Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 6, 2011

Philadelphia Writers’ Conference 2011

The PWC took place in Philly on June 3rd,4th, and 5th. In its 63rd year, the conference has seen many changes. New this year was the free parking at the hotel, the use of conferee laptops permitted in workshops, and a reshuffling of the scheduling so that there were no conflicts between same-genre workshops. For example, in past years the two novel workshops were at the same time, not allowing an interested writer to attend both. This year, you could.

I can’t possibly list all the 1-day and 3-day workshops in this single post. You can check out their site to see the breadth and variety of information available, or you can visit my personal blog’s post on Day 1 of the conference, where I do summarize all the workshops. Suffice it to say that there really was something for everyone.

The workshops I attended – Kelly Simmons’ Novel: Plot, Gregory Frost’s Novel: Character, Catherine Stine’s YA & Kids Literature; Jennifer Holbrook-Talty’s Perfect Pitch & Query; Ian Markiewicz’s Writing for New Media/Webisodes; Jerry Waxler’s I Don’t Brake for Writer’s Block; and Kathryn Craft’s 13 Tips & Tricks were all excellent. I heard nothing but good things about all the other workshops as well.

The chance to pitch your work to agents and editors was an added plus, even though many writers (including me!) spent the morning sweating while waiting for their pitch time. Stacia Decker, Agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency; Julie Will, Editor at Rodale Press; Frances Collin, Agent with the Frances Collin Agency; Sarah Yake, Agent with the Frances Collin Agency; and Juliet Grames, Editor with Soho Press were all scheduled to attend. Sarah Yake is an engaging and enthusiastic person who made me feel at ease right away!

This was my first conference ever, but some people have attended year after year. Some people wonder why, after writing for so many years, people still attend. After all, isn’t the advice largely the same every year?

Yes, but there are other reasons for coming to a conference, such as business networking, meeting other writers socially, drawing energy from this confluence of people who share your passion, and the chance to have your spouse watch the baby for the weekend.

And as for the “same advice?” Yes, the advice is often the same when it comes to craft. But you, the writer, are different every year. You have achieved a different level of skill in the intervening twelve months. While you were still struggling to master the basics, advice on how to craft the nuances of your story was useless to you—as meaningless as algebra to an infant. But as you grow into your craft, as you master the basics, then the next level, then the next, the different advice that you hear over and over suddenly makes sense, suddenly becomes useful and meaningful. You understand it on a gut level and are finally able to incorporate it into your writing.

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference is designed to help you bring your writing career to the next level, both in craft and in business. I fully enjoyed my first experience there and intend to come again. In the meantime, I will take the boatload of new information I gathered over these three days and move my career not just forward, but upward.


  1. Hi Kerry!
    I just blogged about the PWC Conference too, and I linked to your post. Check it out here. Catherine


    • Thanks! Your blog entry is a good overview of what was a great conference!


  2. Ah, I see J Ross here too. Hi J, just friended you over at facebook.


    • Hi Catherine. Kerry and I both found a lot of value in your workshop. Glad to get to know you.


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