Once again, I return from a weekend away from my keyborad. This time I spoke at San Diego's Spring into Romance conference, as I mentioned before. It was a great smaller venue, and I hope the RWASD chapter repeats this event in a few years.
Even though it started out rocky--a couple of scheduled editors couldn't attend due to acts of nature--everything evened out wonderfully. First, the absent editors scheduled alternate critiques, either over the phone or with other house editors, so that turned out fine. And, second, the slate of speakers the organizers put together was amazing. Basically, this means that, at a small conference like this one, an average Josie like me gets a lot of opportunity to meet high-profile writers as well as those all-important editors and agents. Saturday afternoon, I sat next to Julia Quinn and Sandy Blair at lunch and they offered insights into publicity. On the same day, Christie Ridgway attended my "Pied Piping the Muse" workshop and I got to see her create stories firsthand. Friday night, Catherine Coulter touched my hair and said I should donate it to charity (and if you think I'm hoping she had some sort of magic that she transferred over to me via touch, you're right). I did miss out on interacting with Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, but they delivered an amusing and enlightening keynote speech. Best of all, though, I also got the chance to chat and rebond with my writing friends while, at the same time, getting to know new ones.
All in all, small conferences can do more for an author than you might think, especially when we're in the middle of a heavy deadline: it gives us a chance to recharge because we're connecting with others who will understand our schedules and any issues unique to the industry. It also allows writers to take a step back from our work and see how we can improve it. How very meta, yes?
So next time you see a smaller conference advertised, seriously consider going. It could turn out to be one of the best time and monetary investments you'll make in your writing careers....