I’ve finished a novel, am working on my second, update this blog regularly, and write short stories yet hesitate to call myself a writer because I’m not published. I thought I might feel out of place at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Summer Conference, but I didn’t. I met some really cool people and picked up some new ideas for my toolbox.
I was sitting this afternoon in a workshop on characterization and looked over to see Robert Dugoni sitting several people away, listening and taking notes. He’s a New York Times best selling author and still attends and participates in these conferences. Pretty damn cool! He was also one of the keynote speakers and gave a touching, inspiring presentation. He seems like Mr. Perfect: great speaker, high-achiever, hard worker, wonderful family, best selling author, and comes across to me as one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I especially liked his dedication to family values, genuine compassion for the people around him, and his obvious high work ethic. Somehow I gotta get me a work ethic like that.
Mary Schneider, an editor at Writers Digest, was at my dinner table and we all talked a lot about blogging. I’ll have to start watching her blog. Gayle Lunds, the author who broke the barriers for women thriller authors signed a book to my daughters (her book “Masquerade” is considered by Publishers Weekly as one of the top ten spy novels of all time). What really touched me was how genuinely interested all of these celebrity authors were in us “non-published” authors. They asked about my life, what I’ve written, what I’m working on, and encouraged me in my writing passion. In fact, Gayle assured me that I was indeed a writer, but I still can’t quite accept that label. I need to get something published before I accept it.
Robert Liparulo seems like a fun guy. Easy going, sincere, down to earth…the kind of person that reminds me of a good friend. I felt real comfortable and at ease talking to him. I haven’t read any of his books but I have “Comes a Horseman” right next to me and plan to start it tonight.
Fleetwood Robbins, an editor from Wizards of the Coast, was another real sincere, easy person to talk to. I know these editors are busy and get tons of submissions yet he spent a half hour talking to me about Mandala’s Catalyst. He welcomed me to send it to him, but sending a submission is like buying a lottery ticket. I pretty much know I won’t win, but there is still that outside chance it could happen. I’ve often wondered if the money I spent on stamps for my submissions would have a better chance giving me a return on a lottery ticket. But I keep trying, and I don’t buy lottery tickets. At least I’m not alone. All of these authors had a long hard road to where they are today. It was encouraging in one sense yet discouraging to be reminded that rejection really is the life of a writer. I don’t know any lottery winners, but at least I know a few best selling authors now.
I could go on. It was a great conference filled with a variety of authors (from best selling to unpublished) and it was a pleasure to meet and visit with everyone I met. I’ll stay in touch with a several, like Tobin (an author I met from Oregon) and Karen Morison-Knox (an award winning author from San Francisco who helped me work on my pitch).