I spent the last three days at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver. I always come away with a notebook full of new ideas and action items for my writing and promotion. I’m very loyal to this conference because I sold my first published novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, as the result of a pitch session at this conference in 2005. Here are a few sound bites from the conference:
- Agent Katherine Sands in a workshop on pitch craft described the essential elements of a good pitch/query: place, person, pivot and hook. This means to establish the setting, the protagonist, the problem and then to plant a hook to grab the recipient of your pitch. As she said, “We have to become happy hookers.”
- Bree Ervin in speaking about Social Media recommended to get out there, play (try things) and be real.
- Jax Bubis told us to make sure we do enough research to make our stories realistic. She cited one famous author who described the fireflies in the hills above Boulder, Colorado. Note: You will see fireflies in Iowa City but not near Boulder.
- An unverified urban myth attributed to Hemmingway is that he once won a bet to write a story in ten words or less: For sale, baby shoes, never worn. Whether actual or myth, it makes a good story.
- One agent mentioned that her agency received over 25,000 queries a year and makes 10-15 offers to new clients a year. No wonder its difficult for writers to get agents.
- Author Jodi Thomas gave a humorous and entertaining keynote address. Speaking to a room full of writers, she said, “You are not normal. Most people don’t spend time trying to get rid of a body.” She described being at a dinner and sitting next to a woman talking about carpet. “By the second course I was plotting her death.” When asked for the umpteenth time the question we authors often hear, “Where do you get your ideas?” Jodi bit her tongue but thought, “Where did yours go?” Her concluding remarks were, “We’re in the wild, wild west. Creativity is the black gold of the future. The future will be built by writers so write on.”
- Good advice from author Cindi Meyers was to accept failure as part of the business.
- Author and publisher Debra Dixon told us she keeps hearing in the publishing industry that the sky is falling. Then she clarified that she’s been hearing for twenty hears that the sky is falling. She encouraged us to scare ourselves at least once a day and try new things. She stated, “Just because you’ve always done things that was doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.”
Now it’s time to take my action list from the conference and get to work!