I attend the DFW Writers Conference to mainly help like so many others. I've worked the pitch session for some years. I tell bad jokes to the overly nervous writers waiting to pitch their works to agents and editors. And I usually catch a class or two. I didn’t attend to pitch anything, just hang with friends and maybe talk to an agent or two about the industry if the opportunity presented itself.
Then at the mixer I caught a glimpse of
Shilo Harris, a war veteran who had been burned over thirty-five percent of his body, walking towards me. I'd seen his picture on the website. Since I've led such a sheltered life in regards to traumatic injuries, and being shy by nature, I was nervous. How should I act? What would I say? What should I talk about, and more importantly, what shouldn't I talk about?
As he got close to the table where I stood, I nodded and said a timid hello. He stepped up and introduced himself with a firm handshake. The joy of being alive filled his voice and shone from his face as we talked for over an hour about his service, family, fishing, how he's helping vets. Nothing seemed off-limits. He made me feel like we'd been friends for decades.
The next day as I watched him saying goodbyes at the conference, it was obvious I wasn't the only person he made feel like a friend.
It's amazing how he's overcome such tragedy, such severe injuries. How he's so optimistic, so happy, so exuberant. How he's helping others, especially vets.
Back at the hotel, as I waited for friends, someone poked me in the back then hid on the opposite side like a kid. I turned and there he was, Shilo Harris smiling. He introduced me to his three sons, all good looking boys. We talked for a several minutes, then he was gone.
How many speakers would do that to someone they'd met once? And how many people has he met on tour? To him I wasn't just a blurred face in the crowd. I was a friend
This year's DFW Writers Conference brought something unexpected: the blessing, honor and privilege of meeting Shilo Harris, a hero, an inspiration, a man who helped me see past the physical. Serendipity brought us together, aligning an unfathomable number of events, events neither one of us could control, events as simple as a long drink line, events as complex as securing conference keynotes.
I admit, I'm not a deep thinker. I seldom reflect and I avoid philosophy. I also tend to live in the moment. Things happen then I forget and move on. Essentially, my field of view is narrow, like I'm wearing blinders.
That said, where do I take this from here?
Will my meeting Shilo Harris be like the exercise equipment in the corner of the room, pushed aside, collecting dust, or will I use the meeting to improve myself, like so many others he's touched, helped, given hope? More importantly will I try to escape my comfort zone to become more like Shilo Harris by helping others inside and outside of the writing community? Is anyone truly changed by meeting someone once? If there is a desire, an emptiness, a hunger in their soul for change, to overcome.
The DFW Writers Conference and the DFW Writers' Workshop have helped expand my comfort zone and brought many new friends into my life. A multitude of writers' workshops and conferences are built on mutual support, friendship, helping others, being helped. How much we help and how much we are helped depends on us.
Can I change? Most definitely. Can we change the world? You bet. How do we do it? By charging out of our comfort zone, taking off our blinders, and taking action.
I pray that my path will cross Shilo's again and that I will become a better person for having met him.
To learn more about Shilo Harris go to http://www.shiloharris.com/
-- Eric Dixon, DFWWW Member Since 2008
Originally published July 23, 2015
By Brian Tracey
With ThrillerFest, a week-long New York City writers' conference, still in my rear view mirror and DFWCon just ahead, I've discovered everything I knew about writing conferences is wrong.
Like many writers, I approached my first conference with my perfectly practiced pitch and my carefully crafted manuscript just knowing that soon I'd be signing with the agent who would make all my dreams come true. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
After the devastating discovery that I, in fact, had no idea how to write, I became certain that the key to conferences was a focus on craft. I then packed my conference schedules full of classes. Point of view. Plotting. Character. Structure. I took them all. Craft. That was what it was all about. Still wrong.
It’s taken countless conferences from The Big Apple to The Big D, some serious trial and error, but I’ve finally figured it out.
Conferences are about finding your tribe.
It took several years before I noticed something about the people at these conferences who I'd met and grown to know along the way. They’ve become important to me. Very important. On the surface, they're not like me. Politically, religiously, racially, sexual orientation, you name it. We are different. There is, however, one characteristic that transcends it all. Something so personal, so profound, so intimate that all of those differences wash away. These people are writers.
And because they're writers, they know. They know what it's like. They know how it feels. They know the experience of having voices in their heads that won't shut up until the words appear on paper or on the screen, words that are sometimes rejected, bashed, and abused. Mostly, if not surprisingly, they want to tell you what it is like for them and they want to hear what it's like for you, even if they've already sold three hundred million books or they've yet to sell one. Because they know.
I hope you find your agent at DFWCON. I hope you improve your craft. But more importantly I hope you choose to reach out and go find your tribe. Because when you land your agent and when you improve your craft (and those are unlikely to occur in that order), your tribe will be there to cheer you on and help carry you to the next stop in this insane journey that those voices have driven us to take. They will do this because they’ve been there or they are there or they will be there.
They do this because they’re writers.
-- Brian Tracey, DFWWW Member since 2012
Not every monster started as human.
In this anthology of eleven original tales - ten by DFW Writers' Workshop members - the undead are never quite expected. From sinister feline mummies to ravenous zombified cars and any and all things in-between, the living dead have returned from their graves, junkyards, and even the war torn skies to haunt the lands of the living. With stories horrific, funny, and weird, Strange Afterlives has a little something for everyone who has ever wondered what terrible secrets could be lurking in that rotting tree or broken toy.
Edited by former DFWWW board member and "a pretty cool guy (according to his mother)", A. Lee Martinez, STRANGE AFTERLIVES is available on Amazon for $0.99.
Buy it now see firsthand why you should join the workshop, if you haven't already.
Stories included in this anthology:
Mouse Trouble by A. Lee Martinez
After the Invasion by Russell C. Connor
Seated Woman with Child by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Roots by Brooke Fossey
The Late Mrs. Buttons by Sally Hamilton
An Undercover Haunting by Kristi Hutson
GImme Shelter by David C. Whiteman
01001110 by Nik Holman
The Runner by John Bartell
Night Witch by Shawn Scarber
The Scavenger Hunt by John Sanders Jr.
STRANGE AFTERLIVES will terrify and amuse. You may never look at a rusted automobile the same way again.
And be sure to join us any Wednesday night at 7:00 pm at The Simmons Center in Euless to see how DFWWW authors keep producing wonderful stories like the ones in this anthology.
Congratulations to workshop member, Harry Hall!
Harry's book, The Pedestriennes: America’s Forgotten Superstars earned the Bronze Medal for History (US) from IndependentPublisher.com.
According to the announcement from Independent Publisher, "Gold, silver and bronze "IPPY" medals will be awarded in 78 national, 24 regional, and ten e-book categories, chosen from nearly 6,000 entries from authors and publishers in all 50 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, and 34 countries overseas. The winners make up a reading list that is extensive and diverse, featuring new voices and viewpoints passionately expressed through soulful memoirs, insightful self-help books, and penetrating critiques of our social and political systems."
More about the book:
"The Pedestriennes: America's Forgotten Superstars" tells the little-known story of a handful of late 19th century female athletes who dazzled America with their remarkable performances in endurance walking. Frequently performing in front of large raucous crowds, pedestriennes walked on makeshift tracks set-up in reconfigured theatres and opera houses. Top pedestrennes often earned more money in one week than the average American took home in a year. Newspapers reported on their achievements and interviewed the champions. Their walking outfits became fashion plates, their pictures were sold in stores and they made personal appearances as national celebrities. The pedestriennes' exploits reshaped the country's attitudes about what women could accomplish and established the foundation for modern sports, the revival of the Olympic Games and the suffragist movement.
More about Harry:
In his 20 year writing career, Harry Hall's work has appeared in several publications, including Runner-Triathlete News, Mayborn magazine and The Dallas Morning News. Along the way, Harry interviewed celebrities such as Robin Roberts, Earl Campbell, Jim Courier, and Chuck Norris. He's covered a variety of amateur and professional sporting events, including the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament, US Olympic Track and Field Trials, and the Boston Marathon. A long-time public speaking instructor, he wrote a book on overcoming the fear of public speaking, "Help! Everyone is Staring at Me." A one-time syndicated columnist and radio talk show host, Harry was named the Texas Dietetic Association's Media Personality of the Year, and is a member of the Mayborn Author's Guild.
Congratulations again to Harry.
Join us any Wednesday night at 7:00 pm at The Simmons Center in Euless to see how DFWWW authors keep bringing home the wins.
DFW Writers’ Workshop is very proud to announce that the Euless Public Library will be hosting the 2015 DFW Teen Writers' Workshop on Saturdays from 2 until 4 (ish). The program starts on June 13 and enrollment is limited, so don't delay.
This program is 100% free and at least twice your daily recommended amount of fun. We've got a great line-up of speakers - this year we will even cover comics and graphic novels - and we are working on some fun extras to make this a summer to remember.
All participants must:
* Be between 13 and 18 and not yet graduated high school
* Commit to regular attendance (audit/drop-in spaces are available-- see registration page)
* Pre-register (Click here to register)
For more information, be sure to check out our Facebook page as well.
Schedule and Speakers:
June 13 The Art of Critique taught by Melissa Lenhardt
June 20 Narrative Non-Fiction taught by Pamela Skjolsvik
June 27 Comics & Graphic Novels taught by David Doub
July 4 No Class
July 11 Self-Publishing taught by Russell Connor
July 18 World Building taught by Tex Thompson
July 25 TBD
Aug 1 Dialogue taught by Kat Cook
Aug 8 Hands-on Anthology Work
See you then!