My Adventures in … Reno (2011)

I just got back from the 2011 Reno Writers Conference at Truckee Meadows Community College. I have to praise organizer Kathy Berry for putting together a smooth event that had its best attendance ever, even in trying economic times. Well done. This writers conference happens every spring (usually April) and I highly recommend it. I even got to meet with writers one-on-one and be a query letter editor!

(Check out this page if you’re looking for a list of writers conferences.)

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:


When I arrived on Friday, it was snowing. I stayed at the JA Nugget Casino/Hotel in Sparks (a suburb) before meeting eight awesome members of the Nevada SCBWI for dinner. Thanks to much peer pressuring from myself, the table ordered pitchers of local beer. The hashtag #nvscbwi caught some of this fun. When we finally left the restaurant, we walked to the Nugget and I started playing pop songs on the piano in a roped-off area. We were right in the middle of “Livin’ on a Prayer” when three (not one, but THREE) hotel security guards told me to “Step away from the piano.” Hilarious overkill on their part.


I hope I get these names right: Left to right are
members of the NV SCBWI: Heather Petty, Temoca

Dixon and Dawn Callahan.


The conference itself was all day Saturday: an intense, fun one-day affair. There was an agent panel with attending agents Gordon Warnock (Andrea Hurst Literary), Lindsey Clemons (Larsen-Pomada Literary—no longer agenting as of Nov. 2012), and Verna Dreisbach (Dreisbach Literary). I gave two speeches: one how to get published, and one on query letters to agents. The attendees were very nice and I signed some of my books—all good things. I think my finest moment was when a writer asked me what kinds of writing exercises I do to stimulate my brain before tackling a writing project. My one-word answer: “Drink.” My second answer: “Make sure your book has proper formatting.”

(Want to get away and write at a relaxing writing retreat overseas? Check out the annual Homeric Writers Retreat and Workshop in Ithaca, Greece.)

Following the conference, speakers and organizers went downtown to unwind and eat. Then I fast-talked agent Gordon Warnock (one of the fiction agents there) into hitting the Nugget casino, where we conquered (perhaps a strong word) a craps table. (Craps is the best.) I won a bit of money. Gordon had no idea how to play but caught on quickly and was soon placing complicated bets. Total fun.


The pictured crowd is not indicative of the
attendance that was there. This was the
conference’s best year, with nearly 150
attendees. This pic was snapped between
two sessions.


Dinner after the event: Agent Gordon
Warnock, agent Verna Dreisbach, and me.

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