Posts Tagged ‘Writing conferences’

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 Benefits

By: Catherine Dilts

When I began my writing journey, I listened closely to advice. One universal bit of guidance was to attend writers’ conferences. The Pikes Peak Writers Conference didn’t exist when I became serious about writing fiction. I didn’t have a clue about conferences, or their benefits.

Three Bits of Universal Writing Advice:

  1. Attend a writing conference
  2. Join (or create) a critique group
  3. Write

I began #3 with consistency when I took a creative writing course at UCCS. I learned about goals and deadlines in class. The instructor suggested students form critique groups when class ended. A few of us did, and I ticked off #2 from the advice list. One member became a lifelong friend. That group faded, but I learned the value of exchanging writing evaluations with other serious writers.

After that class, I felt adrift. I craved more professional guidance. A local chapter of Romance Writers of America was the only game in town. Many folks who didn’t write romance joined. It was a lively group of serious published and aspiring authors. The learning experience was valuable, even though it wasn’t my genre.

PPWC2022 logoThen the Pikes Peak Writers Conference began in 1993. I’m foggy on precisely which year was my first, but I was definitely there in 1995. I placed second in the writing contest. I was fortunate that one of the best conferences in the nation took place in my backyard. When I attended my first conference, it knocked my socks off. And checked #1 off the advice list.

I had not yet begun my professional career, and money was tight. The scholarship was a blessing. The welcoming atmosphere helped me believe I belonged. I hung out with my critique group. We fancied ourselves up-and-coming authors. We pursued agents and editors with our amazing stories. It was emotionally awesome.

I was certain I was on my way. I eagerly drank from the firehose of information, wisdom, and encouragement. Over twenty-five years ago, my world was small. The PPW Conference kicked in doors and opened windows I hadn’t even known existed.

Three Benefits of Attending a Conference:

  1. Education
  2. Encouragement
  3. Networking with professionals

Seventeen years later, I finally achieved my goal. I became a published author. I now have nine traditionally published novels, and a dozen published short stories. There are many reasons it took me that long to “arrive.” (Among them are the long stories behind my multiple name changes.) But the fact that I arrived at all, even after that length of time, owes a lot to my early dedication to PPWC.

If you have never attended a writers’ conference, I encourage you to consider PPWC. I wish for you the excitement I felt. Believing that all things are possible. Finding acceptance no matter where you are in your writing development. To make connections with people who understand your brand of crazy. To learn more than you ever thought possible.

Best Things I Got from Conferences:

  1. Friends – Julie was standing in the hallway at her first PPWC. My critique partner Joyce suggested we talk to her. So we did. Later Beth and Sharon attended PPWC with us. And we’ve all been friends ever since.
  2. Finding my tribe – realizing I belonged as a writer.
  3. Professionalism – learning to treat writing as a career, not a hobby.

At your first conference, you might feel like you’re drinking from a firehose. Some things may not apply to your journey. Others may not make sense the first time around. But I’m guessing you’ll feel the same exhilaration combined with exhaustion that I did. Conference might be the spark that gets you going, or keeps you going, to eventual publication.

My journey had a lot of detours and dead ends. I finally arrived, and I owe much of my determination to those early conferences. PPWC was a life-changing experience for me.


Catherine Dilts headshotCATHERINE DILTS prefers writing cozy mysteries and short stories surrounded by flowers on her sunny deck, but any day – and anywhere – spent writing is a good day. Author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, and the stand-alone Survive Or Die with Encircle Publications, Catherine also writes for Annie’s Publishing, contributing three books for the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library and two for the new Annie’s Museum of Mysteries series. Her short story HazMat Holiday appears in the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine January/February 2022 issue. Visit her website here.

Writing Conferences are a Must!

By: K.J. Scrim

Pikes Peak Writers Conference logo - 2021

No matter where you are in your writing career you should attend at least one writing conference every year. For every writer in the world there are just as many reasons to rub elbows with fellow authors and industry professionals. You may say, “I can learn all this stuff online.” You cannot. Granted there are many aspects of writing you can learn online, but there is so much more to writing beyond what you might be able to glean from asking Google.

Here are just a few:

Learn your craft.

  • You have the opportunity to hear from writing professionals who can help take the mystery out of the publishing industry.
  • There is a plethora of subjects covered such as, how to find an agent, building your author platform, how to break into publishing, or grammar and style.
  • Even though you will find a lot of knowledge about writing online, it doesn’t compare to the in-depth knowledge during in-person or virtual sessions.
  • Most conferences have critique breakout sessions where you receive immediate feedback on your work in progress.
  • You gain not only writing knowledge, but also learn the business aspects from professionals.

Be around your people.

  • You will meet, talk, and listen to industry professionals such as editors and agents along with fellow writers who have walked the same path.
  • Sometimes you just need to talk to someone else who really understands the life of a writer.
  • Their struggles might be your struggles. This kind of support is invaluable.
  • Forge new friendships in the writing community. You aren’t alone in your career.
  • It is a non-threatening environment to share your writing with others.
  • Reinvigorates your spirit to write your story after talking to so many other great writers.

What about the financial aspect?

  • No one should be left out of a conference if they are financially strapped. Many conferences offer full or partial scholarships to help ease any financial burden you may have.
  • Conferences do cost money but look at it as an investment in yourself and your future as a writer.
  • The person-to-person connections you make are financially invaluable. You may meet the agent of your dreams or find the solution to some aspect of writing you have been wracking your brain over. These serendipitous connections can only be found at a writing conference.
  • The facilitators are professionals, just like a professor in any university. Not all education is free. Remember, this is a professional career and if you approach it that way, the conference fees are just a part of it.

Mytchel Chandler, Pikes Peak Writers’ BoD Secretary, said it best, “Conferences are special for writers the same way comic con is for pop culture enthusiasts. It reminds you that you’re part of a community and re-energizes your self-esteem. While a virtual conference doesn’t quite have the sparkle of hallway conversations and bar-con blunderings, it does give you the sense of pride and satisfaction of being present in the moment. Conferences are amazing to attend because of the connections you make and the wealth of knowledge you’re able to glean from those connections.” 

Are you ready to find your next writers conference? Here are a few resources to take a look at:

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2021 – Pikes Peak Writers Conference was founded in 1993 by author Jimmie Butler under the auspices and sponsorship of the Friends of Pikes Peak Library. PPWC2021’s theme is Bet on Yourself. “After a tumultuous 2020, one that stilted creativity and silenced muses, many of us need a fresh start and renewed confidence in our gift to tell our stories. So, in 2021, we at Pikes Peak Writers want you to Bet on Yourself, it’s a sure-fire win!”

Top 25 Writers Conferences for 2021 – This is a great listing of conferences around the country, many of which are virtual, but still valuable!

Writers’ Conferences in North America – This is a very complete list of conferences all over North America.


KJ Scrim, head shot

Kathie Scrimgeour writes under the pseudonym K.J. Scrim. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors with PPW, she is also the Managing Editor of Writing from the Peak (PPW’s blog) and the Project Manager of PPW’s first anthology, Fresh Starts. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. You can follow her on her website, KJScrim.com and on Facebook. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, skiing, or rock climbing. 

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