I spent last weekend at the Cascade Writers Workshop, a small three-day workshop full of panels, round-robin critiques, and the opportunity to meet and listen to fellow writers, agents, publishers, and editors. There were about 60 attendees, so it was small, and easy to meet and talk to not just other attendees, but speakers and group leaders as well.
The biggest part of the weekend was the small-group critique sessions. We were divided ahead of time into small groups of three to six people, each one led by a pro author, agent, or editor. We circulated manuscripts a month or so in advance and read them ahead of time, then met several times over the course of the weekend to go over everyone’s feedback, one story at a time. My critique leader was Lisa Rodgers, an agent with Jabberwocky Literary.
I submitted Chapter 1 of my novel-in-progress Noah’s Dragon, and got some great feedback from Lisa and the other group members. I was pleased to note that the part of the manuscript I was most worried about turned out to be one of people’s favorite parts– although, of course, there were other issues with the manuscript that I hadn’t anticipated. (Which is why we do these things!)
I enjoyed critiquing other folks’ work, too, and being able to probe in-depth into different people’s writing styles and see how they compare and contrast with my own. I’ve been doing critiques as part of a local writing group for some time, but this was a different group of people, and being able to see some different perspectives and writing styles from what I’m used to was a good experience.
I also got to pitch Noah’s Dragon to Lisa and another agent who attended, Bree Ogden of D4EO. It was my first experience doing a formal pitch of a novel, and I’m pretty pleased with how it went. Both responded positively, and gave me some good feedback, and I also learned a few things about how to construct a pitch, thanks to the pre-pitch practice session held the previous evening by Spencer Ellsworth.
But the best part was meeting new folks, making new friends (and getting to hang out with old friends!), and in general spending a few days among some fantastic, creatively-driven people. Whenever I go to a workshop like this, it reminds me that the field of fiction writing– while a very, very hard to make anything approaching a living– is full of awesome, friendly, hard-working, weird and imaginative people, and my desire to be a writer is at least partly driven by my desire to have such amazing folks as friends and colleagues. So to my critique group– David, Casey, Lisa, Haley, and Craig– and everyone else I met, thanks for an awesome weekend!
On an unrelated note, if you’re intrigued by the concept of a fireman who’s really a were-polar bear, in an erotic romance novel called Too Hot to Bear, you should totally click this link. Don’t mention my name if someone asks where you heard about it. I know nothing.