Conference Tips for RMFW’s Colorado Gold

Here are some thoughts from a veteran of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference (September 9–10–11, 2011 here in Denver).

Brochure for one of my first CO Gold conferences--1990

  • First-timers: Arrive early to scope the lay-out of the Renaissance Hotel so you know how best to get from the Platte room to Ballroom A with the least amount of panic. Especially memorize where the bathrooms are and possibly the bar.
  • Keep updated on changes to the workshop schedule by checking the RMFW website under Conference. (Try to imagine the olden days when there was no internet and the conference organizer was just a blur rushing around taping hand-written changes to posterboards. It’s better here, trust me.)
  • Plan your own schedule ahead of time, using a complicated colored marker system if necessary. There are tons of great workshops to choose from, some that conflict with each other, so choose carefully. (You can also order CDs if there are some you must miss. Decide which to go to live and which to listen to based on how hot the presenter is.)
  • Look up agents and editors ahead of time–most of them have websites or blogs or they do the tweety thing. If you’ve put in for a pitch session or you’re signed up for an agent/editor workshop, read up on some of their existing authors so you have a good idea what they’re looking for. Try to make it to the agent/editor panels–always informative. Please don’t ask them how to ensure your work doesn’t get stolen. (Just email your novel to yourself and you’re covered.)
  • Practice, practice, practice that pitch for your writing. Perfect an elevator pitch: “It’s like Pretty Woman meets Out of Africa.” Have a slightly longer one ready for the 10-minute pitch session. “A hooker with a heart of gold who looks like Julia Roberts if forced to jet to her dying uncle’s coffee farm in Kenya. But the farm’s overseer, a Robert Redford/Richard Gere type, hates hookers because one broke his heart and gave him syphilis, so they spar and flirt but bond over their mutual love of bi-planes and opera.”
  • Schmooze outside your comfort zone. Sure your critique group and your Facebook friends are the best, but at a writer’s conference, almost everyone you meet is interesting and has a story to tell. Even if you fumble about a bit, just remember. It’s like karaoke–no matter how much you wipe out, there’s always someone worse.
  • Business cards come in handy.Β  So why have I never, ever had any?Β  This year, I swear.
  • Hold onto the workshop handout booklet. (This year it’ll be on a flashdrive in your conference packet.) You can reference the info for years to come.
  • You can still register for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference. There are plenty of great workshops and networking opportunities, plus the guest speakers, the fun writers, the hospitality suite, the Novel Idea Follies, Literature and Liquor … is that last one a redundancy? Go here for more info.
  • Try to relax and have fun. And have coffee. Lots of it.






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15 Responses to Conference Tips for RMFW’s Colorado Gold

  1. j.a. kazimer says:

    How hot the presenter is…tee hee.

    Great advice, but I’d like to add one thing, make a pact with yourself that you will meet at least 5 new writers. That means, you sit down next to someone and say, So, what do you write?

    Oh, and make sure to wake up early on Sunday, and pop down to A Quick and Dirty Guide to E-Publication with me! I will have plenty of bribes to those who attend.


  2. Karen Duvall says:

    Awesome tips, Chris! I’m so excited about conference this year especially since i missed it last year. I think you covered it all. And i also love Julie’s advice to meet at least 5 new writers. Chances are you’ll meet more than that. Heehee. πŸ™‚ It’s gonna be a blast!


    • Chris Devlin says:

      Hey Karen, glad you’re going to be there. I’m super-ramped this year because I’ve been able to “meet” so many more RMFW writers through the “new media” and whatnot, and it’ll be fun to see them in real life.
      Or, if you can call a writers conference real life…
      But hey, fictional life is even better, so there ya’ go. Look forward to seeing you.


    • Chris Devlin says:

      Yeah, there are always so many new and/or unfamiliar writers to meet every year. And it’s an excellent lesson in not judging a book by its cover, or not judging a writer by their exterior. I’ve sat by nice, older ladies who are writing bloody mysteries, and jock-type young men who are writing paranormal romance. It’s always a hoot!
      Thanks for stopping by, I’ll see you soon.


  3. Okay, “elevator pitch”, I got it:
    Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry adopt Forrest Gump, and they’re all vampires. 😯

    Life is like switching cars during a car chase,
    you never know what you’re going to get…


  4. I love this conference — the hardest thing for me to learn how to do when I first attended a conference was approach and talk to strangers about their writing. Now it’s my favorite thing.


    • Chris Devlin says:

      Hi Patricia,
      That’s interesting since you seem so comfortable with it now, and with public speaking. (I went to your workshop last year with Beth Groundwater and Ron Heimbecher on Social Networking–wonderful.)
      Hope to see you there, thanks!


  5. TALK TO STRANGERS! You never know who you might be rubbing elbows with. And be nice to EVERYONE! You never know if that obnoxious girl next to you is an agent’s assistant or an up and coming editor scoping the scene. And that bore of a guy, turns out he’s there looking for YOUR manuscript.
    So, again, play nice. Talk to strangers.
    Last – spend some time at the bar, even if you don’t drink, lots of other folk are there. You can always ask for a soda. We won’t tell.


    • Chris Devlin says:

      Awesome, Think–it’s true you never can tell.

      I love how your first and last comments–Talk to Strangers, and Spend Time at the Bar–are like, the Bizarro world version of what our parents taught us. Writers. We’re so special. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for dropping by!


  6. As Devlin said above, don’t judge any of the people at the conference by their “covers”.
    And that bore of a guy, turns out he’s there looking for YOUR manuscript.
    I’ll be looking in every nook & cranny for that “boring” agent, because “quiet” people are usually the type who knuckle down and get s**t done, without all the hyperbole… πŸ˜‰


    • Chris Devlin says:

      Good thoughts, Daven. Of course, serial killers are often quiet, unassuming types, too.
      Then again, they DO get things done, so it still works.


  7. Pingback: How To Do Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2012 | Chris Devlin's Blog

  8. Pingback: RMFW’s Colorado Gold writers’ conference is Just Around the Corner… | Chris Devlin's Blog

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