Silken Sands Writers Conference! See You at the Beach!

Writers conferences. A matter of hot debate, the question asked most frequently “Is a conference worth the time and money you spend to attend one?”

IF you’ve done your research, IMHO, yes, they are worth it! You can find sources in writer’s publications, local writers groups, and on line. One quick warning; there are as many types of conferences as there are genres, so research until you find one benefitting your genre, level of experience, and budget. You can find single subject conferences (characters, dialogue, marketing, etc.) that last a few hours or a single day. Weekend conferences with pitch sessions, meet and greet, and craft workshops. There are week-long retreats as well. Conferences have sprung up not for writers, but for readers. Many of your favorite authors have conferences to meet their fans, held in cities or on sea cruises. But for this blog, we’re dealing with writers!

First, choose a conference in your genre. If you write Mystery, don’t attend a Paranormal conference. Seems ridiculous to mention that, but one Romance conference I attended had a lone male there. Talked to him a bit and it turned out he was looking for help with Westerns. He was one lost puppy. But we put our heads together over the workshops, and craft is craft, so it wasn’t a total bust for him. Pointed out if he’d substitute ‘six gun’ for ‘stilettos’ in certain aspects, he’d do fine. Plus he loved the attention he got from all those ladies when word of his dilemma got around. Made me feel good he went away smiling.

I write paranormal romance. I’m attending Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola, Florida this March 16-18 because of the sheer diversity of romance genres represented there. (If you need info, click here: www.gccrwa.com/silkensands .) Barbara Vey from Publishers Weekly is the Kickoff Speaker, a mighty presence with her personal blog there. Yet I’ve never met a more unpretentious woman. She has one of those smiles that has you opening up to her without being aware you’ve done so. Knowing she’s with us . . . Please excuse the strange woman doing the disjointed wiggle dance in the corner; I’m trying to stay to the shadows, but I’m super excited! And multi-published Historical Romance author Beverly Kendall is our Keynote Speaker. Can’t wait to hear what she has to say!

Speakers provide more than group entertainment. They’re head cheerleaders for every one there. The Keynote speaker is the individual held up as a success story, proof the dream can be accomplished. I’ve heard Keynote Speakers who tore at your heart with what they endured to achieve that dream. Sherrilyn Kenyon is one. She’d just started using her MacGregor moniker for a series, and we chatted about ancestors. She didn’t know me from Adam, yet was interested enough in the subject to ask how far back I’d tracked mine. I responded with a rousing “Clan MacClaine o’ Loch Buie, Scotland”, complete with hacked consonants and swallowed vowels. She started laughing. “How do you do that?” she wanted to know. “I still can’t get it right!” (Helps if you have family who never lost their accent. Imitation comes naturally to a child, and I guess I’ve never grown up.)

At another conference Romantic Suspense author Karen Rose talked about her writing journey, then brought home how ordinary individuals comprise writers’ ranks. Turns out she’s terrified of snakes. I’ll never forget her pot and spoon story, holding up the very items she bangs away on to scare off serpents every time she walks her dog. Even after a family member told her snakes have no ears, she refuses to budge off her stance her system works. After all, she’s never encountered a snake!

How many? And why? I try to attend three conferences a year. Why? Because there’s no better place to stay abreast of changes in the field. And with the financial crash of major publishing houses that left their long-term authors unpaid, the mass charge to ePub and Indie Pub, the change in royalty percentages and house expenses charged to the author, they’re changing often and quickly. Attending every four months or so to put your finger on the pulse is not unreasonable; in fact it’s good business. But even one a year will recharge you. Every conference has panels of experts, those knowledgeable of current facts, not just rumor and hearsay circulating the Twitterverse, loops, and email. They also have the most current list of author loops and organizations to choose from. Unfortunately there are scam artists out there. It’s comforting you can rest assured everyone at an RWA conference has been vetted by the chapter putting it on.

Throw in the opportunity to pitch a project one-on-one, directly to an acquiring editor or agent, and they become an unbeatable prospect. Being able to write “Requested Material” on an envelope or in a subject line lifts you out of the slush pile of thousands.

What Can You Expect At Conference?
Initially, a bad case of nerves. But then you look around and see quite a few others in the same condition. Nerves turn to excitement. Only another writer can truly understand a writer, and it’s a giddy moment when you realize you’re in an entire herd of them. Speaking with others at every level of the field gives you a good sense of what you’ll need to do to accomplish your goals.

Workshops at conference are varied, and set up to appeal to writers at almost every level. What do you need help most with? POV problems? Dialogue? World building questions? Where to start your book? Perfecting your pitch to that editor or agent? Organizing your space or writing to be your most productive? Finding that cotton pickin’ Muse who heartlessly abandons you when you finally have an hour to write? By going over the workshop descriptions, you can pick the best ones that specifically help you improve your craft.

But it’s the friendships you form, the networks you enlarge that stand out the most. The encouragement you get from someone who has been where you are. The inner glow you feel when you help someone who’s where you’ve been.

So come join me at Silken Sands. I need a few more friends who write. We’ll learn. We’ll teach. We’ll commiserate. We’ll cheer. We’ll laugh. We’ll stay up too late. We’ll share.

And at least once, we’ll take time to walk to the water’s edge and play in the waves and push our toes into the sand.

I promise!

See you on the beach!
~Runere~
Visit her at http://www.RunereMcLain.com      Friend her on Facebook @ Runere McLain     Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Silken Sands Success Stories

Today, the Sizzlers share our Silken Sands Conference Success Stories. Imagine pitching to your agent or editor at a table under an umbrella on the veranda of a resort hotel on the beach with a cool breeze blowing.  Most of our conference attendees had great succeses.  When The Calls come, ladies, please share them with the Sizzlers so we can post them in our blog.

Gothic Dweller

Gothicwriter: This year our Silken Sands Conference meant more to me then any of the others. I felt more of a member and I pitched for the first time to Lindsey Faber, and Elaine Spencer. Both requested material. Being around our group of writers felt like coming home. People who understand the need to write. It’s like a sisterhood. I have made history in my life this year and even if nothing becomes of what has happened. I’m proud of myself for the experience. I’m proud of all who tried, and to the ones who didn’t. Next time will be your time to shine. We understand the need to step back. It just means you weren’t ready. Dreams do come true. If you want something, you have to work for it. In the end, it’ll mean all the more. To Cynthia Eden. you put together a mean conference. Thank you for everything. You’re wonderful. And to all the ladies who received a request to send out “Good Luck!”  We’re getting closer.

Lizbeth:   The conference was great and I really learned a lot, especially at the editing presentation which will help with the final edits before submitting them. Patience Smith requested a full of my romantic suspense and Lindsey Faber requested a full of my paranormal short story. 

Lizbeth

 

 

 

 

 

RitaVF:  Appreciated Cynthia Eden’s and Joan Turner’s hard work. Loved the conference. Learned a lot. Met new folks and visited with old ones. Only pitched to Samhain’s Lindsey Faber. She requested a full of His Obsession (SQUEEE!!). When I apologized for talking so fast (I had so much to say and so little time to say it.), she replied, “I talk fast but I hear fast, too.” A genuinely nice lady.  I’m going to do one more read before emailing it.  Won a basket and a critique by Dianna Love.  HAPPY DAYS!

Rita VF and Romancemama

Romancemama:  Wow! It was a fast, furious and fun weekend. This weekend marked the “coming out of the closet” of my pen name, Arabella Stokes. She has written books, but I have never introduced myself as her. Felt very odd. I talked about it with my new buddy Karen Rose (yes, shameless name-dropping here!) who like me has people in her life who can’t handle some of her writing.

And to me, that is just one example of what was so great about Silken Sands. We had all the bright-eyed neophytes like moi sitting down with industry powerhouses, and the biggies not only didn’t act bored with us, they were positively friendly and encouraging. I mean, for Karen Rose to compare any, any aspect of her incredible career with my hesitant little baby steps?!?!?! I sat and swilled cheap white wine with Barbara Vey, people! She put a picture of me on her blog! I chatted up the future of e-publishing with Lindsey Faber!It does not get any better than that.

The Gulf Coast Chapter is a rare and unique group, and our conference reflects that. I’ll go a step further: Cynthia Eden is one of the most professional, delightful people you could meet, and under her leadership, the conference couldn’t be anything else. The 2012 Chair (are you listening, SFCatty? LOL!) has huge shoes to fill!!!

Runere. I’ve piloted offshore marine vessels through Texas locks, and sat box on a dice game with over half a million dollars in play with only one tenth the trepidation with which I approached my two pitch appointments! Yes, it’s that big, and all consuming when it’s something you want so badly and only eight minutes to accomplish it. I felt like one of Sayde Grace’s cowboys in slo-mo: eight seconds vs eight minutes! I’m so fortunate to be part of the support system called RWA Chapter #125 and their spicy spin-off the Southern Sizzlers (Go, my writing sisters!). And I am beyond excited to report I have a request from Laura Bradford for the first thirty pages and a detailed synopsis of the book I pitched to her; and a request for the full MS of the book I pitched Lindsey Faber from Samhain Publishing. Lindsey went out of her way to make my experience a pleasant and promising one! Thank you so much Silken Sands for providing that opportunity!

Runere and Steve

 

 

 

 

 

Sayde Grace: I received a request for a new short story from Lindsey Faber and an ms from Megan Records.  

Sayde Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

SFCatty:   Silken Sands Conference was a wonderful experience. Met lots of amazing people from all over the country as well as Canada. This was my first experience at a writer’s conference since I came out of the writing closet a bit over a year ago. I’m wondering what took me so long to get involved with such an awesome group of supportive people. It is inspiring to be around so many others that have the same interest in being the best we can be in our writing endeavors. I was impressed with each and every one of the editors and agents I met. All the speakers had knowledge to impart. It was a great experience and one I hope to repeat again and again. Even if none of the requests I got for my work pan out to anything, it was so worth it. Patience Smith asked for a full on Runaway, my romantic suspense and Lindsay Faber asked for a full on Redemption for the Devil , my 1920 Irish historical. I am also sending a partial of Runaway to Elaine Spencer. And, I’m proud to say that I’m not a pitch virgin any longer. Kudos to our conference chair, Cynthia Eden and her co-chair, Joan Turner. They are da bomb!    

SFCatty

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: The Sleeping Faun & A Visit from Barbara Vey

     The Southern Sizzle Romance blog for Moonday’s Heroic Hunks in History features a sleeping faun, but first, a Silken Sands Writers’ Conference tidbit. Barbara Vey visited the Sizzlers while looking for the Tiki bar at the Silken Sands Conference Friday night. The bar was closed but we had a nice Pinot Grigio to offer. She’s one classy lady that we hope will become a regular face at Silken Sands. 

Barbara Vey at Silken Sands by gothicdweller

 

     The next night she won two (yes, two) door prizes. She’s shipping the baskets—chock full of books and other treats–home to Wisconsin to donate to an American Cancer Society fundraiser. Like I said, classy. 

     Finally, this Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History is the “Sleeping Faun” by Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1830-1908) which is displayed in the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Hatty’s” upbringing by her physician father in Watertown, Massachusetts was considered extremely permissive for the time. In 1852 she moved to Rome, a center of cultural richness and diversity, and eventually became a popular-sometimes controversial-artist. Over a long and prolific career she produced numerous sculptures in the neoclassical tradition. 

     In Roman mythology, a faun was a woodland place-spirit usually depicted as a goat below the waist. Hosmer’s “Sleeping Faun,” completed in 1867, obviously omitted the goat features.  The artist also sculpted a “Waking Faun” which we might view on another Moonday.    

      Tomorrow, the Sizzlers will post our first group blog. During the Silken Sands Conference, we pitched to the following: Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency), Elaine Spencer (The Knight Agency), Joyce Holland (The D4EO Agency), Lindsey Faber (Samhain Publishing), Megan Records (Kensington Publishing), and Patience Smith (Harlequin/Silhouette). Visit us to see whether we struck out or hit home runs.       Rita VF

Silken Sands Conference

Here are four of the Sizzlers relaxing in our room at the Silken Sands Conference on Pensacola Beach.  SFCatty, Romancemama, RitaVF and GothicDweller.   The fabulous Barbara Vey took this stunning picture.   Check out Barbara’s blog. 

  http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/Beyond_Her_Book/index.php

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