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Writing Conferences & California Writing Retreats

My writing journey has been a slow train of many stops. First it was building my confidence up and just writing. This meant I was no longer thinking about writing or saying I was planning to write a novel, it actually meant I had to write. Pen to paper and fingers to keyboard.

Then I was aimed at getting better at writing (which I will always strive for) so I wrote, I read, I wrote, I read, I researched and I worked with editors and others who could help me hone my craft. This is a repetitive cycle. I have worked with 3 editors from 2012-2015 and have had many beta readers who have helped me along the way. I believe I can learn from anyone; a blogger, an agent, an editor, a writer, a reader, a published author - so I try to meet and network with people who hold these titles.

I also started NaNoWriMo in 2013 & continued in 2014. I am proud to say that I have reached the 50,000 word goal each November. Through NaNo I have learned to push past the days I don't want to write in order to reach my goals. I don't believe in writing blocks but I do believe in lazy days. Some say NaNo is about quantity not quality but I am a quality girl and most of my first drafts are good enough to keep at least 70% of what I've written. I believe this is due to heavy outlining beforehand which ensures I structure the story before even writing one sentence. I am not a procrastinator and I also hate to waste time, two traits that have come in handy when writing multiple books and keeping myself busy.

Next stop on the train was entering contests with my more polished manuscripts. I entered over 20 in 2014 and placed as a finalist in 3 with one book. I will only enter a few in 2015. I found this was a great way to network and get my books critiqued by established authors and agents. In some cases people have found their agents and publishers this way.

This year I plan on completing one of these two stops:

1. Attend my first conference.
I scoured the internet for a list of writer conferences and picked the one that was most affordable that offered good workshops, guests and speakers and agents. For me, for 2015 that ended up being the Writing Conference on Creative Writing at Pacific which I attended at the end of May. Hopefully in years to come I can go to the RWA Conference, the DFW Writers Conference and the SF Writers Conference.

2. Attend a writer's retreat/workshop.
Community of Writer's at Squaw Valley, is in July and is a week long workshop. Novels are critiqued in a group setting in addition to one-on-one conferences. There is also staff readings and panel discussions on editing and publishing. This is more for improving writing vs. finding an agents. There is financial aide if needed, the cost is $1,075 plus cost of housing and food. I applied for this one in 2015 but there is a selection process that is very competitive and apparently only 39% of people who applied were invited to attend.

Monterey Writer's Retreats cost between $1300-$1800 depending on lodging and food. Author-agents are available for 4 hours each morning to group and then in one-on-one sessions. In the application they want you to list your goals and they promise to "work with you to make it happen."

The Big Sur Writing Workshop runs in March and December and costs around $800 for the full program and runs 3 days. The cost includes room and board, meeting with critique groups, faculty members and a query/pitch and synopsis help.

Women Writing in Redwoods is in March and they state: "You will learn about writing, agenting, publishing, promotion, and how to build your career from four experienced teachers." It costs about $500 and runs Thursday through Sunday.

The Linda Sivertsen Carmel by the Sea runs week long retreats in February, April, June, September and November and is kept at 4-6 participants for a more intimate time. But I don't think I'll ever do this one because it is 8,000! That's a car...

I am excited for the future to keep improving my writing skills, networking and one day soon I look forward to being a published author!


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