Last weekend I sat in the golden glow of a hotel meeting room in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Along with 90 or so fellow writers, I listened intently as agents and editors revealed market trends and what they, as publishing professionals, were looking for from authors. The workshop was part of the grand celebration of WisRWA’s 25th Anniversary.
It started Friday. Registration in the Radisson’s comfortable lobby let us greet old friends and chat with new. Later, in our first workshop, ever-helpful Publisher Raelene Gorlinsky presented When Bad Covers Happen to Good People – an informative and amusing behind-the-scenes look at book covers. The evening ended with a gourmet dessert reception. Amid chocolate fountains and luscious desserts we visited, ate, drank, and visited some more.
Saturday. An early breakfast buffet and general meeting were followed by the Agent/Editor Q & A Panel. Mid-morning, Karen Tabke spoke on It’s Just Business, Don’t Take it Personal. Following Karen’s talk, Executive Editor Birgit Davis-Todd presented Diamond Opportunities–Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing for Harlequin. Throughout the day, authors pitched their books in 10-minute private appointments with attending editors and agents.
Noon lunch was a delicious Slice of Italy. Contest winners for The Write Touch and Fab 5 were announced. First Sale roses were presented to six WisRWA members who sold their first book since last year’s conference. A special rose was given to WisRWA’s Golden Heart finalist Virginia McCullough. Special recognition was also given to the five wonderful women who organized this celebratory conference – Donna Kowalczyk, Stacey Netzel, Barbara Raffin, Gini Athey, and Lori Kriescher (see picture). And, in a heartfelt presentation, Shirley Cayer and Conference Chair Donna Kowalkczyk presented two 2008 Chapter Service Awards – to Mary Jo Scheibl (aka Casey Clifford) and to Sandra Turriff (aka Meg Hennessy). Both Mary Jo and Sandy had also received roses for their first sales. What a day!
The afternoon session began with WisRWA’s Got Talent III. Author Shari Anton read attendees’ first pages while Hilary Sares and agent Laurie McLean gave incredibly insightful one-minute critiques. Author Trish Milburn followed with her workshop Making Your Setting Come Alive. A late afternoon Literacy Book Signing gave us a chance to chat with authors and purchase personally autographed books, including those by best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon. (See picture.) At the 25th Anniversary plated dinner, Sherrilyn gave a heartrending Keynote Address that had us both crying and laughing.
Sunday. Following another satisfying breakfast buffet, Ann Voss Peterson spoke on A Word Nerd’s Guide to Pacing. Barbara Raffin’s workshop, The Story is in the Details showed how critical details are in every aspect of our writing. Lori Devoti presented the last workshop – Get Where You Want to Go–Setting Goals to Keep You on Track, a most important wrap-up to the weekend.
For the past week, as I returned to my real life – home, family, day job – I’ve been pondering. I’ve come to realize that it takes raw courage to write a book then strive for publication. Courage to bare your soul as the authors did in WisRWA’s Got Talent. Courage to meet face-to-face with an editor to pitch one’s book. Courage to submit that work for publication, and probable rejection. Then to do it again and again and again.
Last weekend I was privileged to meet with fellow authors in all stages of their careers, from those writing the first chapter of a first book to a NY Times Bestselling Author whose books are read world wide. Each one shelters a courageous soul. ∞