Next month, I'll be doing something I haven't done in a very long time: travel to a business conference. Specifically, the California Crime Writers Conference in Pasadena, June 13-14.


I'll be honest. It feels weird to call this a business trip. Writing is a hobby, not a business, right?

Nope. Writing is my business and almost since the beginning I've tried to treat it that way. Rather than take the "art" out of writing, this mentality keeps me on track and reminds me to take it seriously. Frankly, it's been an integral part of getting me this far.

How far is "this far?" Over the weekend I finished the first draft of the novel. Now I'm doing my first pass, which basically means I'm re-reading it and polishing it up so I can send it off to readers for a critique. That should give you an idea of how rough the first draft is–I won't let it out of my sight until I get it shaped up, at least a little.

With two weeks to go, I'm in the process of defining my goals for the conference. The main goal is to listen and learn. With this schedule of topics, there will be plenty to choose from. I'll probably be concentrating the most on the "Learning the Craft" and "Getting Published" tracks, but I might sneak into the NRA gun demonstration or "Confessions of a Mafia Insider."

My second goal is to meet people and make contacts. This will be a challenge for me since I am very shy with strangers. But challenges are good, aren't they? (Whimper whimper–not looking forward to the "I'm all by myself in the big city" aspect of this conference).

I also need to come up with a rock solid elevator pitch. My bio has an unofficial version of the pitch, but I need something snappier. Here's what I have now:

"Diary of Bedlam is a mystery based on the real-life unsolved murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey.  Set in 1678 London, it faithfully describes one of the darkest periods of political turmoil to occur during the reign of Charles II:  the popish plot."

Any ideas? One thing that's missing is a reference to my heroine, Isabel Wilde.

My final goal is to polish enough of my first draft to take advantage of a paid 5-page manuscript critique. Although now I see it's limited to the first 30 registrants, so I might not be able to do that. Oh well, I still need to be polishing!

So that's the state of writing affairs. Finished first draft? I almost can't believe it myself.

4 Replies to “California Crime Writers Conference”

  1. Antoinette says: May 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    John would be AMAZING at helping you write an elevator speech for the book. That’s his biz!
    I’m so glad you’re going to the conference and know you’ll have an amazing time. One foot in front of the other just like one word after the other. Good luck on the editing.

  2. Morgan Young says: May 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    You are going to have a blast! I wish I could go with you. Plus it’s good that you are going alone. For me, that alone would be an accomplishment in itself.

  3. Becky Levine says: May 28, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Holly, This is going to be a fantastic conference! I spoke at a slightly modified version a couple of years ago–when it was just SINC putting it on. If you run into Diana or Darrell James, tell them “hi” for me (if that sounds fun; if not, feel free to skip it!). It was one of the best conferences I’ve been to, and everybody is SO great there.

  4. Elizabeth Dom says: May 28, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Holly, I cannot wait to read your book. It sounds really good. Plus, it falls directly into my favorite genre of mystery: set in London before the 20th century.

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