At the Surrey Writers’ Conference

Last weekend I was at The Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Despite the packed schedule, frantic note-taking, and early mornings, it’s such a fun event that it doesn’t really feel like work. SiWC brings together agents, editors, and other industry experts, as well as authors of all genres. Big names like Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte generally draw standing-room only crowds, though I’ve always found that the best learning opportunities are at the smaller workshops.

Below: who doesn’t love Outlander? Jamie and Claire art up for auction at SiWC

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I attended two amazing workshops on YA writing with Robin Stevenson (how do I know they were amazing? I added about twenty new books to my TBR 🙂 ) Some notable quotes:

“When you revise, become the reader rather than the writer.”

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange…When lighting conditions are just right, a window can also be a mirror.”

I’m thrilled I caught a workshop with Daniel Jose Older, who spoke about writing “the Other”, an elaboration on his Buzzfeed article (link!) about what we writers of privilege need to do and consider when writing minority characters. Jael Richardson’s Saturday morning keynote (sidenote, I only attended one morning keynote–I like my sleep) on the push for diversity in publishing was equally brilliant. If you haven’t read The Stone Thrower, you really must.

Below: Saturday’s schedule, lopsided and fuzzy because pre-caffeine

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Another memorable observation came from a workshop on marketing and social media with Jason Brick. Given that there are billions of potential readers in the world, “other writers are not your competition; they’re your colleagues.” Jason emphasized the importance of promoting other writers online and using social media for that–being social with other writers and readers. Who wants to connect with someone who just wants to promote their “brand”?

So, given that I have a stack of new books to read (in addition to the ones I bought at the Vancouver Writers’ Fest because these things are DANGEROUS) I’m going to get busy.

Happy reading!

Heather