Tag Archive for: PSWA Conference

Just Back From My Favorite Writing Conference

When this appears, I will be home one day from going to Las Vegas and attending the Public Safety Writers Association’s annual conference.    http://policewriter.com/wordpress/

It has always been a favorite of mine for several reasons.

I joined this group years ago when it was called The Police Writers Club–and the only members were active or retired police officers. They voted on whether or not to let me (a mystery writer) join them. Fortunately for me, they let me in. I attended several conferences, the last one was right after 9-11 and held in Orlando.
A problem arose right after the conference and the group fell apart. A few members decided to resurrect it, and I was one of them, and the rebirth.

The new name chosen was Public Safety Writers Association and the decision made to include anyone in the public safety fields (Fire, FBI, Police, etc.) and those who write fiction or non-fiction about them.

I became the conference chair. Our first one was held in a funky hotel on Fremont St. in Las Vegas and we had 12 attendees which included our board members. We spent some of our time discussing the association and what we could do to make it better.

The next conference was held in the same hotel with 16 attendees.

We moved to a different hotel in Las Vegas and have had our latest conferences at the Orleans. With the moves we’ve also gained many new members and conference attendees. It is still small in comparison to other writers’ conferences–we hover around 50 attendees. We have many more members.This is also one of the reasons I like it so much–there is only one track so most people stay for everything. Because of this, people have the opportunity to connect and share.

Last year I handed the job of conference program planner to Michael A. Black, a prolific writer, and retired police officer. He’d been helping me the last couple of years and I knew he had what it takes to do the job.

While being a member and attending the conference, I’ve made many friends in the law enforcement community, friends I can ask research questions and get the answers I need.

Experts in different phases of law enforcement present though sometimes it might be an expert in some phase of writing, but there are also many panels about various writing topics as well. Anyone who wants to be on a panel has that opportunity–something the mystery writers love. They are able to share what they know about writing and promoting.

For me, attending the conference is much like attending a family reunion because I’ve made such good friends.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

(Some shots of the attendees)

Planning a Writers Conference

For the past few years I’ve been the conference chair for the Public Safety Writers Association’s writing conference. When I started we had about 16 attendees. The latest one in July, we had 50.

This is a different type of conference because everyone who comes wants to learn to be a better writer whether they are a retired cop, FBI agent, police dispatcher, Secret Service agent, coroner, lawyer, fireman, police psychiatrist, forensic expert or someone who wants to write mysteries that might include people of these professions. Because these are the people who attend, these are the people who offer to speak.

Fortunately for me, when one conference is over, these experts come up with ideas about what they’d like to talk about for the next conference. We don’t pay anyone who speaks, nor do we comp them, they must pay the conference fee just like anyone else.

Because most come wanting to learn how to write better we also have panels about settings, etc. One of the funniest panels was called Cop Talk. A former police dispatcher asked questions of four former officers, things like, “What was the most embarrassing thing you did while on the job?” These guy were hilarious and surprisingly honest.

The most popular speaker talked about writing screen plays and TV scripts. My favorite was the police psychologist.

It does take a lot of planning to arrange the program so that something that is lively will be on at 9:30 so everyone will show up, something that will keep everyone awake after lunch, and a speaker or panel so engaging that no one will leave until the day is over.  It came together well this year, and I hope I can pull it off again for next year.

If you’d like to know more about the conference and what went on, you can go to the website http://www.policewriter.com/ and read the after conference newsletter and see some of the photos.

I had a wonderful time even though I did have to work at keeping everything moving. 


Switching Gears

Known as a mystery writer, it seems really odd to be promoting my latest, a romance with a supernatural touch. Actually, I wrote this book long ago because of a tragedy that happened in our family–I think I did it as part of my grieving process. It was only available as an e-book. My publisher wanted to make it into a trade paperback and who am I to argue?

So it is now available in all the usual places. Anyone who wants an autographed copy can order it from my website; http;//fictionforyou.com

My publisher sent copies to the Public Safety Writers Association conference and I really didn’t think it was the type of book that would appeal to cops, FBI and others in the law enforcement fields since it deals with the death of deputy sheriff and what happens after with his wife and kids–but it sold way better than the two mysteries I’d brought.

So, for the next few weeks I’ll be promoting Lingering Spirit while writing the next in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series.


Murphy’s Law

The Public Safety Writers Association had their annual writers’ conference in Las Vegas this past weekend. This conference is for anyone who writes fiction or non-fiction about or for any of the public safety fields–which includes mystery writers. I’ve worked all year as the program chair for this event.

Right before we left for the conference, I learned that one of the board members who also serves as the m.c. for the conference had been bitten by a spider and had a terrible infection and couldn’t come. His wife is the treasurer of the group and the one who takes care of book sales and of course she stayed home to care for her hubby.

My hubby, poor put upon soul who always helped the treasurer, stepped up to the plate and worked his you know what all weekend taking care of all the money that came in for books, extra lunches, and extra days at the conference. (He was too busy to fall asleep, something he’s done on past occasions.)

The president of the group m.c.’d and did a great job.

I took lots of pictures–and yes, some of the women who participated, but then my iPhone died and I couldn’t send them to my computers.

Two of my panels had to switch times because of a speaker having to leave early to catch a plane.

Other than that the conference really was terrific. The photos are of best selling author, Simon Wood, who was our keynote speaker and told us all about how to create suspense in our stories whether they be mysteries or thrillers. Simon also has the most wry sense of humor and is super friendly.

The other fellow is Kregg Jorgenson, who besides being Vietnam war hero, also has been in about every law enforcement organization there is including Homeland Security and the Border Patrol. He talked about how to sell articles to any kind of magazine. Terrific!

Sunny Frazier gave a presentation on how much sex is too much in a mystery–and she’d asked a lot of authors and the general consensus came down to whether or not the sex moved the plot along. Needless to say she held her audience’s attention.

Michael Black gave us a demonstration on how to plot a book in an hour that was terrific–complete with all kinds of colored post-it notes.

Morgan St. James gave a terrific presentation on POV. Retired FBI agent, Mark Bouton, gave us a demonstration complete with pictures about how to tell if someone is telling a lie.

We had lots of panels on all sorts of writing topics from using supernatural elements in our books to writing for trade publications.

Unlike many writing conferences, this one has one track and almost everyone stays for the whole day despite the call of the slot machines.

I told my husband it sure was a lot more fun to go to a conference where you never know what went wrong then to be the one who had to solve all the problems.

Despite all this, everyone had a great time and as soon as I recover, I’ll start working on next year’s program.


An Idea for a Writer’s Christmas Gift

While reading Nancy’s wonderful guest post about research, I thought about one of the ways that I do research is by attending the Public Safety Writers Association’s conference every year. Many of the members who attend and the speakers are experts in forensics, law enforcement, fire fighting, FBI and any number of professions that we mystery writers often have lots of question for.

I must confess, as the program chairperson for the conference after I’ve managed to talk the most outstanding speakers to come and make presentations at the conference, I’d really like to have a good crowd for them to share their expertise with.

You can take a look at the great line-up by heading to the website http://www.publicsafetywriter.com and checking them out. My suggestion is that if you are a mystery writer you might want to give yourself a Christmas gift by signing up for the conference–and if you know a writer who would benefit from a conference like this maybe you might nudge their significant other to register him or her for the conference.

Because it is a smaller conference, attendees have the opportunity to really network with everyone. And if you would like to be on a panel, all you have to do is say so on the registration form–and it would be great if you’d give a hint as to what kind of panel you’d like to be on.

You can bring your books for sale and PSWA will only take 10% as their fee for taking care of the selling.

If you think Christmas is too soon, since the conference isn’t until June, be sure to sign up before March 31 to be on a panel before the price goes up once again. (The price includes three great lunches.)

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, besides gaining some knowledge, I guarantee you’ll also have fun.

And be sure to check out the contest for unpublished and published short stories, articles, non-fiction books, and fiction books.

I promise not to say anything more about the PSWA conference until it gets closer to March.

I’m a confessed conference junkie–but this is one of my very favorites and not just because I’m on the board.

Try it, you’ll like it.


PSWA Conference

We just arrived home from the Public Safety Writers Association conference held in Las Vegas. I don’t have my notes out yet, or even unpacked. Since it’s my day to post, I’ll give some of my general impressions.

I was the program chair so I was pretty nervous as things began. I helped out with registration and managed to arrive before anyone else. Most of those registered came to the get-acquainted social on Thursday evening. It was delightful to see so many new faces and the our faithful attendees too.

Of course I was the first to show up at the meeting room, added a front table and chairs for the panel and got hubby situated at the book selling table.

Only going to give the highlights this time. The first panel was police officers and a prosecuting attorney telling us what drives them crazy in books, TV shows and movies. Most enlightening and a bit funny too.

Award winning author Betty Webb did an excellent job telling what needs to be in a manuscript–and what shouldn’t be–if you want to be published. She also did a bang-up job as one of the luncheon speakers telling about switching from hard-boiled to a lighter series.

We had two forensic experts, Steve Scarborough who told us what CSI people can’t do and the equipment they don’t have despite what we see on TV–and Sheila Lowe, forensic handwriting expert, who fascinated us with handwriting from real cases.

There was so much more, so many people shared, we learned about character development, planning your time for writing, the importance of setting–too much and too little, and so much more. We had a wonderful time learning about writing comedy. Sunny Frazier told us about turning fact into fiction, we had a panel on promo and Joyce Spizer-Foy fascinated us with her knowledge about writing screen plays.

My contribution was talking about e-publishing and showing off my new Kindle.

The hotel was wonderful (except for the people on the 5th, 6th and 7th floor who had their sleep interrupted by an alarm and had to walk all the way downstairs until the problem was solved), food delicious, everyone so friendly, and I finally began to relax when I saw everyone was having a good time and the program was moving along as it should.

Yes, there were a couple of blips, but nothing that couldn’t be handled.

I’m exhausted, but extremely pleased.

Anyone writing about mystery with any ties to public safety is welcome–actually we had other authors there who just wanted to come–think about it for next year. Don’t have any dates yet, but you know I’ll let you know.

Marilyn a.k.a. F.M. Meredith

Give Yourself a Holiday Gift

Frankly, I don’t really want anything for Christmas. I love the holiday season and everything about it, but the older I get the less I like to shop for and receive presents. I have way too much stuff already. For my kids, grandkids, and greats I’ve decided to just give money rather than spending money on something they don’t really want.

For myself, I’d rather use the money for a trip. In fact, that’s more or less what I’ve been doing the past few years. Of course money isn’t as easy to come by nor does it goes as far as it used to.

When I go on a trip, I like to somehow combine it with promotion if at all possible.

What I’d like to suggest is whether you are a mystery reader or writer, that you consider giving yourself the gift of attending a writers conference or mystery convention. There are plenty out there to choose from. Last year hubby and I went to Love is Murder in Chicago and had a great time. We’ve already signed up for EPICon which is for electronically published writers. Mayhem in the Midlands is another favorite–we love Omaha and we’ve made lots of friends who come to that convention regularly.

Another, much smaller conference, is the Public Safety Writers Conference. I’m in charge of the program for this one and I’m proud to say we have a wonderful line-up of speakers. I won’t bore you by going over the whole list, but mystery author Betty Webb will be there, Steve Scarborough who is a forensic expert, used by both the Las Vegas Police and the FBI will tell us how to write it right, we’ll have a forensic handwriting expert, a retired arson investigator and many others.

Everyone who wants to will participate on a panel if they sign up before May 1. It would be best to sign up before May 30th March 31 when the price rises. If you have a book, you may bring it to sell at our bookstore. (10 % of all sales go to PSWA.)

Because a great number of our members are or were in law enforcement, there are a wealth of people to ask all your questions about crime and crime solving. Networking is definitely encouraged.

If you are interested and would like to learn more, go to http://www.policewriter.com/ and check it out. The conference is held June 18-22 at the Sun Coast Hotel in Vegas. If you want to bring the kids, there’s lots for them to do at this hotel–swimming pool, movie theaters, and video arcade, flat screen TVs in every room.

On the Sunday afternoon that the conference concludes, those who would like to will meet at Cheesecake and Crime Bookstore in Henderson from a booksigning.

Since I’m the program chair, naturally I’ll be at this conference. From having attended this particular conference for about five years, I can tell you that it is indeed one of the friendliest around. Hubby and I manage to have fun at everything we do–but this one is right up there at the top when it comes to a good time.

For me, this is the best kind of holiday gift there is. I hope that some of you will consider this for a gift for yourself.


The Public Safety Writers Associations Conference

This was the book table at the PSWA conference. My husband is back there with the PSWA treasurer. If you look closely, you can see the “hunky firemen” on the table cloth.

We will be returning to Las Vegas in June of 2009. And we’re going to ask for people to suggest presentations or panels they’d like to do or be on. Because many of the people who come are involved with law enforcement, we’ve already had a forensic expert volunteer. But we also don’t have any requirements about publishers as far as who can be on panels and everyone can have their book(s) for sale.

I’ve been reminiscing about how much fun I had at the PSWA conference. Do hope some of my fellow mystery writers will join us next year.


Public Safety Writers Association Conference

I’m just back from Las Vegas and the Public Safety Writers Conference. Small group, but it was terrific! Everyone had the opportunity to speak about his/her books, books were purchased and a joint booksigning at a new bookstore in Henderson was open to everyone from the con. (Cheesecake and Crime.)

Of course, Murphy was busy. The hotel kept changing our meeting room and it took all of our detective skills to track where we would be meeting next. As program chair, I had to switch things around a bit when my morning speaker, Michael Mehas (Stolen Boy), was late due to a migraine. A few other mishaps kept me on my toes–though the attendees didn’t realize what was going on.

Sunny Frazier, (When Fools Rush In) gave a terrific presentation on book covers, good and bad–and sexy.

Victoria Heckman and I instructed the members on how to write a mystery–and they participated in the planning of one–which turned out to be hilarious.

Denny Griffin told all about what it was like to work with a gangster on Frank Cullotta’s biography. (Cullotta)

This is a terrific, even though small, conference. We had the opportunity to really network and spend quality time with one another.

Not sure where we’ll be meeting next year, but keep this one in mind. Once I know more, I’ll be sure to post the information. By the way, the conference will have a name, Crime Writers and Crime Fighters.