We were blessed to have a Sisters in Crime conference here in Victoria, BC on 19 August 2018. I’m a bit late sharing my experience but still wanted to tell you about it in hopes you might be encouraged to attend a conference in the future, either with them or another organization.

I love when it doesn’t cost me the earth in travel expenses to attend a conference. Living on an island is certainly not convenient when travelling. Just getting off the island is an undertaking by air or sea. So. when I saw a one-day conference here at home, I signed up, even though I am not a crime novelist. Writing is writing no matter the genre, you still have characters and plot that are at the heart of every story.

This year, I decided the Surrey International Writer’s Conference (SIWC) was out of my reach financially. It costs on average $1000 Cdn to attend, which includes conference fees, hotel and travel expenses. SIWC is an amazing conference and well worth attending every year if you have the financial means. When I was working full-time, it wasn’t a problem. Read about a time when I previously attended SIWC here.

In comparison, the Sister’s in Crime conference was $75 for a one-day series of workshops. It was a no-brainer for this writer on a very tight budget.  Travel costs were measured in time as I could take the heel and toe express along the beautiful walkway that rims the harbour on which I live. From my back door to downtown takes about 45 minutes. It was a beautiful day, so the walk was amazing.

I arrived at the hotel and right away met a local author and, as it turned out, one of the workshop presenters.

Here are the workshops held that day:

No. 1 – Inclusion Rider – Populating your Novel – Diversity, and Inclusivity

Presenter: Janice MacDonald – an author from Edmonton, AB known for the Randy Craig mysteries.

This workshop was timely for me as my novel includes a character who is First Nations and another character who is a person of colour. Janice MacDonald said making the decision to be inclusive in my story shows people they belong by representing them and offers readers a vision of what could be. I admit it is a daunting process to write out of my cultural norm, but I intend on getting feedback when the time is right so as not to offend.

I was also able to get a lead on some fiction that is representative of First Nations, either by authorship and/or fictional characters.

No. 2 – Self-Editing for Writers

Presenter: Kristina Stanley (the author/presenter I met in the elevator) – best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery series. Her website and blog are a wealth of information on writing, publishing and promoting books.

I learn something new about editing at every workshop I attend, and this was no different. Kristina has developed a systematic process for editing fiction. She has developed a software tool designed specifically for fiction called Fictionary. I subsequently purchased this software and am formatting my current work in progress to start using the program. I am excited about this tool.

No. 3 Tinker & Tailor: Author Marketing that Suits Best

Presenter: S. G. (Sandra) Wong – another Edmonton author known for her crime and speculative fiction.

I’ve attended a number of workshops about taking marketing into your own hands. It is a necessary aspect of being a writer who wants to be published and this session definitely reinforced that fact. If a writer manages to get a traditional publishing contract they still have to take on aspects of marketing as publishing houses are doing less and less marketing in the modern publishing world. And if a writer chooses to go the self-publishing route, well, all marketing and publicity are their sole responsibility. There is no way around it anymore, a writer has to figure it out and, in the process, determine what works best for them and get busy. Social Media plays a big role in self-marketing and most authors today have several social media accounts to get their name and message out there.

I have some social media accounts up and running and you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Once I have it organized for my fiction, I will also be sharing story related images on Pinterest, but I’m still in the developmental stage with that.

No. 4 Secrets of the Publishing World

Presenter: Linda L Richards a journalist, photographer, and author of more than 15 books, based in Vancouver, BC

The publishing world is confusing and time-consuming to navigate. It has changed so much since the advent of the internet and eReaders so knowing how to proceed is daunting. She shared a series of what she called secrets during her presentation, secrets to navigating the publishing process. The one that stood out for me was:

The key to success is the right combination of talent plus hard work and luck, meeting the right person at the right time to take you to the next step towards publication. The first two I personally have control over, so I am working hard by honing my craft and getting myself out there to enable a lucky meeting to happen. Each encounter at a writer’s event gives me tools and contacts for a time down the road when my novel is ready to be released into the world.

No. 5 – Sustaining a Series

Presenter: Laurie R. King – a bestselling American author of over 27 novels most notably the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series.

As I have in my mind two possible fiction series, this was one of the two workshops that pushed me to sign up. I have a small-town series in development, the originating novel being nearly half written. The other series is historical with the originating novel six chapters short of a first draft. This historical novel, set in the 12th century, will be my next project when my current contemporary thriller is done and ready to pitch to agents.

One take away from this workshop was her suggestion that a writer considers a pen name if writing in completely different genres. I have heard arguments for both, writing under one name in multiple genres or picking a pen name. One well-known romance author, Nora Roberts also writes under the name J.D. Robb for her crime novels. Laurie King said she wishes she had made the decision to go with a pen name to write her non-Mary Russell books. I want to read the Mary Russell series and will have to put my name on the waiting list at the library, as I haven’t been able to find them in my local bookstores yet

All in all, this was a great day of learning and meeting new writers and authors. I sat next to a lovely lady from Portland, Tessa. She too is working on her debut novel and navigating the road to becoming an author. We had a lot to talk about and even spent time together over the lunch break. Tessa Floreano has a great website, which I envy and now I am inspired to revamp mine.

There are conferences designed for every industry, not just writing. Would you take a few minutes to leave me a comment and tell me about a conference you may have attended and what you got out of it?

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