Small, intimate writers' conferences are fun and comfortable. A new writer can often make friends for life, not to mention a few connections. Huge conferences--while wonderful in a number of ways--can overwhelm a newbie, have her holding up the wall at mixers or weeping in her hotel room. Why not practice for the big ones by attending a small one first? I promise, you won't regret it. :)
The ETBU Christian Writers Conference - A small conference in Marshall on the East Texas Baptist University Campus. Check it out. This looks like a good conference for beginners.
The Writers Guild of Acadiana in Lafayette, LA is always an excellent conference with much to offer in the way of professional editors, agents and authors. They sponsor a contest and encourage entries whether you attend the conference or not.
Inspirational Writers Alive! - Houston, TX
I've attended one of their conferences. They have a contest too. Their website seems to represent all their chapters so you have to fumble your way around. A sweet conference to attend.
Bayou Writers Group Third Annual Fall Conference-Lake Charles, LA
I attended the BWG conference last year and it was very good. 2007 promises to be even better.