Reporting on the 2017 PNWA Conference

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend and present at the annual writers conference hosted by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association in Seattle, Washington. While I wasn’t able to attend the entire event, I did want to take this week to report on my experience and share a little of what I learned as well.

I arrived on Friday afternoon, missing out on the keynote speaker and the agent/editor panels. Because I showed up late in the day, I decided to not attend any workshops, and instead spent the time catching up with old writing buddies and making new friends. I was glad to spend my time this way, as I met some really interesting folks, including a guy who wrote the strategies guilds for nearly all of the major titles released on the XBOX 360. My inner-gamer was thrilled when we actually got to share a table at dinner and talk video games.

Saturday was my day for attending workshops. I started the day with a presentation on world building taught by Nicole Persun. While Nicole and I have been friends for a while now, this was my first chance to take one of her classes, and she didn’t disappoint. The most important thing that I learned from her was that the world an author creates needs to be inseparably attached to their story, and that the story shouldn’t be able to happen in anyone else’s world.

The other workshop that I got a lot out of on Saturday was called “Laws of Attraction” and was taught by Elizabeth Boyle. This class was all about the sexual tension between characters, and I found it very useful for a book I’m working on right now. Unfortunately, there were a couple of my fans that were also in the class, so they heard a few more details that I would have intended as I got some feedback from the class on issues I was having with a romantic subplot. Guess I should start wearing a “Spoilers” sticker when I attend classes for my own work now. 🙂

After that, the remaining workshops that I attended at the conference were my own. I taught an abbreviated version of “A Novel in Four Drafts” on Saturday and “Make the Most of Your Writing Time” on Sunday. Both classes were well attended, and I had more than a dozen students say that my classes were the best of the conference for them. I was deeply grateful for their positive feedback, and I hope that many of them will return for more of my classes on creative writing in the near future.

Overall, I would rate my experience at the conference as a good one. While there were some logistical and scheduling issues that I hope will be resolved in the future, I had a great time, and feel ready to get back to my own writing.

A New Milestone at Brass Screw 2017

Last weekend I attended to the Brass Screw Confederacy steampunk festival in Port Townsend to give fun presentations and sell my Keltin Moore series of fantasy adventures along with the rest of my books. While this was the third year for me at the Screw, there was one very big difference with this year’s event for me.

This was the first time I paid for a vendor table all for myself at an event. Previously, I had only ever participated in vendor halls at Cons and festivals by partnering up with other authors to share the table fees and reduce the risk of losing money at an event. Unfortunately, there are downsides that come with sharing selling space with other people, so I decided to take a risk and see how I would fare on my own.

There were a couple of reasons why I felt like this year’s Brass Screw was the right time and place to test my ability to manage a table on my own. For one, the Brass Screw has traditionally been a good event for me. Last year I sold out of The Beast Hunter at a shared table in the vendor hall, and during the year previous I had respectable sales despite only selling my books after a reading. Another reason why I thought this was a good time to try having my own table was that with the publication of Into the North, I now have four books of my own, not to mention artwork from one of my cover artists that I can sell.

So how did it go? Well, a lot of vendors I’ve spoken with will say that an event is not a failure as long as they make their table fee back, and in the three days of the event, I more than tripled that amount. Of course, I also need to consider all of the other costs that came with the trip, like gas, food, and the cost of printing the books, but I think that this trip has proved that under the right set of circumstances, I should be able to fly solo at certain events now.

That being said, I’m going to take a little break from genre-themed events for a while. My teaching schedule is going to be pretty heavy for the summer and fall, and I need to continue to be careful about how I choose to spend my time and money as I develop my writing career. But this last weekend was definitely a good sign as I continue to find a balance between being an artist and a businessman.