My First Post Pandemic Conference: Five Things I Learned

I just got back from the Golden Crown annual readers and writers conference where Legacy in the Blood, the fourth book in the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series, was a GOLDIE finalist for the Best Mystery award. This was my first conference since 2019.

Here are some things I learned:

  1. It’s the people, dummy. The warmth, the hugs, the caring, the connection with women I hadn’t seen in person since 2019. It’s the energy and the sharing. I already knew that but the week in Denver reminded me of what the pandemic took from us. I met and hugged the woman who narrates the Corelli audiobooks. I met and hugged an author from New Zealand who I’ve only seen on Zoom. I met an author from Germany and an editor from Australia. I met many authors and fans. It was thrilling to be back.
  • Face Book really works for me. I enjoy spending time seeing what other authors, fans and friends are up to, and liking or commenting. Many people at the conference recognized me from FB, and I, of course, recognized them. I won’t embarrass myself and bore you by repeating the wonderful things I heard about my books and my writing but suffice it to say Sherry was worried my head wouldn’t fit through the door of the plane on our flight back from Denver.
  • How to Plot a Romance. I’ve written five romances so obviously I can plot one. But I write by the seat of my pants and that means multiple rewrites to get it right. I have so many stories I want to write and, believe it or not, I’m not getting any younger so who knows how long my brain will last. The author presenting the workshop shared her minimal plotting approach. I’m convinced if I can do this I will be able to write faster. As soon as I finish the next book in the Corelli series, I’m going to take a stab at planning the romance that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while now.
  • Tik Tok, Twitter, and Instagram could really boost my outreach to readers. The author who presented the Social Media workshop was extremely knowledgeable and shared tips, most of which went right over my head but I’m thinking about spending some time looking at the options. In fact, Mega just announced Threads as a replacement for Twitter so this might be the time to get back in that game. And since Threads is connected to Instagram I’ll probably dabble there too.
  • Being a finalist is almost as good as winning. Not quite, of course, but close. All the finalists in the Best Mystery category were very strong so I wasn’t surprised when Legacy in the Blood didn’t win the GOLDIE. Just a little disappointed. But I did get to participate in the award ceremony. I presented the Goldie for the Best Audiobook narrator. That was exciting.

Air travel last week was horrendous. Flights were cancelled and rescheduled four or five days later, too late to make the conference. We were lucky. Only three hours late because—wait for it—our plane was too heavy to take off on LaGuardia’s short runways. The solution: load just enough fuel to fly to Detroit, refuel there and then fly to Denver. But we made it. And the size of my head didn’t keep us from taking off in Denver so we arrived home on time.

So readers and writers, what was your first post pandemic conference experience like?

Catherine Maiorisi

Catherine Maiorisi is the author of the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series featuring Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker–two tough women, fighting each other while solving high profile crimes. A Matter of BloodThe Blood Runs ColdA Message in Blood, and Legacy in the Blood are all available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks narrated by Abby Craden.  

In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.


  1. Glad you went, Catherine. It sounds like you had an amazing time. You’re right–there really isn’t anything that will match being with people in the flesh and not just on the small screen.
    I’ve been to lots of conferences since Covid. The last Malice seemed to be back to normal numbers. Let’s hope we don’t have to experience any more pandemics.
    Best of luck with the new book.

    1. It was amazing, Connie. With all the hugging that went on, it’s no surprise there were some cases of Covid. One a panelist I sat next to and another presented the audiobook award with me. But also, people I hugged.

      We’ve been testing and so far we’re both negative.

  2. Oh wow, that sounds great! Will you share the plotting advice in a future post? Inquiring minds want to know 🙂

    1. It’s for romances which are more formulaic than mysteries. And it’s quite basic. I probably could have come up with something like it if I was so anti planning. If I can read my notes I’d be happy to send it to you.

  3. Sounds great! My first conference after the pandemic was Malice Domestic and it was such a joy. Also, I agree with you about Facebook. I ran into so many people who knew me from Facebook and it was lovely. Congratulations on being a finalist1 That’s an honor.

    1. Thanks, Susan. Three of the Corelli books have been GOLDIE Finalists and one has been a Lambda Literary Award Finalist. Since I learned to write fiction while writing the first Corelli, and I never intended to publish, I’m thrilled to receive the recognition.

  4. Denver is a cool city. And it sounds like the conference had great energy.

    How did you spend your wait time during the trek home? Sometimes I can wrote in airports and sometimes it just doesn’t happen for me.

  5. It’s interesting, Lane. I lugged my computer (as light as it is, it gets heavy) with me, intending to write while flying in both directions and during breaks from the intense connection of the conference. But I barely opened it. I read going in both directions on the plane and was too exhausted to work during the conference.

    I didn’t see much of Denver. It was very hot and sunny and I didn’t do too well with the altitude.

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