Thursday, August 18, 2016

Conferences, And Why They're Important

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend WHEN WORDS COLLIDE for the second year in a row. WWC is a Calgary based writer/reader con that I was pleasantly surprised to discover last year. This year, I not only got to attend, but speak on four different panels as well. My mother-in-law also came with me and we had a great time at the different classes and panels.

Me and my MIL Debbie right before the keynote speeches (plus a photo bomber!)

Before I heard about WWC, I would hear other writers speak about cons near them and think, I don't have that luxury. There's nothing nearby, I can't afford to travel to one, but oh well, I'll survive. And of course, you do. But there's a lot you miss out on when you don't get to attend a conference.

Last year, I went to a lot of YA panels. I didn't learn a whole lot that I didn't already know. (disclaimer: not because I know everything about YA, they were just topics that I was already familiar with, I only attended them because my daughter was with me.) This year, I went to a lot of marketing kinds of panels- how to build your author brand, how to reach your readers, how to do a successful book signing. These were things I needed to hear right now. I took pages and pages of notes and learned A TON.

On a panel about ratings, trigger warnings, and language with authors D.C. Menard, Angelica Dawson, and Jane Ann McLachlan (not pictured)

That doesn't mean I wish I hadn't gone the first year (instead it gave me the courage to participate on panels myself), nor did it make me wish I'd gone to different classes. Because no matter if you learn brand new stuff or if you're hearing things you've already heard before, that's not really the point. It's the camaraderie. It's being among other people who share the same goals and passions you do. It's getting motivated again, filling your well, getting fired up for whatever part of the journey you're on in that moment. It's being with people who get you, whether you're chatty with everyone or you're like me and keep more to yourself- you still feel that bond.

On a panel about romance heroines with authors Lori Whyte and Jessica L. Jackson, and Harlequin senior editor Victoria Curran

Whether you learn a bunch of stuff or learn nothing, whether you sell a bunch of books or sell none, whether you make a ton of new friends or stay the same introvert you always were, no matter what, you leave lifted. Filled. Ready to tackle a new year, a new project, a new path. You're ready to keep going. You're rejuvenated.

P.S. So I thought there were no conferences in my Canadian town. I don't remember how I found out about WWC, but if you think there's nothing near you, research. Because I'm betting there's something out there a lot closer than you think.

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