This was the 6th straight sell out year for the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference, held at the prestigious Hollins University. I’m lucky to live in a city where such a school resides; they’re famous for award-winning writers, like the four who have won Pulitzer Prizes (yeah, THAT award). It’s even better they allow a group of writers to come in each year and share their knowledge, including my own. (Yeah, MY knowledge on social media. I know, right?!)
This was my second year of attendance. Going into it this year was much more fun knowing I had friends there (since we all know how I feel about networking). Better still, I was more at ease than ever, not just because I had been there before, but because this time I was a presenter. I had people introducing themselves and asking questions from the moment I walked in Saturday morning, and while it’s hard to describe that feeling, I’ll go with “humbling.” It was so great to be able to share knowledge and help others, and it’s for that reason I love this conference.
I won’t go into all the details of the sessions, but the two that stood out in my mind most were Writing For Magazines with Doug Cumming, a professor at Washington & Lee (particularly funny because he showcased Blue Ridge Country Magazine, one of my company’s publications); and Using Social Media to Promote Your Work with Alice de Sturler, an award-winning blogger who does work with cold cases (it wasn’t so much that it was new information for me, but it was good to see other writers understanding blog tours and Twitter – as a social media manager, it makes my job that much easier when others see the importance in these marketing tools).
I also loved novelist Sheri Reynolds, who I didn’t get to meet, but her session on Using Dreams in Your Writing was both enlightening and productive, as I may have even produced a new story idea from the workshopping she had us do. She was funny and real and everything you want in a keynote speaker.
Whether you’re a long time author or just dipping your toe in the literary waters, this type of gathering is such a great way to get inspired. Sharing ideas and answering questions is really what it’s all about – I’m willing to bet the majority of people I met on Saturday were at their desks Sunday, writing away with ideas they brought back home with them.
See? I taught a class – they learned some new stuff and everything! My social media class covered a bunch of topics (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) – I was so worried I wouldn’t get through my slideshow that I sped through it and we wound up also discussing things like blogs and newsletters. Several people came up to me afterward to trade cards, ask more questions, and inspire spirited debates about which Hogwarts House they’d be in (due to my shirt, if you can’t tell).
For more information on the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference and to keep up with news about next year’s event (and things we do in between those times), you can visit the blog here.
Aaaand just for funsies, I’m showing off the photo Fox 21/27 Morning News posted on their Facebook page of me on their show – I went on there Monday morning to speak with host Tara Wheeler about The Roanoker Magazine‘s Best of Awards (one of the many great publications at my company – these awards started in 1986 and are the longest running and original city awards completely voted on by readers).
I had so much fun and Tara is one of the nicest people ever, not to mention the prettiest. It’s funny how live TV doesn’t scare me, but the idea of signings and networking scares the bejesus out of me. 😉
I will add that perhaps the best thing to come out of the conference for me was an opportunity to work with BQB Publishing. I’ll be freelancing for them, helping their authors with blog tours. It just goes to show that forcing yourself out of your introverted shell can make great things happen and I’m excited about this new endeavor. Between my current job, this new spot, and writing novels, it’s safe to say the little kid in me is giddy with having the career she always wanted.