How Many Writers Make a Conference?

A few days before I was due to meet my writer friend Laura Montgomery in Culpeper (for a lunch of Chinese stir fry), she announced that she was christening our meal the Midway Writer’s Conference.

We both chuckled. Can a gathering of two really be considered a conference? Despite our laughter, we gave the question serious thought.

We’re old college friends who lost touch over the years and then reconnected in the comments of the wonderful blog run by Passive Guy, aka David Vandagriff.

We were astonished and delighted to learn that our lives had acquired some curious parallels. She’s the mother of twins; I’m the mother of twins. She’d launched herself into indie publishing writing science fiction. I’d done the same writing fantasy.

How cool was that!

After a bunch of cordial emails and some beta reading for one another, we decided to meet up for a cup of tea. After the briefest of pleasantries—“You look just as I remember you!—we talked writer shop for 2 hours straight. At the next meeting we talked for 4 hours, this time mixing publishing shop in with the writer shop talk.

Our latest meeting was 6 hours, with a focus on the marketing angle of indie publishing.

Yes, these really were conferences. Although this time we actually did manage to talk about our kids. Who knows? Maybe next time we’ll even chat about our spouses. 😉

One of the topics we discussed in Culpeper was the nature of genre and whether or not I wrote epic fantasy. Laura blogged about the question (and our conference), so I’m going to quote her. She said:

We tried to figure out if…The Tally Master was epic fantasy or not. 

I was arguing it was. The troll wars rage across the Northlands. Weapons are forged. Our cursed main characters live in a troll tower of monumental proportions. It all seems pretty epic to me.

Jessica demurred.

The hero is a bronze-age accountant. She was telling a small tale. It was a mystery about missing tin, a matter of seemingly little moment.

But, said I, it has large consequences, it’s part of a grand, epic sweep. A light bulb went off in my own mind…

And now I think I’d better send you off to Laura’s blog to read the rest. It’s really not fair for me to steal her audience.

So click HERE and go read. She’s witty in an understated way that I love, so it’s worth the click. I’ll wait while you visit her. Promise. 😉

Did you go?

I’m going to pretend you said, “Yes.” You did, right!

(The Sky Suspended features the patent fight she mentioned. Mercenary Calling presents the mutiny charge in a suspenseful story that also kept me in a ripple of internal chuckles the whole way through. I do love Laura’s dry humor.)

What did you think about her light bulb?

I thought she was clever—and correct—in her assertion that we both like focusing up-close-and-personal on a hero caught in the sweep of epic events.

But does that truly make my books epic fantasy? I know I’ve asked this question before, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to decide the answer for certain.

I’d love to know what you think. 😀



4 thoughts on “How Many Writers Make a Conference?

  1. It was, too, a writer’s conference!

    Thank you kindly for the book mentions. Much appreciated.

    And, lastly, put me down for one epic fantasy vote. But you already knew that. 🙂

  2. Hi, I wish I was there with you two, but Australia is a little too far for me to travel for your meetings. 🙂 It sounded like fun.

    I have been meaning to put an advertisement in my local paper for other local Indie Authors in my area to meet and discuss marketing in the indie world.

    I thought all stories were up close and personal, even if in the middle of a world war because the author usually only follows a few POV characters; General, few front line marines who make a difference, and the enemy headquarters, etc with the rest in the descriptions. 🙂

    • During my meetings with Laura, I’m definitely finding that two brains are better than one, so I hope you can find some local indies to met up with.

      Good point that most stories select only a few characters to follow closely. I think, for me, it’s a matter of emphasis. Sure, the fate of the kingdom or the culture or the clan is important. But my focus is on the life of the individuals I’ve chosen.

      When I think of The Lord of the Rings, for example, it feels like the fate of Middle-earth and the fate of Frodo are close to equal in importance. Indeed, thematically, they are almost echoes of one another, given that magic passes out of Middle-earth and into the Undying West, and Frodo goes West as well.

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