This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the 2010 Missouri Writers’ Guild Annual Conference. For a rookie like me, it was both eye-opening and awe-inspiring.
Friday, I went to the Mystery Writing Workshop given by Esther Luttrell. My body and brain shook a little too hard. It was a serious case of too excited and too nervous at the same time. Ms. Luttrell was entertaining and enlightening. I immediately felt at ease.
Later that afternoon, there was an agent/editor panel. It was a great opportunity for me to see that they are indeed real people. Let’s face it, no matter how many times we hear it, we don’t believe that they are. Agents are almost mythical creatures from that foreign land known as New York. If they don’t live in New York, we believe that they have some sort of teleportation device that gets them there rather quickly. After the panel, I felt even better about my decision to attend the conference.
Saturday, I did something totally outside my comfort zone. I pitched a literary agent. Normally, I clam up whenever I meet new people. (Sometimes even people I know.) I faked confidence, introduced myself, and got down to it. I don’t know if she noticed that I was shaking or not. Honestly, it didn’t really matter. I felt comfortable after about ten seconds. The pitch went well. I was on a high all day. An hour later, it felt like it had been an out-of-body experience.
There were several other workshops on Saturday that were just a blast. Angie Fox gave fantastic advice on paranormal fiction. I learned some valuable lessons in a historical fiction workshop given by Suzanne Lieurance.
At four that afternoon, the workshop I’d been waiting for all day finally started. Jennifer Brown, author of Hate List, talked about the do’s and don’ts of writing for Young Adults. I am not ashamed to admit I felt like a fangirl. I bounced in my seat a little, spoke up (another thing I don’t normally do), and even got up the courage to ask her to sign my book.
One of the biggest lessons I learned this past weekend is one every writer should remember. You aren’t alone in your successes or your struggles. If your goal is to be the next bestseller or you just would like to go to a bookstore to see your book on the shelf, there are a slew of people out there who are ready, willing, and able to support you.
My first experience was enough to know that there will be a second.