Day 16: Five things I learned from the Colorado Gold Conference

Colorado Gold Conference was everything I expected: overwhelming (at times), exhilarating, crazy, and fun. I am continuing to digest information and process experiences.

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Before I dive into my five learning points, I would like to give a shout out to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers who provided me a scholarship for this amazing opportunity. Every aspiring writer should attend! It can be intimidating for an introverted newbie (I arrived the day of and I found myself almost slipping into panic mode when I saw the amount of attendees. I immediately remembered I didn’t know a single soul and I felt like a novice swimmer diving into the deep end of the pool with only a couple of lessons as support), but eventually you meet other writers and it becomes an adventure more than a survival tale.

1.Writing classes. The “kid in a candy or toy store” needs to be labeled as a real feeling. How else do you describe the struggle? At least nine classes ran every hour. On Saturday, classes started at 8am. Attendees had an hour and a half for lunch and then at 1:30 the classes continued until 5:30. That does not include Friday afternoon AND Sunday morning. What did I learn? POV, characters, suspense, save the cat plot, trauma in story…. I have pages of notes on paper, phone, and laptop.

2. Hypnosis is interesting. I am less of skeptic because of YouTube and meeting an expert in person at the conference. Because I sat next to him in a waiting room, I was able to ask him about the process. He even offered to put me in a “relaxed” state so I could give my best performance when I pitched to an editor. I told him I’d rather wait until after the pitch just in case something went wrong. Needless to say, I didn’t experience hypnosis, but he was a gentleman. If we ever meet again, I’d take him up on his offer.

3. Conferences are excellent for light people watching. (Please no full blown staring. Rude!) It was fun figuring out what genre a person wrote based on a general glance; or imagining the dialogue between a group of animated writers; or semi-easedropping on someone’s conversation about the logistics of a WWII novel.

4. Random moments lead to great conversations: walking out of the bookstore, waiting to pitch my novel with several other anxious writers, deciding to eat oatmeal instead of rushing to the 8am class, struggling to find the right class with the person sitting next to me. Now we have each other’s contacts, so we can stay in touch!

5. I met James Scott Bell. Okay, not sure if this something I learned. I’ve been wanting to meet James Scott Bell for a while. When I was 19 years old, I began reading his Ty Buchanan series. I loved it because I fell in love with Ty and his sidekick/romantic interest, a nun with hoop skills! Ty reminded me of a reckless Wild West gunslinger, with words being Ty’s bullets. And then LA. . .I’ve never been, but the way Bell described the city had me imagining a lawless place ripe with gangsters and vigilantes. A true modern Gotham city. The series plot is full of Shakespearean violence, twists, dry humor, and a realistic staccato vibe. I felt like I was there on the streets with Ty busting bad guys with philosophy and bravado.

After I finished the series, I knew I wanted to emulate his style in my own writing. I wanted my words to have a gusto and swagger. When I began to write my first manuscript, James S. Bell’s writing books were the first writing books I read to learn more about the craft.

When I found out he was attending the conference, I knew I had to meet him. On Friday night, there was a book signing. I didn’t have any physical copies of his books, so I bought a  book from the bookstore. Then when it came time to meet him, I almost cried (I blame it on exhaustion). I only managed to stutter out how much his books meant to me. I did not act very writerly or dignified. However, he signed my book and was nice enough to hear my jumbled appreciation. Now, I must reread the series! Buy hard copies. It is a good series worth a third read through!

Conclusion: Five out of five stars for quality writing content and opportunities! And now, I MIGHT print out the picture below for EXTRA motivation.

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