San Francisco Writers Conference, Days 2 and 3

If you use your Blackberry as a travel alarm clock, know this: You cannot charge it overnight via USB connected to a laptop on sleep mode. It will instead drain the battery and leave you hurrying to catch the panel you volunteered to moderate because their previous choice is snowed in on the East Coast.

Like certain types of memoir, a good blog will often offer something that the reader can take away and apply.

Though I missed breakfast, I arrived just in time to meet the panelists and jot down a few questions regarding setting in novels. One of the panelists didn’t make it, but I was treated with the presence of Cara Black and Kemble Scott, bestselling authors known for capturing and conveying a specific location on the page. It went remarkably well, they are very nice people and we received many compliments.

The rest of the day included a hilarious keynote, someone selling his book on a panel (a good idea, just focus on the panel’s topic instead of pushing t-shirts and coffee mugs) and many mutually-beneficial meetings with editors, authors and fellow agents that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

This weekend’s running theme of long, hard hours on very little sleep made waking up for today’s early morning obligation a bit difficult, but at least the alarm went off this time. Speed Dating for Agents is a massive pitch fest in which authors get to talk to as many agents as they can in the allotted time. Each pitch is 3 minutes, each session is 50 minutes, and the attendees are divided into 4 consecutive sessions. Naturally, some of the pitches were better done than others, and I got plenty of material for that upcoming blog. Many thanks to Linda Lee’s wonderful volunteer staff for keeping everything organized and sharing their personal supply of tea and jellybeans in between sessions.

Writers’ conferences are tremendous resources that you should consider tapping into if you are serious about your craft. Sure, you may get to pitch your work, but you also gain priceless insight from having face time with so many experts in this very involved process that is writing for publication. Two of our authors, Stephanie Chandler and Penny Warner, were among those who spoke on panels and offered their advice. I love working with people who are willing to give back to the writing community.

I try to make myself as available as possible at these things, ensuring that those who put forth the time and effort to attend get what they deserve. For the most part, everyone involved was very warm and grateful. Perhaps the greatest compliment I received all weekend came from an author I met with on the first day. She said, “You know, I was going to pitch you on Sunday, but now I just want to go home and write.”

Thank you.

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