I started June by attending the California Crime Writers Conference (CCWC) for my first time. I highly recommend this biennial conference. Why?
- First, this is a small, intimate conference with about 200 attendees. You will not be lost in the crowd! You will rub shoulders and make valuable connections. I ended up seated at a bar table next to Guest of Honor Tess Gerritsen and across from Crooked Lanes Acquisition Editor, Terry Bischoff. I walked away from the conference with Matt Coyle’s e-mail address.
- My second point is a variation of the same theme. You will be involved. It’s almost inescapable. Because this was my first time at the conference, I didn’t ask to be on a panel. I wanted to relax, enjoy, and scope out what it had to offer. But like most conferences, they depend on volunteers. I ended up being the time keeper for Interrogation Tips with former LAPD Detective Ninette Toosbuy. This was a presentation I wanted to see, anyway. I’d never volunteered to be a timekeeper before, so I found out what that was like (a piece of cake). Ninette’s information was incredibly useful for any crime fiction writer wanting to create an interrogation scene. Me, for example. And, because I was her timekeeper, she had to pay attention to me. 🙂 That means she will most likely remember me if/when I want to take advantage of her expertise in the future.
- Some conferences require exhausting travel, but because I live in Santa Cruz, this conference was a simple one-hour flight away, a six-mile Uber trip from LAX. Granted, not everyone is so lucky, but CCWC’s location near a major airport is a plus for attendees from all parts of the country. A nearby major airport is a big deal, providing a greater chance for a direct, or at least convenient, flight from other parts of the country. I’ve been to conferences in smaller cities, unreachable without a plane change–or two! And if there’s a problem with a flight, you’re stuck! It’s not like there’s another one in an hour. The conference hotel was in Culver City, which on the surface may not seem very appealing. But I didn’t let the nearby traffic on the 405 or the cars zipping by on the busy Centinela Boulevard intimidate me. I stepped out of the Doubletree Hotel, walked a block off Centinela, and discovered this:
- Because this was a small conference (yes, I’m harping on a theme), Lida Bushloper and I were able to have our own signing table for FISHY BUSINESS, the fifth Guppy anthology.
- CCWC offered an Escape Room. This is an experience I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. I’ve always been held back by my worry I might be claustrophobic in an actual locked room, especially if it were small. But because this Escape Room was not part of a business, I was able to express my worries to conference organizers, who assured me the room was “good-sized” and wouldn’t even be locked. A person could leave at any time. On the other hand, the crime to be solved was devised by conference organizer Laura Brennan. And boy was she devious! She created a mystery truly for mystery buffs. I can not imagine “regular” people ever solving the puzzles in the one-hour allotted. The team I was on was nothing short of brilliant, working our way through a boxful of complicated, complex clues to figure out the killer slightly before the buzzer.
If these five reasons aren’t enough to convince you to attend CCWC, the Doubletree offers free, freshly baked, and quite good chocolate chip cookies!