On the Surrey International Writer’s Conference

I am on the ferry ride back from Vancouver. Wow, what can I say, the conference was amazing! For a long time, all I’ve heard is great things about the SIWC and now I know why! Above all else, the atmosphere was great there; I didn’t once talk to a person that wasn’t friendly and supportive! In case any of you are thinking of going I’ll write some notes on different aspects of it:

Blue Pencil Café: So for those of you who don’t know the Blue Pencil Café is where you get to sit down with a published author and they go over three pages of your work with you. My first appointment was with romance novelist Sheila Roberts, and even though I brought a YA sample with me, she was SO nice and helpful! She gave me the name of her agency and told me to email her when my book was finished. On the way out, I decided on a whim to see if Jack Whyte had any free appointments. It turns out he did…right then! Luckily I had the first three pages of my and Kate’s YA fantasy with me as well. I can tell you right now, you’ve never really heard your stuff read out loud until its read by Jack Whyte. If you’ve heard him speak, you’ll know what I mean! I was terrified the entire time, but at the end (after stopping multiple times to tweak things) he said: “Well, after ripping that apart I can tell you it was good.” I was so excited! The 15 minutes just flew by. I would recommend blue pencils to anyone; the advice you’ll get is invaluable

Pitch Sessions: Pitching for me was the most nerve-wracking part of the whole conference! I definitely need to work on calming down my nerves. I had my 40-second pitch practiced, and when I sat down, I think I just threw it all up (figuratively!) on the poor agent. She was very nice though, and even though she didn’t request any pages, she gave me her card and told me to email her if I had any questions. Kate had a bit more luck with the agents (she was pitching the same book with the same pitch so if anyone asks I’m going to claim I just had bad luck!) and we got a request for 50 pages and 3 chapters! So we’ll be busy fixing those up!

Workshops: I really enjoyed all the workshops. I liked the idea that you could float between them if you wanted, and leave for appointments. I’d have to say my favorite (and most helpful) was pitching 101, Complex Conflicts, SIWC idol, and the Secret Lives of Best Sellers.  I enjoyed everyone I went to and wish I could have cloned myself to go to more!

The Banquets: Our mother was extremely kind and bought Kate and I the full package including all the meals. For anyone who’s thinking of going I’d highly recommended it. The key speeches alone were one of my highlights of the conference, two of the speakers almost brought me to tears! Not to mention the people you meet, everyone is so interesting. Plus one of the meals you get to eat with a presenter. Not to mention the food was VERY good :p

Plus there were so many great things about the conference that I haven’t even mentioned, such as getting to hear Jane Espenson’s speech, bumping shoulders with everyone in the elevators, and the hotel beds were super comfy too! I’ve never been to another writer’s conference, but I can’t imagine one being any better. I had the time of my life and hope I can go back next year!



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2 thoughts on “On the Surrey International Writer’s Conference

  1. What a terrific recap of the conference! I’m glad you had such an amazing time. I LOVE the Surrey conference. Everything about it totally rocks! Good luck with the agent requests on your book!!

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