The Maryland Writers' Association Conference
Isn't Just for Writers
“Feed Your Writing Habit” is the theme of this year’s Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA) annual conference, and the bounty of resources for writers is impressive. The conference, which takes place Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, features presentations on topics ranging from the ethics of memoir writing to how to be interviewed on radio and television, as well as practice pitch sessions with agents and a keynote address from screenwriter and author Rafael Alvarez. To be sure, writers of all genres and backgrounds will have plenty to feast on at this event.
But local writer’s conferences like this one don’t only benefit writers.
Alix Moore, president of the Montgomery County chapter of MWA, is one of more than 30 expert speakers to present at the conference. As a teacher, speaker, and published author (Tapping the Well Within: Writing from Your Source of Effortless Creativity, Deep Wisdom, and Utter Joy), she brings valuable and wide-ranging knowledge to the MWA.
Carolee Noury is vice president of the state board of the MWA as well as vice president of the Montgomery County chapter. She is both a career counselor and a freelance writer, and her work with MWA has been instrumental in putting the conference together.
I interviewed both women last month about the MWA conference, how it benefits writers, and why publishers should take note of local writer’s conferences. Here's what they had to say...
Katherine Pickett: What does the theme of this year’s conference, “Feed Your Writing Habit," mean to you?
Carolee Noury: The theme came up when Paul Lagasse (MWA president and conference co-chair) and I were talking about how often local writers talk about writing being a hobby and an expensive one. I think it's important for aspiring novelists to know there are other markets for paid writing, many that are much easier to break into and are just as rewarding (if not more). There are many opportunities here in Maryland and I'm excited to introduce them to our conference participants. Not to worry - there are still plenty of great workshops and networking possibilities for aspiring and established novelists.
Alix Moore: I love how MWA has organized the conference into three tracks: art, craft, and business. Those are truly the three areas in which all writers need to grow. I think the conference offers us a chance to come together in community but also to gain solid information about the profession of writing in all its diversity. We should leave inspired, but also better informed. How perfect is that?
KP:What does the MWA conference offer that some of the other writer’s conferences in the area don’t?
CN: Jessica Sinsheimer, one of the agents who will take practice pitches and be part of the agent panel, is a warm and encouraging professional. Each year she's been part of our conference, the rave reviews have poured in. We have three other agents who are new to our conference and come highly recommended. This is a wonderful place to step out and do your first pitch.
Also, we've approached the conference in the mind-set of networking opportunities. We'll provide many chances for speakers and guests to get to know each other. For example, there are several panels where audience members get to participate by asking questions, and there are 15-minute breaks between each session. For people who are not sure how to network, the spring conference edition of Pen in Hand (MWA Newsletter: http://marylandwriters.org/news.php) will have a list of questions to get them started.
KP:Alix, as a presenter, what do you hope to learn from the conference?
AM: I have three goals for the conference:
- To deliver a great workshop that gives my audience some new tools and resources for coping with writer’s block
- To learn from the other presenters - I’m already planning out my day
- To network! I’ll be packing my business cards, and I intend to make some new friends and new business contacts
KP:Why should local publishers care about writer’s conferences like this one?
AM: Contacts, contacts, contacts! You never know when you’re going to meet someone with whom you will work in the future. Writers and publishers don’t have to compete with each other - we can join together to support our readers and nurture new and established writers. Conferences are a great way to meet writers, editors, agents, and other publishers and to begin to build those mutually beneficial relationships.
CN: The Maryland arts scene has so many talented writers. There's a strong chance publishers will be able to meet their next authors here. Many MWA members take writing seriously - attending workshops, conferences, classes, and getting professional feedback. Beyond our members, it's a great opportunity for local publishers to meet other industry professionals. The conference website has the full list of distinguished and (primarily) local speakers, panelists, and agents.
KP:How can someone become a presenter at the next MWA conference?
CN: The best doorway to our conference is to connect with our local chapters. If you conduct an interesting, helpful presentation at a chapter meeting, recommendations travel quickly within the MWA. Many of this conference's speakers were recommended by MWA members.
To learn more about the event and to register, visit http://marylandwriters.org and click on “Annual Conference.” To contact Carolee, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services, where she offers copyediting, proofreading, and developmental editing to authors and publishers across the country, and co-owner of Hop On Publishing. She is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Book Publishers Associationand serves on the board for the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writer’s Association. Her book, Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, is due out this fall.