Put a bunch of writers in a room together, feed them, water them, give them things to do and other writers to talk to, and you’ll have a pretty good conference. Amp up the energy by bringing in editors and publishers, host a short story competition, hand out plentiful door prizes and hang up gorgeous pictures and banners around the room and you’ll have a fantastic conference.
I was lucky enough to be invited to officially launch Femme (a late launch certainly, but within the three months of release… just), and I got to hide behind a podium and deliver a rapid-fire speech that took 20 minutes when I practised it and 10 minutes on delivery. I forgot an amusing anecdote, I forgot to read a portion of my book (!!!) but apparently I still entertained people because everyone assured me that my speech was fine. Now that I’ve been baptised by fire, I know what I did wrong (and right) and I can use that experience to help me for my next talk (or rather, next three talks) that I have lined up at my local libraries next year.
Tangent: How did I line up those library talks? The Moreton Bay Council (a council for the areas that fall in the very north of Brisbane, beyond the Brisbane City Council scope) invests in their writers community and there are always author talks to go to or free seminars to attend on the many subjects that fall under the umbrella of writing or publishing. So I asked the library events co-ordinator what I needed to do to get myself a talk and was told to write up my presentation, email it off to her and then wait and see which libraries would invite me to speak with them. I then waited with trepidation and received three requests from the larger libraries in the area. Woo! So don’t be afraid to ask.
The conference co-ordinator–a fellow writer and friend that I met through a writers group–Raelene Purtill, had organised the event herself from scratch and her first attempt was more professional and enjoyable than events that have been held over a number of years! I was initially just there in the capacity of providing peer-to-peer critique to writers who brought in their stories on behalf of North Lakes Writers Group (a group I started alongside another writer friend, Lorraine Slim). We had a table set up for us called ‘Hidden Gems’ and it was very easy to mingle because people came to us to chat. I had a little corner of the table where I placed my paperbacks for sale and sold half of what I brought along with me, which was much better than I expected.
Something else that went better than expected, was that I won the flash fiction competition with my entry ‘The Song’. It’s a story I’ll put up on my website once I get it properly formatted for consumption. My prize was a manuscript assessment from Morris Publishing, so wow! I’m feeling triumphant about that.
It was an enjoyable day and something I’ll remember for a long time. I hope that this event will continue as it has had a successful first year, as realised by attendees, who all left with huge smiles and lots of goodies.