Monday, June 9, 2014

Dreaming Big Dreams in Phoenix

I had the pleasure of attending an amazing double conference just last week. On Thursday and Friday, I attended Buildin' the Dream. This portion of the two conference event was geared toward authors, editors and publishers. It consisted of workshops lead by those successful in their fields, discussing their experiences and offering solid advice for the attendees, to help them achieve that same success.

 The first evening, we were fortunate enough to be treated to Keynote Speaker, Diana Gabaldan, author of the amazing Outlander series. This tiny dynamo of a woman regaled us with her experiences as a professor and her first foray into writing. She is smart, witty and incredibly funny. I swear, by the end of the evening, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much. She is an amazingly talented woman and I admit, I was more than slightly star struck…in fact, by the third time I made up an excuse to chat with her, I was pretty sure she was considering a restraining order.

Friday morning we gathered for a wonderful breakfast. We followed that up with more workshops. The leaders of the conference, Morgan Kearns and Kris Tualla, ran the conference like a well-oiled machine. We had time in between workshops to chat, get coffee, make a call or use the restroom, but we didn’t have so much down time that we were bored or left wandering about with nothing to do.

Friday afternoon, we flipped over from Buildin' the Dream to Arizona Dreamin'. Arizona Dreamin’ is the second portion of this double conference and is geared toward the reader. This is a brilliant strategy, as authors, editors and publishers happen to love books. All and anything to do with books. That’s why we do what we do. I don’t know an author who doesn’t have a ‘to be read’ pile that’s less than a dozen books deep. So putting the two together is grand.

Friday night found us gathered in the ballroom for a night of socializing and entertainment. The entertainment was a singing group called Broad’s Way and they sang a variety of songs from several musicals. They were talented, funny and thoroughly entertaining.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, we gathered in the ballroom as a large group. Seated around several round tables, we each had one author, publisher or other workshop leader at the table with us. When this meeting got underway, that person had three minutes to introduce themselves, tell us about their services or products and invite us join their book club. At the end of three minutes, each professional switched tables, allowing those at the table to meet each and every one of the workshop leaders. It was a wonderful way to get a better idea of what each person had to offer so we could plan our day based on who we wanted to learn more about or spend more time with.

The book clubs were half an hour each, during which, the hostess discussed their experiences in the profession and answer questions. Many had fun games or gave away gifts or free books. (The airport people were not impressed with the weight of my luggage) Trust me when I tell you, this was brilliantly planned and very successful.

When I left the conference, I felt as if I hadn’t spent the weekend at a professional business event, but rather as if I’d spent four days with terrific friends, having a blast and sharing our experiences in the writing industry. From magazine editors, publishing companies, cover artists, to cook book authors, and authors of all romance sub genres, I’ve made more than professional connections. I’ve made lifelong friends. And that, is truly priceless. 


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