Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crime Bake 2014

I had a very different idea for this months post on Author Expressions, but life got away from and Crime Bake arrived.

For those unfamiliar with some of the somewhat smaller crime and mystery conferences, Crime Bake is held in Dedham, MA, every year during the Veterans Day weekend. This is the thirteenth year, and the registration usually closes in the summer. The special guest this year is Craig Johnson, so I've seen several guests sporting cowboy boots, western shorts, and sheriff's badges. This is not what we usually see in New England.

Most posts about conferences provide information for writers gleaned from various panels and talks. This post is about what I get out of the conference aside from professional development and networking.

The advantages of a small conference are many but I'll point out a few of those that I especially appreciate. I attend partly because Dedham is only an hour or so drive from my home. I also attend because this is sometimes the only chance during the year to spend time with some of my writer friends. During the rest of the year we're busy writing and promoting, meeting readers and learning what they like. During this conference, I can catch up with what my friends are writing and doing.

In addition, every year I have a chance to congratulate someone who just got her or his first book or first story published. We all have a first book, and we all have people who have helped us or guided us along the way. Yesterday evening I ran into Cathy Strasser, whom I met in past years. Her first book is out. An Uncertain Grave is set in the White Mountains, a beautiful spot in New Hampshire I used to visit as a child. Congratulations to Cathy, and I wish her many more successes.

The cover for the new edition of the Level Best Books anthology of the best crime fiction of New England for 2015 is gorgeous. Rogue Wave continues the tradition of excellence in short fiction set in New England or written by New England writers. When Kate Flora, Ruth McCarthy and I came to the conclusion that we had to let this go, we were fortunate to find a group of writers who were interested in taking it on. (Actually Kate Flora did the leg work for this.) It's wonderful to see the new anthology every year, getting better and better. It's become an institution and I hope it lasts.

The offerings of the conference change every year in small but interesting ways. I enjoy discovering these, and learning more about how to run a conference. My great respect to everyone who works on Crime Bake and makes it the pleasure that it is. 


Morgan Mandel said...

I love going to conferences, but since retiring have cut back on a few. I can't justify spending $250 for one day. Still, I miss seeing my writer buddies that usually attend.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


This sounds like a wonderful conference. And your blog was worth waiting for! I don't get to meet and greet other writers in person very much these days, but I appreciate it when I do. Our work is so solitary. It's very healthy to get out and talk with other individuals who understand what we do.

Jan Christensen said...

Susan, so glad to read you can go to this conference you enjoy so much. And I've always thought the highlight of cons is talking to other writers.

Susan Oleksiw said...

Thank you, Morgan, Jan, and Jacquie. I'm able to go to this conference mostly because it's so close to where I live. Now that I'm retired, my travel is closer to home, but I value the opportunity to renew friendships and wish my fellow writers well. I've met some wonderful people here this year and discovered some terrific new books. Thanks for commenting.

Irene Bennett Brown said...

Thanks for mentioning An Uncertain Grave. My ancestors, mother's side, were New Hampshire people. I've seen the White Mountains. Now I'm off to order the book!

Irene Bennett Brown said...

I wanted the book An Uncertain Grave so much, but need it on Nook and Barnes & Noble doesn't list it. (The Nook allows me to make the print size as large as needed.) Please, Susan, can you let Cathy Strasser know that I, and many others I'm sure, would like her book out on Nook?

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Susan, I am here at Crimebake and enjoying it immensely. Ironically, I sat with Cathy at dinner and she is a delight. Looking forward to reading her book now, too. You caught the essence of the conference well. Hope to run into you this morning as I have "seen" you but not visited with you, yet. Debra

Edith Maxwell said...

Agree on all of it, Susan. I met Cathy yesterday in the bar and was glad to meet another New England author. It's a fabulous conference.

Cathy said...

Susan, it was wonderful to see you here at Crime Bake. This is only my second convention and the first I've attended alone. I was a little intimidated walking down to the bar on Friday, and it was wonderful to see a familiar face. After your warm greeting I felt confident enough to start talking to people and haven't stopped yet!
And thank you for mentioning An Uncertain Grave. It is definitely a thrill beyond words to have a first book published.
Irene, I will ask my publisher about putting the book out in Nook format. I have your email from your comment on my blog and I'll let you know what they say.
Debra and Edith, it was wonderful to meet you and I hope we can all keep in touch - and see each other at next year's Crime Bake!

Susan Oleksiw said...

I just love Crime Bake, meeting new and old friends, discovering terrific books and writers, and thinking up new stories. Thanks for saying hello, Cathy and Debra. And Edith, as always I marvel at all you do.