by Narelle Atkins
I’m like a kid in a candy store when I arrive at writing conferences. The conference buzz and excitement has been building for weeks, and I’m looking forward to seeing my online writing friends in person. A long weekend focused on all things writing related is like heaven for writers, especially for those who are geographically isolated from other writers. The internet has helped writers connect from all over the world, but it can’t beat the personal contact with the publishing world that a writer experiences at conference.
I met my dear friend Mary Hawkins for the first time at the 2007 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney, where she taught a great class on inspirational romance. Romance Writers of Australia run a fabulous annual conference in August that I recommend to Aussie romance writers. Although the conference is geared toward the general romance market, the quality of teaching is excellent and the conference attracts international editors, agents and keynote speakers. I was blessed to attend Debra Dixon’s wonderful ‘GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict’ workshop in Sydney last year.
In 2008 I travelled to San Francisco for the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Wow. It’s hard to explain the sheer awe I experienced in San Francisco. 1200 people attend the RWA conference, including New York editors and agents. There are hundreds of workshops to choose from, and most of the recordings are available for purchase after the conference. I attended a brilliant workshop by the late Blake Snyder, known for his ‘Save the Cat’ screenwriting books. I loved wandering through the crowds at the ‘Readers for Life’ Literacy Autographing, and purchasing personally signed copies of books from my favourite authors. Two of my Aussie friends were finalists in the Golden Heart contest, and seeing their photos come up on the big screens at the Awards Ceremony was beyond exciting. The Aussie contingent in the audience was very vocal and patriotic!
A definite highlight in San Francisco was attending the Faith, Hope and Love Inspirational Chapter of RWA’s One-Day conference. It was so exciting to finally meet my American writing friends in person and have the opportunity to talk with editors and agents in the Christian publishing world.
Conferences provide attendees with networking opportunities, and the opportunity to pitch their manuscript to editors and agents. A large number of US Christian publishers will only accept agented queries, or queries from writers they’ve requested manuscripts from at conferences.
I’d love to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. If only international airfares to the US weren’t so expensive! Each year I purchase the ACFW conference recordings and enjoy learning more about the craft and business of writing. I’d also love to attend an Australian equivalent to the ACFW conference, catering for both Christian fiction and non-fiction writers. I like dreaming big!
I encourage all the writers reading our blog to attend writing conferences and reap the benefits from mingling with like minded people and industry professionals. Have you been blessed by attending writing conferences? I’d love to hear your thoughts.