The PNWA conference was exhausting. I tried to absorb everything, and it was just overwhelming. I learned a lot, and for me, was very happy that the conference this year was slanted more toward established writers (I didn't say published) and toward e-pubbing.
Besides the two 90-minute, speed-dating-style pitch sessions, I attended sessions on "Writer as Marketer", writing legalities (you know, stuff about copy-rights, etc), "Backstory Bedlam", on the difference between romance and women's fiction (and yes there is a very gray area and a bazillion sub-genres in each), and Donald Maass' "Writing 21st Century Fiction". I took copious notes in each session.
I got a 50% hit rate from agents. All of the agents were nice, and what I mean is that they were having long days and could have basically been giving people the bums' rush, but they didn't. They were kind and tried, at least the ones I spoke with, to let me down easy. Two of my rejections said, basically, too complicated, and one said she didn't like witches. After speaking with her, I began my pitch with how do you feel about witches? The other three agents requested pages sent, although one wants me to hire a copy-editor and reduce the number of words for 110K to 85K before sending her my manuscript. That's a lot of work for a potential contract. I plan on sending the other two the pages they requested and see what happens. And yes, I know my novel still needs to be cut down (and still needs a title), but I would like to work with the agent/editor to see what they would like removed before I hire someone to dissect my novel. The copy-editor that I hire could be on the wrong track completely.
I also met both established and burgeoning authors from around the country -- yes, mostly from the Pacific Northwest where in winter, certain types of people have two choices: write or drink. That was a comment, unfortunately not mine, in response to why the Pacific Northwest has so many authors.
I re-connected with past writing friends and made some new ones.
And no, I didn't win either 1st or 2nd place in the literary contest. If I had, I'm pretty sure that the headline of this post would have read: I won, I won, I won. But that won't stop me. In fact, being chosen as finalist was the push I needed, was my way of understanding that my friends aren't just being kind when they say I've turned into a good writer. My friend Ken said to remember that Stephen King never won any awards. I don't know if that's strictly true, but it make me feel better, because I love King's writing. I only wish I could do character development half as good as he does.
I have a good life and good friends. And now proof that I'm a good writer. Enough said, for now.