In the Age of Lightning Speed, How Can Writers Keep Up?

Image via Frank Selmo WANA Commons

Image via Frank Selmo WANA Commons

The Digital Age is moving at light speed and there is a new frontier WANA has set out to conquer—the writing conference. First, let me say there is no exact substitute for face-time, for an in-person conference. Yet, just because there isn’t a substitute, doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a supplement.

Publishing is transforming rapidly. Back in 2007, it didn’t matter if we could only make one, maybe two conferences a year. Publishing hadn’t changed all that much in a hundred years. Now?


Facebook rearranges the digital furniture quarterly. Each social platform is constantly adding new features and removing old ones. Don’t get me started with algorithms. How do we use CreateSpace? How do we know what publishing option is best or even how to get started? Some of us don’t learn so well from books. We need face-time with good teachers and professionals who know what they’re doing because they’ve done it.

The Face of the Modern Writer…Times are a Changin’

Who is the modern writer? He looks a lot like the retiree on a fixed income, the mom juggling two jobs, or the Stay-At-Home Dad scrabbling for all the freelance work he can get so he has the joy of being with his children.

In a corporate culture that frowns on taking vacation (and is often stingier than Ebeneezer Scrooge with days off) how realistic is relying on a traditional conference? The economy is suffering and our money no longer goes as far.

Travel is now nothing short of a nightmare.

Arrive an hour and a half early. Get half-undressed. Wait for the TSA to swab snacks for bomb residue, and hope to GOD the plane doesn’t have mechanical issues because, with fewer planes in the air? We might not even make our destination.

Even if a conference is priced reasonably, air travel, parking, food, hotel, and time off work (and possibly babysitting) add up quickly. A $200 conference can become $1000 out-of-pocket quickly (or more).

Many writers have disabilities or health issues. Doesn’t mean they can’t write like the wind, but travel is a beating. I was once stranded in San Diego Airport for 15 hours with nothing to eat—made it home at almost SIX in the morning. Imagine if I was over 65 or in a wheelchair?

DELTA banned me from flying back in 2002 because I “was drunk” and stranded me in Atlanta. I wasn’t drunk, they’d checked the wrong bag, the one with my anti-convulsive medicine and then refused me access to my bag. I wasn’t drunk, I was having complex partial seizures (which slur your speech and affect balance). I’ve been a disabled person flying and it is NO picnic (and I boycotted DELTA for years over this).

I KID you NOT. They are checking my Vienna Sausages for bomb residue.

I KID you NOT. They are checking my Vienna Sausages for bomb residue.

Finding someone to take our kids for three to five days? A challenge even for the best of us. And though the conference is almost always an enjoyable experience, the travel alone can leave us feeling as if we’ve been tossed in a bag of hammers and shaken.

Thus, I started thinking about all the writers who were falling through the cracks, the ones in financial straits, the ones with physical or health limitations, the ones who were older, the writers who couldn’t easily get days off or find reliable childcare. Then what about the emerging markets in the UK, New Zealand, Australia? These countries have writers, but very few conferences. How realistic was it to expect someone to fly to the US from AUSTRALIA? Was it even necessary anymore?

In short? NO.

The Answer? WANACon

WANACon isn’t a glorified blog tour with a chat on Twitter. It isn’t a series of prerecorded classes. WANACon is the closest one can get to the REAL conference experience without leaving home. We had our first WANACon last February and it was AWESOME. I could make dinner and change diapers while listening to NYTBSAs teach me how to better my craft.

We had writers from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, Arab Emirates, all over the continental US and all in ONE PLACE…making friends and learning :D.

I could ask questions and interact real-time. For anything I missed? Recordings were (are) provided. I could lie in bed eating dinner and enjoy a nice glass of wine while learning about publishing contracts.

In a word? HEAVEN.

We are holding another WANACon October 3-5. The 3rd will be an evening session with me to launch and we affectionately call it PAJAMACON. PAJAMACON is to familiarize you with the virtual classroom (which was designed to home-school children and is super easy) and make sure we can head off any tech issues before the start of the conference.

Then, the next two days? DUAL classrooms packed with the best of the best. NYTBSAs, USA Today Best-Selling Authors, award-winning authors, best-selling INDIE authors, top social media experts, e-book and web site experts, and even AMAZON will be there.  I kidnapped recruited the head of CreateSpace to present. Some are returning speakers with new content and some are brand new presenters.

The coolest thing about all of them? They are freely offering their time to help writers and reinvent the writing conference.

All from home and now BOTH DAYS for $119.00 (Early Bird Special). We will have the official schedule posted this week, because eventually you guys can choose to attend PAJAMACON with BOTH days or PAJAMACON with the day of your choice. Yet, with the special? It’s $20 more and you get PAJAMACON and both days, so why not enjoy a few less Frappucinos and enjoy a REAL conference, the ENTIRE conference, from HOME?

TSA pat-downs can be provided, but they work for tips :D.

Hope to see you guys there, and contest winner for my monthly drawing will be announced Friday.

For those who attended WANACon, share your experience. Are you guys excited about trying something new? A conference that comes to you? For an idea of how WANACon looks/operates, check out this blog from February.


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  1. That is awesome! Count me in and thank you!

    • Shawn Mc on September 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm
    • Reply

    The special runs until September 15th. After that, one will have to pony up the extra!

  2. Great blog today! I look forward to it.

  3. Unfortunately as I live in Edmonton, Canada I will probably be at work when these air 🙁
    Maybe another time when I can take the time off work to watch.
    Good luck everyone.

    1. We actually have a LONG day scheduled to accommodate you attending as many live sessions as possible (we know we are catering to a global audience). And the recordings are available too and come with your fee. I will be teaching at least four classes and just my WANA Intl classes average about $50 a piece. So you can see it’s a real bargain if you can make it work. If you can’t, perhaps another time, but we’d love to see you there :D.

      1. Thanks Kirsten I will try…I would love to get professional assistance

  4. I would love to do this, but we’ll be traveling that week. Is there any way to buy a video of the conference afterward?

  5. Reblogged this on Amanda's Words / starfire8me and commented:

  6. Kristen, you’ve got a great list of presenters. Will you be listing the courses they’re teaching as well? I’ve attended several WANA classes and would like to see what’s new versus what I might have already taken. Plus, I know a few other people who might like to attend and would like to share the schedule.

    Thanks for doing this again. It was a great conference last time!

    1. We need to collect two more descriptions and then we will post a “finalized schedule.” I know I will be teaching four classes never offered, and we have A LOT of new speakers. We will be running TWO classrooms instead of one at a time this conference so lots more for the money.

  7. Looking forward to teaching again! It’s a great way to interact.

  8. I can’t wait! I love that I don’t have to worry about taking off work to be there since I can watch the videos later for any that I have to miss.

  9. I so want to participate one day. I really hope I can. It would be incredibly worthwhile.
    Love the lightning pic!
    Have a great evening,

  10. I can’t participate, but I wish y’all the best!

    • Dave Stovall on September 4, 2013 at 9:11 pm
    • Reply

    I “attended” the first WanaCon in February and enjoyed all the classes and the incredible convenience of it all. I was working my day job on one computer and listening to the class speakers on another. It was the best! For those who say that can’t attend, remember, the classes are recorded and PDF’s made available of the class notes. I think Kristen is on to something with this crazy virtual writer’s conference thing.

  11. EMEGHERD!!!! … more WANAconz!

  12. This is great. I am going to work at least some of this into my schedule. MY favorite TSA pat-down moment. I am holding my baby twin sons, one in each arm in a modified football hold and the agent says “Extend your arms.”

  13. Forgot to ask- what time zone?

    1. EST, NYC time. But I am having over a weekend and long days so as many writers can catch live sessions as possible. But, you do get recordings. A full set of recordings from Thrillerfest or RWA Nationals is over $500 and many of those are panels, now workshops/classes. Valuable, but the cost-difference is obvious.

  14. Yay for the Doctor Who reference! And the reference to New zealand 🙂

  15. How US-focussed is the material? The agent game, for one, seems to be wholly different in the UK from the US. My material is UK-centric. Would I waste money signing up to the con? (Which is a marvellous idea, BTW!)

    1. Most of our content is universal; craft, technology, social media, web site design (how to make it work better foe selling books; how to hire a web designer and not get fleeced). I can’t imagine Amazon UK is much different, but Thom can answer those questions, I’m sure.

      I made an executive decision not to have agents at this conference, but February, namely because NY pretty much shuts down beginning of November. I felt it would be a better use of everyone’s time to have a larger pool of agents/pitch-sessions in February’s conference. But this one can get you agent-ready :D.

  16. What a GREAT idea! I’m trying to count my pennies as I type. 🙂

  17. This sounds very interesting. It is going on the calendar. Wonderful idea.

  18. Not to mention that touch technology has changed the platform from productive to consumptive so that even for example one article / story / poem a week is not enough.

  19. hmm, as I want to attend two classes in september I’m not sure I’ll have the money for wanacon. Waah, but I wanna! >.< Gotta get some money scraped in and ignore my need for winter clothes this season.

  20. Kristen, I’m going to be traveling that whole weekend, but I’d love to be able to attend. So I just want to be certain. I know you said recordings are available, but if I register for both days, is everything recorded, or just certain sessions? I know I wouldn’t get the instant interaction, but it sounds like a LOT of valuable sessions that would be worth the money, even if I can’t be there “live.”

    1. You can get all the recordings.

  21. Woo Hoo! More WanaCon!!

  22. Wonderful! I’m so glad I saw this information. Quite interested in it!

  23. One day I’ll be participant. But at this moment I can’t… I really regret that!

  24. I would like to know how my image ended up being used in this blog? This image does not have a Creative Commons copyright and in fact all rights are reserved. It was used without my knowledge, permission or consent and hence I want it removed immediately!

    1. Michael, I already removed it. I did find it in Flickr’s Creative Commons (accidentally typed WANA Commons), so make sure you see if someone has poached it there and have it taken down. Lately there has been an issue with sock-puppets posing as other people even in the writing community. I apologize. As an artist, myself, I work hard to only use art that is free to share and only use images from Creative Commons. I like picking ones with “Attribution” and check the rights because it helps other forms of artists gain audience and get known. But as a thought, we have photographers who regularly contribute images for us to use. This blog has a lot of traffic and I know many of the photographers have benefitted financially because writers need images and I forward them on to those who contribute.

      I regularly have magazines, publishers, editors seek paid images from photographers who contribute because they see them here. Frank Selmo is a professional photographer who lets us use some of his images and it is fantastic free advertisement. I realize some images are special, but there might be some good ones you have you’d like to share and I can include a hyperlink to your site. Your work is really beautiful and it would be a privilege to highlight it.

      If not, now worries. Just know it was unintentional and I am very sorry. There are people who poach images from others. Just know I did try to do my due diligence as a fellow creative person, and I’m so sorry your image wasn’t approved. It was not for lack of effort to protect your work.

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