Thursday, July 2, 2015

Preparing for Unicorn Writer's Conference 2015 @UnicornWriters

Another school year has finished and I can't believe how quickly it flew by. I recently attended the HVCW's Annual Conference in Poughkeepsie (what a good day that was). With summer fully upon us, there is one other event I'm really looking forward to attending on August 15th: the Unicorn Writers' Conference (UWC).
From Reid Castle Events
Entering its sixth year as the premier conference for all types of writers, from newbies to professional, from unpublished to published, UWC is THE one-day event not to be missed. For the first time, the conference will be held in summer (postponed from March), and in a new location at Reid Castle (part of Manhattanville College) in Purchase, New York (after being held in Connecticut).

From eight o'clock in the morning until way past eight at night, UWC certainly keeps its attendants well fed and busy. I thank founder Jan Kardys and her staff for always taking good care of her attendees. Three sit down meals are included in the registration fee and directly after breakfast is the Keynote Speech. This year the author of honor is Stephanie Evanovich and I think she'll be wonderful.  

For additional fees, attendees can add on specialized review sessions on writing query letters, jacket/flap copy, and book summaries. One of THE best deals around are the One-on-One Manuscript Review Sessions where writers, after emailing the first forty pages of a manuscript and synopsis, can meet with their choice of either a literary agent, editor or speaker for thirty minutes. Thirty minutes! The genres each agent, editor and speaker works in/are seeking are listed on a handy chart found on the Unicorn website.

Each year I've attended I have happily paid for a One-on-One session. These half hour sit-downs are fantastic and are such a bargain. Other places charge the same or more for less time and less pages, so I'm not kidding when I call the UWC sessions "a bargain." They are. I always leave with helpful comments in hand. A one-on-one is a wonderful experience, no matter the outcome. 

Lets talk about the workshops. There are six hours of one-hour long workshops, with four to five different ones offered per hour. Do the math! The topics of workshops change every year and are varied. I can tell you from my own experience, figuring out a schedule is hard every year. There are usually more than one each hour that I'd like to sit through. If only I could clone myself so I can take in all of them! Wait, that sounds like a story idea (or BBC America series). 

Writers will find workshops on the craft of writing from:
  • plot
  • character
  • editing 
  • screenwriting
  • worldbuilding
  • non-fiction
  • memoir
  • writing with poetry prompts
There are workshops on writing:
  • sci-fi and fantasy
  • murder mysteries
  • romance 
  • comedy
  • for children
  • lifestories
And there are workshops that will cover:
  • discoverability
  • what writers can learn from linguists
  • social media
  • self-publishing
  • media training for authors 
 There are also panel sessions where agents, editors and printers will sit at a table and answer questions and share their experiences. These can be very important, especially to new writers who can pick up hints and learn about the business from insiders. 

The workshops are lead by professionals in whatever field the session covers. I always bring a book to jot down notes. These people really know their subjects and every year I'm amazed to leave with more and more knowledge and insight.  Everything on this day is geared to helping writers learn more about the craft, the business side, and many other topics pertaining to writing and publishing. The UWC Mission Statement sums it up nicely:

At UWC, the entire day is structured to not only learn and receive feedback on projects, but for writers and authors to socialize, connect, network while also having a good time. Even though I already go with friends, I make sure to talk with the other people I sit with at meals and at workshops. I'm amazed how far people will travel to go to Unicorn and the types of writing they do. 

We all know what a lonely business writing can be. For one long and fun-filled day, writers can be among other individuals who share a love for the written word and for creating stories. This--and all of the other things listed in my post--are the many reasons why I keep returning to the UWC year after year. And it doesn't end when we leave. I know when I return home, with notes and ideas in hand (and items from the goody bags we receive), I will begin to utilize my new found knowledge, inspiration and experiences into my own projects the very next time I sit down to write. My post may sound like a public relations flyer or brochure, and I didn't intend it that way. This post is merely a testament to the lasting impact and power of the memories and experiences I've had at what I consider to be one of the best writers' conferences around, Unicorn. See you at "The Castle" on August 15!

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