Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Make Powerful Connections at the 2016 Steel Pen Writers' Conference

Tiffany T. Cole
When I was in middle school and high school, I spent a lot of time vicariously living through multiple authors and writing books I would eventually hide in my closet. Every day, I would open a number of tabs and spend a few hours reading authors’ blog posts, especially if the authors’ posts allowed me to peek into their day-to-day lives as full-time writers. One such author whose blog had a huge impact on me was Neil Gaiman. I remember fondly when he talked about the conferences he’d attended when he started writing and the conferences he became a keynote speaker for when his career took off.
Neil Gaiman made it clear that conferences were not only lots of fun but vital, in a myriad of ways, to helping an author succeed. I dreamed of attending these conferences but, because I didn’t have the money or the means, conferences just seemed like another out of reach dream.
Last year, I finally attended two conferences—AWP, which was in Minneapolis, and the 2015 Steel Pen Writers’ Conference. Both were equally exciting, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Steel Pen—a smaller, local conference—had more of an immediate impact on my creative life. I expect that same impact will be prevalent November 12, 2016 at the Radisson Star Hotel in Merrillville, Indiana during this year’s Steel Pen Writers’ Conference.
Steel Pen, which is hosted by the Indiana Writers’ Consortium, is a one-day conference brimming with workshops, panels, manuscript critiques, and networking. There are so many opportunities for writers and poets in all stages of their career. You can sell your books at the bookstore or book fair, have lunch with keynote speaker Cathy Day and the other panelists and attendees, advertise your work in the pamphlet, and apply for a scholarship.
The panels have been carefully chosen to ensure there’s something for everyone. To give you an idea, here are just a few of the session topics:
Writing Effective Dialogue
Marketing Your Book
Getting Published
Working With Editors
Writing Nonfiction, Memoirs, Poetry, and Fiction
Last year, even with fewer options, I felt a genuine connection with the other writers and panelists in each room, something I suspect was because of its local nature. When I talked to others, shared my opinions in workshops, and exchanged information with those who wanted to help me as much as I wanted to help them, it just felt more substantial than it did when interacting with hundreds of people at AWP.
To this day, I can still turn to the authors I met at last year’s conference. I’d like to invite you to this year’s conference in the hopes that you will make as many connections as I have as well as take your career to the next level in the way that going to conferences should.
To learn more about the panels, the scholarships, the keynote speaker, the bookstore and book fair, and how to register, visit Be sure to keep an eye on the Facebook page as well (

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