By Pat Stoltey
From Friday morning through Sunday lunch, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference kept me so busy I didn't have time to post updates on Facebook, tweet conference notes on Twitter, or write weekend reports on my own blog. I returned home physically exhausted, mentally drained, and yet creatively energized. I'm so ready to get back to writing and revising and editing that I can hardly bring myself to look at my calendar and my To Do List for fear there are things on there I absolutely must do instead.
On Friday morning, I attended the almost four-hour master class on Contracts and Copyrights: How to Read and Understand a Publishing Deal. This presentation was given by attorney and historical mystery author Susan Spann who is an outstanding (and entertaining) presenter. I won't deny I came away from that session with so much information I may have worn one of those "deer in the headlights" expressions, but I took lots of notes on the excellent handout so I could remember stuff later.
Even simple contracts can trip us up. Those who don't have an agent to represent them in negotiations would be wise to find a qualified attorney to at least perform that review, explain the contract, and point out where the author should ask for changes.
After spending a couple of hours as a volunteer at the registration table, I grabbed a late lunch and headed for a session called Perfecting the Pitch -- Life isn't Just an Elevator Ride by Karen Albright Lin. It never hurts to brush up on technique. For those of you who will be attending a conference soon, remember: (1) don't take an armload of materials with you, (2) keep your plot explanation (beginning with the logline) simple, exciting, and don't complicate it with character names, (3) don't try to memorize enough words to fill your 8-10 minute slot as though you're giving a speech , and (4) have a conversation with the agent or editor including a friendly greeting at the beginning and a thank you at the end.
There were many other great sessions on Saturday and Sunday, as well as the guest speakers, book sale, and meals, but two other workshops stood out for me.
One was the three-hour presentation on Saturday afternoon called From Proposal to Publication (and Everything in Between) from literary agent Rachelle Gardner. Rachelle packs a lot of the information from her presentations in her blog as well.
The second was How to Write That Script from Chantelle Aimee Osman of A Twist of Karma Entertainment LLC. Again, lots of information, an excellent presenter, and a top-notch handout with illustrations.
If you've never been to a writers' conference, you're missing opportunities to educate yourself on all aspects of writing and getting published, to network with writers, editors and agents from all over the country, and to find the support and encouragement we can only get from those who share our passion.