Thursday, May 10, 2012

2012 Writers' Conference

A couple of days ago I got back from my three day vacation in a land far, far away. Since I don’t want to identify myself here, I’m not even going to mention the city or the conference I went to, other than it was a writers’ conference that was wickedly awesome. There is only one thing I need to hardcore rant about, and I figured I’d write about the trip as a whole, especially since I had another review nearly ready to post and then this got in the way. I had been looking forward to it for months, and I got a spiffy new hair cut (layers, sidesweep, several inches off, new colour, standard girly fare) and some new clothes, and business cards. Very serious business.

I think I’d like to start this all off by saying that I love travelling. I understand people who are all panicky about it. Things will never, ever, go the way they are supposed to, and we just have to roll with it. Makes life much more fun.

My day started at 1 am, so I didn’t even go to bed. My bus came to the nearby town at 2:30 am, and it was late. Luckily my brother drove me and stood with me because this is where I had to wait:

 Hello scary road of serial killers hiding in the fog.

At 7:30 I arrived at the major city. Yay. Except that they wouldn’t let me buy my ticket to the next place, which is 30 minutes away and is part of the city’s area. I was told that you don’t just get on a bus to this town. It sounded like the whole, one does not simply walk into Mordor, except that you can. I brought up the webpage on my phone that shows that I can input my credit information to book this ticket from the city to my next destination. I was told that if I would have bought this ticket at home and printed it off they wouldn’t have honoured the ticket. Well, that’s so cool. I had to get on the city transit system (that I have never used, btw) and I got to the big station downtown that has both buses and trains. I had to buy a ticket and get on a train. Except I was told that it was a bus ticket and it turns out that it wasn’t, but whatever. I’m kind of like Selphie in Final Fantasy VIII in the way that I like trains. 

I even made a friend on the train. Pretty cool.

I ended up in the town/city of my conference much earlier than I should have. What was worse was that check in at the hotel is at 3 pm. I was there at about 9 am. With the help of my trusty iPhone, managed to walk, with my suitcase, to a shopping centre where I basically went into a huge pharmacy and looked at everything and bought some makeup. I managed to burn about an hour. I wasted another 30 ish minutes in a coffee shop. Finally I just called a cab and went to the hotel, planning on reading my book in the lobby until 3 pm.

This was my hotel:

Btw, this is the book I was reading:

An English translation of Let The Right One In by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. It’s beyond fantastic. I’m going to get around to doing a review of it, I promise.

Anyway, I get to the hotel and they actually let me check-in extremely early! I was beyond relieved. Here is my room (there is a tv on the left but you can't see it):

I dumped my stuff and walked the 20 minutes to a HUGE mall that the taxi driver was nice enough to tell me about. For some reason I didn’t take a picture of it, but seriously, holy hell. It is a strip mall but it encircles four sides and has everything I could possibly want. The tragedy? In two days I had to travel again with my tiny little suitcase. So I couldn’t purchase much. But I still did some shopping.

At a video game store I got these:

With the exception of the Silent Hill HD Collection, the other ones were extremely cheap. At one point I had these, but sadly I recently lost them, so I bought my own copies. After I play Metal Gear Solid 3 I’m going to play Lost Odyssey. Persona 4 is definitely on my list of to-replace, but I can’t find a copy. Might be for the best, considering that there are rumours that a port might hit the Xbox 360 and PS3, but this is totally off topic.      

I went to a GINORMOUS book store and picked up two books. Seriously, I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to buy much, but hell, at one point I had five books I really wanted to buy and I put down three. I knew at this point that my bag was going to be full, so I got my two books and called it quits on the retail therapy. These are the books I got:

I went back to the hotel with several icky blisters on my feet. Want to see one on my pinky? Of course you do.


That night wasn’t the conference, but it was the night of a get-together with the conference goers/authors. It was in the town/city next to the one my hotel was in. I didn’t take any pictures, but pictures were taken of me. I have been promised them, but even if I don’t get them the people facilitating the event will probably have pictures with me in them. Of course, I can’t actually identify myself, but if I see some with me in them I’ll post them. For people who know me in real life, in the off chance that you don’t recognize me after the weight loss and new hair I’ll point myself out to you in private.

Lots of things happened at this event. I’ll try to remember it all. My table at five other amazing women that I am so glad to have met. I miss them already and I am glad that I was outgoing enough to engage in conversations with them all.

I got hit on by a guy who’s opening line was “You and I would make beautiful babies.” I think he was sincere, because if he was trying to be funny it was an epic fail. I looked at him for a minute in silence, contemplating just walking away, but then I said “I think you are giving yourself too much credit.” Kind of mean, because he wasn’t ugly, but I hated him for saying that. Babies, really?

I ordered a red wine. Note to self: ordering red wine makes you look classy, but only drinking a little more than half of the glass makes you look immature. In my defence, that was really dry wine, and to me, dry wine tastes like vomit. Ick. Why do I never remember to ask for a fruity red?

I got to meet someone else who writes horror and who said that he will work with me on my writing! I am so estatic to #1, find someone who takes horror seriously and who doesn’t consider it a B genre, and #2, find someone who will help me in my writing. I gave him my pitch and he said it sounded great. He was really fun to talk to as well; pretty refreshing from “beautiful babies” man.  

I got to recommend Carrie Jones’ Need series to a ton of people, and since she is favourite YA author (and you know, she’s probably my favourite author in general, now that I think of it) I am more than happy to spread the joy that is Jones’ work.

Two women were nice enough to drive me back to the hotel, which was very kind of them and saved me cab fare.

I got back at the hotel at about 11 pm ish and hung about for a bit and eventually went to bed. The next day was conference day, and my day was supposed to start at 6:00 am. Unfortunately, I did not exactly properly set my alarm clock at I got up at about 6:20, which is ok. It just meant that I had to decline the kind offer of a ride as I was just oh so slightly behind.

I got to the conference, which was held at a golf course.


I was early and I got to meet many new friends while I picked out the evil raisins in my carrot muffin. Woot. During the opening ceremonies the speaker asked where we were from the determine who came the farthest, and I think my response was the farthest, at least no one offered any more after mine. Initially I thought I might be the youngest, but I met someone a few years younger than me, and she’s pretty cool and I hope I meet her at next year’s conference too.

My workshops were great, though one was greatly misrepresented. I do have to say that all of the facilitators were wonderful and informative. I had a pitch session with an agent, and while she said that the market is over saturated at the moment with the genre of my manuscript (which I knew), she said my writing is great with nothing to complain about, and that made my day! She recommended that I go to my next project as soon as possible and try to get that one published ASAP. I was juggling around three ideas at the time, and I think I’ve found one, so now it’s just about trying to carve out some time in my schedule to build up the project and let it possess me like a demon trying to take over the world.

There were many well-known authors there that I got to meet. I’ve only met two authors in my lifetime before this, so that was quite an experience. I can’t write down their names but trust me, it was awesome and it made me all fan-girly.

Everything else was great, I got a yummy lunch, salad and chicken (nom nom), and there were speakers between sessions. Here is the thing I want to rant about-and it isn’t about a speaker, it’s about a few peoples’ reactions to the topic of one speaker.

The topic was about, among other things, making an online presence for yourself. This concept is not new, but I am flabbergasted at how uninformed so many people are. There is one woman, let’s call her Mrs Persnickety (I seriously considered placing some 4 or 5 letter words after but decided to be somewhat decent). She has a book coming out, and that is always a fantastic thing for everyone. But she bitched and bitched about making an online presence for herself. Others did it too, even when I tried to say how easy it really is, but she easily took the ten-layer cake. How, pray tell, can she take time out of her day when she is supposed to be writing to tweet? And what, for goodness sakes, is she supposed to tweet about? What she had for lunch? And don’t even get her started on the uselessness that is blogging.

She’s lucky that I didn’t write down her name, because I’d post it here and make her look like a whiney little...

I tried to point out that there are oodles, literally, of high profile authors on twitter and Facebook, and who doesn’t have their own website where they post their own content? Margaret Atwood, Carrie Jones, Anne Rice, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, Diablo Cody, and Stephen Fry among many, many others. Even Barack Obama has a twitter! To promote yourself and your work, you can tweet, maybe once a day or three times a week, something relating to writing. Find an interesting word? Tweet it. See something one of your characters would adore? A humorous “what if” scenario popped in your head? Tweet it. News about the publishing industry? Read a great novel? Met a fan of your book? Tweet all these. This is not hard. Takes less than thirty seconds to tweet. Mrs Persnickety’s reaction to having to take time out of her precious day to promote  herself makes me think that she doesn’t deserve the luck she has had. Stop complaining and take note of what you’ve accomplished thus far, Mrs Persnickety, and be thankful that you even get the opportunity to promote the book that you’ve written. And I’m pretty sure Mrs Persnickety is a house wife of a wealthy man with no children, so I won’t even go into her time management.

The agent I spoke to said she was pleasantly surprised about my knowledge of the writing industry, and if I hadn’t met Mrs Persnickety and the other complainers at that table I would have been confused. There are so many writers who don’t know much, even after they’ve been published! I’m not there and I keep up with news and trends so I have a clue. I think it’s the same for librarians-writer’s need to keep up with the technology and no just turn up their noses at electronic witchcraft. You’re not selling your soul to the devil, you’re just turning on a computer, so get over it. You’ve written a book, found an agent, and sold that book, and you’ve got to get it through your head that the publicity is not solely in someone else’s hands. It is quite possible that your book will get little to no marketing. So guess what? Unless you just want your parents and your husband to read it, you’ve got to get off your ass (or, stay on your ass, in this case) and market yourself.

Anyway, when the conference closed we got goodie bags, and each bag had different books in them. Here were mine:

Except that I had one more book on photography. Unfortunately I was already over encumbered so I gave it to someone I had met who had a friend who was into photography. I gave Border Town to my sister, who said it was pretty good.

I got back to the hotel with some time to spare. I hung around with some people, but they were driving back so eventually I was alone again. I’m totally cool with being alone, though I was at a loss as to what I could do in the hotel room, as I was way too tired to go anywhere, and I didn’t want to buy more stuff. I had never really been in a hotel by myself and able to do whatever I wanted, so I ordered room service. Recently someone was nice enough to buy me tiramisu, and it was so excessively wonderful I decided to order myself some tiramisu and I had a bottle of water with me.

Looks good, doesn’t it? It was way bigger than the picture in the book. It also tasted awful. It had a burnt coffee taste throughout. I tried to eat at least a fourth of it and I could not even do that. Very disappointing. I’m looking forward to moving so I can finally get my own kitchen back and cook awesome things like tiramisu.

Other things I did that night? Watched free movies. Yay.

Next morning I got up at 5:30 am, checked out, and took a taxi to the city bus station. Took that bus to yet another city, arrived at 7:20 am. I was let off at the train station and I got to stay there until 1:00 pm when my train left. I did lots of reading. When I got there I had completely forgotten that trains have limits on carry-on bag size and weight. My suitcase is freakishly small, but it was over 50 pounds. There was also construction going on at the station, so I had to stand way back from where I had to board. When the train came I had to run with my suitcase before it departed, and I had to convince every well-intended attendant that I didn’t need help with my bag. I was terrified that they would noticed that it was over 50 pounds and I’d miss my train. No, no, I’m fine...seriously, I’d rather just haul this around myself. By the end of it I was tired and sweaty, but I go on fine.  

The train was fun-look at the very exciting scenery!

It was a bumpy ride though.  At 1:40 pm I got into another large city. My final bus home didn’t leave until 7:15 pm so I walked to the bus station, which took about 20 minutes. If I were smart I would have found a speciality tea shop to find some powdered green tea matcha, but it totally slipped my mind! I did go to a nearby mall at the bus station to burn some time. I was naughty and bought some more video games-but one, Final Fantasy VIII, is for my brother, and I really needed a new memory card! Don’t judge me! I had to really stuff everything into my purse at this point.

Then I went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered yakisoba with teriyaki sauce. Dear sweet Maria that was good. Any time I can find a good yakisoba bowl I order it.  

I tried to read and not buy anything. At this point, I was dead tired. I went to a coffee shop and got an iced coffee, drinking it slowly to waste time. I was reading while I was drinking. The cool thing about this place is that it has a bar that you can sit at that is open to the rest of the mall. While I was sitting there and homeless woman started to talk to me-she asked if I had seen a man, giving me his description, because she was going to beat him up. Well, cool. She had an open amber bottle of something with her, though it looked empty. She kept turning around and yelling at people, but she liked me (who doesn’t like me?). Anyway, she says that Ester is a biblical name and talks about that for awhile, and then she leaves, yelling at people as she went. Hilarious. My new best friend, in fact. I stayed in there a while longer because I was afraid she would follow me around.

After this, the trip ended smoothly. My bus left at 7:15 pm and I got off at 12:30 ish. My brother picked me up and I was home by about 1:15 am. I was so tired, but I still went to yoga at 1 pm that day and Tai Chi the next. My brain needs to just turn off yet there is still so much to do.

That was my trip. Hope the few people who read this blog enjoyed my shenanigans. I’m going to finish reading Let The Right One In and do the review for that, and then I am going to finalize my review of the Asian horror film Battle Royale.        

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