#DFWCON 2016




The first DFW conference I attended was back in 2012. That was the year I adopted the motto“making it uncomfortable in my comfort zone”, and what a better way than to drag my introverted ass to one of the major writer’s events in the country.  I did my research, listed out all of the conferences that met my requirements (the list of conferences was quite long), and chose the one where the cost/benefit analysis made sense. I only live 5 ½ hours from Dallas, so DFW got the nod (and my money).

What a difference that one decision has made.

I’ve attended every DFWCON since, this year being my fifth. I found my agent (Sarah Negovetich) at DFWCON, and the writers contest I host right here on my blog – WRiTE CLUB – has since become sponsored by them.  I continue to sing their praises because they consistently deliver a quality product, one that has embraced a concept key in the publishing world…adaptation. The lineup of classes and speakers they organize consistently represent not only what writers need to know about the literary world of today, but also include cutting edge concepts and trends that could eventually help shape the industry. The people of the DFW Writers Workshop, who are responsible for putting together the conference, do a magnificent job of keeping their finger on the pulse of the industry and use that knowledge to constantly tweak the winning formula they've patented to hosting such an event.

This year the venue switched to the Ft. Worth convention center, and I have to say it was definitely a step up. Although there were some logistical issues at the start that caused everything to be pushed back 20 minutes, and coffee/water was nowhere to be found that first morning (depriving a writer of coffee should be a felony), the conference settled into the spacious surroundings just fine and it ran like a well-oiled machine. One of the things I liked about this conference hall was that there were plenty of places to slink off to and enjoy some alone-time. Coming out of ones shell takes a toll, and knowing that I could retreat and regroup if I needed to was a big deal.

There were four major highlights at DFWCON for me this year. The first was that the conference set up a table for WRiTE CLUB and it became a rallying point allowing me to meet and talk to lots of writers about how the contest works and the benefits of participating. It also gave anyone who participated (this year or year’s prior) a way of finding me and telling me how much they enjoyed following contest. I met so many people because of the table, and it really set the groundwork for what I believe will be record breaking year in 2017.

 
Highlight #2 was that I met A LOT of new writer friends at DFWCON. Two of them were my new critique partners (Melissa and Veena). Melissa already had plans for the weekend and couldn’t attend the conference (maybe next year), but I got to spend a great deal of time with Veena. I clicked with both of them right away, and I’ll tell you a secret, rubbing elbows with fellow writers is a surefire way to overcome the introversion most of us have to deal with.
   


Highlight #3 – the WRiTE CLUB winner announcement. This year both of the finalist (Solange Hommel and Joy Lucas) were at the conference, and it was a thrill to meet them both and see the looks on their faces when they were called up to the podium. Unfortunately, last year’s winner, Lisa Dunn, was unable to take advantage of the prize she won and attend the conference, but we made arrangements for her to come back in 2017. I want to say congratulations again to BonsaiBabe (Solange) for her victory. If you haven't seen it yet, Solange kept a journal of her WRiTE CLUB experience and she posted it on her blog. It is a wonderful article!

Oh yeah -  I’m grateful that this picture doesn’t show how bad my legs were shaking when I handed out the award, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!  



My final highlight is the one that really made the weekend for me…which is saying something because the conference was phenomenal as a whole.  Every year DFWCON holds something called the Gong Show, and for many it is the climax of the weekend. The organizers put 7-8 agents who’ve been invited that year up on the stage, place a little gong in front of them, then the MC takes turns reading material (one page) submitted anonymously by the conference attendees. Some years its query letters that are read, but this year it was the first page of a manuscript. The MC reads the first page and its up to the agents to strike the gong when they would normally stop reading if this were something from their slush pile. When the gong is struck by three agents, the MC must stop reading and then the agents explain why they gonged. It is rare that a submission makes it all the way through without being gonged, but it does happen, and when it does the author is invited to make himself/herself known and take a bow. It is nerve wracking for the ones who are brave enough to submit their work, but a lot of fun (and informative) for everyone. Well, this year I decided to submit the first page from my YA Paranormal Mystery MOVING FEAR just to see what would happen. It was picked…it was read…AND IT WASN’T GONGED! What a thrill! I have to say I felt like a rock star the rest of the day.

That’s just four highlights I can think of, but here's a bullet list of other memorable moments.

- Tex Thompson running UP the DOWN escalator...and winning!
- Christopher Golden’s moving speech (still gives me chills).
The Poetry Slam.
- The Villain versus Hero contest.
- Being handed a pin and named a Tomorrowland participant - representing writers who are doing what they can to benefit the writing community of the future.


- Meeting numerous writers stressing out just ahead of their first pitch to an agent. 
- Eric (the pitch session wrangler) doing his best to calm nerves with a stream of cringe-worthy jokes.
- Seeing the joy on those same writers faces after walking away with a request for a full!
- A pair of quality meals that put some local restaurants to shame.
- A notebook full of notes from classes overflowing with information.

 Trust me, if you weren’t there, you missed out!

But you can do something about that next year. DFWCON 2017 is already scheduled and take my word for it…established and aspiring writers alike will benefit from attending!

I’m looking forward to it already. Can I possibly meet you there?

26 comments

  1. Hi Don - that's great ... and it sounds like a really useful conference in many ways. Congratulations on all you're doing ... cheers Hilary

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  2. It looks great and how cool that you got to have a table for WRiTE club? Also that you weren't gonged :)

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    1. It was sure be great to meet you in Ft. Worth next year!! :)

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  3. DL it was so exciting and I am so glad to have met you. Looking forward to next year already. I twas great hanging with you, Veena, and Tex!

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    1. And you too Zetta! We did have a great time together, didn't we?!

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  4. Great post! I second everything you said! I can't wait to see everyone again next year. And for those who have yet to go to a conference, I just want to reiterate:
    DFWCon folks are exceptionally kind and welcoming and the content of this conference was well worth the money! This is the bar all my future conferences must reach and it is held high.

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    1. PS - thanks for the shout out! ;)

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    2. I can't imagine getting anything more out of a conference than this. Bigger is always better.

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  5. I have attended The Colorado Gold Conference in the past. So much learning and sharing. The Gong contest sounds like fun.
    Nancy

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    1. The Gong show was fun and I wish they would actually do more of it.

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  6. Sounds like you had a fantastic time! How cool that you were able to connect with WRiTE Club participants!

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    1. Maybe some day I can talk you into coming south and we can go conferencing together! :)

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  7. Sounds wonderful! I'd love to attend, but it's a little far to come from New Zealand… One day, maybe.

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    1. Never say never...that's one of my motto's! :)

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  8. Awesome there was no gong!
    And very cool you had a table for Write Club there. I can see one for the IWSG one day. Except someone else will have to man that table.

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    1. It would be awesome to be side by side!!!!

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  9. I have a kind of awkward question: Is Write Club supposed to be a DFW-area competition?

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  10. No, Tony, it is not. Although the contest is sponsored by the DFW Conference (thus the grand prize), and I get to promote it via that relationship to a large number of writers who come from all over the country, it is truly an on-line contest for anybody and everybody. I'll endeavor to make that clearer in the introduction next year.

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  11. Wow! That sounds like a fabulous experience. I keep saying "one day" I'll get out and meet everyone at events like this, but there are a few other priorities hanging out in my house right now. Congrats on the pages! That's amazing. Of course, I knew they were that good already. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Maybe next year? It would be a blast to have our entire CP group meet in person!

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