Those who follow this blog regularly (and now those of you who don’t) know that I’m speaking at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Conference* in Denver over the weekend of September 9-11.
I love writing conferences for many reasons, whether I’m speaking or just going as a writer-attendee. First and foremost, nothing replaces three days of geeking out with the tribe. If you write, and haven’t done this, I highly recommend the experience. The educational resource is fantastic, and the social interaction is good for you. (Normally I’m as introverted as they come, so trust me when I say – you need this, no matter who you are.)
I have a special reason to anticipate this year’s conference, however – there’s a sea change in the works. My previous manuscript(s) were historical fiction, but in recent months this leopard has changed her spots for stripes.
I write historical mystery now. (With ninjas. Did I mention the ninjas?)
RMFW has a high percentage of mystery writers among its ranks, which makes the Colorado Gold conference a fantastic resource for those of us who (now) see bodies under every lumpy rug. As a result, and as a result of my status as a presenter as well as a writing-attendee, my goals for this year have changed. As always, I’ll make them public and let you know how I fare.
This year’s goals:
1. Meet three new authors every day and learn about what they write.
2. Listen more than I speak.
(These are both conference standards for me, and #2 is a constant challenge, even in daily life.)
3. Meet at least five mystery authors (extra points if they also write historical mystery).
4. Pick up at least two techniques for strengthening character and dialogue, and at least one way to hide an important clue so it’s not immediately obvious to the reader. (Meaning methods I did not know before or ways to improve the ones I’m already using.)
5. Attend one session “out of genre” which I would not otherwise attend, and learn something from it. (Note: this is probably the most important lesson I can offer for people attending conferences. Attend at least one session that has absolutely no connection to what you write. You’ll be amazed what you can learn from “how the other half lives.”)
There will be more, but we’ll work with those for now.
Incidentally…I share my goals because it made a huge difference when someone shared with me, and I’m hoping to pay it forward.
When I started attending conferences several years ago, I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I had only the vague idea that attending “made sense” because writers were supposed to learn and grow. In reading successful writers’ blogs, and talking with them at meetings, I learned that setting personal goals helps make the conference a success regardless of the other professional outcomes.
So…what are your conference goals? Are you going to RMFW? Let me know and I’d love to see you there!
*Disclaimer (to cooperate with the FCC’s perception that all authors consumers people are slightly less intelligent than carpet fuzz): I am a compensated presenter at the 2011 RMFW conference. That makes me a bought-and-paid-for shill of (a) The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Association, (b) the publishing industry, (c) my clients (who range from evil gatekeepers of Traditional Publishing to whimpering writers afraid of the dust bunnies under the bed), and (d) the guy who bought me a breakfast burrito last week. I am also a lawyer, and therefore cannot be trusted. Consider yourselves duly warned.