WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
I feel I should add to that warning: I’m worn out and slightly dizzy from all the travels/activity. I should also add, I’m giddy. Why?
Because ThrillerFest wasn’t just a good conference. It was ten-fold better–likely once I’ve totally absorbed all the activities–even more.
Remember that “If you build it, they will come?” Well, ITW built it in spades. Having the opportunity to learn craft from–well, just look at the schedule of who taught at www.trillerwriters.org and you’ll see why I’m giddy and nearly speechless. CraftFest was a golden opportunity to learn from many of the best in the business.
I wasn’t agent shopping, but the enthusiasm of those who were about AgentFest was amazing. Imagine being able to pitch to 47 high-caliber agents (yes, they were vetted!) in a matter of hours. Hearing of three or four requests was common. One attendee told me he’d had double-digit requests. Astounding opportunity–and a win/win situation for authors and agents.
Then there was ThrillerFest and a stellar lineup of panels. Typically, four panels ran simultaneously, and I had a difficult time choosing which ones to attend. Then I discovered that they’re offering CDs and on some DVDs, which helped tremendously.
Have you ever attended a writer’s conference and been torn every hour on what workshops to attend? It’s a rare privilege, and yet I found myself in that position each hour. Loved that. From bestsellers to ATF demonstrations to discussions with top forensics experts–well, there was definitely so much to do and too little time.
I had the honor of being panel master to the award finalists, and if I’d walked into the room not having read their books, I’d have hot-footed it to the bookstore (which was also a thing of delight) and gotten them all. The books were diverse, showing the expanse of the genre, and the authors offered really interesting insights on them. Lots of good info for the rest of us on these standout books.
All that and morning and afternoon signings, too.
And then there was the banquet. James Rollins was awesome as MC, and David did a fabulous job of pulling everything together. I didn’t flub the awards presentation, which took a load off my mind, and Sandra Brown was a wonderful and gracious ThrillerMaster. I sat and looked around that room at the authors present. It was a who’s who list. There was a very moving tribute to a Fallen Hero, too. Guys, it was too special for words. This author was also a police officer and just a few days before his first book was released, he was killed on duty. His mother was there to accept the award, and I don’t believe anyone in the room was untouched.
Personally, I had a lump the size of an orange in my throat, and (naturally) spoke right afterward. Thankfully Jim Rollins poked fun at me in my introduction and that helped the orange in my throat shrink long enough to do it. But that tribute has replayed in my mind a thousand times since, and I so hope ITW continues with this award in the years to come. It was a beautiful gesture. I kept thinking if I were that man’s mother how I would have felt, knowing my son had been remembered and honored like this. See what I mean? Tearing up again, just thinking about it.
And then there were the million networking opportunities with my industry pros I too rarely get to see–and I met so many people I’ve talked with online and known for years but had never seen. Sitting face-to-face and having conversations was such fun. What a rush!
I could go on for hours, but let me just say I don’t intend to miss a future ThrillerFest. Was it expensive? Yes, but it delivered double if not triple what it cost. I walked in thinking it was expensive and out thinking “What a bargain!” Seriously, in a multitude of ways, it was that productive and beneficial.
Oh, and some good news from the organizational meeting for active members: They’ve deleted dues! (That alone speaks to the success of the org!)
On Sunday, at o’dark thirty (somewhere between 4 and 4:30 in the morning), I headed to the airport and flew down to Orlando for ICRS–the International Christian Retailers Show.
It was a fantastic experience. Not only did I meet half the world there, I was also privileged to meet many other authors and industry professionals. Walking the floor, as it’s called, was terrific. Meeting folks but also seeing reactions to products and specific books. Very insightful information–and the company was fabulous.
It was a whirlwind trip and my batteries were half-charged on getting there, but rather than feeling drained, the experience was invigorating. I had one great experience after another. And that’s truly a blessing!
Now I’m drained and exhausted but a very happy author. And as odd as it sounds, I’m already eagerly anticipating next year!