Sunday, May 24, 2009

My New Best Friends

By Nichole Giles

Last week, I caught wind of yet another gathering of writers. Though this one is called a CONduit rather than a conference (the difference being that not everyone who shows up to this one is actually a writer—some are groupies, gamers, and world builders), I wondered if it would be worth my time to go.

I couldn’t use the excuse of money because it was really inexpensive in comparison with other conferences I regularly attend. And I couldn’t really use the excuse of distance because Salt Lake is really only a forty-minute drive from my house, and I don’t mind driving. Especially with music.

So after asking a few people about it, I decided it could be worth the investment of time. I gave it a shot.

Happy news, it was lots of fun! The serious writers were sort of separated from the gamers and groupies—sitting in on panels, attending readings and signings, and networking with each other. The word of the day for Saturday was networking. Not that the panels and classes weren’t important or useful—because they definitely were. Especially the Friday main address by Howard Taylor and the Saturday one by David Wolverton (aka Farland). Excellent, both of them. But even more fun was the chance I had to hang out with so many brilliant minds.

A bunch of us went to dinner together, and I had the opportunity (which I suspect will be rare from here on out) to sit next to and visit with Aprillynne Pike, whose debut fantasy novel, “Wings” hit #1 on the NYT Bestseller List last week. Across the table I chatted with Paul Genesse (“The Golden Chord”), and on my other side was my good friend Rebecca Shelley (“Red Dragon Codex”& “Brass Dragon Codex”). Down the line was another friend, James Dashner (“13th Reality” & “Mazerunner” series books), among other authors with whose work I am not yet acquainted—but am sure will be seeing in print very soon. I also had the chance to get to know a new member of my writer’s group. Josh Perkey is not only an editor for the Ensign magazine, but also an up and coming sci-fi/fantasy author. It was a good day.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. When we got back to the CON, we all sort of collapsed in the sitting area of the hotel lobby. Some of the original group left to go to bed, or call family, or hit the workout room, while others joined us to hang out. Howard and Sandra Taylor, Dave Wolverton (briefly), Julie Wright, Karen Hoover, Eric James Stone, and other people came to hang out with “the cool people.” About the point when the hotel staff got mad at us for rearranging the entire lobby (by finding more and more comfortable chairs and dragging them into an enormous circle) we moved into an empty conference room where we could put our feet on the table (shh, don’t tell!) and pretend we were having a very important meeting. It was relaxed and enjoyable, and good for the souls of us soon-to-be-published authors.

The bottom line? The classes and panels were fun. But socializing is always the best part for me. Would I go again? Absolutely. Will I ever dress up like Princess Leah or Darth Vader? Doubtful. Although, if it would make the difference between an agent or editor asking to see my work…maybe. You never know! Ask me again before next year’s CON.

In the meantime, you can find me hanging out with all my new best friends…or at least, their books.


David J. West said...

I am so bummed I didn't make it.(Sick wife and kids) The networking was all I really wanted to do, and maybe see if there was any cool art.

Christine Bryant said...

UGH! I am so jealous. I wish I lived closer so I could do fun things like this. The contacts and friendships will be very valuable for your future as a writer. FYI - I will be at David Wolverton's Seminar on June 5th and 6th. Are you going????

Cindy Beck said...

Sounds fun! Wish I could've been there.

Ali Cross said...

Argh. Disappointed I didn't make it, but I guess it couldn't be helped. I need to spend *some* time with my family, lol.

So glad to hear you had such a wonderful time Nichole ... I'll definitely plan on attending next year!

Oh and YES I've tagged you, lol!

Nasty Butler said...

Wait, so just to clarify...does it help to dress up like a Star Wars character in order to be published? ;)

I recognize Ben Crowder in there...he's a good friend of mine from school. Glad you got to go and mingle/network with lots of good people.