19th Annual ANWA Writers Conference 2011
Writing at the Speed of Life
by Cindy R. Williams
Where to begin . . . I have attended a number of writing conferences over the years in several states and this past ANWA conference was right at the top. It was every bit as fabulous as a two-day conference that set me back $650 and this one only cost $100 – 115 depending on whether you were a member of ANWA or not, and if you registered on time. This included two fabulous informative days, a gourmet lunch and a Meet & Greet. Speaking of the Meet and Greet, it was a goldmine. Every conference attendee had the opportunity, if they chose to take it, to visit with the agents, authors and an editor. It also served as a wonderful time to greet old writing buddies and make some new friends. With goblets of chilled ice water, exquisite chocolate and mixed nuts available, everyone seemed to chillax. Some attendees were treated to a parody called “Ode to Obama” written and sung by one of the agents to the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. It was just that kind of fun.
The four stars Crowne Plaza Hotel was a professional and classy setting. Classy . . . that’s a good word for the entire conference. Classy hotel, classy presenters, classy tote bag filled with new blue ANWA pens and a mega classy brochure that highlighted each of the faculty, including pictures, bios, class blurbs, the conference schedule and everything one needed to know to make the most of the event. The most important part of the conference was the 124 classy attendees. You all deserve major kudos for how professional and friendly you were throughout the entire event. This year we had people attend from California, Utah, Colorado and of course Arizona.
I received some lovely comments from some of the faculty. One agent said she was pleased at how knowledgeable she found many of the writers whom pitched to her. Another faculty member stated he was extremely impressed with ANWA for nurturing this kind of writing talent in Arizona and hosting a writer’s conference of this caliber.
Please note that the ANWA General Board is aware that many of you would have LOVED to be there so a report on each class will be written up and included in future ANWA Newsletters which are also available online on the ANWA website.
Incredible opportunities were offered. J. Paul Deason from Barnes and Noble shared how to get on top of technology by using their free program to upload your books and take advantage of the eBooks phenomena. He also shared how to get self-published books in Barnes and Noble along with how to schedule author book signings with Barnes and Noble.
Other faculty presenters –you may recognize some talented ANWA members –were as follows: Query Guru Elana Johnson brought down the house Friday with her quick wit and quirky humor. She beats any stand-up comedian, hands down, plus we learned tons from her about killer query letters and pitching. Janette Rallison taught “Ten Tips for Terrific Talking: Dialogue and Humor”. Try saying the title of her class ten times. Janette is known for her hilarious books that have sold over a million. Carolyn Murphy shared her expansive knowledge on writing family histories in “Unlock the Mystery of YOUR Family History”. Chava Cannon wowed us with how to write music. Cecily Markland gave a small publishing company’s viewpoint. Conrad Storad was back for a repeat performance with his great hands on class “Making Non-Fiction Fun for Young readers.” Angela Morrison’s class, “Write What You Know: Gleaning from reality to make characters breathe,” was a breath of fresh air. Laurie Schnebly Campbell, taught two different classes, “Write What You Know” and “Block-busting; Putting the Joy Back in Writing". Both were inspiring.
There were two literary agents, both from California. Kelly Sonnack represented Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her break out session on “Avoiding Childish Mistakes When Writing for Children” was engaging. She also spent hours listening to pitches. Kelly Mortimer, owner of Mortimer Literary Agency spoke on “Perils of Publishing: Extreme Make-over including a Grammar Guide for Self-Editing or Editing Groups.” She also accepted pitches.
Kirk Shaw, editor at Covenant Communications, taught “A Match Made in Heaven: Finding the Right Publisher and Convincing Them It’s So!” He covered how does an author narrow down the best option for her/his manuscript and then go about proving she/he is a fine fit for the publisher? Many conference attendees had the opportunity to pitch to Kirk.
Keynote Speaker and author extraordinaire, Chris Stewart, spoke on “Write What You Live” and did a Q & A. What an opportunity to pick the brain of this wonderful writer.
The conference ended with a panel discussion with Kelly Sonnack, Kirk Shaw, Cecily Markland, J. Paul Deason and Kelly Mortimer. It was excellent. An incredible amount of information about writing and tips on how to get published were shared.
Okay, so yes, I was the Chair for the event and I’m still recovering, no joke, but it took eight extremely hard working and visionary women along with a whole gaggle of volunteers to pull this off. Every one of these ladies spent an incredible amount of time, effort and sacrifice to make this happen. I would be remiss if I didn’t give them a big shout out. They are: Patti Hulet, Aimee Morgan, Krista Darrach, Marsha Ward, Valerie Ipson, Faith St. Clair and Deb Eaton. There were 18 volunteers whom helped either prior or during the conference. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a sea of estrogen to pull off a great ANWA Writers Conference.
Evaluations written by attendees were overwhelmingly postitive. We did have some great suggestions that will be implemented in next years conference to make the 2012 even better.
Here’s to ANWA Writers Conference 2012! Be there or . . . I was going to write be square, but the real deal is, be there or miss out BIG TIME. Start saving your pennies now.