I attended the Ozarks Creative Writers conference this month, and while a lot of the sessions don't apply to a magazine writer, I occasionally sit in on the fiction seminars. I've attended this conference every year for at least ten years, and I've seen a LOT of speakers, some good, some bad, some informative, some not so much. So you can take it to the bank when I say that author Jodi Thomas is one of the best speakers I've seen in years. She's funny, helpful, has lots of tips for writers of all stripes, and knows how to keep an audience's attention.
She started out with a great icebreaker, telling everyone to just accept the fact that if they're a writer, they're not normal. Never will be normal. This was met with lots of laughs, and a few sighs of relief. She went on to tell the crowd that because they're writers, they have a loose grip on reality, and that's not only okay, it's essential. I won't give away the whole talk, so people can be delightfully surprised when they hear it for the first time. She's also interactive, going beyond a usual Q & A to giving little assignments and getting people involved (and keeping them awake, not always easy in a keynote).
I've never read any of her books, but I did pick one up after the conference because she intrigued me. Haven't started it yet, but it's near the top of my swaying stack of next reads.