by Annette Dashofy
I've decided that past conference coordinators make the best...or at least happiest...conference attendees. We know how much work goes into putting one of these things on, so we appreciate every moment.
We're also thrilled beyond belief that we don't have to do it this time!
All the credit for the huge success of the 2011 Pennwriters Conference goes to Julie Long and Meredith Cohen. They did a fantastic job planning and running this event. BRAVO
And I thoroughly enjoyed every last minute of it. From the wonderful workshops (although a clone would have been nice, since I could only attend one at a time and there were sooo many choices!) to the delicious food (back to the treadmill for me) to the funny and inspirational keynotes, it was a weekend to remember. Plus, how fun to get to see all my Pennwriters friends!
Friday morning I attended the Perfect Pitch workshop with agent Rachel Vater Coyne. The room was packed. Fellow Working Stiff Joyce Tremel and I huddled in the back of the room and took notes. After sharing her suggestions on what makes a good pitch, Rachel opened the floor to anyone wanting to "practice." Her comments on what worked and what didn't were invaluable.
Next, Joyce and I assisted former Working Stiff Tamara Girardi in a hands-on "Twitter for Twits" workshop. (By the way, feel free to follow me on Twitter. I'm @Annette_Dashofy.)
Next came lunch. This was the first year I qualified for the Published Penns Retreat. What an honor to be included in the company of so many talented and successful writers and to listen in on a fascinating discussion of the publishing industry and the changes going on in it. Basically, the business is in such a state of transition, it probably changed three times during the course of the luncheon!
In the afternoon, I attended my friend Becky Levine's workshop on Growing a Critique Group. I picked up quite a few tidbits and ideas to share with my own critique groups.
Friday night is always a big one at the Pennwriters Conference and this one was no exception. The lovely and talented Jacquelyn Mitchard was our keynote speaker and shared a bit of her life story with us. What an inspiration.
Saturday, for me, was agents agents agents. First I attended "The Author-Agent Relationship with former Working Stiff and dear friend Nancy Martin.
That's fellow Pennwriter Stephanie Claypool introducing Nancy, by the way.
Next came "The Do's and Don'ts of Finding an Agent with agent Victoria Skurnick. After lunch, I attended the Agent Panel with all our visiting agents.
Lastly, there was the stand-up comic duo of C.J. Lyons and agent Barbara Poelle in "Welcome to the Jungle."
In the midst of all that, came one of the true highlights of the weekend. The Saturday lunch. First, Ayleen Stellhorn (2008 and 2010 Pennwriters Conference Coordinator) won the meritorious service award.
Then Jonathan Maberry presented an entertaining and uplifting luncheon keynote speech that drove the entire audience to their feet in applause.
After the workshops, there was a book signing event. Ramona Long and I didn't "officially" take part, but we held court at one of the tables and gleefully signed copies of Fish Tales for anyone who asked.
We might have mugged a few people walking by, too, if we happened to spot someone with the anthology tucked under their arm.
Later, I attended the cocktail party. By then everyone (including me) was on the verge of slipping into conference coma. But it was nice to schmooze a bit.
That's me with Jonathan.
Afterwards, our Sisters in Crime gang sneaked off to dinner and took Ramona Long and C.J. Lyons with us. It was a chance for a little bit of quieter conversation.
Sunday, I have to confess, I was done. And I wasn't alone. There were a lot of glassy eyes and slack jaws evident. I didn't even attempt to attend any more workshops. I was brain dead. Fried. Jonathan Maberry's zombies had nothing on me. So I just hung out in the Hospitality Suite and networked AKA schmoozed until closing cermonies and the basket raffle.
Some people, like my friend Peggy Hauser, buy a LOT of tickets.
I didn't win the writer's retreat that I REALLY wanted. But I did win a more practical prize: a folding cart on wheels that was stuffed with books and office supplies.
If you missed this conference, make plans now to attend the 25th anniversary Pennwriters Conference next year in Lancaster. I know I'll be there!