For those of you who read this blog and you're not writers, please forgive these few blogs talking about the writer's conference. Part of the writer in me needs to write this down so I don't forget these things 3 years from now when all these conferences blend together. Part of the writer in me just wants to tell others about how it's going. Part of the writer in me knows some of you wanted to come but couldn't, so I'm trying to relay what info I can.
And that doesn't leave many parts except brain mush, which is how I feel at the moment, but in a good way.
Today was the opening day of the conference. Yesterday people arrived, I did some shopping at Downtown Disney, and prepped for today.
Today opened with the luncheon. This hotel, for its lack of vending machine, absolutely rocks when it comes to hotel luncheons. 2100+ people in a dining hall and they were wonderful with service, requests, and serving that many people decent food in a short amount of time.
Nora Roberts was the keynote speaker. I've heard Nora talk before and she's a hilarious and incredibly honest human being. I love that about her, especially the honesty. She spoke about writers, our tendency to think it was easier to get published years ago rather than the competitive market now, etc. In essence, she squashed that excuse because while certain things may have been easier, other things weren't. There may have been more book slots to fill, but everyone typed on typewriters with carbon paper. There was no Internet for book research. And the list goes on.
The main nugget she said that resonated with me was this: Writing is hard. It's supposed to be hard. The fact that it's hard is what makes it special, makes it worthwhile to keep going. Embrace the hard work, she said, for doing so makes writers special. I loved that.
The afternoon was panels and workshops. There are inevitably 2-3 things I want to go to during the same time slot and I have to choose. I think today had some good choices.
Workshop 1 - Suzanne Brockmann and Lee Child
Women's and Men's Fiction - stepping out of your genre to try and get both men and women to buy your book, not just market to one gender.
Suzanne Brockmann was funny and had some good points, but truth be told, it was Lee Child that had every woman in the room swooning and laughing. I think he's either English or Australian - in any case, nice accent. He writes thrillers and as he talked about plots and character, I found myself interested and laughing at several humor points he made. I plan to go out and buy several of his books. He also said what he writes is similar to Dennis Lehane, who is one of my favorite authors.
Workshop 2 - Marilyn Kelly
11 Senses, not just 5 - Who knew?
This was an intriguing workshop. In addition to the 5 senses writers try to include in their books (sight, smell, hear, touch, taste), there are also temperature hot/cold on skin, pain / aches and comfort, direction, balance and vertigo, etc.
The speaker was a scientist and entrepreneur, and some things she talked about in terms of how the human body reacts was quite interesting. A good workshop.
Workshop 3 - Ethan Ellenberg (Lit Agent)
Book Marketing and Q&A
Probably my favorite workshop of the day, particularly because I'd heard of him but hadn't met him or seen him in person. The great thing about conferences like these that have lit agents and publishers on the panels is, you get to see what they're like without the pressure of pitching your book idea to them. It's a good way to judge personality to see if this person is someone you like, who you could work with, who might be a good fit to work with. Particularly an agent, where the relationship lasts longer than one book (hopefully).
I thought Ethan was great. Funny, smart, honest, and entertaining. I liked all the points he made, but my favorite was when he spoke of (and I'm paraphrasing here) - "The greatest software on the planet is the human mind, and a book still delivers the richest and most complex of emotional experiences to the human heart." I really liked that note.
After his presentation was over, he offered his business cards to us in case we wanted to query him with our books. I immediately went up and made sure I got one. I will absolutely be querying him.
Dinner with friends was nice, we opted for a buffet style place in the hotel. Meeting random people has been fascinating too. I met a woman from Croatia at lunch, someone from Maryland at dinner, etc.
Overall, a good day. Book pitches to publisher and agent tomorrow. *crossing fingers and toes*