Three Cheers for the Fallbrook Writers' Conference!
I simply adore writing conferences. No where else do I feel more in the zone, in my tribe, than at these conferences. I love the atmosphere bubbling with enthusiasm for books and the written word, and love meeting aspiring writers like me tell me about their latest projects.
I can say with certainty that Fallbrook Writers' Conference in (where else?) Fallbrook, California is one of the best I've been to. The Fallbrook Library foots all of the expenses of this one day event so attendees can, er, attend for free! FREEEEEEEEE. Is there a better sound to a writer's ears than free conference? Not to mention Mysterious Galaxy bookstore set up shop inside the library where you could buy the presenting authors' books.
On Sunday, September 15th, the day kicked off at 9:30 am sharp. Tucked away off of Mission Road in Fallbrook, the library spreads over a wide area of land, and modern, bright desert-neutral colors adorn the architecture. The building alone gave me some jealous feels that my own local library wasn't as up to date and inviting! (I must add: all libraries are beautiful in their own special ways!)
After a quick orientation and welcome, the first time slot at ten kicked off two different sessions to choose from. I chose Finding & Working with Your Agent, featuring Elise Capron and Jill Marr from Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. I cannot overstate how helpful this session truly was for me. The two covered everything from what an agent does to what happens after you query one. I took three -- count 'em -- THREE pages of notes. One of the most helpful things I learned from the session came from Elise, who broke down how to find those pesky comp titles. She explained that instead of trying to find books that are just like yours, look for books that speak to the same audience that you want to reach. Jill added that you don't just have to list books that are similar -- you can also mention some movies and TV shows.
The next session I attended was the keynote, delivered by mystery writer Matt Coyle. Jonathan Maberry fell ill, and Matt stepped up to fill the hole. He has a naturally funny, endearing personality, and I just enjoyed listening to him. When he took questions, I asked him what newer writers should focus on. He suggested "owning your hometown." Go to local writing conferences and events. Meet local authors and agents. Fantastic advice, and poignant, as I did just happen to be at a local writing conference. Winky wink.
Over lunch, I joined a group of five other extraordinary women in having lunch with lovely YA writer Laura McNeal. We got to know one another and our projects. Something that struck me over this lunch: I love being around other female writers. We tend to know exactly where the others are coming from, and we are eager to support one another's books. I immediately bought two of Laura's books from the Mysterious Galaxy pop-up store after the lunch.
Author Marivi Soliven hosted the second to the last session, giving vital and important information about domestic violence, more specifically domestic violence enacted on immigrant women. I learned a lot from her stories and statistics, and have added her book The Mango Bride to my to-read list!
The final session (cry -- the day ended so soon) might've been my favorite. Three very strong and wonderful women spoke about their experiences Writing & Publishing in a Diverse World. Huda Al-Marashi, Mickey Brent, and Marivi Soliven did not mince words and detailed how they each fought to bring their authentic experiences to their books and their careers.
I can't believe I could cram that much information into my brain in one day! Every session gave me something to think about on the drive home.
I am so grateful to the volunteers, organizers, sponsors, authors, agents, and everyone else who made this conference possible for us wee aspiring writers. I will definitely be attending this one next year!
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