On The Road To A Writer’s Conference

I was in one of my favorite Texas cities recently (one of my favorites other than Houston, of course). The Writer’s League of Texas held their annual Agents & Editors Conference in Austin. Here is the handy cloth bag everyone was given during registration. Not sure where the idea for the bird came from, but we also received a nice pair of blue sunglasses in our welcome packet. This was my first state‐wide writer’s conference. It was everything I had hoped for and more.

The location for this event was the Hyatt Regency that overlooks Lady Bird Lake. Service was good, food was good, beds were comfy, and everything was in one place. Since this took place in June, you were never required to leave the hotel with the fully functioning air conditioning system. However, there was a hike and bike trail right outside the hotel and we were within a block of the Congress Street Bridge where one could view bats flying on a nightly basis. In between conference sessions I could watch as the kayaks and canoes floated down the river. This particular view was taken from the 17th floor outside of areas where the meetings took place with a large group of agents and editors. More about that later.

One of the many perks of this conference were the keynote speakers who distributed copies of their books. For the Saturday luncheon, we heard an inspiring talk by Naomi Shihab Nye and received her most recent book of poetry, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners.

There were also break out sections on the craft of writing; such as, Crafting Irresistible Opening Pages. Always a good skill for a writer. Then there were the sessions on what to expect from an agent, what questions to ask an agent, and self‐promotion for the indie writer. There were genre specific sessions on memoir, historical fiction, mystery/thriller, etc. I never knew there were so many writers in the Picture Book/Middle Grade/Young Adult genre. I met many authors who were working towards their first publication and those who have published many books.

During the opening reception I ran into Sean who works with Typewriter Rodeo. This means he sat behind a typewriter and I gave him the subject of a writer writing a book about Memphis and here is the custom poem he wrote:

Let me tell you a bit

About me—

I was raised

On the music‐streaming streets

Of Memphis

I’ve got rhythm and blues

In my blood

I have seen and heard things

That will inspire you

To sing

Will inspire you to get up and dance

And things that will also haunt you

To the drumbeat core

Want to know

All about it?

Well look for the greatest story

Soon to hit the shelves…

This is what my cat, Hannah, looked like when I got home and shared the poem with her. She’s a tough audience!

Finally, I met several agents while I was there and am pleased to report that three are interested in my book. Now I am writing myself silly, working on a book proposal, polishing and workshoping two chapters and finishing the whole first draft. That’s really good news and a heck of a lot of work to do. I better go get busy!

Until next week.….

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