Conferences and Writing

by Linda O. Johnston

RWA2019_FINAL LOGOI attended the Romance Writers of America National Conference last week in New York City.  Am I glad I did?  Yes, mostly because of the wonderful people I saw, meeting up with those I knew professionally and as friends–or both.  I’ve been attending RWA conferences for many years and for different reasons, but that’s the most important.

I also attended three other conferences this year, some of which I have mentioned here.  One of the others, California Dreamin’, was a local romance writers’ conference.  Two of the others were mystery writers’ conferences: Malice Domestic, and the California Crime Writers Conference.  Yep, that’s a lot of conferences.

So why do I do it?  Yes, to meet up with those kinds of people I mentioned.  And that’s the most important reason for me these days.  But I also attend workshops and meals and other related events.

Do they help my writing career?  I think so, or I wouldn’t go.

But if you’re a writer, should you attend conferences?  Why not?  At least those for the genres you write in.  I always tell other writers, especially those just starting out, to join writers’ organizations in their genres and attend local meeting of their chapters.  Conferences help you meet others in different stages of writing and sales, which can also help your career.

Did I enjoy the RWA conference this year?  Yes, but I had some issues with it, too–one of which was the hotel we were in and its horrible elevator service. But I did get to visit the AKC Dog Museum.

Plus, this year, I hardly attended any conference workshops. No time, thanks to the various Harlequin meetings and workshops. I also had less interest in most of the topics than in the past, although the ones I did attend were helpful for research purposes. My favorites were, one on creating  series, where I got some other people’s takes on how they do it, another workshop on forensics in fiction, and another on twists in stories.

Will I attend RWA next year?  Most likely.  I’m under contract for four new Harlequin Romantic Suspense books, some of which will be published by then, and it’s always good to make contact with the editors and others at a publishing house in person like that.  Plus, it’s in San Francisco, which is a lot closer to LA than New York is.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

lindaphotoLinda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and the Superstition Mysteries.  She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and also currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.




This article was posted for Linda O. Johnston by Jackie Houchin. 


Author: Jackie Houchin

First, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so my views and opinions are filtered through what God's Word says and I believe. I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma and now a great grandma. I write articles and reviews, and I dabble in short fiction. I enjoy living near the ocean, doing gardening (for beauty and food) and traveling - in other countries, if possible. My heart is for Christian missions, and I'm compiling a collections of Missionary Kids' stories to publish. (I also like kittens and cats and reading mysteries.)

11 thoughts on “Conferences and Writing”

  1. Thanks for your remarks about conferences. I find most of them of great interest and for networking they can’t be beat although one or two can outlive their usefulness to some writers. Also, the expense these days is a bit much. Still, an enjoyable way to get together with fellow novelists.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I certainly can appreciate the social aspect of attending conferences, as I’ve been going to one of my husband’s ‘rocket science’ conference for over twenty years and have made great friendships there. As for writing conferences, I’ve been to one genre-related and one general, each a short drive away so I saved on travel. I write in too many genres to make a genre-specific conference worth the price of admission. I’ve never figured out how to quantify the value of other writers conferences, so I’ve been hesitant to attend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are many different reasons to attend different conferences, of course. This year, since, as I mentioned, I’ve got four new Harlequin Romantic Suspense books in the pipeline, it made sense for me to go to New York to see as many Harlequin editors and other contacts as possible, and attend their workshops–and the wild Harlequin party!


  3. When I was on the board of the first California Crime Writers Conference I got to set up a bunch of panels myself. I really enjoyed that because I got to invite experts I wanted to hear. I understand when you said you didn’t get to too many panels because many topics didn’t interest you. Sometimes that happens. But sharing thoughts with other writers is worth the trip sometimes. I’ll have to think about going to another conference in the future.


    1. I generally like to be on panels or give talks, but I didn’t this time. That might have made a difference. I’d have spoken on a topic that interested me!


  4. You have been busy! Some of the writers’ conferences sound intriguing – but, as you say, they are expensive and far away. The hotels cost more than the conferences, so it’s good to find those in driving distance. We were both panelists at the California Crime Writers Conference in June – and it was great that we had time to hang out, Linda. I also went to the Vancouver Left Coast Crime, which was interesting as it was mostly readers or fans, so had a different energy. I want to try the RWA conferences, schedule permitting. Thoughtful post…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: