ant to attend a writer’s conference but just can’t? Well, now you can, right in your own home. No need to worry about conference clothes, finding a sitter for the kids or coming up with the extra money to travel. Just settle in at your computer and enjoy. I chatted with Lea Schizas, co-founder of the Muse Online Writer's Conference not long ago. Here are all the details!
WOW: Just what is the Muse Online Writer's Conference? When and how did it come about?
(Photo of Lea Schizas)
Lea: Okay, let me start with the ‘what’: The Muse Online Conference is a FREE conference, helping writers get together to mingle and network with some of the professionals in this business.
When: We held our first online conference in 2006 and had close to 1,300 attendees join us from around the world. This is the beauty of an online conference--you don’t have to travel, no need to spend for hotel accommodations, no need to worry about what to wear or make-up. All you really need to do is take a whole week off from work/school so you don’t miss the FREE workshops we have to offer.
How: I had posed a question, along with my co-founder Carolyn Howard-Johnson, as to how many writers have attended a ‘face-to-face’ conference. There were three consistent answers that kept jumping out at me:
1- Can’t afford to go to one
2- Too far to travel
3- Disabled/incapacitated in some way and cannot attend.
I thought how sad that so many writers were missing out on a chance to network with other professionals in this industry. So, the Muse Online Writers Conference came to be.
WOW: I love to attend writer's conferences and know about those hindrances first hand. What are the benefits of an online writing conference versus attending an actual conference?
Lea: Well, I wrote a few in your first question, such as no monetary expenses in booking hotels, travel expenses, or figuring out what to wear, or how you look. The benefits that are immediate are the handouts everyone will receive before the conference begins. Some of these handouts are full in-depth lesson plans to keep and refer to often.
Let me try to break down the conference’s two main areas and what is going to happen to give your readers a better understanding:
- Real Time Chat Workshops: This is where attendees will get an opportunity to pose ‘real time’ questions to some of our presenters. The link will be given to everyone in September along with the workshop timetable for them to pick as many FREE workshops they are interested in attending.
- Virtual Conference Hall: This will be hosted in a private, invite only forum and this is why it’s important for everyone to register by September 15th, 2007, otherwise they will NOT receive an invite to this area of the conference. In our Virtual Conference Hall, attendees will get to spend a whole week posing questions in any or all of our workshop forum rooms. Last year this was hosted in a private Yahoo board but I wanted to try something different this year to determine from now on where our annual conference will be held.
- Guidelines, along with rules and our handouts will be sent to everyone who registers at some point in September.
WOW: Who should attend the MOWC? Is this just for fiction writers, novelists or anyone with an interest in writing?
Lea: The conference is geared to anyone, regardless of genre writing preference, from mystery, poetry, children’s writing, to erotica romance, suspense, and nonfiction. We have workshops that are specifically geared for reviews, promotion, indexing, writing media releases, and more.
We also invite readers to attend so they can get to know some of their favorite online authors by chatting with them either during their real time chats or even all week in our private forum. Think of the Muse Online Writers Conference as one big once -a-year reunion of stars…writing stars.
WOW: Networking with industry professionals is one of the most important things to do at a conference. Who can our readers expect to meet/network with this year? What are some of the workshops available?
Lea: Okay, I won’t mention all of them or else we’ll run out of space. But I will mention some names and their workshops.
Marilyn Peake: “Keys for Adding Depth to Fiction: Visualization, Symbolism and Intensive Research”
Earl Staggs: Writing Mystery that Sells
Margot Finke: How to Self-Edit Your MG Novel
Beverly Stowe McClure: Myths About Writing for Children
Marshall Turner: Website Essentials and Marketing for Authors
Vickie Kennedy: How To Write A Proper Query Letter
Cynthia Brian: How To Think Like A Producer: How To Get More Publicity
Carolyn Howard-Johnson: The Frugal Editor
Diane J. Newton, J.D. Webb, Pepper Smith: Building A “Can't-Put-Down” Suspense Novel
Lillian Cauldwell: Internet Talk Radio
K. L. Nappier: Protecting Your Work
Shel Horowitz: Book Marketing For Shy and Frugal Authors
Lynn Crain: How To Put Sizzle In Your Love Scenes
Hope Clark: Funds For Writers
Betty Jo Tucker: Writing Movie Reviews
Carol J. Amato: Writing A Teacher’s Guide To Accompany Your Children’s Book
Terry Whalin: Book Proposals That Sell
Lea Schizas: Assaulting A Writer's Thinking
And so many more I simply can’t add here. We have something for everyone, in every category imaginable.
WOW: WOW! How do we sign up to attend?
Lea: I’ve extended the deadline until the 15th of September because The Writer and Long Story Short have showcased us and I thought it only fair to extend the deadline to one and all. But the doors close after this so everyone needs to register before the deadline by going here:
If they experience any problems with our sign-up form, then all they have to do is send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with CONFERENCE REGISTRATION on the subject heading. Within the body of the email I need their name and email address. That’s it.
The Muse Online Writers Conference will be held October 8 – 14, 2007. One week of FREE workshops and FREE chats with our Presenters, along with FREE handouts to be handed out before the conference begins so everyone can read and begin preparing their questions to our Presenters.
To see our complete lineup of workshops, they can link here:
WOW: Thanks so much Lea! It sounds like a wonderful time. In fact, I'm already signed up. I want to encourage all our readers to consider attending. I know you'll enjoy it. And if you still aren't convinced, here are some comments from last year's attendees.
“The Muse online workshop was very inspirational. I was quickly hooked into it by the personal interactions and the generosity of the presenters with their personal feedback and encouraging support. One might think an online conference would be impersonal; it was not in the least.
You know it's good when you jump out of bed like a child on Christmas morning at 3:30 AM to make it to a chat. Two days earlier I didn't even know how to chat. If you told me I would go through over 2000 e-mails with joy, I wouldn't have believed you, yet I did. It was one of the most enjoyable weeks of my life. Thank you.”
THANK YOU for putting on such a professional, thought-provoking, and inspiring conference. I have been in the writing doldrums for about six months and now I'm itching to get back to work. I don't know how you pulled it off, but you did! This was incredible and I'm ready for next year. Kathryn Anzak
The Muse Online Conference was an exciting, not-to-be-missed event! There were offerings for all, from aspiring authors to polished professionals, covering virtually every genre and aspect of writing possible. I will definitely be attending again in 2007!
Linda Morelli - Author, Editor, Reviewer—ATTENDEE
The MUSE Online Conference was hands-down the absolute BEST conference I've ever attended. The quality, availability and enormous generosity of the presenters was superb. It truly was writers helping writers and that goes a long way for all involved. The resources, contacts, and writing friends I've made at this conference will be with me for years and I plan to share my experience and knowledge with any writer I can. I feel this is like "Pay It Forward", and the feeling warms the spirit. Strongly recommended for anyone serious about their writing.
-Lisa J. Haselton—ATTENDEE