There are many advantages to being one of the organizers of a writers conference, but rarely among them is the chance to attend more than a few of the entertaining, informational panels and workshops. Not only do we organizers have to pay to attend the conference, but our duties often cause us to miss out on most of the meat and potatoes. Because of this, at breakfast time on the second morning of the California Crime Writers Conference 2013, instead of meeting, greeting and eating, I was searching for a cable to connect a presenter's laptop to a video projector.
Twenty minutes later, having ascertained that the early sessions of my two tracks were in progress and running smoothly, I finally wandered into the banquet room for my much-needed morning coffee, praying that the hotel had not yet removed the remains of the continental breakfast. The room seated three hundred, but at the moment, there was only one other person there, enjoying a cup of tea as she glanced through the conference program. It was Elizabeth George.
Elizabeth George and Craig Faustus Buck
I grabbed a cup of coffee and a bagel and asked if I might join her. We had met once before, but that was at a large and noisy dinner so we'd had little chance to talk. This morning I had her all to myself. About fifteen minutes later another late riser joined us and the three of us had a lovely time talking about books and pets and how unusual it was for a keynote speaker to have the luxury of sitting around chatting with conference attendees.
It would take a miracle to find oneself in a similar situation at Bouchercon, but these sorts of opportunities are what make CCWC unique among crime writer conferences. This fabled intimacy is no accident. CCWC is capped at only two hundred attendees for this very purpose.
In 2013, the conference turned away dozens of tardy would-be registerees because we sold out early. Two hundred slots. Period. Compare that to Left Coast Crime with 500 to 1,200 attendees, or to Bouchercon with 1,800 to 2,500. The size of most writers conventions is determined by the size of their venues. There's no doubt that the Mardi Gras feel of a huge convention can be invigorating, and you're bound to run into everyone you ever met in the crime writing community.
But sometimes you want to have a real conversation about your writing with someone who understands. Sometimes you want the attendance of a workshop or a panel to be small enough to allow time for all of your questions to be answered. Sometimes you want to relax in the bar with friends and new acquaintances, not spend half your time jockeying to place your order. CCWC is for writers who want to live and breathe writing for a weekend. It's a place to talk writing with other writers (and be able to hear them). Or to explore changing industry trends with editors, publishers and agents. It's a writer's master class on steroids.
Early registrations are well ahead of where they were last time around. At the rate we're going, we'll sell out for sure. If CCWC is your cup of tea, fill your plate before the buffet is closed.