There are only two writing conferences I want to attend this year. Coincidently, both start with the letter L. I was about to pit them against each other cage-match style, but then I decided it was like trying to pick out your favorite child, which I hear you are not supposed to do. (Spoiler alert: I did give an edge to LDS Story Makers)
So, I'm going to focus on what I like about both of them.
1) They both offer excellent classes.
That's right, there seems to be something for everybody no matter which stage of writing you are in. LTUE had a few more classes on drawing, if that is your thing (which mine isn't). For both events, and the LDS Story Makers that is coming up, I've had to spend a lot of time trying to pick out classes.
Each session gives you several choices of classes to take. Not once have I looked at the choices and thought, "Hmmm... nothing here interests me." Instead I've had the opposite problem, which is trying to choose between two or three that would benefit me. With the upcoming Story Makers there is still one class where I can't decide which class to chose.
Between the two I have over 16,000 words of notes. Of good, quality notes that I still refer to often.
2) They both offer a great chance to network.
When I went to LDS Story Makers last May (my first writing conference) I only knew one person there, who I didn't get to see because she only showed up for one of the days and I think she even left early. Otherwise, I had to fend for myself.
While there I met a ton of people. A lot of them I now consider friends. I bumped into a group of people from Southern Utah (where I live) and I joined their writing group. Story Makers also have a group of online folks called Authors Incognito, which I joined. I went from having one writing friend to literally dozens.
I also got to rub shoulders with a lot of people I admire. I've been a long-time listener to The Writing Excuses podcast so one highlight was briefly hanging out with Dan Wells and Howard Taylor, who treated me as an equal (WOWZERS!!).
A few months ago, LTUE felt like a family reunion. I got to meet face-to-face all of these people I've got to know through Twitter, Authors Incognito, and Facebook (Story Makers has a Facebook page). Every class I was surrounded by people I know. And, amazingly enough, some of them even knew little ol' ME!!! What an honor it was for published and successful authors like Sarah Eden, Tyler Whitesides, David Farland/Wolverton, Tristi Pinkston and James Owen to know who I am. On top of that, I made even more friends at LTUE.
Side note: I love the writing community, they are such a great bunch of people.
LDS Story Makers is only three weeks away where I look forward to another get-together with all my friends and to making even more new friends.
3 ) They both offer excellent Instructors.
These are not people just pulled off the street. These are established writers who know what they are talking about.
Where else can you take classes from people like Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal (all four hosts of Writing Excuses), editor and author extraordinaire Tristi Pinkston, Sarah Eden (who I think is the funniest person alive), David Farland (who I think has one of the greatest pulses on the writing industry), Traci Abramson, Jeff Scott Savage, the inspiring James Owen, action writer Larry Correia, dystopian writer Robison Wells, James Dashner, MG Fantasy writer Brandon Mull, story architect Larry Brooks, and more!?! (Sorry to anybody I missed, or didn't attend)
And these aren't lectures. Most of them are open to questions, stick around after class to answer even more questions, and stick around the conference for, yet, even more questions. If you put yourself out there, you can get a lot of one-on-one instruction with some of these great writers.
4) They both offer great book signings.
Again, another opportunity to hob-nob with your (well, mine anyways) favorite writers. Again, everybody is super-friendly and not afraid to spend time with you and answer your questions while they sign your books. Despite the lines, I did not feel rushed during any of the signings.
5) They both have great keynotes.
Last year I got to listen to Larry Brooks as he talked about writing, the writing industry, and touched on story structure.
This year I was blown away by the LTUE keynote, James Owen. He gave a fantastic and inspiring keynote address. If only all keynotes could be of that caliber.
Now I'm looking forward to Kevin J. Anderson's keynote address. I've read a lot of his writings (all the Dune books and the Saga of Seven Suns) and he has published several books beyond those series. And he just keeps on writing. I met him once when he did a book signing in Las Vegas when Battle of Corrin was released. I'll have to give him a hard time for (inadvertently?) putting a spoiler in there to Hunters and Sandworms of Dune when he signed it.