Friday Fare Recap: A Magical Mystery Weekend

Instead of the (un)usual amount of arcane knowledge that I distribute during my typical Friday Fare, I’m going to recap my “magical mystery weekend” in Chicago over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.  Oh yes, there was vomit, but luckily none of it was mine.

There are times in this writing life, that I mentally pinch myself to see if I’m sleeping or awake.

Jeffrey Deaver presenting “Writing Commercial Fiction” at MWA-U Chicago – Sunday, March 18, 2018.

Sitting less than five feet from Jeffrey Deaver and cracking lame jokes to him does that to a person.

Same with Gillian Flynn sans the lame jokes.  Because I was kind of dumbstruck when I met her.  But I was still within spitting distance of her.

Patricia Skalka, President of Sisters In Crime Chicagoland, interviews Gillian Flynn during Murder and Mayhem Chicago – Saturday, March 17, 2018.

My notes are fairly scattered, because – well … I write notes for me.  And well, if you can make sense out of my chicken scrawl, bless you!  But as brief explanation – Gillian Flynn and Jeffrey Deaver were the keynote guests at Murder and Mayhem Chicago, while Mr. Deaver taught a class on “Writing Commercial Fiction” for MWA-U, an event sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.  (Mr. Deaver is currently the president of Mystery Writers of America.)

I sent the kiddos and the husband to his parents’ house and made it a weekend in Chicago.  I stayed at an adorable hotel in Oak Park (The Write Inn – a fabulous place, I will stay there again).  I got to ride the green line to downtown. I got incredibly lost trying to find the Murder and Mayhem conference (<– so not a surprise to anyone who knows me.)  But importantly, I got to spend some time with my novel-in-progress and I nurtured the connections I’ve made in my writing community, while meeting more new people.

I’m a sucker for food shots. Especially when the breakfast setup is so adorable (MINI JAMS!).

I’ve always said that my goal in attending conferences is making at least one new connection and cultivating two solid ideas that would improve my manuscript. I cultivated ideas galore during my trip.  I have all sorts of notes jotted down in my notebook – ideas that will strengthen my storyline.  The connections piece is a little less tangible than it’s been at past conferences.  However, a lot of my writing community is found online – people I’ve only friended on Facebook or through other social media outlets.  To get to meet people “IRL” is always fun.

For my fellow Midwesterners – I highly recommend both Murder & Mayhem and MWA-U. 2019’s conference will also be held over St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I think MWA Midwest will try to piggyback on the MMC event to host a master class on the Sunday after (details TBD!).  Murder & Mayhem is more of a “fan” conference, but again – if you’re a member of the mystery community, it’s a fabulous way to connect with your fellow writers and maybe even sit next to Sara Paretsky.

Writing is a solitary pursuit.  Even if you cultivate a tribe, even if you are a member of a writers group.  Weekends like these remind me of what my ultimate goal is in the publication world.  I want to be up on an MMC panel someday talking about my debut novel and “how it happened to me.”  Visualizing your goal helps to achieve it.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend.  I’ve heard that my corner of Minnesota is supposed to get blanketed in snow this weekend.  I call shenanigans on this, but hey – it’s March.  We’re not out of the woods yet for winter weather.



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