This year I have a chance to go to three assemblages of a literary nature, and they are as varied as the wounds inflicted by so many cats in a sack. If you’re a fan of these things, whether a beginning or seasoned writer or any stage in between, it always helps to crawl out of your cave and go hone your skills a bit, not to mention mingle with your peers at the hotel bar (or perhaps schmooze an agent/editor or two with a “hey! it’s on me!” Always appreciated.) At the top of my list is the Liberty States Fiction Writers “Create Something Magical” Conference, coming up March 21-22 in Iselin, NJ. It is by far a stellar collection of panels, workshops, editor/agent appointments, and all around fun. I go every year (five years running), and it’s open to anyone who writes fiction–mystery, sci-fi, horror, romance, YA, children, or just general fiction-types. I’m also a member of this fantastic group and we’ll take you whether you’re an NYT bestseller or you’ve just started scrawling dark-and-stormy-nights on Post-Its. Come on over, we’ll love you all.
Next on the agenda would be Book Expo America on May 27-29 in New York City. And since it’s a trade fair held in the publishing capital of the work, anyone who’s anyone in the book biz, from writers to publishers to editors and agents, usually show up. (Although I hear that next year it will be moving out of NYC, boo-hoo, so if you’re in the Northeast, you may want to try to make this year.) I try to get to BEA every year, too, as I can connect with the latest trend out there in publishing, see some great authors speak and sign, as well as generally soak of the milieu of being around the book industry. (Plus it feeds my thirst for $5 bottles of water.) Not all events are open to the general public, but there is a readers’ track, and a special one for librarians, so take a look at he site and see where you fit in. I get all sparkly-eyed every year when I go, as it’s pretty much Disneyland for Writers, as far as I’m concerned.
The next one is a definite biggie because of the 35th anniversary of the Romance Writers of America annual conference, also held this year in NYC July 22-25. Last year I did a book signing for RWA at their BEA booth, and they’re a wonderful and gracious group of people and very supportive of writers of all stages in romance. But since this would be my first time to a conference of this magnitude. I must say I’m a little terrified. Not of the conferenceno!-but of the prospect of spending four days buying food at NY prices. Now I know there are lots of fabulous places to eat on the cheap in New York, but to find them, I’d need to bring my sister who lived there for twenty years. But she writes sci-fi/spec fiction, so I suppose I’ll be on my own. Still, if you write romance, this is the Real Deal.
There are more conferences out there, of course, and a great source to look for them, no matter what you write, is agentquery.com, for listings all over the country. Writers, as a whole, live in their heads far too much, and need to get out there once in a while, at least to see that they’re not alone in all their weirdness. And we are weird, you know, and it’s high time you accept that, and celebrate it within the bosom of other like-minded weirdos. Come on–you know you deserve it!