How far I’m willing to travel depends on which conference it is and how much money is involved. Money, location, and goals should be factored in to which conference to attend. It helps to combine a conference and a vacation. I decided on Bouchercon in Austin, TX because my daughter lived there and I was able to see her a couple of times during the conference. Bouchercon in Cleveland, OH was another easy decision. I’m from Columbus, and after the conference I spent a week there with family and friends—two birds with one stone.
I picked Left Coast Crime in Monterey, CA, because it’s an easy two-hour drive from my home, and the same for the conference in Sacramento, CA. Another daughter used to live in Ashland, Oregon, but I’d never visited Portland. Every time we’d pass it on the freeway on our way to Washington, I was drawn to it and the beautiful setting. Last year, Left Coast Crime was held in Portland. Here was my chance to finally visit the city I’d admired from far away. I wasn't disappointed and hope to return. But if you don’t like the big conferences, then there are plenty of smaller events across the country and closer to home, like the one I attended in the mountains in Juliet, CA. These events do draw famous speakers.
This year I planned to attend Bouchercon in New Orleans, but since I didn’t have a new book out to promote and my publisher dropped their mystery line, I cancelled. I’ve never been to New Orleans and it would have been an opportunity to reconnect with those authors I only see at conferences, but I made the choice to stay home and work on my new mystery series. I’ll have to depend upon the writers from my critique group who went to New Orleans to tell me about all the fun I missed. Conferences are a terrific opportunity to learn, get critiques, meet professionals, and make writer friends for life. There are a lot of options—choose wisely.