5 Things I Learned at #ATLWW

This past Saturday I had the great opportunity to go to the Atlanta's Writer's Digest Conference. It's a great conference that brings some of the most talented writers, editors and agents right to my door for one day only. The conference is filled with various panel discussions, informational workshops, the chance to get your pages critiqued and the opportunity to pitch your novel to agents. I knew I had to go even if I was flying solo. 
I had an incredible time and learned so much, but if I had to sum it up, here are 5 take aways. 

1. Make Friends
        I went into the conference not knowing anyone, and within a matter of minutes had already made friends simply by smiling and saying hello. Rather than eating lunch alone, I sat at a table surrounded by amazing writers laughing and sharing stories. Learning from other writers, giving and receiving advice made the conference fill like a reunion. Writers are a great bunch of people and everyone is mostly friendly and just as excited as you! 

2. Take Notes
 The panels are filled with information, and even if you get a handout, it's still not a bad idea to take notes. Write down anything and everything that clicks with you. Once you get home you probably won't remember everything and you'll be glad to have notes to refer to. It's also great if you've made friends and can share notes that way you get information from more than just the 1 session you can attend. 

3. Research agents
If you're planning to pitch your novel, make sure you take the time to research everyone you're thinking about pitching. Read interviews with them, read their manuscript wish lists, follow them on twitter, and take notes of your own. Be ready to answer questions and have a smile ready. 

4. Read.
This is a general writer rule but something that was hammered home by my agent meetings. Almost all of the agents I pitched asked me about what I was reading or what authors I enjoyed reading. Not having an answer would not look good so make sure that you are reading and know what books are out there. If the only books you can talk about are 20 years old you've got some work to do. Keep on top of current releases and what's going on in your genre. 

5. Learn something new
Be brave and go to a panel about a topic you know nothing about. Talk to someone who is pitching a novel totally outside of your usual genres. You'll be amazed at what new information can click into place and illuminate your writing brain. Always be striving to grow as a writer and as a person. 

All and all, I would highly recommend going to a conference and getting the experience. If you are writing in a particular genre, look for those writng associations. Many of them host writing conferences and it's a great chance to really hone your skills.

Moonlight and Magnolias!

This year I went to the Georgia Romance Writer Association's Moonlight and Magnolias for the first time and I had an incredible time. I was really nervous going into the conference because I'd never been and I didn't know anyone who was going to be there. It turned out to be one of the most fun, informative conferences I've ever been to. 

Everyone was beyond friendly, before I'd been there ten minutes I'd already made new friends and was getting all kinds of great advice on how to make the most of my time at the conference. 

For the first time ever, I pitched agents and editors and I didn't burst into flames once! I actually spent all day Friday taking cancelled pitch sessions and ended up chatting with 7 agents and/or editors. Out of those 3 requested fulls, and 2 requested partials. The other 2 didn't represent my genre but we still had great chats about books and writing. 
Jana Oliver gave a great speech during lunch about not quitting and her own path to success. It was really inspiring to hear! 

Saturday I went to several workshops and learned a lot of new techniques and tips to try out. I think my favorite was learning about storyboarding your novel. I had a lot of fun cutting up pictures and making a collage of inspiration. I'll definitely pull that out in the future. Chris Marie Green gave a really fun but moving speech about her own struggles with publishing and her path through the ups and downs. She themed everything with TV shows and it was really engaging to listen to. 

The evening was the Maggie Awards and one of the things i was most excited about! There aren't many chaces to get dressed up like a princess so I was happy to have the chance to throw on a dress and heels. Because I wasn't staying at the hotel, I actually ended up getting dressed in the bathroom and made several friends who were doing the same thing. Nice to know there'll always be somewhere there to zip your dress up! 

The ceremony was lovely. There were a lot of beautiful tributes and speeches and it was so exciting seeing how many people cheered for one another. When the awards were over the dance floor opened up and partying fully commenced. I had a great time during the few songs I danced to! 

Sunday was the day of goodbyes and while I hated telling everyone bye, I know I'll see many of them soon when I visit the Georgia Romance Writer's next meeting! :)

All in all I was amazed at how welcoming and supportive everyone was. All of the authors were thrilled to meet new authors and share wisdom. Everyone was so passionate and in love with writing that I came home ready to write my heart out on new and old projects. It's hard to be around so many incredible people and not leave inspired!