The coffee, fruit, and pastries breakfast buffet was scheduled for 7:30 to 8:30. I had planned to jump up early and head for the hotel before 8. That didn’t quite happen. I popped in about 8:30, then spent so much time visiting with other writers and guzzling coffee that I missed the first session completely (a choice among Laura Pritchett’s Writing Sex Well, Trai Cartwright’s 15 Elements of a Great Movie, and Todd Mitchell’s Dialogue & Setting). It would have been pretty hard to choose anyway, because all three are excellent presenters.
My pitch session was at 9:51 with Ben Barnhart of Milkweed Press. I think Milkweed usually takes unsolicitied submissions, so a large percentage of those authors pitching to Ben did get invited to send partials, including me. The real test is in the writing, of course, so we’ll see what happens next.
Immediately following this appointment, I dropped in on Kerrie Flanagan‘s presentation, Tips to Getting Accepted into the Magazine World. Since writing articles on topics related to our novels is another way to promote our work, article-writing is something we all need to learn more about.
Next was Tim Beyers‘ Using Twitter to Boost Your Writing Income. Tim, who writes for The Motley Fool financial/investment site, is @milehighfool on Twitter. A firm advocate of social media, and especially Twitter, Tim was pretty convincing that we need to be there and we need to engage (the social media term for meaningful communication with individuals and groups).
After lunch, I chose a session on writing the lyric essay presented by John Calderazzo of Colorado State University. Others had told me John was an excellent teacher and an interesting presenter, so in spite of my reservations about writing essays of any kind, I gave it a try. I came away intrigued by the concept and interested in learning more.
The last regular session I attended was the traditional Agents Read the Slush Pile. In this exercise, authors turn in multiple copies of the first page of a book with only the genre noted at the top (no author name). During the slush pile session, a volunteer reader begins reading each page aloud and continues until one of the agents stops the read and tells why he would or would not want to read more. These sessions are heavily attended, even by those who don’t submit a page. Many brave writers do submit, so the reader rarely makes it through the whole stack.
I turned in the first page of my WIP, a suspense novel, but it didn’t make it to the top of the pile before the hour was over. I’m not sure why I was so disappointed to miss out on a chance to have my first page, or first sentence, shot down by three agents and an editor, but I was. It’s kinda scary when we start inviting rejection, don’t you agree?
The grand finale included a hour of wonderful improv from the Bovine Metropolis Theater from Denver. I laughed so hard at times I had tears in my eyes. It was a great way to end this well-run conference. Thanks to Kerrie Flanagan and to all of the hard-working volunteers who made it happen.