I went to Life, the Universe and Everything again this year. I missed last year because I was 8.5 months pregnant and I didn't want to birth my baby at a writing conference. The conference was notable this year for a couple of reasons.
1. I had to bring the baby with me because he will not take a bottle and is still figuring out solids (even though he is 11 months old, common, kid!). My husband, Brandon, was sweet enough to come to the conference with me to help take care of the baby so I could enjoy the panels. Brandon ended up getting something out of the conference, too. He teaches a comic book as Lit class at the community college and there were a number of comic book related workshops and panels he was able to attend. I think the conference was a win for everyone.
2. My very dear friend, Apryl, traveled all the way from Arizona to attend the conference. It was fun to see her and catch up and show her what beautiful place Utah is to live. Southern Arizona does not have OMG-huge snow-capped mountains.
3. I pitched my book to a publisher. Okay, so I didn't actually "pitch" because when someone asks me what my book is about I reply with "I don't know." I never know where to start. Do I start with that plot and if so, do I start at the beginning and how detailed should I be? Or should I start with the characters? Maybe the themes? Anyway, I had the option to either pitch or have the representative critique me query letter and first page. I went with a critique because it felt much lower stakes and relied less on me talking. Anyway, she liked my query and the first page and said to send in a submission package. So, I am going to send in my book for consideration! Yikes! We'll see what happens and I will keep you all updated.
All in all, LTUE this was excellent, mostly because going to a conference like that makes you feel like a real writer.
Saturday I went to my first writing conference: Life, the Universe and Everything. It's a speculative fiction conference and since the book I am currently working on is technically "paranormal romance" (although I like to think my book is more sophisticated than that label suggests) I thought I should go. I've heard good things about the conference and with my SLCC student ID I could go for free. I thought going to a conference with tons of other people who want to achieve the same thing as me would make me feel like my dreams were impossible, that the odds were stacked against me. But the opposite happened. I walked away from the conference feeling like my dreams are possible, l just have to keep working hard. Life, the Universe and Everything was a super awesome experience! Here's what I took away from the conference in no particular order (except I do save the best for last).
1. Almost every published author on every panel I attended said they wrote for years and got hundreds of rejection letters before they sold their first book. One of the authors (I really wish I wrote down her name) said that the people who don't get published are the ones who give up. If you keep writing and keep working you will get published.
2. Throw away your first book, even if you love it and its awesome. You have not yet written your best work. (I do agree with this and I think after this rewrite on my current novel I'm going to call it done and move on to another project. Maybe I'll try writing something I won't mind my parents reading.)
3. Read anything and every thing. Read outside of your genre. The more knowledge you have to pull from, the better your stories will be.
4. Subplots are to help build and round out your characters. Characters should have interests and passions outside of what is directly happening in your story and subplots should be used to develop these passions.
5. Ebooks are the future. Getting a print book deal is not what it once was. There are many more opportunities out there to successfully self-publish.
But the real thrill for me has nothing to do with the panels I attended or what I learned about writing and publishing. I met one of my favorite authors!
Let me set the scene: My friend Julie and I were waiting for a panel to start. I am a people watcher and an ease-dropper by nature. I was looking around the room to see if anything interesting was going on. I glanced behind me and there sat Emily Wing Smith (author of The Way He Lived and Back When You Were Easier to Love. If you know what's good for you, read The Way He Lived.). She doesn't write sci-fi or fantasy so I didn't expected to see her there. She smiled at me and I smiled back. After the panel ended I wanted to meet her but I'm really shy. I don't know what to say to normal strangers, let alone strangers I know in a peripheral way that I deeply admire.
Emily Wing Smith crossed to the other side of the room. I said something to Julie about wanting to meet. Julie told me I should go introduce myself because it would make her feel good that someone in this room recognized her and read her books. So I got up from my chair and accosted Emily Wing Smith and blurted, "I love your books!" Not, "Hi, I'm Sarah. I read your books and really enjoyed them." But I seriously practically yelled, "I love your books!" And I was shaking and red-faced and smiling way too big. Emily Wing Smith smiled back and read my name tag and said that It's Nice To Meet You Sarah. And I told her again that I love her books. She asked me about my writing and I gave her a very lame one sentence plot synopsis. Then someone bumped into her or me and so I told her it was nice to meet her and that I love her books.
I don't want to be a stalker but she's doing Writing for Charity next month and I might try to get into her workshop.
Hi, I'm Sarah! I write young adult fiction and LDS romance. I live in Salt Lake City, UT with my skinny husband and tiny son. I also am very small.