With the Romance Writers of America’s conference registration opening on Tuesday, February 7, I thought it was past time I take a look at my 2017 conference schedule.
One thing I’ve noticed these last two or three years is how my interest in conferences has changed since the very first one I attended back in 1999. As my experience as a writer, and reader, evolves so too does the focus of what I'm looking for in a conference. Now I have to say that doesn’t apply to all conferences equally.
Let me explain…
I’ve attended the RWA National conference every year since 2002. My guess is, as long as I write (and have the funds) I will continue to go to this particular conference. Why? Because it is my reward. My opportunity to get my writing batteries recharged. It’s a vacation with fellow writers. It’s exposure to what’s going on in the industry from professionals and amateurs to pundits and beginners. And it’s fun!
As a reader, I get to listen to the writers I admire. Pick up books from writers I haven't read before. See what the traditional publishers are pushing in the near future, and what the indie writers are uploading right now. While I’ve attended RT in the past, and it was certainly fun, I find the RWA venue more my style.
Local conferences fill niche interests for me. When I was looking for an editor and agent, I enjoyed the smaller, more intimate opportunities offered by the local and regional conferences. Now I look for specific speakers or workshop subjects I’m interested in when deciding on where to go.
I just discovered the Writers Police Academy in 2015 and really enjoyed the more hands-on opportunities offered by that particular brand of conference. Where else do you get to do blood tests, practice shoot, don't shoot scenarios, and try on firefighting gear? I'm really hoping to try out the police drivers course this year!
My plans for 2017? RWA in Orlando, practically in my backyard, and a return trip to Green Bay, WI for another Writers Police Academy. For the fall I might go to Georgia or New Jersey, both offering excellent conferences—it will just depend on speakers and workshops—and what particular area in my personal growth as a writer I want to explore.
But it might be fun to try something different this year. Do you have any favorites as a writer or reader? Any recommendations you care to pass on?