Conferences

Reflections on a Busy Writers Conference Season

The first six months of 2019 were an exciting whirlwind of writers-conference activity for this author and literary agent. I presented and met with writers at eight conferences from February through June—four I’d never attended before and four others I returned to. I delivered six keynote addresses and more than a dozen workshops.  I met with more than 150 writers in appointments. And I renewed fellowship with many of my best friends and most valued associates. Here’s a quick rundown of the varied experiences:

West Coast Christian Writers Conference (Livermore, CA): My first time at this conference delighted me, and more so because they feature a “donut wall” at the conference. What’s not to love?

Asheville Christian Writers Conference (Asheville, NC): I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been blessed by this conference, held at the Billy Graham Training Center east of Asheville. It’s a short one, but packed with great people and presentations, and the best food available at any writers conference.

Florida Christian Writers Conference (Leesburg, FL): FCWC always presents a high-quality array of presentations for writers at all levels. It’s not the easiest to get to, but the directors are shifting formats and venues for 2020 with this conference and the North Georgia conference.

Mid-South Christian Writers Conference (Collierville, TN): This one-day conference (with preconference options) convenient to Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and Missouri packed a lot into a single day. Wonderful people and excellent BBQ.

Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat (Andalusia, AL): I always love the personal connections and the sensitive worship in this four-day conference in a beautiful lakeside setting in the Conecuh National Forest.

Writer’s Digest Writing Workshop (Cincinnati, OH): This was a whirlwind day of appointments with writers at Cincinnati’s beautiful Netherland Hilton Hotel, hosted by Writer’s Digest’s Chuck Sambuchino.

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (Asheville, NC): Always a bounty of profound inspiration and personal connections, this annual conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville never disappoints.

SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference (Fullerton, CA): This year was my first at this conference, which started in 2017 and has more screenwriting instruction than any other opportunity. It took half a day to learn my way around; but once I did, I had a great time and renewed many relationships and began numerous new ones.

Eight conferences in six months (actually, four-and-a-half months). I mostly survived, though I still haven’t lost the weight I gained from the donuts at the West Coast Christian Writers Conference. But I gained much more: friends, clients, knowledge, and blessing upon blessing.

When—and where—is your next writers conference?

 

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Many excellent posts have been written on this topic (see Rachelle Gardner and Kate Schafer Testerman for example) but thought I would add my perspective as well.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer about attending a writers conference and meeting with an editor or an agent?

Go in with realistic expectations.

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