Well, I had a great weekend at the Scottish Association of Writers conference, even though the hotel had a problem with the heating on one of the coldest, snowiest weekends of the year! They did eventually provide some industrial heaters to thaw us out, but the warmth of the writers attending ensured we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Our programme is heavily filled with competition adjudications - we anonymously enter the various competitions earlier in the year and anticipation is high as we listen to the judges criteria, opinions and results. We also receive a written critique on any work we enter. Friendly rivalry between all the represented Scottish writing groups adds to the fun, as we wait to see which group's members has the biggest number of mentions - our writing group did very well! I was stunned to come second in the Crime Novel competition as this is my first attempt at writing crime (it's set in Victorian times). We have to enter between 10,000 and 15,000 words plus a synospsis, and I've been advised to get the novel finished!
The rest of the weekend is taken up with seminars or workshops, chatting, eating and browsing the bookshop. An after dinner speaker both evenings kept us entertained until it was time to go and watch the short drama sketches or head for the bar.
I'd definitely advise all writers to try and attend at least one writing conference. Apart from the opportunity to meet other writers and discuss markets, problems, or ideas, we all continue to learn about our craft no matter how long we've been writing and getting published. And it's so inspiring talking about writing all weekend!
A few conferences I know of are: National Association of Writers' Groups, York Festival of Writing and Winchester Writing Festival. I'm sure you'll be able to find many more around the country.
If anyone likes slightly dark YA fiction that also appeals to adults, you might want to have a look at the featured YA book, Roman (Saints and Sinners) on my Flights of Imagination blog today.