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Why I love the International Thriller Writers

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

They genuinely want to spotlight talent and nurture writers.

I’ve been writing full-time for 12 years and have attended writing conferences around the country. I’d pretty much decided I was never going to another one because even after winning awards and fellowships at various conferences, my writing status with agents and editors was still slush-pile inhabitant.

I felt stuck. Until the day a fellow writer told me about their ITW experience.

Experiencing International Thriller Writers conference for myself

I decided to take the train down to NYC and attend the 2022 conference. What I discovered there was kid-on-Christmas-morning magical. Hundreds of writers, many ridiculously famous, talking about what I love best: the craft of writing. Dozens upon dozens of panels discussing every aspect of creating, marketing, promoting. There were more panel discussions than I could even attend! And the writers were so approachable.

When Lisa Gardner walked past me, she gave me a big grin. I offered a timid smile but was far too shy to even say hello.

The next day Heather Graham sat right next to me at an event and we both, shivering, discussed how meat-locker cold the conference rooms were. Imagine me kvetching with Heather Graham! I met so many of my favorite domestic suspense writers, like Megan Miranda, Kimberly Bell, and D.J. Palmer. It was such fun to be a fangirl. I made new writer friends like Bonnar Spring and Lane Stone.

International Thriller Writers organizers talked about critique groups they put together called Thrillertique, organized by the awesome Joel Burcat and a slew of other talented authors and organizers. All I had to do was sign up and wait for the email to arrive. Two months later it did, instructing me to share a writing sample. A few months after that, I was chosen for a group, and it changed my writing life.

I can’t begin to explain how much support and encouragement I’ve received from this amazing assortment of incredible writers.

When I attended the recent 2023 ITW I felt like I was with old friends. I decided to spread my wings and participate in Pitchfest, an intimidating experience, to be sure, since it is set up like a speed-dating experience: three minutes with each selected agent or editor. Trying to sell them on my manuscript. However, ITW volunteers prepared participants. My pitch coach, the amazing author Elena Hartwell Taylor, helped me perfect my pitch—and sell my manuscript to conference participant CamCat Books! Yes, folks, you CAN sell your idea to agents and editors successfully at the ITW Pitchfest. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Oh, and when I saw Lisa Gardner at this year’s conference, I approached her and said hello. I explained I was too timid to do it last year. Next thing I knew, she had her arms wrapped around me in a welcoming hug!

Have you considered writing?

  • Yes, I already write!

  • I'd love to give it a go.

  • No, I prefer to read.

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