PNWA conference

I feel like I’m having one of those “What did you do during summer vacation?” moments – only it’s over a weekend, not three months. I know I blather on about writing cons after returning from one because it’s a constant reinforcement of how vital these things are.

My weekend in Seattle proved no different, except that my Wow index has just blown through the top. The Pacific North West Writers Association puts on one of the most amazing cons I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to a lot. Never have I seen a more talented and prepared bunch of authors as I did at this conference. And believe me, I asked a bunch of very funky questions.

“How would you promote this book?”
“Why did you write this particular book?”
“What makes you the best person to have written this story?”
“Have you thought about turning that into nonfiction? And if not, why?”

…And on and on. And these savvy writers had the answers. Le wow.

This was one of the most intense cons I’ve ever worked as well, but the mix of authors, editors, and agents was absolutely delightful, and many of us sat together outside in the courtyard, late into the night, tossing back glasses of wine and laughing far too hard.

I say it every time, and this is no exception:

THIS IS THE ONLY TIME AGENTS AND EDITORS ARE THIS ACCESSIBLE. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE.

You can ask us anything and everything – at any time. Well, ok, bathrooms are off limits. But if we’re rushing to an appointment, you can walk with us and pitch. Or just yik yack.

Some things that I think all authors should have on them are a business card, your first three chappies, a one page synopsis. I’m not saying we’ll necessarily ask for all of those, but I asked many authors for their cards. A couple I asked for pages right then and there. I asked for full manuscripts from five authors as well. This is very unusual to have that many requests. But they are that good.

And one particular author is so in my gunsights that I’m taking her full with me while I make another escape to the desert. I’m telling myself I deserve this bit of vacation (again) because I’m exhausted from being charming for three full days.

The point of this is to point out how vital conferences are. No, they aren’t free, but can one really put a price on networking and a possible contract offer? Or a valuable education from an agent or editor who offers feedback on their pitch or their story?

My brilliant and talented author, Adam Eisenberg, (A Different Shade of Blue) – who lives in Seattle and took me on a lovely tour of the city – quoted something that Mark  Sideman told him:

“When you are telling a story you are casting a spell, letting people come and play with you in the world you have created.”

– Mark Sideman

And you know what? That is exactly what these brave authors did this past weekend, and I was absolutely charmed and humbled at the collection of talent.

Face it: Authors rock it.

4 Responses to PNWA conference

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank YOU for attending. The most valuable part of the conference, I think, is hearing about the industry from the point of view of editors and agents.

    One of things I heard at the conference was the importance of a platform/established audience, even for fiction. When I mentioned that on a writers’ forum after the conference, they said I was nuts. 🙂 I realize you do little fiction, but what’s your opinion?

  2. Melissa, your question is a good one. I’ve talked about this issue from time to time, so maybe it’s time to talk about it again. I’m planning a blog post on it, so thanks for the nudge!

  3. NinjaFingers says:

    I really wish I could afford to go to a writers conference :/

  4. cat says:

    Miaou! Unfurr! Okay, stop growling. It sounds like a marvellous opportunity and I am just a little (did you guess) jealous?

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