35 Outstanding Writing Conferences in October 2021

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This October there are nearly three dozen outstanding writing conferences. You can attend workshops, presentations, readings, discussions, lectures, and critiques via Zoom. Some are also offering workshops in person.

Conferences are not only the best way to meet agents, get tips from other writers, and learn about the publishing industry, they make you feel like a writer.

Plan ahead! Conferences often offer scholarships, but these have deadlines and most close early. If one of these conferences interests you, put the deadline date on your calendar for next year.

For a full list of conferences, organized by month, see Writing Conferences. While nearly all of those are in the United States, you can find links on that page that will take you to world-wide conference lists.

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Bookgardan: A Year’s Sustenance for Writers. October 1, 2021 — October 1, 2022: Keene, NY. “Devote a year to writing your book in community with an intimate group of dedicated writers, nurtured from start to finish by acclaimed author, seasoned editor, and literary mentor Kate Moses. The program opens and closes with week-long fall residency intensives at Craigardan, a secluded artists’ retreat set at a circa-1800s farm nestled in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. From the first residency onward Kate will provide writers the structure, tools, and guidance required to cultivate and nourish their manuscripts, with the goal of bringing projects to fruition (a full first draft, a revised draft, or meeting an individual goal) by program’s end. Throughout the year, writers will receive ongoing individual and group mentorship, one-on-one monthly conferences in response to their manuscript submissions, and take part in online craft tutorials, group seminars, interviews with published writers and publishing professionals, and other opportunities for connection with like-minded artists sharing in an often solitary endeavor. Bookgardan culminates twelve months later — once again syncing with the autumn harvest — with a second Craigardan residency focused on the business of writing and publishing, the sustenance of lasting fellowship, and a deserved celebration. Limited to a maximum of 6 participants each year.” Will be held online and in person.

The Loft’s Wordsmith Conference. October 2021, Minneapolis MN. “The conference is intended for those ready to pitch their work, those already with a book out or with an agent, and those who want to get more prepared to publish their work. It’s intended for prose writers and poets, genre and literary writers, beginning and advanced. In short, we are working hard to pull together a gathering that will feature meaningful sessions, workshops, one-on-one pitch and craft meetings, and networking opportunities for writers of all levels and genres.” Will be held online.

Idaho Writers Guild Conference. October 1–2, 2021, Boise, Idaho. Meet with agents, editors, and authors. Panel discussions, workshops, and a keynote speaker. Your registration — $195 for IWG members, $225 for non-members. Canceled.

Write on the Sound Writers’ Conference and Pre-Conference. Oct 1–3, 2021: Edmonds, WA. WOTS offers the opportunity to explore various writing craft techniques with nationally recognized industry professionals in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Will be held online.

Gold Rush Writers Conference. October 1–4, 2021, Mokelumne Hill, CA. “Writing professionals will guide you to a publishing bonanza through a series of panels, specialty talks, workshops and celebrity lectures. Go one-on-one with successful poets, novelists, biographers, memoirists and short story writers.” Writing workshops in Autobiography/Memoir, Children’s, Fiction, Marketing, Non-fiction, Poetry, Publishing, Romance, Travel, Young Adult. Individual sessions available.

Picture Book Summit. Oct 2, 2021, Online. A one day live event for picture book writers including author keynotes, interviews, workshops and agent & editor panels. Recordings provided for attendees for four months post-conference.

Orion Nonfiction Writers’ Workshop. October 2 — November 6, 2021. Online. This nonfiction course taught by Jessica J. Lee will center on long-form nature writing, personal essays, and a wealth of contemporary work inspired by the more-than-human world. We’ll examine ways of portraying our changing planet on the page, considering not just place and nature in our writing, but also the commitments such writing can make. For example, we’ll ask how readers can be excluded from or invited into environmental conversations, how writing about land engages with issues of access and migration, and how writing about nature is necessarily tied to struggles for justice and a better world. Six consecutive Saturdays from 12–3 p.m. ET. Application Period: August 1–15, 2021.

Ozark Creative Writers Conference. Oct 7–9, 2021: Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Workshops by published authors, editors and agents; Publishers Row, independent publishers available to hear about your next project; Writing contests available to all participants.

Women Writing the West 2021 Conference. October 7–9, 2021. “Women Writing the West resonates the inspiration of Colorado Springs for its 2020 Virtual Conference. Just as mountain climbers find the niches necessary to scale vast heights, so we, too, will discover our own niches in craft, identity, and platforms. We’ll tackle methods to mount our own walls and climb to our summits. We’ll discover endless vistas of possibilities and create our personal visions, as endless as the views around us.” Will be held online.

New York Comicon. October 7–10, 2021. On Youtube. New York Comic Con is the East Coast’s biggest popular culture convention: Show Floor plays host to the latest and greatest in comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies and television; Panels and Autograph Sessions give Fans a chance to interact with their favorite Creators; Screening rooms feature sneak peeks at films and television shows months before they hit big and small screens. Online format.

San Francisco Writing Day Workshop. October 8–9, 2021: Online. A full-day “How to Get Published” event. “This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more.” Online format.

The Pacific Coast Children’s Novel Workshop & Retreat. Oct. 8–10 & 22–24, 2021: Santa Cruz, CA. Intensive seminar offers editor or agent feedback on selected whole-novel manuscripts, including two in-person consults with your mentor. Editor and agent critiques on your polished, opening chapters. Faculty includes Sarah Shumway of Bloomsbury USA, Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media, Allison Hellegers of Stimola Literary Studio and more. Will be held online.

Be a Better Freelancer October 8–10, 2021: St. Louis, MO. Annual conference for freelance writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, graphic artists, website managers and developers, etc., with presenters offering guidance and tips on marketing, promotions, new skills and other business aspects of freelancing. Focus: Nonfiction.

James River Writers Conference. October 8–10, 2021: Richmond, Virginia. The conference will feature pitch sessions with agents and panel discussions for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. The conference will also offer pre-conference master classes on October 8. The keynote address will be given by fiction writer David Bowles. Participants include poets Roscoe Burnems and Mila Cuda; fiction writers Mike Chen, Alechia Dow, Kosoko Jackson, and Ruta Sepetys; nonfiction writer Shonda Buchanan; and literary agents Erica Bauman (Aevitas Creative Management), Heather Carr (Friedrich Agency), Dawn Michelle Hardy (Literary Lobbyist), Rebecca Podos (Rees Literary), Eric Smith (P. S. Literary), Latoya C. Smith (LCS Literary), and Laurel Symonds (Bent Agency). The cost of the conference, which includes a virtual one-on-one meeting with an agent, is $249 for James River Writers members and $309 for nonmembers. Single-day tickets are also available starting at $130 for members and $155 for nonmembers. The cost of a master class is $50 for members and $75 for nonmembers. The cost of a ShopTalk pass, which includes query letter and first page critiques, is $50 (free for members). The deadline for registration is October 4. Will be held online.

State Writing Conference & Convention, sponsored by The Kansas Authors Club, Oct 8–10, 2021Wichita, Kansas. Writing workshops, panels, and presentations by Timothy Keane, Thomas Fox Averill and more. Will be held on Zoom.

Orion Poetry Workshop. October 10 — November 21, 2021. Six consecutive Saturday afternoons from 3–6pm EDT. Instructor: Nickole Brown. Each six-session Zoom workshop is available for $500. Payment within five days of acceptance will guarantee your spot. Cancellations up until a week before the start of the course will result in a full refund. After that, refunds will be conditional on our ability to fill your spot before the course begins. Application deadline: August 15.

Annual Florida Writers Conference. October 14–17, 2021: Altamonte Springs, Florida. Over 75 workshops, major speakers, agent interviews, professional manuscript critiques, lively social events, and much more.

Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. October 15–16, 2021, Grapevine, Texas. The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is a forum for journalists, writers, readers, students, educators and the general public to listen to, be inspired by and practice their craft at the highest possible level. Every year, the Mayborn Conference gathers some of the most talented storytellers in the country to share their stories, life-changing experiences and expertise with aspiring writers through three days of lectures, panels, one-on-one sessions, and student classes. In addition, the conference includes a variety of writing contests for anyone from high school students to Pulitzer prize winning professionals, who receive hand-made trophies, more than $26,000 in cash awards and have their work published in Mayborn’s journal, Ten Spurs, or anthology, Best American Newspaper Narratives.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference. October 15–17, 2021: Denver, CO. Keynote Speakers: Gail Carriger, Rachel Howzell Hall, and John DeDakis. Faculty includes a wide variety of published authors, marketers, editors, and agents. Opportunities to pitch projects to agents and editors.

American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) Conference. October 15–17, 2021: Rochester, NY. Panels, workshops, readings, a book fair, and opportunities to meet with editors for translators. “The ALTA Annual Conference is a refreshingly collegial gathering of amateurs and professionals alike, both within the profession and outside it, all wholeheartedly committed to fostering, furthering, and supporting the practice of literary translation.” Will be held virtually and in person.

Flathead River Writers Conference. October 15–17, 2021: Kalispell, MT. Writers help writers in this two day conference packed with energizing speakers and workshops. Features: Workshops, MS preparation & submission, working with agents, movie deals, media use, & children’s book publishing.

Haiku North America Conference. October 15 -17, 2021. Winston Salem, NC. Conference devoted to haiku as a literary art. Includes presentations, readings, panels, bookfair, exhibits, banquet, anthology. ​Haiku North America is designed for, and open to, everyone — beginners and seasoned specialists alike. We are expecting participants from Japan, Australia, Europe, and of course, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Workshops, performances, as well as readings, panels, and presentations for all levels of accomplishment will fill the four days, in addition to a very full Tanka Sunday plus for those interested. HNA 2017 saw over 220 attendees.

Gotham Writers Conference. October 15–17, 2021: NY, NY. A writing conference built by agents, for writers, with a faculty of some of the top agents in New York City. Receive focused attention within your genre from some of the best in the business. Will be held on Zoom.

Emerald City Writers’ Conference. Oct 15–17, 2021, Bellevue, WA. Local Romance Writers of America conference, featuring film and television scouts, who will be taking pitches along with editors and agents, keynote speakers, workshops, and a master class. Will be held online.

Craft of Writing Conference. October 16, 2021: Glenpool, Oklahoma. The Craft of Writing Conference is focused on learning the skills needed to be an excellent writer. This includes topics such as plot & story structure, character development, conflict & motivation, point of view, editing — facets of the craft. Faculty: Michael Wallis, Keynote Speaker; Rex Griffin, Tierney James, Julie Kimmel-Harbaugh, Betsey Kulakowski, Christopher Murphy (and others to be confirmed). The conference is free to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend.

6th Annual Broadleaf Writers Conference. October 16–17, 2021: Atlanta, GA. Once again, we have assembled one of the strongest list of writers you will ever find at a conference, with a list of agents, editors and publisher representatives ready to guide you forward! Combined with educational sessions and workshops, the 6th Annual Broadleaf Writers Conference will offer you all that you need to refine and improve your craft and get you on the road toward publication! Will be held online.

Annual Maryland Writer’s Conference. October 16–17, 2021: Baltimore, MD. The Brain to Bookshelf Annual Conference offers over 20 workshops and agent panels. Agent pitches and critiques are available, but agent slots are limited, so register early. Jane Friedman is the keynote speaker presenting two Master Session Workshops. Saturday: Essential Book Marketing Strategies for All Authors Sunday: Today’s Key Book Publishing Paths: What’s New, What’s Old and What’s Right for You?

Writing By Writers Workshop @ Tomales Bay. October 20–24, 2021: Tomales Bay, California. Manuscript and poetry workshops are limited to 12 participants and generative workshops are limited to 15 to ensure an intimate setting.

Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference. October 21–24, 2021: Pasadena, CA. Experienced authors, editors, agents and publishing experts will be on hand, ready to help you develop your own craft and position yourself for success.

Annual Rochester Writers’ Conference. October 23, 2021: Rochester, Michigan. Lectures, Workshops and Panel Discussions in fiction, non-fiction and business of writing presentations. Open to new, working and published writers of all genres. Attendees select four presentations from a dozen to tailor fit their needs.

Kentucky State Poetry Society. October 23–24, 2021. Readings, workshops, panels, and keynote. “The Kentucky State Poetry Society seeks to inspire, encourage, and develop Kentucky’s poets through a wide variety of workshops, lectures, and publishing opportunities. The Kentucky State Poetry Society publishes the biannual literary journal Pegasus, offers a student and adult poetry contest, and hosts an annual poetry conference.” Note: Membership not limited to Kentucky residents. Registration: $15. Will be conducted via Zoom.

Medical Writing and Communication Conference. October 27–29, 2021: San Diego, CA. Workshops in medical writing, designing materials for patients, analysis, clinical reports, and more. Will be held virtually.

Orion Nonfiction Writers’ Workshop. October 27 — December 1, 2021. Online. Instructor: Pam Houston. This will be a workshop in which we focus on all the ways the sensory details that surround us — the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures from the physical world, often the natural world — can give us access to that much more elusive interior landscape we are always trying to access when we write. We will focus on what I believe to be the real artistry of prose writing: the way we dip our ladles into the bottomless pot of metaphor soup of our lived and witnessed experience and pull out what we need; the way we pick up hunks of the physical world and bring them back to the page, translated into language. We will work toward demystifying some of the essential components of prose writing (image, metaphor, structure, dialogue, character, scene, among others) and turning them into comprehensible tools that are at our disposal. Six consecutive Wednesday evenings from 7–10pm ET. Application Period: August 1–15, 2021.

TLA Power of Words Conference. October 29–31, 2021: Scottsdale, Arizona. Conference that explores the use of expressive language arts, including written, spoken, and sung words. Special tracks in Narrative Medicine, Right Livelihood, and Social Change.

Ossabaw Weekend Writer’s Retreat. October 29–31, 2021: Ossabaw Island, GA. Workshops and seminars led by nationally recognized faculty, and evening readings (special emphasis on ghost stories) by faculty and participants. Application deadline: September 15.

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