I made it back from the Lone Star Conference put on by the Northwest Houston Chapter of Romance Writers of America. This was my first ever writers conference and I had no clue what to expect. I had initially planned to attend the National conference in New York City, but plans fell through. And I’m kind of glad they did. I would definitely recommend new conference goers start at the chapter level before attending a national conference, if your genre offers one.
So, how did I prepare for this conference? I read other people’s blogs about their conference experiences, I read about the agents who would be at this conference and I wrote. A lot. But this is the surprising place where social networking came in handy. Last year I met a fellow displaced Californian living in Texas through…wait for it… the NaNoWriMo boards. (See, I told you NaNo changed my life) Well, we started emailing each other, which eventually led to mutual friend requests on Facebook. Patti mentioned the conference to me back in I think April or May. Her blog can be found here. Well, she introduced me to another woman, who is one of the many authors in the NWH chapter. June gave me some fantastic ideas of what to organize for the conference. Check out her website here.
So in August, I registered. And continued writing. Got a full novel critique from another one of my most staunch cheerleaders Donna, and I worked on those edits. I wanted to make sure I had as polished of a manuscript as possible to pitch to the agents. There were three agents and and editor available for appointments at the conference and though the though made me want to lose whatever was in my stomach when the thought crossed my mind, I bit the bullet and signed up for a few appointments.
The week before the conference, things at work kind of fell apart, which may have been a blessing in disguise (in hindsight) because I didn’t have time to sit around and be nervous about the coming events. So Friday, the hubby and I roll into Houston and check in for the conference. We go to the room, look around and then I go to the lobby to see if my two online angels have arrived. Remember, at this point, I’ve never met any of these women in person. By the time I get back down, both June and Patti are in the lobby and welcome me like they’ve known me forever. They made everything so much easier and because they were both so busy, I didn’t get a real opportunity to tell them just how much I appreciate all they did to help me not only before hand, but there at the conference also.
I mingled around, trying not to be a wall flower. I met quite a few fantastic authors and felt more comfortable than I imagined I would. People would not guess it, but I can be shy sometimes. I’ll wait while those who know me pick themselves off the floor and dry the tears of laughter streaming down their faces……………..Done?? Anyway. I talked to the agents when I saw them, I talked to people passing by and I listened to the conversations around me.
One person who was as sweet as could be and encouraging was Christie Craig. I’d read her book Don\’t Mess with Texas about a month before the conference. She was this petite, sweet woman who didn’t mind chit-chatting with the newbie sitting next to her. We’d both put raffle tickets in for a drawing of the same basket and were jokingly competing for it. Neither of us got it, but talking to her was so much fun.
I now know why other authors have so little information on their blogs about conference experiences. There’s simply too much information to put down in a condensed blog post. and I’m sure each person will take away something different from it. I know, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workshop. It was put on by Alexandra Sokoloff and was Screenwriting Tips for Authors. I truthfully didn’t know how I would apply it. But by the end of the day, I was bursting with ideas of how to improve certain scenes in my book and a story arc that worked, but not as well as it should be. I had over a page and half of jotted down thoughts, hastily scribbled while trying to keep up with Alexandra as she wrapped up the presentation.
I have to say, it was an overwhelming and enlightening experience. One that I hope I can repeat next year. Who knows, maybe next year I can attend the National conference?
Here’s a few pics from the day.
Thanks again NWHRWA for a fantastic experience.