Posts Tagged ‘Pikes Peak Writers Conference’

Writers Conferences—What’s The Difference?

By: Margena Holmes

No matter what stage of writing you’re at, going to a writers’ conference can be fun and informative. I have a few conferences under my belt now, and no matter where it’s held, there is always something new presented to the attendees.

The topics presented are as different as the conference itself. Some will focus on just craft, some on marketing, some on building your readership, and everything in between. There are some for Romance writers, Mystery writers, or any writer in general. You don’t have to be a published author to attend a writers’ conference. There are many first-timers who haven’t published anything, to those with multiple books released.

Meals and Hanging Out

How each conference is run varies as much as the conference topics themselves. I know some, like Pikes Peak Writers Conference, budget for meals for all the conferees. That makes it nice as we can sit with people we know or find a whole new group of people. I also love how there is a “host” for each table, usually one of the presenters. Having meals this way makes it easy for us introverts to find a place to sit and get to know other writers more one-on-one. If you get a really fun table host, you’ll laugh your way through lunch or dinner, and get a lot of information not covered in the presentations.

Other conferences* may have lunch and dinner “on your own,” meaning you can go eat anywhere your heart desires. Doing it this way, there were times that I ate alone, as I hadn’t met anyone to hang out with, but another time I found a group of ladies who wrote in the same genre as I did and we went to lunch together and tossed around ideas. We also exchanged emails to contact each other after the conference.

Some conferences will have a formal Mixer, where you can go and mingle with other writers, and there may be a short presentation before dinner is served. Others will have an informal “Bar Con” at the end of the day where you can go if you want and not miss anything if you decline. 

Making It Fun

One writer’s conference does very informal Cosplay themes for each day, where you can dress up in costume. There is also a contest to get your picture taken with the organizer’s father.

Another fun game is getting words or phrases from the staff and writing a short story using those words or phrases. The winner is announced at the end of the conference and the story is read aloud. There have been some pretty entertaining stories!

Advantages and Disadvantages

The past couple of years with Covid have made going to conferences a little harder. Last year PPWC was held online via Zoom, and it was easy to pick the classes to attend via Schedule. The advantage of doing a conference this way is that you don’t have to travel, thus saving money, and also no lines for the restrooms between classes!

Another advantage of attending a conference online is that you may get a recording of the presentation after the conference is over. In case you missed something or had to step away from your computer, you can go back and rewatch the segment. This also helps if there are two presentations at the same time you want to see; you can go back and watch the other one later.

A disadvantage of doing the conference online is there may be more distractions at home than at the conference (though having the replay helps with this). Also, you may think, “Oh, I’ll watch it on this day,” but the day comes and other things take precedence and before you know it, two months have gone by and you haven’t watched the recording. One way around that is to put it on your schedule and don’t commit to anything else at that time (this is where having a planner comes in handy). Treat it like any other appointment that you wouldn’t skip. Your writing is worth it!

There are so many different conferences and many different ways to attend, there’s bound to be one you can sign up for. I hope to see you all at the end of April at PPWC2022! Happy writing!


Margena HolmesMargena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.


 

*There are many conferences which are held throughout the year. PPWC2022 is only one of many. Below are links to other conferences you might be interested in.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
Quills Conference
Writers’ Workshop Tour (NEW!)
Romance Writers of America
Tucson Festival of Books
Left Coast Crime

Conference is Over – Now What?

The writer’s conference you just attended was AMAZING, but now what do you do? Here are a few tips to make the most of your experience.

After You Get Home

Don't forget to write!
  • Give yourself a day off, at least from writing-related tasks. Your brain will process your experience even if you’re not consciously chasing after it. Unpack, do laundry, get settled.  Go to your day job if you must. But give your brain a rest from conference things, let your mind have a day to process.
  • After a day or two of rest, followup with the contacts you made. You’re recharged, and ready to reach out.
    • Remember how I said to have a system for all those business cards/contact info you collected during the conference?  Here is where that organization pays off. You should have, all in one place, contact information, and notes about how you intended to followup.  Now is the time to send those emails or texts, make anticipated phone calls, or get something in snail mail (yes, some people still do that). You’re a professional, so of course you’re following through in a timely manner.  Well done!
  • You took a lot of notes during Conference, didn’t you? Review all that fantastic information you nearly drowned in just a couple of days ago. Summarize what you’ve learned. Taking the time to do this now will help you retain what matters most. Jot down an action list, a book-buying list, a “must-try-this” list as you go along.
  • Head over to the websites of those you met – read blogs and leave comments.  Write a review. Connect on social media. Stay in touch and nurture the new professional connections you made.
  • Shoot off a few emails, leave comments on websites, engage with those you met. The relationships you build now may have impact on your writing career later.
  • And finally, if you had a good experience, let the organizers know.  Participate in surveys, so they can further improve their event next year. Consider volunteering to help out at future events. Become active in your local writing community.

Most important of all? Don’t forget to write!


Editor’s Note: A huge thank you to everyone who attended PPWC2019! We hope you had as much fun as we did! Please remember to fill out the survey you will receive shortly. Also, please consider volunteering for PPWC2020. It is a wonderful way to give back to the writing community!


Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Contributing Editor with Writing From the Peak, writes all manner of fiction and nonfiction. Visit her website, find her on Facebook, and instagram orcontact her at gvbrownwriter@gmail.com

It’s Conference Time!

Pikes Peak Writer's Conference 2019. It Takes a Tribe.

You’ve made the decision to up the ante and forward your writing career by attending a conference – good for you! You’ve got your spot reserved, your travel and lodging are booked, and your first writers’ conference is just around the corner. How can you get the most out of the time and money you’ve invested?

A bit of planning will go a long way to a successful writers’ conference whether this is your first or fifteenth. Here are a few items to get you started on the right track.

Before the Conference:

  • Make sure your business cards are accurate and reflect the genre you write in. If you don’t have business cards, get some, pronto. Remember, this is a professional conference, and professionals have business cards. You can make your own or use an affordable online service such as VistaPrint.com, zazzle.com, or MOO.com. Business cards should have, at the least, your email address, your website, and handles for your professional (not personal) social media.
  • Speaking of social media, how’s your online presence? You should assume that least a few of the people you meet will check our your site or your social media. If you haven’t posted a blog in several months, take a bit of time to put something current on your page. Same for your social media – put up a post or gram or tweet or two!
  • Identify your expectations and goals to maximize your conference experience. Review the workshops and events offered, and put together a game plan. Check the conference website for a schedule and decide where you want to be for each time block. I like to print the schedule out ahead of time and mark it up with highlighters.
  • Take some time to review conference and event maps. You’ll spend less time trying to locate where your next workshop is.  Less time navigating means more time networking.
  • Perfect your elevator pitch. Even if you don’t have a finished novel, you can describe what you write and why you’re at the conference in a few sentences. Practice your pitch in front of the mirror.  Get feedback, make it just right, and then memorize it. That way, when the big-deal New York agent makes eye contact or your favorite best-selling author smiles at you, you’ve got effective words at the ready. Even if your heart is pitter-patting and your brain has frozen.
  • Research workshop presenters and keynotes, particularly the ones leading sessions you’ll be attending. Check out  their websites and social media.  Google them. You’ll be more comfortable interacting with them, and who knows, you may have something in common!
  • Bring copies of your synopsis; you never know who may want to take a look.

Pack Smart:

  • Pack business casual clothes, and plan on layers. Hotels and conference centers have notoriously unpredictable climate control systems, and you’ll be thankful you can don or remove that cardigan or blazer as needed.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle. You’ll be more alert if you’re hydrated. I also pack a few protein-rich snacks such as trail mix or jerky, to satisfy a growling tummy without the carb crash from the candy on the meeting tables.
  • Make sure you have note-taking supplies in your arsenal. Some writers prefer a notebook and pen, some would rather tap into a tablet or laptop. I usually bring both paper and electronic. I also throw in a highlighter for marking handouts and a sharpie, just in case my favorite author’s runs out right when I get to the front of the book-signing line.
  • You can bring a book or two, but don’t expect to have time to read. These will be for obtaining author signatures. But don’t bring more than a couple, better to purchase some at the event bookstore – thus supporting both the author and the conference.
  • Chargers and battery packs will make your life easier – no running up to your room because an important device is dead.  Many conferences now offer charging stations in meeting rooms, but don’t count on it.
  • Make sure you’ve got something to hold your gear while traveling from session to session. A backpack, tote, or attache should do. Consider putting an extra tote in your suitcase, because you’re going to have to get that bookstore bounty back up to your room somehow. And then home!
  • Bring workout wear, running gear, or a swimsuit. Moving your body helps keep you alert and energized, and you’ll appreciate it after spending many hours in windowless, fluorescent lit meeting rooms.
  • Make sure you have got lip balm, mints, tissues and ibuprofen/acetaminophen with you wherever you go. Not only will you ensure your own comfort, but you’ve got instant networking/icebreaking tools at your ready.  Pop a mint and offer one – easy engagement for even the most introverted. And it’s great to be the hero who has headache medicine to share when someone staggers in looking for relief after too much bar-con networking last night.
  • If you have a book, for sure bring marketing materials – bookmarks, postcards, pencils, whatever. There’s often a freebie table where you can place these items for perusal and pickup by other attendees.

At the Writers’ Conference

  • Take lots of notes, buy a book and have it signed, ask questions and be flexible.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities. Talk to presenters in between sessions (be respectful of their time, they may be in a hurry). Engage with other attendees at meals. Stop by the lobby/bar area in the evening after sessions are over. You don’t need to be a drinker to attend bar-con, and you may get some quality, less formal face-to-face time with someone you’d been wanting to meet. You’ve make an investment in time and money to be here; take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Be generous with those business cards, and collect contact information from those you meet. Have a system (beyond stuffing their business cards in your back pocket) for keeping track of who you talk with. I keep a small notebook with a pocket just for this – cards go in the pocket and I make a note of why I have that card.  Not everyone may give you a card – you may get an email address from a presenter, or a phone number for texting. Whatever it is, get it down. You’ll be glad you did!
  • It isn’t unusual to be overwhelmed, especially at larger conferences. Give yourself permission to skip a session and head up to your room for decompression time. Or go for a walk, get outdoors and breathe in some fresh air and sunshine and quiet. You’ll be ready to head back in after a bit. Lots of us are introverts, we get the need to be away from the crowd now and then.
  • Don’t feel you must attend every single session, unless of course that is a requirement of the event you’re attending. You know what you hope to get out of this conference, plan your time accordingly. Missing a session because you ended up in a long post-lunch conversation doesn’t mean you’re not getting value from that time.
  • And most of all, enjoy yourself!  How often do you get to hang out with so many people who share your passion for the written word  You want to go home with some warm fuzzy memories.  Maybe you can write them into your latest work!

So spend a little time preparing before you head off to that Writer’s Conference.  You’ll be glad you did!

Pikes Peak Writing Conference is May 3-5, 2019. Registration is open until April 28th! See you there!!


Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Contributing Editor with Writing From the Peak, writes all manner of fiction and nonfiction. Visit her website ,find her on Facebook, and instagram ; contact her at gvbrownwriter@gmail.com