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!