You Should Attend a LGBTIQ Writers’ Conference


With spring’s arrival, I want to turn your attention to the upcoming two national LGBTQ writing conferences and a retreat that will soon be taking place. Before I provide you with a brief break down of each conference, I want to stress how incredibly important attending literary festivals is to your development as a writer regardless of what level you are at in your career, as well as helping to maintain your mental health by providing a social environment for writers. Writing, after all, is a solitary act with few opportunities to interact with other authors who are experiencing the same frustrations, hurtles, and isolation as well as the joys, triumphs, and achievements that you are.

Conferences offer you the chance to meet and socialize with a large variety of other writers. They also provide programming designed to address numerous issues of importance to the craft, business, and politics of writing. So in addition to being a wonderful opportunity to network with editors, publishers, and other authors, they provide an educational element, and a social outlet for writers of all levels. What’s more, they can be great fun!

Shaw’s Guide lists thousands of writing conferences held around the world in a variety of price ranges and addressing a vast array of topics. If you are, however, an author of lesbian literary erotica, I strongly recommend attending a conference specifically aimed at LGBTQ writers. My main reasons for this are (1) community, (2) attendees, (3) programming, and (4) motivation/inspiration.

No where except at a LGBTQ specific conference will you find as diverse a community of LGBTQ writers. You may find writers’ communities and LGBTQ communities, and these may even over lap a bit, but the combination of both is much more elusive in our regular lives. Likewise, by supporting LGBTQ writing conferences you support that very same LGBTQ writers’ community and you send a message to publishing houses about interest in LGBTQ writing. At a LGBTQ conference the writers you will meet will be LGBTQ writers. By that I mean folks, regardless of their own sexual orientation, who are specifically interested in publishing, writing, and reading LGBTQ literature.

Programming at LGBTQ conferences is designed with LGBTQ writers in mind and panel discussions on both lesbian erotica and other issues of interest to you as a writer of lesbian erotica will be offered. This doesn’t mean that conferences not geared towards a LGBTQ audience won’t have exciting, informative programming that you can learn from; it just means LGBTQ issues and topics will not be on the agenda of the panelists (for the most part). You will also learn information that is specific to the publishing of LGBTQ literature, hear stories of others who are working in the exact industry you are a part of, and be able to ask questions of folks who have already done what you are doing.

Attending any writing conference will most likely inspire and motivate you in regards to your writing. Attending a LGBTQ writing conference, I have found, not only motivated me to write and renewed my focus on writing, but it renewed my soul. There is something about being in a room with or in a hotel with or at numerous events surrounded by LGBTQ folks celebrating our craft and our lives that recharges me for the rest of the year.

So, here are the two writing conferences and a new writers’ retreat (that I know of) that are aimed at LGBTQ writers for your consideration. If I’ve missed one, please let me know. I am very sad to announce that Pink Ink: The Queer Book Expo (NYC) will not take place this year. Hopefully, it will return in 2008.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have attended both conferences. I sit on Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival Board of Directors. For more information on either of these conferences or the retreat, please contact the organizers directly at the web links listed with each entry.

The Events

Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival

French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
May 10-13, 2007


Saints and Sinners is in its fifth consecutive year and is open to “the LGBTQ community, their friends, and all readers and writers.” Founded by Paul Willis, who ran Lambda Literature’s Behind Our Masks literary conferences, Saints and Sinners is a fundraiser for NO/AIDS. The three and a half day event consists of: one day of Master’s Classes ($25 each) with four time slots and one master’s class in each slot; two days of conference panel discussions, and readings ($100 for both days) with five time slots each day and three panels or two panels and a multi-author reading in each slot. There are also a number of social events in the evenings and a small vendor room that is open during the day. Social events included with the two-day pass are an opening cocktail party and closing award ceremony party. In addition, there are events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night’s (for additional fees, roughly $10 to $50), as well as small theater event and local readings that are linked to, but not always apart of, the conference. For more details on this year’s programming see This Year’s Features below.

Special Events and Social Activities

As well as the opening and closing receptions that are included in the festival pass, there are always a number of special events offering entertaining social opportunities associated with the festival that for a small additional fee participants can attend. A new special event fundraiser will kick-off the Festival on Thursday, May 10. The evening will include a sampling of New Orleans culture with a tarot card reader, Mardi Gras beads, samples of local cuisine, and featuring writers reading from their favorite New Orleans authors. Jewelle Gomez, Dr. Kenneth Holditch, myself, and a number of others will read from their favorite New Orleans’ authors’ work including from Anne Rice. On Friday night after the opening reception, intimate dinners hosted by local New Orleans’ celebrities with featured authors take place. On Saturday, the winning play from the contest will be preformed, and, of course, since the festival is held in the heart of the French Quarter there is never a lack of fun events and nightlife going on for participants to take part in. For a complete list of events with prices see the website.


The main conference venue, the Bourbon Orleans, a Wyndham Historic Hotel, is located in the Heart of the French Quarter and features classic Southern Charm with styling reminiscent of the French Opulence of the early 1800’s. All events except the dinners are in walking distance from the main venue in the French Quarter.


Many of the attendees stay at the Bourbon Orleans, but it can be a bit pricey. There are numerous bed and breakfast as well as other hotels in a variety of price ranges all within walking distance of the main venue. Many folks (including myself) stay at The Olivier House Hotel. Additional information on housing is available at the website.

Demographics of Attendees

Saints and Sinners participants represent a wide range of diversity’emerging writers to well-established authors in all age, racial and economic groups attend the festival. The festival is always encouraging more diversity and tries to reach out to those who are traditionally underrepresented at LGBTIQ events. Saints and Sinners attracts a mix of lesbian, bi, gay, and trans folks as well as a few intersex folks and heterosexuals who are interested in LGBTIQ literature. Everyone is welcome.

Awards and Contest

As part of the closing reception this year, the winners of “The Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists’ Prize” will be announced. This will become an annual recognition initiated by Jim Duggins, Ph.D. There will be two annual cash awards of $5,000 given to a man and a woman to reward, recognize, and promote LGBT mid-career novelists of extraordinary talent and service to the LGBT community. The first annual playwright’s contest was also added this year. The winning play will be produced by the Marigny Theatre Corporation and will premier May 12th in conjunction the conference. Three Literary Saints awards are also presented at the closing ceremony to a publishing house and two authors who have shown an outstanding commitment to queer writing.

Strong Point

Programming is the strong point of Saints and Sinners. Willis works hard to create a balanced program with popular and cutting edge topics in the genres as well as more time-tested issues. He also constructs panels containing panelist who represent the diversity of those in attendance. Usually creating a situation where attendees have too many choices in any given slot to pick from.

This Year’s Feature

The three-and-half day event offers a wide variety of activities including a full day of focused master classes on Friday, May 11. This year’s line-up includes: Nancy Garden on censorship and writing for young adults, William J. Mann talking about his Katherine Hepburn Biography, Amie M. Evans and Toni Amato on Reading Your Work, and Greg Herren and JM Redmann on the business aspect of publishing. In addition, master’s classes will be offered by Dorothy Allison, Jewelle Gomez, and Abda Dawesar.

The list of this year’s presenters includes authors, editors, and representatives from various presses—a regular who’s—who of queer literature. Join, among others, authors:

Dorothy Allison, Toni Amato, Cheryl B., Laura Baumbach, Andrew W.M. Beierle, Kathleen Bryson, Abha Dawesar, Abby Denson, Jolee Dupre, Cindy Emch, Amie M. Evans, Catherine Friend, Jewelle Gomez, JD Guildford, Aaron Hamburger, Victor Hawkins, Trebor Healey, Greg Herren, Thomas Keith, Jeff Mann, William J. Mann, Val McDermid, Rich Merritt, Ian Philips, Martin Pousson, JM Redman, Gary Richards, Jeffrey Round, Robert Taylor, Jim Tushinski, Greg Wharton, Elizabeth Whitney, and Kevin Winge. In addition, Author Nancy Garden will be joining us to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the controversial novel Annie On My Mind.

Participants will be updated on website as confirmed. The panel discussions will also include editors/publishers from various presses including: Alyson Books, Bywater Books, the Haworth Press/Harrington Park Press, Rebel Satori Press, Soft Skull Press, and Suspect Thoughts Press — others to be confirmed.

The 2007 schedule is not up yet, but some sample panels of particular interest to writers of lesbian erotica from past conferences: “Using Sex as Language in Romances and Erotica”; “The Final Frontier: What’s Taboo?”; and “The Lesbian and Romantic Hero and the Plot She Thrives In”. Check the website for the most recent panel topics and schedule.

Golden Crown Literary Conference

Atlanta, GA
June 7-10, 2007

GCLC is in its third consecutive year and is open to “those interested in lesbian literature.” The format has changed this year and consists of four days of programming ($175.00 all access pass) with three tracks to choose from in each time slot and up to five time slots per day. The last day of programming consisting of a key note speaker, Ellen Hart, and multiple author book signing session. GCLC also has a number of special social events included in the price of the conference such as Goldie Award Ceremony, desert social, dance ($75.00 for the social event only), readings, games, and a meet-and-greet. In addition one breakfast and one lunch are included in the admission price. For more details on this years programming see This Year’s Features below.

Special Events and Social Activities

There are a ton of structured social opportunities at GCLS. On Thursday there is a meet-and-Greet opening event. Friday offers a free lunch social as well as an evening reading or Author Jeopardy and Charades. Saturday is the awards Dessert Social, Program, and Celebration Party/Dance. Sunday has a free breakfast social, Ellen Hart Keynote address, author signing and a closing ceremony. There are also some readings scheduled during the programming through out the weekend. Check the website for complete details.

Venue and Housing

All of the GCLS conference events take place at the Sheraton Midtown Atlanta at Colony Square. It is a top notch hotel complete with a pool and a mini-mall. It is a bit pricey even at the discounted conference rate. It was very cool to be in a hotel full of lesbian writers and fans of lesbian literature but, there are a number of bed and breakfast as well as a few cheaper hotels near by. Check the website for more information.

Demographics of Attendees

I attended last year and it appeared that all the attendees were woman from diverse economic, geographic, racial, and age groups. This year with the special guests speaking on trans issues, there might be a larger trans showing.

Awards and Contest

The Goldie Awards for excellence in a number of categories are awarded each year in an Oscar-like environment with multimedia presentations. What fun! While not required, I strongly suggest wearing something formal to the award program.

Strong Point

Many of the conference attendees are part of an on-line community and know each other from that venue. In addition to authors of all levels, a large number of the attendees are non-writers who read tons of lesbian literature. (Dare I say fans?) These two elements create a unique dynamic to the GCLS conference.

This Year’s Feature

The four day event includes a variety of focused and general panel discussions, readings, and workshops as well as numerous social events. This year, in addition to the who’s-who in lesbian literature panelist list, Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall are coming to talk about transgender issues in literature. Presentors include: Radclyff, Lori L. Lake, Ellen Hart, Jennifer Knight/Fulton, Bridget Bufford, Jane Fletcher, Therese Szymanski, Georgia Beers, Karin Kallmaker, JD Glass, Helen Boyd, Renee Bess, and many more.

Some sample panels of particular interest to writers of lesbian erotica from the 2007 conference: “Feel the Heat”; “The Erotic Panel”; and “Romance Panel”. Do check out the website for a complete listing of panel discussions and workshops.

Lambda Literary Foundation LGBTQ Writers Retreat

Los Angels, CA
August 5 -12, 2007


Lambda Literary Foundation is launching a one-week intensive immersion in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for LGBTQ emerging writers of any age. “Our intent is to take talented emerging writers out of isolation and help them learn their craft and connect them with the tangible world of publishing,” said Katherine V. Forrest, president of the Lambda Literary Foundation. The retreat’s goal is to give emerging LGBTQ writers mentors and a peer group and promises to provide emerging writer “credible, detailed feedback” on their work.

Venue and Housing

Founded in 1947, the University of Judaism (UJ) offers both undergraduate and graduate programs, including the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, the only independent rabbinical school west of the Mississippi. The Writers Retreat will take place in UJ’s state of the art conference center and dormitories. The University of Judaism is a smoke-free environment. Wireless Internet Connection throughout dormitories.

Room & Board ($700)

begin with dinner on Sunday, August 5, and conclude after breakfast on Sunday, August 12. Prices include three meals per day and a snack. Meals will be kosher, and we will make every effort to accommodate any dietary restrictions. Receptions after evening events will be complimentary and will include non-alcoholic beverages. Rooms are double occupancy with private bath. Single rooms are available on a limited basis and at additional expense ($200). Scholarship recipients will have a roommate.Tuition and Scholarship

Tuition covers workshops with faculty, all readings, lectures, and presentations by guest faculty and is $800.

There are a number of scholarships available in the following categories:

Transportation ($150)
Partial Room & Board ($350)
Partial Tuition ($400)
Full Room & Board ($700)
Full Tuition ($800)
Full Scholarship ($1,500)
There is not a travel scholarship.

This Year’s Feature

The Writers Retreat will take place at the Conference Center at the University of Judaism. Faculty include: Dorothy Allison, Katherine V. Forrest, Fenton Johnson, and Eloise Klein Healy. Other writers, including Michael Nava, John Rechy, and Bernard Cooper, will give readings or lectures.

Applicants will be screened and space is limited to 21 students. Applications and scholarship requests should be postmarked by April 15, 2007, and can be found at the website listed above.

A Final Note

What these conferences and retreat have in common is a commitment to queer writers in one form or another. This means issues surrounding writing about queerness — be it in memoir, erotica, religion, or mystery — are forefront and issues that heterosexual authors writing about heterosexual characters may not encounter’such as gender, oppression, homophobia — are included in discussions. These conferences celebrate not only writing, but also queerness.

I’m not naive enough to think authors can jet off to a conference on demand. I struggle every year to ensure I attend at least one conference, but with a little planning and, perhaps, sacrificing, anything can come to fruition. Pick a conference. Make a plan of action. Sock away some cash each pay check for a year (or two or three, if need be), and then attend a conference.

In the meantime, consider a local writing workshop. Workshops allow you to get valuable feedback, pointers, and, perhaps, make contacts with other local writers. At the vary least, they are a great way to pull yourself out of the social void that can be a writer’s workspace and expose you to what is going on in your local writers’ community.

Workshops geared to LGBTQ writers are offered by authors privately or at Adult Education Centers (AEC) in most cities and some small towns. Local workshops are a great resource for writers at all levels of development. The prices and quality of these workshops varies radically, however, many of them are top-notch and affordable. Check out coffee house, public readings, the library, and other hang outs for writers for flyers on workshops in your area. The best way to find out about the workshop is to ask the instructor for a copy of the syllabus or course outline. Workshops come in a variety of formats including manuscript review, craft skill, and in class writing. The best workshops will combine these elements. If possible talk with someone who has taken courses from the instructor before.

Many colleges and universities also offer an audit (noncredit) option for their writing classes. These can carry a bigger price tag then AEC or private workshops and you don’t always get more for your buck. They can also be offered by special guest authors so check what local colleges and universities have to offer. You may find one of your favorite authors teaching right in your local college.

If there is an issue you would like me to address in Two Girls Kissing, please email it to me with the column title as the subject line. To be added to my confidential monthly email list, please email me with subscribe as the subject line.

If there is an issue you would like me to address in Two Girls Kissing, please email it to me, Amie M. Evans, with the column title as the subject line. To be added to my confidential monthly email list, please email me with subscribe as the subject line.

Amie M. Evans
March 2007

“Two Girls Kissing: Writing Lesbian Literary Erotica” © 2007 Amie M. Evans. All rights reserved.

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