3 Awesome Things from #CDWC15

I’m sneaking a post in on my day off from the A to Z Challenge to post about my trip to Orange County, California. I attended the super-fantabulous SoCal RWA chapters’ California Dreamin’ Writers’ Conference (#CDWC15). It’s hard to believe that was a week ago!

Many, many moons ago, my friends Tameri Etherton and Debra Kristi (really fabulous people and authors–you should totally follow them and read their books) cajoled, coaxed, and threatened convinced me to join them at this conference. The proposed scheduled looked really great, so I signed up (well, and also because they know where I live).

As part of the continuous celebration of Tameri’s birthday weekend, we went to a beautiful French-themed tea house for, well, tea: a lovely meal of soup, salad, scones, sandwiches, and sweets. Is it wrong that I had the tisane (a brewed tea-like drink that doesn’t include tea)? Nope. It was all fabulous.

Diana Beebe, Mermaids Don't Do Windows, MDDW, Diana Beebe's Blog, science fiction, fantasy, young adult
Photo courtesy of Tameri Etherton.

1. The People

Not only did I get to spend the weekend hanging out with my sparkly, glittery roomies, I got to see a few other writer friends, including Jenny Hansen, whom I got to meet in person a couple of years ago at DFWCon2013. She was kind enough to drive me to the airport. First, she showed me her incredible garden and shared some of her bounty (so generous!). I got to teach her how to make sweet potato slips. And I may be a little jealous of the way broccoli grows at her place.

Diana Beebe, Mermaids Don't Do Windows, MDDW, Diana Beebe's Blog, science fiction, fantasy, young adult
Me, Jenny & Rachael

I met so many fabulous people and made some new friends, too, including Rachael. Everyone was so nice. Also, it was fun shocking people that I’m from Texas. My lack of a drawl was thwarted only by my use of “y’all.” 😀

2. The Classes

For me, conferences aren’t just boondoggles where I hang around and chat with people. I love the education. If I’m not going to learn something new and improve myself as a writer, then it’s not worth it. (Planning a vacation to visit friends is way less stressful than planning for a conference where there are millions of people I don’t know.)

One session was about the industry changes with a panel of literary agents and editors. The industry is fluid and changing, but one thing is clear. Indie publishing is a viable option for everyone, and traditional publishing is adapting and evolving, too.

I learned about how to write a better synopsis and a tighter query letter. There was a fabulous double session about editing and other writing craft and business sessions. I’m still decompressing from all the information for so many great sessions.

3. The 3rd Place Hooker

This is SO not what it sounds like. The Hooker is the contest hosted by the four RWA chapters that put on the conference. It’s for the hook of the story–the first three pages. I hadn’t planned to enter the contest, but I did right before the deadline (as in thirty minutes before). I entered the hook for my work-in-progress, GLOW, which ended up being selected as a finalist. How cool that I would be at the conference to hear the results!

Diana Beebe, Mermaids Don't Do Windows, MDDW, Diana Beebe's Blog, science fiction, fantasy, young adult
Photo courtesy of Debra Kristi.

It was overwhelming to get to accept my very first writing award in front of 300 other writers but completely worth it. I’m glad that I took that leap to enter those pages.

Now it’s time to put all this new knowledge to work, finish GLOW, fix the things I now know are issues in Hunter Moon (I got two requests for it!), and manage my time better.

What do you do to improve your skills? Have you been to a great conference?


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