I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but this year’s Philadelphia Writer’s Conference was my first conference ever.
That said, damn, what a way to get started. It was great to run into familiar faces, make new friends, and spend time at the bar.
Things were kicked off by Jonathan Maberry, who really knows how to engage an audience with a manner of speaking that is as dynamic and witty his thrills-on-every-page novels. He stressed the importance of writers, whether genre or literary, fiction or nonfiction, screenwriters or novel writers to stick together. We have more similarities than differences and those similiarities can forge powerful connections and create vital support groups.
I took five workshops that weekend.
As a believer in stretching my comfort zone so that one day there is no corner of the writing world where I’m not comfortable, I took Debra Leigh Scott’s Literary Short Story workshop. Damn. After an interactive, immersive workshop like hers, I’m now considering applying a more literary style to my genre pieces. It was an informative discussion with a lot of exercises. I found myself wishing that we had more than just three one hour sessions. I can’t say enough nice things about it.
Caridad Pineiro taught a class of Horror/SciFi/Fantasy. While it explored some topics I am already very familiar with, it touched on some subjects that were of particular interest to me. She’s a big believer in using the Jungian archetypes in all of her novels and she delved pretty deeply into that on the third day. We also did some worldbuilding exercises that would be helpful practice for anyone who wants to write in those three genres.
Before Jonathan Maberry’s workshop on character, he let me know that I’d probably heard most of what he was going over before. Though for the most part he was right, that didn’t make it any less interesting. As I mentioned before, dude can own a venue, rockstar-style. He stressed the important stuff: characters have to have damage, they have to be real, and the story should grow out of them, not the other way around. He used examples from his own work (including my personal favorite, Dead of Night). He also talked a lot about point of view and used examples of when omniscient point of view works. For this, he pulled from Stephen King’s The Mist and ‘Salem’s Lot.
On Saturday, I listened to Jill Sherer-Murray of the Wild River Review discuss blogging. She had most of us laughing with her painfully true and viciously funny examples from her own blogs.
Sunday was Liar’s Club member Don Lafferty’s workshop on social media, which served as a great reminder that no matter how much I think I know about social media, there is still so much more to learn, explore and master. And that’s okay. I’m up for the challenge.
Now, to bring it all together. I spent way more money this weekend than I probably should’ve, got on the wrong train Saturday night, barely slept, and my legs are killing me from walking. Instead of drinking water that would’ve helped me in the heat, I sustained myself on caffeine and alcohol. It was a vacation with the added benefit of learning new things. I met some amazing people (including Katie Grimm from Don Congdon Associates, the agency that represented the late Ray Bradbury), saw people who, over the last few years, have become good friends, and, most importantly, I wrote quite a bit. Even amidst the shuffle, I managed to make that pen move.
It was a great event, so hats off to the parties responsible. Special thanks to the authors, editors, and agents who came out to either teach workshops or take pitches.
Hope to see some of you this Saturday at Awesome Reading Fest VII.