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.
I love attending conferences myself, but have never heard of the slush pile open critique. What a great idea, especially as Writers’ Digest had that for $75, where an agent reads your first page and let’s you know if it will make it through or not. Thanks for your post.
Sheesh, I’m tired just listening to you. It sounds like it’s been a wonderful experience, and I’ve heard that Milkweed is an awesome company. Midwestern values. Good place to get a contract–hope it all works out!
Terry Odell says
Sounds like it was a great conference, Pat. I’ve had my work shredded by authors, agents, editors. I think way way way deep down we hope they’ll find at least one good thing in the writing.
Patricia Stoltey says
Amy, I haven’t done much at all. A lot of writers do, however, and it’s another recommended way to get your name and area of expertise well known.
Linda L. Henk says
Thanks for the summaries. It’s interesting to read those from writers that I know would attend entirely different sessions than I would have chosen. Different genre for different folk is a good thing.
Amy Tate says
I’m curious, do you do a great deal of magazine writing in between writing for your books?
Another great summary. I am glad you got so much out of it and it is always my pleasure to put on the event each year.
Jemi Fraser says
Sounds like a fabulous time! There are so many sessions I would jump at. I’d love to sit in on the Agent Slush Pile – just hearing their reasoning would be enlightening 🙂
Talli Roland says
You’re brave to submit to the slush pile reading!
Congrats on getting a partial requested. Sounds like the conference is really worthwhile!
Ann Elle Altman says
Part of me really wants to attend such events and part of me is scared to death… I don’t know why.
Jan Morrison says
Wow!Sounds like a wonderful conference – so eclectic an offering and I LOVE the idea of that slush pile exercise even though I would be totally freaked out too. Yay, for you squeezing all the juice out of this very juicy conference.
Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams says
Sounds like a great conference! But the slush pile thing kind of scares me. 🙂
Mystery Writing is Murder
Mason Canyon says
Sounds like it was a great conference and you came away re-energized, relaxed and well versed on several subjects. Can’t go wrong there.