First Writer's Conference: ECWC Post #1

The whole story.

Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a writer. In fourth grade, I wrote mysteries and my friend illustrated them. They made no sense. The clues were contrived and there was always a cute boy. I wrote again in Middle school, in high school, took creative writing classes in college. About eight years ago, I decided to turn my dream into a reality by taking writing seriously and started writing about two thousand words every day. I read books, watched tutorials, and studied my craft. And I wrote. I wrote a lot of crap. But finally I felt like I had something worth sharing. Something I could put out there for the masses.

So, back in February Rob bought me a writer's retreat on the beach for Valentine's Day. Four days on the beach, writing, agent critique, yoga and no kids. I know, romantic right? But that's what I wanted so it was. Can we just give it a collective, awwwww? It even came with a box of chocolates.

However, in June, a month away from the retreat, we got an email saying they had to cancel. This was going to be my first time going and putting myself out there to agents and editors, have my work critiqued and take this really big step in investing in my writing career. The word "disappointment" doesn't say enough. At least I got a free box of chocolates. And they did critique my query and my first chapter for free to make up for the inconvenience. So I actually chalked it up as a blessing.

However, I still wanted to attend a conference this year. So we scrambled around to find another conference. The local RWA chapter had finished up their conference the day we got the email. THE DAY WE GOT THE EMAIL! So I couldn't go to the local conference. Plus we had plane tickets and a fat refund coming. So we starting looking around for a good fit.

We came across the Emerald City Writer's Conference, for romance writers in October. Their itinerary looked interesting, I liked the agents and editors that were coming and it was a romance writer's conference. PLUS.... They still had rooms at the event hotel for way cheaper than a hotel in Seattle should cost. SOLD! And Rob could come stay with me, too!

As the days drew near, I polished my manuscript and my pitch and watched the weather. GREAT! Seattle was supposed to have one of the biggest five storms ever to slam their coast come through the night we landed. I'll be danged if I was going to have to cancel this one too! So I prayed. And lo and behold, the storm blew over. We landed under the normal Seattle drizzle.

Friday--Ego fluff and Ego burn

I am a big believer that good things follow bad. And conversely bad things follow good. I think the world seeks equilibrium or maybe I'm pessimistic or optimistic.  But Friday afternoon, I had a triumph, followed by a totally tragic miss at the end of the day.

Triumph. The first morning, I got an email from the admin saying there was a workshop that afternoon that we could bring our page one to and have it be read aloud by industry professionals and critiqued. (I'd already made massive changes to my page one after feedback from the canceled conference above, so I was anxious to try out my new page one). But I didn't have a copy. In fact, I felt before we left that I should bring a copy of my first chapter, but ignored it. Thankfully, Rob was there for the rescue. He managed to find the correct copy of my page one and print it for me. So I went to the class and slipped my page one in.

Agents and Editors. Looks like a tough crowd, huh?

The game.  A moderator would read the page one until three agents or editors raised their hands, indicating they would've stopped reading. Super scary.The first couple of pages had some great feedback, but they hadn't finished a page all the way through yet. I was biting my nails, wondering if my previous edits would make the cut. The agent who critiqued my manuscript before said she hated the first couple of pages until it got to a certain part and then she liked it. When the moderator started reading it, I broke out into a cold sweat, tremors--the whole bit. But no one raised their hand. I think by the end maybe one did, but they got all the way through it! Wow! There was definitely things wrong with it: info dumping and one editor mentioned he liked my previous first line better, but they said they would overlook some editorial things because my voice was so strong! Yay! I managed to fix my totally sucky first page.

Failure. To be able to talk about my triumphs, I must also include my misses. Friday night, authors who were pitching to editors or agents could get feedback from previously published authors. I read my pitch to a table of eight. Some lady, who was also pitching asked me who I thought would buy my book, who did I think my target audience was. I could tell they were trying to be nice and they were exceedingly helpful, but they hated my pitch. I reworked it with their suggestions and I think it's a lot better. I'll write it in the next blog posts about my pitching session since this one is already too long.

So I faced a few of my fears. I think we need to do that every once in a while. Do something scary, but brave. Put yourself out there. What have you been dying to do? What is standing in your way? How are you going to overcome it?  Get out there and live!


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