The Writer’s Institute — I’ve gone to this one for about 5 years straight. It’s a fun 2 1/2 day conference in Madison, WI chock-full of sessions about craft, publication, Q&A panels, & more. You even get to customize your weekend with varying types of critiques and even pitch to agents &/or editors! Great for networking, too! People have literally come from all over the world to attend this. Check them out– http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/conferences/writers-institute/
A Weekend With Your Novel — My first regularly attended conference. Tons of craft-building sessions to ignite your creative spark, edit your works, critique groups and more! A good place to network and find local writing buddies. http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/conferences/weekend-with-your-novel/
SCBWI Fall/Spring Conferences —Both of these have been just awesome for networking and meeting people who write what I do… maybe not the same sub-genre, but still fellow writers for kids. Great sessions on craft, the speakers are always fun, and the treat table is loaded with gut-busting decadence. Hands down, my favorite weekend.
Spring Fling–Chicago —An RWA conference I attended on a whim, as an excuse to spend the weekend with a fellow writer (Rochelle Bradley) and was surprised to meet up with our mutual friend from middle school (Jenafer Llyod-Jones)! While there were many genre-based sessions, there were a few–actually more than I expected–on just plain craft. Even a pitch to agents/editors was included in your conference fee! I took home many “nuggets” of info, a dozen free books, a cool bag, a silent auction prize, and–thanks to the comedian at the big gala–a new perspective of the animated Disney (princess) movies. XD http://chicagospringfling.com/
The Writer’s Institute–Poem or Page Contest —Entrants submit the first page of their novel (any genre) or a poem. Simple, right? Not as much as you’d think… But I did it at last! 🙂