You Don’t Need a Tiara to Attend a Conference

Doesn’t Gayle look great in a tiara? Maybe we should make them mandatory.

To attend a conference, you don’t need much more than a bit of stamina and some business cards. Heck, you don’t even really need the cards, but they help when you make new friends. Which, to be sure, you will.

In fact, meeting other writers and making connections is my number one reason for attending conferences.

I hear you in the back, moaning about how you’re an introvert and the idea of being around so many people scares the crap out of you.

Well, suck it up, cupcake! Want to know a secret?

We’re all scared.

Yep, even me, Mrs. Social Butterfly Extraordinaire.

But that doesn’t stop me from attending conferences. It just keeps me from wearing my tiara. Believe it or not, I hate to draw attention to myself. Shocking, I know!

Now that I’ve got you all excited for conferences, let’s take a look at a few of my favorites and a few new ones I’ll be attending this year. (Here’s a huge tip: if you’re a tad shy, go with a friend. It’s easier to speak to people when you’ve got a partner in crime.)

SCWC - WriterFirst up, President’s weekend (February 15-18) I’ll be attending the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego. For all the deets, check out the website here.

I’ve been going to this conference for almost forever. Or, at least seven years. To read a recap of the conference last year click here.

The SCWC is an excellent learning conference. What does that mean? Well, basically you get fabulous speakers giving workshops on not only craft, but the business aspect of writing. It’s the ugly truth I’m still in denial about, we’ve got to be business people now or fall behind. This year I’m noticing more about self-pubbing and ebooks, which is terrific because I’m woefully unlearned in those areas.

There is so much writerly goodness I’m looking forward to this year. Not only seeing my friends, but learning about Amazon from two successful authors, better editing skills, and writing sex scenes that serve the story. Oh, yeah baby!

That, and getting to rub elbows with agents and editors in a casual environment is always a good thing. I’ve heard some of them like to hang out in the critique sessions, quietly taking note of work they like. Guess I’ll have to suck it up and read bits of my work. Talk about scary! But it’s all good. When you’re at a conference, you’re with fellow writers who get it. They’re all super supportive and encouraging. It’s like one huge warm hug.

Just after I recover from the SCWC, I’ll be heading to Anaheim in March for the SoCalRWA Writers’ Conference. This is a new conference, not just for me, but for the Southern California chapters of Romance Writers of America.

You do need to be a member of RWA to attend this one, so if you haven’t joined yet, do it now. This conference is limited to 200 attendees, which means an intimate environment. Like the SCWC, there will be workshops all weekend. There are also fabulous speakers like Julia Quinn and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Sweet!

This conference also has pitch sessions, a Book Camp, Late Night Salons, and competitions. I’m breaking out of my comfort zone and entering the California Hooker contest. Get your mind out of the gutter, it isn’t what you think. It’s a contest for the hook of your book. Sheesh.

I get a little break from conferences in April, then head to Dallas in May for the DFW Writers’ Conference. This is another new conference for me, but I hear it’s great for writers of all genres. Many of my WANA sisters attend and I’ll get a chance to meet them, which is a huge bonus. Making friends online has been one of the best benefits to this writing/blogging gig and getting to meet those friends in person is fabulous.

What I do know about the conference is that it has excellent speakers like David Corbett and Michael Capuzzo as well as a ton of agents and editors who are there actively seeking new books. Yes!

Finally, in July I’ll fly out to Atlanta for RWA Nationals. Last year was my first time attending this behemoth of a conference. For a fun recap, check out the blog I wrote here.

If you can only attend one conference a year, I have to recommend RWA. It’s an intense four days of learning. There are workshops on craft, business, author spotlights, publisher spotlights, and pretty much anything you can imagine. I left there with my brain crammed with way too much information. I know writers get wiggly about the ‘romance’ part of RWA, but you don’t have to write straight romance to qualify for RWA. This community of writers has helped and encouraged me in so many ways over the past year.

As well as my two local chapters, I joined several online chapters that are more genre specific like. At Nationals, I’ll be able to meet online chapter mates at special events planned just for us. I hear the Kiss of Death chapter usually has something totally groovy, like visiting a morgue or FBI agency. Call me crazy, but that sounds like fun!

There you have it, those are the conference’s where you’ll find me this year, but there are hundreds of others that I wish I had time and money to attend. I’ve heard the Rocky Mountain Fiction Wrtiers’ Conference is great. I’m putting this one on the list for next year.

I hear good things about Thrillerfest, too. My friend Amy Shojai will be attending that conference and a few others, check out her blog post here. There’s even a pet centered conference she’s attending, how purr-fect would that be?

Are you going to any conferences this year? Do you have a favorite you think everyone should attend? What’s your favorite part of the conference experience?

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38 thoughts on “You Don’t Need a Tiara to Attend a Conference

  1. Thanks for the shout out! These sound like great conferences. I’ve always heard great things about RWA but I don’t write (or read) romance so didn’t think it’d be that good of a fit for me. I just may have to change my mind. *s*

    • You’re welcome, Amy! I hear all kinds of great things about ThrillerFest. Maybe some year I’ll put on my big girl panties and go. You know how thrillers scare me. I’m such a wimp!

      As for RWA, as long as you have ‘romantic elements’ in your novel, you’re golden. Plus, there are several online chapters that you would love. Kiss of Death is one of them. My brain just went blank on the others, but I see them on the RWA website. I hope someday to run into you at a conference. We could sparkle together!

      • That would be terrific, I’d love to meet more of my WANA peeps in person!

        I think the sequel to Lost And Found will have some romantic elements (not much, though) so perhaps in future RWA will be a better fit.

  2. I think you’ve convinced me to join RWA and head to a conference. I’m think nationals but the SoCal one sounds awesome too. Great post!

    • Yay! The SoCal conference is going to be great because it’s so small. They have some incredible agents and editors coming ~ from Entangled, Decadent, Burroughs, Harlequin, Samhain, etc. I hope you can make it, then we can finally meet in real life!

  3. I love writer’s conferences. I never thought I would because I am an introvert at heart but being around all those creatives, everyone chatting about writing, books, writing, books, how could any writer NOT love it? Plus the knowledge you gain and the friends you make are priceless. Sadly, I won’t be attending any this year but I can live vicariously through you! Can’t wait to hear all about your exploits Tameri. Wear a tiara to the RITA’s ok???? I’ll be on the conference circuit on 2014, I hope our paths cross then.

    • There definitely is something about being around like minded people. Folks who totally understand what it is we do, which most people don’t. I’ll definitely wear a tiara to the RITA’s. At my San Diego chapter meeting we’re having the woman who the RITA’s were named for come and speak. I’ll get a pic with her and put it on FB or here on the blog. I’m so excited to meet her.

      I hope our paths cross, too. It’s been a joy getting to know you online for the past year and a half.

  4. Wow, Tameri, you are one busy lady! I don’t know how you have the energy for all that – I was exhausted just reading about all the conferences you have on tap for this year. I wish there were more quality online events for those of us who are disabled and on a small disability income – that’s something I’m going to be checking into more this year. That being said, I have registered for the Indie ReCon Online Writers Conference which runs from February 12-14th; for 8 hours each day there will be online interviews, blog posts, blogs and live online chat with advice from authors, editors, illustrators, bloggers, indie publishers, marketing professionals and apparently lots more – I’m really looking forward to that, and it’s free, which works with my (lack of) budget. Wishing you all the best with your conferences and projects this year! 🙂

    • Hahaa! I am exhausted, but it’s fun. I had no idea there was such as thing as online conferences until just yesterday on Amy’s blog she talked about WANACon, an online conference happening in February. What a cool way to get folks who can’t travel connected to other writers. I’d love to hear your thoughts on ReCon and any other online conferences you attend.

      The website for WANACon is:
      http://wanaintl.com/wanacon-feb2013/

  5. Hi Tameri – This is a great round-up of wonderful conferences. I so-so-so want to go to the San Francisco Conference but it’s not in the cards this year. My personnel shopping husband likes to have a hand in the selection process also. He tells me hanging out at the bar is fun but when the talk turns to semicolons – he knows he should go check out the local theaters!

    • Oooh, is the SF Conference a good one? My daughter lives up there and was wondering about local conferences. It would be great to attend one with her and a huge bonus to meet you, finally!

      Your husband is a hoot. When the talk turns to semicolons he’s out. That’s awesome. Let me know what conferences he picks next year and I’ll see if I can fit it into my budget (if we don’t see each other in SF).

      • Tameri – I so want to go to the SF Conference – but with my extra long recovery from surgery and now the right arm and hand issue – I won’t be able to make the SF Conference this year. I’ve never been but I’ve been told by a couple of individuals that if you only have money for one conference – it’s the one to go to. I hadn’t planned on the arm and hand situation or I’d have been in SF this year. As they say – there’s always next year.

  6. Wow Tameri, you have some kind of schedule girl. Energy is right. I didn’t know that there was a SoCalRWA Writers’ Conference in March. That means you’ll be trekking up our way. That’s cool. This is a busy season coming up. Have lots of fun! 🙂

    • This year is super crazy. I’ve never done four conferences in one year! But, I have three books that I’d like to pitch, so I made the insane decision to just go for it.

      I WILL be up your way in March. I would say we should see about doing a WANA meet up or something, but we’re going to be brain dead by Sunday afternoon. We really do need to get something else going on a weekend there isn’t a conference. It was too much fun hanging out at Jenny’s, but again, I was brain dead from Nationals. I’ll email you and see about setting something up.

  7. Wow! You have got stamina! I can’t wait to join you, but I need a book to promote and hopefully will have one soon! (If I can tear myself away from the internet and finish it! 🙂 )

    • The coolest thing about conferences is that you don’t have to have a completed book, or even a start to a book, to get something out of it. I feel it’s best to go to a conference before you have a book to promote. That way, you get a feel for the industry. Hmmm, maybe next year you and I could go to the Rocky Mtn. Writers’ Conference together. It’s pretty darn close to you and you’ll have your book done by then, right? 🙂

  8. I wish we were going to cross paths writers’ conference style this year, but man am I happy for you and all you’ve got planned. I’m heading to Love is Murder in Chicago on January 31st—super pumped. ThrilerFest is also on my list, with a few other potentials… Social media ROCKS for writers, but there’s really no substitute for in-person mingling.

    • Gah! We’re missing each other at SCWC again. We’ll definitely cross paths again, even if it’s not at a conference. Love is Murder sounds like a fun one. You and Amy will be hanging out at ThrillerFest. I loved reading about your trip last year and know this year will be even better for you. I totally agree with you about social media, but yeah, meeting people in person is way better. Hope to see you soon, my friend. Have a blast in Chicago!

  9. Fab post, Tameri! I’m attending a local woman’s retreat in February (including splurging to stay in the bed and breakfast and bond with other attendees), a local one day conference in March, RWA nationals in July and Bouchercon in September. For the past four years, I’ve attended writing workshops focused on working in small groups and craft. This year, I’m pushing out of my comfort zone to attend conferences that offer both craft elements and also a large portion of networking. I’m glad you mentioned RWA can stretch to people who don’t write romance. You and some fellow WANAs convinced me to join RWA and I’m glad I did. What an encompassing amount of material to tap into and so many online genre groups and local chapter activities to become involved in.

    • I am so excited for you! The women’s retreat sounds intriguing. I know you’ll enjoy yourself and get so much out of it. And of course, I’m over the moon pumped that you’re coming to RWA Nationals! Just be prepared for some huge hugs coming at you. Definitely find some online chapters that interest you and if you have a local chapter, join that. It’s a bit much for me to go to two local chapter meetings a month, but I love them both so much, I can’t quit one or the other. The information I’ve gleaned from them in less than a year could fill an entire book. There is nothing like hanging out with other writers.

  10. I LOVE MY TIARA!!!
    It’s so shiny. Can’t wait to see you in San Diego, Dahling. We shall have some fun, when I’m not teaching. I’m going to Left Coast Crime in March, which should be fun. And cold, in Colorado Springs. Then the LA Times Festival of Books, then who knows what else. My head’s awhirl, what with the Snoopy book, plus the new romance-mystery book I’m working on.

    Think I definitely need to join RWA though. You guys have some kickin’ meetings.

    • I know, I’m so excited to see you, too! I’ll be a good girl for your workshops, I promise. I was perusing the schedule today and you’ve got some good ones. We’re so lucky to have people like you, who have been through the trenches and survived, to pass on your expertise to the rest of us. It’s going to be great.

      Oh, Colorado in March will be super cold. Stay inside. 🙂

      You’ve got so many books right now, MY head’s awhirl! And yes, you should join RWA and come to the OCCRWA meetings. You’d add to the kickassness of it all.

      Your tiara looks fabulous on you, darling! It seriously was made for your head, I think. Gorgeous.

  11. Yay! I’m planning on entering the Hooker contest as well. I need to do something about that. Right now I only have the two on my schedule, plus whatever workshops they have at Comic-Con. But who knows, I could always add one later if the sky falls and drops a ton of money on me. LOL.

    • Yay! We can be happy hookers together. I’ll be working on my hooks and first 35 pages for various contests this weekend. I still don’t know which book to enter for the hooker contest, though. Ugh.

      I’m still bummed you won’t be at Nationals. It won’t be the same without you, but at least I’ll get to see you at the SoCalRWA. SCBWI is in September, right? I always hear great things about that conference, too. Maybe someday if I write YA I might go. A fun YA idea popped into my head today, but I’ve got enough plates in the air, I don’t need more stress.

      We are nuts, aren’t we? 🙂

  12. Since my hope is to never, ever, EVER fly…unless I sprout wings…I guess I’m not going to any conferences again this year. I did start looking for some that might be fairly local. There aren’t many. One is held at a campground WAY up north (and sounds like it’s put on by…okay, I won’t say Nazi’s, which was my first impression…I’ll say writing police instead.). Another website shows that there is conference in IOWA…but none in Michigan. Yet another will search for conferences in your state, but the only one it found for me was the camp up north that’s run by the writing police.

    I keep saying y’all need to move to Michigan, then maybe things will start happening here. Yes, I said y’all. Apparently I live in the back of the beyond, and everyone who lives there says it. 😉

    (sure would like to be part of the happy hookers though…do you get to wear tiaras?)

    • You are way too frikkin’ funny, Kristy. You hate flying? I love it. Used to hate it, but I’ve done so much of it that now I get excited to get on a plane. Not so much when there’s turbulence, but whatever. It gets me where I’m going faster than I can roller skate or drive.

      We totally need to start a petition or something to get conferences near you. Maybe a WANACon 2014 in Michigan?

      I’m pretty sure we can wear tiaras for the entire SoCALRWA conference. Definitely for the hooker contest. 😉

      • I don’t know that it’s a fear of flying so much as it is heights. I just cannot deal with anything above a second floor. LOL…I can’t even watch something like Man on a Ledge without feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach.

        And yes. Please. Let’s start a petition. If they can have conferences in freaking Iowa, they can have them in Michigan. And NOT up north at some camp ground run by the conference police. It just feels like it could turn into a Deliverance kind of thing, you know? 🙂

    • I know! You totally sold me on it last year, so I’m going this year. You’re going, right? We’ll have such a blast. I’m rooming with Melinda VanLone (god help her) and fitting in a visit with my sister before hand, so I’m really looking forward to going.

    • I know! That’s the big one I’m looking forward to attending. I can’t believe how many of my WANA sistas will be there. I’m going to be a basket case all of June and July until the conference ~ I’ll be so excited. Bring a tiara!

  13. I share your enthusiasm for conferences and have blogged about the same subject more than once. For me, attending writer’s conferences serves so many purposes, the main one being with like-minded people for several days to bounce ideas off of, gain encouragement, sharpen focus, raise my profile, etc.

    June is going to be a conference-crazy month for me as I have 3 conferences: TBEX for travel bloggers, PWAC for Professional Writers of Canada, and TMAC for Travel writers. Being in Canada, the one I think most benefits me and any other Canadian freelance writer is the joint PWAC/MagNet conference June 5-7 in Toronto: 3 days of amazing programming for anyone writing for magazines, e-zines and pretty much any freelance type of writing.

    • Hey Doreen, thanks for stopping in to visit! Wow! You’re a total rockstar on the conference circuit in June. Travel writing and blogging? That sounds intriguing. Thanks for letting us know about these great conferences.

    • Which one are you considering? I would LOVE it if we could meet up at a conference! At least I’ve spread mine out, did you see how many Doreen is going to in one month? Now THAT’s a busy beaver.

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