I love writers conferences and workshops. Getting away to focus 100% of my creative energy on writing is something I try to do at least once a year. I’ve been to many conferences, but the best, by far, has been the Algokian Park Novel Workshop. http://www.algonkianconferences.com/AlgonkianParkWorkshop/ Michael Neff runs the workshops, and they hit all the major areas of publishing from start to finish. He splits workshop time to address both the craft side of writing–giving the writers time to flex and work their literary muscles–and the business side, which writers too often neglect. This is not a workshop for the faint of heart: he holds nothing back in his critique sessions. But his advice and teaching really helped shape my novel and give it focus.
Another conference I would recommend is the Writer’s Digest Conference at Book Expo America. It is held in May over three days, and has back to back breakout sessions for all areas of writing. The big draw to this conference is the Pitch/Slam Session where writers are given three minute time slots over an hour to pitch their novel to as many agents as they can. It’s like speed dating and is very stressful, but it’s a way to meet with an agent face to face and spend a bit of time in discussion as opposed to cold query letter writing.
Finally, the Maryland Writer’s Conference, also held in the spring, was nice for a quick, close-to-home experience. It was a good networking opportunity, the workshop classes were small allowing lots of time for questions, and there was an opportunity to pitch to a few agents.
If you can’t get away, I recommend the Writer’s Online Workshops. http://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/retail/ I was able to sign up for a course critiquing and editing the first 200 pages of my novel for a cost far less than having an editing service critique it. Another bonus was that the other workshop participants critiqued each other’s novels as part of an online writer’s group. Writer’s groups are invaluable tools for novel editing and development.
I hope to get to away to workshop my Hemingway novel soon. I’ll keep you posted.