You Don’t Need a Tiara to Attend a Conference
To attend a conference, you don't need much more than a bit of stamina and some business cards. Heck, you don't even really need the cards, but they help when you make new friends. Which, to be sure, you will.
In fact, meeting other writers and making connections is my number one reason for attending conferences.
I hear you in the back, moaning about how you're an introvert and the idea of being around so many people scares the crap out of you.
Well, suck it up, cupcake! Want to know a secret?
We're all scared.
Yep, even me, Mrs. Social Butterfly Extraordinaire.
But that doesn't stop me from attending conferences. It just keeps me from wearing my tiara. Believe it or not, I hate to draw attention to myself. Shocking, I know!
Now that I've got you all excited for conferences, let's take a look at a few of my favorites and a few new ones I'll be attending this year. (Here's a huge tip: if you're a tad shy, go with a friend. It's easier to speak to people when you've got a partner in crime.)
First up, President's weekend (February 15-18) I'll be attending the Southern California Writers' Conference in San Diego. For all the deets, check out the website here.
I've been going to this conference for almost forever. Or, at least seven years. To read a recap of the conference last year click here.
The SCWC is an excellent learning conference. What does that mean? Well, basically you get fabulous speakers giving workshops on not only craft, but the business aspect of writing. It's the ugly truth I'm still in denial about, we've got to be business people now or fall behind. This year I'm noticing more about self-pubbing and ebooks, which is terrific because I'm woefully unlearned in those areas.
There is so much writerly goodness I'm looking forward to this year. Not only seeing my friends, but learning about Amazon from two successful authors, better editing skills, and writing sex scenes that serve the story. Oh, yeah baby!
That, and getting to rub elbows with agents and editors in a casual environment is always a good thing. I've heard some of them like to hang out in the critique sessions, quietly taking note of work they like. Guess I'll have to suck it up and read bits of my work. Talk about scary! But it's all good. When you're at a conference, you're with fellow writers who get it. They're all super supportive and encouraging. It's like one huge warm hug.
Just after I recover from the SCWC, I'll be heading to Anaheim in March for the SoCalRWA Writers' Conference. This is a new conference, not just for me, but for the Southern California chapters of Romance Writers of America.
You do need to be a member of RWA to attend this one, so if you haven't joined yet, do it now. This conference is limited to 200 attendees, which means an intimate environment. Like the SCWC, there will be workshops all weekend. There are also fabulous speakers like Julia Quinn and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Sweet!
This conference also has pitch sessions, a Book Camp, Late Night Salons, and competitions. I'm breaking out of my comfort zone and entering the California Hooker contest. Get your mind out of the gutter, it isn't what you think. It's a contest for the hook of your book. Sheesh.
I get a little break from conferences in April, then head to Dallas in May for the DFW Writers' Conference. This is another new conference for me, but I hear it's great for writers of all genres. Many of my WANA sisters attend and I'll get a chance to meet them, which is a huge bonus. Making friends online has been one of the best benefits to this writing/blogging gig and getting to meet those friends in person is fabulous.
What I do know about the conference is that it has excellent speakers like David Corbett and Michael Capuzzo as well as a ton of agents and editors who are there actively seeking new books. Yes!
If you can only attend one conference a year, I have to recommend RWA. It's an intense four days of learning. There are workshops on craft, business, author spotlights, publisher spotlights, and pretty much anything you can imagine. I left there with my brain crammed with way too much information. I know writers get wiggly about the ‘romance' part of RWA, but you don't have to write straight romance to qualify for RWA. This community of writers has helped and encouraged me in so many ways over the past year.
As well as my two local chapters, I joined several online chapters that are more genre specific like. At Nationals, I'll be able to meet online chapter mates at special events planned just for us. I hear the Kiss of Death chapter usually has something totally groovy, like visiting a morgue or FBI agency. Call me crazy, but that sounds like fun!
There you have it, those are the conference's where you'll find me this year, but there are hundreds of others that I wish I had time and money to attend. I've heard the Rocky Mountain Fiction Wrtiers' Conference is great. I'm putting this one on the list for next year.
I hear good things about Thrillerfest, too. My friend Amy Shojai will be attending that conference and a few others, check out her blog post here. There's even a pet centered conference she's attending, how purr-fect would that be?
Are you going to any conferences this year? Do you have a favorite you think everyone should attend? What's your favorite part of the conference experience?