I’m just back from the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference in Seattle last weekend, and I had a wonderful, if exhausting, time. It is one of the oldest and most established writer’s conferences in North America, 59 years old this year. And while this year’s event was big enough for me with more than 600 participants, they assured me that next year’s conference will be even bigger to celebrate the 60th anniversary.
I felt that this year’s workshops were even better than last year’s. Two workshops in particular will have me plunging back into my mystery as soon as I finish this post to see if I can’t add tension to each scene:
* That Arc of a Scene: A Beat by Beat Analysis of How Scenes work, presented by Scott Driscoll.
* Creating and Maintaining Tension and Suspense, presented by Robert Dugoni
Sabrina York’s workshop called Takin It To The Street…Team was also very useful. Her tips on making the best use of social media was great – even if you don’t plan on starting your own street team.
Another wonderful opportunity last weekend was meeting my roommate Melissa Denny who writes middle-grade and picture books and who had finalled with her picture book in the PNWA contest. A gentle story about the night a foal is born, the emotion she put into that 300 words was amazing.
All of the evening speakers were extremely entertaining: James Rollins Thursday night and a panel of luminaries hosted by Robert Dugoni Friday night. One theme that emerged both nights was the need for persistence. Regardless of how long a list of published books and other credits these people had, they all stressed that getting there was a struggle that took years in every case, and advised looking for opportunities where you least expect them.
That said, one of the best opportunities at this conference is the 90 minute speed-dating-style pitch session with a busload of agents and editors. There is a limited number of people signed up for each one, and this year each person could go to two 90 minute sessions.
First there is a morning of agent and editor forums where they each talk about what they are looking for now. Then at the pitch sessions you go from one person to the next, giving as many 4 minute pitches as you can fit in as the hour and a half races by. Yes, sometimes you must line up in between, but a short line gives you a few minutes to compose yourself for the next pitch. In the end I had 8 requests split between my romance and mystery manuscripts.
After that I emailed my son and said, “Marketing for Introverts is on now, but I feel too peopled out to go to it.”
But on the last morning Bob Dugoni had us all on our feet repeating the Writers of Rohan pledge. You had to be there.
Good to go, but good to be home. I hope next year some of my fellow Vancouver Island writers can join me.
And now I’d better get busy and send out those chapters I promised.