Heidi Saxton, Lisa Hendly and the Catholic Writers' Guild have been trying to set up a Catholic writers conference for several months now, but for reasons beyond our control, the live conference is not going to work this year.
So we're going virtual!
The Online Catholic Writers' Conference will be held May 2-9 at www.conference.catholicwritersguild.org. This will be a week-long conference done via forums and live chats and will cover all areas of writing--from characterization to query letter, magazine articles to marketing your books. We're looking for Catholic writers, editors and publishers and those who support quality writing.
How does an on-line conference work? Presenters will have an informational handout posted on the website. (It could be an outline of a lecture or an entire e-book, their choice.) Then they will choose whether to conduct their workshop via forum or live chat or both.
If they choose a forum, they will have a dedicated "space" where they can post messages and receive replies form those taking their workshops. This works very well if they wish to do a class-type workshop. For example, at the MuseOnline Conference this month, several presenters had daily writing exercises. Those who signed up for their workshop got on the forum, read the assignment and did the exercise. Later, the instructor got onto the forum, read the homework posts and commented. Other students commented as well. If you've ever taking an on-line class, you know pretty much how it works.
If the presenter chooses a chat, he will have a scheduled hour in one of the conference chatrooms. A moderator will introduce him, let him make whatever comments he wishes, then directs questions. A transcript is usually made available on the forums afterward for those interested but unable to attend.
Presenters may wish to do both forum and chat.
We hope to have forums for different publishers, and editors where people can simply leave questions-or perhaps present pitches. More on this later.
Finally, there will be "networking" forums: places to put your links, your business info, ask questions, make friends... We'll have one chat room open simply for free chats--the online Lounge.
Those wishing to attend will sign up at the website. Before the conference begins, they will be given a password to enter the forums and chat sites. Form there, they are free to download handouts, attend chats and participate in forums. the only exceptions will be those class-type forums with limited participants--and even then, everyone is welcome to read, just not comment.
The wonderful thing about online conferences is the flexibility. You can attend the conference all day, looking in each forum, attending all the chats, even hanging out in the online "lounge." Or you can hop onto the site for an hour each night and look at only those things that interest you.
Finally, for those who have books or programs to advertise: the Catholic Writers' Guild is setting up a Convention Store. For $10 for the first ad, $5 each subsequent ad up to $25 total, you can post a cover page/illustration, blurb (up to 200 words) and ordering information. This will stay up until the next online convention.
What's this convention going to cost? ZERO! All we're asking for is donations, which will go toward the expenses of the site and toward a live convention next year. Right now, the plan is to alternate live and online conventions.
So set your calendar for May 2-9 and periodically check this blog or www.conference.catholicwritersguild.org for more details. If you'd like to help, contact me.