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Thursday, February 28, 2013

ANWA Conference 2013

One week ago today, I went to my very first writer's conference. It was the ANWA - Time Out for Writer's Conference.
BEST EXPERIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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
I attended some truly amazing classes including Aprilynne Pike's class Worldbuilding: The Invisible Foundation, Where I found myself absolutely captivated as she showed us amazing examples of the depth that goes into building your world. She talked about all the research and time the goes into building that world, even when most of it will never appear in the book. However, your readers will know the difference and the depth really comes through even though most of it is never actually written or discussed throughout the novel.
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
James Owen wrote the book series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica starting with Here, There be Dragons. He was also our Keynote speaker and gave an amazing talk about the choices we make and how they will effect our lives for good or bad. He had some great thoughts that really touched me and made me think. He says, "The Sonner you start making better choices, the sooner your life will be better." and one of my other favorites (and I think a favorite of almost everyone at the conference) was this, "Live deliberately  Decide: Are you the kind of person things happen to, or are you the kind of person who makes things happen?"

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
I also found out that I had won a $25 gift card for the bookstore for being one of those who registered super early for this conference! Apparently they had sent out on email announcing this information and I hadn't actually seen it, so it caught me completely by surprise (and also they announced it at lunch and caught me with a mouth full of food!) I immediately went and spent it on a couple of books I had been eyeing by author Janette Rallison who also taught the wonderful and very insightful class She Loves You, She Loves You Not: Writing Romances Editors Want to Buy. (Super helpful since my main genre is Romance)

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!


  1. So fun! I love writers conferences for all the same reasons. I'll see you in may :)

  2. So glad you got this opportunity! Excited to see what you come up with next. :)

  3. Great recap! I'm so glad we saw each other again after all these years! So fun. It was great to chat with you at the conference. We'll have to stay in touch.

  4. We can hardly wait to reread you book. We are sure it will be even more exciting than it was, and in our humble, but most accurate, opinion it was great before.

  5. It was a fabulous conference! And so wonderful to connect with my fellow ANWA babes! I love the picture of the three of us. Mind if I steal it for my blog? btw, I'm not using the blogspot one any more. I now have an official website. betsylove dot com.

  6. Yes Betsy, you are more than welcome to use that picture on your blog. I checked out your site too :)


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