This coming weekend, June 10th & 11th is the California Crime Writers Conference CCWC in Culver City. It’s one of my favorite’s and unfortunately, they only have it every other year. It’s a joint effort put on by Sisters in Crime/LA and Mystery Writers of America/LA. What I like about it is that I usually learn a great deal about the craft and business side of writing. For me, Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon are wonderful conferences but a lot of the panels are more about war stories and anecdotes and not actually learning the craft. In In 2017, CCWC has four tracks, Writing Craft, Industry/Business, Law Enforcement/Forensics and Marketing. You don’t have to stick to any one track.
This year, I’m a moderator for the panel, Thinking Outside the Box: Videos, Podcasts, Giveaways and more. I have three very knowledgeable members on the panel; Laura Brennen, Mary Putman and Ellen Byron. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.
I know a number of writers who don’t like to be the moderator, they would rather be the panelist. Being the moderator is a lot of work and I take it seriously. I become familiar with the author’s background and books. I’ve always loved research so I get to learn about writers I admire in detail. I’ve been the moderator on past panels: Real PI’s Who Write about PI’s, Writing about Hollywood and Writing in Another Media. Consequently, I now know who I can go to for information about real PI stuff, about the workings of Hollywood and writing TV/Film/Plays.
One thing I don’t do are lengthy introductions. Many times, intros read like a long list of credits. When I’m an audience member I tend to zone out when they tell me what colleges they attended. What I like to do is include their work and bio in the questions I ask. For Instance: “Stephen Buehler, you write about PIs in your book Detective Rules and you also write about magicians in Mindreading Murders. Why did you pick those protagonists and are they very different characters? I think it’s a more palpable way to learn who the author is. Of course, I introduce who is who the in the beginning. It gives the audience and author a couple of seconds to connect directly with each other.
I also encourage the panelists to ask each other questions. With that said, sometimes you have the author who has a lot to say and takes up a lot of the time saying it. That’s where I wait for them to take a breath I and jump in, usually with a funny remark or question and then move on.
The last thing I like to do is leave enough time for the audience to ask questions. It gives them a way to get answers to questions that I didn’t ask.
I’m near the end of the blog. Does anyone have a question for this author?
Time’s up! Have to do more research on the three panelists.
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Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not –An Unreliable Anthology. He’s expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner. http://www.stephenbuehler.com