Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Willamette Writers Conference Recap

On Friday I ventured forth from the comfort of my writing desk to the swirling vortexes of the Willamette Writers Conference. It was in 1994 when I first joined Willamette Writers, Oregon's largest writing organization, and I was even a volunteer at their conference that year. Since then, the conference has grown by leaps and bounds and has a steady stream of success stories to prove it.

Conference Brochure Cover

I started my day at the Children's/YA agents panel. It's always great to see agents in the flesh. They are all very human and approachable. The panel consisted of Taylor Martindale, Bree Ogden of Martin Literary, Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary, and Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown. Quite a quartet. They handled every question (even the dumb ones) with respect and aplomb.

I then attended Laura Whitcomb's workshop It's So Crazy, It Just Might Work: Putting the Spark in Your Manuscript. Laura was funny and introduced us to a number of "brain tricking" exercises that could potential deepen our scenes and do away with being stuck.

I hung out with my friend and writing group partner, Rosanne Parry, at lunch and took in the first half hour of her workshop, Character and the Seven Deadly Sins. (I think my deadly may be Gluttony!) Then it was time to go pitch to agents. I was in two group pitches. Basically, we went round the table and had two minutes to pitch our books. Mercifully, no one rambled on--and it was eye-opening to see the many different stories people are writing. There wasn't a werewolf, vampire, or fairy in the bunch!

(Both agents asked to see more of my novel. But that's all I'm going to say, so as not to jinx myself.)

My final workshop was with Jane Friedman, who is a bit of a hero of mine. She talked about writing grants for writing projects (Kickstarter, anyone?!). Later, at the mix and mingle, I went up to her all starry-eyed and groupie like--and she was very gracious. (The guy she was with looked ready to shield her from a gibbering maniac.) I also had a chat with novelist Hallie Ephron, who was so nice that I am definitely going to search out her novels.

This post looks like a "Linky Gone Wild," so I should probably stop. Have you any conference stories to share? I'd love to hear them.


  1. My very first conference will be this fall. Sounds like this one was a blast for you.

    I love Bree!

  2. I attended a couple conferences years ago when I lived in Oregon that were held in Newport and I really enjoyed them! Sounds like this one was great!! Hope your week is going well, Michael! Enjoy!


  3. I'm sorry I missed WW this year. I went last year and learned a lot. Didn't know whether we'd be moving or what ... so didn't get to make any plans.


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