Saturday, August 3, 2013

PNWA Conference 2013: Part One

What's it like to go to one of those expensive fancy Writer's Conferences?

Well, it's been a week since the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2013 Conference at the SeaTac Hilton. It was my first time attending, and I'm really glad I went!
Everything started way too early, but I knew that. And anyone who knows me knows how rough that is for me. (I am blogging at 4:43 am - and it's not because I've risen and shone! I'll go to bed soon.) All the forums and workshops were at 8 am, 10 am, 2pm, and 4pm, with lunch breaks and dinner breaks, and dessert or dinner and dessert over keynote speakers and the Saturday awards ceremony. 

There was this Pitchcraft class with Katherine Sands at 10 am, but the rest of the day was all digital and self publishing forums, in which I had little interest. I read Sands's book, Making the Perfect Pitch, last year and found it very helpful and informative. But, of course, I had stayed up till at least 4 am Wed. night writing, so I was tired at 8, when the alarm went off, so I slept in till 1 and got to the Hilton around 3. I got my registration packet, full of little slips of paper, my name tag, the program book, a pen and post-it note pad, and some stuff for next year's lit contest. Also got a lime green messenger bag to put my stuff in. Yay!

I sat in on the 4 pm Amazon Publishing forum with John E. Fine, and took notes, mostly for a friend who's interested in pursuing that venue. I ran into a writer friend and we hit the Pitch Practice room for a while, where I began the first of seven revisions to come. Other writers came and went as well, and it was fun to hear others pitch their books. It's always easier to critique others than yourself! 

I forgot some meals were included (The Hilton does a great job!), but the first day's option was pizza. Half a personal pizza? About the size of a parlor slice, with some bits of unidentified veggies on it (I think it was olives or mushrooms). My gluten-free, dairy-free friend was presented with an even smaller slice (quarter of a personal pie) of thin gluten-free crust with a layer of tomato paste. Kinda sad. 

At 7:30, we had the dessert reception and Keynote Speaker, Greg Bear. Bear has many sci-fi writing credits to his name, and he was also one of the founders of the San Diego Comic-Con. He was very personable, and told some great tales of wallowing in the geek-genre trenches, as well as rubbing shoulders with some other true legends of the field, such as Isaac Asimov. He was, and is, a visionary, and I enjoyed his speech. 
I didn't touch the chocolate layered cake, and was allowed to swap it for a bowl of mixed berries. Never be afraid to ask for what you want! And as it turns out, I sat at a table full of fun and funny people. 

So there was some stuff in the morning. Apparently, it included free bagels. I managed to get there by 9:20am, after some emotionally charged dealings at the body shop where I was swapping my slightly damaged second rental car for my own. But that's another story.

I caught the last five minutes of the Editors Panel; not enough to know who any of them are. My loss. But at least I was there for the 10am Agents Panel, where each agent was introduced and spoke a little (or a lot, depending on the person) about who they are, what they are looking for in authors, etc. 

Unfortunately, I missed the noon panel on St. martin's and Thomas Dunne Publishing. I think I had gotten caught up in the Pitch Practice room with a group of writers. My loss, again, but I did have fun and learn a few things for my pitch.

2pm - 3:30 There were about four different workshops I wanted to attend, but decided on Margie Lawson's "A Deep Editing Guide To Making Your Openings Pop". I learned about the psychologist's approach to writing, and the importance of "power words" and rhetorical devices. None of the given examples were taken from anything I'd ever actually read, but it was still useful. Margie's voice was a tad soporific, with its soothing tones and soft timbre, but I managed to stay awake, and even connect with another writer sitting near me, after. 

4 - 5:30 Again, several simultaneous panels and workshops that all (mostly) sound enticing. I went with "Memoir: Make Them Care", presented by Lynn Price, since I've tried my hand a few times at it but have found it extremely challenging. I think I picked up a few tips and thoughts to keep in mind when writing from life. I heard the Introduction to Speculative Fiction was also very good, which would have been my other choice.

At 7:00, we had dinner. Sitting at a front table with some of the cool kids, we were among the last served. Hence, cold cheese ravioli with a side of baby asparagus. I didn't mind; I was a waitress for 15 years. Hot food was an urban legend for years. 

The Featured Speakers were Deb Caletti, Stella Cameron, Robert Dugoni, and Gerry Swallow. Authors who have made it through the wilderness, and lived to tell the tale and light the path for the rest of us. Pretty interesting, pretty casual and conversational, despite being sat on a raised platform, facing all of us. 

Six AM approaches. Off to bed, am I. Part Two coming soon. 

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