Monday, October 24, 2011

Why I Always Go Back to the Beach

Sorry I missed my normal Friday blogging. I left at oh-dark thirty Friday morning for the South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference in Myrtle Beach and am STILL on such a high from it. I’ve attended this conference for the past three years, met some of the most amazing people there, and always have a super awesome time.

While there, I attended inspiring sessions with super amazing agents and editors like Sarah LaPolla, Chuck Sambuchino, Molly O’Neill, Alyssa Henkin, Mollie Glick, and so many more. In-depth highlights forthcoming, but here's just a bit of the awesomeness:

1) James Frankel discussed narrative strategies and inserts gems like “Follow your bliss” and talked about reading in an entranced state and “You don’t want to wake up the reader.” And there were so many other GREAT pieces of advice—I’ll be doing a follow up post on that session.

2) I was inspired by Molly O’Neill’s passion for the industry and the creative editing side of the business. I knew I wanted the whole editing part of the process if I ever sign with a publisher. Now I KNOW I want it.

And, uh…without going all crazy fangirl, let’s just say she’s the woman behind Divergent. And I ate dinner with her one night and she is super nice and intelligent and well, I’m really glad I got to meet her.

3) I have some major WIP issues and I know what I need to do to fix them. Attending sessions and talking it out with agents validated that.

4) Eating dinner with author Andrew Gross. Extremely down-to-earth and funny. He’s co-written six books with James Patterson. The Women’s Murder Club. With James Patterson.

James Patterson.

5) That query I was working on? Well, with the help of one of my fabulous CPs, Alexandra Shostak, I cleaned that baby up and had a query critique with an agent. He couldn’t find anything wrong with it. And he requested a partial. Oops. Guess I better hurry up on those revisions.

6) Meeting other writers and talking about writing and what you write and the sessions we all attended and celebrating with one another when pages were requested and who we’re going to sit with at dinner and…STILL on a high from those conversations. And I know from previous experience that some of those same people will become lasting friends. Sometimes critique partners or beta readers. And the people I met were just super wonderful and just really, really nice.

7) The conference hotel was at the beach. No, really. My room had a balcony overlooking the beach and I sat outside and tried to do work while staring at the ocean. I think that’s reason enough to go back, don’t you?

8) The food. Ahhh…the FOOD. Where do I start? All kinds of mouth-watering, yet all kinds of healthy.

9) Oh, and I attended a slush fest in which super brave writers offer up their first two pages for critique. Molly O’Neill and Alyssa Henkin ran the session, but needed someone to read the pages. Yeah, I volunteered. It was cool. Except when I had to read my own. FIRST. And the shake in my voice reminded me of when I’d do cold read auditions for community theatre. But, I enjoyed that. Bonus—they said they’d read more pages. And unless my voice shakes gave me away, they didn’t know it was mine.

10) Silent auctions. Baskets of books being auctioned off. I always seem to get outbid on all my book offers, but I’ve left the past two years with amazing artwork.

And while going to this particular conference had a gazillion highs, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the lows.

1) My daughter got sick (my children ALWAYS seem to get sick or hurt while I’m away. Boo.)

2) I missed my son's soccer game. And my husband's. And a Halloween party.

3) I used downtime to catch up on school work. And consequently, had no time to write.

4) Now that I’m back at school, I have to play catch-up. Hello, paperwork overload.

5) I missed Homecoming on Friday. It’s an easy day to miss in terms of classroom responsibilities, but I *sniff* missed all the fun.

Notice how ALL of those are non-conference related. Yeah. It was a pretty freaking awesome conference. There were a few teensy lows. Like that one session I attended that was misleading and mis-informative. I snuck out early. And now know what agent I won’t be querying. So I pretty much considered that a plus.

Overall, I learned a lot and had a wonderful time. I’m not going to lie. It’s costly to go to a writers conference. But so, so worth it.

So, have YOU been to any writers conferences lately? What’s YOUR best experience with them? Or your worst?


  1. So, so envious! Sounds like you had a blast :) I really need to look into conferences going in the States nearest to where I live in Canada (somehow I doubt Minot, North Dakota has writing conferences lol). That is SO awesome that you've had a request for pages! Makes the catch-up worth it, right? :D

  2. LOVE conferences...and it's been too long for me ...other than Book Expo, which is a different kind of amazing.

    Congrats, congrats on the partial request!!

  3. A worthwhile conference AND the beach? I'm jealous!
    Congrats, too :)

  4. I haven't braved the cost yet for attending a conference. They certainly sound worth their price now after your gushing. Especially if they are at the beach!

    Congrats on the partial request too.

  5. I'm hoping to go to a conference next summer. But I wanted to ask you about Sarah LaPolla, she's on my dream agent list and any info would be so helpful!

  6. Sounds like an awesome conference. And congrats on the partial request. I wish our chapter of SCBWI would have more agents attend.

  7. All in all, that sounds like a pretty awesome conference! YAY for partial requests!! Now crank out those revisions! ;)

  8. Glad you enjoyed the conference. I keep thinking of going to that one, but money is always an issue.

  9. Sounds like an amazing experience, and YAY for the request! Get busy on those revisions, lady! And shoot me an email when you have a few minutes... I want details!

  10. Sounds like you had a great time at the conference. I love conferences.

  11. Oh wow does that sound like FUN! I WANT TO COME WITH YOU NEXT YEAR!!!! :)

  12. I love conferences. The inspiration I feel at the end of one is totally worth the price of admission.

  13. Hope your kids are better. Glad you had fun at your conference.

  14. Wow, that sounds fantastic. This is going on the "No, really, I mean it" to-do list. I've been to a few teaching conferences (met Katherine Paterson and Walter Dean Myers at book signings!) and I'm always really invigorated at the end. I'm slowly starting to see a path beyond the Google Doc that is my WIP--which gives writing a whole new sparkle.

  15. That sounds wonderful. Good luck with the partial and hope your daughter is feeling better.
    I'm hopefully going to the Niagra conference next year :)

  16. Sounds amazing! I got to go to one in NYC earlier this year. My favorite part was hearing the speakers tell their writing journey stories. So inspirational. :) But you are right, they are soo expensive!

  17. I'd love to go to a conference someday! Never been in one! :D
    Everything you told us sounds so exciting!

    Sorry about the things you missed though.

  18. I'm glad you enjoyed your time in my home state! I miss the beach so much, so terribly (I grew up 2 hours down coast, in Charleston). Myrtle Beach is a really fun town. And it sounds like you had a great time! Seriously, I'm jealous. And especially that you got to meet Ms. Roth. I think she's adorable (on her blog... and I'm sure she's adorable in real life too).


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