Seattle, here I come

August 3, 2011

I’m off early tomorrow for the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference. These guys work us like dirty dogs, but they make it a ton of fun for us as well. I have fond memories of PNWA because it’s where I found the fabulous Kim Kircher and her equally fabulous book, The Next 15 Minutes: Strength From the Top of the Mountain. It was doubly fun because there were several editors in the room who really wanted her as well.

So this year, we’re going to celebrate. Kim and her adorable hubby, John, are taking me and Kim’s lovely agent, Kit Ward, for a flightseeing tour. Yes, among everything else this couple does, John flies.

PNWA is making a big hoohoo over Kim and her marvelous book. We did a special print run for PNWA, so only those attending can get Kim’s book earlier than the October 1 release date. I’m especially excited for Kim because she’s one of the warmest people to come along. Her smile that’s as big as Arizona belies the angst and fear of nearly losing her husband, John, to cancer – and the only place she found solace and empowerment is at the top of the mountain with two skies strapped to her boots, bombing some insanely steep run with her hair on fire.

I can relate to that. I used to ski before my hip decided my daring-do shouldn’t stretch beyond bike riding, and I can still feel the wind in my then-braids as I flew down the mountain feeling like I owned the world. And no one captures that essence better than Kim. So I’m incredibly excited to see one of my authors stand up before a crowd and take her place of published author. She deserves every bit of accolade. To get a sample of her writing, visit her blog. Her latest post had me reaching for the Kleenex box – again.

I’m glad editing went well…otherwise I can see a quick boot out of the airplane as we fly over Puget Sound.


PNWA conference

July 27, 2010

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.


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