Sunday, April 11, 2010

Conferences - Making Contacts & Setting Goals

At a writer’s retreat two years ago, I had the privilege of having Cherry Adair as one of my instructors (Natalie Collins was the second). Cherry had a lot of advice concerning the commercial end of the writing business that I found helpful. She encouraged us to set goals for the upcoming year and made us write them down. STONE. It was frightening, an instant monument. Needless to say, some of mine crumbled to dust, but I realized she was right. We can’t just imagine goals. Folded away in our imaginings, goals are mere fiction, but in black and white they become novel ideas. Pun intended.

One goal I have this year is to attend at least one major and two minor conferences. I find that attending conferences helps the learning curve, and makes personal contacts that are invaluable in this electronic and impersonal world. It’s much easier to send a manuscript to an agent or publisher when my query letter states, “speaking to you last month at the blah blah conference….”

Two major events (major meaning money) within driving distance, that I have taken part in the past, are the Pen 2 Press Writers Retreat that I mentioned earlier, and the Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference. Both of these opportunities are worth the time and provide exactly what they advertise.

P2P, as the host Debbie LeBlanc likes to call it, is an intimate, five day, hands on, writing experience. You take your laptop, have homework, and practice your pitch before you are given the chance to field your work to numerous agents and publishers. This year P2P will be held at the Hotel Monteleone in downtown New Orleans, May 25-29.

The Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference held in Austin at the Hyatt Regency Hotel will be on June 26-27 this year. A much larger event with a conference setting, the WLT Agents Conference is just what its name implies. Everyone who registers is given a short interview with an agent or publisher of their choosing, but there are considerable opportunities to pitch your work at breakout sessions and informal gatherings. The Austin conference is large, but still has lots of southern hospitality.

A terrific example of an affordable small conference is our own annual BWG - Bridge to Publication on November 13th. I’m marking my calendar, immediately, right after I write my goals. Ewe.

A member of BWG and current secretary, born-again Southerner Chris Baldauf enjoys writing fiction set in Southwest Louisiana. A passion for justice and the underprivileged prompted Chris to weave social issues into the lives of the quirky characters that inhabit her mainstream and women’s lit fiction.


  1. Good post, Chris. And that's good advice. If you don't write down your goals, you're not really committed to them and you can fudge on them. I love writers. We're so good at procrastinating! Happy writing.

  2. Great post and smart move to attend conferences. I'd like to know more about the P2P - how do I find out?