I have decided to go to my first mystery conference this year. There are a lot of them to choose from, and as I am a total newbie at this, I am confused as to where to start.

If you have been to one, or two, (or more even!), would you please post here and tell me your experience and help me choose?

I am not worried about the costs, either.

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I am going to actually attend these because I can make them in short amounts of time, driving. But I still am considering many of the others you all have mentioned. Thank you all so much for the input!!

Kim is going to:

http://www.killernashville.com
Killer Nashville
August 15-17, 2008
Nashville TN


and

http://www.webpages.charter.net/southernsisters/aboutmmc.html
Murder in the Magic City
Birmingham AL
February 9, 2008
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Catch a nice Midwest Express flight (leather seats and warm cookies after 11 AM) up to Madison WI for the 19th Annual Writers' Institute at the University of Wisconsin on March 29 and 30. You can stay in half a dozen hotels right around the conference center and enjoy the atmosphere of State Street and the beautiful capital building within blocks of the workshop. Contact Christine Desmet at cdesmet@dcs.wisc.edu for the details. Pitching sessions, panels, experts, agents and publishers.
It's not restricted to mysteries but I can't think of a better event to attend or participate in than the Los Angeles Festival of Books. The SinC/LA Booth rocks. It's also a great place to check out the other booths for contacts and information. It attracts thousands of readers, all of whom seem driven to fill their bookbags with new reading.
Yes, there are panels for books in every genre and on every subject pertaining to books and publishing. It's a book festival and depending on who you ask, it's either the largest, or second largest, book festival in the USA. If you are a member of an organization, you can almost count on your group having a booth there. It's scheduled for April 26th and 27th this year and here is the website where you can get information on it.

http://www.latimes.com/extras/festivalofbooks/attendee.html
I echo Mari's enthusiasm for the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I've gone every year. The thing is that you have to get the free tickets through Ticketmaster a couple of weeks before or line up for an open seat in front of the auditorium a half hour or even hour before the talk. (You can also snag tickets at a booth at the festival if you go early enough.) My favorite are the one-on-one interviews, such as those with Tony Hillerman, Alexander McCall Smith, and Walter Mosley. It's really wonderful. SoCal MWA will again be cosponsoring a reception at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood the night before the festival. That's always fun.
Well, this is a no-brainer. It's Book Passage's Mystery Conference at the end of June this year. It's pricy, but worth every damn penny.

Charles

PS: There's a list of conferneces on my website-- I haven't checked the links for this year yet, but I'll scoot over there now and do that. Cheers!!!!! www.mystriouswrit.org
Kim, I've met some of my best friends at mystery conventions. My first Bouchercon was in 1982. I've been to every Bouchercon since 1991. I've been to LCC, Malice, Magna Cum Murder, Cluefest, Thrillerfest and a few others.

One thing I'd agree with is to first determine what you want to get out of the convention. Even if you don't go to a writer's con, some of the others have tracks for writers.

Whatever you do, don't be afraid to start up a conversation, meet as many people as you can, and I agree, stay at the convention hotel if you can.

As a recovering bookseller, I'd also encourage people to patronize the dealers in the book room. It's not cheap to do these conventions, and buying books there rather than a chain store will help assure there will be dealers there in the future. If there is an out of print book you're looking for, you might want to email the used book dealers who are exhibiting. If you have a book coming out, be sure to email the new bookstores as they may not be aware of it. I would also encourage any author attending to bring some of their own books. I remember at LCC in Bristol, about 1/3 to 1/2 of Rue Morgue's books didn't get there in time. If that happens, and you have some, you can usually find a dealer to take them on consignment (Rue Morgue and WYSIWYG are very good about doing that)

I was scheduled to go to LCC, but will have to pass this year. I'll for sure be at Bouchercon.

Have fun. Maggie
Check out Love is Murder coming up in three weeks, first weekend of FEB. as the place will be wide open for new authors and many of us who've been around awhile are as accessible as it gets. Just buy the beer. I am on two panels here and the website is at www.LoveISmurder.net -- Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, J.A. Konrath, Carolyn Haines, and Wm. Kent Krueger are headlining. There will be a Poe reading by the headliners as well as a Stump the Stars romp and a Twilight Tales as we go into the night -- Feb. 1-3 Wyndham Hotel, Rosemont, IL -- Chicago. This is THE friendliest and most open conference for READERS and WRITERS.

Rob Walker
www.robertWWalkerbooks.com
These other conferences are all great, but it sounds like you want a conference with a writing track, and not so much a fan track--unless you want to wait in cattle-herd lines to buy books, and see authors. If you want to be an author choose a writing track conference. IMO Book Passage is great for this, perhaps the best outside of a writing program or course at a University. But regardless, it sounds like you want a writing conference, not a fan conference--unless you have a book out and you want to promote it, then hit up the fan conferences--actually contact the organizers and try and get on a panel or something.

Charles
I have to cast my vote for Love Is Murder. It's relatively small, friendly, and a wealth of information and contacts(including the opportunity to pitch your work) without being too intimidating. The panels are well-thought out and the master classes never fail to be worth the extra cost. LIM was the first conference I ever attended, and I felt welcome from the moment I approached the registration table.
I also attended the Willamette Writers' Conference in Portland last August. Specifically for the writer, it had informative workshops and the opportunity to pitch to agents and editors from all over the country.
And you cannot beat the weather in Portland in August :o)
Why are all the US conventions in winter, sort of? I fancy going to a US convention, as an author, but I'm not going Stateside with a scarf. I want to drink beer in the sunshine.

As a Brit writer, writing pacey thrillers, which would be the best US convention? I fancy Boucheron, but October!! Please! And the last time I was in Baltimore I ended up in Fells Point, and couldn't function until very late the following day.

Any recommendations?
If you're a thriller writer, you really ought to consider attending ThrillerFest. (New York City in July)

Bouchercon would be your other best bet. Baltimore in October won't be cold at all. Should have quite pleasant fall-like weather.

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