Crime Baking

This past weekend, approximately 200 hundred mystery fans and writers gathered together in the Dedham, Massachusetts, Hilton to participate in Crime Bake. It was a horrible weekend in New England, weather-wise, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the attendees, all enthusiastic mystery lovers. We were treated to a lunchtime talk by Sue Grafton, creator of the “alphabet” mystery series and the fabulous sleuth, Kinsey Millhone, in which she listed ten things writers shouldn’t do in their writing. I was dismayed to find that I am guilty of oh…all ten.

But that aside, it was a great conference. Great panels, lots of interesting conversation, and a boxed lunch (my all-time favorite mode of food delivery). I met some great people at the banquet Saturday night including Dana Cameron, Paul Tremblay, and Jedediah Berry, where we all participated in trying to solve two murders that took place right before our very eyes when we weren’t growsing about how our dinners were being interrupted by the aforementioned murders.

I’m a newcomer to conferences, having only started going this year. I went to Malice Domestic in May with the northern half of Evelyn David, and now have gone to Crime Bake, which I most certainly will attend again next year. I’m not sure how much selling goes on at these conventions; remember, I come from a college textbook background and selling at conventions is what we do. But I do know that it’s great to meet other writers and fans (I fall into both categories), and to hear about how other people navigate the stormy and lonely seas of writing. I know that after having attended these two conventions, I have been spurred to write more and complain less. I always get inspiration from talking about writing and mysteries and I write more words that sound better together when I come home. (This post may not be an example of that, but hear me out.) I learned about fellow Stiletto blogger Rachel Brady’s participation in Nano Wrimo, where in you write 50,000 words in the month of November, no editing allowed. I was exhausted just listening to her talk about trying to reach the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month—most of my books run from 80,000-90,000 words when they are finished so 50,000 is no small feat—but then I remembered who I was talking to: writer, mother, rocket scientist, and all-around fabulous stiletto-wearing gal. Who, if not Rachel, would be able to undertake this task successfully?

Thankfully, November is half over so I don’t have to participate in Nano Wrimo. But something tells me that next year, Ms. Brady will be knocking at my door.

Marilyn’s post yesterday says it all: treat yourself to a conference. I was nervous about attending my first conference but I’ve learned that the mystery community is generous, accepting, and wonderful. You may meet one of your favorite authors, or find out that you have a fan or two. Going to a conference gives your solitary writing life a context and a purpose. There are more of you out there than you ever imagined and it’s nice when you can all come together to celebrate and discuss what you do and love.

Hey, Stiletto Readers: what are your favorite conferences and why?

Maggie Barbieri

7 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I'm actually getting on the road as soon as I post this to drive to DC with 2 of my staff members for an early childhood conference. I'm sure I'll come back with valuable and interesting information that will make my job and my teachers' jobs that much more fulfilling….at least I hope that's what I'm driving 9 hours for.


  2. Vicky Polito
    Vicky Polito says:

    I'd also like to put in a vote for attending conferences that are for things besides your writing. For example, when the big quilting or knitting shows/festivals/conferences come to town, I try to go. These gatherings, of any theme, are amazing little worlds of culture and craziness and inspiration. You'll see and hear people doing things that will well-inform your writing in ways you can't believe and meanwhile you take a fast break from the normal and much more solitary flow of your days.

    So, I'm not too much of a "joiner", but now and then you can't beat running with a pack.

  3. Rachel Brady
    Rachel Brady says:

    Whoa there, sista! Careful not to oversell my NaNo progress… my word count is languishing. But I'll still push forward. I'll bring you guys a full report at th end of November.

    I couldn't agree more about your thoughts on conferences, Maggie, and I was very surprised this was only #2 for you. I would like to be a professional conferencer because talking about writing is way easier than actually doing it.

    My own Crime Bake run-down is posted over at Write It Anyway. There I expound on the two main reasons I think every writer should consider getting to conferences.

    Nice post today!

  4. Susan McBride
    Susan McBride says:

    One thing I really miss about not writing mysteries anymore is the conferences. Like Marian always says, they were more akin to family reunions. I especially loved Murder in the Magic City and Mayhem in the Midlands since I was there from the get-go. Those will always hold a special place in my heart! Maybe one of these days if I get back to my mystery roots (hey, you never know!), I'll get to return and see a lot of old friends (and probably plenty of new faces, too).


  5. Susan McBride
    Susan McBride says:

    Oops, I meant, like Marilyn always says. Although Marian says a lot of very wise things, too. 😉


  6. Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith
    Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith says:

    I want to know the 10 things mystery writers shouldn't do too, I'm probably guilty of them too.


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