From Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's Conference, With Love

Susan Spann and I at the banquet.

There are almost as many reasons people write as there are writers. Some of us can’t sleep for the voices in our heads and must exorcise them through the written word (schizos); some of us have a love for spinning a good yarn (wordos); others appreciate the attention of having their inner-most psyche laid bare to complete strangers (narcissists); some want to make money and have decided to use their grasp of the written word to do so (dreamers); others are just looking for a mobile hobby (pragmatists); and the list goes on and on.

Yet the thing that rings truest as one of the biggest reasons to write, at least for this word nerd, is the hugely validating joy and fun of getting to hang out with a bunch of other writers at a writing conference. The validation comes from the (re)discovery that we writers, with all of our quirks and quibbles, are a truly ubiquitous bunch, and we are EVERYWHERE. Finding the tribe; sharing the stories from the trenches; learning the strategies and practices that have worked for others; being reminded that we are never alone (despite the fact that we sometimes feel we are when we lock ourselves in the closet with our laptops and dimmed lights), and that if ever need support, it’s just a tweet or a phone call away; that we have friends who have experienced the depths of despair of being stuck on a storyline and lived through it, and who have an extra flashlight to help us out if we need it; these are the validations and joys that keep me writing, and that make all the suffering hard work worth it. And heck, what can be more inspiring than sitting in a room filled with a couple hundred other authors, agents, editors, and publishers, all successful in the writing business in one way or another? THAT is a huge joy in and of itself.

This is my second year at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Conference, and I won’t miss another one, that is for sure. The friends I made here two years ago, such as Susan Spann and Piper Bayard, will last a lifetime, and the new friends I made this year, such as Kirt Hickman, Christopher Pitchford, Theresa Crater, and Cari Z, will continue to inspire and motivate me for another year.

And now it’s gush time. Two years ago, I had the amazing honor of winning an award at the RMFW Colorado Gold Contest. Susan was the first person I met at the conference and we were sitting together when the winners were announced. Having a new writer buddy to share that incredible moment with was one of the highlights of my writing life. This year, I had the great privilege and joy of being able to witness Susan win her own award: the PEN Award for new first sale authors. For those who don’t know, Susan has a three-book deal with St. Martins Press for a Shinobi mystery series. (How freakin’ cool is that?) Her first book, The Claws of the Cat, comes out July 16th. Watch this space for more info. That moment that Susan took the stage and held her first literary award will be emblazoned in my mind forever! Susan has been a hardworking author, mentor, publishing guru, and all around wonderful friend, and there is nothing more exciting than to see someone who deserves it finally get their reward. Congratulations, Susan, and thanks for letting me bask in your glow this year!

So it is with the memory and gratitude of being able to participate in such a monumental writing conference that my fully recharged writing batteries and I will eagerly jump into another year honing the craft. I’ll be releasing my second novel, Contract of Betrayal, in Spring of 2013, and am more than ready to tackle the final revisions with a fresh mind and a joyous heart (despite the fact that (or maybe because of it…) there TONS of explosions and a high body count in it. But whatev, those who know me know that that’s how I roll).

Also, please read more about the benefits and fun times to be had while attending writing conferences over at my friend Dale Ivan Smith’s blog.

As Hard Harry Hard On might have said if he were actually the Eat Me, Beat Me lady: Write hard!


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All content copyright unless otherwise specified © 2008-2013 by Tammy Salyer, writer. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided proper attribution is given.