Wednesday, June 8, 2011

PPWC 2011 - Can't Wait for Next Year! by MaryAnna Clemons

I have had two wonderful opportunities to attend the PPWC: once in 1997 and once this year. Both times were wonderful, but I have to admit that while the first year was awesome, it was a bit rough on a new writer. But this year, well, this year rocked.

I think that I needed time to ferment as a writer (and a person). This year I showed up ready to make contacts, network, and create friendships.

What did I learn? First and foremost, I learned I needed a plan of action–and here it is:

I am going to change my website to reflect my new goal of fiction writing. As a freelance journalist, that site was fine to send editors to, but now that I no longer freelance non-fiction articles, I need to jazz it up, add a blog, and get to chasing my goals.

I am going to blog for the Pikes Peak Writers–they said I could. I have it in writing.
  • I will write on a schedule – period. Aaron Ritchey (whom I have never met before the conference weekend and who did not pay me to make this endorsement via money or alcohol) was one of the BEST speakers at the conference. I laughed out loud, and it's hard to get a cynical old mom of three to laugh (just ask my husband).
  • I will be starting a fund of money, quite like a Christmas slush fund, for the 2012 conference, which will include Donald Maass and Jeffery Deaver (among other wondrous folks). I hope to save enough money to stay at the hotel instead of driving from my Eastern Plains residence into town every day. After all, some of the best friends are made after hours.
  • I will start attending the "Write Brains" (gas prices be damned), as well as the nights at Poor Richard's (which I have heard may need to change since the group is getting SO big!). The exhilaration of like-minded souls is too much not to take in.
  • I've already given my Facebook page a political lobotomy. I recall reading a first book in a series of time travel stories and I loved the book so much that I sought out the author on the web. She just happened to have been taped doing a book talk and signing in Arizona, recent to the immigration issues, and was taped giving her pent-up political opinion on the issue. I was so turned off by this that I haven't read or bought another book in her series. Right, wrong, green, blue, we are all human and we all come pre-loaded with our own thoughts on gender, politics, religion, etc., and you just never know who your next customer might be! If you are an author, take politics (unless you write about politics and actually make money off of it) off your list of "to talk about." That is my opinion of course, but it's good advice from myself to myself and I'm going to take it.

Now, for my almost scary story: I was so deeply engrossed in Debra Dixon's "Big Black Moment" workshop that I forgot to run upstairs for my pitch appointment with Andrea Brown!

That's right. I have been so long in my own little mom-world that I forgot to pitch one of the top agents in the field. I ran upstairs and Ms. Brown was getting in the elevator. I had just seconds to jump in with her. Ms. Brown was kind enough to give me a few minutes in the lobby on the leather chair that sunk in so much my knees were under my chin. I gave her my medium length pitch (as my very short pitches didn't seem to be falling on sympathetic ears). She was intrigued enough to read my first page and then she…wait for it…turned the page!

She gave me a solid request for my material and my weekend was complete. In the course of four days, I really stretched my wings (yep, that was stretching). I came out from behind my computer and learned and listened and really felt inspired. For the first time in my life, even given my freelancing and staff writing experience, I could finally picture myself as "one of them" – a full-time fiction writer who has deadlines and stressful nights of sleeplessness worrying that my idea "well" is going to dry up.

I do not want to lose that momentum. Even with my full-time job, my marriage, three kids, a small menagerie, and a dream of being a better barrel racer–I want to write as well. It's not too much to ask out of life - right?

Now, as Jill Marsal stated in the Myth Busting Agents workshop, the hard part is just starting. And that works for me. As Sharyn November so astutely called it, I am pragmatic to the bone–and work is what I know. In fact, I had to force myself to slow down more than once throughout the weekend and be in the moment.

And now, the work begins.

BIO:  MaryAnna Clemons is a lifelong writer, a past journalist freelancer and a 24/7 wife and mom of three. Previous work can be seen at, and her blog is housed at

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