Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Buildin' the Dream Conference

From left: Janet Syas Nitsick (me), Ruth Ann Nordin, Judy DeVries and Rose Gordon

Flying away to Phoenix for a writing conference was one special time not only in what the conference offered but also in the flying experience.
I never flew first class. Heard about it but never dreamed about doing it. However, the trip to Phoenix changed that. 
I experienced a full-course meal including wine and dessert and bags arriving first in the baggage terminal. It was a great and sure beats my last time flying where my youngest autistic son ran out the plane while waiting to take off from Omaha Eppley Airfield. You can read about this in my first book, Seasons of the Soul
Of course, the Phoenix setting was spectacular. A little too hot in late May for even this cold-blooded individual with temperatures around 107 degrees. However, how could you not love the sand domes in the horizon? The sight took your breath away!
But back to the conference. What I liked about the Buildin’ the Dream Conference was the ability to interact with fellow authors, publishers and workshops speakers. It was more informal. Yes, there were workshops, but you could enjoy eating in the hotel’s breakfast buffet where conferees gathered and intermingle with them or in the lobby area. 
You got to know them. In other words, you were not going off to one workshop after another with no breathing room because the rooms were packed. You did not have to walk a mile or more in high heels to find food. Everything at the hotel was at your finger tips.
The nice advantage of attending a conference like the Phoenix one is you get wonderfully named speakers, such as USA Today best-selling author Rose Gordon, a top book-cover designer Anya Kelleye and a Phoenix attorney, Megan D. Scott, who is an entertainment and copyright lawyer. 
Rose Gordon gave two presentations. Her first was “Mistakes Authors Make - Historical.” As a person who knows how to sell and make money, her insights were highly valuable. She knew of what she spoke and you listened. 
Rose writes Regency and American historical romances. Think of the setting as your wallpaper where people wear clothing and interact to those time-period dictates, Gordon said. Remember the focus lies in the romance so do not get caught in details which overshadow the storyline. She said your office needs to include a dictionary, access to Web resources, a book on that age’s idioms and a trusted friend who knows more than you about the period.
Adding to Rose’s last point, I have a friend who read my Lockets and Lanterns. She is knowledgeable about farms, farm animals, reading by kerosene light and attending a small country school. This friend is an excellent resource. I cannot tell you about the number of times she caught something wrong. 
Her second workshop was “Your Books, Your Business.” Gordon told attendees to write with their hearts but think with their brains. Thus make sure your book is done, edited, formatted, has an attractive cover which sells and is marketable. Study your genre, engage the readers, condense descriptions to a sentence or two and become visible like through blog tours, giveaways, promotional items and advertisements, she said. Each piece, though, has its pros and cons. For example, an author blog is where people interact and learn about you. The con is the time involved, she added.  
Anya Kelleye showed us some of her cover designs. A book cover must include a strong focal point, evoke emotions and she cautioned against using a script font. Keep it simple. Too many images or text overtake the cover, she said. Remember, she added, your cover does not need to tell your whole novel’s story. 
Scott was a great resource. Each state is unique in its own laws, she said. However, no matter where you live when you bring your idea to physical material it is copyrighted even before it is published and recorded with the United States Copyright office, she said. 
Besides the above, there were many other wonderful workshops. The smaller arena had such advantages of being able to talk with speakers for a short time after their workshops as well as having room to sit and take notes.
However, some downfalls did exist. One was the Buildin’ the Dream author conference, and the Arizona Dreamin reader event shared the same Web site page. The two headers used the same colors and unless you paid close attention you could easily sign up for the wrong one. I pointed this out on their feedback form. This, though, was the first time a readers’ event was held. So as with anything done for the first time, there always are problems to work out.
Would I go again? You bet, in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful trip, the conference was fantastic and it was awesome meeting people you interact with on the Internet, such as Lauralynn Elliott and Judy DeVries. It also was great seeing Rose Gordon again. laughing with her, Judy and Ruth Ann. They even taught me some new words. It was a beautiful trip and traveling and sharing a hotel room with Ruth Ann Nordin made it the best. The Lord’s blessings to you. 

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