Written by Anthony Moujaes
Writers from as far as Illinois, Texas, and even Florida came in large numbers to the Pilgrim Press Writers Conference to learn from some of the best in the business about sharpening their craft and how to succeed at telling their stories.
There were 50 attendees at the Meeting House at the Radisson Gateway and offices of United Church of Christ in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The Pilgrim Press, the oldest publishing house in the United States, hosted the one-day conference Oct. 18 that featured four workshop sessions, a presentation on book publishing in the electronic age, and a keynote from best-selling author George Fraser.
"I am just so happy that everything I wanted people to take away, whether they were an experienced or aspiring writer, they received what they needed," said Kim Sadler, Editorial Director of the Pilgrim Press. "They each got a rich experience, they had the opportunity to learn key aspects of becoming a writer.
"And I want all of them to get to writing a book that gets published, and when it makes the New York Times Bestseller list, I want them to remember it started at the Pilgrim Press Writers Conference."
Pat McClure, who traveled from Lockport, Ill. near Chicago, learned of the Writer’s Conference through the UCC website. She said chose to attend because of what the conference offered: Workshops on identifying an audience, shopping your work, inspirational writing, information on publicist and agents, and Fraser’s keynote.
"That’s when I recognized this would be a good day for my confidence," McClure said. "[Fraser explained] that if nothing else, write your story for your family.
"Success [in writing] is also changing someone’s life. If I could do that, that would be amazing."
McClure, a member of First Congregational UCC in Lockport, has written mostly holiday devotionals since 1998 as a hobby. Her biggest takeaway from the conference was a boost in confidence. "I don’t know if what I write would be of value, but this has instilled confidence to try and see what is sharable," McClure said.
There were other positive remarks from the attendees in the evaluation forms:
"It’s energizing to be part of a room full of creative people," wrote one person. Another said the event was "a well-planned, well-led, great conference. I'm going home with a lot of new skills and ideas." A majority of people were pleased the Pilgrim Press made the event affordable, and suggested that future conferences are multi-day events.
Organized in 1640, the Pilgrim Press is a gift of the United Church of Christ for scholars and students, thoughtful laypersons, and church professionals.