Full Circle

This weekend I’m at the Emerald City Writers’ Conference at the Westin in Bellevue, and what a change a year makes. Last year at this time, I was a virgin conference attendee and all I could think about was how to pitch my very complex story (don’t we all think our stories our complex?) to agents and editors. I received great feedback from them and even had requests for partials (normally first three chapters or fifty pages). However, after last year’s conference, I didn’t submit my MS.

First, I didn’t know if I wanted Shadow Watcher to be an urban fantasy or a paranormal romance. Can the girl save the world without the guy? Or can the girl have the guy and save the world? Tough questions. Then later I realized as written, the characters in that previous version of Shadow Watcher had no high stakes. They can walk away without dire consequences. So, back to the drawing board. It wasn’t until after the Rose City Intensive a few months later that I had Shadow Watcher rewrittten and ready to submit again. That’s when I discovered Crimson Romance and decided to submit to them. The rest, they say, is history.

ECWC has been fun, exciting and full of those rare opportunities where I get to meet some of my online friends in person. It’s been nice to reconnect with them and match the names to the faces. And this year, coming back, I’m now published. The intent of attending suddenly shifted from editor and agent pitches to focusing on networking, learning, and having fun with other writers.

My first book signing went well. Potential fans and readers stopped by and we chatted. There was no pressure to like each other, just a common passion for books that had us talking about anything and everything. During the conference, aspiring writers sought me out for advice. I loved it because I love to share. Everyone at the conference is there for one reason. To be given the chance to tell their story. Why should I keep secret knowledge or experiences that can help another succeed?

The highlight of my night was when my favorite urban fantasy and steampunk author, Meljean Brook, and her daughter, stopped by my table to say hi. Now, I’m a big fan of Meljean’s and have told her that I would wait to buy her steampunk print book, Riveted, at the conference just so I can see her and get an autographed copy. After I sent a friend over to Meljean’s table to buy an autographed copy of Riveted for me, Meljean and I waved at each other from across the room. Then to my surprise, she came over, we chatted, and she picked up my printed excerpt of Shadow Watcher. Wow! And that’s who I want to be like when I become a successful author- Meljean Brook. Not only is she approachable and likeable, but she goes out of her way for her fans.

In closing, I feel like I’ve come full circle even though it has only been a year. Those I met last year in passing are now my friends and greatest source of invaluable advice and support. I’m not a newbie writer but a published author. Yet, there is so much more out there. More potential friends to connect with, more to learn of the writing craft and all things author-wise, and of course, more stories to write. We’ll see what another year will bring. Maybe a spot on the NY Times Best Seller’s list? Hmm . . . we will see. Smiles and cheers from ECWC!