Monday, November 10, 2014

The Evolution of a Writers Conference: Northern Colorado Writers 2004-2014 ... by Kerrie Flanagan

Pat, thanks for having me as a guest here at your lovely blog. It’s nice to be among so many fabulous writers. When we talked, you asked if I could talk about the annual Northern Colorado Writers Conference happening March 27-28 at the Fort Collins Hilton. I am really excited about the upcoming conference because it will be our 10 year anniversary.

It’s hard for me to believe that a decade ago, children’s author Debbie Dadey and I decided to try our hand at putting on a writers conference. We had LeAnn Thieman as the keynote speaker, Debbie and I each taught a full day workshop (she did children’s writing, I did magazine writing), and we had enough room for 45 writers. We built it and they came; 45 writers attended the event and loved the fact that there was something for them in out northern part of the state.

The following year, I took over the event and I moved it to the Fort Collins Hilton. Twice as many writers attended and as the saying goes, the rest is history. Now, the conference brings in writers, agents, editors and industry professionals from all over the country. In order to maintain a more intimate setting and give everyone attending a chance to connect with each other and the conference faculty, I cap the number of attendees at 130.

Looking back at the authors who have been a part of the conference and the stories that have emerged over the years, it has been an absolute privilege putting this event on for writers.

In 2007, motivation speaker, Jim Davidson was our closing keynote speaker. Although he had an amazing story, Jim hadn’t made it a book yet. In the audience during Jim’s talk was faculty member Kevin Vaughan, a Pulitzer-nominated journalist who worked for the Rocky Mountain News at the time. The two connected and co-wrote Jim’s story. They found an agent and in 2011, their book, The Ledge, An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier was published by Ballantine Books.

In 2010, we were honored to have Stephen Cannell, television writer of shows like Rockford Files and 21 Jump Street, producer, founder of Cannell Studios and novelist, share his experiences with us during his talk. He accomplished so much and when I interviewed him for a blog post, I found out he had severe dyslexia. He was truly an inspiration and determined to make something of himself. A few months after the conference, Mr. Cannell passed away. I was sorry to see him go, but grateful I was able to meet him.

Growing up in the 80’s I have an affinity for all things from that decade. Needless to say, I was thrilled beyond belief when I was able to secure Andrew McCarthy for the keynote speaker in 2013. While working on an article about travel writing, I learned that Andrew was building his name as a travel writer. I sent him a few interview questions for my article, then asked if he would be interested in being the keynote for my conference. He agreed and the conference lined up perfectly with the release of his memoir, The Longest Road Home. Not only is Andrew a talented writer, he was also an inspiring speaker.

LeAnn Thieman, our very first keynote speaker, had two books out at the time of our first conference. She had her memoir, This Must Be My Brother and she was the co-author for Chicken Soup for the Nurses Soul. Since then, she has gone on to co-author 10 more Chicken Soup for the Soul, released another book, Balancing Life in your War Zones and is now a member of the National Speakers Hall of Fame.

So much has happened over the past decade with the conference and I have met some amazing people. I am excited about our 10th anniversary conference in March, and at this time, I am under strict orders from my creative team to not divulge any information yet. Registration will open mid December, so be sure to check out the NCW website for all the wonderful details. I would love to see all of you there and have you help celebrate 10 incredible years.


Kerrie Flanagan is the Director and founder of Northern Colorado Writers, an accomplished freelance writer, writing consultant, instructor, Founder of Hot Chocolate Press and author. Her recent articles can be found in The Writer, Writer’s Digest, the 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and in the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Writer’s Markets. She is the author of Planes, Trains and Chuck & Eddie and Write Away: A Year of Musings and Motivations for Writers.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, that's amazing! It's really grown over the years, hasn't it?

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It takes a lot to put a conference together. That sounds like an amazing one.

Richard Keller said...

My initiation into writers conferences started in 2011 with Kerrie's. It has been a rewarding experience and I make sure to attend every year.

Kerrie, was this good enough? Do I get paid?

Dean K Miller said...

Thanks Pat and thanks Kerrie for all both have you have done for writers in Northern Colorado and beyond. We are blessed to have you in our lives.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for being here, Kerrie. I think I've only missed one of the NCW conferences so far, and every one has been excellent!

John Paul McKinney said...

Pat, thanks for having Kerrie recall this history for us. Kerrie, thank you for the post and especially for the conferences which have served to connect many of us in ways that continue to make our lives as writers more exciting and more productive.

Chris J. Nugent said...

I am so excited for the next round of slipping queries under hotel room doors.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Kerrie.

Kerrie - Thanks for sharing the way the conference has developed over the years. I wish all of you much success as it continues to grow.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia and Kerrie - shows what passion and dedication can do to help others, while providing a great Conference to attend and share lots of writers' lives ... congratulation to Kerrie and have a fun 2015 10 year conference ... cheers Hilary

Kerrie said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by and for your kind, encouraging and congratulatory words. :-)

Chris: If you've already done the hotel room doors, try bathroom stalls this year for something different. ;-)

Rich: Perfect! I will get the 32 cents to you via owl this week.