Friday, February 21, 2014

Yikes! A Writer's Conference

Okay, I’ll admit I’ve attended a few writer’s conferences. I’ve never blogged about them because...the one thing I learned from the experience...I am a big baby, I mean, introvert
All those people...all that smoozing...what if one of those gatekeepers says...

Cartoon Copyright Dave Coverly. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Dave Coverly.

The slice of humor in the comic above is thanks to Dave Coverly and shared by my 
fellow Prism Author, Lisa Lickel who's here today and is not a big baby brave enough to share her writer's conference experiene.

Take it away Lisa...

I survived another writer’s conference. I am not a brave person. 

And as I get older, I find myself inappropriately courageous in some places and inappropriately cautious in others. I paid for, attended, pitched, roomed with my agent, made fun of Canadians I just met, hugged and cheered for people I knew only by name. 

(Okay, I have to butt in here. I’m Canadian, although I’ve been transplanted in the Deep South for over fifteen years now, but how could you make fun of Canadians? We’re so lovable. :) Okay, maybe you're upset we won the Women's Hockey Gold yesterday. But come on, it's hockey. LOL 
Sorry, Lisa, no more butting in :) I promise.)

Seriously, a magnet taught me some things about conference etiquette. You see I had a session of acupuncture beforehand, admitting my nervousness, which resulted in the acupuncturist placing a tiny magnet in the cartilage of my ear to help with anxiety.  I figured it couldn’t hurt.

So what did I learn with the help of my magnet: 

1. Go prepared. 
I checked out the acquisitions editor I targeted for my pitch, as well as recent releases in my genre from the publisher, and shamelessly name-dropped. 

2. Be yourself.
Up to a point. Leaving some mystery is good. Politics, favorite television shows, bathroom sharing, bedtimes, snoring, getting lost, favorite foods, eating and drinking preferences…maybe best left for another time.

3. Speaking of time...leave lots of it: 
To get places—I can’t find my way out a box.
To avoid stress. It can be overwhelming to always be “on point,” so find time to relax for even a few minutes.
To listen. You just might make a new fan and a new friend.
To answer questions and share of yourself. I’ve been published multiple times now and I do have stuff to share. 

5. Keep your expectations realistic.
I went to the conference desiring to meet people who’d been cyber-acquaintances. I was not presenting or offering a workshop at this conference, so I did not expect to sell much. But I did, thanks to a friend who recommended me to others. I also wasn’t sure how much new info I’d absorb from the speakers, but on the flip side, I was also there to support people who needed an audience. And yes, of course, a person can always learn something new, or reinforce past lessons. 

6. Finally, relax and have fun.
 It gets easier for me each time I go. I’m still a little chicken to do totally new things, but with each layer of experience, I grow. I’ve gone from needing a best friend holding my hand, to medication, to the magnet. Maybe someday I won’t even need the magnet.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and sharing your conference experience. Be sure to check out Lisa's newest release and her other books.

The Last Detail, January 2014 from the Prism Book Group

Hope, love, and loss meld two polar opposite personalities. How long can they keep passion for their ministry and each other after the wedding? 
Medical missionary and avowed bachelor Merit Campbell is wounded during a skirmish at his Mideast clinic and sent home to recover. Restlessness propels him to explore the happier moments of his childhood in Illinois where he meets Amalia Kennedy, owner of The Last Detail, who enjoys helping people prepare for their final years. Merit ushers in new life; Amalia ushers it out. Love? Obviously. Marriage? Check. Dealing with the family closet? Step back…Amalia enjoys her predictable life in a quiet little Illinois town—until long-time intended, Hudson, finally proposes in a way that shows her boring and old are coming way too fast. When a mutual friend introduces Merit and Amalia, the spark of attraction makes Merit reconsider his bachelorhood. When he can’t return to the mission, he accepts a call as pastor to Amalia’s church. As the two grow closer they weather constant interruptions from ministry, business, and family, even at their wedding and beyond. When tragedy strikes, they must learn to rely on each other in ways they couldn’t have prepared for. 
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Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor. Visit

Feel free to comment or ask Lisa a question.


  1. Sorry, Suzanne, ex-Canadian. I am wearing my favorite nightshirt right now that has the leaf and Canada, eh? printed all over it, and spent two DELIGHTFUL weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador last summer, and love my Canadian publisher almost as much as Prism, and well, your hockey team earned it...but hearing that "aboot" is just too cool!

  2. No worries, Lisa. I thought the Canadian "About" was similar to the Minnesota and Wisconsin "about". I guess not. :)

    1. I'm learning there is a Wisconsinese that's just a humorous.

  3. Great post, Lisa. I am getting braver abut attending conferences but still a little scared of giving pitches. Any tips?

  4. Hi, Lynn, thanks for stopping in! Yeah, pitching - if you can't get some tranquilizers ahead of time and practice using them, I did go through a course on this after one of my very pitches in which I literally sat down in front of this agent who didn't kick out her previous appointment until five minutes into my spot, and said, "I would be nicer but I don't have time."

    The best advice I can give you is to write it out and practice it. Treat it like a job interview. Sit in front of a mirror in the clothes you plan to wear and start out slowly, enunciating each word, then go faster and faster, then slow down again. Do this at least a dozen times for a few days. If you can, ask a friend or two to be your audience and pitch to them a few times. If you can stand it, video record yourself, wait a day and suck it up and watch it. (I have not gotten myself to do this yet, although I did have to make a little movie about myself for a contest once and I survived.)

    Or get acupuncture.

    1. Great question Lynn and terrific response Lisa. I'll go for the acupuncture. That's if I can get up the nerve to go to the conference and sign up for a pitch. :)

  5. Great post, Lynn! I can definitely relate about the cautious/courageous thing, and I loved the simple tips. I did attend one of those huge RWA conferences a few years ago and had a surprisingly good time even though I knew absolutely nobody.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca. You are a brave soul to brave a huge convention like RWA. Nice to hear you had a good time.

    2. Sometimes it is easier when you don't know anybody. Then not much matters. Thanks for stopping in, Rebecca.

  6. Thanks again for hosting me, Suzanne. This was fun!

  7. I went to my first conference ALONE and even pitched to two agents. Still have nightmares. If I go to another conference, I want to go with you guys! There's safety in numbers. LOL
    Good suggestions!

  8. I like it. Safety in numbers. Agreed!
    Thanks for stopping by, Sandy.