Monday, February 16, 2015

Small Group Writing Conferences Are Terrific

  One of the cabins at Algonkian Regional Park
Typical Potomac River view from cabin 
Deer roam through the wooded areas by cabins

This morning, I made my flight reservations to Washington, DC for mid-April. I will be attending my online writers' conference at the Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling, VA. It's a mere 20 minutes from Dulles Airport but nature at its best. 

This is the venue selected for each of our several conferences which occur about every 18 months. The cabins are booked for a full week so writers can come and spend the entire week or just the 3 days of the conference itself. Those who spend the entire week have time for sightseeing and/or quiet writing moments with no interruptions. The price of the conference is the same, whether you stay a few days or the full week. 

Our moderator and her husband spend hours working out the details and finances of the conference. They book several months ahead as the park is very popular. The price is the best we've found anywhere, and we've looked at many other possible spots. The cabins have all been updated within the last couple years and offer all the comforts of home and more. On fall days, we've flipeed a switch to enjoy the fireplace. On warm spring days, we've gathered for wine on the large deck that faces the Potomac River and some glorious scenery. 

I look forward to the presentations we'll have by several members and a few from outside writing world people, too. I'm excited to be with old friends and to meet face to face with the new members. I can't wait to indulge in Nita's great meals. This woman comes with a double bonus--she cooks for us and gives a presentation on computer use, as well. Add a dose of Mississippi accent and you'll declare her a real winner. 

I've been to larger conferences and have gained a lot from them but I'm sold on these smaller ones like ours. They're very informal but filled with useful information. They feel comfortable from start to finish. Casual clothes are worn, no worrying about what kind of outfit to wear to the big convention in New York City or Chicago. 

If you do some searching for a small group writing conference and come up empty, consider starting one with the people in your local writing group. Open it to others in your area if you feel you need a few more bodies. The conference I go to runs around 25 with a few husbands who come along to be the go-fers. They do a lot of the running to airports, stores, farmer's markets etc. Have it somewhere other than where you normally meet, even if it's not an overnight place. If close enough, attendees can drive there each day. 

If you're in an online writing group and would like to try a conference, choose a committee of three and have them do the initial work of finding a place, planning the presentations, meals etc. For online groups, the meeting face to face and hearing an actual voice of people you've known well onlne is absolutely wonderful. 

Look for a small conference or start one of your own. The first one is exciting but it also lets you know what you want to do differently the next time. 

As for me, I'll be counting the days until I fly into Washington, DC to meet with some fantastic women writers once again.

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