Fun Events and Writers’ Conferences

I love getting out and meeting new people at fun and/or professional events. Below are a few I’ve found, some in the NW Indiana area and some further abroad. If you know of other great ones, please feel free to let me know and I’ll list them.

Writers Conventions

Steel Pen Conference on Oct. 28th, Fair Oaks Farms, IN – Hosted by IWCthe Indiana Writers’ Consortium, this local conference is a great way for area writers to meet and mingle in a stress-free atmosphere. The keynote speaker is Catherine Lanigan, the author of nearly forty books. Ticket sales end soon, so check it out.

The Annual James River Writers Conference, Oct. 14-15 with master classes on Oct. 13. Richmond Virginia. They had 300+ people usually and a lot of famous writers and agents. I don’t know much more about it than that. The Master Classes fall along some unusual lines other than the usual “how to write” offerings. The website for James River.

Boot Camp Extreme Creative Writing Conference, Oct. 20-22, in Los Angeles, California – This conference combines with the Digital Author and Indie Publishing Conference for the same low price.  It features one-on-one critiques from editors and agents and agent pitching opportunities. The Boot Camp’s focus is on fiction, nonfiction and screenplay work. for the boot camp and for the Digital Author program.

Genre-LA Speculative Fiction Creative Writing Conference is coming in January/early February but the organizers have not updated the website yet. It is the only conference that I know of that specifically focuses on science fiction and fantasy writing. I’ll let you know more as I hear about it. For info on the 2017 conference, look here,

Fun Events

Feast of the Hunters Moon, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, West Lafayette, IN – Local people know and love the Feast and it is the 50th year celebration this year. It is similar renaissance festivals only focused more around the late 1700s-early 1800s-time period. The festival celebrates the first European settlement in Indiana. The traders set up white tents for barter, fife and drum bands play, a cannon is shot off occasionally and local charity groups build firepits and earthen ovens to offer an array of traditional food. I love shopping there for old style clothes, leather products, blacksmith items and more. The homemade root beer is popular. It’s also fun and educational for the kids.

Chicago Dark Shores Ghost Con, Oct. 7-8, Lombard, IL- This year they are featuring 20 speakers and more than 50 vendors. Events include a Friday ghost tour, a Saturday costume bash, and a Sunday Illusionist performance. I enjoyed it a lot last year with the focus on not only ghost stories but movie and show previews and info on local hauntings. For those into the paranormal, this is a fun and exciting weekend of exploring beyond the grave.

Tesla Con, The Bucharest Bungle, Nov. 2-5. Middleton, WI. – Steampunkers unite to fight off monsters and show off their fabulous uniforms. The convention boasts three separate dinner nights, but the website lists very little else in terms of schedules.

Chicago Tardis 2017, Nov. 24-26, Lombard, IL – This Dr. Who convention brings together around 2000 fans to celebrate all things sicence fiction and time travel. Cosplayers are encouraged and guests include Colin Baker, the 6th doctor incarnation.

Con+Alt+Delete, Dec 15-17, Chicago (Rosemont), IL – The focus of this convention is anime, comic book, and nerd culture. They claim to be the perfect size so that visitors don’t get overwhelmed. The price is comfortable as well when compared to larger conventions of this type.

In addition, a number of smaller science fiction conferences are going on throughout October and November. If you want to find one in your area, consider checking out this listing.




Maintaining Motivational Belief.

How do you keep going after so many rejections?

Looking at the last year, my family had spent a lot on my career: three large conferences to be exact, all with interactions with agents. So far, I had a lot of miles under my belt but was still receiving the nearly meaningless “just not right for us” rejection letter, if I heard anything at all. To make matters worse, we were starting to feel the pinch from the high expenses.


In December of 2014, my husband had declared that this was to be the year that I moved “further in my writing career,” for whatever that meant. He planned on heavily investing in my work. I had one book on the shelf, three stories in small anthologies, and a manuscript that I had shopped around on and off again for about four years. We used the term “further” rather than “success” or “published” because we both knew that “success” could mean several different ideas and “published” takes more than a year in the path I’ve taken. After all, I had already been shipping query letters off and re-editing (yet again) my novel.

Based on information I heard at the 2014 Thrillerfest, I spent the winter getting my social media started, organizing a speculative writer’s group in Northwest Indiana, and developing the third novel. Success came in small measures. I attended multiple book signings for my old book, received great reviews on my pitch, opening, and query letter, and sent out new stories to more anthologies.

However, by August the rejection letters from agents and editors had not changed, when they showed up at all. I felt like “just not right for us” was becoming my mantra. I wanted to scream, “Just tell me what is wrong and I’ll fix it!” to the silence that greeted me each day. Depression settled in. I was never going to be a career author. I became too afraid to write more and worried about throwing good money after bad. I even had stalled out on the query letters.

 The Opportunity

My husband didn’t agree. When I showed him the Writer’s Digest announcement about agent reviews of writers’ first ten pages, he didn’t waste a moment. “Sign up,” he said.

“But the money…?”

“Don’t worry about that.”

Hard to do when you are facing huge repair bills on the house. However, I followed his advice. The results: glorious. The Agent Boot Camp told me exactly what I needed to know to improve my work and why I was getting the form rejections. Among a few other minor issues, I had placed it in the wrong genre. The agent loved my character and the setting. Upon reading those words, the sunshine burned through the ego-killing gloom in my attitude. I began believing in myself again.

Moral of the story: continuously believing in yourself is hard work. Everyone has moments or even months of doubt. For those times, turn to the one person who believes

Flowers in a garden

Here is a bit of color from past springs to help us get through this winter

in you no matter what. Give them the whip, cattle prod, guilt knife, pocketbook, or whatever they need to keep you moving forward.

Then let them use it. You won’t regret it.


As ever, happy writing!