Thursday, May 24, 2012

The DFW Writer's Conference

So, the whole reason I have this here "Death Writer" blog is because I wrote a book about my anxiety fueled journey exploring death.  I would never have studied death if it hadn't been for school.  I'm the kind of person who thrives in an environment where I'm held accountable. Look at death!  Okay!

One day I hope to sell Death Becomes Us.  You know, so I can pay off those student loans. Grad school was expensive, but totally worth it.  Heck, even if my manuscript never sees the vaguely florescent light of a Barnes and Noble or the computer screen glow from a Nook I'm a much better person for taking the trip.  Ask my family.
Me & Tom French, one of my mentors at school.

And if I'm going to be totally honest, I'd like to see something I wrote in a bookstore. At the rate I'm going, however, I'm afraid by the time this thing makes it into print, print will be gone.  E readers are cool.  I guess.  I don't own one.  I like paper.  But I am not violently opposed to them.  Whatever happens, happens.

Here I am looking at the "stars" on the ceiling at the conference.
I think I've had a glass of wine or three.

So, last weekend I attended the DFW Writer's Conference in lovely Hurst, TX.  I've been to a few conferences in my day, but I have to say that this one was particularly enjoyable.  For one, the Hurst conference center was beautiful and there were snacks.  Lots and lots of snacks.  You wouldn't think that snacks would make or break a conference, but you would be oh so wrong if you thought that snacks were unimportant.  People, myself included, like to eat a cookie or grab a cup of coffee when their brain is on overdrive trying to absorb all the output..  And there was a ton to absorb.

I thoroughly enjoyed James Rollins' Keynote Address.  I've never read any of his books, but that doesn't matter.  He still gave a very funny, heartfelt speech about becoming a writer.  And who doesn't love a man who will openly admit that he approached Ron Howard at his first conference thinking he was someone he knew.  Plus, he used to be a veterinarian and despite the fact that he's now a best selling author, he still volunteers his services once a month at a spay and neuter clinic.

My favorite class was called Fast Draft and was taught by Candace Havens.  This woman is not only funny and an excellent teacher, she's also a trooper.  I'm not going to go into why I think she's a trooper, but trust me, she is. I just figured out the ending of my book after months of pondering and hoping for some sort of miracle happy ending.  Books about death, even ones written in sort of a humorous tone are kind of heavy, and the damn thing was right in front of my face.  Since this is a memoir, there has to be some sort of detachment in order to reflect on the events.  I've finally got it!  And it took one night of fast draft to free myself up.  I figuratively vomited my ending.  Now I'm wading through the mess.  Ewwwwwwww!

I also had three requests for my proposal, but I kind of live by the motto, "Expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed."  So, if anything comes of it, you'll be the first to know.  I'm lying.  You'll probably be the third to know.  Mom and husband come first because they've had to put up with me a lot longer than you have.

Yesterday I found out that I'm going to be able to attend another writing conference in July called the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.  It's in Texas.  Yee haw!

So, bloggers, what's your favorite conference?  Why?  Are snacks important?  Discuss...

Don't write and wondering where all the death is in this post?  Check back Monday when I hope to have two, count em, TWO posts.  It is Memorial Day, after all.

18 comments:

  1. Sorry I missed that Fast Draft class!

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    1. It was really good. I can explain the concept at one of the meetings if you're interested.

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  2. Good Stuff, Pam! Glad you had a good time!!!!

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    1. I did. Thanks for doing a most excellent job of pulling it all together.

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  3. Hey, Pam. Glad to chock up your counter here. Enjoyed having you on the front row for my class.

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    1. Thanks for increasing my traffic stats! It's all about making oneself appear much more important and popular than they really are:)
      I enjoyed your class as well and if I'm ever in need of a literary publicist, I know who to call.

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  4. Sounds like a great conference. And, yes, snacks are very important! So is figurative vomiting. Sometimes. Best of luck with your proposals!

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  5. Okay, forgive me , but for what does the DFW stand? DId you like that? Did you see how I didn't end that sentence with a preposition? Proud of me? :)
    I've never been to a writing conference. My brother went to one in SF last winter and he came away both inspired by the sessions and discouraged with the agents.
    as for food? not so important to me unless is is GOOD food......not crap shortening, sugar and white flour stuff. Sorry. Now I've disappointed you. :(

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  6. It stands for Dallas/Fort Worth. As far as ending sentences with a preposition, eh! If you know the rules, you can break them now and then. Or all the time if your name is Cormac McCarthy.

    Conferences are fun but also overwhelming. That's why snacks are important. I think agents tend to be discouraging because they are inundated with a lot of less than stellar material on a daily basis. Their livelihood depends on finding writers that are going to sell books. It all boils down to business so I think they become a little jaded when they get another query letter that's about vampires or whatever is hot or not so hot at the moment. They are making an investment in a person when they decide to represent them, so they have to feel fairly confident that the person is going to deliver. One, that they can write. Two, that they have more than one book in them. (We can't all be Harper Lee) And three, that they want to work with this person for several years. That's a lot of pressure.
    I agree with you on the food. There is nothing more depressing than a birthday cake decorated with dyed blue Crisco frosting. I'd rather have a bowl of cereal.

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  7. Pam, we all know that hard work pays off. You are working hard...payday is coming. :)

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  8. Note to self: invent, procure Birthday Cereal. Candles optional.

    No, but seriously: the conference was great, YOU were great, and if there's one thing to take away from that keynote speech, it's that this business here is like the polar opposite of school: there aren't a bunch of credit hours and degree plans and syllabi to measure progress with, and although one on hand that can make this project a REALLY indefinite nebulous protracted bummer, you can on the other hand go from being a 49-times-rejected goob to a Really Big Deal in the space of about a week. Keep at it, ma'am, and set course for Mayborn in the meantime!

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    1. I think birthday cereal has the potential to be huge. There should be some sort of candle with the ability to float in the milk included as the "special prize." I'd buy it.
      Thanks Tex! I don't know if I want to be a really big deal. I'd settle for a fairly big deal in certain circles:)

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  9. I haven't gone to a conference yet, but I would like to go to one. Good luck with your requests, I hope they pay off.

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    1. They are fun and inspiring.

      Thanks!

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  10. 'E readers are cool. I guess. I don't own one. I like paper. But I am not violently opposed to them. Whatever happens, happens.'

    I like your articulation. Just sums it up with no bells and whistles.

    'I also had three requests for my proposal, but I kind of live by the motto, "Expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed." So, if anything comes of it, you'll be the first to know. I'm lying. You'll probably be the third to know. Mom and husband come first because they've had to put up with me a lot longer than you have.'

    Cute.

    Here's hoping we'll be the third to know something, soon. Intrigued by your topic, naturally.

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    1. Well, I just got my first feedback from an agent and she said "What's the narrative thrust of this story? What's at stake?" And I've been pondering over this simple question all freakin' day and trying to put it into words.

      My life was at stake. Instead of your typical mid-life crisis with shiny fast cars or discreet plastic surgery, I opted to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a writer. But, there was one little problem--crippling social anxiety,which kept me from fully engaging in my life. So what did I do? I overcame my anxiety by exploring death.
      The end.

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