14 June 2011


I don't think it's all that strange that I loathe meetings but I like conferences.

When they are necessary at all, meetings ought to be like most sentences ought to be - short and to the point. They seldom are.

Conferences, on the other hand, are a more leisurely, sociable affair. The eating and drinking, schmoozing, hanging out in the hallways, and more importantly the bar, the flirting, the arguing, the discussing can all be a lot of fun and even useful.

Last weekend was the California Crime Writers Conference (CCWC) in Pasadena and it was everything I like in a conference. (Disclosure: I may be a bit biased, I was one of the organizers, the "Programming Co-Chair.")

Unlike the big reader/fan oriented conferences - which I also like, I hope to see you, yeah, you who's reading this, at Bouchercon in St. Louis in September - this was very much a writers conference. The emphasis of the program was on workshops, classes and demonstrations that might be of use to crime writers in their work. Near as I could tell from the comments, we succeeded in that.

We also succeeded in having all the sorts of fun that people are supposed to be having at conferences. Although, since I live reasonably near the venue I didn't stay in the hotel so I can make no observations or educated remarks concerning what went on there after hours.

I did get plenty of exercise. While the sessions were in session, I wandered up and down the hallways poking my head in and out of rooms to make sure everything was running smoothly. I shot pictures. I ran errands. I toted and lifted and hauled things. If I ever do this sort of thing again - which I probably will - I am going to get myself a pedometer. It is possible that I walked well over five miles each day through the corridors and staircases of the Pasadena Hilton. I rarely sat down.

And I wasn't even the busiest, most exhausted person there. I think that distinction may have fallen on - like a ton of bricks - Sybil Johnson, President of the Sisters in Crime Los Angeles Chapter and one of the two conference chairs and chief organizers. (The other being Naomi Hirahara, Prez-Emeritus of Southern California Mystery Writers of America.) Here's a picture of Sybil that she's going to hate. I took it just after she'd had her first few sips of bourbon at the Agents & Editors Cocktail Reception on Saturday night, possibly the first time she'd sat down all day. My guess is that she was punchy tired and relieved that it was all going so well. (I wonder if her giving me the finger was intentional? Maybe she knew she wasn't going to like this picture. Sorry Sybil.) (UPDATE: Sybil sort of even likes the picture and wonders where I got the idea she was giving me the finger. I was joking about her giving me the finger, but her hand uncurling from around her drink sort of looks like it.)

And here's some more pictures from what was a great, fun, interesting and instructive weekend:T. Jefferson Parker (Saturday) and S.J. Rozan (Sunday) were the keynote speakers.Agents and editors were fed drinks and appetizers at a cocktail reception to soften them up for attending writers to schmooze.Attending writers did their own fair share of drinking, too. Really? Hmmmm. Writers? Go figure.
There were panels, presentations and workshops which, as these things tend to be, were not exactly visual spectaculars. But according to all the comments were useful and interesting, entertaining even.
Then again, it wouldn't be any kind of crime writers conference without some weaponry and/ or violence. Thanks to the Pasadena Police Department for a class on the when, why and how use of force by police officers.
And as most crime writing conferences seem to attract a majority female audience (oh you bloodthirsty women, you) there was the ever popular "how to stage a realistic fight" class in which a woman gets to beat on a guy. (Thanks to Bill Hayes and Jennifer Thomas of Old School Kenpo in Torrance, CA.)

The next California Crime Writers Conference will be in two years. Most likely around this same time in June 2013. I recommend it.


Elaine Ash said...

Hi Eric, great pics and synopsis of the event. I enjoyed meeting you and got a lot out of your workshop.

Dianne Emley said...

Fun fun... thanks for the post!

Sally Carpenter said...

Thanks to the organizers for a terrific conference! And what great photos, Eric!