Writer's Notes

Conferences: Choosing the Right Conference for You by Donna Schlachter

As writers, we spend many hours in solitude, pecking away at the keyboard, looking up information on the Internet, or researching at the library. Conference season gives us the chance to come out of the office and get with like-minded writers.

By Donna Schlachter

Mystery of Christmas Inn coverAs writers, we spend many hours in solitude, pecking away at the keyboard, looking up information on the Internet, or researching at the library. Conference season gives us the chance to come out of the office and get with like-minded writers.

Depending on where you live, how much time you have available, and how much money you can invest, there are many conference choices available. Finding a conference is never the problem—choosing which one or two or three to attend is.

Here is a checklist to consider as you read conference websites, newsletters, and brochures


  1. Where is the conference being held, and have I always wanted to go there? If you can tie the travel to the conference in with your current work-in-process or perhaps the next planned novel, that is even better.
  2. Is the keynote speaker someone I’ve always wanted to hear? If so, perhaps this conference is for you. Research author credibility, publishing history, genre, and personality if you don’t recognize the keynote speaker.
  3. What do I expect to learn from the workshops? Repeating the same workshops conference after conference won’t be the best use of your investment. Don’t automatically sign up for workshops because they fit your genre—consider sitting in on some classes that you wouldn’t normally choose. At one conference, I went to a class on writing horror and discovered some really spooky traits to add to my antagonists even though I write suspense.
  4. What else can I accomplish while I’m there? Perhaps there is an afternoon of workshops that you aren’t particularly interested in. Use the time to visit museums or attractions that work into your novel. Plan to arrive early or stay after if you absolutely must attend every class.
  5. Does the conference include sessions where I will write or do homework? If so, this is probably a good choice. Imagine: a writers conference where you actually write.
  6. Does the conference have a track that corresponds with my genre, and if not, is there something else I want to learn besides craft at this conference?


Suppose you have two conferences but can only afford to go to one. How to choose without making money the only deciding factor?

  1. Mark every class at both conferences and see which one offers you the most opportunities to learn.
  2. Does one conference offer their sessions on CD or DVD while the other doesn’t? If so, perhaps attend the one and buy the CD’s of the other.
  3. Have you attended one of the conferences several times? Sure, it’s nice to renew old friendships, but perhaps this is the year to step out and make new friends.
  4. Are you looking for an agent or a publisher? Which conference offers your more opportunities to make that connection?


No matter which conference(s) you attend this year, be sure to have fun, talk to people you don’t know, take lots of notes, and come home recommitted to finishing your project and moving on to the next one. Never get so busy going to conferences that you don’t have time to write.


Getting some great ideas about your next conference? Have you narrowed them down? Leave a comment, let us know!


Mystery of Christmas Inn coverAbout The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado:

Matthew returns to Christmas Inn to celebrate his fortieth anniversary alone, intending to take his own life so he can join his beloved Sarah, who passed on to glory the previous January. Not certain how—or if—he will go on without her, Matthew learns on his arrival that the old inn will close its doors on New Year’s Eve. A developer has purchased the building and intends to tear it down and put up a chain hotel. Determined to keep his memories and his connection to Sarah alive, Matthew embarks on a harebrained scheme to keep the inn open.

Edith Cochrane, a widow, comes to Christmas Inn because she has nowhere else to spend the holidays. Her children are angry with her because she refuses to choose to live with one of them. Edith and her husband enjoyed a long marriage and a long mission-field ministry, but ever since his passing the previous year, Edith has found herself at loose ends. She comes to Christmas Inn to spend some time thinking about her options.


Christmas under the stars coverAbout Christmas Under the Stars:

November 1858, Utah Territory

Edie Meredith strives to keep her temper and her tongue under control as she heads west with her brother to California. Raised in an itinerant preacher family, she promises she will never marry a man of the cloth.

Tom Aiken, drover of the wagon train, longs to answer his true calling: to preach, and while he realizes not every woman would choose a preacher for a husband, he hopes to soon find his help-meet.

Suspicious ‘accidents’ plague their journey. Is someone trying to keep them from reaching their destination? Or will misunderstanding and circumstances keep them apart?



Schlachter DSCF1330_Donna
Donna Schlachter

About Donna:


Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!



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