Sunday, September 9, 2007

WritersFest 2007

How the Weekend Began...

On Friday afternoon, I picked up Nancy Pickard from the train station in Kirkwood. Oh, gosh, she’s just the loveliest, sweetest woman. Interested in everything. Smart and thoughtful. We ate a fabulous lunch at the William D. Alandale Brewing Co., 105 East Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood (314-966-2739). I’m including ALL that contact information because if you’re ever in St. Louis, you’ll want to stop in and order their fabulous fish and chips. Nancy and I savored every bite.

Worker Bees...

My pal, Linda Hengerer, came up from Florida to attend. She, Nancy, my husband David, my son Michael, and I had dinner at my house. Then I drove Nancy to her hotel--after she signed a copy of her The Virgin of Small Plains for Michael. (He was thrilled.)

Bless Linda's heart! She helped me prep food and stuff folders until late Friday night. Along the way, I’d discover I’d forgotten this or that. I’d call “my posse,” my critique partners Donna Ross (aka Fedora Amis) and Judy Moresi. They always came through—even when all I needed was to hear, “Hey, it’s going to be okay!” I didn’t get much sleep. I was too excited! I went to bed at midnight after checking my “to do” list and woke up at 5 the next day to pick up MORE food from the grocery store and get to the conference hotel.

The Big Day Arrives! Saturday, Sept. 8, WriterFest 2007!

The next morning, folks started to stream in. Chesterfield Arts co-sponsored the event—and to our great joy, a lot of new faces were in the crowd along with our regular chapter members. Judy and the wonderful Alexandra Hull worked registration. Our chapter president Michelle Becker opened the event. Our own Eleanor Sullivan introduced the guest speakers.

Novelist's Boot Camp...

Todd Stone began the conference with his Novelist’s Boot Camp, after the book of the same name. As usual, he kicked butt in the best possible way! His down-to-earth, nitty-gritty, honest and workable ideas had our group totally psyched. In fact, attendees complained of being SOOOO revved up, they could hardly sit still for wanting to get cracking on their writing!

Seven Steps to a Better Book

Nancy Pickard took over in the afternoon. She taught more solid skills—picking up where Todd left off. She shared her fantastic CASTS system which made The Virgin of Small Plains such a fabulous book. Her gentle and honest advice about the ups-and-downs of writing gave people permission to move ahead with their dreams.

Resources Every Author Needs

Vicki Erwin of Main Street Books of St. Charles (MO), and her pal Janet Heyer, sold books. After meeting Todd and Nancy, folks clamored to have autographed copies of their work. (Part of the $75 admission price was a copy of Todd’s Novelist’s Boot Camp and Nancy’s Seven Steps on a Writer’s Path. Oh, and breakfast, snacks and lunch.)

How to Get Published

We took a break for dinner—that’s a photo of me with a mouth full as usual!--and returned to discuss How to Get Published. Judy moderated Donna, Nancy, Todd, Vicki and me. As a group we covered all the bases having written books for micro, major and medium-sized publishers; self published; written “for hire” or contract work; won a contest to be published; and authored e-books.


Certain scenes from this weekend will be forever part of my memory:
· Nancy’s train pulling into the station. (I love trains.)
· Nancy lifting my rescue dog onto her lap and lovingly cuddling him.
· Linda taking cookies out of my oven.
· Todd and his wife, Terri, giving me a Novelist’s Boot Camp tee-shirt.
· Todd answering, “What do you wear underneath your kilt?” with “Shoes and socks!”
· Attendees chatting, laughing, writing like crazy, and getting to know each other.
· Donna telling us about the writing contest she won.
· Judy cajoling folks into returning their lanyards.

I’m still really, really tired, but I loved this weekend. I feel like 50 people got the encouragement and skills they needed to move ahead with their careers. I’m blessed to know two super authors—Nancy and Todd—a little better. (Nancy gave me a new nickname: The Anomaly.) I found a new kindred spirit in Terri Stone. (You go, girl!) And I am ever more thankful for “my posse.”

Donna's Summary of WritersFest 2007

“WritersFest 2007 was a grand success. You just can't beat two super ‘How to write’ books, a parade of last-minute walk-ins, two excellent and illuminating presentations, and a lively panel finish. Everyone went home well-tutored, well-fed and well-nigh exhausted--but well-satisfied.”

And a Napoleonic Finish to the Weekend

Today (Sunday), Linda and her sister Joanne Guller met me at St. Louis Art Museum to see Symbols of Power: Napoleon and the Art of the Empire Style 1800-1815. (Check it out at Linda greeted me with a little present, a pin that reads, “Goddess with an Attitude!”


Anonymous said...
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Camille Minichino said...

I can feel the exhileration, Joanna! Congratulations ... it's wonderful that all that work paid off.

Camille Minichino said...

And did I mention the great picture ... you look like you're eating somethng healthy!

Deb Baker said...

Wish I could have been there.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Sounds like it was a fabulous weekend! All your hard work paid off!

Dee Winter said...

Isn't it amazing how invigorating an experience can be? Congratulations on a great conference and the inspiration you facilitated among your attendees. I'm a bookseller and always happy to know there's other people out there encouraging new writers.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I'm still tired--and a bit emotional! I guess that's residue, eh? I honestly feel people walked away inspired, motivated and feeling capable. Dee, we love working with a local independent bookseller. Vicki is a gem, and her help made it possible for us to include the two resource books in the price. Nancy gave us an assignment to carry on for the next 30 days, and then we'll check back with her. Hmmm. Maybe I can get her to share it with all our readers....

Nancy P said...

Blush! Joanna should be blushing, too, because of all the praise she's getting for running a great event. She was so thoughtful and also magically intuitive. At one point she handed me a huge pecan and carmel covered apple. Nut and carmel covered apples just happen to be my fav dessert in the whole world. Chomp. Slurp. Thanks for everything, Joanna.

That is a VERY sweet dog she has, too.

(I'll be happy to share the writing exercise sometime.)

Camille Minichino said...

I definitely need to see that writing exercise!

Nancy P said...

Waving at Camille!

Here it is from my blog:

One of these days I'll remember how to post links in comments!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


That's great! Thanks for sharing this with all of us. I'm on day 2 of the process. (I couldn't manage to start at the conference.)


Terri Stone said...

What a powerhouse of energy Joanna is! Todd and I had a great time and we just want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make us feel welcome and appreciated. We greatly appreciate all of you. Just can't say enough about how wonderful this experience was and it was absolutely terrific to see Nancy Pickard again. What a wonderful and classy lady she is! Just bought her lastest book and can't wait to jump into reading it. I had to buy a second copy of her non-fiction work, Seven Steps on the Writer's Path, because the friend I leant it to sent it off to a soldier friend in Afghanistan. So, Nancy if you get emails from troops it started with the copy I purchased at Love Is Murder.

Terri Stone said...

What a powerhouse of energy Joanna is! Just want to say how thankful Todd and I are to everyone who made us feel so welcomed and appreciated. Todd and I can't say enough about how wonderful this experience was. We greatly appreciate all of you who worked so hard to make this a truly exhilirating and professional and fun experience. The icing on the cake was seeing Nancy Pickard again. What a truly genuine and classy lady. Can't wait to delve into her latest book. I had to purchase another copy of her non-fiction, Seven Steps on the Writer's Path, because the friend I leant it to sent it off to a soldier friend in Afghanistan. So, Nancy if you get any emails from soldiers in Afghanistan - remember it started with the copy I purchased at Love Is Murder!

Nancy P said...

Terri, if I hear from a soldier I'll smile, thinking of how he/she got hold of my book. Thank you! It was great to see you and Todd again, too.

Joanna, let me know if anything helpful--or not--comes from that exercise. You may be the only other person doing it. :)

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


I can already say it's made me realize how much self-editing I do as I write. How much that blocks--and how it curtails the flow.


Nancy P said...

Very interesting, Joanna. That's my experience, too. I have a very talkative editor in my head.