At the end of February I attended the annual ANWA Writers Conference in Mesa, a nice place to be in February. I think the agents from Denver and NYC were loving the weather, as was the editor from Utah. It was a balmy 68.
Other good things happened there. One, I got to wear my *awesome* new boots. Do I love my boots? Yes, I do. Like Pete the Cat loves his white shoes, I love my boots. They are power-boots. They make me 4 inches taller, and I like that.
Besides the boots being fun, there was the first annual BOB Contest, which stands for Beginning of Book. As a girl who has a lot easier time coming up with the first 500 words of a novel than the last 84,500 words, this contest was a peach. There were lots of categories to enter, and yippee for me I received 2nd place in speculative fiction for the beginning of my novel Pandora. Yeah! Oh, and there was a cash prize, which I immediately sank into buying more books.
But the best part of the conference was the classes.
One was taught by the author of Arizona’s “One Book Arizona,” like a “book of the year” for the state. Conrad Storad writes fun nonfiction for kids, mostly about the ecology of the desert. Storad gave a how-to on read-alouds. (This info came in handy last week again at Reading Under The Stars.) He said to read a bit, then stop and discuss, to use additional visual aids (but not too many that they distract) and to vary the voice. It also helps if you choose a book that has a refrain that kids can chant along with when it repeats itself. Great info for moms too.
Another class that really resonated with me was the class given by Dave Eaton. He taught us mere mortals the secret ins and outs of SEO (search engine optimization) and how to trick Google into listing our own websites at the top of a certain search. This class was gold, honestly. And he gives the seminar to anyone who signs up. I’ll link it here soon!
My favorite class (hands down) was given by Matt Peterson. Matt had spent the last few years (since the big bummer economic year of 2008) working as a free lance tech writer. Tech writing was actually what I majored in at college, but I never realized how marketable a skill tech writing actually is. DUH. Matt gave us a step by step of how to set up an LLC, sign up for an online payment system, and how to make a bid on a website where companies solicit bids for free lance writers to write up blogs or ads or any other kind of online content. He said there’s so much work out there he didn’t mind telling all of us about it, and that any of us who were writers with an iota of talent could be raking in the cash if we wanted to.
I was sitting next to my good friend Megan, and we looked at each other, our eyes popping out of our heads. What the heck! We could be making actual MONEY as writers? Who knew! We were about panting when the whole class ended.
And of course, neither of us has done anything about it ever since.
However, the class’s message has been an ongoing comfort to me. All these years I’ve figured I was the butt of that old college graduation joke, “Q: What did the English major say to the Engineering major? A: Do you want fries with that?” BUT NO! No longer! I now know that should anything happen that I need to give up my glamorous life as a laundress and kid chauffeur, with a little novel writing on the side, I could actually ramp up and bring in an income without having to wear a shirt that says SONIC embroidered anywhere on it.
This is comfort. This is joy.
(And this is where you can register for next year’s ANWA Conference.)