The Naked Truth About Conferences

 

Veronica Wolff, Brooks Johnson, Kim Killion, Cathy Maxwell and Katharine Ashe at a workshop.

April is always busy in my household because it’s birthday month. Between my immediate family, siblings and grandparents we have six birthdays between March 31st and April 19th. But April has been crazier than normal this year. Why, you ask? Conferences! Two of them in one month!

Writing is such a solitary endeavor, just you and your computer, and in my case, diet coke and a large black and white cat who thinks lying across my keyboard is the perfect way to get my attention. But, regardless what your normal writing routine is, it’s nice to get out into the world once in a while. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to go to my first conference three years ago and discover there are other people in the world that talk to fictional characters as if they are real people. And for the most part,these other people are completely sane!

At the Foxy Dames Speakeasy.

They are also kind, considerate and some of the most supportive people you’ll ever meet. They understand how important a kind word of encouragement can be for a new writer, or how someone who has been writing for years may be going through a rough patch with a current work in progress. Writers, by and large, are happy to offer support and advice to all those around them. To sympathize over that latest rejection letter or celebrate your new release, to share what promotional tools have worked best for them or lament over painful rewrites and edits.

The Clan McFae Magical Scottish Fling and Costume Competition.

Every year I try to attend one or two conferences. Some big, like Romance Writers of America (RWA) Nationals, and some small, like Washington Romance Writers (WRW) Retreat. I love going to writing conferences because they are a great way to meet people who understand the challenges of balancing writing, family, and that stupid day job many of us depend on to pay the bills. Conferences allow you to network, promote your latest release and can be a great way to get in front of agents and editors.

I can’t say conferences are particularly relaxing because every time I come home from one I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. Most conferences offer a wide range of workshops on craft, promotion and trends in the industry during the day, followed by an opportunity to cut loose with friends, old and new, at socials, mixers and parties in the evenings.

RT and Heather Graham’s Night of the Stars Gangster Cafe Talent Quest

Two weeks ago I attended The RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago. What a blast! This one is special because it is not only open to authors and other industry professionals but also caters to librarians, booksellers, and readers. There were a ton of fabulous workshops offered, a Pitch-A-Palooza that gave writers face time with as many agents and editors as possible in a 2 hour period and multiple theme parties every night sponsored by publishing houses like Kensington Books, Carina Press, Harlequin, Samhain Publishing, Avon and Ellora’s Cave. And as you can see from the pictures, writers love to play dress up!

Cover model, Brooks Johnson and Dana Rodgers.

This weekend I’ll be attending the WRW Retreat in Maryland. This is the same Retreat where the Waterworld Mermaids met as “first timers” last spring. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already! I can’t wait to hang out with my sister mermaids again but what I’m really looking forward to is a fun-filled weekend full of workshops and opportunities to make even more new friends.

Do you attend conferences? If so, which ones have you found to be the best and why?