Conferences—Advancing Your Writing Career

by Robin Caroll
As a
little girl, I had a dream—to be a writer. Life ensued. I went to college and
graduated with a paralegal certificate, then realized I hated the legal
industry. I wanted to experience life, so I went to work in the automobile
industry. Stayed there, in customer service, for ten years. Let me tell you,
THAT was an experience. Every now and then, I’d remember the dream and write a
poem. Enter it in a contest, got a couple published. Then I got married and had
my first daughter. I had such a busy life, how could I think of my dream? Until
the day my little girl and I were reading, and I thought to myself, “I love
reading, have always loved reading. I want to be an author, have always wanted
to be an author.” I decided to do something this time. I enrolled in a Writer’s
Digest fiction course. Completed it, and began work on a manuscript.
Life
interrupted again. We moved—twice. I had two more little girls. But the dream
didn’t die. And ten years after I completed my fiction course, I decided to do
something again. I bought craft books. Joined writing groups. And learned about
writing conferences. Before then, I hadn’t a clue that there were conferences
you could attend to take workshops and classes to learn and study. Places you
could go and be taught by nationally recognized authors. Events where you could
meet with *gasp* editors and agents,
face-to-face. Boy, was I hungry for that.
I attended some small, local conferences. Learned
what a pitch was. Realized I was nowhere ready to pitch to an agent, much less
an editor. Honed. Networking  Robin Caroll, Novel Rockettudied. Absorbed. It took me having gone to four conferences
before I attended the “big” ones—ACFW National and RWA National.
At my first conferences I:
  • Met
    my critique partners face-to-face and our relationship changed from just
    writing partners to dear friends for life.
  • Met
    my mentor in person and realized I loved her just as much as I did on
    email and telephone.
  • Met
    my agent in person for the first time.
  • Pitched
    to the editor who ended up contracting my first book—the one I’d pitched
    to her.
  • Networked
    with editors who I just like hanging out with because they’re fun
  • Been
    blessed to have taught and encouraged other writers
  • Realized
    how much I NEED conferences to feed my writing spirit 
Now that I’m published and have many, many
conferences under my belt, I still wouldn’t miss going to at least one or two a
year. Why? Because now I can:
  • Connect with my
    writing friends. There’s something special about hugging a friend and
    praying with them in person.
  • Network with others
    in the industry.
  • Visit with my agent
    and various editors I’ve worked with.
  • Get up-to-date
    information on this ever-changing industry.
  • Feed my writing
    spirit.
  • Learn new insights
    as well as brush up on my skills to hone my craft. 

Want to advance your writing career? GO TO A
CONFERENCE. Yes, it takes money to go. Plan ahead. Apply for scholarships. Sale
the kids. (Ok, I’m kidding about that.) But the expense is worthwhile—you’re
investing in your career. And for me? It’s investing in my mental stability to
be around others in this crazy industry.
Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin’s mother, bless her heart, is a genealogist who instilled in Robin the deep love of family and pride of heritage–two aspects Robin weaves into each of her 25 published novels. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty-five+ years, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons–in the South, where else? She serves the writing community by serving as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW. Her books have finaled/placed in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best, and Book of the Year.
Bayou Corruption

“Don’t let them get away with it, Jacks-” 

Those were the sheriff’s last words. Left for dead in the middle of the road, Jackson Devereaux’s good buddy had slipped into a coma. Well, Jackson wouldn’t let them get away with it, once the ace newspaper reporter uncovered who they were. He’d start with the lovely Alyssa LeBlanc, the only eyewitness to the crime. Problem was, she hated Jackson-why?-as much as she hated being back in the Louisiana bayou. Unfortunately, the truth lay deep in the bayou’s belly. And whether they liked it or not, Alyssa had to lead the way.