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Adrienne Niceley, Guest Contributor

1. Growing Up

There comes a point in your journey as a writer when it’s time to move forward. Mr. and Mrs. S. have given us a tremendous blessing in the Summer Workshop, and after attending other conferences, I have come to deeply appreciate our Home Base and the beautiful balance of teaching and family time that it provides. However, if you want to be an author and move up in the industry, you have to run beyond Home Base. You have to grow and take that next step. Getting out into the realm of other conferences gives you new perspectives that will benefit you hugely in your career.

2. Pitching/Appointments

At Realm Makers, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to two publishers, as well as with Jeff Gerke and Torry Martin. These experiences were priceless. Although I didn’t give a full pitch (because by the time I was sitting in front of Steve Laube I was at the point of “my work needs so much help before I’m ready to do this right”) I got inside looks at the industry, a clear picture of where I want to be, and connections that will hopefully be valuable to me in the future.

I cannot stress to you enough the value of pitching and appointments, even if you’re just going in to talk. Please, if you get this opportunity, do it.

3. Connections

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Adrienne (center) with Mr. S. and a fellow OYAN student at the 2015 Realm Makers conference

This is a big one. Torry Martin told us at the 2015 Summer Workshop that it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. This is truth. Just by going to three different conferences, I have gained connections to a wonderful collection of writers, agents, editors, and publishers. True, some are weaker connections than others, but the strong ones have started opening doors for me that I never expected to be open this soon. You never  know how a person will affect your life. So go to conferences. Network as much as you can. Meet people and talk to them and build relationships. You will be glad that you did.

4. Community

I know, I know. The One Year Adventure Novel—or “OYAN”—is our community. You have that already; you don’t need another one.  I felt the same way. But expanding your community opens doors to more and more networking opportunities. And who knows? You may find another place that you can also call “home.”

5. Availability of Authors, Agents, Editors, etc.

Conferences are a golden opportunity to meet one-on-one with fascinating people who have a wealth of information about the industry. But don’t go into conversations pushing your manuscript or bombarding their personal space. Respect and kindness are key.

6. LearningIMG_5969

I’ve pretty much already stated this, but you learn so much going to conferences. You get to hear from different people with different perspectives, masters who have spent years honing their craft. Call me a dork, but my heart leaps at the very thought of days full of lectures from teachers that I admire and respect.

7. Encouragement

You are not the only one. We are not the only group. There are adults who are like us too; we won’t be the oddballs of the universe.  Even when pitches fail, no one is interested, and your hook lines just sink, there’s hope. Take a look at that author over there. Yeah, that one. He wrote ten books before he finally got one published, and he’s still taking classes at conferences and talking to people in appointments. And see that guy? He just might be the one to tell you you’re a total rock star for doing what you do. And that girl? The one you revere as some sort of writing genius? She’s taking the same tracks you are, and you know what? She’s just as nervous.

Well-known writers are people just like us. And they’re still working and struggling, despite being published. Some of the most encouraging things I heard during my most recent conference were from them, telling me not to quit and to keep going. One of them signed his book for me with “Hang in there! I mean it.”

There is something almost magical in experiences like this. A Wonder.

I know that most of us are high school or college students without much money, and that OYAN has first priority always. And that isn’t a bad thing. But please, consider the wonderful world of writer’s conferences.  There is so much just waiting for you to discover.

Have you ever been to a non-OYAN writing conference? How did you benefit?

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Adrienne has often been compared to Anne of Green Gables. Although she’s never desired to sleep in a wild cherry tree, she has yearned to use stories as a way of reaching out to others and pointing them to God. A student of The One Year Adventure Novel, Adrienne has been pursuing the art and craft of writing fiction for six years, and is involved in several writing communities. When she isn’t penning stories or reading, you can find her working as a mother’s helper, watching movies, creating quirky creations out of yarn, or fellowshipping with her close friends. She currently resides in Louisville, KY. Visit Adrienne at https://thestorytopian.wordpress.com/

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