A writer’s life: book fairs, conferences and networking

It was my first taste of a “real writer’s life.” It started out with Wild Deadwood Reads. I can’t think of a more appropriate name to describe this event. WDR, held in Deadwood, South Dakota, began in 2017 to connect authors with readers. This was my first time attending the multi-genre book event.

Wild Deadwood Reads lived up to its name. It was wild!

Imagine 91 authors, a half-dozen book cover models, and hundreds of readers/fans in a huge convention room. The actual event is held over three days, with social events, educational programs and, on the last day, a book fair.

“What do you like to read” was my opening question to attendees who were browsing books from nearly one hundred authors. We had some great conversations. Talking with readers — even readers who don’t read my genre or my books — is one of my favorite things. I always learn something valuable. At the end of the day, I’d sold more books at WDR than any other book fair. I introduced Proving Her Claim to hundreds of readers. And I talked with authors who have written 10, 20 or more published books!

The following week Western Writers of America held its national conference in Rapid City, South Dakota. WWA assigned a wonderful mentor, Natalie Bright, to show me the ropes, introduce me to other members, and to be that friendly face in the crowd.

The four-day WWA convention was also combination of social and educational events, culminating with the Spur Awards Banquet. The 70th Convention’s theme focused on South Dakota. Joseph Marshall III, an Oglala/Sicangu writer of nonfiction and fiction, was the keynote speaker and received the 2023 Owen Wister Award for lifetime contributions to western literature. As a South Dakota author, I was asked to participate on a panel: Writing (and Riding) the Dakotas. What an honor that was!

But receiving two Spur Awards — Best First Novel and Best Romance — was truly a once-in-a-lifetime honor.

Thank you, Western Writers of America.