Sunday, August 22, 2010

M&M MAGGIES 2009 --Looking Back at Last Year's Conference

I'm finally coming up for air after a weekend of learning, laughing and playing at the MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS conference in Atlanta, GA. I got an honorable mention as did my CP for the MAGGIE. And I was thrilled. To final was huge. And the feedback I received from my judges and the published authors I met at the conference validated me as a writer.

I'm recapping the conference--hazy memories at best. Was it really a week ago that I was getting ready to put my party shoes on?

Thursday: I arrived in Atlanta at the same time as my CP's flight. I checked into the Hilton, got concierge privileges (thanks to Diamond member DH), and then zipped to the train station to fetch CP. It was so good seeing her again. We registered for the conference, got our cool goodie bags filled with books and promo items, and slipped on our badges with the ribbon flagging the fact that we were MAGGIE FINALISTS. Woot! That flag was a conversation starter everywhere we went. People were impressed. People wished us luck. By the time the award ceremony night arrived, I felt like a winner for life, regardless of the outcome. Later that day, we ate pizza and tried to watch the movies, but we were so tired, we went to the room and crashed. Well, we talked and talked and talked and then we fell asleep.

Friday morning I was nervous. I had to see the agent I'd pitched the book to in July at the National Conference. I had seven minutes to review the fact that she'd requested the full, tell her about the MAGGIE, and pitch the next book!! The rest of the day we learned, ate, met other writers and published authors, played, talked, wrote, and planned for the following day. My CP had two pitches to prep so we huddled in the concierge lounge and worked in privacy (thanks DH!).

Saturday: My CP had two successful pitches, then we were nervously awaiting the awards ceremony, and we were cramming in more learning. Every workshop I attended was beneficial to me. There were so many options, I had difficulty choosing. Then we had the keynote speaker during lunch and let me tell you, Sherrilyn Kenyon's story is poignant and inspiring. If she can forge through fourteen years of disappointment and real pain, we can do it, too. I will never give up my dream, and I will never try to chase a writing trend either. Sure, it would be wonderful to have a bevy of vampires to write about, but I can only read the wonderful books written by paranormal authors. I am not one of them.

We put on our party clothes, our fancy finery, and fun shoes and went to the awards ceremony. First we presented to the published authors. I presented the award to the author in my category. That was fun! I hope I can do it again. I didn't trip on the stage, and I managed to keep my mouth from seizing in panic. No. I didn't win, but afterward three authors spoke to me and said I was already a winner because I finaled. I feel like a winner. I am validated as an author. I am going in the right direction.

Sunday we were all tired, but we went to an amazing workshop run by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love. If you have a chance to learn from them, do it. The information they impart is invaluable to writers. My head is spinning with their advice and knowledge. Then it was time to load up the car with four writers' baggage and head to the airport to drop of darling CP, and two new writing friends. We almost didn't get out of the parking lot. Someone backing up out of a space nearly rammed into my front end, but my CP saw it, I braked, then blared the horn. I think we're all pretty much space cadets after a weekend like the M&M, so my only thought was I hope her heart isn't beating as fast as mine is right now. Whew. We were off. I dropped everyone off at the busy airport. Then it was on route to home and hearth. Four hours later, I returned to my casa and was to reality.

Here are my tidbit takeaways from the M&M/MAGGIE experience--if you get the chance to go, here's why you should:

1) GWRA is a fabulous chapter. The people are the best around, and there is a genuine desire by all to make sure you are having a positive experience. Published authors are warm and inviting. They remember the BEFORE WE WERE PUB stage of writing. They understand the hunger. The drive. The hopes.

2) The contacts you'll make are tremendous. More happened in hallways and during luncheons than anywhere else. This is an easy conference to network in. It's a great conference to cut your teeth on before hitting the NATIONALS.

3) Before you go, enter the MAGGIES. If you final, your experience will be magical. But even if you don't, you'll get AMAZING feedback from the judges. It's a fabulous contest.

As soon as I got home, and dropped my luggage in the bedroom, I joined GWRA. I can't wait to get to know this fabulous group of people.

And now.... off to the beach!


Wendy Marcus said...

Congrats on finaling! Very impressive! Thanks for sharing your conference activities. Hope you enjoyed the beach!!!

Christine said...

HI Wendy: This was last year's conference, but yeah, that was great to final in 2009. I have several friends who finaled this year so I am going to cheer them all on!

Hope your writing is continuing to go well!