One of the best parts about attending the international conference is:
These are some folks from my region at the Golden Kite luncheon. We go as individuals. But also as a region. And also as part of a greater international community. To be in the room with 1234 people who are trying to do what you're doing is powerful. We understand the dream in each other heart and soul. And in a competitive world, we do the opposite: We push each other forward. Hoping for bookstores to stay alive and for all of us to have our names on the spines inside.
Another Great Part of the conference:
Being in the Keynote speeches.
The inspiration that is shared from the main stage is unbelievable. Writing advice. Life advice. Laughter. Tears. I know I've been changed by the things I have heard in this ballroom with these amazing people.
Don't think all we do is work. Every year we take time off and ...
The annual poolside gala is a costume party. This year it was the Hippie Hop. This is the deep breath of the conference. Just at the moment when you're exhausted and full, they throw a party. And life comes tumbling back into our lungs and we're ready for another day.
If you attend the conference you might have the chance to ...
Meet your agent.
So many professionals in the field take the opportunity to fly to LA to lead sessions and panels and do critiques. In a relationship usually maintained over the web, the conference gives you face-to-face time with the people who are shaping your manuscript and career.
And if you don't have an agent, it is a prime time to mingle, see who you like, hear what they like, find out their submission guidelines.
I can't promise you this, but it's always been true for me. The conference is a great place to...
Make new friends. The lifetime kind.
Every year I meet people and I think ... How did I ever get along without you? You'll meet people that are infused with joy and laughter and folks who seem to know the inside of your soul without speaking. And you'll be thankful that you paid for the conference because the return isn't just a professional one ... it's friendship.
It's also a place where...
Your old friendship grow strong. Stronger. Impenetrable. Super-hero(ish)
I've made friends in such random ways. Like through a random blog pitch contest. And we found ourselves talking online and then finally meeting face-to-face at this conference for the first time. The conference is the sort of place that makes Alaska and Kentucky not seem to far apart. And then there are the people who "Do Life" with you. They're in the trenches. Not just the writing trenches, but the places where the rubber meets the road. Spending four or five days with them, sharing a hotel, hanging in the lobby, and sharing meals only helps to build on the foundation of love and admiration and thankfulness that is already present. And they are there for your ah-ha moments. The moments when you realize at the conference the book you have to write or the profession you have to choose. There's no one else I'd rather have at my side.
You can barely see it in this picture to the left, but that's the ocean. Yes, we're acting silly. (We're good at that.) But I'd never seen the ocean on this side of the world before. I got to see it for the first time with my agent-mates. Of course we took our Kelly's Angels picture because who wouldn't when you're in good company with an ocean and a Farris wheel and a pier?
And last, but certainly not least, you can start and keep your own traditions. Everywhere I go, I get a picture of me in a tree. Here's my one from this year. It's the only tree I've ever been in that was completely parallel to the ground. So cool.
I'm challenging you to go. To be changed. To see for yourself that it's worth it.