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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Writer's Nirvana - My First Writer's Conference!

Its hard to know where to start, or exactly how to put into words, my feelings and experiences from my first Writer's Conference.  I'm still "high" from it.  Never having been to a Writer's Conference before, I have nothing to compare the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's 2013 Conference to, but I know a good thing when I find it.

I've never been around a more open and friendly group of people.  Never before have I been around so many people who are deeply passionate and excited about their craft.  Who knew being around approximately 400 Writers for three days, would be so overly stimulating and intellectually satisfying, that at one point my brain actually hurt from the input?!

When I checked in and got my swag bag, I dove right in, being hardly able to contain my excitement, at what goodies awaited me.  I was ecstatic to find that the pitch appointment (more on that later) with the agent, I had wanted, had been granted.  Also included was a free book by one of the keynote authors, a flashlight, a pen and of course a RMFW journal, for note taking.  What  I was really excited to find was my name on my Conference badge.  I was official!  However, also attached to the badge was a sticker (to be attached) that said, "First Time Attendee".

Hmmm.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to put that sticker on my badge.   In my past experiences,  I have found sometimes its not good to walk around with "Newbie" plastered on your forehead.  I hesitated putting on the sticker, and then I noticed other attendees walking around with their "First Time" sticker on their badge.  And then a seasoned attendee said to me,  "You should put your sticker on.  People will come up and introduce themselves to you."
So I put my sticker on and lo and behold, it was if a magic wand have been waived.  People did start coming up and talking to me, and I too said "hello" to other "first timers".  It was the first time, when being a "newbie" was actually a benefit, and later at the awards dinner, all the first timers (and there were 100 of us) were recognized!

The Conference wasn't just great because of the friendship and camaraderie, but also because of the high level of nuts and bolts workshops and panels that were offered.  There were so many good ones, that I wished I could have taken more.  Here's a list of classes that I took:

Visiting Author Panel  
I listened to best selling authors Rob Thurman, Ronald Malfi and
Margaret George, describe their lives and and paths to publication.

First Sale Panel 
I listened to authors who had sold their first novels, this past year.  It was fascinating and inspiring.  I learned there truly is no one way to get your book published.

Romance, Myth and the Divine Goddess - Sharon Mignerey  
This was a fun, fun class.  Sharon was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher.  We had great class discussions and I learned how the seven goddess archetypes are used in Romance novels.

In the Middle: Pluses and Minuses of Small Press Publishing - Katriena Knights  
I learned a lot about small presses and the advantages and disadvantages of going with a small press.  I picked up some great lingo about the publishing industry.  Katriena Knights was a great speaker as well and a fun person to spend an hour with.

Chinese Ghost Lore - M.H. Boroson 
What a wonderful 2 hours spent learning all about the Chinese Culture and their relationships to  ghost, spirits and their dearly departed.  M.H. Boroson gave an intriguing and enlightening workshop.  I learned about "Hell Money", "Hopping Corpses" and so many other things, I hope to use some day in a story.  Great class!

Plot, Structure and Pushing Your Characters - Hannah Bowman  
I felt like I couldn't breathe after this class.  Hannah Bowman was on fire!  Never has an hour passed so fast.  She shared so much information in so little time, with so much intensity, that I could hardly keep up.  But I loved being in her class and listening to her and more seasoned writers dialogue.  I know what I learned is in my mind somewhere.

Agent/Editor Panel - Hannah Bowman, Karyn Marcus, Kristin Nelson 
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to sit and listen to agents and editors speak openly and candidly, about their business, how they run things, what they look for, their relationship with each other and with the writers they represent.  Truly, truly a wise investment of my time and it was just fascinating to be in the room with them and listen to all they had to share.

Writing Is Rewriting: The Art and Science of Revising Your Work - Cindi Myers 
If I ever needed a class it was this one!  Seems like that's all I've been doing is revising, and Cindi Myers gave tips and helpful suggestions, that I was able to put into use as soon as I got home from the Conference.  Her workshop was so packed, that every available seat was taken, and the staff had to bring in more chairs.  Apparently all writers need all the help they can get, when it comes to revising our work!

These were just the workshops I took over the weekend!  This doesn't include all the wonderful conversations held at breakfast, lunch, and the great dinners in the evening, or even in the elevators while everyone was making their way to their destinations.

And then there was the palm sweating, cold chilling, knee knocking,  "10 Minute Pitch Session."
All writers who were pitching were told to arrive at least 10 minutes early before their session.  When I arrived for mine, I learned there were 6 other writers who were also going in at the same time.  Our names were called out as if we were lining up to see the principle.  One guy said his palms were sweating, and they rest us chatted nervously like school kids and my mouth felt dry.  I felt like I had disassociated from my body, and only a holographic image of myself was actually walking into the "Pitch" conference room.  But damn it, I was going through with it!  I know that sometimes life gives you opportunities, ones that may not come your way again, and even though this was my first conference, I had to take advantage of the opportunity to meet an agent face to face!
I'm happy to say my say my session went well, and I've got some serious writing ahead me this winter, which is just fine with me.  I'll have something to focus on while winter passes, which will be a good thing for me.

I can't finish this post without giving thanks to my friend and author, C. R. Richards, who told me to get my butt to the Writer's Conference.  What a blessing it is to have her friendship and mentorship.  If someone successful is in your corner, I feel its best to listen to and follow their advice!

So, if you've never attended a Writer's Conference, I would definitely recommend attending one.  For me it was a Writer's Nirvana.  I've been inspired to be in a better place with my writing by next year's Conference.  I've got some goals and deadlines to meet.  I am looking forward to accomplishing them.

Here's to Happy Writing!

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