Avid Reader? Want to meet others? Twelve Writers Conferences you may enjoy.

by | Mar 6, 2019 | On writing | 12 comments

Murder and Mayhem Conference Chicago, March 23rd

by Jamie Freveletti

It’s March, and in Chicago that usually means that though Spring is around the corner, it’s still cold and blustery. It also means that it’s a perfect time to stay indoors and head to a writing conference.  I’ll be speaking at the Murder and Mayhem Conference, shown above, along with Scott Turow and Sophie Hannah.

I started attending writing conferences when I was writing my first manuscript. I’d always been an avid reader and sometimes attended signings of my favorite authors, but it took the manuscript attempt to prod me to attend a writers’ conference, and the result was….magical.

My first was a conference called Bouchercon. This conference focuses on mystery and thriller books and because I was, at that time, writing a mystery, I thought it would be of interest. I rode my bicycle down Lake Shore Drive on a beautiful September weekend, walked into the conference and gaped. Within fifteen minutes three authors that I recognized strolled past me. The extensive list of panels and presentations was varied and interesting. By the end of the weekend I was hooked.

So began my foray into conferences. Since that time a couple of my favorites in the Chicago area have discontinued (Love is Murder, The Aurora Literary Fest), but some new ones have sprung up ( Murder and Mayhem Chicago shown above, the Chicago Writers Association).

And there are many others, each with its unique perspective. Love Thillers? Then the International Thriller Writers Thrillerfest is where you should go. ITW, started by our own Gayle Lynds and David Morrell hosts this conference. There you’ll see most of the Rogue Women Writers. Last year, in fact, Rogue K.J. Howe won the Best First Novel award for The Freedom Broker. She wrote a recap here.

Thrillerfest Conference New York, July 9-13

Love Romance? The Romance Slam Jam is held in Kansas City every year. And if you love historicals, there’s the Historical Writers of America conference and the Historical Novel Society of North America.

Harry Potter fan? There’s Leaky Con, which is dedicated to all things Potter and one I attended with my teenage daughter. Three thousand young people celebrating their favorite books. This one travels the world and I highly recommend it.

And there’s also Sleuthfest in Florida and Killer Nashville in that city. On the West Coast? Try Left Coast Crime and on the East Coast try the Crimes, Creatures and Creativity (C3) Conference.

This is just a small sampling of these conferences and only a list of those in the United States. Writers conferences span the globe. England has The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Conference.

If you love books, then conferences are a fun way to connect with other readers. Check these out, and if you have any other favorite conferences we’d love to hear about it!

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  1. Gayle Lynds

    What an exciting roundup of conferences, Jamie. A writerly feast! I agree completely with you that they can be extraordinarily helpful for writers at all stages of their careers, especially as one is first starting out. There's a great old expression I love … no one can teach you to write, but you can learn to write … and conferences like those you've listed can go a long way toward that.

  2. Rogue Women Writers

    Terrific list of conferences, Jamie — I too started going to many of these conferences as I was attempting to write my first novel…including ThrillerFest, Sleuthfest, Sisters in Crime, as well as Romance Writers of America (which did have great panels on many genres). I hope aspiring writers will heed your advice and try to attend some of these as we all learn SO much and meet so many other great authors there. Thanks for this very helpful and encouraging post….Karna Bodman

  3. Jamie Freveletti

    Never went to RWA but hope to one day

  4. Robin Burcell

    I started off at RWA–a great conference if you're writing romance. But, since my romance writing career was ultra-short (one book), my next conference was Bouchercon. Like you, I was in awe. And hooked. A great lineup, and I highly recommend any who are interested in writing to go to at least one in their lifetime! (But it'll be like Lay's potato chips tagline: No one can eat just one.

  5. S.Lee Manning

    I also love the Maine Crime Wave and New England Crime Bake. Both in great cities – Portland and Boston. they're smaller conferences – but a lot of fun.

  6. Lisa Black

    I live only 3 hours from Sleuthfest so I have been there about every year for 13 years–it's a fabulous conference, and slightly less overwhelmingly huge as Bouchercon and Thrillerfest, both of which I've also hugely enjoyed. You get to sit around all weekend and talk about books–what's not to love?

  7. Jamie Freveletti

    Oh yes, these are excellent!Thanks for mentioning them.

  8. Jamie Freveletti

    Right? Once you've gone to one…

  9. Thonie Hevron

    My favorite is the Public Safety Writers Association Annual Conference. This is year 14. The club is comprised of retired and active duty cops, firefighters, medical and other first responders as well as mystery writers, editors and publishers. It's small by the standards of the above list but it is affordable. The venue is entirely contained in Las Vegas' Orleans Hotel-special room pricing is available. Great speakers with amazing practical and technical expertise, informative panels and incredible networking are standard at this conference. Here's the link to check it out: https://policewriter.com/conference/

  10. Jamie Freveletti

    Always good to hear about another writer's conference!

  11. john

    Maine Crime Wave has always been fun for me.