Seriously, any writer who has not been to a writer's conference - please make the time and save the money to go. It was definitely very much worth it.
I learned so much that I thought my head might explode .... it certainly felt very scrambled. But in a good way! Like "I can't believe there is so much still to learn. Now I have to burn my manuscript and start over because I just figured out how to make it SO MUCH BETTER!!!"
Yup, that was how I felt by the time I got home!
So fun little side notes - I arrived on Thursday, which also happened to be my Birthday! Woot! Thanks to my Hubby who gave me this awesome birthday present of paying for me to come to conference! He is my biggest fan and my strongest support in all of my writing endeavors.
I didn't take a lot of pictures - mostly because I was so caught up in everything that I forgot I had a camera! But I am happy to share the few photos I did get during this conference.
There were so many fun people I met there or reunited with.
|Me with Laura Johnston and Betsy Love|
|Me with Aprilynne Pike at the Antagonist Ball|
I also attended her Query & Pitch Class and workshop. I have read a million things about queries over the years. But honestly I think I got more out of her class, and listening to her visit with each of our groups, then I ever learned from all the reading I have done about how to draft "the perfect query." She was very open, honest, and kept things to the point. I loved this, and spent that night completely redoing my query letter! I loved her personality and her style of teaching. And the information she gave was invaluable.
I also absolutely adored Literary Agent Lara Perkins class Crafting a Can't-Put-Me-Down First Chapter. She really helped me get an idea of why I've been struggling with catching agents' attention on my novel. I am so excited to start rewriting and ripping my work apart (which is a bit weird actually.) She talked a lot about how the first line and the first paragraph are Key Components to getting that interest and captivating a reader. I then went back and started opening all my favorite books to the first page in order to see what the first line was and how it caught my attention. My husband was extremely amused when I literally pulled one book after another off our bookshelf, read the first line, and put them in a pile on my desk.
During the conference we also had the Protagonist Ball, which was a blast. Lots of good chocolate and lots of people came dressed with their favorite Protagonist.
|Liesl Jackson, Peggy Urry, and Me|
We had classes all day both days. The Ball was Friday night, to give us a nice little break, and then back to putting more information into our already overstimulated minds! Loved it!
Some of my other favorite classes were Jennifer Griffith's Shine Up Your Story With Conflict and Archetypes, not Stereotypes: Nailing Down Your Main Characters. Wow!! I am now reassessing all of my characters and what their conflict is. I was so grateful for someone to point out how important these things are to really nail down and how it helps to hold onto readers. (Before I went to this conference I thought I was my worse critic, but I'm quickly discovering that really it is our readers who are the worse critic. They will notice EVERYTHING you do wrong. They know when you break the rules, when your characters don't live up to expectations, and when you haven't done your research properly - even when they never see the information spread out in the story, they know when you haven't fully developed every tiny detail and it's back story.)
There were so many great classes that I can't even list them all. But I loved every one of them. Shadow Mountain's Chris Schoebinger's class The 5 Things You Should Know Before Submitting Your Manuscript to a Publisher really made a huge impact on my as well. And now I hope every agent forgets who I am before I try again with my next book because I'm pretty sure I'm thoroughly embarrassed by what I first submitted and by not knowing all the things I know now.
Other fun things that happened: On Friday Chris Schoebinger and James Owen joined our table for lunch. We had a blast talking about our writing, sharing stories and books, and just enjoying each others company. It was really enlightening and fun! James has so many stories that had us all laughing pretty hard.
|Me with James Owen|
|He drew this dragon right in front of us as he spoke,|
and also drew a smaller version in his book when he signed it for me!
I also was pleasantly surprised to win the book The Stranger she Married by Donna Hatch. I was extremely interested in her novels and wanted to buy them, but got lucky during a drawing and won it instead! I'm so excited to start reading it and have heard great reviews about it.
|Me with Donna Hatch|
|Me with my gift card - right before I ran to the book store and spent it|
This conference was an amazing experience over all and I'm beyond excited to go to it again next year! Loved every minutes of it - even the parts when I was so tired I thought I would fall asleep on the spot.
Thanks to the ANWA conference staff and board of directers made this such a wonderful conference: Melinda Carroll, Janette Rallison, Peggy Urry, Tina Scott, DeAnn Huff, Faith St. Clair, McKenna Gardner, Anika Arrington, Torsha Baker, Donna Hatch, Jill Burgoyne, Deb Eaton, Angela Morrison, Chanda Simper, Peggy Shumway, Nan Marie Swapp, Margaret Turley, Sandra Udall, Nikki Wilson and Marsh Ward.
And also to all of the wonderful writers/authors who were present who made every moment enjoyable!