So yesterday the Colorado Gold Conference hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers concluded, and it was an amazing conference! I don’t even know where to begin! (and some voice in my head just went “From the beginning! Duh.”)
It was a whirlwind weekend packed full of epic goodness, I met so many incredible people and learned so much! Plus, there is some really good news about Chronicles of the Sentinels! Shall we call that foreshadowing and leave it until the end? As the good Belt said, “Dun dun duuunnnnn!”
There’s a lot to talk about, so bear with me!
Thursday Night – The Newbies
One thing I can say about the members of RMFW, they were all incredibly welcoming to all of us newbies! Starting with the night before the conference actually began. Kevin Wolf had sent out an invitation for any of the newbies showing up at the conference Thursday night to meet in the hotel lobby, and about fifteen of us showed up.
I was a bit nervous at first, but as I came down to the lobby and found a few of the other newbies sitting and chatting with Kevin, I was immediately welcomed by such warm, open people! Furthermore some of the bigger names for RMFW happened by while we were chatting and stopped to welcome us as well :)
When everyone was set and Kevin had given us some great tips, we went to the bar and had drinks together, exchanged business cards, and had a great time! While I had been nervous about the conference before, that night made me feel so welcomed and so confident that I had made the right choice to come!
Friday – Masters and Coaches
Something I actually didn’t realize, because I didn’t actually read carefully enough: the conference didn’t technically start in the AM on Friday. There were, however, Master Classes as they were called that started bright and early, 8AM. When I found out they were optional and cost extra, I happily paid for the “So You Want To Write a Series” class, and I was not disappointed!
I learned so much from speaker Susan Spann! This was a particularly helpful class for me because I have always written my stories as series, starting with my fan fiction. I seriously don’t know if I’m even capable of writing stand-alone novels! (Although that could be an interesting future challenge.) I know that what I learned from her will help me immensely in the days to come.
Shortly after that 4 hour class and a quick lunch (okay that was a lie, I forgot to eat lunch that day…) I had my pitch coaching session with Heather Webb. Naturally I was extremely nervous, and although I had prepared a pitch several days prior, when I sat down in front of her, my mind went completely blank!
But that was okay, because she started asking me questions about the characters and story and helped me come up with a much, much better pitch! More than that, as soon as I started telling her about Chronicles of the Sentinels, her eyes lit up, and she was immediately hooked! That is an awesome feeling when an established author who writes in a completely different genre finds your story idea intriguing :D
From there, I attended a couple of seminars, including an uplifting “Rejection is a Four Letter Word” seminar :)
Friday Dinner – I Found My Home
Friday night’s dinner was just as phenomenal! I ended up sitting at Heather’s table and met some phenomenal Historical Fiction writers. More than that, however, was the feeling that had started to build that day, and entered my conscious mind at dinner.
This is going to sound cheesy, but: I found my people! lol. Seriously, though, everything that had happened, I felt like I had found people who could truly understand me. I felt like I had found a home, of sorts. The funny thing is, about a half hour after I had that very thought, someone up on stage said something very similar :)
It occurred to me that I don’t actually know many writers in my personal life, or at least, I didn’t before now. To be surrounded by 400 of them?! And unlike the attitude I got from certain people at a certain university I attended almost a decade ago, everyone from every genre, including Literary Fiction, were open, warm, curious, and creative. Everyone accepted everyone else with open arms.
Why? Because we’re all writers. And I’ve learned just how special that really is :)
Saturday – Pitch #1
Saturday was another full day, 14 hours non-stop just like Friday, but it was a truly nerve-wracking day! Saturday was when I had my first pitch! *gulp* Worse than that, it wasn’t until 11:20AM, which meant I had the whole morning to freak out over it!
Thankfully my fellow writers came to my rescue :) When I entered that waiting room, the first thought I had was, “I’ve seen photos of things like this, when actors and actresses are waiting to audition for roles.” I sat down, and looked at the person next to me, who looked as nervous as I felt. So what did I do? “Hi, I’m Jon!” Just like I’d already done dozens of times at the conference.
Striking up random conversation with everyone around me soothed my nerves, and seemed to help them with the same :) When the time came, I was still nervous, of course, but the editor I pitched to, Kerri Buckley, was extremely friendly and patient! And while Kerri was not one who represented Fantasy, she encouraged me to submit to her coworker, and said she would tell him to expect me :)
After that I had lunch, where I met even more awesome people, and finished the day of conferences optimistic and quite happy!
Saturday Night – Who Needs 2 Forks?!
The dinner Saturday night was probably the most formal dinner I had ever attended. I’m not kidding, 2 forks, 2 knives, a dainty looking spoon, and some…interesting fancy meals. I felt wholly out of place in my Hawaiian shirt and jeans. But, as always, writers came to the rescue, and those at my table made me feel quite welcome :)
The Keynote Speaker was Mark Coker of the famous Smash Words website, an insanely fast-growing self-publishing eBook website! His speech was pretty inspiring in some parts, while other parts were a bit degrading to traditionally published authors, but all in all I was impressed. And there was one thing he said that I really loved hearing: printed books are not going away! There is an equilibrium being created between eBooks and printed novels, and for someone who has always dreamed of seeing a hard-backed copy of my novels, that’s good news :D
Sunday – The Big Day!
Sunday was when I had my 2nd pitch to the agent I was most looking forward to meeting: Lucienne Diver of Knight Agency! And thankfully, I was considerably less nervous after the incredible amount of support and interest I garnered from everyone throughout the conference!
I was totally unprepared for what happened next: I went in, met Lucienne, and at her request I dove right into my pitch. A minute later, it was done. Without blinking, she handed me her card and said, “Ok, I’d like you to send me 30 pages and a synopsis.” I was completely blown away, and I can only imagine the look of surprised glee on my face!! She wanted to see my work!!!!! An agent was interested in my novel! Wait, let me repeat that in it’s own paragraph for effect:
Lucienne Diver wants to see my work!
It was exactly what I had hoped for! :) There is more to that short, 10 minute meeting with her, but I’m going to save that for my next blog article: it deals with genre, target audience, and something about Chronicles of the Sentinels that I am most excited to share :D
After attending one more session about Theme, there was a final lunch with another inspiring speech, where I got to say goodbye to all of the fantastic friends I had met. I have to admit, as exhausted as I was by then, I was really sad to have to go. I felt like I was leaving my new home, just when I had found it.
Next, I have some work to do on Chronicles (again, more to come on that later! This is already a too-long article…) I am looking forward to submitting those 30 pages and the synopsis to Lucienne, and who knows, in a couple of years, my first novel may very well be on bookshelves!
No, scratch that, I’m not going to say may. I’m going to say will. In a couple of years, Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy will be on bookshelves all over the nation! The power of positive thinking, right? ;)
If you’ve made it this far, kudos! This turned out to be my longest blog article yet, but there is so much material for more articles.
To anyone who attended the event, and to RMFW, thank you for an amazing weekend, and for making me feel at home! :)