Thursday, September 17, 2009

RMFW Gold Conference

Okay, so I said I would give a recap of the conference. Well, it may have to be in parts. I've got a lot of work to do (thank the lord) and really need to be doing it instead of blogging. That said, I want to cover some of this stuff while it's still fresh in my mind.

I can't begin to describe how nervous I was about meeting editors and agents and fellow writers (oh my!). And well, I'd like to say that my nervousness went away once I got to Denver. I'd like to say that, but I can't. I was a wreck, and as agent critiques and pitches drew near, I was practically sick with nerves and felt like fleeing the building. I didn't care where I went, as long as I went somewhere else. Not a pleasant feeling to have. Trust me.

If any of you have ever experienced stage fright, then you know exactly how bad it can get. Your knees turn to rubber, your palms start sweating, you feel like you might lose your lunch... You want to lay down, yet you can't sit still. OMG. I think I'm reliving it as I type this. :)

I'll talk about some of the workshops I attended, but right now I want to talk about my critique circle with Kristin Nelson. It was a-mazing. Seriously, it was like a crash course in writing. Not only did I learn a great deal about writing in general, but I picked up a lot of the ins/outs of the publishing world. It was two hours. I can't imagine the amount of information a person could pick up by shadowing an agent for even one day. Well worth my time, money, and effort. In fact, it pretty much made the conference for me.

So, here's how it worked. I had 8 writers in my group, and one agent -- Kristin Nelson, who ran the workshop. We sent our first ten pages and a one page overview in advance and were asked to read and critique each other before the start of the workshop. Going in, we really had no idea what we would be expected to do, and I believe every group ran a little differently.

For ours, Kristin had us read a few paragraphs of our opening chapter, after which the rest of the group took turns sharing their thoughts, etc. When everyone was done, we all got to sit back and soak in whatever advice and/or thoughts Kristin had. Some pages she loved, others she didn't love. I don't think any of us was in complete agreement with her on every manuscript, but I'll tell you what, she never made you feel bad for having a differing opinion.

It was awkward--to the extreme--when I finished saying how I wasn't particularly jazzed over one opening, only to have her immediately follow up with how she thought it was perfect. LOL. But even when we disagreed, I could see her nodding her head in the background while I was speaking. She always made me feel like I had a valid opinion.

I really loved that she let us go first. That way, we weren't colored by her opinions. In the end, what I learned is that everything REALLY is subjective. What one agents passes on, another may embrace. It doesn't mean one agent is right or wrong. It just means that not every book is for each and every person out there. Tastes vary. We all need to remember that!

As for FAKING IT -- I received a great response from the group. I walked away with some good ideas on how to make my pages even better, and all in all, it was a very beneficial experience.

So, I'm sure you're wondering if Kristin liked it? Well, I'll end this by saying that she doesn't rep mystery/suspense. But, that doesn't mean she didn't like it. (g) How's that for a vague answer?

More tomorrow. I'll try to touch on mingling with agents/editors/writers in a setting we all adore: The Bar.

Oh...and one more thing. Kristin thought our critique group kicked butt, too.

HERE. Check out number 3!


Beth said...

I know what you mean about the panic. Yep.

I've been doing this for a number of years and I still get butterflies and sweaty palms.

Jennifer Hendren said...

Oh, never gets better, does it? LOL.. But I guess them's the breaks. :)

At least we both survived -- and did well in the end. Hey, go figure!