This past weekend, I attended my second DFW Writers' Conference. It was better than the last one. Or maybe I was better. I think with a big event like this, you need one run for practice before you get the hang of it.
Here are some things I learned:
Donald Maass (a) is a colossal nerd, and (b) has a name that ends in "SS" not just "S" as I keep wanting to type it.
He's the best kind of colossal nerd - a fantasy fan and gamer who loves that stuff and wants to share his love with other people. He's also an incredibly nice guy who will go out of his way to make you feel welcome and valued in any conversation. And he has a wicked-sharp sense of humor.
Jonathan Maberry (a) is a really awesome guy, and (b) has only one "Y" in his name despite my urge to type in another every damn time I write it. (No H, either.)
He is also a colossal nerd, both in nerdiness and size. Seriously. Jon Maberry will mess you up. He's huge. In a fight of Jon Maberry and a full-grown Kodiak bear... I'd bet on the bear unless the spread was really crazy. But I'd check the odds, just in case. And he's also warm and friendly and loves to share geeky stuff.
Literary Agents are really nice people.
This year, I volunteered to wrangle an agent (i.e. act as a guide, gofer, and chauffeur). I'd imagined the job would be kind of difficult, but that it would be worth it for the networking opportunities.
Instead, it was one of the easiest things I've ever done, and more than worth it for the networking opportunities. Margaret Bail, of the Inklings Literary Agency, is incredibly friendly and easygoing. She was great to work with, and about as low-maintenance as I could have imagined. And she wants to see my book when it's finished, which is awesome.
What I got for my (minuscule) trouble was the chance to hang out with other agents at dinners and lunches, where I learned a lot about the publishing business and made connections.
So if you're with the DFW Writer's Workshop and you're attending next year's Conference, be first in line to offer to wrangle an agent. It's the opposite of traumatic, and it's a great opportunity.
Keep track of your schedule.
Again, this is kind of obvious in retrospect. I did a great job keeping Margaret's schedule straight. I plugged all her events into my Google calendar, which fed me alerts all day. But I forgot to put my OWN events in the calendar, so I missed my Saturday critique session. Oops.
Don't be shy. Les Edgerton says so.
And really, don't be. Talk to people. Almost all writers are wallflowers who are each secretly hoping someone else will initiate conversation, and the agents ACTUALLY CAME TO THE CONFERENCE to talk to you. They did it on their own time, too. They are here for the express purpose of listening to you talk about your book so they can decide if they'd like you to submit it.
Thanks to Kirk von der Heydt and the rest of the Conference Committee for a great conference. Thanks to all the agents, editors, and speakers. Without you, the conference would be a hollow shell of itself. Thanks to everyone who made it a fun, educational weekend full of opportunities. And good luck to everybody. I hope this conference results in some book deals.
I look forward to seeing you all next year. And if you could each bring roughly .3 friends, that'd probably be good.
Well, don't literally bring a fractional person. 1 in 3 of you bring one friend. Or something like that.
-- David Goodner, DFWWW Member since 2012 *(This essay originally appeared in slightly longer form on The Astounding Mr. Goodner's Amazing Electric Widgets blog. Check it out, because it's good fun!)
We’d like to congratulate workshop members George Goldthwaite and Melissa Lenhardt for representing us so well at the Frisco Library. They both brought home the prize for Henery Press’s First Chapter Contest. The kicker: Only one person should have won, but the judges couldn’t narrow it down. Apparently when deciding between a DFWWW member and a DFWWW member, the choice is clear.
The good news for these two doesn’t stop there.
The Durant Public Library has asked George to be their feature author speaker for the Spring Brown Bag Luncheon. If you live up north, catch him on Thursday, April 24 at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center and Library. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. You can hear him speak at The DFW Writers’ Conference as the Gong Show's incredible baritone emcee.
And as for Melissa, she recently published a short story with The Western Online entitled Bal Masqué. It’s fantastic piece, but we especially love Melissa’s initial impetus for writing it. Her late father loved John Wayne westerns and Lonesome Dove, and this one is for him. We’re awfully grateful that we get to enjoy it too.
End story: Our cup runneth over. Come (metaphorically) drink with us any Wednesday night at 7:00 pm at The Simmons Center in Euless. Because we think there may be something in the water…
I perused the agent list and chose Michelle L. Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency for no other reason than she represented the genre of Magical Realism and I still wasn’t sure of what the difference was between it and Urban Fantasy.
After I picked her up at the airport, I didn’t really know what to expect. Sitting in my car was a real, live literary agent, someone who could help me achieve my greatest dreams or crush them, just as easily.
We chatted idly for a bit before she asked me about my manuscript. Admittedly, I wasn’t 100% prepared to pitch my story, but I soldiered on and fought through it. When I finished, she did something I didn’t quite expect.
She critiqued me.
We walked through my pitch and she helped me tighten it up, moving my hook to the first 10 words, cutting out redundancies and unnecessary phrases and shortening it to a grand total of four sentences.
Now, it’s a streamlined thing of beauty.
During the rest of the weekend, I spent a lot of time with Michelle, acting as her personal assistant, making sure she was where she needed to be when she needed to be there and coordinating the ‘unofficial’ pitch sessions when writers found her in the halls or at the cocktail reception.
On Monday morning, before her flight home, we had a chance to talk about the conference experience as a whole.
“This is what aspiring writers don’t understand,” she told me. “This is why it’s important to attend conferences and meet with agents face to face. You and I’ve met now. We’ve become friends and because of that, I want to read your manuscript.”
“Yeah,” I responded sarcastically. “But what happens when it sucks?”
She smiled. “Then I’ll tell you how it sucks and you can fix it so it doesn’t suck anymore.”
How many agents have offered you that helpful bit of knowledge?
I’ve now attended two DFWCons. Both of them were wonderful experiences. My first one was great because I learned a lot from the classes I attended and I got to meet my favorite author, James Rollins. But this one was more important because I’ve gained something I didn’t think I would.
I now have a personal relationship with a literary agent, one who’s offered me representation because of that relationship. And being a decent writer didn’t hurt either.
Peace, Love and Naked Bunnies…
--David Justin, DFWWW Member since 2010
(David, a mild-mannered minion for the Evil Galactic Empire by day and an ink-slinging raconteur with 828 Web Design by night, can be found on Twitter under @davidcambron and online at TheNakedBunnyBlog.com.)
photo credit: Nuwandalice
Brenna will also be quoted in an article in a small Woman's Magazine - (Western North Carolina Woman's Magazine) which hit stands in North Carolina last Friday. She is speaking at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas this Wednesday.
Carmen Goldthwaite is teaching Narrative Nonfiction: The Proposal at SMU beginning Feb 2nd.
Go the distance in narrative nonfiction with this class that helps you create the selling tool -- a book proposal --for your memoir, biography, history, anthology or travelogue. In this intensive, the first classes will concentrate on story ideas and early chapters, including research skills. Next, in a distance learning phase, you will develop the skeleton of the book, the outline. The third phase will be classroom learning about the business component of the proposal: marketing, platform and polishing. The intended product -- a complete and ready proposal (first three chapters, explicit outline, marketing and platform plans and statements) qualifies for eligibility to apply to the SMU Writer's Seminar in New York. THIS TIME ONLY, NO PREREQUISITES.
Dates: February 2 - April 26, 2012
Meets: Thursday from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM (SKIP 3/15), 12 Sessions
Instructor: Carmen Goldthwaite
Notes: Skip date 3/15 Publish Your Nonfiction Book by Shaarlene Martin and Anthony Flacco, Writers Digest Books, 2009 AND Writing for Story by Jon Franklin
Carolyn Williamson announced the North Texas Romance Writers are having writers conference Friday March 30th to Sunday April 1st. The cost is $150. For more info visit Texas Two Step Conference.
Alley Pat Hauldren announced the National Space Society of North Texas is having a poetry contest.
Don't forget to register for the conference, DFW Writers' Conference. Keynote speaker is James Rollins. Twenty-one agents and editors attending!
Jenny Martin is teaching Writing Young Adult Books: The Path to Publication this spring at the University of Texas at Arlington. Along with her agent and editor, she has many more established agents and editors that will share their expertise about the industry. https://www.uta.edu/wconnect/CourseStatus.awp?~~12CO1722001
Speaking of the 2012 DFW Writers Conference… did you know we already have 18 agents and 3 editors signed up? For a list of agents and editors already confirmed visit www.dfwcon.org
The conference is May 19th – May 20th featuring keynote speaker James Rollins. You can read more about James Rollins at http://dfwwritersconference.org/keynote/
Donna Lasko reminded everyone of the vote next week. Nominations for the 2012 Board of Directors are due. The vote is next Wednesday along with the proposed amendments.
Please plan to attend next week so your voice can be heard.
December 14th is the holiday party. Bring your favorite potluck dish and ugly sweater.
The board began checking the read list against the member roster. Only paying members are allowed to read. If you have forgotten to renew please see a board member.
Harry Hall has a book signing Saturday Sept 17th in Irving at Crystals Pizza from 3:30 to 5:30. He will be signing copies of his book Help! People are Staring at Me.
Kyle White announced Trinity Writers' Workshop is having a one-day seminar, featuring Chuck Sambuchino (editor with Writers Digest.) It will be held on Saturday, Nov 5th from 9am to 6:30pm at the Hampton Inn in Hurst. The cost is $100 ($50 for members of TWW). Check here for more details.
Dues are due on October 1st. Don't forget! Remember, no reading, critiquing, or monitoring if you haven't paid up.
By the by, you can register for DFWCon. Keynote speaker is James Rollins. The conference will be held May 19 & 20 of 2012.
Del Cain has a book signing on September 10th from 1-3pm at the Fort Worth Barnes & Noble on University Drive
Rosemary Clement-Moore has a book signing on August 6th from 2-4pm at the Hurst Barnes & Noble
Jason Meyers announced the Keynote Speaker for the 2012 DFW Writers Conference…. James Rollins! Check out his website at www.jamesrollins.com
Jason made the deposit for the Hurst Convention Center. The 2012 DFW Writers Conference is scheduled for May 18-19th, 2012
Carpooling: If anyone is interested in carpooling, email Shawna at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, contact info (email or phone number, your choice) and the city you live in. If you live in Dallas or Fort Worth, include the area. Please note the information you send on the email will be posted on the bulletin board at the Workshop.
At the business meeting, Steve Manning, Keeper of the List, presented:
Candace Havens Truth or Dare; She Who Dares, Wins
Ken Ingle Who Killed the Killer; To Kill a Thief
A Lee Martinez Chasing the Moon