Tammy Burke, GLVWG’s 2011 Write Stuff Conference Chair, has had business articles published in magazines on the northeast coast and won an award for best mid-length article in 2001. She is currently working on her first YA book Uriah’s Window.
Donna Brennan, GLVWG’s 2011 Conference Co-chair, was a technical writer in the corporate world for over ten years. Four years ago she decided to get serious about her writing career and went in search of a local writers group and writers conferences. She has been a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group for four years and is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She has completed one novel and is working on a second. She also has begun writing and submitting short articles for family magazines.
Tori Bond, GLVWG President Ex Officio, writes women’s fiction and humor, has won honorable mention in the 76th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Rosemont College.
Tori Bond's interview with Conference Chair, Tammy Burke
Tori: The Write Stuff conference is in its 18th year. What do you think is the secret to the Write Stuff success? How many years have you been attending the conference and what is your favorite part?
Tammy: My first Write Stuff Conference was in 2009. I remember how impressed I was with it and how hard I fell completely under its charm. I’ve enjoyed being the co-chair in 2010 and it’s thrilling being the conference chair this year. I like every part of the conference particularly the variety of sessions and I learned a lot last year in James N. Frey’s two day preconference workshop but if I had to name my absolute favorite part of the conference, it has to be the networking aspect. I can’t speak for everyone else but I know my family’s eyes tend to glaze over if I talk about writing too much. I find it very gratifying to be around other individuals who understand the “writing bug”.
As to the Write Stuff’s success, I would point to a few key things. One of the most integral reasons is because of the people who work it. No event runs smoothly without the aid of its people and we have a fabulous bunch of volunteers in addition to attracting quality presenters, agents and editors. Other individuals who help the conference with its success are the hotel’s catering manager and staff. They consistently step up to the plate as we increase the quality of our conference. The conference size and setup give conferees more opportunities to network with other writing professionals and we consistently offer a nice variety of topics. I may be biased, but I believe we have one of the best conferences in the northeast.
Tori: What should conferees prepare or bring with them to the pre-conference workshop and/or conference?
Tammy: Besides what I’ve mentioned earlier, I would say for the preconference workshop(s), attendees should bring either their completed manuscript or their work in progress and something to take notes with. Of course for the conference, I would also recommend bringing something to take notes with.
Another thing I’d like to mention, Saturday’s hot lunch is the “Tour of Italy” and if you have dietary restrictions such as tomato and/or gluten allergies you may contact the hotel at 610-266-1000 in order to have your needs accommodated.
Tori: Networking is touted as an important aspect of the conference. What opportunities exist at the Write Stuff for networking with other writers, presenters, agents and editors?
Tammy: As I mentioned earlier, the Write Stuff is set up with various opportunities for conferees to speak with other writers, presenters, agents and editors. Some examples include the Wednesday night informal Happy Hour, the Thursday night Writers Café, the Friday night reception party, scheduled breaks on Saturday, and the bookfair. At my first Write Stuff conference I ended up sitting with one of the editors at the Friday night reception party and was able to have a lengthy conversation. I also spoke to some of the agents as well. So yes, networking opportunities abound along with learning and sharing information.
Hope to see you in March!
Interview with Conference Co-chair Donna Brennan:
Tori Bond: How many years have you been attending the Write Stuff conference and what is your favorite part?
Donna Brennan: I've attended four Write Stuff conferences so far. The conference is how I found out about Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. I wanted to be a writer and I knew how important it is to attend writing conferences to learn the craft and to meet other writers, so I googled “writer's conference” in PA and NJ. I was thrilled to find one so close to my home and at such a reasonable price. Finding GLVWG and its wonderful members was an added bonus.
I don't have a favorite part of the conference. I get so much out of most of the sessions I attend, but I also enjoy the time spent talking to other aspiring writers and successful authors. Last year was the first time I sat in the page cuts session. It was interesting to see how the panelist's responses to the same piece of writing sometimes varied greatly—but hey, that's how it is out in the larger world. Some editors and agents will love something that another agent or editor rejected.
T: From your experience attending the Write Stuff conference in past years, what advice do you have about getting the most out of the conference?
D: The best way to get the most out of the conference is to plan ahead of time which sessions you will attend.
Take the time to not only look at the subject matter for each session, but look up the presenters online. See what kinds of things they write, what they say on their blog, and even how successful they are. Not every presenter will have an internet presence, but if they do it will help you decide if this is someone from whom you can learn a lot.
Planning ahead of time is especially important if you're meeting with an agent or editor—all of them have websites or blogs you should check out. Look at the kinds of books they have published recently to see if your book is a good fit. If it is, then during your appointment be sure to mention the names of books they have listed that are similar to yours (along with the similarities and differences).
T: The Write Stuff conference is planned and organized by all volunteers, from the Conference Chair and Co-Chair to the room monitors. What do you enjoy about volunteering in this way?
D: One of the things I enjoy about volunteering for the conference is meeting so many other helpful and willing volunteers. I've gotten to know several GLVWG members better than I had from just attending meetings, and I expect I will get to know some more of them better by the time the conference rolls around. It's very encouraging to see how quickly a call for help gets answered.
T: As Co-Chair you take over the reins next year and organize Write Stuff 2012? What motivates you to take on this challenge?
D: As for what motivated me to take on the challenge of Conference Co-Chair, it just seemed like a fun thing to do. I love learning about new things and meeting new people. This is a perfect opportunity to do that. And I wanted to try to get some of the presenters I've seen at other conferences or that I've heard about from other writers to present at Write Stuff.