Thoughts on Learning and Networking

I went to the Idaho Writers Conference this past weekend. This is the second year I’ve attended, and I enjoyed it very much. They have great speakers who talk about the nuts-and-bolts of writing and getting traditionally published. Agents and editors come that we can talk to which I find very enlightening. Most of all, I meet other writers and editors at all levels.

My friend, Jodi Thomas, was one of the speakers. I met her at the West Texas Writers Academy, and she’s inspired me ever since. She’s a very kind and humble person who is a joy to be around. She shares her wisdom and advice with anyone who asks. She’s been on the New York Times Bestseller List a lot. She’s won Romance Writer of the Year so many times that she was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. I stuck close to her, as close as I could without making a nuisance of myself. At least I hope I didn’t. If I’m ever as successful as she is, I will try to be as kind and generous with my advice and time as she is with me and others like me.

I knew a few people there, but when I went to look for a seat in the big meeting room, I didn’t know where to sit. One woman turned around, looked me in the eye, and smiled. I decided the chair next to her would be a good place. I sat next to an editor who I didn’t know, but she was very warm and friendly. We visited a lot during the conference and we got acquainted. She edits for a somewhat famous horror author, but she didn’t seem the horror-type at all. She was fun to be with and I was glad she had smiled at me. That demonstrates the power of a smile.

For supper one night, Jodi took four other authors and me out. Two of the other authors have over 50 books published by Harlequin between them. The other two ladies have successfully published, one independently and one traditionally. I felt a little out of place, but I shouldn’t have. We all had stories to share. We had a great discussion about different aspects of being a writer. It was a fun and educational night.

I’m working on a manuscript for a Christmas romance which I had evaluated by an editor from New York. She gave me a few tips on things and we talked about where the story should go. Right before I left, she told me she really like what I had and when I finish it, her publishing house might be interested in it. That was such exciting news to me, I was walking on a cloud. I would love to be a hybrid author (publishing both independently and traditionally) and this might be the first step toward that goal.

We talked a lot about setting goals during the conference and being persistent in reaching those goals. I’m left reinvigorated and determined to be the best writer I can be. If only I could get my cover designer to get the cover to my next book done. Grrrr. I need to work on being firm. After all, this is my job and I work hard at it. That’s his job and I pay him for it. He needs to keep up his end of the bargain.

I’m so lucky because I have books out there that people enjoy. I love using the gifts God gave me to bring a bit of sunshine to people. Thanks, readers! I appreciate you all so much!

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