My guest, fellow writer, and Facebook friend Sandra Carey Cody offers some good insights and advice on conferences--worth reading! Her new book is Left at Oz , a Jenny Connors mystery.
I ask myself this from time to time, especially when I have a conference on my calendar. This summer I have two: Deadly Ink in
New Jersey and Killer Nashville in . Though I’m looking forward to both, my feelings about them are different. Tennessee
I’ve been to Deadly Ink several times. I know I’ll see some familiar faces there and I look forward to that with a great deal of pleasure. Most of them I haven’t seen in person since the last Deadly Ink. I’ve kept in touch (sort of) via the internet, but it’s not the same. Wonderful as social media is, there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction and, if I hadn’t attended this conference, there’s a good chance I would never have met these people.
Why the different feeling about Killer
? This will be my first time there. I won’t know anyone. Meeting new people is also a pleasure, but being a shy person, there’s a bit of anxiety tainting the pleasure - not nearly as much as when I was younger but it’s still there. I’ve learned that the best way to overcome the anxiety is tell myself that the stranger across the room might be even shyer than I am and I’ll actually be doing her a favor if I go over and introduce myself. Works every time. Nashville
Besides renewing old friendships and making new ones, there’s the fun of exchanging ideas. Talking nonstop about books and writing with someone whose eyes don’t glaze over after the first thirty seconds - that’s pure pleasure!
I still haven’t answered the question I started with: Are conferences worth the time? If I stayed home and ignored my “to do” list in the same way it’s ignored when I’m away from home, I could get a lot of writing done. (I probably wouldn’t, but I could.) So how do I justify the time? I remind myself that I’m learning something. Conferences offer workshops that deal with the nuts and bolts of constructing a story. By talking to other writers and learning how they develop their characters and craft their plots, I see new possibilities for my own stories. By listening to readers, I gain an understanding of what makes a story work. So my answer is: yes, conferences are definitely worth the time.
Are they worth the money? I can’t honestly say that attending a conference has made a difference in my bank account, but neither has the money I’ve spent on vacations. Like vacations, conferences are memory makers and, as such, they represent some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Again, my answer is a resounding yes.
I haven’t even touched on the real value of a conference: fellowship. When I’m at a conference, I am first and foremost a writer. Writing is not something I do in addition to my real life; for those few days I feel that writing is my life. And that feeling is priceless – in terms of both time and money.
You can find Sandy at