John Vonhof writes for Christian and secular markets. He is the author of self-published and mainstream books and booklets, with articles in print and on the web. He is an expert on finding ideas and writing for niche markets, and manages http://www.WritersConferenceGuidelines.com, a website to help writers get the most out of attending writers conferences. He loves helping new writers discover their writing niche and how to market their writing.
I AM INSPIRED BY THE CONFEREE
I attended my first writing conference in 1996. Three year later I started teaching at a local conference. Whether attending as a conferee or as one of the faculty, I was hooked. But I have to be honest, what draws me to the conferences is not the keynote speaker, the other speakers, or the workshops, the venue, or the food – it’s the conferees.
Allow me to share an email I received a few years ago from conferee Janet Rockey.
“I remember my first experience with the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I had high hopes of my book becoming the next best seller. After my first class on writing good fiction with Gayle Roper, I wanted to "un-submit" my manuscript. The only thing right about it was the font! Since then, with the help of conference classes, writer workshops, and critique groups, I've rewritten it, re-edited it, shaved off unnecessary and weak words, punched it up with more tension, and tightened my writing. In January, Eva Marie Everson suggested I enter it in the Christian Writers Guild First Novel Contest. That's the most encouraging critique I've ever had.
“The classes you taught at the conference have been a great help to me. You gave me the confidence to continue writing, and now I have a few published works. Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from the Cat bought my story, Romeow and Julicat; and Barbour House bought my story, Silhouette on the Shade for their Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul. PCCWeb Daily published my story, The Great Escape, in their daily e-mail devotional.”
My goal in going to any conference is to help others. I want you to return home, like Janet, and work on your writing – to make it better. I think I can safely say that is the goal and motivation of the other faculty too. We are there to teach, to share, to guide, to encourage, and to help. I love that. It’s beautiful.
The conferees come full of anxiety and apprehension. Is my writing good? Are my ideas worthwhile? Will someone request my proposal or manuscript? What will I learn? Will I know anyone?
They also come with a willingness to learn. They want to take notes, to pick our brains, to collect handouts and material off the freebie tables.
And they have questions about writing. Did I write a good query or proposal? Did I format my manuscript correctly? Which major track should I choose? How do I know which workshops to attend? Who should I meet with? Did I submit to the right editor?
Three factors: apprehension, a willingness to learn, and questions.
That’s what inspires me. That’s what inspires us as faculty.
You challenge us to deliver.
We are there for you. We want to talk to you. To help you choose the right workshops, to think through your ideas, to talk one-on-one, and to help you grow as writers.