Thought I'd post about the lovely conference I attended this weekend, and all the wonderful people I met here in Cocoa Beach Florida. This is an annual conference, and I would certainly recommend it to others.
I was possibly the attendee that came from furthest away - Northern MN/WI... and people were really surprised about that. Of course, my response to their surprise that I traveled so far was... "Do you know how cold it is in MN right now? Trust me, this is the place to be!" It wasn't particularly warm here this weekend. Florida (much of the south, actually) is experiencing unusually cold weather this week. But it was very comfortable by our standards.
I attended a variety of workshops/seminars/talks. Each was about an hour long, and Many of them didn't seem nearly long enough.
I met some interesting people, not the least of which were fellow writers, many of them in my position of having finished manuscripts that no one is buying.
The highlights, I'd say, were having an opportunity to pitch Assassin Jaxx to literary agent Lucienne Diver. It was a verbal pitch, and let me just say right up front that I did a miserable job. I'm a writer. When I'm nervous, my mouth races ahead of my thoughts, and it's almost never good. I paid $20 for that opportunity, no less! But all is not lost. I also pitched A Year of Sundays, which was particularly difficult, as I haven't EVEN witten a synopsis for that yet. So anyway, she invited me to send her a synopsis and 30 pages of Jaxx, and a synopsis for Sundays. So I will be working on that stuff. (Meanwhile my final edits of DeVante's Children are due back to my editor on Jan 31st - LMAO. Guess I'll have to work on that first).
Another highlight was a presentation by Alyson Day (although more of a "talk" as it was pretty informal) - she works for Random House Children's imprint. Did you hear the important part there? That would be RANDOM HOUSE. That's huge. Random House typically only accepts queries and proposals from literary agents. Anyway, Alyson was a true pleasure to listen to, and ask questions of. She has an amazingly friendly energy, and she genuinely loves books. I felt like she'd be tickled beyond belief to find a new Random House writer in the room. She handed out cards and invited us each to send her (directly) a query about 1 book. So if nothing else, this conference is giving me an opportunity to pitch one of MY books to a Big Book Publisher. And without an agent. Wow!
By far my favorite author/speaker was Marshall Frank (www.marshallfrank.com) This guy spent his working years as a homicide detective in Miami. He never even read a novel until he was 50. So he decided to write a book about the Liberty City riots of 1980, but a writer friend urged him to write it as fiction, (libel and lawsuits, you know) So he spent a few months reading novels (John Grisham, James Patterson, Anne Rice, etc) and eventually wrote a novel. Then, because he'd enjoyed writing that novel, he wrote more of them. He is the "classic" literary hard-boiled homicide detective. I mean, I listen to him, and I've got Alex Delaware (John Sandford) in my head, all the way. And I don't mean about his fiction, I mean about how he described his real life. Truth is, I can hardly wait to read his books, now that I know some of the stories behind the stories. I was disappointed that his books weren't for sale at the book fair of the conference. Funny thing about being disappointed - I asked him why he wasn't selling books, and he told me, and that led to a really enjoyable conversation. He later did a talk on Marketing for Small Press Authors. I think his tips and ideas will be great for me, with my e-book, as well. Go to his website and check out (and buy!) his books!
A topic that I NEEDED to learn about was presented by Christine and J. Steven York. The Yorks have written all kinds of stuff in damn near every genre. They were selling a lot of Science Fiction and Star Wars books, and they've been included in many anthologies. They taught about Choosing a Genre. Not about choosing a genre in which to write, but how to figure out WHAT genre your book falls under. They offered really helpful rules to follow, despite the fact that they crammed a week's worth of lectures into just one hour. These folks were also just so friendly, so willing to answer questions, and just pleased to pass on info about the craft of writing. A lot of what they discussed is available on their website, www.yorkwriters.com
One last thing that's noteworthy....
DeVante's Coven did NOT win the 2008 Project: QueerLit novel contest. While I was at the conference I got the email announcing the winners, and unfortunately, showing my own novel in the runners' up category. Ah well. CONGRATS to Lee Houck for his/her manuscript Yield, which was the top rated manuscript in the 2008 contest.
I'm pretty comfortable with not winning. With DeVante's Children coming out from Torquere Press next month, a huge part of me would like to see DeVante's Coven be available from the same press in the future. I'll get right on that - as soon as these edits and queries are done!
Causes SM Johnson Supports
FAIR Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood