It’s early November, which means it’s that time again – time for the New England Crime Bake ! The Sisters in Crime New England chapter’s annual regional mystery conference for writers and readers – co-sponsored by Mystery Writers of America’s New England chapter! – is a delightful experience. The conference moved to a new location this year, from Dedham to Woburn, Massachusetts (and a larger hotel conference space).
This year’s of Guest of Honor was the delightful Lisa Gardner, who shared all sorts of interesting thoughts on writing and publishing. Her most recent book, Look for Me, was released in February, 2018 (there’s another coming soon!), and features Detective D.D. Warren racing “against the clock to either save a young girl’s life…or bring her to justice.”
Crime Bake is a smaller conference, allowing approximately 250 participants, and the focus is on writing and publishing (although there’s always plenty of room for readers). One of the special opportunities is the chance to meet and mingle and practice pitching with agents and editors. If you wish, you can submit a manuscript for critique, share your first page with an editor for feedback, receiving pitching practice with an agent, or actually pitch! The authors, agents, and editors who attend the conference are usually approachable, helpful, and encouraging. The casual atmosphere encourages people to mingle, meet in the bar/restaurant with a favorite author or agent, and make new friends.
In many ways, Crime Bake conference attendees become a family. Newcomers are welcomed with open arms, and repeat attendees are greeted with hugs or gleeful shouts. Group bloggers have an often rare opportunity to gather together IN PERSON, attendees mingle with fellow writers they may have only “met” online in Guppies groups, and repeat attendees sometimes have the experience of being called out on their procrastination (there’s nothing like having a successful author ask, “weren’t you almost done with that project LAST year at this time?!?”). The authors are humble and grateful and supportive, and there is an air of celebration throughout the weekend. We acknowledge first-time novelists, award-winners and nominees, and the selected authors of the Level Best Books annual anthology.
One of my favorite parts of the conference is running into other writers who are excited to share that they’ve found an agent, been offered a contract for a book, or simply completed a draft of their project. Crime Bake represents a community of people who share similar hopes and dreams, take turns supporting and encouraging, and commiserate together over set-backs. It is a very special family.