Today’s post comes from Tamara Fickas.

Hello everyone, my name is Tamara, or Tammie. I wrote my first book at the ripe old age of 11 (it had a first run of 1 book!) and ever since then have had a little dream tucked away in my heart to write another one. Quite a few years have passed since that first book and in the last few years I have seriously begun to pursue this dream. After a lot of procrastination, I have finally finished the first draft of a novel. What I once thought was the end of the journey I find is just the beginning. Each Saturday I will share with you the things I am learning along the way, my thoughts about the process, and hopefully encourage you a little on your own journey.

When I first really thought about writing this novel I signed up for the Apprentice Program offered by The Christian Writers Guild (CWG). In the regular email newsletters from the CWG I read about their annual conference, Writing for the Soul. At first I resisted going. It was expensive and I had a wonderful mentor and was learning a lot. I didn’t think I had much to gain from a conference.

I finally caved and went to my first conference in 2009 and have been to several others since then. Was I surprised when I found there was so much more than I expected! If you’re considering whether it’s worth the money, here are some things you gain from attending one.

* Conferences offer the chance to learn from some great teachers. I have learned from Liz Curtis Higgs, Sammy Taylor, Angela Hunt, Karen Ball, Dennis Hensley and many other amazing writers. I have found the Christian writing community is oh so willing to share their knowledge with others.

* Conferences offer the chance to meet with agents and publishers face-to-face. To be honest, I have not yet taken advantage of the appointments offered at big conferences. I encourage you to research the folks who will be available to meet with you and go prepared to talk about your work with them. I’m hoping to attend a conference this spring and if I am able I will have at a minimum my book proposal ready to present. Yeah, you risk the possibility your work won’t be right for them, but feedback is a great way to grow in your craft.

* Conferences offer the chance to get to know other writers. At one conference I attended I had the opportunity to meet a young author who had an award winning novel out and another coming out soon. Our time was brief, but since then we’ve become friends on Facebook and she has encouraged me so much. It’s great to hear, “I’ve been there, Tammie, and I know what it feels like.” At the same conference I also met a woman who had the same mentor as I did. We too became friends over Facebook and are now part of a writer’s accountability group that has become such a special part of my life.

Opportunities abound at Christian writer’s conferences.  Even published authors can benefit from the interaction with fellow writers. I do believe that conferences and seminars are a great way to build your career.

The Worship Write Witness chapter of the ACFW is sponsoring their 4th Annual Peak Writing Conference in Colorado Springs on February 4 featuring award-winning, best-selling author Tracie Peterson. I attended this conference last year and was very pleased with it. The smaller scale allows for intimacy and interaction that heightens the experience. For more information check out the information on the ACFW Colorado web site.