Day 2 of the western Washington SCBWI conference started differently than the first day. I’m so glad.
After the first day of my conference, I was convinced I wouldn’t attend again. This is the fourth year I’ve taken part in this writing conference, and I found myself in the same place: sitting in the audience, an unpublished author, wondering when or if I’ll ever get an offer to publish anything I’ve written.
Well, that’s not completely accurate; there are a few differences in 2013. This is the first year I’ve come as a married woman; wearing a wedding band still surprises me. And I am sort of a published author: my e-book, Celebration House, will be published in August.
On the first day of the conference, when I looked around at the sea of faces, I felt alone. I felt like this meeting was just a get-together for writers in the western Washington SCBWI chapter. It was like being invited to a party and everyone is celebrating around you but you. To introduce myself seemed an impossible task. Heck, I’m an introvert. I’ll conveniently forget to mention the two writers who invited me to join them for lunch at their table.
So on day 2, I’m headed for the closest Starbucks and upon getting there, I realized it was closed. As I walked away, wondering why on earth any Starbucks is closed until 9 a.m. on Sundays, I saw two women walking toward me. I told them the store was closed, and they expressed the same disbelief I had. There’s another Starbucks that way, they said, and they changed direction. I thought, heck, I’ll just follow them.
While waiting in line at the other Starbucks, I boldly introduced myself. Then I followed these two women, Shannon Grogan and Tera Stivers, back to the conference. I told them I was stalking them and asked if I could sit at their table for the morning keynote speech. The three of us introduced ourselves, and before I know it, we were exchanging business cards. Through these two women, I made more connections, including two writers from Spokane. Then the group grew when my first two stalkees, er, new acquaintances, introduced me to Deb and Linda from Canada. Before long, I had given out six of my brand-new business cards. Six! So, I took a picture of us, my first “party pic.”
Shannon told me she would follow me on Twitter. I thought that was so cool. Shout-out to my daughter, Bailey, who set up my Twitter account, or as I call it, my Tweeter account. (I do it now just to annoy her).
Throughout the day, I kept running into this same group of women. Over lunch, I learned of Query Tracker, an online referral service for writers who want to find an agent or publisher that might be interested in their work. At the end of the conference, I approached Tera and Shannon and thanked them for including me. I was hustled out to the lobby to take another party pic!
I attended the conference for the sole purpose of finding an agent to represent my middle-grade novel. I can’t help but think I found a lot more.
Hey, Tera and Shannon: See you next year!