Two weeks ago I was on the verge of co-chairing the New England Crime Bake. My other co-chair was Steve Ulfelder, a wonderful writer and an even better guy. I thought I would report back. Here are my random thoughts on how it went, what I learned, and why this all volunteer run conference works.
First, if you are going to have a conference, make sure the Guest of Honor rocks. S/he should have time for everyone, a big smile, and a great personality. An excellent bonus is if they are are good writer. Let me give you a suggestion–choose Craig Johnson. He couldn’t be nicer, is a wonderful writer, tells great stories, and was nice to everyone he met. Boy Howdy, did that make it all a lot easier.
Second, you can never be too prepared for an interview. On Saturday during lunch I did an author interview with him in front of the entire conference. It went well. I’d read his books, perused articles about him, and thought through my questions with my friend (and fellow committee member) Rhonda Lane. I talked about them with Craig beforehand, so he sort of knew what to expect. I also listened to his answers, and tried to have a conversation. Now part of this goes back to my first point, pick a good guest of honor. But the Crime Bake committee values preparation, and it shows.
Third, surround yourself with great people. Steve and I had public faces over the weekend, but there are over a dozen people who spend months working on this conference. It is an honor to work with them all. PS, our own Lisa J. Jackson (who wrote about conference burnout earlier this week) is the registrar.
Fourth, use the time. We had a Sisters in Crime New England board meeting early Saturday morning. We have several board meetings every year, but we are rarely in the same room together. Not only did we get work done, but we got to have a meal together.
And fifth, smile all the time. Even when you are so tired you can barely stand up, keep smiling.
Believe it or not, I’m already looking forward to next year.
P.S., over at the Wicked Cozy Authors, we have some more Crime Bake fun to report.
J.A. Hennrikus is a short story writer, Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series (debuts in 2015), and Julie Hennrikus is an arts administrator. They all look alike.