What I Learned in DFW and #ROW80

NYT Bestseller James Rollins & Me

If you did not attend the DFW Writers’ Conference, you may be tired of hearing those of us who did talking about how AWESOME it was. Rather than go on and on about how everything is bigger and better in Texas, even writers’ conferences 😉 , how about some general take-aways?

  • As long as you aren’t stalking or incredibly annoying, you can strike up conversations with agents because they are real people, at a conference to meet writers, and like talking about what they do (see Top 10 Things to Do at a Writers’ Conference). At the 2011 conference, I spoke to one agent — the one I had a pitch appointment with. This time, I walked away with six different agent names to send my work to after personal contact at the pitch session and agent/writer reception. So chat it up! What have you got to lose?
  • When you attend a conference, you are paying for it. Don’t feel obligated to attend a workshop you don’t need or to stay in one that wasn’t at all what you expected. I attended a class that was titled one thing and ended up being something else. (That was not common, by the way.) Ten minutes in, I gathered my stuff and left the room as quietly as possible. The teacher has no idea why someone leaves early — a pitch? a phone call from home? sickness? I wasn’t dissing her; the class simply wasn’t a topic I needed after all. I walked into a class next door and was SOOOO glad I did.
  • You can learn as much from chatting with other writers as you can get from the conference classes. I gleaned so much knowledge from conversations with Jenny Hansen, Donna Newton, Kristen Lamb, Tiffany A. White, Nigel Blackwell, David N. Walker, Jess Witkins, Kait Nolan, Jillian Dodd, Piper Bayard, and others that my brain was tingling with electricity by Saturday night. Asking others about their writing process, publishing plans, and life in general enlightened me in ways that made my trip to Big D well-worth all those hours and money.
  • No matter who you are, you can always learn more. It was marvelous to step into a workshop and see several published authors in the class as well. Taking notes. Learning more. Improving their craft.

What workshops did I attend? In case you’re interested, here’s a quick rundown: How to Pitch to an Agent (Rosemary Clement-Moore); The Changing Face of Publishing (an expert panel); Writing Love Scenes (Roni Loren – incredible); Anatomy of a Book Launch (Laurie McLean-agent, Kristen Lamb, Kait Nolan); Fast Draft (Candace Havens); Inside Publishing (Jill Marsal-agent); Revision Hell (Candace Havens); Writing Emotion (Lori Wilde); Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction (Laurie McLean-agent).

Bayard/Lamb 2012: Foxie with (literal) Moxie

Links to some FABULOUS posts about the conference from fellow speakers/attendees:

Social Media Jedi Kristen Lamb encourages writers to push themselves in The Comfort Zone is for Pets, Not Professionals.

Romance author Roni Loren summarizes what agents like and don’t like in queries and first pages with What Will Make an Agent Gong Your Pages.

Writer (and my awesome conference roommate!) Jess Witkins discusses lessons learned in Celebrating My Writing Slump.

Jenny Hansen reports progress on her conference goals and teases us about Fast Draft (thanks, Candace Havens) with Bestselling Authors, DFWcon, and the Flu…Oh My!

Donna Newton makes me kick myself in How to Hook an Agent…The ‘SOO’ Publishing Way. How has this Brit managed to shoot so much stuff when I (a born-and-bred Texan) have yet to meet my goal of firing a real gun?!!

Jess Witkins, Me & Donna Newton

I also posted on Friday about What’s Next? The Hybrid Author, which was partially culled from my conference experience.

(I guarantee I forgot someone else’s wonderful post; I may update this later.)

One last pic: Me & Tiffany White

Enough already. Here are my ROW80 goals and progress report!

  • Log 5,000 words per week on young adult novel, SHARING HUNTER. This should result in a completed first draft. DONE.
  • If first draft is finished, edit once through SHARING HUNTER. I started revising, using the notes from my class with editor Tiffany Lawson Inman and tips from Candace Havens’s Revision Hell workshop.
  • Work on pitch and synopsis for DFW Writers’ Conference (taking place May 19-20). Did it! Pitched. Need to send my queries.
  • If I get all of that done, edit through THE YEAR OF FIRSTS, my middle grade novel which is in second draft form and has been gathering dust for a few months. Waiting on 3 tasks above.
  • Read one writing craft book. My choice this round is Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. Took a break from this goal until after the DFW Writers’ Conference.
  • Read through March/April issue of The Writer’s Digest. I can’t find the March/April issue, so I started working through the issue that just arrived in the mail.
  • Take course from Tiffany Inman Lawson on 77 Secrets to Writing YA Fiction that Sells from the Margie Lawson Writers Academy. Slowly catching up!
  • Read 10 books keeping to my At-Least-3 Reading Challenge for 2012. On track. I have read six books so far: The Killer Inside Me; Getting Rid of Bradley; Graceling; The Man Who Was Thursday; The Heart-Shaped Box; One of Our Thursdays is Missing. Reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
  • Post ROW80 updates on Sundays. Keeping up.
  • Exercise three times a week — length of time to be determined. Skipped Zumba. May I count the four hours of helping with our church youth’s group car wash on Saturday? I know I burned some calories there.

So how’s your ROW80 week? Be sure to cheer on fellow writers HERE.

And if you are interested in attending the DFW Writers’ Conference in 2013, they are offering a super early-bird registration price of $225 (early-bird is $295) until June 1. The conference will be held May 4-5, 2013 at the Hurst Conference Center. I will be there!

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24 thoughts on “What I Learned in DFW and #ROW80

  1. Oh, I love that pic of you and Tiffany!! Y’all look like such pretty fresh Texas gals. 🙂

    I can’t believe you’ve never taken yourself off to the shooting range for a class, girlfriend! You’ll feel better if you learn some basic gun safety before you start firing away. Does this mean you want to do Fast Draft with Ingrid and I???!!! *crossing fingers* We only need one more person to begin…

  2. Car washing totally counts! ehehe
    So glad you had a wonderful time at the conference! So nice!
    And you’re doing well with your goals! Way to go!
    Have a great week 😉

  3. I would say the car wash totally counts! Last week I counted the days I spent hauling boxes and furniture up and down the stairs for my sister’s garage sale (I worked muscles I didn’t even know I had! LOL) It’s all about being active, right? The conference sounds like it was so much fun, glad everyone had a great time! 🙂 Fantastic progress on your goals and I hope you have a wonderful week!

  4. Great conference advice, Julie. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the DFW posts this week, seems that everyone had a fantastic experience. And yes, I’ll be there next year, wife and I are already planning the trip (she wants to go museum viewing while I’m at the conference). Have a super week 🙂

    1. Would love to meet you in person, Gene! Museum viewing is a great thing for your wife to do during the conference. The DFW area has lots to do. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for the great recap on the DFW conference: those of us who didn’t go are still interested in what happened there 🙂 Also I really enjoyed your “Hybrid author” post. And you’re doing well with your ROW80 goals, that’s great! Have a good writing week!

  6. Hi Roomie! I am so impressed with your ROW80 goals. I will advise them when I get on board with my own. I really need to read up on craft books. I am doing well on my TBR Pile Challenge though. Are you liking Miss Peregrine…? I read that one last year. I love the idea for the story. Tell me what you think of the ending.

    P.S. Before you go shooting, read the manual! 😉

    1. Miss Peregrine is odd and intriguing. I’m halfway through and still don’t know quite what to make of the story. I hate reading manuals, by the way. What do I need to know? Point and shoot away from you, right? 😉

  7. So happy you met your goal of finishing that first draft of Sharing Hunter. Thanks for bringing us along on your DFW conference adventures. Congrats also on pitching success! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jolyse. I’m starting to edit — the less exciting part in my opinion. I have to figure out what doesn’t move the story forward and start slashing like Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th). “No mercy!” is my editing slogan. LOL.

  8. So glad you had such a good time at DFW Con. I did too. It was so great to meet you! And I love your point about not staying in classes at cons if the class isn’t working for you. If you spend good money, you want to make sure you’re getting what you need.

    1. Thanks! All of the classes should be as fabulous as your Writing Love Scenes one was, Roni. I came home, typed up my notes, and I’m ready to give my WIPs a once-over with your tips in mind.

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