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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Down the Conference Road by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone! Nice to be back.

Today I'd like to talk about conferences. Writers' conferences are a wonderful way to keep up with the latest trends in publishing and to network with other authors. I've always learned something from every one I've attended. And a great place to network is in the bar. Sometimes that's where the best discussions take place. Personally, I like to find a group of writers I don't know, ask if I can join them, and then just talk--about the industry, specific books/authors, or anything that comes to mind. Same with conference luncheons and dinners. I choose a table, sit, and let the good times roll.

I had a wonderful interaction with a publisher at my first conference this way. I later pitched to her. She requested the first three chapters and a synopsis. I was thrilled. She later sent it back, but instead of the usual rejection, she told me what to do to make it better. No one had ever taken the time to do that before. I made the changes to the best of my ability at that time and resubmitted as requested. It was still rejected, but I will forever be grateful to Helen Rich of Medallion Press.

The hardest part about conferences is choosing which one to attend. I try to get to one a year or however many my budget will allow. Conferences are expensive to put on and to attend. Since I live in South Florida, I usually fly. Hotel rooms are discounted, but conference fees are going up. And of course, any food outside of the conference is extra. So, I've put together a list of conferences I think are worth the time and money to attend.

First up is the Georgia Romance Writers, Moonlight and Magnolias, held every year in Atlanta. This is a large conference--usually around two hundred to two hundred-fifty attendees. I'll be honest, I love going to this one. The people are warm and friendly and the conference is run like a well-oiled machine. The workshops have something for everyone. Those new to writing can find seminars to help with characters, plot, and writing in general, while the published author can home in on marketing and promotion suggestions. I'm going this year at the end of September.

Next is Florida Romance Writers, Fun in the Sun--Cruise with Your Muse, conference. It's held once every two years and yes, it does take place on a cruise ship! Now before you cringe at the thought of how much it will cost, remember that all meals are included, and the cruise line will offer discounts on several types of cabins. Also, the fee for this one is more than reasonable. Just imagine four days in the Caribbean with a destination of Cozumel as the highlight of your trip--not to mention all those workshops. Certainly something to think about.

I'm adding Sleuthfest to my list, too. It's run by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and takes place every year in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. If you write romantic suspense, this might be a good alternative to the usual romance oriented conferences. It's big--anywhere from two hundred-fifty to three hundred attendees, but it's well organized and their speakers are often headlining the NYT bestseller list. Once again, workshops take in the range of all levels of experience and the extra-curricular activities are so much fun!

Romance Writers of America sponsors a yearly get-together, too. It's simply called Nationals and is held in different regions of the country. I believe this year it's in San Diego in July. This conference is huge--the numbers can run into the thousands, but it's an experience every author should have before they hang up the old pen. Where else would you get the change to rub shoulders with the likes of Nora Roberts or Heather Graham?

Hey, wait a minute, you say. I don't write, I just love to read. Well, I've got a couple of conferences for you, too.

For starters, there's Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, also known as RT. It is a huge conference dedicated to letting the readers interact with their favorite authors. A few workshops are thrown in, but by and large, this is one massive party lasting almost a week. I'm not sure where the 2017 affair will be held, but RT just concluded the 2016 conference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago.

And speaking of Las Vegas, how about the Hot Mojave Knights conference held in that city every year? It's RT on a much smaller scale. I attended in it's inaugural year and had a blast, but then who doesn't have a blast in Vegas? My former editor is highly involved with this one and I'm ashamed to say the timing hasn't been right for me to get back. But I'm definitely working on it.

For more information concerning dates, fees, and hotel accommodations for these and other conferences, Google the sites.

If any of you decide to attend, let me know and we can meet in the bar! LOL.

Have a great day.

Suzanne Rossi


  1. Thanks for the great list of conferences. I've been to several hosted by Pacific Northwest Writers Association (Seattle, WA) and always came away energized and with new insights. The conference is held in July in a hotel near the airport.

    Since you live in South Florida, have you been to the Miami International Book Fair? I went every year when I lived there, and enjoyed hearing various authors speak. It's great for readers and writers both. It's held in November.

    1. I've never been to it, Sandy. The timing never seems to work out for me.

  2. Wow. What a lot of information and so helpful for everyone. I really enjoyed your post, Suzanne. I've attended a few conferences over the years, but not for quite a while. I feel I'm missing out.

    1. I was conference chair of the last FRW land-based conference. I've never been on the cruise because I get deadly seasick. Maybe one of these days, I'll give it a try. Am going to M & M in September. I've always come away from three enthused and informed.


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