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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: DFWWWCon

 

WANAs at DFWWWCon
WANAs at DFWWWCon

I shambled in from DFWWCon dirty, tired, with no voice, out of energy but filled with hope. It’s been such a privilege for me to stick with this job long enough to watch it evolve. I’ve even witnessed WANA grow from an acronym in e-mails from my original editor to whittle down typing OUT my first book title (We Are Not Alone) to a binding movement where writers of all levels refer to themselves as WANAs. All genres, all forms of publishing welcome.

We don’t make you dance with snakes until your third meeting *wink, wink* 😀 .

WANA has always been about love and service instead of self. I believe WANA is the connective tissue that makes writers stronger in craft and spirit—writers knowing they are stronger together than apart. WANA has always had this wonderful mix of sage pros mingling with bright-eyed newbies.

The pros help the new authors become more grounded and educated in the business or craft. Newbies refresh our spirits. They fill us with the wonder and magic of youth, the vigor that reminds us why we write.  I believe we share the same message from different points in a timeline. Keep pressing. Keep going. Keep loving what you do.

We are NOT alone.

Have You Heard of Gluten-Free Jesus?

Okay, I am not meaning to be irreverent but I am living proof God has a sense of humor. I’m from Texas and part of our culture is church (we go shooting after 😀 ). In other states they might ask where you work, we might inquire where you go to church. Vacation Bible School is a staple of childhood.

We’ve just been through the Easter season and I SO love where we go to church, namely because when we had communion on Maundy Thursday there were two baskets of communion wafers.

So I am standing in line with Hubby. Music’s playing. We are all feeling the love. I lean over to Hubby and whisper, “So do I just ask for the Gluten-Free Body of Christ?” ….and he ribs me and says something about how he can’t take me anywhere which is true so I don’t argue.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you my belief system hasn’t affected how I’ve developed WANA or helped writers. I believe love trumps all. Love of writing will overcome the nagging self-doubt and the legions of people telling us we are fools for trying. Love for each other is what keeps us going when we go through the wilderness, those withering empty times when we start reconsidering Aunt Thelma’s suggestion that medical billing might be a better career choice. WANAs bind together for more than book sales.

We are a family who will love you and be there even when it’s ugly.

But one of the core tenets of WANA has always been we are united by love. Love for each other as human beings and artists. WANA has never taken sides in writing or publishing.

It might have been easier or more sensational for me to blast NY and call for it to be burned to the ground. Conversely, maybe I’d have had more friends in traditional publishing if I labeled all of self-publishing a gaggle of hacks. But, blessedly I have friends I adore and admire in all realms of publishing because authentic love is always balanced with truth. What is the truth?

Stories will live on. Stories are like Mother Nature. We humans could nuke the planet into a shell of itself and I guarantee you something green will poke through a crack in an irradiated parking lot somewhere. Same with writing. The institutions that govern HOW our stories reach those who want to hear them are less important than the art. WANAs are blindly devoted to great stories, not business models.

A Tale of Two Siblings

My POV? Traditional NY publishing is the older child and self-pub/indie is the younger annoying sibling. I’ve loved both and seen the strengths and weaknesses each has offer. If you read my newest book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World I feel I’m even-handed. I praise and chastise both.

Bluntness is my superpower.

Not all artists are wired for indie. It is BRUTAL. The flip side? Not all artists are wired for traditional. It is BRUTAL.

They call me the WANA Mama and it SO fits. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to break up two kids fighting.

Traditional: He doesn’t even have a STORY and yet he can publish!

Self-Pub: She is SO full of herself and won’t let me even try!

Me: Knock it off before I hairlip both of you. Trad, let your brother try. He only learns by doing. Selfie, you have to learn the rules before you can break them.

Traditional: But he is publishing a Zombie-Self-Help!!!

Me: Okay, Trad. Selfie might have a point. Texting? Real Housewives of the OC? Selfie, Trad has a point. Don’t come crying to me when no one buys it. Now both of you go play Battleship before I make you pull weeds.

Dear Gluten-Free Jesus, give me strength to love both these kids and not kill them.

DFWWWCon

So the point of all this, other than being able to use the term “Gluten-Free Jesus” is I am finally, after years of playing referee, seeing both kids learn to play together and appreciate each other. Sure, Trad has convinced Selfie that he can jump off the roof using an umbrella because Penguin from Batman does it all the time. And Selfie still reads Trad’s diary and tells the neighborhood all the best dirt. But, all in all? They’re learning to see the GOOD each has to offer. Combine strengths and buffer each other’s weaknesses.

Selfie has taught Trad that social media is NOT a fad, rather a fundamental shift in human communication. He’s made Trad appreciate some newer and ways of doing things *cough e-books* and to remember writing is FUN. Try NEW THINGS. Trad, however, is the older kid and is teaching Selfie that quality can trump quantity. She tells him to listen to his teachers. Appreciate those who’ve gone before and be humble enough to learn something. Not every thought that flits across our brain makes a book others want to BUY.

Thankfully, Optimism is my other superpower. I’d longed for a day where the lines would blur and the kids would play well together. Trad would stop putting Selfie in a chokehold and Selfie would stop feeding the dog the game pieces in order to win.

This conference left me on such a high. I always believed “the kids” would finally see what they had in common. Love. Love for stories and telling those stories and getting them to people who wanted to enjoy those stories. I always believed this new era would weed out people who are in our industry for the wrong reasons.

Agents who loved great books and good writers would innovate and thrive. Publishers who appreciated great books would evolve. Writers in this for more than a get-rich-quick would endure and everyone would have a chance to prove he or she has the right stuff. With the right attitude, this is the best time in human history to be in this business.

It is still a tough industry and not everything is as clean or just as it could be. But, by the grace of Gluten-Free Jesus we’re getting there 😉 .

What are your thoughts? Do you see traditional and nontraditional playing nicer, sharing, and learning from each other? Are you excited about the future? That you don’t have to choose which kid you love more?

I will announce April’s winner after waking from the conference coma in a couple days.

If you want more help with plot problems, antagonists, structure, beginnings, then I have a FANTASTIC class coming up to help you!

CLASS COMES WITH HANDOUTS AND FREE RECORDING.

Understanding the Antagonist

If you are struggling with plot or have a book that seems to be in the Never-Ending Hole of Chasing Your Tail or maybe you’d like to learn how to plot a series, I am also teaching my ever-popular Understanding the Antagonist Class on May 10th from NOON to 2:00 P.M. (A SATURDAY). This is a fabulous class for understanding all the different types of antagonists and how to use them to maintain and increase story tension.

Remember, a story is only as strong as its problem 😉 . This is a GREAT class for streamlining a story and making it pitch-ready.

Additionally, why pay thousands for an editor or hundreds for a book doctor? This is a VERY affordable way to make sure your entire story is clear and interesting. Also, it will help you learn to plot far faster and cleaner in the future.

Again, use WANA10 for $10 off.

I’ll be running the First Five Pages again at the end of May, so stay tuned.

 

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Me with the AWESOME Piper Bayard…and it’s ROOT BEER.

Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about the DFW Writers’ Workshop Conference, which is THIS weekend, and yes, I will be attending. Why? Because, in my opinion, it is one of THE BEST CONFERENCES IN THE NATION.

(Kirk, are y’all paying me to say it ONCE or EACH time I say it?)

Kidding!

The DFW conference is close to my heart for a number of reasons. Without them believing in me and being super-visionary, I would never have become the Social Media Jedi. I meant to blog earlier about them, but that would have required me actually being organized.

*clutches sides laughing*

I’ve been to a lot of conferences and I love most of them for different reasons, but DFWWWCon is my absolute favorite. They are a tough act to follow and once you attend, you will definitely be spoiled.

DFW is THE BEST VALUE for the money.

DFW is a very affordable conference. Thrillerfest is awesome, but it’s over $750 just to register and that’s without talking to any agents.

For half that price, you get craft, panels, business, and top-notch speakers. DFW is big enough to have a lot of choices, but no so big you need to hail a cab to make it to the other end of a massive center in time to hear the presentation.

I loved RT Booklovers and RWA Nationals and I TOTALLY recommend both…but I was exhausted trying to make it around the mega-facilities. That, and they’re a bit pricey, so for most of us, these conferences are more of a splurge than a staple.

DFW is easily accessible.

I loved the Idaho conference and strongly recommend it, but there are few direct flights to Boise. So, if you are an out-of-towner, the odds of getting a direct flight to DFW that’s affordable are fairly good.

Also, since the conference is within several miles of the airport, you can get a shuttle right to your hotel, and DFWWW is AWESOME at getting conference rates for nearby hotels.

They take good care of you.

There are meals of course. BUT the DFWWW crew has always provided ample drinks (Cokes, etc), coffee, water, snacks and all kinds of sustenance to keep you going during the conference. I’ve been to some conferences who made all writers share one coffee pot and two drinking fountains.

NOT DFW. They ROCK.

DFWWW has a great mix of classes.

Yes, they will have traditionally published authors (big ones), but they generally offer a lot for the indie and self-pub crowd. There are classes on craft, marketing, business, etc. And they have a really great selection of agents to hear pitches.

Some conferences lean too heavily on only traditional. Others are better for the indie and self-pub author. DFWWW has enough to make BOTH happy.

Register now, before the price goes up.

DFWWW was my first writing conference.

Some of you might have already heard the story of my first conference, but the reason I bring it up is that you will have to work pretty hard to screw up worse than I did. Armed with this knowledge, you can then relax and enjoy your first conference. When you feel the flutters of an oncoming a panic attack, chant…

At least I’m not Kristen, at least I’m not Kristen, at least I’m not Kristen…

My first conference was back in February of 2008. I was an overachiever and got Swine Flu a year before it swept the world. For most of February, I had 103-105 fever and wanted to die…then burn my own ashes (again) because I was pretty sure I was so sick that even my cremated remains would have body ache. I nearly didn’t make it to the conference (which was, of course, DFWWWCon).

I was so sure that 2008 would the year I got an agent. All I needed was an agent and then my life would be on Easy Street. My biggest concern was what to do if the agents started fighting over me. How would I choose which one to go with? Would it make future cocktail parties in NY awkward?

Yes…I was a wee delusional, and sadly, I cannot blame it on my fever.

Conferences are vital for showing us how much we really don’t know (but then they give us the tools to remedy that, too).

So, anyway, that Friday night, the agent-author social went really well. I was charming and fun in my own mind, and managed to make it through the entire night without tucking my dress in my pantyhose. I think that was the last thing to go right for the next 24 hours.

First, for those who do not know, I have a zillion food allergies. I might even be allergic to myself. I would live in a giant bubble, but I can’t get cable. So keep this in mind.

Hey, can somebody order me gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, preservative free pizza? Please? Anyone?

The Friday social goes well, but that night I get no sleep. None. I was too excited/nervous. I was going to be an agented author by this time the next night. My future was so bright, I was fairly sure it had caused permanent retinal damage.

The next morning I peeled myself out of bed and drove to Grapevine, TX, which was about an hour away. I looked stunning in my new suit, but I was so fried that I forget to grab the food I’d packed the night before.

I arrived at the conference half-starving already and it wasn’t even 8:00 a.m. That entire morning, I barely paid attention to any of the craft classes because 1) I was exhausted 2) I was starving and 3) I had my agent pitch right after lunch…which I could smell and it was making me half-mad.

I dodged out of a class early to talk to the caterer and asked if he had anything that was gluten and dairy free. He said “Yes.” The angels started singing. YES! I could get something to eat.

I grabbed my meal and began wolfing it down prison-style, knife at the ready to stab any of the kitchen staff who might decide to take my plate before I had eaten the garnish and the Sweet & Low packets (fiber).

I finished eating before the other writers were even let out of class. I was feeling great. The writers filed in. I started socializing to take my mind of the pitch that I knew would catapult me to fame and fortune.

Candy Havens stepped up to do her keynote and…

My heart rate suddenly kicked up to 150 beats a minute, and felt like I was having a heart attack. I felt dizzy and my fingers and feet went totally numb, along with part of my face. I struggled to stay conscious as I watched Candy’s speech.

I couldn’t get up and interrupt her, but I was terrified that I was going to pass out right there. My peripheral vision was soon gone. Black. And I could tell I was inches from blacking out. Clearly I got into something I was allergic to. I chugged every glass of water at the table trying to dilute whatever foul element I ingested.

I hung on Candy’s every word…waiting for the last one. The second people start clapping I dove out of the banquet hall and stumbled to the bathroom. I was in bad shape. A couple of the speakers happened to be in there and apparently it was clear to them that something was definitely wrong with me. They wanted to take me to a hospital.

NO! I had come too far. I could do this.

I still had an hour until my pitch session…the 15 minutes that would change my life forever…although I did grant permission to call an ambulance if I passed out. Either I had seriously poisoned myself OR the Zombie Apocalypse was beginning and I was on the Zombie Team.

Damn.

Food poisoning? Or the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse?
Food poisoning? Or the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse?

During that hour, I drank another gallon of water and the symptoms, blessedly, started to subside. About a half hour after I staggered into the restroom, another woman stumbled into the bathroom with a screaming migraine.

Apparently the caterer forgot to mention the liberal amounts of MSG (monosodium glutamate) in the broth used to cook the rice. We were both in pretty bad shape.

Thus, I missed another craft class trying to be at least coherent for the agent pitch. I got into the room and my beautiful suit is all rumpled and my hair is flat on one side (from leaning on a chair trying not to die).  I am also pretty certain I only had makeup on one eye.

I sit down and begin to talk, but have no idea what point I am trying to make…and now I have to pee. Like BAD. Like 12 seconds after I sit down I am now aware of the 6 gallons of water I drank.

So now I am wiggling and trying to think, but all I can picture are waterfalls and sprinkler systems and babbling brooks and speaking of babbling, what the hell was my book about anyway?

It was a disaster.

But, an hour after the pitch session, I felt better and I finally got to do what conferences are all about. I made loads of friends and connections, and took some great classes to improve my skills.

I learned so much at that conference and met some of the most AMAZING people who are my friends even to this day. Candy Havens is still one of my all-time favorite people, and it is really cool to now be one of her peers instead of this strange neophyte-stalker.

Okay, I am still strange and slightly a stalker but she now doesn’t jump when she spots me in her shrubs.

Anyway, after the conference my life changed. I was a member of the DFWWW, and the then-president asked me to present on social media because he liked the way I taught it to terrified writers.

I think one of the reasons this conference has grown so quickly in such a short time (aside from being a FABULOUS conference) is they have vision. When everyone in publishing was laughing at Facebook and saying e-books were a fad, DFWWW looked ahead and spotted the shifting paradigm. They recruited great people (not just me–OUCH! I got a cramp from patting myself on the back!). Seriously, they recruited top talent to train authors for the emerging marketplace.

I am now I am a regular speaker for DFWWW because they are a fabulous conference, and I am very honored and completely spoiled to be able to attend. If you can’t make it this year, then definitely put it on your MUST ATTEND list.

Have you been to DFW? What are your thoughts? What other conferences would you recommend?

To prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of April I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!