Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Conference Yoda

by Annette Dashofy

Can it possibly be two whole years since I served as Pennwriters Conference coordinator? Where does the time go?

Yes, here it is. 2011 and the conference is once again to be held in Pittsburgh. I, however, have very little to do with it this time. Once was enough for me, thank you very much. This year, we have TWO conference coordinators, which I think is fabulous. What I wouldn’t have given for a co-coordinator. Or a clone.

Meredith Cohen started out in the job as a solo artist. But then she had the “huge misfortunate” to sign a book deal with all the required re-writes and edits that come along with these things. Rather than let her step down, Pennwriters offered her a partner in crime in the person of Julie Long.

And not wanting to simply throw them into to the deep end of the pool without a lifejacket, I took on a different role.

Conference Yoda.

I sit in my cave in my swamp and help them, I will.

I like it.

They email me questions. I email back answers or suggestions. Meredith has become Skywalker. Julie is Han Solo.

The force is definitely with them. They’ve lined up New York Times Best-seller Jennifer Weiner as Friday’s keynote speaker

and multiple Bram Stoker award winner Jonathan Maberry as Saturday’s luncheon keynote.

Not too shabby.

And they’ve rounded up a nice little group of literary agents and book editors. Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary will be back. (It remains to be seen whether the Victim of the Query Shark puts in a return appearance!) New to the conference are Denise Little (Ethan Ellenberg), Jason Pinter (The Waxman Agency), Barbara Poelle (Irene Goodman), Marci Posner (Folio Literary Management) and Victoria Skurnick (Levine Greenberg Literary Management). Headline Books’ Cathy Teets and Ginjer Buchanan, editor-in-chief of Ace/Roc Books will also be there.

Our own Ramona DeFelice Long will be there again, as will C.J. Lyons. And joining us for the first time will be Becky Levine.

I’m excited! The Pennwriters Conference has always been like a big family reunion, and it still is. The family just keeps growing!

Care to join us? The conference runs May 13-15, with day-long and half-day-long intensive workshops to be held on the Thursday (May 12) prior to the main event. Registration opens March 1st. For more information, check out the newly updated website at

(The pre-conference seminars on Thursday cost $125 for members and $150 for non-members for the whole day; $65/member and $95/non-member for half day. The three-day conference package cost $240/members and $290/non-members. For Friday-only attendees, registration costs $130/members and $185/non-members, and for Saturday-only attendees, the package costs $175/members and $215/non-members. Friday evening dinner with Jennifer Weiner costs $55/members and $75/non-members.)


PatRemick said...

The conference counds great! Ironically, just last night I attended the wrap-up meeting for the Crime Bake conference I co-chaired in November -- and did so knowing I was going to be very happy not to be involved much this year. As you know Annette, these conferences organized by volunteers are a lot of work and worry -- even if they are very successful!!

Joyce Tremel said...

You know I'll be there!

Annette said...

So true, Pat. It's a wonderful thing to look BACK on. But being in the heat of it is maddening.

Joyce, are you planning to stay at the hotel or commute?

Ramona said...

Annette--and Pat--the idea of chairing one of these huge conferences makes my brain hurt.

Kudos, brave Yodas deserve.

Sheila Connolly said...

I hear you! I've stepped into Pat's shoes and am co-managing New England Crime Bake this year. We have great volunteers (something over 20 on the committee), but sometimes it's like herding cats.

I've heard nothing but good things about Pennwriters Conference.

Joyce Tremel said...

Annette, I'll probably commute, but I haven't decided for sure yet. I'd feel guilty staying overnight only 20 miles from home!

Annette said...

Thanks, Ramona. See you at the conference!

Sheila, best wishes with Crime Bake! I've heard great things about it and have hopes of maybe getting up there this year.

Joyce, it's even closer for me, so I haven't decided either.

Fred Connors said...

Nice blog, Annette. Can't wait for the conference. See you 'round.

capaloha said...

Conference Yoda, every conference should have one. May all the attendees have at least one dream come true at the conference.

Elizabeth Kelley said...

Looking forward to being at the conference, seeing friendly faces, and helping those who want goal setting or writing / life balancing help.


Julie Long said...

Conference Yoda is such a gift! We are so incredibly grateful for your wisdom and ability to instill calmness where panic normally resides! -Hans Solo

Annette said...

Julie, I'm happy to be able to help. And even happier that I'm not leading the show this time around! You and Meredith are doing a really super job!

Cheryl Elaine Williams said...

Looking forward to this year's conference. What a great lineup of speakers!

Carol Silvis said...

I'll be there, Annette. Can't wait to see everyone again.

Carol Silvis said...

I'll be there. Can't wait to see everyone again.

Working Stiffs said...

The conference does sound great! Kudos to Meredith and Julie, and Conference Yoda. I'm not sure if I'll be able to be there the whole weekend or not. And as much fun as VQS had, I don't think she'll be there this year!

Congrats, Pat! Shelia, best of luck--I'm sure you'll do just fine!

Paula Matter

Working Stiffs said...

Sorry, Sheila. I always misspell Slyvia, too. Sheila. Sylvia.

P.S. Good thing I'm not in charge of name tags for the con...


Meg Mims said...

What I love is all the different choices attendees have! So unusual to see that in conferences. :-D