Today’s post is a blatant promo for a dear friend of mine. Many of you know that I have been a writers conference attendee/volunteer for many years. I spent about ten years at the Maui Writers Conference, and have been lucky enough to attend The San Francisco Writers Conference, and Thrillerfest for the last three years.

One thing all of these conferences have in common, is that all the sessions are recorded by my old friend Patrick Von Wiegandt, who owns He records all sorts of conferences including Sleuthfest, Bouchercon, The Independent Book Publishers Association, Left Coast Crime, Desert Dreams, and many, many more.

no, there are no more “tapes” but CD’s and MP3’s


He also records many different conferences, and for years, VW tapes was the official recording vendor for Macworld and the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference from 1996-2000. In those days, all the recordings were made on cassette tapes, so Patrick jokes that he helped to deliver the digital revolution — on analog.

I worked for Patrick at the Maui Writers Conference for years, and for years he’d give me left over copies of recordings, and I would always just say “nah” because back in the day, I would just listen to music. Yes, I will admit I’m an idiot for turning my nose up at such a great offer. Finally, I believe it was when he began recording Thrillerfest on MP3’s that I gave a listen. And my world changed.

I downloaded several recordings into my ipod, and started listening to them while I drove and I was blown away. When you are at the conference and listening to the presentation, it is so easy to think, “yeah, I got it, I’m gonna remember this, I’m gonna use this.” But before you know it, you’re hanging out with your friends having fun, and when you finally get back home, and sit yourself down to your work, do you really remember what you heard? Can you even read the notes you took?

I wanted to list a couple of my favorite sessions, just to get you started, the first is from Thrillerfest 2008, it’s Don Maass and the title is “Sorry, Your Thriller isn’t Scary.” He gives you a great plan on how to systematically tighten your plot and raise the stakes so your readers will be turning pages.

Another favorite is from the Independant Book Publishers Association Conference, “Ebook Trends, Who’s Buying, What Are They Buying, What Does it Mean” with Angela Bole of Book Industry Study Group, and Kelly Gallagher of Bowker. This is amazing information that you indie authors really need to hear. (One word of warning, you can not see the power point presentations, but the speakers are very good at explaining the graphics they are using.)

And check out the prices, these are more than affordable, especially if you are can’t afford to attend every writer conference out there. And these are perpetual, you can listen to them over and over, gleaning more information each time.