime Des Moines I grew up in Iowa and returned last June for a family celebration—my sister and brother-in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary. While in state, I was delighted to be asked to speak at a local Sisters in Crime chapter in Des Moines. A very fun and savvy group of writers.
August: Lowcountry RWA In August, I spoke to this chapter about audiobooks. A fun opportunity to spend time with some of my favorite regional authors in one of the South’s premiere cities—Charleston, SC.
September: Writers Police Academy This was my third year at WPA. And, yes, you could go every single year and keep learning every visit. This year I served as Volunteer Staff. As a result, I learned a lot of new skills, including how to register some 250 people for two different events via Constant Contact. As always, Lee Lofland, WPA founder, cajoled an amazing number of experts to help writers separate myth from reality and have hands-on experience in a variety of situations going through some of the same training as police officers. I also met Jeannette Barouth, who was attending from Germany. We bonded over German chocolate and she’s going to translate DEAR KILLER into German for me in 2015.
October: Moonlight & Magnolias This is a great conference. Small enough that you’re not overwhelmed, large enough to attract top-notch speakers and publishing professionals. If you live in the South and write in any genre that includes a dash of romance, this is my number one recommendation for a conference.
October: SCWW Conference This year’s conference at Myrtle Beach, SC, gave me the opportunity to get to know and pick the brains of two fellow audiobook panelists—Karen White and Elliott Walsh, both talented narrators. Audiobooks are hot, and I’m proud to say all four of my published novels are now available as audiobooks. K.C. Cowan has been my narrator for all of them and what a joy she is to work with.
November: Booksmith Book Launch Let’s hear it for independent bookstores! The Booksmith has
been kind enough to host each of my book launches. They advertise, provide goodies, and hand sell my books. If you’re an author, do yourself a favor and get to know your local bookstores and their staff. But don’t just show up when you have a book to sell. Be a customer!
Believe me I'm signing up for more inspiration in 2015. So what must conferences/events are on your schedule?