Thursday, August 20, 2015

Writer's Digest Annual Conference (#WDC15) Friday, July 31st Recap

You guys. The WDC15 conference! It was such a GREAT experience. I met new friends, learned new things, remembered old things I'd forgotten along the way, pitched my latest manuscript to agents and editors (eeeeppppp!), listened to so many inspiring authors, and just, to be completely honest, had a lot, lot, lot of fun.

Here's a recap of that first day:

Friday, July 31st

*Pitch Perfect with Chuck Sambuchino - This was such a great session! Chuck has the ability to hold your attention and present material in a way that has you laughing while taking notes at the same time. After having gone through my first pitch slam EVER, I look back at my notes and laugh even harder. Because half the things we all thought were ridiculous at the time (i.e. why would anyone ever do THAT?), we probably all did. The nerves are killer. Never say never.

Favorite note from the session: Being generalistic sinks ships. Be Specific. (One of the things I learned to improve upon after a very spastic first pitch resulted in a "Can you tell me more?" question from an agent. More on that in a later post.)

*7 Steps to Stronger Middle Grade & Young Adult Novels with Gabriela Pereira from DIY MFA - Oh man. Lots of great info here. Gabriela was energized and you could tell she has a passion for what she does. I love that. She also used several relevant examples of current popular books to prove her points. I'm a 'learn by example' type of person and it helps the ideas to "stick" in my mind, so for me, this was a great combination.

Favorite note: When the story unfolds as a result of the MC's choice, it makes it an active (and more interesting) event instead of a reactive one. Example: Prim's name being pulled from the jar is far more interesting when Katniss volunteers than if her own name had been pulled. She decides to volunteer and we're all now invested in the outcome in a different way than if she'd be thrown in herself. Her sacrifice and choice makes is intriguing.

*Plot Perfect with Paula Munier - Another great presenter and speaker. Listening to Paula speak was like listening to a best friend talk who you haven't seen in a while (or ever met). She's warm, friendly, funny, and somehow manages to get that "voice" across while talking from a podium.

Favorite note: Your theme statement should consist of three things: Theme (emotional impact), Plot (story you 'hang' the theme on), and USP (unique selling proposition, i.e. what makes your story unique/stand out.)

*Opening Keynote with Jonathan Maberry - I'm going to be honest, this one's so hard to put into words because all I really want to do is use lots and lots of happy emojis instead. If you ever have the chance to listen to Jonathan speak, you should DO IT. Besides being amazingly interesting, with the very BEST stories about his career and how it all happened, he also comes across as genuine, friendly, and just a downright NICE human being. Did I mention super-humble with a heart for writers?

Favorite note: "If we help each other (writers), we all prosper." YES. SO MUCH YES. *fist pump*

A girlfriend of mine lives in NYC and I rarely get to see her, so after the keynote, a few of us went out for drinks and dinner on the town. (Best. Night. Ever.)

(Our new writer friend Patricia...who is amazing and helped me throughout the week with my pitch and crazy critique partner, frequent cheerleader, and partner-in-crime Erin...and moi.)

Up next: WDC15 Saturday recap (to include my thoughts on my first ever Pitch Slam experience!)

Until then....

Peace, love and lots and lots of books!


  1. My wife is always trying to get me to New York to sight-see, so this may be one way to kill two birds with one stone. I'm always scouting for worthwhile conferences and this sounds like you gave it a thumbs up. Glad to see you back in the mix of things again! :)

    1. Do it, DL! We're considering going again next year and I would love to meet you and your wife IRL! Erin and I did all the sight seeing on Sunday once the conference was over and it was definitely worth all the body aches afterwards! (Our feet weren't so happy with

      It's nice to be back! :)