Tips to Keep in Mind from the Beginning

~Start Planning Early~

Get your planner out and look at the the next eighteen to twenty-four months. Your ideal location may not be available until two years in the future. Seems like a long time, but the decisions that are developed in the early stages will help to keep the conference plans cruising along smoothly.     

~Hand Pick A Mighty Team of Coordinators~

Four to six people is a good amount. If you have four people plus the lead organizer you’re good as gold. Remember to recruit volunteers who can commit to the hours involved. In the initial planning phases, the time commitment is small. Closing in on the date of the conference, each team member should be able to clock in a steady increase of hours until the big show kicks off.

~Get Creative & Invent a Theme~

This is the fun part. Brainstorm visions and themes for the conference. Celebration? Academic? Both? Collaborate with your team to create a vision and a mission statement for the conference. When the planning comes up against a bump or two or three, this fun stuff smooths them all out!

~The Plan-A Wish List~

Gather together, share a cocktail and write out all of your ideas for presenters. Who are your dream agents? What authors do you want to meet? Are there any editors who have worked with a writer you know? Are there speakers who you fan-girl over? Write them all down. Go over the top and dream big!

Every Planning Committee Needs an

~Amy Santiago~

Binders rock. There are plans, categories, sections, tasks and time tables. Find out who wants to do what for the next 18 months to two years. Ex: A planner who loves social media may not know how much writing is involved in this type of promotion. Bonus: There is a color tab for every single one of your sections.

  ~Money Makes the World Go Around and Makes a Conference Move Forward~

What is the budget? In many ways, planning a conference is like planning a wedding. There are down payments and expenses at every level of planning. Make sure to have a spread sheet lover on the team! Knowing what to expect when it comes to the dollars will be a huge stress reducer.


Ready for the Reveal?

Writing Conferences Are Getting a Makeover

In January 2020, quite a few weekends were blocked out on my calendar for writing conferences. During February, one-by-one, each conference was put on hold or cancelled. I was terribly disappointed. And, I had used a pen to mark my conference itinerary on my calendar.

The Lesson Learned? Remember to use a pencil.

As a contemporary romance writer, I have always believed in the strength that comes from writing a story with a good Happily Ever After. So, I turned my conference dismay into action by writing every day. On some days it was truly hard to concentrate, but my belief in the fact that we will get through this stressful time circled me back to the important stuff…keep writing stories.

So, I waited and remembered. There is so much information to be gained at a writers’ conference. Hobnobbing with other writers is close to nirvana for me. Be patient. Your pitch is ready. The story is finished. Will the agents still be there? Onward.

For any writer, an annual conference is a gathering of writer-like-minds. It’s where writers find their comfort zone by sharing with other—grammar geeks, book junkies, story-structure debaters: plotters versus pantsers, or lovers of sentence diagrams. We compare stories. The publishing world can be brutal, so it’s nice to meet others for support and motivation.  

Writers can’t succeed in a vacuum, so conferences are a necessity. We need to explore new places for creativity and talk to other writers for inspiration. It’s hard, almost tortuous at times, to write. Alone at your computer for hours can make a writer wonder if THE END is actually coming and even if it is, is it worth it? After all the hours, days and weeks spent on a story, writers need to talk to other writers to gain some perspective and to know that they are not really alone.

That’s when a writing conference becomes imperative for a writer’s well-being. Even if you’re on the same path as James Patterson or Nora Roberts, conferences continue to offer loads of fantastic information and good vibes for writers at any stage in their career.   

The Wait is Finally Over…

The conference scene has started to evolve to accommodate the pandemic. Most organizations have rescheduled their conferences into a virtual format. So now what?

True, we just saved beaucoup bucks on travel, hotel, and food expenses. Not to mention the last-minute wardrobe purchases. But even if you’ve navigated an in-person conference somewhat successfully (lost luggage, anyone?), how do we work the “virtual” room? 

There are definite plusses to a virtual conference: casual dress if not pajamas, yes or no to make-up, and bathroom lines don’t exist. Yet, it’s still best to plan ahead because of the hefty amount of information doled out at any writers’ conference: virtual or in-person.

Even by attending on-line workshops, writers can walk away from the screen, go into the kitchen, and still feel overwhelmed. As if a fire hose has just been turned on in their mouth…which happens often at in-person conferences.

To get the most from a virtual writing conference (and someday, in-person) let me help you plan and organize if you’re in the role of participant, presenter, or coordinator. I have first-hand knowledge from planning a successful writing conference. Having traveled to a multitude of writing conferences, I’ve gained critical info at each one that has helped me in my writing journey. If you’re a participant, I can give you tips so that by the end of the conference you’re inspired and motivated to implement all your newfound writing knowledge. If you’re a planner, I can give you some guidance and share my hard-learned lessons on organizing a successful conference.

Every week I’ll be here, blogging and sharing what’s happening at writing conferences in 2020.

Tip #1: Remember that conferences are critical for every author’s career.

Oh, and please jot your notes down with a pencil.


Writing Life

As an obliger*, I need to take care of everyone else’s needs before I take care of my own. External responsibilities keep me on schedule. It’s changing, but fighting a life long pattern of people-pleasing isn’t a walk in the park. I have my lists. Use my daily mantra. And add in some yoga stretches. Yet, each day I have to dispel the sinister squeak in my head slowing me down. It insists there is somewhere I have to be. Someone who needs me to pick them up. Somebody’s homework that requires my assistance. Since purging the thoughts became challenging, I decided to replace them with a routine and appreciate some rituals:

1.) While sipping my morning cup of coffee, I think about how grateful I am for my family and friends. If I have a bit of energy, I jot them down. If I’m tired, I don’t write a thing and I know I’m sending good and grateful vibes into the world.

2.) I write. From 9:30am to 11:30. I work on my current piece, or I work on some queries, or I write a good tweet. Just need to get some words out in the world.

3.) I cook and then eat some delish homemade food.

4.) One hour of news. I choose Nicole Wallace. Sometimes I cheat and watch PBS. Sometimes I dose off and nap. It’s okay.

5.) Mocktail or Cocktail Hour with a bit of chit chat

7.) Walk, or yoga with Adrienne

8.) Humor, dancing and fun. I keep it light. Watch a good rom com or comedy.

*The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Ruben

~March 26, 2020