18
MAY
2016

Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday: Writing Conferences!

Helloooooo! Long time no post. My apologies. It’s nearing the end of the school year here which means an all around clusterfuck as I try to balance last minute school projects and trips with working and figuring out summer plans for the hellions. I’m also leaving tomorrow for four days away, which means I’ve been busy trying to get everything ready for that. But that also brings me the guts for this post!

What I’m loving this week (and what I’ll be thankful for next week once I get back) is writing conferences! As I saw recently in an author group I belong to on Facebook, there are a lot of thoughts on whether conferences are good for you, for your business, or if your time would be better spent writing. And that question? Honestly, it’s one you have to answer for yourself. I don’t know you or your situation. I don’t know where you are in your career, what your personality is like, or if leaving the house makes you break out in hives. What I’m saying is, it’s going to be different for everyone.

But for me? Conferences are where it’s at.

I went to my first conference in July 2013, and I didn’t just dip my toes in the water. I dove straight in the deep end by starting off with RWA Nationals. It was huge and overwhelming and completely and utterly amazing. I had a ball there, and vowed to go every year (sadly, that vow will be broken this year because they moved the timing up a week, and it just doesn’t work with my husband’s work schedule. I’m legitimately teary about not being able to go). If you’re interested to read about my past experiences at Nationals, I posted a recap on my first year in 2013, as well as 2014.

Since 2013, I’ve been to a few different conferences—from big ones (RWA and RT) to smaller ones (Moonlight & Magnolias, and the upcoming Spring Fling). And while I definitely have my favorites, I think there’s something to be gained from each conference. Now, whether or not all those conferences have a positive ROI (return on investment), that’s another story all together.

For the record, I thought RT was the biggest money suck of all the conferences I attended. I loved meeting readers and bloggers and getting to hang out with them. I would just like to not spend three thousand dollars to do it. And while I can’t necessarily point to my sales post-RWA and say, yes, I’ve made back what I’ve spent, that’s not what RWA is for me. Those are business conferences—ongoing education for writers. And, to me, they are absolutely vital to continuing to grow as a writer.

Let me just put a caveat to everything: I am an extrovert. I live off the energy of others. When my conference wife and I go together and she’s drained by the end of the day while I’m bouncing off the walls, this becomes perfectly apparent. That said, here’s a lowdown on some of the different conferences I’ve heard about or attended.

Large conferences

2014-07-26 16.16.52RWA Nationals: The Mama Jamma of conferences. For learning conferences in the romance industry, this is the biggest. It normally has about 2500 attendees, hundreds of workshops, editor/agent pitch appointments, publisher parties (if you are traditionally published), vendor parties (if you are self-published), an awards night, keynote speakers, book signings, and lots of socializing with all those writer friends you’ve met online. And also, you get to meet authors you’ve read and loved for years (cough Jill Shalvis cough).

2015-05-13 14.33.14-2Romantic Times Convention: One of the largest reader oriented conferences, again for romance authors. Many of the events are geared toward readers and/or bloggers. There are still workshops for writers (though far less than at RWA), publisher/vendor parties, an awards night (full disclosure: I did not attend this. But I did get dressed up, because it was an excuse to wear a tiara, and if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I will always wear a tiara if possible.), book signings, themed parties every night, and way way way lots of socializing with friends and authors.

NINC: As I’ve not attended one of these I won’t be able to give info on what happens at one of them, but they do come very well recommended. Bonus: They are for all novelists of all genres, not just romance.

Medium sized chapter conferences

For these, I’m talking about Spring Fling, Moonlight and Magnolias, Emerald City, NJ’s Put Your Heart in a Book, Florida’s Fun in the Sun, and many more I’m probably forgetting. Each one will have something a bit different, but for the most part, it’s going to be like a mini-RWA. The only exception to that is the publisher and vendor parties—those aren’t at these (or haven’t been at any I’ve been to yet).

Smaller, reader focused conferences

Full disclosure, I haven’t been to one of these, though I’d love to. I’ve heard great things about them, and it’s on my radar for 2017/2018. These include: Barbara Vey Luncheon, Lori Foster’s RAGT, Apollycon (I’m one of the attending authors in 2017!), Rom Con, and probably a crapton more I don’t know about/am forgetting.

Bottom line? There are a ton of conferences out there and more popping up every year. What you get out of one will totally depend on who you are, where you are in your career, what your mentality is before you even step foot at the conference, who you go with, the organizers, and about a gajillion other things. My advice? Try out a couple and see what size/style you like best. Don’t schedule so many that it interrupts a great deal of your writing time, but also don’t bail on them if you want to go but instead feel like you should write. (Also, who says you can’t write at conferences? I was on deadline with CAPTIVE when I went to Moonlight & Magnolias, and I spent many an hour pounding away at the keyboard.)

Do you know of and love a conference I didn’t mention? Do you have experience with any that I did mention? I’d love to hear about it, so drop me a comment or pop over to Twitter to chat.

13
APR
2016

Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday

Earlier in the week, I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about for the Whatcha ____ Wednesday blog. And actually, as I opened up a new post to start writing, I intended to chat about what book I’m reading and loving right now (side note: Tessa Bailey’s Boiling Point). But then I remembered what I did last weekend and thought it might be better to touch on something else that I’m loving right now: writer friendships.

I’ve said before a thousand times that this career is lonely at the best of times, isolating at the worst. This, of course, may be different depending on your personality type, but for me? As an ENFJ(-A), I gain energy from being around people and find this job to be extremely taxing in that aspect. I like to joke with my CP that all that energy she’s drained of at conferences, I suck it all up. Because of that, it’s important for me to find outlets and ways to connect with others, whether that be through dinners out, meetings, workshops, social media, or just plain old texting.

IMG_6474Last weekend, a group of seven of us headed to beautiful Galena, IL for a writer’s retreat. The plan was tentative and loose—show up on Friday, leave on Sunday, and do whatever we wanted in the time between.  And we managed to cram a lot in. Between workshops, plotting chats, discussing our processes, working, and, of course, drinking, our weekend filled up before we even knew it. We had a nice mix of people who attended, writing in different genres and categories, and at different stages in their writing careers. Because of that, conversation never waned, and each of us had something different to offer the others in the group. We had such a great time, we’re planning to make it a yearly event.

As I’m sitting here this week, on the downhill slide from my high of the retreat and also #NotAtRT and feeling pretty bummed about it, I’ve been chatting with my CP and good friend Jeanette Grey about other ways I can get that fuel when it’s just not possible to attend a retreat or conference. Because let’s face it—that shit gets expensive. The thing she keeps telling me (and, to be fair, the thing she’s told me at least seventeen times a year for the past four years) is to go to my local chapter already, god. (So she didn’t say it like that because she’s much nicer to me than I am, but still the gist was the same.)

I’ve been a member of my local-ish chapter for a while, but timing hasn’t ever worked in my favor. I say local-ish, because I actually have three chapters close to me, but by close, I mean they’re all about an hour away. That’s made it challenging to find the time in the schedule to go, but I think it’s about time I figure out a way to make it work. Because in this isolating career where my brain and my spirit run on connections, it’s time I made some more.

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