Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Writers Conference Experience

Have you ever been to a writers conference?

I experienced my first Christian writers conference this past week in Glorieta, New Mexico. I can only use scripture to sum it up:

Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Earlier this year, I attended a speakers training hosted by CLASServices in Austin, Texas. Prior to the speakers training, I submitted a book proposal for critique to one of the editors on staff, Tama Westman. I received positive feedback with constructive criticism on this book proposal. Tama suggested I take it to the writers conference in Glorieta, NM. I told her I would pray about it.

A series of events unfolded and I found myself at the writers conference. I read books by Terry Whalin and other authors in preparation for this event. In the meantime, I’d been preparing my proposal as well as thickening my emotional skin. I read to be prepared for the rejections. Rejection. Rejection. Rejection.

I arrived at the conference, not having any idea of what to expect other than having a print out of an overwhelming schedule for each day. I attended a pre-conference course to explain what to expect. I received much benefit from this course. I recommend to any first timers to a writers conference to attend the pre-session for new comers if it is offered.

Once the conference started, it was fast and furious. Overwhelming. I jumped into the deep and went for it. First order of business was to schedule appointments with editors. Registrants are guaranteed one appointment of their choice at preregistration. But all the other appointments are by lottery. I pictured it like casting lots in the Bible. I received most of the appointments I wanted with the editors. Both editors from book publishers as well as magazines were present.

I kept my appointments with editors and agents. Let me describe the appointment process. Appointment times are in 15 minute increments for each person with the editors. The editors are seated two to a six foot table in a large room with these tables lined up in rows. The room is buzzing with the humming sounds of authors and writers pitching their ideas to the editors. The editors are listening to the ideas being pitched at them and deciding as to whether they like the idea or not.

If one does not get the appointments she desires, then she can have lunch with the editors on a first come basis. Well I had lunch with editors and agents. This is another time one can pitch their idea to editors in a more relaxing environment. I certainly took advantage of this lunch time.

I realized that editors are real people, nice people. They are not to be feared. They like to work with writers, especially writers who are willing to cooperate with them.

Also at this particular conference, I participated in a comprehensive class titled “Get Published Now.” In this class, 24 writers, 12 editors/mentors, one class coordinator and one great publisher scrambled to put together a compilation book. I submitted a narrative essay for the book and completed it with all edited revisions for publication. This was a very stressful yet challenging class for the working time frame was short, yet I learned so much from my mentor, Karen Jordan. I learned to write more tight and concise, to say more with less words. Something I must practice, practice, practice. She encouraged me by informing me that all the authors and writers she knows need editors to help them tighten up their papers!

I am so excited that I have a piece in a book. An essay--I'm better at teaching articles, but I stretched and wrote an essay. I have publishing credits in magazines, but to be included in a book is so delightful. Be sure to check out the post below and enter the drawing to win a free book and preorder if you desire.

Engrafted by His Grace--

5 gracious comments:

Marina said...

Shonda, thanks for sharing I love the story how God just kept bless you all these time.

And, I will take a pre order ")

you are a blessing. marina

Meridith said...

Wow!! Too cool!! I'm a writer want-a-be, so this totally fascinates me!!

Just found your blog on LWG blogroll and thought I'd pop in to say hey!!

Off to read more of what you have to say :)

Leah said...

You go girl!! Sounds like it was an awesome weekend!!

Can't wait to hear what God will do from this!!


Talkin' Texan said...

I've always, well for many years anyway, wanted to attend both the CLASS speaking and writting weekends. I'm glad you got to go and had a rewarding time. And I'm glad you are growing as a writer. That's what I hope for myself. It's a hard trip.

Terry Whalin said...


Sounds like you had a wonderful conference. Good job on the preparation that you did ahead of time.

Keep up the good work. Persistence is a huge part of this world of publishing as well as constantly learning and growing in your craft.


The Writing Life