Thursday, June 27, 2013

Writers' League of Texas Love

I attended the Agents and Editors Writers' League of Texas Conference in Austin this past weekend, and boy did it deliver. I wanted to write about the conference as soon as I flew home, but other exciting things (including Neil Gaiman's Dallas reading and my cover reveal) jumped the gun (and there's this other thing called "putting my house on the market," which exhausted the living daylights out of me). But better late than never, huh?

First of all, if you're a writer, you need to become a member of the Writers' League of Texas. Even though I'm in Dallas and the majority of the events are in or around Austin, I find the membership's incredible network (filled with smart, compassionate people) well worth the annual fees. And there's this conference. This conference!

I didn't even think to take a lot of pictures. I was too busy taking notes and meeting other writers and agents. Frankly, friends, I haven't even had time to craft emails to some of the agents who requested full manuscripts. (*Jots note that I Must Do This tonight.)

You don't go to conferences like this expecting to leave with five agents begging to represent you.  There are a few things you should expect to do:

1. You have to Shed the Shy and talk to people. It's a veritable gold-mine of writers there--some who are genuinely nice and will become published sooner than you can forget them, and conferences are the best places to make meaningful, lasting connections that last for years.

2. Be curious. Ask other people what they're writing and ask them questions about things you don't understand. The enormously talented (and adorable) Nikki Loftin teaches me this every time I see her. (Side Note: Nikki is going to be a star in Children's Literature. A huge, bright star. Mark my words.) She encourages writers and helps those whom she's read and admires. Writing and publishing can be a lonely, cut-throat, impossible business, and people like Nikki prove that the opposite can be true, too.

3. Be confident and mannerly when you approach agents to pitch them your idea. I did this most of the time. But good God, I didn't have my inner editor on when I approached one agent and told him he looked like Paul Rudd. (cringe)  I love Paul Rudd, so this "compliment" kind of fell out of my mouth and into my wine glass. Thank God I didn't say "I love Paul Rudd!" That would have been even more awkward. He took my unsolicited comparison graciously enough, but I still... (cringe).

4. Go to Sarah Davies's panel (Greenhouse Literary Agency). She is brilliant. That is all.

I was finally able to meet/see in person the dynamic duo Cythnia Leitich Smith and Greg Leitich Smith. More good people who are talented and kind and probably hide superpowers, with everything they do. I also made a friend, Amanda Coffin (hi, Amanda!), and we talked about writing and other things for hours and ate sushi.
Amanda and me

The panels at the conference were expertly run, the munchies were filling, the coffee was mmmm, and as far as this attendee knows, everything went like clockwork. I'll definitely be back next year. Kudos and huzzahs to The Writers' League of Texas.

Now go join.


  1. Lori Ann,

    Sounds like I would have loved it (except the sushi)! I am glad you had a great time and how exciting to get that much interest in your work. Thanks for the conference attending tips!

    1. Are you heading to any conferences soon? Maybe we'll run across each other in person!

  2. My attempts to sign up for writer's conferences have all been stymied so far (seriously,I have had conflicts with all the local Midwest ones I've found), but my fantasy is to go to one of the national SCBWI conferences next year.