I attended my first Wordharvest, Tony Hillerman Conference back in 2012, the first year of my insane journey into writing. Since then it’s been an annual pilgrimage for me, a trek across the desert in the fall, always over my birthday, to Santa Fe to see how things are done in New Mexico.
I met some great people down there, members of the tribe of writers I’ve come to appreciate so much. I’d see them only there, but every year we’d meet again and renew friendships in a strange familial way that set that conference apart. Since it was a small conference, I got to meet and befriend real heavy weights in the business. Anne Hillerman I must count as one of my most favorite people now. David Morrell and I are chums. Steve Havill was also a regular and this year I got to buy Steve Brewer a drink. I hobnobbed with agents and Big 5 editors and met the new Tony Hillerman Prize winners and kept company with authors of all stripes. It helped my career, I won’t deny it. The knowledge and connections are invaluable and still serve me.
But all good things must come to an end. After eleven conferences spanning twelve years, the conference is no more. This year was the last one. I knew this going down this year and I won’t deny that it cast a little shadow in my heart as I hugged and talked to my friends wondering when I might see them again now that things were ending. Luckily, we have the internet and I have a car and writers run into each other if they try.
I go to a lot of conferences. I go to learn and network and just hang with my people. Each one has a different feel to it, a different vibe. Some are similar, but each is unique and none was as unique as Wordharvest. Whether it was the mystery angle, or the western scene, the Tony Hillerman fans, the contest, the mature attendees or the green chiles, it had a flavor all its own. Snow in the desert. It was distinct and wonderful and I’m going to miss it.
|Steve Brewer, Anne Hillerman and Me|