I’m a few days later than intended with this post because I’m in the midst of a super-fast (but hopefully thorough) edit of my MS before sending it off this week. Anyway, here are some final thoughts and reflections on an amazing DFW Writer’s Conference weekend.
1) The Top 5 classes I took (in reverse order, 5-1):
Writing Deeper by Jodi Thomas
Writing Emotion by Lori Wilde
Writing a Compelling First Chapter (Small Group Workshop) by Elizabeth Evans
Understanding your Antagonist by Kristen Lamb
Finding and Strengthening your Voice by Jenny Martin
Yes, I know, my picking a top 5, I’m not excluding much, but hey- it was all that good, okay?
2) Biggest disappointment (the only disappointment, really):
I had to miss several classes I really wanted to attend because they were scheduled at the same time as another great class. Really, that’s a pretty good problem to have. Still, human cloning would have helped. I had to miss Revision Hell by Candy Havens because I was in the first chapter workshop, and missed Understanding your Style of Writing because I was at my agent appointment. Okay, so I could have gone into that one 15 minutes late, but to be perfectly honest I was on such a high after my pitch session, I just kind of floated around the lobby thinking ‘She wants to see my MS!’ LOL.
I missed almost all of the Business track classes, focusing instead on the Craft track. I thought that was what I needed most. While I think I can create interesting characters and put them in compelling stories, I have doubts about whether my voice and writing style are strong and dynamic enough at this point to appeal to an agent. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
3) (Not so) Shocking Discovery:
Agents are people, too. And so are best-selling authors. And you know what? They’re nice, too!
I learned there is no reason to fear agents. They’re just people who get to read books for a living (yes, should have been an agent, LOL!). I’m still sad that Elizabeth Evans doesn’t rep my genre, that’s how nice and down to earth she is.
As for those NYT Bestselling authors? Pretty human, really. They were struggling, aspiring writers dealing with rejection once, too. James Rollins shared that an agent once rejected his MS saying it was “unpublishable.” I guess he showed them, huh? These authors were such a source of inspiration.
4) The best reason to attend a conference besides the classes and the opportunity to pitch an agent:
The positive energy and the joy of connecting with other writers. As Jodi Thomas said, writers are not normal. And thus, normal people don’t really understand us. I tend to keep my writing life very separate from my day-to-day/ real life. There aren’t very many people in my ‘real’ life that know I am a writer. I mean, I can’t just strike up a conversation with the person next to me in Zumba class about my book or the stupid/bizarre/infuriating thing my character just did. They’ll think I’m crazy!
So it’s pretty freaking cool to be surrounded my other not-normal people, and where a normal, ice-breaking conversation starter while in line at the buffet table or cash bar is “What do you write?” or “What’s your book about?”
5) Best non-conference related treat:
In N Out Burger. OMG! I’ve heard about this west coast treat, but I didn’t know it had expanded to Texas. Imagine my shock and delight to discover an In N Out Burger just two blocks from my hotel! I’m already excited that next year’s DFW Con is at the same location (Hurst Conference Center) so I can go back. Yes, it’s that good. Worth every bit of the hype, and I don’t even like fast food.
So there’s my DFW Con wrap-up. It was an incredible weekend, and I encourage everyone who is serious about being a writer to do everything they can to get to a conference. Of course, I recommend this one (because, hey, as they say, everything is bigger and better in Texas!) but there are tons of them out there. Find one that suits you and go. You can take a tax write-off for it, after all!
Now I must focus my attention on editing and querying. See you next year, DFW Con! Hopefully I will have an agent by then and be able to skip the pitching part.