I’m often asked to recommend a conference to other writers. There are so many options, I decided to compile a list.

Various Seasons Conferences

Capitol Reef Writers Weekend* – Retreat/Workshop
Run by continuing education at Utah Valley University and held at the Field Station inside Capitol Reef National Park, this is one of the most amazing writing experiences you can find. Food and lodging are provided…you just need to get yourself there. You’ll be totally off the grid…no cell service and no wi-fi. That means distractions are gone. And well-known Utah editor Lisa Mangum is on site to teach optional classes and give you 1-on-1 time to talk about your current Work in Progress. It’s a magical time. You will make significant progress on your story. It’s usually held twice a year, in the spring and fall.

Spring Conferences

Left Coast Crime* – Mystery Fan
This is a great conference held in a different city in the western US each year. There are lots of opportunities to meet fans and talk about your books, including a new writer’s breakfast one morning. The high light of the conference is the Lefty Awards Banquet. I really like this conference. The mix of authors and readers is great.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference – General
It’s on my list of conferences I need to get to. Held in Colorado Springs, CO.

Malice Domestic – Mystery Fan
The highlight of this conference is the announcement of the Agatha Award winners. Held in Bethesda, MD.

Las Vegas Writers Conference – General
Rising costs have pushed this to become a virtual conference. The organizers say they’ll try in-person sometime in the future.

Idaho Writers Conference* – General
Held in Boise and presented by the Idaho Writers Guild. There are a lot of mystery writers in Idaho so the year I attended there was lots of specific content. It’s small but great content. And be sure to check out the great Basque restaurants in the city.

Thrillerfest – Thriller Fan
You’ll find something for fans and writers. Held at a different city every year.

Summer Conferences

Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference* – Mystery
Held at Book Passage, a great independent bookstore in Corte Mader, CA. Hands down, one of the best conferences I’ve been to. It’s small and intimate (less than 100 attendees) but some of the biggest names in mystery are on the faculty. This is by far my favorite conference.

California Crime Writers – Mystery
Usually held in Los Angeles

Killer Nashville – Mystery
Nashville, TN

Midwest Writers Workshop – General
Muncie, IN and Online

Fall Conferences

Bouchercon – Mystery Fan
Also known as “The World Mystery Convention”, Bouchercon is held in a different city every year, primarily in the US. It draws about 2,000 attendees.

AuthorNation* – Independent Publishing
Formerly 20Books Vegas, this conference is under new ownership with a new name. It’s all about self-publishing. You’ll learn about marketing, publishing, and the business of being an author. It’s big, it’s loud (it’s Las Vegas), it’s much loved by attendees. I’m going to be honest, the content and people are great, but it’s in an older hotel with poor ventilation. The cigarette smoke was so bad that I can’t return.

New England Crime Bake – Mystery
Generally held in November someplace in New England

Colorado Gold – General
Put on by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and held in Denver.

Winter Conferences

Superstars – Business
Learn the business of writing from people who have been there. Everything I’ve heard about this conference is positive. It’s on my list to get to.

Miscellaneous Classes

Citizens Academy*
Many city police departments and county sheriff offices hold a Citizens Academy. It’s a way to learn local policing hands-on. When I went through it was one night a week for ten weeks. We drove police cars, worked in the crime lab, met the K9s, shot guns, toured the dispatch center, and much more. It’s usually free. Time commitment and material covered will vary by department. Check with your local police agency.

Another opportunity from your local law enforcement agency to go hands-on and learn how they work. When I did this, it was a four-hour slot, 10:00 PM – 2:00 AM. I was taken right up to the door as the officer got calls. We recovered a stolen vehicle, field tested some pills to determine if they were illegal drugs (they were), and responded to a domestic disturbance with weapon (I was told to wait in the car until it was safe.) It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to make your book more believable. Check with your local law enforcement agency to determine if this is available to you.

* I’ve personally attended this conference and can vouch for the quality. There are other conferences I’ve attended that I cannot endorse nor recommend or are no longer held. Those do not appear on this list.