Idaho Writers Guild Conference Review

Thoughts on my first writer's conference, and more.

5/28/20233 min read

Hello fellow Ravenites! It’s been a week since the Idaho Writers Guild Conference ended. I had only found out about it a week before, so I did not know what to expect. I’ve never been to a conference before, so the experience was new to me.

The day started with a couple of opening speeches. From there, the group separated and went to three presentations of their choosing, each lasting an hour. After a break for lunch, the presentations continued until 6pm. The next day was similar except for the keynote speech that began at 5pm by Craig Johnson. He talked about how he began writing his Longmire series, which was hilarious. If you ever have a chance to see him speak, I highly recommend it. You will not be disappointed. As engaging as his speech was, meeting Craig in person was unforgettable. Everyone he spoke to was like he was speaking to a friend he’s known for years.

After the speech and book signing event, there was a cash bar and hors d'oeuvres. Several baskets and online courses were raffled off and presented during this event, with yours truly winning one of the baskets. I believe there were more closing events later, but I had a two-hour drive ahead of me, so I had to leave at that point.

Back to the conference presentations. I picked every one that I went to for a reason. Editing, publishing, character development, and marketing were all subjects I wanted to get more information and resources for. All the presenters were knowledgeable and eager to share their tips and resources to better our careers as writers. Three that stood out to me were Rachel Van Dyken, Andrea Pearson, and Kristen Lamb. Though Rachel is primarily a romance author, several tips she gave made sense. Writing linear was one, which I was horrible at with Book 1, but was much better doing in Book 2. Basically, writing linear means, just write. Don’t go back and change things as it could cause major plot holes. That’s what your second draft (and more if needed) is for. I’ve heard it explained elsewhere, but the way she explained it clicked. She also mentioned “Publishers Lunch” which is a website that shows what genre is selling the best, plus so much more. It’s ninety dollars a year, so it is definitely a small investment.

Andrea Pearson has written over eighty books, but loves marketing even more. She gave tips on slides that I’m still pouring through. Basically, no marketing plan works for everyone. Figure out what works best for you. She was very engaging, and I even had a roundtable meeting with her where she went over a few aspects of my book.

Kristen Lamb’s presentations were my favorite. She delved into character development as well as how to create interesting villains. Kristen also went into plots and to basically treat your characters like trash, so to speak. She said you won’t know how your characters will react until you make them suffer. I’m already applying this to Book 3. I’m writing linear as well, so if I wind up not liking something, I will change it in future drafts.

Other presenters that I saw firsthand included Cristen Iris (Ghostwriter, developmental editor, and publishing consultant), Kevin Breen (Editor and owner of Madrona Books), Becca Syme (Gallup-Certified Strengths coach), Tiffany Yates Martin (over 30 years in the publishing industry), among others.

There was so much talent at this conference (including other authors I spoke with). I joked with a couple of authors by saying “I never realized how horrible a writer I was until I came here.” I absorbed so much information and am already looking forward to next year. I will be better prepared, for sure.

Now, onto news about Book 2. The title will be “The Raven Chronicles: Magic Scorned.” It is significantly longer than Magic Reborn, and I have confidence it will be a better book overall. “Magic Scorned is in the publication process now, and we’re looking at a mid-June launch at the latest. I’m as excited about Magic Scorned as I am Magic Reborn. I’ve already started on Book 3 of the series, and I have good vibes about this one. With everything I have planned for it, it might be longer than Magic Scorned, but that is still to be determined.

As my excitement builds to bring Magic Scorned to market, I want to say again, THANK YOU to everyone for supporting me on this wild ride of being an author. I have more books planned for the future, so don’t go anywhere, I’m just getting started!