By Joe Moore

I’m suffering from PCS–Post Conference Syndrome. Just about all writers including myself live a self-imposed life sentence served in solitary confinement. Sure I can leave anytime I want. After all, it’s a minimum security prison. There are no walls, barbed wire or guards—well I do have a watch-cat who keeps a suspicious eye on me in between catnaps. But in general, writers don’t get out much. As Nancy Cohen remarked in her post last week, she works in a “writer’s cave”.

So it’s a special treat to receive a temporary furlough and head to a writers’ conference. In my TFVI-logo1case, it was ThrillerFest, held each year at the Grand Hyatt in NYC. What an amazing feeling to be awash in a sea of creative minds surrounded by hundreds of writers and fans. And at ThrillerFest, everyone is accessible. Having a casual chat with Ken Follett, Lisa Gardner, James Rollins and Jeffery Deaver is commonplace. But the thing that gets my blood flowing faster is the electric atmosphere created by so many amazing writers all breathing the same air, enjoying the same camaraderie, and sitting side by side in panels sharing so much wisdom and advice.

Running into fellow TKZ blogmate, John Gilstrap is always a pleasure. And there was a rumor that TKZ’s Kathy Pickering was in attendance, but I could never track her down.

A couple of tidbits from the industry panels included some agents predicting that the ratio of ebooks to print books will eventually stabilize at 70 percent ebooks and 30 percent printed books. Someone also pointed out that because of the hundreds of thousands of self-published ebooks now flooding the market, it could result in the eventual end to what many consider a novelty for would-be authors publishing their own manuscripts.

Literary agent Simon Lipskar (Writers House) gave an interesting comment in which he compared the ebook/digital revolution to the industrial revolution. He predicted one possibility that because of the rapid changes in publishing, we might see digital and audio books being released as one. A reader could be listening to a book in her car, pause and enter her house, and resume the book on her e-reader.

The conference wound up with the Thriller Awards going to John Sandford (hardcover), J.T. Ellison (paperback), Chevy Stevens (first novel), and Richard Helms (short story). R.L. Stine was named 2011 ThrillerMaster, and Joe McGinniss received the True Thriller award. The Silver Bullet for her Save The Libraries program went to Karin Slaughter.

ThrillerFest-VII-logo-smallNext year’s ThrillerMaster is the legendary Jack Higgins.

Overall, a good time was had by all. Now I’m back in solitary confinement trying to jumpstart my current WIP, still light-headed from all that creative air and looking forward to next year’s conference.

How about you? Do you like to attend conferences? Which one is your favorite? And do you suffer from PCS?

8 thoughts on “PCS

  1. Great summary, Joe. I love Tfest. Like you, I am thrilled to get “released from solitary” and love catching up with friends and meeting new ones at these things. And although it’s great returning home, I still feel that sudden let down of being pulled from the addictive rush of a conference. ITW’s is special because of all the great names who attend too. I pinch myself when I’m there, trying not to act like Too much of a fan girl, and be more “authory.”

  2. I’ve only been to 2 conferences. The first, in 2004, I loved and came away very charged up. It was my first, I was a newbie, and I was the biggest sponge on the planet.

    My 2nd, in 2008, while beneficial, was an average experience and I came away drained because there were just so many people per square inch the whole time. And by that time, I’d run the gamut of typical classes offered at a conference, so there wasn’t much exuberence on that end either.

    The other difference is that in 2004, locally here in AZ, there wasn’t a lot of author support. Now I’m part of two local groups, so if I have need to interact with humans, I do it locally.

    Don’t know when I will next attend a conference, but it will not be until I have something else ready to pitch.

    BK Jackson (ever the cave dweller)

  3. You’re right, Jordan, there are some amazing folks that show up at T’Fest. I consider myself just as much a fan as a writer, and really enjoy meeting authors whose books I’ve enjoyed so much in the past.

    BK, it’s getting harder to attend because of the economy. Friends that used to go to 4-5 conferences a year now only get to 1-2. So we have to pick and choose the ones that are the most beneficial. But to some degree, anytime a bunch of writers get together, it’s worth being there. I hope to see you at some future conference.

  4. I loved Tfest when I went a couple of years ago. I love meeting writers and readers at conferences–I always manage to learn something new about writing and “the biz”.

  5. I like conferences for the valuable information they provide, but I hate people. So whenever I come back from one, I’m usually really happy and relieved to be out of there.

  6. I love conferences. I am a cookbook author and our professional food conference is so inspiring–I look forward to it each year. It’s nice to be in one place with all of my “peeps”–other people who consider food and food writing a perfectly normal thing to obsess about. 🙂 I come home energized and ready to write again. (thanks for letting me share my writerly experiences here–so much of whay you guys talk about is true for any kind of book writing).

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience, Joe. I always like to hear what people learn at conferences I can’t attend. Next year, I’ll be going to SleuthFest and Malice. I’m looking forward to Malice because it’s been several years since I’ve attended. And the FRW Cruise Conference is a great opportunity to mingle on a ship with agents and editors, although they are biannual. RT is a great conference for meeting fans and booksellers if you do cross-genre promotion.

  8. Joe– I was only able to make Thrillerfest on Friday. Stayed with Heather Graham until Saturday morning when I departed for family time on Long Island. (I just returned to FL last night.) I looked for you at T-Fest, however!!

    The conference looked like a great event. Sorry I missed you. Let’s try again, next year. Hopefully the hotel renovations will be finished by then, and it won’t seem like such a maze!

    Glad you got rejuvinated!

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