This weekend my critique sisters and I are off to San Diego for the San Diego State Writers' Conference. It appears to be a conference of a different flavor. Like any other conference we'll get to attend lectures and workshops on the craft of writing and on the publishing industry. What seems to make it stand apart is the way they utilize meals and downtimes as further networking and mingling. During those times the faculty will be available to us on a casual basis to talk to. Most conferences I've been to are strict about not bothering the faculty at all when you aren't in a workshop or specific meeting with them so I'm really looking forward to this alternative way of conferencing.
Another unique feature is what they call the Advanced Reading Appointment. If you add this feature to your conference experience then you get to send in the first ten pages of your manuscript and it is read by an editor often from a major publishing house of your choice. They read your work prior to the conference and then you have a ten minute meeting with them during the conference to discuss it. This is the only conference I've come across that gives you this kind of advanced reading and access to an editor. There are also more traditional type of consultation appointments available where you get the chance to discuss your book with an agent or an editor.
My fingers are crossed that this conference turns out as amazing as it sounds.