I Dream Of LeakyCon

I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago in praise of small conferences---great opportunities not just for workshops, but also for getting involved with your local writing community.  No matter what genre you write or where your dream conferences take you, I hope that you will always return to your local writing groups and take care of each other.

That said, today I want to talk about going to the conferences of your dreams.  You know the ones? The ones that increase your heart rate, the ones that make you hyperventilate a little?

Some of you are murmuring the names already.  I can hear you.

The places on my list are  LeakyCon, ALA, Big Sur, SCBWI.  I could easily slip onto a plane headed for Comic-con or Bouchercon.

Someone else's list will look like a pile of letters.  Your own list will feel like poetry.

But what about those of you who have yet to define your dream?  This post is for you.

Keep in mind that conferences don't just cost lotsa dollars.  They also cost lotsa energy and require a time shift away from things like Actual Writing and Sustaining Relationships.

Before you dump all your available resources into a conference, please take time to consider whether you're following your heart or someone else's.  This may sound obvious, but it's amazing how many writers don't know what they want for themselves. They'll go along because their writing group is going.  They'll go along because online friends are going. They'll go along because they went last year. They'll go along because they haven't done the research or the soul-searching to know what they want instead.

Not sure if you're being true to yourself, true to your own dreams?  Ask yourself these questions:
  • Which living authors inspire you?  Are those authors participating in any conferences, workshops, or mentoring programs?

  • What books do you love?  Where do other fans of these books congregate?

  • Do the books you love ever win awards?  Who gives those awards? Does that organization host a conference?

  • Do the authors you love belong to professional writing groups?  Which groups?  Do those groups host conferences?

  • Who works with the authors you adore? Think about agents, editors, publishers.  Are those professionals speaking or doing workshops?

Take your list and look for overlap at points of awesomeness. We'll call these POA. Any single POA might be a wonderful thing.  Where many POA overlap, you've got yourself a dream.

Please note that there is no need to discount another person's dream in order to follow your own.  You're not looking for reasons a conference is wrong for you. You're not arguing that your conference is right for everyone. You're simply looking for overlapping POA that make you grin like crazy.

Those are your people.  That's where you belong. A recitation of those names will sound like poetry. They'll also keep you focused on your dreams and they'll keep you putting money into your conference savings account.

I'll be going to LeakyCon this year.  Just saying it makes me hyperventilate a little.

Where are your dreams taking you?  How long will it take you to get there?


  1. I ought to get involved with these things but am utterly clueless.... I'd love to be at a conference that Barbara Kingsolver and Joyce Carol Oates took part in, there are so many more!

  2. I'm with Zehra. I'd no idea about many of these, but you've introduced a potential POA for me with Boucher Con and Leaky Con (and yes, my kids brag their mother's read HP series 16 times, and yes, they keep track, but no, they don't know I've been eyeballing a wand at the local all things weird shop). Plus, I love POA - very cool. Geez, Johanna - this post is great - filled with wonderful new phrasing, great information and writer care-taking "Before you dump all your available resources into a conference, please take time to consider whether you’re following your heart or someone else’s"

    That particular sentence applies to so much more than a conference. Once more, thanks for a POA to begin my day.

  3. Not that you can just pop over to Kentucky at the last minute, but Barbara Kingsolver will be here: http://carnegiecenterlex.org/events/books-in-progress-conference

    Joyce Carol Oates spoke at a Public Library Association conference earlier this year. http://placonference.org

    I really enjoy this exploration as a way to find our own place among writers. I can see you fitting in at either one of these conferences.

  4. Thanks, Liz. I just finished reading Space Between Trees by Katie Williams (a recommendation from my daughter). It's a YA novel that has me thinking a lot about the dangers of going along with others--not just as peer pressure, but as a way of life.

  5. POA. That sucker's going on a T-shirt. Thank for the great points of awesome!

  6. Love the POA and I would love to attend ComicCon! I've seen pictures and just being at that conference would have to feel like an intergalactic market. How fun would that be?! You'll have to write a blog about LeakyCon and share all the details about the POA's :)

  7. Gee, Johanna, I don't even know what LeakyCon is. I get the Con part. LOL "Library Educators Association??? But then what does the "y" and "k" stand for? Whatever it stands for, I'm glad you get to go.

  8. I've been to Left Coast and Boucher Con. They ended up not being what I'd expected. Wish I'd had your POA list then.
    Your POA's are good questions to ask yourself when you're targeting agents and editors as well as conferences. Great information.

  9. Clarissa SouthwickMay 23, 2012 at 5:48 AM

    Great questions, Johanna. I think I've been guilty of "going along" . I'll have to give this some thought. Thanks for another fantastic post.

  10. Honestly Johanna, my dreams follow me to two places. The next MWA National in March of 2013 and the RWA National in NYC in 2014. Those are not for doing an agent pitch, not because I want to stalk my fav writer of either genre, but because those are the places where most of the writers I feel a kindred spirit to will gather. When I can afford it. When the time is right ... I will be there. Until then I will continue to pitch in query letters only and submit to editors via email. Love the wonderful live of conferences and your sound advice about attenting any of them :)

  11. It would be so much fun, wouldn't it? I'll be sure to bring back yummy details from LeakyCon!

  12. It's a Harry Potter reference to The Leaky Cauldron. It's an HP fan gathering with a 2-day lit track in the middle--heaven for this YA author. :)

  13. It is a little disconcerting when a conference isn't what you expect. There are so many. The choices can be overwhelming, but that also means there's probably one that's right for everyone.

  14. I hadn't thought conferences out like you have. I see I need to pick and choose and make sure what I attend is what I will love, and start saving for it now. Nice blog post, as usual!

  15. [...] This post originally appeared at Gem State Writers on May 23, 2012. [...]

  16. I have yet to find a conference for urban fantasy with a low heat level. : - ) But I think I'll go to Bouchercon again this year. It's just a few hours drive from home. I do find that I learn a lot of helpful stuff at mystery writers' conferences as well as meet writers whose work I enjoy, so will probably try to hit several this year. Might also be an opportunity to promote "When the Moon Is Gibbous and Waxing" a bit.

  17. Sounds wonderful. Not in the cards for me yet, but I would love to do a conference some day.

    Thanks for this, Johanna


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