PNWA 2013 Writer’s Conference – What Did You Learn?

2013 PNWA Writers Conference

2013 PNWA Writers Conference

Bummer, it’s over.  The 2013 PNWA Writers Conference finished this last Sunday and I’m excited to use what I’ve learned!  I had a wonderful time and I’ve dedicated this posting to a trip report, from the perspective of both a writer and board trustee with PNWA.

The Seattle conference, held July 25th – July 28th, covered a wide selection of topics important for writers today. Workshops addressed the craft of writing, agent/editor relationships, marketing and social media, and the many ways to become published. In parallel, the schedule highlighted a set of nerve-wracking sessions called, “Power Pitch.” Organized like speed-dating, these ninety-minute pitch fests connected writers with agents and editors searching for new manuscripts to read and represent.

Pam Binder (PNWA President) and Sandy McCormack (PNWA Vice President) kick off announcement of literary contest winners

Sandy McCormack and Pam Binder (PNWA Vice President and President) kick off the literary contest awards on Saturday night

Several well-known authors stopped by to regale the attendees en masse. Keynote speaker Greg Bear was welcomed at the Thursday evening dessert reception.  Friday’s panel with Deb Caletti, Stella Cameron, Robert Dugoni, and Gerry Swallow offered encouragement and humor. On Saturday night, we celebrated the winners of PNWA’s Literary Contest, announced over dessert.  And on Sunday, Mary Bisbee-Beek wrapped up with a discussion on the differences between Marketing and Promotion.

Some new activities were introduced to the program this year.  PNWA hosted a free workshop for budding writers (ages 8-12) called, “Kid’s Day with Dr. Cuthbert Soup.” They also launched the 2014 PNWA Nancy Pearl Book Award, an annual literary contest.  The pilot program recognizes PNWA member’s Best Books published in 2013.

Margie Lawson, Tara Sheets, and me

Margie Lawson, Tara Sheets, and me
(Sorry for the blurry photo!)

I now have three conferences under my belt and this year was my favorite.  As a writer, I focused on the craft workshops, anything to help finish my WIP!   And I moderated three wonderful sessions, Introduction to Speculative Fiction by Danika Dinsmore and two of the many mind-bending sessions led by Margie Lawson on her EDITs system and deep editing techniques. (This list barely hints at the packed agenda.  See PNWA’s website for the full listing.)

Tara Sheets & Jean Miller

Tara Sheets & Jean Miller

The conference was also a terrific forum to speak informally with agents and editors and a way to connect your peeps.  I hung out with Tara Sheets, a 2013 finalist for the RWA Golden Heart Award (Thanks for the photos!).  I caught up with Richard Hacker, who recently signed a contract for his third book with Champagne Press. And had the opportunity to say hello to many writer friends, like Jean Miller, who I met in the Popular Fiction Certificate programs put on by the UW.

Tara Sheets and I, waiting for more caffeine.  And look, our outfits match.

Tara Sheets and I, waiting for more caffeine. And look, our outfits match.

And as a new writer, I send a big thanks to the conference organizers.  A special shout-out to Pam Binder, best-selling author and PNWA president, for her vision and tireless efforts.  And a call-out to the amazing PNWA staff, volunteers, and other board members who helped make the conference such great event.

My favorite learning from the conference?  For me, it was Margie Lawson’s workshop on how to write dialogue cues like a psychologist.  That, and her review of “power words” provided a focus for final edits on my current WIP.

What’s the favorite thing you learned?

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15 comments on “PNWA 2013 Writer’s Conference – What Did You Learn?”

  1. Richard Hacker Reply

    Great post. We’ll have to exchange notes because, while I didn’t get to attend Margie Lawson’s dialogue workshop, I did attend her Rhetorical Devices workshop which I found very interesting. Thanks for all you do at PNWA!

  2. Tara Sheets Reply

    Just reading this makes me miss the conference and all the amazing people. I think the PNWA conference is my all-time favorite. Margie Lawson’s EDITs class blew my mind, ahhhhGAIN. Every time I attend one of her workshops I walk away with something new. Now I’m excited to get started on my next writing project. Woo! Thanks for the great post. 🙂

    • J.D. Sullivan | Author | PM Reply

      Thanks Tara. Good luck on your next writing project. And I agree with you on Margie’s classes. As someone said to me after the conference, “they make you think differently.” Albeit painful, but differently. 🙂

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