This post by Gayle M. Irwin
This weekend the Wyoming Writers, Inc., (WW, Inc.) conference takes place. I’ll be returning to the conference after a three-year absence. I’ve missed previous years due to the distance of the gathering and financial setbacks. Although I had planned to go this year when the conference date and speakers were first announced in January, once again financial setbacks, including a hospital stay, prompted me to reconsider the expenditure.
However, WW, Inc., offers a few scholarships each year, and before I totally chucked the idea of attending, I applied for one of those financial helps… and received one! So, early Saturday I will get in a car with another Casper writer, and we’ll drive two hours northeast to Gillette, once touted as ‘the energy capital of the world’ and just an hour’s drive from America’s first national monument, Devil’s Tower, to attend conference. I’m excited!
Not only do I get to carpool with a fellow children’s writer, Casey Rislov, with whom I’ve shared a few book reading and signing events, but I’ll also have opportunity to reconnect with Wyoming (and some Colorado) writers whom I haven’t seen in several years. I’ll also be tutored in the craft and marketing of writing by special speakers, including children’s book author and current Wyoming Poet Laureate Eugene Gagliano, creative non-fiction writer and director of American Indian Studies at the University of Wyoming Dr. Christopher “Caskey” Russell, and keynote speaker, fiction author and freelance writer Nina McConigley. Nina is a special friend of mine – my husband has known Nina and her family for more than 30 years, and this incredible writer, winner of both a Penn Open Book Award and 2014 High Plains Book Award in 2014 who is also a professor at the University of Wyoming, served as one of my bridesmaids; Nina is the keynote speaker for this conference, and for that reason alone I wanted to attend. I’m very happy that I don’t have to miss this year’s WW, Inc., conference!
There will be many learning opportunities through the various workshops, time to mingle with fellow writers and the presenters, and occasion to sell my tomes. I’ve written and published several works since the last conference I attended, including new children’s books and a collection of short stories; therefore, I’ll have “new products” for my fellow writers to purchase. Plus, I’ll see what products they have created since I last saw them. It’s always wonderful to support and network with other writers, and that is another reason I’m glad to be attending.
I met another writer friend for coffee last Friday, and we shared pieces of our works in progress. She and I attended the Colorado Christian Writers Conference together six years ago, and we each came away with a book contract from Cladach, a small publishing house in Greely, Colorado; her short story was published in the company’s release Journeys to Mother Love in spring 2012, and my book Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, was published that fall. During our coffee time, we decided to make it a goal to complete our works in progress by next spring, attend CCWC next May, and pitch those works during one-on-one time with editors. That gives us about 11 months to plan and prepare. Hopefully, it won’t snow four feet at the conference site next May as it did this year! (this conference is held every year in Estes Park, Colorado, next door to Rocky Mountain National Park, a beautiful location, but heavy snow is not unusual at that elevation at that time of year!)
As I pack and plan for this weekend’s Wyoming Writers, Inc., conference, a tingle of anticipation wafts through my heart and mind. What nuggets will I glean which I can apply to my own writing and marketing endeavors? What snippets of information will resonate and excite me to put my fingers on the keyboard and create new stories and/or improve works-in-progress? There’s always something to learn from a conference – sometimes many somethings. I look forward to what lessons, tidbits, and knowledge I’ll garner this weekend!
Gayle M. Irwin writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She weaves life lessons in her works, including courage, perseverance, kindness, and friendship. She is also a contributing writer to six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and has a story accepted in the upcoming release “The Dog Really Did That?”; this will be her 7th Chicken Soup book! She also writes articles for various newspapers and magazines and conducts speaking engagements. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.