My First Writers’ Conference

It’s been awhile since I blogged.  A lot has been going on, mostly boring stuff. 
The biggest event was that we finally outsourced our policy printing after a year’s effort.  I felt like I’ve been juggling alligators the entire time.  I didn’t know much about this side of our business, didn’t know much about the internals of PDF files, nor did I know much about AFP files, which is the file format for high-speed printing.  In the end, print, just print, that was taking 10 to 12 hours internally is being printed, inserted into envelopes, and posted in ~2 hours!  To paraphrase Homer Simpson, “Yes, oh YES! Woo Hoo!”
Also, I went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia) to see the space shuttle Discovery.  I’ll write a separate post on it once I download the pictures from my camera.
The topic of this post is the 2nd Annual Writers’ Conference held on 9/8/12 at the Cascades Library in Sterling, Va.  The presentation I anticipated the most—Hook, Line, And Sinker – Story Structure from A to Z—was given by Austin S. Camacho.  It was powerful in its simplicity.  He spoke on concepts in easy to understand terms, little to no jargon.  Instead of shrouding concepts like pacing and theme in a mysterious veil, he made them accessible.  He took questions afterward, and I could have listened much longer than time allowed to his answers.
We had an author panel , involving everyone who presented at the conference.  Author Leah M. Kosin, is a working mom (and I say if you’re a mom, you’re working regardless), is involved in the community, and owns L &M Photography.  Anyone who says they can’t find time to write isn’t look hard enough.  My advice: Break up with your T.V.  Anyway, follow the linkto see photos from the conference at her site.  You can see me from the side during B. Swangin Webster’s presentation. 
Author and event organizer, Tracee L. Garner (sorry, I couldn’t find a good website link), held a talk, Map Your Plan, Plan Your Map – A Writer’s Career Path for Setting Goals and Actually Reaching Them.  She made a good presentation even though the overhead projector flaked out after the brief power failure.  For me, she didn’t break new ground.  This isn’t her fault.  My job, managing a group of software engineers, is about plans and goals and achieving them.  From some authors I’ve met over the years, though, I see that this is medicine much needed.
B. Swangin Webster gave the first and most surprising panel entitled, Are you Ready to Be Published?  I’m not in the position to market my novel yet; I’m just over halfway through it with a critique group.  But in 6 to 9 months, I plan to start an agent search, so I figured I’d take some notes for use later.
I took my notes, but that was the least of it.  She was fun and entertaining!  She captured the room, and, whatever she wanted to discuss, I wanted to hear.  Until this presentation, whenever I heard the word “marketing,” I translated it to “dull.”  Not anymore!  She got her points across while being funny and engaging.  She managed to work in her love for shoes (and she was wearing cute shoes—I’m no expert, so your mileage may vary) and that she’s a Cowboys fan (I’m not holding that against her, though).  If I have the opportunity to hear her speak again, regardless of the subject, I’m going.  Trust me, if she wanted to be a comedienne, she could.  She struck me as someone who sees what she wants and then gets it.  If she said she was going to the moon, I wouldn’t bet against her.
All in all, it was a good conference, more productive than I anticipated.  I hope Tracee Garner does it again next year.
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