Making connections. Let me introduce to you the warm hearted, encouraging, industry savvy women/writers I met at the SCBWI Winery Conference two weekends ago.
Shannon Messenger, Me, Leslie Rose, & Lisa Gail Green
Jessica Love. And few more people that I didn't get pictures with but were gems: Melissa Buell, Elizabeth Fais and Heather ???. Heather! I didn't get your contact information but you got mine. Please email or tweet me and let's keep in touch.
This is my second conference, first time to the winery. Compared to the 1000+ people at the LA SCBWI conference, this was way more intimate...like 40 attendees intimate. Friday evening was wine and cheese meet and greet. Each attendee got to spend two ten minute sessions with an editor (shared by one other person.) I was a good girl and researched my peeps so I had lots to chat with them about. When you weren't chatting with the big wigs, we mingled with other writers, where I met these great peeps. Afterwards, Jessica Love and I hung out at the Yard House where we sounded like a couple of book nerds talking YA all evening. She rocks! Love this girl. She's real and tells it like it is (like me.)
The second day different editors and authors spoke about the business, how to beef up your novel, what not to do, etc. It was a long day for everyone but for me, torturously long, because I got food poisoning from my scuzzy hotel's eggs. One hour into the day, vomit city. It came on so suddenly, I thought I might die. I stuck it out, vomit and all, because at the end of the day was our round table critiques with peers and one editor. Let me tell you people, it was worth the wait. I got such positive feedback from the editor and my peers, for the first time in this writing career, I actually felt like I might succeed at this.
The coordinators at the conference asked us not to tweet or blog about the specific topics discussed due to copy rights. But I have to say, I didn't learn anything earth shattering. But that's not why I went. For me, and most writers, I suspect you have done your homework. You know what to do and not to do as a writer. Sure, things come up in your writing or the business that you are unsure about but that's what the internet is for. There are a plethora (A plethora El Guapo?) of blogs, how to, etc on whatever writer need you have. FREE knowledge at your disposal, so there's really no excuse NOT to know what you are doing.
Learning something earth shattering it not what conferences are about for me, it's about making connections. Whether that be with other writers, published authors, editors, agents, etc. Know the business. All aspects of the business and put yourself out there. That is what conferences are about.
The beauty of meeting other writers, no matter what stage they are in their career, they love to encourage. That alone is more valuable than any class you will ever take. If you haven't gone to a conference yet, I really encourage you to go. You'll be surprised at how inspired you feel afterwards.