Last Thursday I left cold, rainy Iowa for warm, sunny Texas and my third DFW Writers’ Conference. This conference has become kind of an annual event for me, and after battling health issues this year, the chance to get away for a few days could not have come at a better time.
I got to my hotel about 8 p.m. Thursday and immediately went to In N Out burger to get dinner, something else that has become sort of an annual tradition with this conference. This caused me to miss the American Idol results show, but since Sam was eliminated, I was kind of glad I missed it. I remembered from last year that my hotel didn’t get NBCSN, so there was no point in channel surfing to try to find the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It would be a hockey free weekend.
That ended up being okay, because I was seldom in the hotel except to sleep. Friday started bright and early with a pre-conference workshop by Les Edgerton. I got to reconnect with some friends from last year, and we watched the movie Thelma & Louise and discussed it from a writing perspective. I’d forgotten what a hilarious movie it is, and I have a new appreciation for it now. Great start to the day.
After lunch at Abuelo’s it was time for the event I was most looking forward to at the conference: Donald Maass’s pre-conference workshop on Writing 21st Century Fiction. Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from one of the biggest names in the business. I just knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from him. One thing I didn’t expect was how funny and down to earth he would be. I took a wealth of knowledge from his class and it helped me feel better about the WIP I have at time struggled with. (Note to Veena: I shall no longer refer to it as a disaster. I promise).
The workshop was followed by dinner on Italliani’s outdoor patio with my posse, Veena, Johannah and Zetta (I’m so fortunate to have spent the weekend with such a great group), then the pre-conference mixer. I didn’t win any door prizes, but it was a fine time to mingle with other writers and I’ve got a great stash of business cards to show for it.
Saturday morning dawned way too soon, with a 6:45 am wakeup call from my fairy godmother, aka Veena. Seriously, that’s an ungodly hour to be awake on a Saturday, but this conference is worth sacrificing sleep for. We got to the conference center for opening remarks and I found myself in the midst of a celebrity. No, not any of the agents. Johannah landed herself a spot on the conference schedule as a presenter. Way to go, girl!
I wasn’t pitching to an agent this year, so I focused on the workshops, the majority of which were great. I also made frequent trips to the Barnes & Noble table to purchase books. After all one can never have too many books, especially when they are books by Les Edgerton and Donald Maass and you can get them signed. I also added signed books by Kay Honeyman and Nan Cuba to my collection.
This year’s luncheon keynote speaker was Jonathan Maberry, and he was a delight to listen to. He offered great advice and seems like an all around good guy.
Saturday’s session was followed by another visit to Italliani’s with the posse, where we gave our business cards to our waiter. Hey, you never know, he may decide to visit my website!
After a quick dinner, it was back to the conference center for the gong show, a DFWCon staple, and always an entertaining one. This year we had a record set- two queries successfully made it through without receiving three gongs, and two very happy writers wound up with submission requests from agents- including one from Donald Maass. Way to go, Benjamin Inn!
Sunday also dawned way too soon, but not as early as Saturday. Instead of my wakeup call from my fairy godmother, I opted to set the alarm clock in my room. It didn’t go off, and I didn’t wake up until 7:30. Yikes! Still managed to make it to the conference center on time for another great day of classes. I felt a little guilty for not going to Johannah’s class on self-pubbing, but I opted for a class on creating sympathetic characters. It was great and I heard Johannah did great, so the morning was a win.
Lunch was a networking lunch and we supposed to sit at a table for our genre to mingle with like-minded writers, but I was more interested in sitting with my posse, so that meant being at the Fantasy and Sci Fi table. This proved to be a great choice, not only because my posse is awesome but because Don Maass decided to join us.
The conference was over way too soon, and while I was exhausted from the weekend, I hated to see it all end. After anther dinner at Italliani’s (and dessert at Abuelo’s), it was time to pack to go home. Another amazing weekend was over and real-life beckoned, but I would return home with a wealth of new knowledge along with lots of momentum to further my writing goals, not to mention lasting friendships (and a new publicist?)
Hats off to Kirk Von der Heydt and the rest of the conference committee for making the DFW Writers’ Conference the best one around.