Friday, July 26, 2013

Reaching for the Stars

"Until you write that story in your heart, you'll never be at peace." 
- Dorothy Hamilton, founder of Midwest Writers Workshop

I've been attending the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana this week from July 25-27. This is my first time attending a writing/publishing conference, so I'm not sure how similar conferences compare to this one. However, I do know this conference has met and exceeded all my expectations so far. And there is still more to come tomorrow when I pitch to a literary agent!

Last year I saw the caliber of instructors and literary agents that were attending this conference, and I decided that in 2013 I had to be there. Midwest Writers, which is celebrating its 40th year, happens right near where I live and work. No excuses. I needed to do this. If I was ever going to get these stories out of head and onto tablets and bookshelves, I would need to attend this conference.

Most of my first day was spent in an intensive manuscript makeover. The instructors, Holly Miller and Denis Hensley, are wonderful instructors. Before the session I had submitted the first 10 pages of my manuscript for them to edit and critique. Their feedback along with advice and tips during the session has been so helpful and inspiring. I've already started making changes and edits to my science fiction novel based on their advice.

As part of that manuscript session we were to write a short bio about ourselves. I wrote a light-hearted and slightly silly one:
Julie Tuttle Davis lives in a small town in Indiana with her husband, two sons, and fur-kid dog named Ray. She enjoys science, summer, traveling, and comfort foods. You can occasionally find her visiting NASA and hanging out with astronauts. She’s never seen an alien (as far as she knows) but hopes to one day.
Since this blog originally started out as a way to chronicle my NASA adventures, I can't help but include a photo of me hanging out with astronauts Karen Nyberg, Luca Parmitano, and Fyodor Yurchikhin from earlier this year in Houston, Texas. Right now all three of them are on the International Space Station.
Ok, so even though I've had some amazing NASA adventures, I must admit that it has been a bit intimidating and surreal to see literary agents in-person at this conference that I've followed from afar on Twitter. Tomorrow I have a pitch with one of those agents, and a different agent is giving me feedback on the first five pages of my novel. I'm not sure if either of them will request to see my work, but I'm eager for the experience. What I've loved about this conference is gaining more knowledge. No matter the outcome with the agents, I'm feeling lucky just to get more insights and feedback on my work from these experts.

I've also found it so great to meet and talk with other writers during this conference, and I hope to keep in contact with them.

To be continued...