Why published Authors attend writers’ conferences

I just returned Sunday from Florida Christian Writers Conference—an exciting and helpful five days. I love attending writers’ conferences. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things to do at a conference. I was asked an interest question by a new acquaintance and I’d like to answer it here.

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Her question was: if you’re already published, have an agent and won awards, why do you need to attend a conference anymore? That was one of those pause and let me think questions. For an unpublished author the whole focus of attending a conference can be these three things. We all want to get published. An agent is always on our radar and awards send us singing and dancing as our worth is recognized.

 

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A pic of Lake Hale Conference Center whee FCWC was held.

 

And I too wanted all of those. After achieving them I have come to realize there is so much more. I will never stop learning as an author. Trends change in what is selling and marketing shifts are ever turning to new routes. My favorite part of conferences is meeting people. Not just agents and publishers but other writers—newbies or pros. I always learn from them. And you never know what connections they might have on a professional level.

 

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Carol Kent taught Speak up with Confidence workshop at  FCWC. Writerd can always learn to be better speakers as well

 

I love the classes. Some writers may say after faithfully attending year after year there are no new classes. Maybe, but there are new teachers. Each one has their own teaching style. Although the basics of story structure is the same, how it is shared can make all the difference to the listener.

 

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Liz Curtis Higgs was the keynote speaker at FCWC. She was such an inspiration.

 

Shopping at the conference and having enough paper for note taking are two subjects dear to a conferencees heart. Photo By Charles Huff

Ask any writer what craft books they love. You’ll get a variety of answers. Because each author shares craft in a different way. Each reader is looking for specific help.

A conference event offers the opportunity to gain those ahh-haa moments when the one thing you struggle with, like deep point-of-view or show not tell, suddenly becomes clear.  There’s also that moment you meet a new forever friend who may become an online critique partner or introduce you to the right publisher for your book.

 

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I spent some time with Jennifer Ulharick my ACFW critique partner and fellow novella contributors of an upcoming novella collection The Cowboys at FCWC

 

If you ask any established author how many conferences they attend, it is often two a year. It may be a small local one and a full-length conference. For others, it’s a general conference and a genre conference such as Realm Makers, for example is specifically for Spec Fic writers, or RWA for romance writer and ACFW for fiction writers only.

I’m committed to attending at least one conference a year.  When travel becomes prohibitive there are live week-long writers’ conferences online. So yes, even though I have an agent, am published and have won awards, I will continue to attend writer’s events.

 

 

 

 

How about you?

How important are conferences to you?

Stress-free flight preparation when flying to a conference

I’ll be leaving for the Florida Christians Writer’s conference tomorrow. I haven’t flown to a conference in over a decade since I discovered the Write to Publish conference a few towns away. God made a way for me attend FCWC, so I’ll be flying and staying in the rooms on the conference grounds.

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I’ve posted a few times on how to prepare for a conference as far as sell sheets, proposals and business cards. Today I want to talk about preparing your suitcase for the conference. When I drive daily to the location, I can change my mind about my outfit for the day with ease. If the weather changes, I can adjust my wardrobe without thinking twice. But living out of my suitcase is a challenge.

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I asked a friend who attends FCWC every year for advice regarding wardrobe. It’s Florida, I’m thinking sandals and sundresses. She advised sneakers because I’ll be walking all over the campus. Let’s add a sweater and umbrella because her experience. The weather can change at a moment’s notice.  As far as the banquet goes, formal wear is optional. I’ll bring my teal lace tea-length dress. No heels though. (I hate them. With my own 5 feet 10 inches, heels have never been my friend.) I’ll wear the same comfy flats I’ll wear on the plane to get through TSA quickly.

What to pack:

  1. Always take a sweater and an umbrella or rain parka. If you’re going to a cold region, don’t forget the warm coat.
  2. Read the newsletter or Facebook page connected with the conference you are attending for additional clues on what to bring. FCWC newsletter listed no hair dryers. So that goes in my suitcase along with my curling iron. Information may change daily regarding what to bring so stay connected.
  3. Weigh and measure your luggage ahead of time. Check your airline website for acceptable sizes and weight. Double check how many pieces of luggage you can take on a domestic flight. I’m putting a few of my books to sell at the conference in my luggage. The total for my airline is 50 pounds. I know my books weigh nine pounds that gives me 41 more pounds for clothes, etc. Paying for overweight luggage is not in my budget.
  4. Don’t overpack. If you can combine outfits, i.e. black slacks and two different tops. I’m wearing my flats for the flight and the banquet. Limit your make-up to something that is multifunctional—same eye shadows matches several outfits. Limit your jewelry to mix and match. Guys: an electric razor saves you from carrying shaving cream through TSA.
  5. Check the TSA website to be sure what is allowed in your carry on. I’m making sure all liquids are less than 3.5 ounces, this includes cleansers, moisturizers, shampoo, conditioner, liquid makeup and hairspray. The agents read the labels. Even if your larger bottle is half full, it will be thrown in the trash if the container reads more than allowed ounces. All liquid items must be stored in a quart size Ziplock bag so the agent can check the weight at a glance.
  6. Do you really need all those electronics?

I tend to take notes the old fashion way with pen and paper. I may take a few pictures of overhead notes.  I have a kindle fire to access any documents I may want as well as read my email and social media. I can do that on my phone too. I love to read books in the airport and during a flight, I read fast. My kindle gives me access to my library and takes up little space. I’ll only need to put my tablet, cell phone and shoes in the bins at TSA security. That leaves more room in my backpack for other things like medication and a change of clothes if I get stranded at the airport. (We all know it does happen.) You’ll move through TSA faster with less to remove into bins.

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  1. Guys: reduce your change and put those odd metal things you love to carry in your pocket into your checked bag. Less hassle with TSA.

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  2. Leave your prescriptions in their original bottles. I’ll be taking my supplements in a pill box in my checked bag. I don’t want to take the chance of having any of my supplements thrown away. Anything they can’t identify will be pitched.

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    Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

  3. Place your shampoo or any liquids or lotions that you may decide to place in your checked bag in a Ziplock bag too. The decompression in the cargo hold may cause leaking, and lotion all over your clothes is not something you want to deal with at the conference. My husband squeezes the air out of those bottles and when they arrive they are back to their normal size due to the same decompression. I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.
  4. Leave room in your carry-on for your conference notebook and folder of sell sheets etc. Do not leave them in the checked bag. If…God Forbid, your luggage gets routed to Budapest, you won’t get all your hard work back until after the conference

 

Bonus tip:

Don’t forget to check-in online the night before. Some airlines allow you to choose your seat then. Print out your boarding pass or show the attendant your pass on your email on your phone so they can scan it.  Precheck-in saves time and hassle. I’ll have a driver picking me up. I have his cell number and a meet-up place. If you must provide your own ride, do that in advance too.

Some of you seasoned travels may have other suggestions. Those of us who don’t travel a lot would love to hear them.