What do you want?

 

by Pari

Actually, let me start with a couple of other questions before we get to the one in the title of this particular blog.

Here’s an easy one:  Am I insane?

Short answer: YES.

Hello. My name is Pari Noskin Taichert and I’m a volunteer slut. I just don’t know when to stop! Where is the twelve-step program for THAT?

You see, I’ve just agreed to chair Left Coast Crime 2011. It’s going to be in Santa Fe and will be the weekend of March 24-27-ish (Make your plans now. Start saving and register early.). Although we haven’t quite committed in writing, I can tell you that the hotel where this LCC will be held is absolutely marvelous – pure New Mexican, historic, magnificent location, utterly charming.

It’s also small – perfect but small (as are most things in Santa Fe with any true SF history) – and that means that many, many of the attendees will have to stay in other hotels close by. I can feel the headaches before we’ve even signed any agreements.

Yeah, I know.

What the hell was I thinking?

The funny thing is that I accepted because I think it’ll be a wonderful and interesting challenge to come up with a venue, program, Guest of Honor, etc. all of which will truly show off the New Mexico I know and love.

When I was first approached for this responsibility/opportunity, a close friend said to me, “Are you stark raving mad?” And after she calmed down: “Think of the PR opportunities.”

In truth that’s not why I’m doing this.

I’ve now been in the writing business long enough to have healthy skepticism about PR & networking resulting in more than PR & networking.

We writers need sales. I doubt anyone is going off to buy my books today because I’ve chosen to take on this task.

And I have to live with a certain cognitive dissonance about all of this too. Hypocrisy even. Because I’ve blathered passionately right in this blog about trying to cut out distractions in my life.

Great job, Pari. Wonderful way to bring peace and quiet to your life.

Okay. Enough about me . . .

I have a few important questions for you.

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

For people who’ve attended a mystery convention:

  1. Does the Guest of Honor, Toastmaster etc. really matter? (Are they deal makers or breakers when you’re deciding about conventions?)
  2. What kinds of panels or other programming do you adore – or abhor?
  3. What subjects would you most like to see explored in programming at a con?
  4. Would you prefer an awards dinner (if we could make it fast and fun) or a Sunday brunch?

For those of you who’ve never been to a convention:

     1. What might entice you to come?
     2. Do you understand the why of mystery conventions, that they’re for fans and authors to get together?
     3. Do you have any questions about them right now? (Maybe some of us can offer a good perspective.)

To all of you:

Thanks

. . . and wish me luck.

 

49 thoughts on “What do you want?

  1. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Oh my God, you are insane.

    I’m thrilled for the mystery community, of course. This LCC is going to be unmissable. I’d come to any party you threw, but all you had to say was Santa Fe.

    I love LCC because it moves around to such great cities, and the things that I’ll be doing at the con will be anything that’s specific to Santa Fe and New Mexico – history, city tours, ghost tours, law enforcement.

    And that’s one I’ll definitely be able to bring Michael too, finally! I can send him out to the desert to play while I’m working. I’m so psyched. Thank you, Pari!!!

    Reply
  2. J.D. Rhoades

    1. Does the Guest of Honor, Toastmaster etc. really matter? (Are they deal makers or breakers when you’re deciding about conventions?)

    Not really.

    2. What kinds of panels or other programming do you adore – or abhor?

    Here’s the thing about panels…I tend to pick a panel based on who’s on it than what it’s about. I’ll go see Mark Billingham or Laura Lippman or Ken Bruen or Lee Child read from the phone book. Some authors (who I will not name), I wouldn’t go see if they were handing out hundred dollar bills. Okay, maybe then.

    3. What subjects would you most like to see explored in programming at a con?

    See above.

    4. Would you prefer an awards dinner (if we could make it fast and fun) or a Sunday brunch?

    Problem with a Sunday brunch is that I always seem to end up with a noon or one o’clock flight home from the West Coast, which means I’d likely miss it. How about a fast and fun awards reception early Saturday evening?

    Reply
  3. Neil Nyren

    I’ve been to Santa Fe several times, Pari, and it’s one of my favorite small cities — a great choice! And I agree with J.D. — any panel can be boring or sensational, no matter what the topic is: It all depends who’s on it. So pick people who you know give good panel, and you’ll have it made. J.D. is right about the brunch question, too — from my experience, flight times can be tricky out of Santa Fe, so it’s probably best to give people maximum flexibility.

    Reply
  4. billie

    I’m not easily lured out of my little piece of horse heaven to go where there are likely to be crowds of people (even writers and readers!) but you putting it together and the fact that it’s in Santa Fe, one of my favorite cities, is enough to make my eyes light up BIG. 🙂

    And it’s entirely possible by 2011 I will be sorely in need of a break from here!

    I think the fact that the hotel is too small for everyone is a GOOD thing. Get everyone walking those streets and the magic of Santa Fe will do more than any single speaker to get folks buzzing. Think of Alex’s post on Saturday about location as a character! It will be GREAT.

    Reply
  5. Naomi

    LCC in Santa Fe with Pari as the chair–I’m there! In terms of the Guest of Honor and Toastmaster, I think that it does matter for some fans, but not necessarily for published writers. My degree of excitement, however, is impacted by who the Guest of Honor is and my experience is certainly enhanced. I’ll never forget James Lee Burke being interviewed by Michael Connelly. And I still can remember what was shared by Walter Mosley at LCC Monterey.

    I enjoy the one-on-one interviews. As for panels–moderation is key. You get a good, prepared moderator and s/he can turn a panel of ragtag authors into a fascinating discussion. Since so many of the attendees are writers themselves, it would be nice to have a couple of panels on more professional topics. For example, the panel with Alafair Burke and Erin Hart and their respective editors was incredibly instructive for me, the then debut author.

    It makes sense to move the awards portion of the conference to an earlier slot to accommodate the traveling East Coasters. I personally don’t like awards banquets unless they are extremely unique and special (probably due to my years as a journalist eating countless rubber-chicken dinners).

    All I know is that if I’m in Santa Fe, I want me some good food! And I don’t think the multiple hotels will be much of a problem there. It will be important for the conferees to get outside and walk around, as long as they are properly hydrated! Man, that high elevation really got my husband last time we were in Santa Fe.

    Reply
  6. J.D. Rhoades

    Is the bar big enough?

    What Will said. And make sure the hotel knows that they’re going to be slammed and will need sufficient staff. Some hotels, even convention hotels, apparently don’t get a lot of bar traffic. and get overwhelmed when thirsty writers descend on them.

    I remember walking into the bar at Bouchercon Chicago, looking around, walking over to the bartender, and saying "’you’re going to need a bigger bar."

    Reply
  7. kit

    the size of the bar wouldn’t be a problem…..as long as they have meeting rooms….just throw a cash bar or two in one of those for an evening, along with the regular one….you could even *theme it* if you wanted to….

    Reply
  8. pam

    WHAT DO YOU WANT?

    Does the Guest of Honor, Toastmaster etc. really matter? (Are they deal makers or breakers when you’re deciding about conventions?)

    Hi Pari,
    I am answering this one, both as a conference goer, but also as one who has worked on and then chaired my local conference several years in a row.

    Yes, the keynote speaker matters big time. The year that we had a big NYTimes popular speaker, our attendance was off the charts, and people booked early. A big thing to keep in mind is not to repeat speakers too closely as that can kill attendance. People will generally not come if they just saw the speaker a year or two ago, so be aware of that as well.

    What kinds of panels or other programming do you adore – or abhor?
    Panels of authors and or agents/editors are always popular, taking questions, talking about the industry.

    What subjects would you most like to see explored in programming at a con?

    Nice to have a mix of beginner to more advanced topics as well as craft and industry.

    Would you prefer an awards dinner (if we could make it fast and fun) or a Sunday brunch?

    I personally like the idea of a Sunday brunch, but think a kickoff awards dinner is probably more popular.

    I will also add to try and make sure the food is memorable. That’s one of the things that our conference is known for, great quality and selection of food. We did buffets with options for vegetarians and people really liked the variety. So many conferences have dismal food, that one with good food really stands out!

    Reply
  9. toni mcgee causey

    What Dusty said about the bar.

    1. Does the Guest of Honor, Toastmaster etc. really matter?

    Not really. But one thing I do like is different speakers for lunches. This is where you can spread out the genre love.

    2 and 3). Panels

    I happen to love the panels where one writer interviews another. (I think my favorite was Tess’ interview of Lisa Gardiner at Thrillerfest. I went and bought both writers’ books after that panel.)

    I missed out on the rabbit/tracking workshop at LCC last time. I would’ve loved that one. Any sort of panel where we get to participate in some of the skills we write about are generally interesting, to both writers and fans.

    One type of panel that seemed to work well at a couple of different conventions was a more casual "fireside chat" sort of thing, where an author was scheduled for a small period–45 minutes usually being the max–and it was all Q&A. Those were well attended when I saw them.

    4) Awards… I’m not big on banquets and awards, so I’d vote for something lighter and fun. Faster is better. I agree with the issue of flying out on Sunday.

    Reply
  10. Pari

    Wow. I expected a couple small comments by now. This is obviously striking a chord.

    I don’t know whether to be excited or scared out of my mind.

    Alex,
    I’m so glad you want to come. I know it’s years away, but I want this one to be really special. As to things specific to NM, THAT’S the reason I accepted in the first place. I want this convention to really reflect my home state — to show off the beauty and diversity of it.

    Right now, I’m contemplating working with a tour company to have two trips: one to Taos — the town, the Rio Grande Gorge and the Taos Pueblo — and the other might be to Bandelier Nat. Monument AND Los Alamos — so that people could see ancient cultures and cutting edge technology in the same day. I think that would be fascinating.

    Reply
  11. Pari

    JD,
    I know what you mean.

    I have no idea who’ll come to this thing yet and have two years to pull it together (thank goodness). Maybe the awards ceremony idea w/o dinner — something that’s dedicated to the celebration — on Sat. night would be a good thing? I don’t people have done it that way before, but it might be a welcome change.

    The thing is . . . I want people to stay through Sat. night AND for some programming on Sunday (if they can) because I’ll want to accommodate as many authors as possible. We’ll only have three tracks and the "fifteen minutes of fame" options because of the meeting space in the hotel and the fact that I hate having too many things going on.

    Reply
  12. Pari

    Neil,
    Thanks for the advice. I’m very curious to see who signs up.

    How do you feel about awards dinners though? Have you been to any that don’t bore you?

    Reply
  13. Pari

    Yes, Will and JD . . . The bar is big enough; it sets about 125 and there’s a little overflow. You’re allowed to walk around the building with drinks and there’s some nice seating in the lobby very close to the bar as well. We’ll also have a gorgeous hospitality room (but I won’t be serving food there . . . but it’ll be a magnificent place to alight as well).

    Reply
  14. Pari

    Billie,
    I’d love to meet you AND this will be the only way I can since my husband has made me vow to stay home for the next two years (except for a two-week master writing class).

    I did tell the hotel sales manager (and I’ll tell the tourism bureau) that this convention will have many, many writers and that Santa Fe is sure to turn up in books in 2013.

    Reply
  15. Pari

    Naomi,
    It would be so good to see you.

    All the points you bring up are true. The challenge with moderators is that some that you expect to be fine . . . just aren’t.

    GoH will probably be a New Mexican. I’m looking at someone really special for lifetime achievement too; he doesn’t live here but has a strong connection to the place.

    Food? Don’t worry. The hotel is located right on the Santa Fe Plaza and there are great restaurants everywhere in the area.

    We’ll also try to warn people about the altitude. It’s nearly 7000 feet up and is a killer for some. I’ll be urging people to come in a day or two early to acclimate.

    Reply
  16. Pari

    Kit,
    I think the main concern isn’t so much the bar as places in the hotel where people can gather and talk easily.That said, I’ll make sure that there’s no live music in the bar because that’s always a pain.

    I do plan to have a cash bar for the auction. We’ll see if we need to squeeze in others as well . . .

    Reply
  17. Pari

    Pam,
    What conference do you do? I hope I’m not being too ignorant here.

    Great, great suggestions all. Thank you.

    The people I have in mind for GoH, lifetime achievement etc are all people who most attendees will not have seen in those roles.

    And the food — you’re right. I’m opting for the hotel that doesn’t have the fanciest restaurant in town but the kitchen can prepare NM food and that’s what we’ll certainly have.

    New Mexican food IS NOT Mexican.

    Reply
  18. Pari

    Toni,
    Thank you for chiming in. You’ve given me some great ideas. I didn’t get to do the rabbit thing either and would’ve loved to.

    The challenge with this convention is to please both the fans (non-writing) and the authors. It’s going to be fun to come up with interesting topics that’ll appeal to both. The one-on-one idea is marvelous if we have the time/space. That’s my main concern.

    Reply
  19. Wilfred Bereswill

    Well, then Pari. Sounds like the con will be a success. Last year at my first B’con the consistent advice I got was "Hang out at the bar."

    Of course that’s where I met all you fabulous Murderati folk, as well as so many others that I wanted to meet, like Tasha Alexander, John Lutz, Scott Miller… well I could go on and on. I believe at one point, I was sandwiched (I’m talking Saturday night, so when I say sandwiched, I mean it) between Brett Battles, Scott Miller, Lee Child, John Lutz, Julie Hyzy, Lori Armstrong and a host of others (there was an editor there, but I can’t remember). And it was in the hospitality suite that I got to chat, one on one, with Lee Child for about 15 minutes.

    You know, I’m not sure how well it went overall, but I thought the "Talent" room at B’Con, you know I think it was where Zoe gave her self defense class, was interesting. I thought it was a cool way to showcase other talents of the writers. Of course, I have no other talents.

    Reply
  20. Pari

    Will,
    You can always talk to us about beer . . .

    The whole "fifteen minutes of fame" would be a good place to showcase other talents. I like that idea a lot. The thing about LCC is that at its heart it’s a fun convention — so I feel like there’s some good flexibility there if I can just think creatively.

    ooof.

    Reply
  21. Kristopher

    Hi Pari,

    After talking briefly with you in the bar at Malice Domestic, I thought I should respond to this. At least that way you know I am out there lurking.

    As I told you, LCC in Santa Fe alone means I will be there, but let me address some of these questions more as a "fan" than the aspiring author within.

    GofH, etc: While I do think a good or great Guest of Honor could make certain fans come out, if a fan is planning on a conference (because of location, time of year, etc) in any case, I don’t think the GofH’s will really sway them out of the decision. I do think it is wise to "spread the weath" among GofH, so one that hasn’t been featured in recent conferences is a plus. But sounds like you have that covered.

    Panels: Having only been to B’con’s and Malice before, I have to say that there have not been many panels for the "writers". I certainly think that a whole track devoted to them wouldn’t be out of the question. Covering topics like craft, marketing, starting out (this will allow some spill over with the fans like myself trying to break in),

    Fun panels also always seem to be a hit. The Would I Live to You Panel from B’con Baltimore and Humor Panel from this year’s Malice are good examples.

    I also like the idea of just an open forum to ask an author questions. Obviously, this will work best with a more established author.

    One panel I have never seen and always thought would be interesting would be a panel on blurbs. Do the authors really read the whole book or just a part of the book (I know this varies)? How useful are they? Can cross-over blurbing (ie. on a mystery from a general fiction author) increase sales? What is more effective, a general positive comment (the book was great) from a high profile author vs a more detailed comment (the setting of New Mexico was so finely detailed, this reader was read to book a ticket) from someone less known, but closer to the style of the book.

    Ok, enough babbling.
    Kris

    Reply
  22. Neil Nyren

    Right on the plaza, eh? I’m betting it’s La Fonda, then — am I right? In which case: very nice.

    As far as your question on awards dinners go, you’re right that much of the time they can be boring. The only times I haven’t been are when 1) I have a nominee (I know – nothing you can do about that!), and 2) if the MC/speakers/extrras are fast, funny and fabulous.

    Reply
  23. Louise Ure

    You are, indeed, stark raving mad. I’ll send lots of programming thoughts when I get back to a real computer. In the meantime, I don’t care about the GOH, like more spontaneous panels, prefer brunch, and yes! I’ll be there!

    Reply
  24. Cathy Perkins

    Hi Pari –
    I usually lurk, but you had me as soon as you said Santa Fe. Okay, and that you were crazy enough to chair the conference (I’ve limited my insanity to the Kiss of Death retreat)

    I’ll take the other side of your question – since I’ve never gone to LCC, what would entice me to come? Other than SF?

    I’ve never been a fan-girl, so the combination of the keynote speaker and sessions would be the lure. I went to a huge literary conference and to my disappointment found most were ‘come worship at the altar of me’. The presenter spent half the time talking about the auction for their first sale, the agents lined up clamoring to represent them and the last half pushing their latest release instead of discussing their stated topic. Bor-ing

    Panels with a good moderator and one-on-one interviews are interesting, but if ya sign up to talk about craft/industry/whatever, talk about craft/industry/whatever.

    Awards dinner? unless it’s short and different, I’ll ditch and eat at one of the awesome SF restaurants

    The NM tours you mentioned? Sound terrific

    Then again, I did say you had me at Santa Fe…

    Cathy

    Reply
  25. Pari

    Kris,
    Thanks for letting me you know you’re lurking!

    Thanks also for some really good ideas. This is just the first discussion I plan to have on the subject, believe me.

    Re: panels on the biz/for writers. I’m curious what others think. I do know that at Malice a few years ago, they had an agent panel on a Saturday that was standing room only in a large room. So the interest was there.

    And blurbs? Hummmm. Might be interesting to explore. Of course, authors might not be honest about how they do it . . .

    Reply
  26. Pari

    I can’t tell you quite yet, Neil. Not until we’ve made it official.

    Re: the banquets
    I realized after I asked that your first point would make any rubber chicken affair interesting.

    I’m really thinking hard about at Toastmaster. I want this person to be a New Mexican and to bring that level of humor and speed that will keep things moving. Right now, I have several ideas but since none have ever been toastmasters before, I’m also stumped. In a way, this is one of the most crucial positions because this person sets the tone at our big gatherings . . .

    Thank goodness I have time to think about it.

    Reply
  27. Pari

    Louise,
    I hope you can provide some good insights. Just get that real computer!

    Cornelia,
    Yeah. I’m mad, bonkers, completely off my rocker.

    Reply
  28. Pari

    Cathy,
    What you say about ego cons — at least that’s how I think of them — is something we try to avoid at LCC. Of course you can’t completely control it, but you can screen and guide. One thing I plan to do with all of our honorees is tell them upfront that I want them to be accessible at the convention, that that will be the expectation. If we’re honoring them, and paying for them to be here, then we want them in the bar and hospitality room rather than having twenty signings (that’d be difficult in SF anyway) and fancy dinners off site. Sure a little exploration and playing away from the con is to be expected . . . but the emphasis is on LITTLE.

    Many people ditch the banquet or brunch, but if I do something like that, I’ll try to include local entertainment, something people might not be able to see any other way, during the event too.

    Reply
  29. Kristopher

    Forgot about the banquet. I think a dinner or reception is a better idea for Santa Fe, since, as someone said, flying out can sometimes be a challenge. That might make a Sunday brunch more difficult logistically.

    I also have to say that I LOVED the ability to sign up for a table with the author of my choice at the Malice banquet. It made looking forward to that evening possible. These things can get boring, especially for fans who don’t really have a stake in the awards, but if you are sitting at a table with a nominee, it suddenly becomes much more exciting. Local entertainment and food is also a major draw and a great idea.

    Kris

    Reply
  30. B.G. Ritts

    I figure Louise and Alex said it about the state of your internal "yes, I will" and "no, I won’t" response.

    I think GOHs are cake icing if you like them, and a non-issue if you don’t.

    As Dusty said, some people will draw a crowd, even if reading from a phone book. The panels that are "Truth or Lie" or "Whine or Wine" or "Does Sex Sell" will be popular, especially if established authors are involved. Truly original programming is difficult, and then you won’t know until the sessions start whether it will be a hit or not. I’ve only been to three cons, but find that I’m most likely to go to panels where I know a participant — from having met them somewhere or reading their books, blogs, or other online postings. The next most likely selection will be based on the theme/title/topic.

    As others have said, the bar area(s) are just about as important as the panel selections. Having them, and a hospitality room, close to the panel rooms is particularly comforting, especially for those who are not rooming at the con hotel. I like less formal awards events, and not on the last day. On the last day, especially a Sunday, anything official should be completely wrapped up by noon, or the hotel’s check-out time, so travel arrangements will be reasonably easy to figure out.

    Reply
  31. Pari

    B.G.,
    You are always such a voice of reason. Thanks for the perspective.

    Alas, the hospitality suite will be away from the action . . . but it’s a beautiful, beautiful space and I think people will really love it.

    You’re right about really new/original programming. I guess I just want to avoid some of the awful attempts or the totally predictable ones.

    Of course, even those can surprise — for example, when I was at the Seattle LCC, I found out I was on the "sex" panel half way into the actual event. Nothing from the description or pre-con communication among the participants (or, some might claim DURING the panel) gave any indication.

    Reply
  32. Fran

    Santa Fe? Baby, both Lillian and I will be there, although we’ll probably stay at the Inn of the Anasazi. Although the Plaza Real. . .well, we have time to decide.

    But be there we shall! I’m ready to volunteer wherever you need me, and I bet I can shanghai Lillian into helping out too, especially since the panels won’t have the draw for her that they will for me.

    Hmm, I probably should ask her first though! 🙂

    You’re officially insane and I adore you! Woo hoo, what fun!

    Reply
  33. JT Ellison

    What Toni said. I LOVE the interviews, author to author. I think if you get a couple who are also friends, they can be especially dynamic. I’ve listen to a CD of Robert Crais and Harlan Coben interviewing each other, and it was glorious.

    And for the record. I don’t think you’re raving mad. I think you’ve got an incredible opportunity to showcase your state, and who better to do it than you???? I’m totally in.

    Reply
  34. Rae

    I know how you feel, Pari. I’m still a bit surprised to be chairing Bcon 2010 – but it’s a lot of fun, and so far there have been very few headaches.

    I’ve been the beneficiary of a lot of excellent advice and the support has been phenomenal. I’m sure your experience will be similar. And we both have many past conferences to use as examples of how to (or how not to, as the case may be 😉 organize things. I believe the key is to put together a conference that you want to attend – surely many others will agree with you. And realize that you can’t please everybody.

    To answer your questions:

    1. I’m told that many people take the Guests of Honor into consideration when deciding whether to attend a conference. Personally, it doesn’t affect my decision to attend.
    2. I want the panels to be entertaining and interesting. Someone said "I want to see people who give good panel", which I think is apt.
    3. Same as number 2, really, with the addition that I’m more like to attend a panel based on the panelists than on the topic. Goes to the whole being entertained idea.
    4. I’m a fan of brunches rather than banquets. Many people like to have free evenings to connect with friends / agents / publishers. To Dusty’s point, though, you have to watch the timing so that people don’t have to stay an extra day just to attend the brunch.

    Good luck, and I’m looking forward to visiting Santa Fe!

    Reply
  35. Pari

    Fran,
    Be careful what you volunteer for! Really. Email me off list, please. I’ve got an idea that might appeal to you.

    And if we can get Lillian in the deal . . . wow!

    This is especially good since I’m most likely not writing the Las Cruces book after all.

    Reply
  36. Pari

    JT,
    I’ll see what I can do. I know some of the players but don’t know the personal relationships.

    And thank you for your vote of confidence. I’m really excited and terrified all at once. At least I feel very alive at the moment.

    Reply
  37. Pari

    Holy Cow, Rae!
    You’ve bitten off far more than I’m chewing right now. Wow.

    I appreciate your insights and suggestions.

    The whole awards issue is interesting; I want the event to be a real celebration — to honor all of the honorees and that’s why it can’t be too short. I remember going to one convention — maybe a BCon — where the awards were in a room way out of the way with horrid acoustics and it just didn’t seem nice enough for those who’d been nominated.

    So . . . right now I’m leaning toward a buffet of NM food on Sat. night — with entertainment, if we can afford it, so that there would be a draw for those folks who’d like to be part of it. I know there is great eating in SF but, frankly, I’d rather hit the restaurants on non-weekend nights because it would be easier to get in.

    At least I have more time than you do to decide <g>.

    Reply
  38. Chris Hamilton

    Good luck, Pari. I’m doing marketing for this years’ Florida Writers Convention</A> (not as grand as LCC…well, not YET anyway) and it feels like a second full-time job.

    1. Keynote, guest or honor…doesn’t matter to me. I’m still a fledgling, so I want opportunities to learn and connect with people.

    2. Panels — I’d want then to be current and have the inside scoop, particularly about the state of the industry, and some educated guesses at what comes next. Again, that’s from a newbie’s perspective.

    3. Subjects — See number two. Also, I’d like to see someone who can explain how to put all this web 2.0 stuff together as a discriminator.

    4. Dinner. Sunday is get-away day.

    ‘Course, I’m not exactly answering the questions you asked, as I’d be coming as someone looking to move my writing career forward.

    Oh, coffee. Have lots of coffee there.

    Reply
  39. Pari

    Chris,
    The coffee is good. Strong, dark and real. I’ve tasted it!

    I applaud your generosity in doing the marketing for the FWC. I don’t think people realize we do these things for free — for the glory <g>

    And thank you for your comments. I’ve gotten some really good ideas today.

    Many of the attendees will be writers, almost writers and we need to have something — at least a few panels — for them.

    Reply
  40. pam

    Hi Pari,

    The conference I’ve worked on/chaired was the New England RWA conference just outside of Boston. It’s really a fun thing to do, and not as much work as you might think, if you plan well and get as much done ahead of time as possible. It sounds like you have a two year window which is fantastic. First thing I’d try to do is lock in your keynote speaker asap. We found that the bigger the author, the more difficult it was to get them as they’d often already be booked.

    Reply
  41. pam

    Also, having your keynote speaker locked in early, helps with attracting other authors to give workshops and also helps quite a bit in promoting the conference, especially when writers may be considering your conference and another…having the info early can tip the odds in your favor. Or, it can bring new attendees in as well. We got the word out online immediately through web site updates and announcements to different yahoo writing loops and blogs.

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  42. Pari

    Pam,
    I really appreciate your advice. Thank you. We’re working on a doozy of a Lifetime Achievement author and I hope he decides it would be a fun trip. The GoH I’m thinking of may be a bit less known but is truly New Mexican.

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  43. Michael Bracken

    Although I’ve only been to one mystery convention–a Bouchercon–I have attended many science fiction conventions and many writers conferences, both as a participant (speaker, panelist, workshop leader, etc.) and as a fan.

    A successful convention is an organized convention. The check-in process is smooth and efficient, and someone is present at the check-in desk who has the knowledge and the authority to quickly resolve any problems. Events start on time and end on time. The presenters (speakers, panelists, etc.) are prepped in advance so they know where they should be, when they should be there, and what they should be prepared to do or to discuss when they get there.

    Good luck.

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