On August 2, 2010, literary agent and Query Shark Janet Reid blogged a recommendation for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Conference. Although the conference was then only a month away, I decided to see if I could still register.
Registration was open. I went to Colorado (on very short notice!) – and what I found there surprised and delighted me.
At the time I was writing historical fiction, and even though most of the RMFW authors seemed focused on romance, mystery, or speculative fiction (like my friend Tammy Salyer, pictured here, whose debut novel CONTRACT OF DEFIANCE won the RMFW writing contest in 2010), the conference and its attendees welcomed me with open arms. I discovered that many RMFW authors attend the conference every year, and it took me no time at all to understand why. I’ve been to many conferences, but never one that welcomed every person – published or not, newbie or veteran – with such supportive and open arms.
The conference organizers provide each first-time attendee with a special nametag ribbon – which embarrassed me a little until I realized that all the veteran authors (many multi-published) used those ribbons to find new authors to welcome into the fold. By the time I left three days later, I was an RMFW member myself – and a devoted fan of the conference and the organization.
In 2011, I returned as a speaker and Master’s Class presenter – and also a newly-minted mystery writer with a story about a ninja detective to sell. I met my agent, Sandra Bond, at the 2011 RMFW Conference. I didn’t get a pitch session, but I pitched her after the Saturday evening banquet. She requested the full manuscript, and four weeks later she signed me as a client.
Once again, I taught classes – on publishing law and writing historical mystery – and once again I enjoyed the company of an amazing, supportive group of authors who welcome everyone to the fold with open arms. One of my RMFW friends, Piper Bayard, even opened her home to me before the conference. We went shooting and spent some time on Boulder’s Pearl Street … where I might have made a bit of a *donkey* of myself. Piper chronicled – and photographed – the whole crazy adventure here.
I was also honored to receive the RMFW Pen Award, granted to RMFW Member authors who made their first sale during the preceding year. (That’s me, in the photo below, with author friend and RMFW Conference Chair Susie Brooks.)
I am a Writers’ Conference success story, in many more ways than one. The Colorado Gold conference helped me find my agent, my book deal, and the kind of amazing recognition that left me both joyful and humbly appreciative of RMFW’s support. But before any of that, the conference introduced me to a group of people that I am honored and delighted to call my friends. I email them. I read their blogs. We chat on Twitter and Facebook and sometimes on the telephone.
Conferences offer authors many things, from professional development to pitch opportunities and critique. But the best thing conferences provide is a chance to make friends who walk the same paths and dream the same dreams we do. The RMFW conference has given me many valuable things – but the greatest of them, the priceless one, is the friendship of all the amazing authors I meet there every year.
Have you made lasting friendships at writers’ conferences or other kinds of conventions? What’s your favorite part of going to conferences – with writers or otherwise? I’d love to hear your stories!