COFERENCE AFTERMATH – GREAT TIMES
It’s with a touch of sadness and a bit of relief that the 2014 Las Vegas Writer’s Conference came to an end on Saturday night, April 26, 2014. I look back on those three wonderful days and it’s hard to sum up all the happy and fulfilling feelings, as I do every year from this big event. I would hope others that attended came away with at least some of those same feelings.
With this being my ninth writer’s conference, it might seem like old hat by now. I never fail to have a great time, despite some personal tragedies that have colored these past two years (but that’s not what this is about).
EXCITEMENT OF THE SETUP
As usual, I arrived way early, though because of school traffic, I was about ten minutes later than my usual 8 AM the first day. We had to wait for the staff to unlock the doors and when they did, we were able to start setting up. By nine, more of the group showed, tables started filling and the rooms took on the look and feel of a conference. Darrah Whittaker, the conference coordinator, began his tireless and outstanding job and made himself the hero of the event. Then there was Jo Wilkins and her family including her daughter Denise Whitmore and Jo’s husband, David, who were instrumental in keeping the event running behind the scenes. There were many more people involved in this event and I’m forgetting lots of names. I dealt on a daily basis with these people.
Even though I was a full-paid attendee and have been for years, I always help at the front desk, and this year was no exception. Along with Amanda Skenadore, we passed out badges, swag bags and the schedule booklets that first day. We also gave out the initial raffle tickets and sold more (throughout the weekend) as well as other administrative tasks.
Darrah championed the usual unexpected crises that always seem to come up, and handled them with patience and grace.
MEETING AND CIRCULATING
One of the big points of attending a conference is to meet people and circulate. This is no place to be a wallflower. One advantage to working the front desk and handing out badges is that we get to meet everyone and I certainly did! This not only includes the attendees but the faculty. Of course it’s not in-depth, but at least we can put a name to a face, though with my short-term memory, it took a bit more reinforcement later for that to sink in.
As soon as the initial flood of registration took place on Thursday and the first classroom sessions started, I was able to break from the desk a bit. During that time, the initial group from Lets Talk Nevada showed up to staff their table across the aisle from the registration desk. I contribute Sunday stories to their on-line site and it was great to talk with them face-to-face instead of electronically. The second group showed Saturday and I was able to continue chatting with their friendly staff.
NOT EVERYONE WAS THERE TO GET AN AGENT
Between classes, I talked with attendees and a few staff off and on and got to know some of the people, what they wanted out of the conference… why they were there. I was glad to hear that not everyone attended just to pitch to agents. A good number of people came to learn about the craft of writing. Some didn’t have a completed manuscript and wanted more direction. This is something I’ve talked about over and over again and I see people have done just that.
A NEW APPROACH
Thursday evening, instead of just a social gathering, which in the past was an open bar with canapés, this time, our el-presidente Gregory Kompes tried something different, and for the betterment of the conference. Each table in the main ballroom had a number assigned. Each attendee had a number affixed to the back of their badge. During the social event Amanda Skenadore got on the PA and had everyone go to their assigned table. Then she told each of the faculty go to a different table. They all had a card with stuff they were required to say about themselves. In the middle of the table was a bag with statements that the attendees had to pick and say something about themselves based on what the statement said. Mine was “What special power of one of your characters would you like to have and why.” After ten minutes, all of the faculty had to rotate to the next table until they’d rotated through every table.
It was great. All attendees got to meet every faculty member. The center table question thing broke down right away. However, everyone got into a rhythm. The faculty member would sit down, give their spiel, each attendee would then introduce themselves and then the faculty member would open up for questions. It was great for me because I was able to query every agent right off and find out if they would be receptive to my genres. Turns out they were all interested in one or the other of my genres!
MORE TO COME
In the next installment, I’ll talk about some of the things I got out of this conference in particular, and the points I can reinforce from that I’ve been telling you in my past articles.
Until then, happy writing!