Year-round – With both live workshops and their “online, never-ending conference,” Backspace is devoted to helping writers hone their craft and get published. Their query letter and opening 2-pages workshops are renowned and are now available online. Check them out at http://www.backspacewritersconference.com/.
Year-round – Founded in 2012, CFA is dedicated to crime fiction. They host a series of Master Classes hosted by all-star professionals but also offer many other benefits for writers. For a schedule of classes, go here: http://www.centerforfiction.org/crimefiction.
February – This one-day conference has a single track, but boy is it a good one. This year’s lineup includes Andrew Grant, Tasha Alexander, Lori Rader-Day, Greg Herren, and many more. It’s a readers’ conference with plenty to offer writers. You’ll find them at http://www.mmcmysteryconference.com/.
March – Always a conference to remember. It’s where I met Sue Grafton in the elevator and also where I had the opportunity to hear Daniel Keyes (author of the beautiful story “Flowers for Algernon”) speak. For further information, go to www.sleuthfest.com.
March – A long-running annual conference for writers and fans of crime fiction and give the Lefty awards. Learn more at http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/
April – Hosted by the Blue Ridge Arts Association, this small but mighty conference offers a Friday workshop and a Saturday multi-track program for writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Panelists and presenters include authors, agents, and other publishing professionals and includes instruction on both the craft and business of writing. You can learn more at https://www.blueridgewritersconference.com/
April – An annual conference that salutes the traditional mysteries of the type best typified by Agatha Christie. For further information, go to http://www.malicedomestic.org.
July – Thrillerfest is presented by International Thriller Writers and is a premier conference, including Craftfest for writers, Pitchfest for those seeking agency representation, and Thillerfest for fans. To learn more, go here: http://thrillerwriters.org/.
July – Held in Las Vegas, this conference is open to “anyone writing crime and mystery fiction or non-fiction, technical writing for public safety magazines in print or online, or anyone interested in writing.” Check them out at http://policewriter.com/wordpress/conference/.
August – Created by Lee Lofland (check out his Graveyard Shift) to help crime writers bring more accuracy and authenticity to their work, WPA offers writers hands-on experiences like putting on handcuffs, lifting fingerprints, clearing a building and more. It takes place at an actual police academy and gives you a chance to do car chase simulations and virtual shoot/don’t shoot training. It fills up FAST, so if you’re interested, sign up for the newsletter and watch for registration to open up. Then get on line that very second and do your best to get in. Learn more at http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/.
August – This conference is large enough to attract good panelists but small enough to allow for a spirit of camaraderie. With critiques, breakout sessions, agent and editor round tables, and multiple tracks of panels, it has something for readers and writers alike. The forensic track is especially fascinating, and there’s a mock crime scene like those used by the Tennessee Bureau Investigation. Learn more at www.killernashville.com.
September – Held every Labor Day weekend. With upwards of 1,000 authors and 70,000 attendees, the Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country. Check it out here: https://www.decaturbookfestival.com/.
September – Held in Corte Madera, CA. The URL is http://www.bookpassage.com/mystery-writers-conference.
October: Bouchercon attracts thousands of crime fiction readers from around the world, and as a result, it also attracts many of the genres big-name authors. From panels to parties to parades, this four-day event is one of the best opportunities for readers and writers to connect with each other. The website is: http://www.bouchercon.com/.
October – Held during the second full weekend in October, this annual festival is put on by Humanities Tennessee at Nashville’s legislative plaza. Free and open to the public, the Festival “annually welcomes more than 200 authors from throughout the nation and in every genre for readings, panel discussions and book signings. Book lovers have the opportunity to hear from and meet some of America’s foremost writers in fiction, history, mystery, food, biography, travel, poetry and children’s literature among others”. Learn more at http://humanitiestennessee.org/programs/southern-festival-books-celebration-written-word.
November – Sponsored by the Northeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America features a short story contest, the winning submission of which is included in an annual anthology. I’ve never been to this one, but I’ve heard good things about it. Besides, how can you not love a conference with a name like crimebake? To learn more, go to http://mwane.org/crimebake/default.htm. Or email [email protected].
Another site where you can find events for southern writers is http://www.southernscribe.com/resources/events.htm.
You might also want to check out ShawGudes at http://www.shawguides.com/.