If you want to pick a writer's conference to go to next year, and you're anywhere near the Midwest, choose the Midwest Writers' Workshop. Not only was this a FABULOUS conference for the attendees (if the comments I heard were any indication) but as a presenter, I had an absolutely amazing time and made some great friends, both of attendees and other presenters. The Midwest hospitality spirit was alive and well, and I almost wish the conference were longer. Almost...I was pretty tired from speaking so much, LOL.
It was a fabulous event. I know I said that already, but there aren't enough adjectives for it. I did an all-day Romance Writing Intensive class the first day, then delivered the keynote address, where I did a little thing on how to make the most of a writing workshop, along with my infamous Quitting Story (my speech and my Writer at Work signs got a little shout out on Jane Friedman's Writer's Digest blog that day...which was TOO COOL for words).
I had 12 appointments with the people I did manuscript evaluations for. These people were great (and Mr. Robertson, do keep me posted on that book!, along with everyone else...you promised, folks!), and even when I was delivering somewhat harsh criticism, they took it well.
I also taught several workshops. Scene and Sequel, Six Steps to Create More Powerful Characters and Plot, Time Management, Making Money as a Freelancer...etc. Turned out my workshops were pretty popular (nothing like bringin' 'em to tears in that opening speech to get people going to your workshops) and we ended up having to move to the Assembly Hall a couple times. I got to use a wireless mike and everything. Tres Fun. Here's a picture my friend Cathy took of me in the Assembly Hall, hopefully keeping everyone awake :-).
But it was the impromptu conversations that were just SO much fun! The MWW is very casual, and small enough that you can just chat between events with the attendees. People picked my brain whenever they had a chance, which was totally cool with me. It really was fun. Draining, LOL, but fun. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Mostly because these people were SO nice. People like Jude Urbanski who noticed before I spoke that I didn't have a glass of water, and tracked down some water for me, even though I felt bad letting her do it. It's the whole not wanting to make people go out of their way thing, KWIM? But they were just SO NICE.
I met great authors like Brent Bill (who is COMPLETELY HILARIOUS; don't let the Quaker thing fool you...still waiting for my hat, Bill) and Lee Lofland...if you need to know something about cops, BUY HIS BOOK or visit his blog or site. Heard awesome industry info from Jane Friedman. Made friends with children's author Rebecca Kai Dotlitch, learned tons of interesting facts from mystery author Sally Wright, and Tasha Alexander.
The ENTIRE MWW crew is just too cool to list here. But let me just send a big thank-you to Jama, Cathy (thanks for everything, Cathy!), Holly, Mike, Jeff, Matt, Earl (every story was great, Earl), Alan, and everyone else, (many of whom I'm sure I'm forgetting...sorry!) who made the entire conference WONDERFUL. A warm and welcoming environment is what every writer needs to entice them out of their writing hovel and inspire them to put wonderful words to paper--and you all created exactly that! :-)