Tuesday, April 27, 2021

22 Great Writing Conferences in May 2021

Despite the pandemic, spring writing conferences and workshops are going ahead! This May most writing conferences will be held online. Virtual events still offer everything a writer might want: intensive workshops, pitch sessions with agents, to how to market yourself and your books, discussions - there is something for everyone.

For a full list of conferences held throughout the year see Writing Conferences. During the pandemic most of these are being held virtually at reduced rates. Quite a few offer scholarships, so apply early.

Photo credit: Wikimedia


Austin SCBWI 2020 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. May 1 - 2, 2021: Austin, TX. Conference on children's books with keynotes; general sessions; breakout sessions for writing, professional development and illustration; intensives for novels, picture books and illustration; critiques; pitches and more. Will be held online.

The Loft's Wordplay Conference. May 2 - 8, 2021, Minneapolis MN. "The Loft’s Wordplay aims to be Minnesota's largest celebration of readers, writers, and great books. Imagine a weekend full of famous authors and celebrated books; a weekend of readings, conversations, workshops, kids’ activities, demonstrations, and one-of-a-kind happenings with outdoor stages, cooking stages, book signings, quiet reading corners, boisterous parties, food trucks, beer tents, and books, books, books." Will be held online.

Washington Writers Conference. May 4 & 6, 2021: Bethesda, MD. Register by April 1. "Expert sessions with authors and publishing pros on the many paths to publishing — from writing killer query letters and landing an agent to going your own way and utilizing a self/hybrid model — and publicizing your book once it exists!" Will be held online.

Annual Nonfiction Writers Conference. May 5 - 7, 2021: Conducted online.

Atlanta Writers Conference. May 7 - 9, 2021, Atlanta, GA. The conference features publishing panels, pitch sessions, manuscript and query letter critiques, and a workshop on author branding for fiction writers, nonfiction writers, and graphic novelists. Previous participating publishing professionals have included editors Lashanda Anakwah (Simon & Schuster), Sean deLone (Atria Books), Sarah Grill (St. Martin’s Press), Carolina Ortiz (HarperCollins), and Melissa Ann Singer (Tor), and agents Lisa Abellera (Kimberley Cameron & Associates), Ashley Lopez (Waxman Literary Agency), Ann Rose (Prospect Agency), Eva Scalzo (Speilburg Literary Agency), and Saba Sulaiman (Talcott Notch Literary Services). NOTE: You must be a 2021 Atlanta Writers Club (AWC) member to participate in the conference (i.e., your dues need to be current through May 9, 2021). If you are not a current member or need to renew your membership, the registration process will add $50 in nonrefundable annual dues for the Atlanta Writers Club (AWC)–with membership valid for 365 days–to the total amount for the conference activities you select. Conducted via phone.

The Spring Writers' Conference. May 8, 2021: Rochester, MI. Lectures, Workshops, and Panel Discussions with a focus on nonfiction. Open to new writers, working journalists, and published authors. Professional development to move writers to the next level.

Expand Your Imagination: An Online Poetry Workshop. May 9 - June 13. "Join us for this five-week online poetry workshop to expand the geography of your imagination and create new poems that will surprise you. Write to inspiring prompts, get insightful feedback and connect with a supportive community of writers."

Longleaf Writers Conference. May 10 - 17, 2021: Seaside, Florida. "Formerly the Seaside Writers Conference, Longleaf Writers Conference is an annual gathering of creative writers from all over the nation, featuring award-winning writers in poetry and fiction and screenwriting who will offer a full week of intensive writing workshops, one day seminars, school outreach programs, and social events. This event occurs every year in May, and offers the opportunity for beginning, intermediate and advanced writers to celebrate writing, to network with other writers, and to hone their craft. There will also be seminars hosted by professional editors and literary agents who will offer one-on-one consultations. All participants who pay the full conference tuition fee will be able to take part in all daily activities, while those paying a la carte pricing will have the pick of which classes and workshops they would like to attend. The Longleaf Writers Conference is one of the only conferences in the nation to take place on one of the most beautiful beaches in the US, and every year will feature notable guest writers, literary agents, and professional editors."

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival. May 13 - 16, 2021, Salem, Massachusetts. The Mass Poetry Festival offers nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, and open-air readings. More than 150 poets will engage with thousands of New Englanders. 

VORTEXT Returning to Indigenous Wisdom for a New Time. May 14, 2021. "Chenoa will share excerpts from The Whale Child; stories and traditions of her Lummi and S’Klallam people, and wisdom from other indigenous peoples she has come to know on her travels. Participants will be guided to connect again to their own life experiences with the Natural world and their families of origin as a way to remember how to return to harmony and balance with all beings." Conducted online.

Washington Writers Conference. May 14 - 15, 2021: Bethesda, MD. Register by April 1. "As always, the centerpiece of our annual conference is one-on-one pitch sessions (six minutes apiece) with literary agents from across the country, and this year is no exception! The only difference? You’ll be pitching your book or idea via Zoom." Will be held online.

San Diego Writing Workshop. May 14 - 15, 2021. "This is a special two-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on May 14-15, 2021. In other words, it’s two days full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome. And even though this is the “San Diego” Writing Workshop, make no mistake — writers from everywhere are welcome to attend virtually."

Pennwriters Conference. May 14 - 16, 2021: Pittsburgh, PA. The 32nd Annual Pennwriters Conference features three days of workshops, panels, networking and learning to help you learn, grow, soar! Friday, Saturday and Sunday feature an open attendance slate of one-hour workshops on all things writing. The schedule is structured with open attendance, so you can take whichever classes appeal to you. Attendees will have 40+ hours of sessions to choose from. Our faculty is comprised of published authors, literary agents and editors, and other writing industry professionals. Pitch appointments are available at no additional fee. Conducted online.

Biographers International Organization Conference. May 14 - 16, 2021. The conference features panels on current issues in biography and the craft of biography, including discussion of the topics of interviewing, writing about writers, and obituary writing. The faculty includes biographers Blake Bailey, Kai Bird, David W. Blight, and Claudia Dreifus. Biographer David Levering Lewis will deliver the keynote address. The cost of the conference is $99 ($49 for BIO members). Registration is rolling through May 16. Conducted online.

VORTEXT Stars & Scars: A Poetic Constellating of the Things that Broke Us. May 15, 2021. "In this generative writing workshop, we will explore our scars—the text of healing inscribed upon the skin and within the body; and our stars—the points of brilliance and insight gathered from the movement from wound to healing. We will create a constellation of personal metaphors from which you can recognize your own distinct patterns and form your own unique narratives and mythologies." Conducted online.

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference. May 15 - 18, 2021. The faculty for the 2021 conference will be: Francisco Cantú, Victoria Chang, Brandon Hobson, Anis Mojgani, Marie Mutsuki Mockett, and Vera Starbard. The closing speaker will be Ernestine Hayes. There will be other panels and guest speakers that will be announced as they are finalized. Conducted online.

Annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. May 18 - 22, 2021 at various locations in New York City and Los Angeles. "Join more than 125 writers and artists representing over 50 nationalities in New York City for the 2019 PEN World Voices Festival: Open Secrets. In 60+ events in venues across New York City, the 15th anniversary of New York’s first international literary festival will gather nonfiction and fiction writers, thinkers, and activists to discuss what we reveal and what we withhold, and the opportunities and dangers inherent in the rapid reconfiguring of the public and the private in the literary, cultural, social, and political realms." 

Bear River Writers’ Conference. May 20 - 23, 2021: Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan. Workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as readings, discussions, nature walks, and time to write.

The Writer’s Hotel Virtual Fiction Weekend. May 20 - 24, 2021. Application Deadline: April 19, 2021. "The conference features workshops, lectures on craft and publishing, one-on-one pitch sessions with agents, and readings by faculty and as well as conference attendees. The faculty includes fiction writers Chris Abani, Dan Chaon, Kwame Dawes, Elyssa East, Jeffrey Ford, Mary Gaitskill, Christina García, Tod Goldberg, Isabella Hammad, Elizabeth Hand, Pam Houston, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Rick Moody, Nami Mun, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Justin Torres, and Lidia Yuknavitch and conference directors Shanna McNair and Scott Wolven. Participating publishing professionals include editor Kevin Larimer (Poets & Writers, Inc.). The cost of the conference is $2,000."

Big Sur on Cape Cod. May 21 - 23, 2021, North Falmouth MA. Focus on children's writing. Faculty: Andrea Brown and four of her agents, four editors and four authors. 

Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers. May 24 - 28, 2021: Houston, Texas. Daily workshops, readings, craft talks, social events and professionalism panels in an intimate and supportive environment designed specifically with the needs of emerging writers in mind.

Balticon 55. May 28 - 31, 2021: Baltimore, MD. Balticon is sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS). BSFS presents the Compton Crook Award, the Robert A. Heinlein Award, and the winner of the annual Jack L. Chalker Young Writer's Contest annually at this event. Faculty: Guest of Honor: Catherine Asaro. Multiple tracks of Programming over the four day weekend, featuring authors, artists, scientists, musicians, podcasters, publishers, editors, costumers and other creative SF luminaries. Will be held online.

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