Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: writing conference for the Digital Age

Image via Bill_Owen Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Bill_Owen Flickr Creative Commons

Writing conferences are extraordinarily valuable. We work in a creative field and sure, we can sit at a keyboard and write a book. But, without training and guidance, we can make our path to successful publishing far longer than it might have been with outside expert help. We open ourselves to learning by trial and error, which can cost time, money and be a real ego beating.

I joke that I should have called my social media book, I Did All The Dumb Stuff So You Don’t Have To. I did everything wrong. I believed because I was “smart”, I didn’t need help.


When it came to writing a novel, I spent four years trying to fix a train wreck. With social media, I spent two years undoing building a brand under a cutesy moniker. When it came to blogging, I blogged for a year and a half before I hit over 85 views a day because I was listening to “experts” instead of intuition. When I launched WANA International, I didn’t understand a key fundamental of life and business—Talk is cheap.

Understand the details and then you know 1) when someone is selling BS 2) you can keep others accountable 3) you will save time and money.

If we don’t know how to look for web designers, cover artists, formatters, what they should cost and what questions we should ask, we set ourselves up to be taken advantage of. We also might rely on a brand name. I know when we began teaching classes at WANA International, we chose Go To Webinar, because it supposedly was the best. That was a $1500 mistake. Their technology never worked and I refunded more than we made.

Good thing is that sometimes mistakes can lead to better things, but wouldn’t it be better to just find that better thing to begin with?

Knowledge is Power

Why are you looking for an agent? Do you know why you need one in the new paradigm? Why do you want to choose your publishing path? Why is your novel being rejected or not selling? What are the elements of a good cover and how can that impact sales? What is an author brand? What works? What is a time-suck that leads to pain, suffering and chocolate ODs?

Conferences are fabulous for connecting with experts. We recruit those we feel will offer great value, whether it is craft, business, publishing or social media. The smart writer learns from her mistakes, but the wise writer learns from the mistakes of others. Conferences connect us to people who’ve been there and can shorten our learning curve.

Every day is precious. You will never live THIS day again. It is ONE event in human history. Why not make it count? Time is a nonrenewable resource.

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Connection is Vital

We don’t need to know everyone and everything. We simply need to know enough people to gain advantage from The Six Degrees of Separation. I don’t know all the answers, but I don’t need to. I’ve met enough people on social media and at conferences that I likely know someone who knows the answer. OR, they can direct me to a person who has what I need.

Conferences allow us to network. We can make friends, create a support group, and even meet authors who might blurb for our books. If we are unsure of a publishing path, we can listen to others. Which agents are great? Which indie houses are worth a look? Which cover designers are professional and affordable?

Word of mouth is far more valuable than a fancy ad. I know. I spent $3000 for a web designer for her to essentially install a $100 plug-in. The designer was a fraud who knew how to dazzle and frighten with tech-speak I didn’t understand. At the time, I didn’t yet know Laird Sapir (who is a WANA and who we now trust for all web work). At the time, I had a feeling I was being taken, but was too overloaded to do more research. It was a costly mistake I will never repeat, but sadly one I could have easily avoided with the right guidance.

Jay Donovan of Tech Surgeons, WANA's Digital Dark Knight
Jay Donovan of TechSurgeons, WANA’s Digital Dark Knight

There are few lessons better learned than the ones that make us feel like a raging idiot. But, I am not too proud to tell you guys I’ve fallen for the Magic Beans. This is why I work so hard to blog and to bring you WANACon. My goal is that my mistakes offer some greater value to the writing community.

Transition from Hobbyist to Professional

Like the protagonists in our books, we too have turning points in our author journeys. A conference is our way of accepting the challenge and rising to the call. It means we are willing to invest in our dreams. We transition from a hobbyist to a professional. Professionals seek information, guidance and are unafraid to put their money where their mouth is.


Granted, this can be tough. I know. When I went to my first conference many years ago, I was living on Ramen an praying the lights would stay on. But I knew something was lacking and that’s why I wasn’t making any headway. That first conference changed everything and was the best investment I ever made. Something inside shifted. I walked in a wanna-be and left a pre-published author. I took myself more seriously and, as a consequence, others began taking me more seriously as well.

There are a lot of fabulous conferences out there with hardworking people putting together the best selection of experts they can recruit. I strongly recommend attending a conference this year. WANACon will never fully replace an in-person conference, but we can:

1. Be a Supplement

For years it didn’t matter if we only attended one conference a year. Publishing had barely changed in twenty years. In the Digital Age? It changes by the moment. WANACon can keep you abreast of all the shifts in the industry and keep you informed so your decisions are sound ones.

2. Be a Start

Many new writers are pinching pennies and working a full-time job. WANACon has over 20 presentations on craft, social media, business, publishing, branding, etc. We have agent and editor pitch-sessions and they are all yours to enjoy from home. Our conference is virtual and the closest thing to the real deal without a holo-deck. Other conferences might record sessions, but those cost extra. At WANACon, recordings are included so you don’t miss anything.

This WANACon does have a romance emphasis, but we are also here to help guide those who are in the NaNoWriMoWTHNow? boat.

Our conference is tailored to work around those with a job and family who might not have the luxury to drop $1000 or more and 4-7 days attending a traditional conference. Many writers are from emerging markets like Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and WANA is here to support you, too.

No airfare, hotel, babysitting or time off work. We’ve recruited talent that is just as good as any conference in the country. NYT/USA Today best-selling authors, top social media experts, successful traditionally published authors and self-published authors and more.

Completely ABSURD TSA searches NOT included.
Completely ABSURD TSA searches NOT included.

We still have Early Bird Pricing. Sign up HERE. Also, we always kick off with PajamaCon, which is FREE. You can get a sense of what the conference is like because we know are cutting edge and some of you might want to dip a digital toe in the digital waters. WANA is reinventing the conference for The Digital Age. PajamaCon is also how we ease you into what to expect and make sure any technical issues can be sorted so you can enjoy WANACon worry-free.

Also, the FABULOUS Jami Gold has more details about WANACon AND a raffle for you to win back the cost of admission, so check out HER BLOG!

Whether you choose WANACon or another conference, I cannot recommend conferences enough. Take that vital step to invest in yourself and your dream. Save time by making better choices and connecting with people who can help.

What are your thoughts? Have you never attended a conference? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you witnessed in yourself after going to a conference? I HIGHLY recommend WANACon (of course) but the Dallas Fort Worth Writers’ Workshop Conference is one of my all-time favorites. I also love RWA conferences, even the mini-cons. Cannot recommend ANYTHING RWA enough. What are some conferences you’d recommend?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

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Welcome to WANACon. We are here to serve you.
(Image via Flikr Creative Commons user KB35)

This week, we’ve been talking about WANACon, yet some of you might have questions. How does this work? What will the experience BE like? WANACon is very different than any conference. Our goal is to get as close to the actual conference experience as possible so presentations will be live, where you can see the instructor and interact, ask questions and gain valuable feedback.

All sessions but two are recorded in case you happen to miss anything. Susan Spann’s legal classes are the only ones not recorded, but Susan, being the kind and generous gal she is, has a PDF full of the information she’s teaching that she will freely share to attendees.

This is a conference for ALL kinds of authors, traditional and non-traditional.

We have experts from all areas of the industry; traditional, indie and self-publishing.

The Classroom

Our classroom is powered by innovative technology that was originally designed for homeschooling children. This means it is very simple and user-friendly. Here are some Classroom FAQs. Most computers (if you’ve purchased within the past four years) will be just fine.

Yes, it is a WORLDWIDE Conference

The conference schedule is based off EST (NYC time). We understand that some of you might have some late nights or early mornings, but that’s nothing compared to the jet lag you’d have if you had to travel to the States for this kind of line-up. For sessions you can’t make, the recording will be available to you.

We are working on teleportation technology for future conferences, but Jay has to build me a real light-saber first :D. When it comes to the writing conference experience, this is the best option we have for our writer friends across The Pond or Down Under.

The Process

Upon registration, we will e-mail you instructions, but the process is a little like this. Each day of the conference has it’s own password to gain entry. If you purchase one day, you will get one password. Purchase both and you get two passwords. Purchase an agent pitch, and you will have a third password.

You will go to The WANACon page. Off to the right, you will see this:

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There are only TWO conference rooms. Classroom A is for all of the classes and Classroom B is for agent pitches. You will (for the conference) select Classroom A, then enter your name, and then the password. At this point, your computer will open our digital classroom and you will see this appear:

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This is to connect you into the classroom, so you want to click ALLOW and then Join Audio.

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Off to the left, you see where all the listener’s names appear (it’s why you enter your name when logging in. The center of the screen is where instructors can upload a Power Point, or (more likely) where you will watch them present, live, in-person and real-time.

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Captain America wears a Scrunchee. The truth is out. Where you see my face…I mean Captain America is where you will see the presenter. Notice off to the right, there is an IM window.

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The IM window allows you to chat with each other, to ask the presenter questions. It’s also a way for you to let Jay the Digital Dark Knight know if you are having any troubles with the audio. Notice there is a main IM window, then next to it, there is a tab with a +.

This is a way to send messages privately, so should you have any technical issues, Jay can troubleshoot with you one on one. Thus far, I’ve had amazing success with this system, but issues DO happen. That is the nature of technology.

Now notice in this picture, I am the only one in class, but in the conference this will be populated with all of you (our attendees). Remember you had to join the audio? Here is where your presenter can mute the class, then later unmute for Q&A.

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If you have a question, our WANA Digital Classroom has a way you can raise your hand.

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Just click the icon that looks like a hand and that icon will appear next to your name. At the appropriate point, the instructor can then unmute your audio and allow you to ask your question.

All audio and IMs (except the two legal classes) are recorded in case you miss something. If you happen to live in a part of the world where you just can’t make it until four in the morning, no worries. Attend the ones you can and get the audio for those you miss.

The agent pitch sessions work the same way. You can (if you choose) activate your webcam, which is the middle icon that looks like a web cam.

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This will be in the upper left quadrant (refer to above image). BBB will give you a preview of your video so you can check your hair, then you press a PLAY button and your video will appear. Then the person on the other end can just drag that box front and center so you can be face-to-face. If you’ve ever chatted on Skype, then the experience is familiar.

After each presentation, Jay will clear the classroom and you will log back in. This is to help us keep the recordings separate.

To make sure everyone gets a chance to get acclimated, we are having a social time tomorrow night. This will give you an opportunity for you to get an idea of what our classrooms are like. It will also give us an opportunity to fix any issues you may have before the conference.

Most of the time the audio works right off your computer. Some computers may require a headset. I just use my cell phone headset in those cases. There is also a call-in number in the IM box.

There will be continual tech support and many of the WANA instructors will be there to help shepherd anyone who gets lost. Additionally, we have backup speakers in case of any technical difficulty. Captain America has volunteered to teach about how to write great villains. He’s fought plenty.

The goal of WANACon is to give you a true conference experience from home. One of the most valuable aspects of any conference is the face-time with experts, and we have a bunch of those.

Our line up:

WANACon 2013 Speakers and Agents

Best-Selling Author Candace Havens – Keynote Speaker

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Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous,Charmed & ReadyCharmed & DeadlyLike A CharmThe Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes. Her new venture is writing for the Blaze line of Harlequin. Those books include Take Me If You DareShe Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. Her books have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards.

She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1800 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association.

New York Times & USA Today Best-Selling Author Shirley Jump – Keynote Speaker

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Shirley Jump is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She has sold twenty-five novels and now writes stories for Harlequin/Silhouette and Kensington Books about love, family and food—the three most important things in her life (though, there are many days when the order is reversed), using that English degree everyone said would be so useless. Read excerpts, see reviews or learn more about Shirley at:

New York Times Best-Selling Author Allison Brennan

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New York Times Bestselling Author Allison Brennan is the author of nineteen novels and several short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.

Allison is currently writing the Lucy Kincaid series about an FBI recruit. The fifth book, Stalked, is on sale now. Stolen will be out on June 4, 2013, followed by Cold Snap on 10.29.13. Also, she’s thrilled to announce a new mystery series that will launch in March, 2014 starting with Maximum Exposure. For more information about investigative crime reporter Maxine Revere, visit her website,

Marcy Kennedy

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Marcy Kennedy is a fantasy writer and freelance writer and editor who believes there’s always hope. Sometimes you just have to dig a little harder to find it. In 2007, she won the suspense/thriller category of Writer’s Digest’s Popular Fiction Competition, and in 2009, she won the grand prize. In 2011, she was honored to win the short feature category in the Canadian Christian Writing Awards. Although she still writes magazine and newspaper articles and edits projects for small businesses and individuals, her first love has always been fiction. Marcy is currently working on a co-written historical fantasy for the general market.

Jared Kuritz

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Jared Kuritz is the Director of the La Jolla Writer’s Conference and a Managing Partner with STRATEGIES Literary Public Relations—a San Diego-based firm that works with NY Times bestselling authors and first time authors alike.  Unlike traditional PR firms, STRATEGIES works with many authors from the infancy of their projects to help decide their business model, the most ideal method(s) of publication, and the proper platform building activities.

Award-Winning Author Joshua Graham

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Winner of the International Book Awards (Beyond Justice),
#1 bestselling author Joshua Graham’s award-winning novel Darkroom hit 3 bestseller lists on Amazon the night of its release.

CBS News described Darkroom as a book with “action, political intrigue and well-rounded characters…a novel that thriller fans will devour.”

Publishers Weekly described Beyond Justice as: “A riveting legal thriller…breaking new ground with a vengeance…demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”

Suspense Magazine listed Beyond Justice in its BEST OF 2010, alongside titles by Scott Turrow, Ted Dekker, Steven James and Brad Thor.

His short story The Door’s Open won the HarperCollins Authonomy Competition (Christmas 2010.)

Writing under the pen name Ian Alexander, Graham debuted with his first Epic Fantasy novel Once We Were Kings, an Amazon #1 Bestseller in multiple categories and Award-Winning Finalist in the SciFi/Fantasy category of The USA “Best Books 2011? Awards, as well as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category of The USA “Best Books 2011? Awards, and an Award Winner in the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards in the Teen/Young Adult category. Once We Were Kings is available in e-book and hardcover editions.

J.E. Fishman

J.E. Fishman
J.E. Fishman

Former Doubleday editor and literary agent, J.E. Fishman is author of the critically acclaimed animal-rights thriller Primacy, the comic mystery Cadaver Blues (A Phuoc Goldberg Fiasco), and the new financial thriller The Dark Pool. He also sponsors The 1000-Word Cliffhanger Contest. Find out more and follow him through

Literary Agent Helen Zimmermann

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Helen Zimmermann has been a marketing executive at The Crown Publishing Group, worked as the events director at an independent bookstore, and founded her agency in 2003. Her experience gives her unique and invaluable insight into each project that she works on. She is well aware of the value of in-house buzz, online marketing, store placement, social media, author platform, etc. and works hard to make sure all of these marketing components are in place for each and every project.

It is her goal to successfully steer her clients through the entire publication process, from writing, editing and polishing the content to marketing, publicity, production, and all aspects of the publication process. She has been a member of AAR since 2007.

Jenny Hansen

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Jenny Hansen has been teaching software courses for more than 15 years in both live and online environments. Her ability to teach students at all levels has made her a primary trainer in many large projects for companies like Nestlé, Capital Group, Kaiser Permanente and CBS.

Currently, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm in addition to her training for WANA International. She writes memoir and women’s fiction, and has loads of fun blogging at More Cowbell. You can also find her on Twitter at @jhansenwrites.

Jason Chatraw

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Jason Chatraw is the co-founder and CEO of Green E-Books, a small company he started three years ago with two other publisher but who quickly left him when their personal publishing companies became incredibly successful. For the past 23 years, Jason has been involved in the publishing industry on various levels.

He’s served as a sports editor of a daily newspaper, assistant editor on a million-circulation magazine, and written for The New York Times, and ghostwritten, co-authored or authored nearly 20 books. For the past few years, his focus has been on eBook publishing. As an eBook architect, Jason has designed more than 200 eBooks and has helped previously published authors find a new following through converting out-of-print titles into eBooks.

Lisa Hall-Wilson

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Lisa Hall-Wilson is a freelance writer published across Canada specializing in marketing copy for faith-based non-profits, and short non-fiction pieces for magazines and newspapers. She specializes in interviews, profiles, and social justice initiatives. She’s passionate about making this world a better place one get-off-your-butt-and-do-something article at a time. She writes dark fantasy novels to find the authentic, the real, the heart-of-the-matter, because she’s convinced that the truth sets you free.

Best-Selling Author Aaron Patterson

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Aaron Patterson is the author of the best-selling WJA series, as well as two Digital Shorts: 19 and The Craigslist Killer. He was home-schooled and grew up in the west. Aaron loved to read as a small child and would often be found behind a book, reading one to three a day on average. This love drove him to want to write, but he never thought he had the talent. His wife Karissa prodded him to try it, and with this encouragement, he wrote Sweet Dreams, the first book in the WJA series, in 2008. Airel is his first teen series, and plans for more to come are already in the works. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his family, Soleil, Kale and Klayton.

Intellectual Property Attorney Susan Spann

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Susan Spann is a practicing California attorney with over ten years’ experience in intellectual property, publishing and contract law. Her publishing clients include book and magazine publishers, authors (both traditionally and  independently published), and developers of e-books and digital apps. She is also the author of  Claws of the Cat (St. Martin’s/Minotaur, July 2013), Book 1 of the Shinobi Mysteries featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori.

Literary Agent Gordon Warnock

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Gordon Warnock is a Senior Agent at Andrea Hurst Literary Management. He is a frequent teacher and speaker at conferences and MFA programs from coast to coast and a member of the oldest author services firm in the nation. His client list is an even balance of seasoned veterans and promising new voices including Robert V. Taylor, Howard Steven Friedman, and Tanya Chernov.

Gordon seeks to establish involved, long-term working relationships with talented and dedicated authors in such areas as: commercial fiction, graphic novels, contemporary YA and new adult, memoir, political and current affairs, pop-culture, self-help, humor and cookbooks. He is not looking for: religious fiction, genre fiction, new age, children’s, middle grade or anthologies.

Literary Agent Laurie McLean

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At Larsen Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco, Northern California’s oldest literary agency founded in 1972, Laurie McLean represents adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, horror, hip new westerns, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, etc.) as well as middle-grade and young-adult children’s books. She looks for great writing, first and foremost, followed by memorable characters, a searing storyline and solid world building.

For more than 20 years Laurie ran a multi-million dollar eponymous public relations agency in California’s Silicon Valley. She is passionate about marketing, publicity, negotiating, editing and a host of other business-critical areas. She is also a novelist herself, so she can empathize with the author’s journey to and through publication.

Laurie is the dean of San Francisco Writers University at and a key member of the management team of the San Francisco Writers Conference, In 2012 she and her author partners formed two ePublishing companies: for out-of-print vintage romance books, and for classic out-of-print tween and teen children’s books.

Check out her agent blog,, for tales of the agenting life, and the agency’s site,, for valuable information and links.

Literary Agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg

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Agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg joined Larsen Pomada as an Associate Literary Agent in 2012 to represent young adult and middle grade children’s book authors, and adult romance authors. Over the past four years Pam has become one of the top YA book bloggers in the country at She also partners her blog with Hicklebee’s, a children’s bookstore in San Jose, CA.

Pam writes supernatural YA and MG fiction and is represented by Laurie McLean, also of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents. She lives in the Bay Area of California with her Dutch husband, two children–a boy and a girl the perfect set–a Jack Russell terrier, a bull dog puppy, and a small guinea pig. It is her greatest dream to own a menagerie.And finally, MOI!

Social Media Jedi Kristen Lamb

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Kristen Lamb is the author of the #1 best selling books, “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.”

She is currently represented by Russell Galen of SGG Literary NYC. In her free time, Kristen trains sea monkeys for the purposes of world domination….when she isn’t trying to saw through her ankle monitor.

Registration is open through Saturday, but seats are limited and filling.


Again, here is where you can view the full conference schedule.

Sign up for BOTH DAYS of WANACon for a mere $125 (this includes ALL the parties and Surprise Pajama Sunday). Register HERE.

If you can only do one day? No problem! Registration is $75. Register HERE for DAY ONE or HERE for DAY TWO.

Ready to get an agent? Sign up for Agent Pitch Sessions HERE.

We hope to see you at WANACon and PAJAMACon. Seats are limited, so sign up asap. If you can’t attend WANACon, please at least help us spread the word. Since we don’t believe in traditional marketing or spam, WANA relies on genuine word of mouth. Please help spread the WANA love. Sow love and support then see what grows.

Do you have any more questions about WANACon? We are happy to help how ever we can, so ask away!