This past weekend I attended the PNWA Conference. I was extremely nervous about the conference going in because
A) I was going alone
B) I would be pitching to agents and editors
C) I was a finalist (!) in the middle grade literary contest
Each of these facts turned out to be delightful opportunities. Because I was alone, I met several lovely, brilliant people and had conversations about everything from writing, to publishing, to parenting and work. I shared some of my greatest hopes and fears with total strangers, and it was incredibly liberating. In particular, I spent a lot of time with a very kind mystery writer from Japan, Charles Kowalski. (Can’t wait til he hits it big and I get to say “I knew him when”! Go Charles!)
Because I pitched to agents and editors, I learned to think about my work in a different way and I practiced the fine art of “boiling it down”. In the end, I pitched to five industry professionals, (not including one very kind agent who I practiced with though I knew she would pass). Three of them requested a full MS and one requested a partial. Regardless of what comes of these requests, it was an affirming and uplifting experience to pitch. The agents and editors who attended were truly gracious, tireless, and friendly.
Last, but not least, being a finalist meant that I got to wear a snazzy badge all weekend. Many folks congratulated me and I was totally giddy when my name and photo were flashed at the awards ceremony. Alas, I didn’t win, but two other folks at my table did and it was fun to celebrate with them. And, there’s always next time…
All in all, the PNWA conference was a positive experience. Many of the workshops were helpful, pitching was rewarding, and networking was downright fun. Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers who made it possible and best of luck to all the great folks who attended.