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The conference started with a wine reception.  During the reception, people talked and laughed.  They met old friends and made new friends.  The buffet was set with finger food, and a bar provided wine and beer.  After putting a couple of things on my plate and getting some wine, I went over to a woman who was standing alone.  Her name was Maggie Duncan, aka – unspywriter on twitter.  I introduced myself, and we started talking.  Soon, we were joined by another woman who was equally as interesting, but sadly I’ve forgotten her name.  We talked about our projects, blogs, writing, the conference, and more.  We also exchanged business cards.

Then, we all moved into an auditorium where we were greeted by Dan Smith.  We treated to an excellent essay by a young lady with great promise.  Greg Trfidlo played a wonderful song that included the lines “You can’t tickle the muse, until you put seat to chair.”  (Or something like that.)  The two speakers talked about the changing publishing environment and becoming a writer.  We adjourned for the evening after that.

The next morning, the seminars began.  The first one I attended was “10 Thing You Can Do Now to Promote the Book You Haven’t Even Sold Yet” by Gina Holmes and River Laker.  They covered much more than just the 10 things.  I’m glad I brought a notebook.  Some of their advice was don’t burn bridges, help others often, and create a good network.

The second class was “Refine the Pitch for Your Book” with Neil Sagebiel.  During his class, Neil covered many topics including the time line for the writing and publishing of his book. The Longest Yard.  One thing Neil covered was the 3 Can’ts.  1 – Can’t get a book deal without a book proposal  2 – Can’t get a proposal in front of editors without an agent  3 – Can’t get an agent without a great pitch, great query.

The last session before lunch was with Judy Ayylidiz.  She talked about writing a memoir, and why it’s important to do so.  She asked us to figure out “What is important in your life?”  This is one subject that a memoir could be written about.  Her session was also informative.

After lunch, Jim Minick spoke about ways writers manipulate time.  Things like changing point of view, punctuation, dialog, and more were covered.  I wasn’t surprised by any of the ways, but it was nice to know I was thinking correctly about this topic.  It was even nicer to find out I was using them wisely in my writing.  I bought a copy of Jim’s book, The Blueberry Years, which he was happy to sign for me.

The second afternoon session I attended was “Visual Images as the Source of Stories” taught by Carrie Brown.  The images she used during the session were wonderful.  Many were thought provoking.  I enjoyed listening to her read her work aloud.

The last class I attended was “The Craft of the Art” with Amanda Cockrell.  She gave many ideas for developing writing skills.  One that I particularly liked was to write a scene from the point of view of each character.  The idea was to get inside the mind of each on while leaving the events alone.  I’ll have to try that soon.  Maybe I’ll post each to see what my readers think of them.

The conference ended with a panel discussion on “The Evolving Art of Blogging” with panelists, Dan Smith as moderator, Terri Leidich, Dane Casey, Cherie Reich, Bonnie Cranmer, and Roland Lazenby.  I discovered that literary agents will ask for your blog site when they are deciding whether to represent your work.  I also learned that opinion blogs get many comments, some of them nasty.  However, blogs based on personal experience don’t get as many comments, and the ones they do get are typically good.  The idea behind a blog is exposure.  The panelists discussed triumphs, trials, problems, some solutions, and gave many suggestions.  It was a lively discussion.

This was my first writers conference, but it won’t be my last.  The people were excellent.  I learned that I’m doing many things right, such as having this blog.  I also learned that there are other things I probably ought to do sooner than later.

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