The WDB/BEA Conference: The Final Post

I sat next to the lovely Lisa Lenard-Cook at the author signing (at which point it occurred to me that maybe I should have mentioned my old book a little more and instead of mostly talking about the book that was not out yet—doink) and later, she was kind enough to share with me copies of her two novels, Dissonance (such a great title) and Coyote Morning, which will make great summer reading. Thanks, Lisa!

Lisa is the author of the new Writer’s Digest Book The Mind of Your Story, Discover What Drives Your Fiction. I just love that title too. And the book design is so intriguing. Check it out if you write fiction. 🙂

We also had a lovely and illuminating discussions about the important role that university presses can play for literary novelist in a time when a literary novel can be a tough sell. Thanks for all of your insights, Lisa. I learned a lot.

Chuck Sambuchino came into the green room sniffing with a terrible cold and asked me what I’d done to my hair. (Chuck!) Because it’s Chuck, who calls me “Katz” instead of “Christina,” (Chuck!) I decided to let it slide. More about the hair some other time. It’s a bit, ahem, blond. (I am now officially done retaliating for the hair comment.)

While the pitching sessions were going on I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with several folks in the hall. Of course, if they were balking about pitching, I encouraged them to try. Even if you get a “No” or a “No thanks,” pitching is such a great learning experience. The pitching sessions in this conference are super-short. I think they were three minutes. But you know what? Three minutes is really ample time to make your pitch, receive a response, and maybe even get a question in before the timer motions you off to get in line for your next pitch.

I was very pleased to see Metropolitan Mama Stephanie Sheaffer several times throughout the day, including at my morning session. I recognized her right away from several photos I’d seen over at her blog. Sounded like she had some great success at the conference…but I’ll let her share it. I don’t want to steal her thunder.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca Laffar-Smith of Writer’s Round-About, another blogger who flew all the way to the conference from Australia. Wowee! Shout out to Rebecca! Hope the jet leg isn’t too brutal when you get back home (makes me wince just thinking about it).

By the end of the conference, my blood sugar was taking a nose-dive and I needed to find some food. So I followed a gaggle of agents, including Andrea Hurst, whom I met last summer at Whidbey Island’s MFA Residency, social butterfly Katherine Sands, and agent mama, Verna Dreisbach. I also got to see agent Lilly Gharemani, chat with agent Andrea Brown, and meet agents Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada. And what a treat later to be driven back to the hotel by agent Donald Maas. He’s such an intelligent and thoughtful guy. His new book (the title escapes me at the moment) from Writer’s Digest is bound to be great.

After a lovely evening, a delicious dinner and lots of time chatting with Robin Mizell, an intern at Writer’s Digest who is also a freelance writer and copyeditor (shout out to Robin!), it was time to head back to the hotel. There are so many people to thank for such an enormous amount of work that it takes to make a great conference like this one, but I’ll do my best.

Big thanks to Greg Hatfield, Jane Friedman, Lauren Mosko, Chuck Sambuchino, Robert Brewer, Brian Klems and Scott Francis. There were many other folks from Writer’s Digest there I did not get to chat with. Thanks to everyone who helped put on such a terrific event!

P.S. I’m pretty sure I saw Kevin Costner driving by in a convertible in the shuttle on the way to the airport the next morning. But I can’t be 100% sure. 🙂


5 Responses to “The WDB/BEA Conference: The Final Post”

  1. 1 Chuck June 6, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I’m pretty sure that I said something along the lines of “I didn’t recognize you with the new hair. You make it sound like I sneered. And I prefer to think I was “a bit under the weather.” It incites less panic.

  2. 2 The Writer Mama June 6, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Chuck, I am totally teasing you. I believe your exact words were, “What did you do to your hair?” or “What happened to your hair?” but I’m a little sensitive about it…so I could be remembering wrong.

    Hope you are feeling better!

  3. 3 Robin Mizell June 6, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Hi, Christina:

    How sweet of you to mention me. I’ve been mildly cursing Chuck Sambuchino for passing around his cold. (laughing) I tried to keep my distance! Of course, he made it possible for me to participate in the Writer’s Digest Books Writers Conference, so I can’t complain. (smiling) I hope he wasn’t too miserable that day. I had a lovely time meeting people with whom I’d previously only corresponded. It was also the first opportunity for me to get to know your editor, Jane Friedman.

    Blake Snyder’s advice about your brand was intriguing. I’ll be watching to see how your business evolves and affects the original concept. What do you think of the online communities he’s building?

    Speaking of university presses, I kept meaning to tell you that I recently read Elissa Minor Rust’s collection of short stories set in the area of Lake Oswego, The Prisoner Pear: Stories from the Lake. Her book was published a few years ago by Swallow Press, an imprint of the Ohio University Press, whose staff (I must admit in the interest of full disclosure) are friends of mine. Lisa Lenard-Cook is right about the avenues university presses and small independent presses open to novelists whose work is more literary and perhaps less commercial.

    I’m sincerely glad I had the chance to talk to you at length, and I hope our paths cross again soon.


  4. 4 The Writer Mama June 6, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Perhaps we should just declare open season on teasing Chuck?

    (Kidding! Totally kidding.)

    Although I also came down with a cold this week…hmmm.

    It was great to meet you at the conference, Robin.

    Let’s keep in touch!

  5. 5 Stephanie June 6, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    It was a fantastic conference – inspiring and well-organized. I will definitely consider attending again next year in NYC.

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