It’s a good thing I accepted my nerdiness a long time ago.  Otherwise having to force myself to stop watching The Guild so that I can work on my young adult fantasy novel might have been a painful wake-up call today 🙂

So, this weekend I attended the DFW Writers Conference.  I’ve never done a writing conference before, so this was something totally new for me.  When I was walking in (all by myself) I spotted some girls in front of me and decided to duck in behind them.   Amazingly one of them turns around and recognizes me from the Arlington Library event when Rosemary Clemet-Moore visited our Teen Writing Group.  Hooray!  Two of the girls had actually been there, so luckily I was able to leech onto them whenever possible so that I could not feel like such a loner.

The first class I took was on pitching practice and tips, which was great because I had my pitch scheduled about an hour after the class.   Besides, while I kept trying to convince myself that I had my pitch down, every time someone asked me about my book (before the conference) I would inevitably fumble through the explanation, sounding like an idiot the whole time.  So after the tips they let you do practice pitches with the authors on the panel.  The first one I did majorly pointed out that all I had in the pitch was plot and no inner character development.  So I sat down, rewrote the pitch about 3x, and then ducked into a second line where things went a little better.  I actually wasn’t that nervous when I did the real pitch, and when the agent asked, “What makes your characters jump off the page?” I had a much better answer for her because of that class!

Also, by lunchtime I found that making friends and connecting with people got to be a lot easier.  Everyone’s there with a book, whether they’re ready to pitch or not, and so at minimum you can ask every person there, “So what’s yours about?”

Also, I think the two best bits of advice I got this weekend were these:

1. Just because you had pages requested, don’t be in a rush to send them.  You can wait as long as you need, and still put in the subject line that the agent requested you to query them.  This was great new for me, because as you know, my book is waaaaaaaay too long for a first time author.  I’m needing to be ruthless now in my cutting, but I’m praying that just makes my pacing that much more rock solid.

2. Apparently my book did not fall into the category I thought it did.  I’ve been walking around this whole time believing I had a YA novel on my hands, when it turns out, it’s probably more along the lines of an upper middle grade instead.  (Even though one not-as-pleasant agent berated me for ever thinking it was anything other than a strait middle grade.)  One thing to remember: when the fourth person tells you that your book is better served in another category, it’s time to listen.

Overall I have to say that DFWCON was a success.  At least for me personally.  I feel like I made some new friends, met some agents and an editor or two, and learned TONS.  Now to just put it in practice so I can feel comfortable sending this bad boy out!!!

And hope to one day be as awesome as Felicia Day 🙂

felicia day