Monday, May 5, 2014

#DFWCON: Totally Worth the Hangover

Most of us want Sundays to last forever, so we never have to get up and face another Monday. This week was the same as always for me, though the reason I wanted my weekend to go on and on is a little different.

I attended the DFW Writers' Conference over the weekend. There are so many things I learned and so much I want to pass on I will have to do it over several blogposts...but for now, I'll give you the highlights of my weekend. Over the next few weeks, I'll take a little more serious look at what it was really like.

I drove to Hurst, Texas, the day before the conference.
Can you tell? I was a little excited.

Met some VIPs first thing.

Me on the elevator, right after I met Laura Zats, the agent at the top of my pitch list.

On my return trip to the ground floor, I shared the elevator with Annie Nybo, Simon and Schuster editor. 

Then I met up with my new friend Charlotte Levine-Gruber. We'd only ever met online.

I'm on the left, and of course, the beautiful Charlotte is next to me.

 At dinner Friday evening, prior to conference, I met some lovely authors. As we ate, we caught a glimpse of some agents and editors at a table nearby. Try as I might, it was hard not to look at them. I tried acting cool...yeah, um... I'm not so good at that. Though I did avoid winking at them, as hard as that was.

Then there was the Pre-conference Mixer organized by the brilliant Sarah Bale.
Mingling with other authors always gets me happy and excited.

Got to bed late.

Got up early so I could fix my hair.
Wanted to look like this:

Most likely looked like:

Made it to the conference center.

Opening remarks were great.

Then I had to prepare myself for  my 10 AM pitch session with Laura Zats.

Thank goodness, Laura was wonderful and put me at ease right away.
She even ended up asking for the first 50 pages of SECRETS I KEEP.
So yeah, I was all:

I went to a few classes.

Really enjoyed Pitching by the Numbers led by the fabulous Jessica Sinsheimer.
Of course, being me, I stuck my foot in it and wanted to 

Not to worry, after class I caught her and apologized. She was quite gracious. 

The legendary Donald Maass did a class called Beyond Setting. He left the attendees in an awed daze.

I got to know some really neat people, too.

Margaret Bale, agent with Inklings Lit., is just fantastic.
She made me feel so comfortable--and is so cool, I want to be "real life" friends. I didn't even pitch my book to her. (The ONLY reason I didn't pitch Margaret is because her colleague at Inklings currently has my FULL. Querying two agents at the same firm, at the same time, is frowned upon.)
Wish I'd thought to get a photo of us together.
'cuz, you know, she's nice enough, she'd probably have done that.
Alas, I did not.

The Gong Show Saturday evening was fun to watch, yet painful as well. 
I was so glad my query wasn't chosen. It was sort of like watching this:

Immediately following the Gong Show there was a mixer of sorts.  The agents and editors were available to whoever could make it through the throngs of other authors to meet them. Though I will talk to just about anyone, I am NOT good at pushing my way in. So I stood on the sidelines, feeling like a weird stalker, waiting for my chance. 

I pretty much hung out at the fringe of the party, looking silly and probably uncomfortable.
I did get to talk with Jessica Sinsheimer, who proved as gracious as she'd behaved earlier in the day when I stuck my foot in it. Although, I didn't pitch Jessica because she has the FULL for my first book.

Margaret Bail also chatted with me, so I didn't feel so alone. Thank you, Margaret. I also had a chance to visit with Sarah Negovetich, who is quite funny. She doesn't rep NA, so, nope, didn't pitch my MS to her either.

Basically, the mixer was a  bust for me getting any requests for SECRETS I KEEP, but it was still fun and I am glad I went.

Sunday arrived.

I was determined to do my best to get at least ONE MORE request.

I started the day by taking another class led by Donald Maass. It was all about adding micro-tension to your book to keep the reader turning the pages. By the end of the class I was running out to the Barnes and Noble table to purchase Don's book, The Fire in Fiction.

The line was long and by the time I got to the register I felt like:

I had to get back to the room and get him to sign it before he left and I missed my chance.

I made it.

I had a 10 AM consultation with Amanda Rutter, editor with Strange Chemistry (Angry Robots). She was wonderful and helpful and gave me some great advice on where she saw the YA market heading in the near future. Thank you, Amanda, you are DA BOM!

Then there was lunch. The food was good, but dessert was even better,
all the cakes.
I was all:

The powers-that-be very nicely tried to help those of us still waiting to pitch agents and editors. They set up the lunch tables by genre. Then they encouraged said agents and editors to get around the room to chat with all of the authors. I had yet to speak with Candace Havens of Entangled Publishing. She'd said, at the opening of the conference, she was looking for NA. So I seriously wanted to chat with her, even if only for a few seconds. I waited until she got close enough.
Trying to contain my excitement to chat with Candace.

Then, at the first opportunity, I tried to get her attention.

She was just really lovely. She came over, sat down with me, and told me to tell her about my book.
She asked questions. She smiled. She was interested.

I got all nervous and tried not to do this:

But I held it together. I was calm. Then she asked for my FULL manuscript.

Inside I was all:

But I did manage to wait until she walked away before doing this:

 The guy sitting next to me, one Joshua Carpenter, who I'd literally just met minutes before, was very cool and, upon seeing my excitement, gave me a high five. 

After that I was pretty much like:

I attended one more amazing class, on creating unforgettable characters, led by Don Maass. Can you tell who was the star of the conference in my book?

It was almost over.

We all assembled one last time. They thanked the staff, the speakers, and the volunteers. They gave away some door prizes.

Donald Maass gave the closing remarks, bringing a good part of the room to tears with his uplifting stories and encouragement. When he finished speaking the crowd went a little wild.

I came home and did this:

Today I am exhausted. My brain is tired and my feet are killing me.
I seriously feel a bit like I have a hangover... but it was totally worth it. Every second. 

Thank you, DFW Writers for putting on such a magnificent conference and making my weekend spectacular. If you are anywhere within traveling distance, this conference is more than worth your time and money to attend. There will be another next year... you really should come on out.

Did you attend this year?
What were your favorite moments of the conference or the weekend in general?
Tell us about it in the comments.

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I would be honored to be counted among blogs you follow regularly. 


  1. Oh, yes, I attended! This post had me laughing out loud. :) I loved the gifs! The Micro-Tension workshop was one of my favorites, too. I'm still kicking myself for missing Donald's pre-conference workshops.

    1. Yes, I missed the pre-conf. stuff too...and so wish I hadn't...but I bought two of his books, so I hope it's all in there. :) Glad you liked the post.

  2. It was a great conference. Thank you for attending and helping to get the word out about 2015.

    1. Happy to get the word out. It's awesome and everyone should know. :) Thank YOU and all the folks who helped put DFWCON together and making it so great.

  3. It was a great conference. Thank you for attending and helping to get the word out about 2015.

  4. Coooool! Any followups yet? This is great! Congrats on getting requests! Must be so satisfying!

    1. Haven't heard a thing yet, but I think a lot of the agents were also headed to NOLA for RT this last weekend. And these things take a notoriously long time. But thank you! I am very excited to have gotten the requests. Thank you for stopping in and for commenting, Julie.


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