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Monday, October 13, 2014

Attending Writing Conferences and Conventions

I spent the weekend at the Kansas Authors Club annual state convention in Hutchinson, Kansas. The convention began with the Friday evening Youth Awards Ceremony. Children from around our state enter a writing contest, both prose and poetry, in hopes of winning some recognition for their work. I enjoy seeing these young, and often talented, people given an opportunity to showcase that talent. I couldn't stop watching the joy on those little faces  as they walked forward to receive a certificate, a medal on a ribbon and a print book filled with the work of all the winners. Writers for the future!

Saturday flew by as several workshops were in session throughout the day. I taught The Basics of Writing--Building A Strong Foundation in the morning and again during an afternoon session. Prior to my own workshops, I was able to attend some others. One was on writing songs, lyrics and melody. I'm no songwriter and never will be but found the topic fascinating. I came away with a much greater appreciation for those whose talent points to this kind of writing. 

A final session in the afternoon proved to be a fascinating history lesson about the salt mines that surround the Hutchinson area. Two local men have gathered many historical photos and delievered a powerpoint presentation with commentary. 

Sunday morning brought business meeting, a short church service and a time for memorials to the members of the organization who had died within the past year. The final workshop of the convention involved the writing and self-publishing route of a children's book author. I didn't it expect it to be as fruitful and interesting as it was. The author held her audience in the palm of her hand throughout the presentation. Self-publishing is such a biggie today that all writers want to learn all they can about doing so. Her book falls into the Easy Reader category, a picture book that a new reader can read on their own. Tight writing is a must. Too many think wriiting for kids is an easy task. Having done it, I know it is difficult. That old write tight admonition comes into play here. By the time the author and her illustrator/husband had published the book, they had invested $5,000. You'd have to sell a lot of books to make a profit. She showed us another book they'd published on CreateSpace which was an investment for them of only $200. I kept wondering about that adage that warns You get what you pay for.

Saturday evening, we had a dinner and program given by a Wichita TV news anchorman. Awards for authors who have written books of special merit and another for service were announced. Awards for the state writing contest were announced after the Sunday luncheon. I noted that many of the writers were winners of more than one category. I could almost see the neon sign blinkng above their head that said Here is a good writer

The final awards given were for the Poet of the Year and Prose Writer of the Year. Ronda Miller, whose poem I had featured here one day last week, was the Poet of the Year. A well-deserved honor. If you would like to read more of Ronda's poetry check out this page. 

Throughout the weekend, attendees wandered through the Book Room, where many of the authors at the convention had books for sale. I wish I could have purchased all of them, but I settled on two, both autographed by the authors.

Besides all that I learned at the convention, I managed to interact with dozens and dozens of other writers which is one of the top benefits of attending a writing conference or convention. If you've never attended a meeting like this for writers, give it a try. I don't think you'll be sorry. Ours is relatively small next to those happening in larger population states, but big or small, you'll come away with more than you had when you arrived.

The Kansas Authors Club is 110 years old and is the oldest writing club in the nation. That says something positive. Check and see if your state has an organization similar to this one.

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