CrimeCONN 2015 (recap overview)

CrimeCONN happened yesterday at the Westport Public Library in Westport, CT.

This was the second year for CrimeCONN,  an all day mystery conference co-sponsored by The Westport Public Library and the Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter. I couldn’t make last year’s conference and I will certainly do all I can not to miss it next year.

Stacks of books waiting to be raffled off.

What I like about CrimeCONN, beyond the high caliber of talent present, was that there isn’t the distraction of simultaneous panels. You don’t have the pressure of choosing between two (or more) equally great sounding panels, making a choice, and then wondering what’s going on in the next room as you try to focus on the panel that you did choose. It’s also an incredibly affordable conference, only $25.

There were six panels, all held in the same room, with breaks in-between to get books autographed or grab a snack. There was also a long lunch break (lunch was provided!), which was nice as I got to sit and chat with some folks I’d never met before–one who came all the way from Georgia!

Here are some pictures from the conference with a list of authors, experts, and moderators. I’m not offering commentary–just want to give you a quick taste of the day.

AUTHOR PANEL: Who loves you, baby? How to make your readers fall in love at first sight. Great openings followed by ways to keep the love alive.
Authors: Roberta Isleib, Tom Straw, Nina Mansfield, and moderator John Valeri (Hartford Books Examiner).

CRIME EXPERT PANEL 1: These are their stories. An insider’s look at working cases from crime scene to courthouse.
Experts: Art Weisgerber (Homicide detective and cold case specialist), John Davenport (District attorney), Michelle Clark (Medicolegal Death Investigator), and moderator Chris Knopf (Mystery/thriller writer).

AUTHOR PANEL: Ripped from the headlines. How do you write compelling fiction when actual events are so crazy? (Or how do turn real events into true crime books that read like novels?)
Authors : David Handler, Parnell Hall, M. William Phelps, and moderator Joe Meyers (CT Post)

Lunch break! It was a gorgeous fall day, so many of us ate outside.

AUTHOR PANEL: Oh, and one more thing… The craft of writing isn’t about one thing, it’s about everything. Why when it comes to polished prose, the devil’s in the details.
Authors: Steve LiskowJessica Speart, Liz Mugavero, E.J. Simon, and moderator Julia Pistell (Mark Twain House/Writers Programs)

CRIME PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATION: ‘Cause dead flies tell no lies.
Peter Valentin: Forensics expert, university professor, and former undercover detective on how to read a crime scene like a novel.

PUBLISHER’S PANEL: Be careful out there. How to avoid the pitfalls, bear traps and assorted slings and arrows on the way to publishing your first book.
Bronwen Hruska (publisher, SOHO Press), Juliet Grames (Associate Publisher and Soho Crime Acquisitions Editor), and moderator Kelle Ruden (Director of Programming at the Westport Library).

All of the authors had books for sale in a common room, which is also where book signings were held. I would have loved to buy a book by each author at CrimeCONN, but budgetary restrictions being what they are, I went home with these three:

  • Restless Waters by Jessica Speart — the 9th entry in her Rachel Porter series, which I just started reading (I’m on #1, Gator Aide). As a long-time Nevada Barr fan, this series about a U.S. Fish & Wildlife agent is right up my alley.
  • Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler — also by Jessica Speart. I’m told by good authority that this nonfiction book reads like a thriller. The movie rights have just been optioned.
  • Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America’s First Spy by M. William Phelps. Nathan Hale was from Connecticut and I’m interested in reading about my new state’s history. He’s the guy who said, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country” before his execution by the British during the Revolutionary War.

I got a ton of clues at the Westport Library yesterday! In addition to the helpful writing advice there are now a bunch of new books on my to be read list. Perhaps most important, I met some wonderful people and feel motivated to keep writing.

Thanks to the Westport Library and Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter for the great experience and new friends.

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