Writers from every genre attended the Writers of Kern Spring conference March 12, held at Hodel’s Liberty Hall. I was one of them, a mystery writer of police procedurals. We were there to not only learn from the presenters but also to drum up support for our fledgling mystery writers’ group, the Bakersfield chapter of Sisters in Crime. The group of about 75 eager attendees represented the range of the writing craft: creative non-fiction (memoir writing), romance, science fiction, local history and poetry — from beginners to seasoned professionals.

Writers of Kern is a branch of the California Writers Club that serves Bakersfield and its surrounding communities. WOK provides a forum for published and aspiring writers to share ideas, hone their craft and encourage one another. The yearly conference brought together poet Matthew Woodman, who teaches writing at Cal State Bakersfield, mystery icon Anne Perry, UCLA’s Victoria Zackheim, and Bakersfield Californian columnist Lois Henry.

Cherry Mattias, my co-founder of the Bakersfield Sisters in Crime chapter, and I scouted around for fellow mystery writers. We suspect there are more mystery writers — and readers — out there and want to invite them to check in with us about our monthly meetings on our Facebook page “Sisters in Crime Bakersfield.”

The WOK Conference organizers set up an interesting and worthwhile day spent with engaging presenters. The value of good writing conferences is being with fellow writers, hearing ideas and sparking off one another. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in rushing home to my computer to start writing.

Mar Preston