My First Writing Conference In Review

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Well, Las Vegas is in my rearview mirror and along with it the 2016 Las Vegas Writer’s Conference.

I had a great time, and I am very glad that I went through with it. I am particularly glad that I got to meet, pitch, and learn from real-life literary agents. I am at that point in my writing career where I am sort of hyper-focused on landing an agent. Yes, I know there are next levels after that, but for now I can’t worry about those. And when almost all of my interaction with agents is through sending queries and receiving form rejections or silence in reply, it feels like trying to read tea leaves. Getting to hear things straight from the horse’s mouth was invaluable.

As far as the craft workshops, they were good. I think they would have been super helpful for me like 4-5 years ago. As it was, they were mostly just refreshers of stuff that I’ve seen elsewhere. And so I am still in the position of trying to figure out the how of craft rather than the what. But that’s a lifelong journey, no?

I got up at 6 AM on Thursday for the 5-hour drive to Vegas. After checking in, I hit up Edit Yourself into Print (give by an agent, one of my favorites of the conference), How to Write a Blurb that Sells, and Before You Jump into Self-Publishing (a sobering look at the harsh reality of self-pub). Then there was a happy hour and ice breaker event. Which was good, but also really long. By the time 7 PM rolled around, I was desperate for some alone time! Had to hit up the gym for my training plan, and by the time I got out of the shower at 9:30 PM or so, I was done for the day. Gotta love the light and music show outside my window at 10 PM as I was trying to sleep!

Friday was an all-day affair at the conference. Breakfast with some words from an indie author on the faculty, then 14 Things to Revise in Your Manuscript, my first pitch session, and The Art of Pacing and Tension. Lunch had a first page panel (5 of the faculty read first pages in front of everyone and pointed out where they would stop reading and why). Then Getting Sassy with Subtext, Story Engineering, and Write Dialogue Like a Playwright. Dinner had another first page panel. These panels were some of the best info I got the entire weekend. I only wish my pages would have been drawn!

Friday night after dinner I escaped for some alone time on the Strip. Walked around for a couple hours, watched the fountains at the Bellagio, and ate a second dinner of burger, fries, and boozed-up milkshake. Totally worth it!

Saturday was the last day of the conference. Breakfast had another indie author from the faculty speaking, then World Building in Fiction, How to Hook an Agent, and my second agent pitch. I skipped out to go for a training run and check out of my hotel room, so I caught only the very end of the lunch panel, which was a couple agents talking about how to spot scams. Then the afternoon was The Agent/Client Relationship and Whose Story is This? That finished out the workshops, and then there was a dinner with a keynote address from Larry Brooks. After that, I had to head out, as I had another 5-hour drive!

As you can see, it was a super packed weekend. There were so many great faculty members, awesome fellow writers, and lots of good choices for the workshops. It was rather a whirlwind of a weekend, but in a good way!

Now to swallow my doubt and send out the requested materials…eek!

Reports from the conference and thoughts in the aftermath.