There is no better time than surrounding yourself with mystery authors in a warm, friendly setting. The Deadly Ink conference last weekend in New Jersey offered all of that in a hotel that could have been mistake for a medieval castle as I drove up to it.
It was also a chance for me to learn from my fellow crime writers. The most important things I learned in those three days were:
1. Even if you don't think your protagonist is autobiographical, if you look closely enough you see yourself in him or her.
2. A panel of six writers and a room full of mystery fans can toss ideas around for 45 minutes and brainstorm their way into a story that we all either want to read or are dying to write.
3. Jane K. Cleland is not an antiques expert, like the heroine of her Josie Prescott mystery series, but she is a fine lady who deserved "Guest of Honor" status not just for her great writing but also for her natural way of encouraging and supporting other authors. And you should be reading Jane Cleland’s work.