There were lots of sessions you could go to on different topics and I got a lot of good advice. There was also a huge book fair with people giving away free books. Let me just say, it was paradise.
We got there for the tail end of the conference on Friday and went to our first full day on Saturday. When we walked into the conference center, the first thing that we saw that morning was a ridiculously long line for coffee at the only open coffee shop in a mile radius. Quite amazing. Writing conferences have to bring in a lot of revenue for these people. Personally I don't drink coffee, which I know goes against the writer stereotype, but hey, be an individual right?
The first session I went to talked about how writing is a job and how to get paid for your writing in a way that you can support yourself. I was very interested in this one and so were a lot of other people as it was pretty much packed. Some great tips that the speakers gave that I will relay to you is this:
Go after paying publications, don't give your writing away for free unless you're doing it to gain readership
Look at local publications as potential options or write articles for online journals and magazines or do book reviews to pay the bills in the meantime
Get really good at writing query letters. Don't know what they are? It's alright. I didn't either. Here's a good example: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-the-perfect-query-letter
Get up early so that you will get into a routine of giving yourself time to write.
Be a good self editor but build up a community of other writers to read and comment on your work
Know that your fiction is valuable even if it doesn't make a dime. You are an artist.
And my own personal note: write what you can feel good about. Respect yourself and your values. I'm sure that I could write a really edgy, violent thriller if I wanted to, but I wouldn't feel good at all about it because it is in conflict with who I am. Your writing is a part of you. Do write out of your comfort zone, but don't write like someone else. If you can't be proud of your writing then how are you going to be brave enough to send it out for others to read?