My first conference was LTUE, a local con in Provo, UT. It was a lot fun and had a lot of my favorite writers. It was a great experience and I am excited to go again next year.
There was a lot I expected and thereby, a lot of misconceptions. Conferences are informative, but it wasn’t the diagramic education I perceived it to be. Each day got progressively better, but mostly it was a way to connect with other writers. Because I listen to a lot of podcasts and read writing books and blogs, I felt that most of what was discussed was already common knowledge. This was true for about 85% of the conference, but the other 15% that I didn’t know was well worth it. Besides, the ability to rub shoulders with a wide variety of writers was the real highlight.
Knowing what I know now, I have learned how I want to handle the conferences to come.
Take Breaks When You Can:
There was a lot of SITTING…for hours at a time. If there are time slots that don’t sound interesting, don’t go. If you go to a panel and it isn’t what you thought it would be, you can leave. You need to stretch your body and as well as your mind. Three days of continued panels can be brain overload. Find some down time.
Have Prepared Questions:
Study the panels and presentations you want to attend. Write down questions that you expect to have answered and check them off as they are. Then you know what to ask them when they open it up to questions. Or if you run into them later, you have something to discus with them.
Big Name Authors Have Crowds:
Panels with Brandon Sanderson were the busiest. If there’s a big name author on a panel, you want to get there early and be prepared to sweat. A lot of bodies in a small room makes it HOT. Try to pick panels by their content, not who’s on the panel.
Be friendly. Talk to people. Take their info. Give them yours. These conferences are a way for writers to connect with people who share the same interest. There were several names I wrote down and am excited to see them at future cons.
Set Aside Some Book Money:
You may be surprised how many authors you will want to buy books from. I walked away from this conference with four books…but I wanted to buy at least twice that many more. You will get to know some great authors who have books that intrigue you.
And Take Lots Of Pictures:
Brandon Sanderson was the toastmaster at the banquet. He gave a fantastic toast with a lot of laughs. All his panels were overflowing with listeners. He’s very assertive, knowledgeable, and lively, so it makes sense. Can’t wait to see him at Westercon along with the entire Writing Excuses team.
Lexie and I were able to get in to a limited seating session with Orson Scott Card. It was a great learning experience and made me excited to tackle my SF book when I’m finished with my series. Due to weather, he was only able to attend the last day of the con. So, it was great to spend 2 hours with his brilliant mind when there was such a time limit.
Shoot ’em author, Larry Correia was a great panelist. He was humorous, informative, and you can see how much he loves writing. I got his first book, Monster Hunter International, at the insistance of many…including my brother, who is a huge fan of Larry’s.
Renee Collins was a blast to talk with. We gabbed for 1/2 hour about life and books. I can’t wait to see J.R. Johanson at Writing for Charity next month. Her book, Insomnia, sounds amazing, but I ran out of ‘book money’. I’ll have to get that one ASAP.
Kasie West and Natalie Whipple, two great panelists and authors. They were very genuine and helpful. I got their books Pivot Point and Transparent that I have heard are fabulous. I can’t wait to get started.
Adam Sidwell isn’t just a writer. He also works in visual effects. Tron Legacy, Transformers 2, Pirates of the Carribean 3, and Pacific Rim are only a few of the movies he’s worked on. He taught a class on ‘How to put the Movie in Your Head on Paper’. It was great. He had me laughing from the get go. He’s one of those people who you just want to hang out with all the time. Great guy!
Mette was great. She remembered me from a Tweet that I sent to her, which was sweet, and by the end of the con she calling me by name. I signed up for an author critique with her at Writing for Charity. Hopefully she can give me some great advice on how to make my work even better.