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Looking for the Right Writers' Conference

It's not always easy to find the right conference. You might want a one-day event, or a long weekend. Local is better if you can avoid a hotel stay. On the other hand, getting away from home provides networking opportunities you'll miss if you skip the evening events or hospitality room gatherings.

For some, a focus on the craft of writing is preferred. Other conference attendees will want a variety of expert panels and an opportunity to pitch their completed manuscripts to agents and editors.

For a series of informative articles about conferences from Writer's Digest editor Chuck Sambuchino, check out the Writers Conference category of his blog archives.

One of the places to search for writers' conferences, workshops, and genre conventions is in Shaw Guides. All types of events are grouped together alphabetically, so it takes a long time to separate conferences sponsored by colleges and universities from those offered by writers' organizations from those sponsored by privately-owned companies. There is no bad or good label that should be applied to any of them. It all depends on what you are looking for. It helps if you narrow your search to specific months or specific states when you begin.

The following list of January through April events is a sampling of from across the country. The cost is minimal for some of the one-day programs. Pitch sessions are available at several. All of the information for each conference or workshop can be found at its official website. Click on the conference name and follow the link.


San Diego State University Writers’ Conference
San Diego, California
January 29-31, 2010


South Coast Writers Conference
Gold Beach, Oregon
February 12-13, 2010


University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Spring Writers Festival
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
March 5-7, 2010

Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
March 25-27, 2010

The Write Stuff
Allentown, Pennsylvania
March 25-27, 2010

Northern Colorado Writers Conference
Fort Collins, Colorado
March 26-27, 2010

University of North Dakota Writers Conference
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Lectures and readings
March 23-27, 2010 – All events free of charge


Emerald Coast Writers Conference
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
April 8-10, 2010

Truckee Meadows Community College Writers Conference
Reno, Nevada
April 17, 2010

Carolinas Writers Conference
Wadesboro, North Carolina
April 17, 2010

Columbus State Community College
Columbus, Ohio
April 18, 2010

Spring Fling 2010 Writers’ Conference
Deerfield, Illinois
April 23-24, 2010
Sponsored by Chicago North chapter RWA

Pikes Peak Writers Conference
Colorado Springs, Colorado
April 23-25, 2010

I attended the Northern Colorado Writers' Conference in Fort Collins three times and have participated as a presenter and volunteer. Other Colorado authors have spoken highly of the Pikes Peak Conference. If anyone has personal information on the others, please let us know. If you have a conference to add, please give us a link with your comment.


Patricia Stoltey is a mystery author, blogger, and critique group facilitator. Active in promoting Colorado authors, she also helps local unpublished writers learn the critical skills of manuscript revision and self-editing. For information about Patricia’s Sylvia and Willie mystery series, visit her website and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook (Patricia Stoltey) and Twitter (@PStoltey).

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  1. Thanks so much for this mention. Patricia! The Write Stuff is a friendly PA conference chock full of inspiration and opportunity and we are so jazzed to be hosting creative writing guru James N. Frey! I can't wait for his two-day pre-conference workshop, "How to Plot Like the Pros." I hope this helps some additional writers make their way to us.

  2. Good links. I'll be at SleuthFest in February (south Florida), which is a favorite of mine.

    Also, the "Written in the Stars" conference in Shreveport in March. Haven't been to that one yet, but they sponsor the Suzannah, which is a prestigious romance contest.

    I've been to Pikes Peak, Heart of Denver, Emerald City, and Florida Romance Writers

  3. There are so many great conferences across the country that focus on helping writers get published. I just received an update on the July Midwest Writers Workshop associated with Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. And don't forget the Iowa Writers' summer programs at The University of Iowa.

  4. Pat,
    Thanks for mentioning the Northern Colorado Writers Conference. I am thrilled to have Stephen Cannell, best known for his t.v. shows, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street and Rockford Files as well as his Shane Scully mystery series, as our keynote speaker. There will also be 29 different workshops to choose from. I am getting excited. It is only 60 days away!
    ~Kerrie Flanagan (NCWC Director)

  5. Helpful post and links. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together for us, Patricia.

  6. Thanks! Just linked to this on the West Texas Writer's Twitter

  7. Thanks for mentioning the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. The 2010 PPWC will take place April 23-25, in Colorado Springs. The featured speakers include Tim Dorsey, Kelley Armstrong, Jodi Thomas, and Donald Maass. We also feature a faculty which includes ten editors/agents and more than a dozen attending authors. The regular conference is Friday through Sunday with a special add on for Thursday and, special this year, a Sunday only program featuring Donald Maass. The conference offers you over thirty workshops, a chance (or two!) to read your work in front of editors, agents and authors, a chance to pitch to editors or agents and much, much more. To learn more, visit

  8. I just returned from the Writers Institute at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where I learned a great deal. Thanks for your tips about other conferences!


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