Recent Writer’s Conference Recap

Last weekend, I attended the Agents and Editors Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Writer’s League of Texas.

This is a yearly conference geared toward traditional publishing as well as the craft of writing.

I had the opportunity to pitch “When Two Worlds Collide,” to an agent with the Wendy Sherman Agency.

She loved the story premise and the characters. She loved my excitement about the story as I talked about it. She loved everything about it, except the paranormal aspect. Her response was, “I cannot sell a paranormal romance.”

Really? Deep sigh. Oh well. Back to square one with that book and the White Rune Series. Who knows. Maybe I’ll eventually self-publish all three of them.

But, I digress. I want to share some of the nuggets I took away from the conference.

One of the workshops I sat in on and enjoyed was all about crafting irresistible opening pages. These are the tips that were presented:

  • Immediately immerse the reader in something they will want to find out
  • Gorgeous writing (which, of course if subject to interpretation) and great use of metaphors
  • Be clever – something you haven’t seen before
  • Make a promise to the reader with your opening lines that you can keep

They talked a little about what an opening actually is. Some said it was the first few lines or the first page, but most concurred it is the amount of reading you can see when you use the Amazon “Look Inside” feature.

The pitfalls to avoid are all things we’ve heard before.

  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Don’t spend pages explaining things to the reader
  • Eliminate ALL typos
  • Avoid cliches

I moved on from that workshop to one about “Connecting Character and Setting in Compelling Fictional Worlds.”

One statement really stood out in this workshop, “Make the characters YOURS! Own them.”

Character derives from both world-building and setting.

Use Layering in connecting the characters and settings. Use Exaggeration.

Avoid Info Dumping.

Keep surprising yourself when you are writing!

Don’t talk about what you’re writing. Keep it to yourself.

And this one, “Fiction, whether it is about the past or the future, has to be about the present – the reader!”

Another workshop that I gleaned some great tips from was “Writing The Quiet Moments Between Plot Points.”

Plot and pacing go hand-in hand.

Write the scenes you are excited about, regardless of where they fall in the chronological sequence of your story.

I learned about something called “Dan Well’s Story Structure,” which is a set of videos on YouTube. I have not had time yet to go watch them, but it came highly recommended, so I will be checking it out.

In regards to editing, a tip I picked up that I have not used before is the Text To Speech feature in Word. Listening back to your writing, you can hear echos, repetitions and where punctuation might need to go. I will try it out for sure. If any of you have used it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In a Digital Marketing workshop, I learned that Tuesdays or Thursdays are optimal for making the biggest impact on social media, and between Noon and 1 pm.

I also learned that Facebook has shifted and is not a good platform for marketing yourself or your books. However, Twitter is the #1 Platform for this type of marketing. The presenter suggested that we find famous authors we admire and follow them.

Pinterest is primarily used by female audience and keywords are super important with Pinterest posts.

Instagram is dominated by the millenials. The one thing she stressed, was the use of hashtags. She said 10 – 12 per post is a must. Wow! Who knew?

LinkedIn has become a good advertising platform. She mentioned a publishing feature on LinkedIn that was optimal for sharing blog posts instead of posting links. (I have yet to check that one out.)

Groups are where everything in social media is headed. She suggested joining groups, or starting your own.

It was a good conference with lots of information shared and lots of great contacts made. I didn’t come away a step closer to publishing The White Rune Series, but I did come away with more great tips to help enhance my writing and marketing.

And, for fun, the author with whom I shared a room and myself walked down to the bridge where the famous Austin Texas bats come out nightly. Thousands of people line the banks of the river and bridge each night to watch the phenomenon.

This is a photo I took before the bats came out. It gives you a small peek at the number of people who come to watch. None of my photos of the flying bats turned out, so I am using one I found on the internet.

It was a great weekend of learning and networking! That’s what conferences are all about!

14 thoughts on “Recent Writer’s Conference Recap

  1. Sounds like a great conference. I have wanted to go see the bats for years, but never gotten the chance. Don’t know that I can exist without talking about my ongoing projects.


  2. I really need to get to a writer’s conference. It sounds like you came away with a ton of great information, Jan. Thank you for sharing it. I’m going to have to look into Twitter ads, and also do more promo during the time frames you mentioned for Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s weird how things fall.

    And–OMG!–those bats! I love watching bats. The combination of a writers conference topped by bats would be sheer bliss!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a great weekend, Mae. I always come away from conferences with new ideas and knowledge as well as connections. And you are so right! Watching the bats was the icing on the cake! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a cool shot of the bats, Jan! I’m surprised she didn’t want a paranormal romance. As a reader that is one genre I look for to read. Paranormal in general. Perhaps they are going back to more traditional genres? I wonder if it has to drift more into horror now? Will be interesting to see what the readers decide they want.

    I haven’t used tags on Instagram but will start doing so. I used the blog posting on LinkedIn and do get some feedback on Facebook still but I doubt sales. I’m still figuring out Pinterest. All good information Jan, thanks:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad you found some of the information helpful, Denise. Yes, I too was surprised at her response about Paranormal Romance, but I have no idea. As indie authors, we just write what we are inspired to write, not what we think will sell. 🙂 I’m not sure where the trend is going, but these stories don’t eat food or cost me any money, so as long as I keep them backed up and don’t lose them, they are still fresh and new until they’re published. Thanks for the feedback on LinkedIn! I still haven’t tried it, but will soon.


  4. Great advice, Jan. Thank you for sharing it with all of us readers. As for the bats, the only time I’ve seen anything like that was decades ago when my dad took our family to Carlsbad Caverns. Several hundred thousand bats call the cave home and they are quite the sight when they fly in the evening. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am thrilled that you stopped by today, Gwen! Yes, the bats are quite a sight to see. And, the thousands of people who flock to the bridge nightly to watch is a sight to see in and of itself! 🙂 Thank you for your comment and have a GREAT day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jan- Thanks for sharing, I love reading about the writing adventures and learning workshop, and conferences all you authors explore.
    Don’t fret, someone will grab up your book to publish, when they do you will know that the delay was well worth the wait. Praying this happens soon. You are an extraordinary writer, everyone will love your book or books you have coming ahead for all of us.
    Love you and praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you, sweet Tonya! Your words are SO encouraging!! I do love writing these stories and it makes my heart happy when someone enjoys reading them!! Have a great day! Hugs! Love you!


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