Literary line up for 2015 – my big Top 3 must do and see

Since I made the decision to actively pursue becoming published, the first thing I had to do was put myself out there by attending workshops and conferences, joining a chapter and critique groups, doing courses and webinars. My writing has grown so much in the last year, thanks to this process and next year I am upping the ante by venturing outside the small boundaries of Ontario.

Here are my Top 3 that I plan to tackle for the first time:

1) Romance Writers of America

Seeing as what I write is romance heavy, it only makes sense that I veer towards the largest romance writing conference there is. And for 2015 it is going to be hosted in New York! Every year thousands of writers in varying stages of their careers flock to this conference to mix and mingle and hopefully catch a glimpse of their favourite author in the flesh! I read on one attendees blog once that she’d actually shared a spot in line with a pretty remarkable author that would have had me babbling like my three month old son.

Some highlights of the conference, as based on the RWA website, include:

  • “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing; the Keynote speech; hearing from great speakers; book signings; and the Awards Ceremony.

There really is no better conference to attend if you’re into writing romance than the RWA and will put you in the position to not only meet fellow writers but industry professionals (editors, agents, publishers, book sellers, etc.) you otherwise would not have a had the opportunity to sit-down with.

2) Surrey Internaional Writers Conference 

SIWC takes place every October and hosted in picturesque British Columbia. It is the single largest conference in Canada, so naturally the exposure and experience to be gained from attending would be unparalleled. As to be expected, it is a workshop-based conference with the goal of helping writers of all calibers hone their craft, discover market trends, network and set them on the road to publishing. The conference covers a three day span, Friday to Saturday being full day events with workshops, pitch sessions, trade shows, book fairs, banquets and keynote speeches, leaving Sunday to wrap-up and wind down.

For those looking to get even more out of the packed event, pre-conference master classes are available a day prior to the main conference kickoff as an advanced add-on.

They also hold an annual writing contest that will open up in April 2015, winners to be announced following the conference in October. My hope is to be able to do it all. Sleep may be forfeit.

3) Turn The Page Bookstore – Boonsboro

Now, this one is more personal to me mainly because of who stands behind TTP, and that is the incomparable Nora Roberts. I’ll never forget the first time I came across her books. I was fifteen and in high school, writing voraciously for the last three years for no reason other then I was simply compelled to purge the voices in my head (see post). The school library was my haven. Any second that I wasn’t in class, I was there, glued to a computer or perusing the shelves. There, tattered and a little beaten, was a paperback novel that leapt off the shelf and into my hands.

Jewels of the Sun the first in Nora Roberts Irish trilogy. From the first page, I was hooked. She drew me in, captured me with her mastery of description and characters. Jude Murry and Aidan Gallagher, to date, stand as my favourite romance couple, followed closely by several other pairs in Nora’s extensive line of series, but the Irish trio of Admore Bay will forever hold a place in my heart.

Needless to say, the book went missing from the library and has been sitting on my shelf ever since.

And her descriptions? Magical. You are there with Jude, every step, seeing Ireland. Breathing it in.

Roll after roll of green hills shimmered under sunlight that glowed like the inside of seashells and spread back and back into the shadows of dark mountains. The hulk of them rambled against a sky layered with smoky clouds and pearly light that belonged in paintings rather than reality.

Paintings, she [Jude] thought, as her mind wandered, so beautifully rendered that when you looked at them long enough you felt yourself slipping right into them, melting into the colors and shapes and the scene that some master had created out of his own brilliance.

That was what she saw, when she dared take her eyes off the road. Brilliance, and a terrible, stunning beauty that ripped the heart even as it soothed it again. — excerpt from Jewels of the Sun

Nora has been the biggest source of my reading list for quite some time. I’ve visited the works of other writers, but if truth be told, no one moves me quite the way she does. So, I’ve decided that next year I am going to take a trip out to her bed and breakfast, Inn Boonsboro, and stop over for a book signing event she holds at her bookstore Turn The Page and finally, finally, FINALLY meet my idol.

Embarrassingly enough, I may cry when I do.

Next month, a few of the authors she’ll be hosting at TTP are Jules Bennett, Mary Burton, Mary Ellen Taylor, Catherine Bybee, Virginia Kantra, Laura Kaye, including local authors Leigh Fleming, Claudia Floyd and Michael T. Myers.

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