Writing conferences, to me, are the best thing since sliced bread. It is what propelled me to believe in myself and that just maybe, I could do this crazy thing called writing. Everyone writes. EVERYONE! Maybe it is a report for work, school, your business, a note to your child’s teacher, an email or letter to touch base with a friend or love one—but everyone WRITES. My first writing experiences occurred in school. In the fifth grade my teacher required me to write a puppet play. The rest is history.
No. I didn’t start writing novels until my children were out of college and starting lives of their own. But then a published author asked me to trade a short essay with her to help with both of our writings. Needless to say, I was terrified. No one had ever read my creative endeavors unless it involved a class assignment. These were the words out of her mouth, “Oh my goodness! You’re a writer!”
It took me a little while to get up the courage to venture into attending a conference. When I found out that Steve Berry would be the keynote speaker at the Oklahoma Writers’ Conference in Oklahoma City, I decided to venture out, all by myself, so I could hear his words of wisdom. Besides meeting one of my favorite authors, I gained lots of experience and knowledge. Since that time, I’ve met Tess Gerritsen, Steven James, Rick Reed, Chris Grabenstein, Lisa Gardener, Michael Byars Lewis, Lisa Jackson, Lee Goldberg and many others. It never gets old!
Here are a few of my favorite things about attending a conference.
- Meet other authors, writers, agents, publishers.
- Discover helpful lessons to improve your work in progress.
- Learn the tools you’ll need to be an indie/traditional author.
- Practical workshops
- Come away inspired, motivated and a stronger belief in yourself.
- Writing contests.
- Explore other genres.
- Meet interesting people from all walks of life who also want to be a writer.
- Pitch your manuscript to an agent, publisher, or service provider.
- Networking. I now have writer friends all over the world who support and encourage me.
What are some of the other benefits of attending writing conferences?
- I’ve earned bragging rights of being “An Award-Winning Author” just because I took advantage of a contest. It’s a lot easier to become a star writer with 500 entries than it is to compete against thousands.
- I’ve been asked to serve on various panels or present at workshops.
- Gave me the courage to start a writing class.
- Became a speaker at state and local writer groups.
- Gave me self-confidence.
In 2012 I started going to these conferences. I’d sometimes fear I’d slip in my own drool when I met a famous or very successful author. After doing this for seven years, I take it in stride and have lost my stutter when someone like Steve Berry asks me, “Would you like for me to autograph my book for you?” Now I just hand them the book and smile with a follow up question. “Hey, want to join me and some of my friends for coffee later?” Chances are good, they’ll be more than happy to share a little down time. Afterall, it probably brings back memories when they were in the same boat.
Conferences I recommend:
- Oklahoma Writer Federation Conference in Oklahoma City – First week in May.
- Killer Nashville in Nashville, Tennessee—Third week in August.
- Ozark Creative Writers, Eureka Springs, Arkansas—Third week in October
- Florida Writers’ Conference (They have a number of good conferences in this state.)
- Bourchercon—This year it will be held in Dallas.
- Thrillerfest, New York City, July
- The Missouri Writers Con, St. Louis, Missouri—June
There are hundreds every year across the country. They come in all sizes and for all kinds of writers. It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey. There is something for everyone.
Once again in May, I will be traveling to Oklahoma City to attend OWFI. It will be my third time. I have to admit I’m a little sentimental since the light bulb went on in my heart and soul the first time I attended. This time I’m taking one of my writing students with me. I know she will just be blown away with all the information and fun available.
I would very much love for you to follow me on BookBub. On Wednesday I am giving away two Amazon Gift Cards for new signups. https://www.bookbub.com/profile/tierney-james
You still have time to join me. While you’re at it, I hope you’ll sign up for future blog posts. Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you in Oklahoma City. Be sure to let me know you’re there.