The Impact of Writing Conferences on My Life

Today, Roger E. Bruner is sharing his conference story. I love the fact it took him years but he stayed faithful to his goal of attending annually and the blessings that followed.

Roger B&W

When I first started writing novels, I didn’t question whether conferences were worthwhile; I didn’t know they existed. I found out, though, and I’ve make it a practice to attend at least one each year for the past ten or eleven years, even when money was tight.

I can always learn something helpful at conferences. At seventy, I still want to become the best writer I can.

But what has sold me on conferences more than anything else—what has impacted my writing career like nothing else—occurred at one of my earliest conferences. I had an appointment with an editor from Harvest House. I don’t recall which manuscript I pitched, but she asked for sample chapters, and—thankful for her interest—I sent them to her as soon as I got home.

Time to wait and wonder.

Can you imagine my surprise several weeks later—no, not the offer of a contract—when I received email from a different Harvest House editor, one who liked my sample chapters but regretfully informed me that HH didn’t publish anything in that genre. She was very encouraging about the quality of my writing, however, and we periodically exchanged messages. (We still do.)

Every once in a while, I asked if I could send a sample of something to get her opinion, and she was always gracious about doing that. And that’s what happened in June of 2008 when she said, yes, please send her three chapters of Found in Translation. I had recently scrapped the first fifty pages and rewritten the beginning—thanks to advice from James Scott Bell at a recent writers conference—and felt good about the changes I’d made.

On Tuesday, she said she hadn’t been able to put those chapters down and to please send more; I emailed her the whole manuscript. On Friday, she told me to read her message from the bottom up. It was a series of forwards and responses.

She’d been so impressed she sent the manuscript to Mr. Terry Burns (retired now from Hartline Literary), who agreed that Found in Translation needed to be published and became my first agent without my ever having communicated with him.

How unbelievable that an editor at a publishing house that couldn’t use my novels would do something like that!

Within a year, Terry had obtained a contract for Found in Translation with Barbour Publishing. Barbour had been interested in starting a Young Adult line, but hadn’t seen anything they considered suitable until they saw my manuscript. Talk about timing that was beyond my control…

This journey to first publication was a God-story. A God-sized snowball that began its downhill roll from an expert writing instructor’s advice at one conference and a fifteen-minute interview at a different writer’s conference.

God may not use your conference experiences to impact your writing the same way He did mine, but when you get further down the road, I believe you’ll be able to look back and see what an important role conference attendance played.

Rosa No-Name (small)



Roger Bruner spent his whole work life trying to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up. Along the way he taught school, interviewed job seekers, and programmed computers. He retired from a temporary stint at Target to write full-time and wishes he could have done that years earlier.

He has four published novels and eight manuscripts that are still looking for a home. He’s also published two small books containing his shorter writings, many of which may be read at His website also contains audio and video recordings of many of his original songs.

A guitarist and songwriter, he’s in the church choir and plays bass in the praise team and guitar at a nursing home ministry. Long interested in missions, he’s gone to Romania, England, Wales, Australia, and Nicaragua on short-term mission trips.

Roger likes spending time with his wife, Kathleen. He has a daughter, who lives with her family in Orlando, and stepdaughters in New York City and Las Vegas.

He enjoys reading, photography, web design, and playing Words with Friends.

Website, Blogs, and Social Media Links

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