Wanda Dyson's been called a "natural" and a "master of pacing," but her fans know that whether it's police thrillers, suspense, or bringing a true story to life, Wanda knows how to take them on a journey they'll never forget. Wanda is a multipublished suspense author, currently writing for Random House/Waterbrook. Her one attempt at a nonfiction book was picked for an exclusive release on Oprah. Wanda lives in Western Maryland on a 125 acre farm with a menagerie of animals and when she's not writing critically acclaimed suspense, or away at conferences, you can find her zipping across the fields on a 4-wheeler with Maya, her German Shepherd, or plodding along at a more leisurely pace on her horse, Nanza. With the release of her newest hit, Judgment Day, Wanda is heading back to the keyboard to start on her next high-octane thriller, The Vigilante. In addition to writing full time, she is also the appointment coordinator for the CCWC and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers conferences. Visit her Website at www.WandaDyson.com.
It’s almost time to put 2010 behind us and look forward to a new year of writing, editing, and conferences. There are a lot of conferences to choose from, so which one is best for you? That’s something only you can decide, but here are some of the things to consider.
Where and when is the conference being held?
England may be nice, but if you live in Arizona, it might be better to look for something a little closer to home. Like California. Or Texas. Even Florida would be more reasonable. If you have young children, you may not want to be away for four days while they’re in school. If you wait until they’re out of school and they can go to Grandma’s house for a few days, all the better. But if your children are adults and the only person who will miss you is your better half, then maybe March, April, May, or September would be fine.
How pertinent are the workshops to your writing? And who will be teaching the classes?
If the workshops aren’t going to help you write better, it’s a waste of time and money. Most conferences try to have a little bit of something for everyone, and that’s great, especially for those multitalented people who write both fiction and nonfiction, but if you’re writing women’s fiction, you want classes on character, POV, self-editing, and plotting. And are the teachers of these workshops successful at what they’re teaching? Some conferences will pull in anyone who has written one book and give them a teaching position. I’ve sat in some of these types of classes, and to be honest, they’re just teaching what they’ve read in a book somewhere, not from their years of experience.
Which editors and agents will be taking appointments?
If sitting down with an editor or agent is important to you at this juncture in your career, you want to make sure you’re meeting with someone who is going to want to talk to you. If you write women’s fiction, you don’t want to sit down with Jeff Gerke, the publisher of Marcher Lord Press. And if you write fantasy, you don’t want to meet with Becky Germany of Barbour. Go to their Websites. Look at what they’re publishing. Make sure that they’re looking for someone like you before you waste their time and yours.
How are appointments handled, and how many do they give you?
As someone who has scheduled appointments for conferences for over ten years, I know how important these appointments are. You can spend $2000 attending a conference that gives you only one or two appointments, or you can spend less than $1000 and attend a conference that will give you four, five, even six. You can’t judge by the cost of the conference, so find out ahead of time what you’re getting for your money. And then there’s the dreaded “cattle call” at some conferences. You may have heard the horror stories. You have to rush into a room with several hundred other people, all vying for a slot on a particular editor or agent’s schedule and hope you get one before they’re all gone. And if your plane is late, oh well. You lose. Try to pick a conference that will allow you to lock in your appointments before the conference.
What is the total cost, including travel, meals, lodging, registration, and tips? And don’t forget, you will want to buy all those great craft books while you’re there, so tuck in a little extra for that.
You’re on your own with this one. Conference costs vary from one end of the chart to the other, so you may have to make yourself a comparison list and figure out which one is going to be the best value for the dollar.
Now, let the conference year begin . . .
January: GLEN EYRIE FICTION WRITERS CONFERENCE, Colorado Springs CO – 100; 800-944-4536; www.gleneyriegroup.org
January: MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY WRITERS’ RETREAT, Schuyler NE- 10; 402-727-6508
March 18-19, 2011; CAROLINA CHRISTIAN WRITERS’ WORKSHOP; Anderson, SC; Fee- $125, early bird $99; discount for ministers and students; speakers include Dr Dennis Hensley, Agent Tamela Hancock Murray, Editor Rick Steele, more info at www.upstateSCchristianwriters.com Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
April 15–19: MT. HERMON CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE 37 Conference Drive, Mount Hermon, CA 95041 450 expected to attend email@example.com http://mounthermon.org/adult/professionals/writers-conference
August 6-11, 2011: GIDEON MEDIA ARTS CONFERENCE, Ridgecrest NC, www.gideonfilmfestival.com
August 6-11, 2011: BLUE RIDGE “SUMMER IN THE MOUNTAINS” NOVELIST RETREAT, held along with Gideon Conference, Ridgecrest NC, www.novelretreat.com, firstname.lastname@example.org