Writers' conferences are a great way to educate yourself about writing and publishing, network with other writers, agents, and editors, and just have a good time with folks who enjoy what you do. Some of the best conferences I've ever been to have been those run by genre organizations, such as RWA, SCBWI, and MWA. They're focused, specialized, and usually bring in some amazing presenters and guest speakers.
If you're a mystery writer, give SleuthFest a try. It's sponsored annually by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and runs from February 25-28, in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Not a bad place to spend a weekend in the cold and snowy winter, right?
While SleuthFest’s emphasis is on writing mystery/thrillers/suspense, over the years, it has become known as one of the best (if not the best) conference for writers of all genres and abilities. There are four tracks of workshops, presentations, and panels in writing craft, business, traditional and self-publishing, marketing, and forensics.
Other features are the annual Freddie Awards for Writing Excellence – given at the Friday night banquet, and their famous Author Auction – where attendees can bid on one-on-one sessions, critiques, and character namings from our Guests of Honor and agents and editors. There are cocktail parties, a raffle, pitch (and plotting strategy) sessions with top agents and editors, and many other features, including the absolutely-not-PC FlaMANgo Award. For their 20th Anniversary in 2014, best-selling author (and then reigning FlaMANgo Award winner) Chris Grabenstein jumped out of a stripper’s cake (so anything goes).
For many writers, SleuthFest is where they met their agent or editor, which resulted in their books being published. It’s a great opportunity. Visit their website for details on agent and editor pitch sessions.
The welcoming atmosphere at SleuthFest is what attracts both fiction and non-fiction writers. It's clear from the moment an attendee arrives, that everyone there wants to help them succeed. The contacts a writer can make are reasons enough all by themselves to attend.
Here's a quick peek at this year's guest of honor line up:
Keynote: C.J. Box, NY Times best-selling author, and winner of the Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, Barry, and Edgar Awards.
Florida Guest of Honor: The P.J. Parrish team of Kris Montee and Kelly Nichols, NY Times best-selling authors and winners of the International Thriller Writers, Shamus, and Anthony Awards.
Both Box and the Parrish team will participate in panels, presentations, and intensive workshops.
Forensic Guest of Honor: Valerie Plame Wilson. Interviewing Ms. Wilson will be NBC’s Kerry Sanders and national best-selling author Paul Levine. Levine has many television credits, including the show JAG.
Publisher Guest of Honor: Neil Nyren, Executive VP, Associate Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of GP Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House.
Visit their website for a full workshop schedule.
SleuthFest 2016 will take place February 25-28 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Deerfield Beach, Florida. More information can be found on the website at www.sleuthfest.com, or contact our Co-Chairs -Victoria Landis, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joanne Sinchuk, at email@example.com. Registration fees and prices vary depending on membership and options, so see their website for more.
Answers to most questions can be found on their FAQs page.