Last month, I had an unusual opportunity: to attend two conferences, each devoted to a subject of my passion, within weeks of each other.
The first was the Love Is Murder Mystery Writers and Readers Conference. This particular con is held the first weekend in February every year, and while I am no longer on the board or the planning committee, I still make the time to attend at least the Saturday of this weekend-long event. This year, I got to hear incredible presentations by Bob Mayer, a best-selling author both traditionally and in e-books. I also got to hang around with e-book phenomenon Terri Reid (The Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery Series), with amazing author and e-book formatter Donnie Light, and with a bunch of my cronies from past years. There is something to be said about spending quality time with fellow writers and renewing my faith in the written word. I had been needing a boost and Love Is Murder provided it. (If you're curious about the conference, check them out at loveismurderdotnet.
Two weeks later, I found myself at the Dead of Winter ghost hunter conference in an amazing place called Okawville, Illinois. The conference took place at the haunted Springs Hotel in Okawville, and featured presentations by four different writers/ghost hunters, a tarot card reader, a vendor that offered ghost hunting equipment such as EMF (electromagnetic force) meters, a $15 dollar fried chicken dinner, and an actual ghost hunt on the premises when dinner was done. And the event was free!
Now, most of us know what it's like to hang around with other writers. It's funny and informative, enlightening and rejuvenating (at least most of the time). It's also a great deal of fun.
On the other hand, I have never hung around with a bunch of ghost hunters before, and I must admit I would file this experience under "different." (I'd go for "other-worldly" but that's too obvious.) I have a passion for the supernatural, but these people made my passion look like a passing interest. They live, breathe, and eat this stuff. They are familiar with the best sites to cut one's teeth on when getting started in the field. And they discuss paranormal entities, supernatural attacks, exorcisms, and other mind-boggling experiences with the ease and comfort of doctors at the CDC discussing pertussis or strep. And I do mean mind-boggling.
I learned a lot from both conferences: writing tips, marketing ideas, contracts to avoid, at one conference; and I also learned about EVP's (electronic voice phenomena) -if you've never heard one of these in person, let me just say they can make your hair stand on end- photographic anomalies, and self-defense against hostile entities, at the other.
I also learned a lot about myself. I am fascinated by the topic of ghosts: always have been and probably always will be. But when it comes to finding a peer group? I think I'll stick with the writers, thanks.