Thursday, September 3, 2015

Writer's Digest Annual Conference (#WDC15) Saturday, August 1st Recap

It has been so fun going back through my notes from the conference and "reliving" all those teachings. I'm in the brainstorming phase of a new project and there were so many great things that came out of these sessions. The inspiration and FEELS are motivating in the very best kind of way.

Here's a recap of the second day:

Saturday, August 1st:

*The Effective Query Letter Workshop with Janet Reid - Not going to lie. I mostly went to this session to listen and watch Janet in person. I've been a fan of her blog since I first began writing. Her humor is spot-on and I couldn't imagine missing the opportunity to see her present material in person. Considering the number of margaritas I had the night before, it was a mini-miracle and a testament to my adoration that I was able to pry myself out of bed to make it to the session by 9 am. Only for Janet. And she was just as amazing (and hilarious) in person as she is online. If you're a querying writer and have never visited her website (Query Shark), do yourself a favor and go now.

Favorite note: "Stick up their asterisks" ~ Janet said this in reference to something and I scribbled it down as I laughed, promising myself to find a time to use it in random conversation. Writing humor is the best. Also picked up a few new tips/tricks I hadn't heard before. If you check out her site the presentation she gave is online and SUPER useful.

*Pitch Slam Session #2!!! - I actually blogged about this over at fellow #WDC15 attendee Ralph's website Novel Pitch, so you can check it out HERE. This is a great place for any writer to go who is about to pitch, whether it be in person or via a contest on twitter. Lots of great info.

*How to Stay Sane During The Writing Process by Nathan Bransford - Nathan, a literary agent turned author, was another person I'd followed online for quite a while when I first started writing. My CP and I were excited about attended his session and it didn't disappoint. Nathan was humble, down to earth, and had some really great tips for navigating and balancing writing with life. I'm currently reading his How to Write a Novel and really enjoying it.

Favorite note - There were so many from this session. For me, it's a tie between Rule #3 Recognize the forces outside your control and Rule #8 Park your jealousy at the door. The first one is something I think many of us writers struggle with, especially if control is one of those things you like to have at all times. Not that I know anything about that. *cough* *Type A* *cough* Just know once the writing is over, there's an awful lot of waiting. Publishing is slow. Just embrace it. Know it's outside your control and be okay with that. The second one is just a really great reminder no matter who you are. Jealousy is an ugly, unhelpful thing, and while I'm usually pretty good at this one, I like the reminder. I'm genuinely happy when my twitter and online writer friends are doing well. I love nothing more than walking into a bookstore and recognizing the names on the shelf. It's sort of THE BEST. But, and it's an ugly but, we all have those days when this is harder than it should be. Remember that your writing, your story, is about YOU. No one else. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

*Central Keynote - Behind the Books by Jacqueline Woodson - Wow. Just wow. Another amazing speech, this one given by a spectacular woman who is as beautiful as she is intelligent. The number of awards her books have won is staggering. Jacqueline writes for children (woohoo!) and her collection includes picture books, middle grade books, young adult books and poetry. My CP was especially excited to hear her speak since she read a ton of her books in her teaching days. I've just ordered my first Jacqueline book, but I know it won't be my last. Her personality is magnetic and I have no doubt she carries that feeling into her writing.

(Phil with Writer's Digest introducing Jacqueline Woodson)

Favorite note: This one is easy...Jacqueline recited, from memory, several pages from her book Behind You, a moving, beautifully written story of love and loss, written from varying points of view. This book is a follow-up to her If you Come Softly novel, and her voice, the way she read the vignettes, the rhythm of the words, the emotion they created...it was pure magic. There was a silence in the room as everyone tuned into this poetic story falling from her lips, each of us plunged into this different place where her words, perfectly timed in tone and rhythm, evoked a setting that was so very easy to see and feel. I felt like I was plunged into her book just by listening. Poetry has never felt so alive.

This was Erin's first time to NYC, so after Jacqueline's keynote, we rushed back to our room to grab our tickets and head out to Broadway!

You guys...Finding Neverland with Matthew Morrison was absolutely FANTASTIC! There aren't enough exclamation points in the world to explain my love of this show! It really was "magical" in every way. I wanted to turn around and watch it again the next night. The eerie part about it all? The plot/story tied in SO WELL with our conference weekend. What better way to experience a writing conference than going to a play about a playwright who is struggling to come up with a new idea?

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
"The Story of How Peter Became Pan"

Erin and I pre-show, inside Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
All in all, another fantastic conference day!

Up next: #WDC15 Sunday, August 2nd Recap - The Tourist Edition

Until then...peace, love and lots and lots of books!

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