Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pikes Peak Writers Conference Is A Blast

No, I am not overhyping the event with my title. This will be my second Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and if this one comes close to the quality of the first one I will be a happy man. But here's the secret. I think this one might be even better for me.

My first conference was a beginner's experience. I focused a lot on the proper ways to do a pitch session, which is an eight-minute, face-to-face meeting with an agent during which you try to sell your novel and gain representation. I went through one pitch session and received a request for a partial manuscript. OK, that's not extensive experience, but I am comfortable with the format. I have a pitch session this weekend with Evan Gregory, an agent for Ethan Ellenberg in New York City. Evan is an intelligent and thoughtful young man, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet.

My focus this year will center more on the business of being an author. I will center on subjects such as the branding of a writer, increasing traffic to blogs, etc. There will be one carryover subject ... writing a proper query. It still is the entry point for most writers who are looking to lure an agent, and any tips I can get will be greatly appreciated.

There will be chances to talk to some top writers in the business. Jeffrey Deaver, the man who was selected to write the latest James Bond novel, will be the guest speaker Friday night. I hope to speak with Jeffrey because he started out as a journalist, so maybe he can give me friendly tips. (I met author John Hart last year, and he has helped me a time or two since then in understanding the business.) Robert Crais, a veteran author and screenwriter, will speak Saturday night. One of the top agents in the business, Donald Maass, will attend. He literally wrote the book on Writing the Breakout Novel. I follow him on Twitter because he often gives tips on character development, scene setting and injecting drama. He has helped me more than he might ever know.

Meeting some of the big names is part of the fun. I was just as intrigued by learning about the writers attending the conference, many of whom are trying to land their first publishing contract just as I am. There are those who center on steampunk, romance writers, Christian writers, crime writers, dystopian writers (those who picture a future broken society), young adult writers ... the list goes on and on. It is amazing to see the diversity of writing styles and the creativity involved.

The toughest part will be working Thursday night then getting up early the next morning and driving to the Colorado Springs Marriot, the site of the conference. Keep brewin' the Starbucks, folks. I am going to need considerable amounts of caffeine to make it through that first day. But I think I can guarantee one thing: I will walk out of the conference being better prepared for this author's life than I was before. What could be better than that?

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