The very first writers conference I ever attended was somewhere around 1987 or so. I no longer remember. But what I do remember is the people and the energy of that weekend! About being a young dude of 26 or so, officially declaring myself as “a writer,” and putting myself out there. I had just moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1985 and had been bouncing around between critique groups. Through various referrals, I’d found out about this group of writers out of Denver, so I checked them out and ended up staying with them for a few years! “The Capitol Hill Group,” was my new critique group and I commuted every week to them. And they mentioned this animal called “a writers conference.”
So I went.
It was an entire world of writing! I was hooked!
But life got in the way, and, well, I ended the commute when I got married and with busy work schedules, et cetera—but I stayed in the writer’s group. Some time later their name changed to their present set of words (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers), and I’ve always remained with them. But…I also found a local writer’s group that also formed their own conference and had gone to that one for some 20 years, volunteering, et cetera.
But one always remembers their first love with great and misty-eyed fondness!
I’d always wanted to attend another RMFW conference, but it was hard to afford paying for two conferences a year, or I’d be away on vacation or a business trip, or some other event was interfering with my plans to attend the RMFW Gold. But in rolls 2016…and I found I’d had an open calendar!
So…some 30 years later…I’d finally made my way to the RMFW writers conference!
Not only were the sessions incredible and informative, but the people…oh, yes, it’s the people who make anything good or bad or indifferent, and these people were beautiful.
It was well-organized and oiled!
And I’d met new writers I hope to be able to now call new friends, and met some old friends from my Capitol Hill Critique group days! One in particular (Christine Jorgensen!) I hadn’t seen her in some 30 years!
There is so much to relate from this conference, but it would be a much looonger post, and I’m trying to be better about that, so I’m only going to relate a couple of “situations” that really stood out:
- Being recognized “in the wild”
- Relating “weird tales” that really happened
- Reading porno
As I checked in to the conference and stated my name…the next thing I knew, this woman was leaning across the table, pointing at me, saying: “I know you: All writing helps all writing!”
Oh, my God—my first stalker.
Clearing my throat and backing away from the table juuust a touch, I squeaked, “Excuse me?”
“You’re the one who posts on the loop with the signature tag ‘All writing helps all writing!'” this rather energetic and enthusiastic woman said, still reaching across the table with her pointy finger.
I was, um, well, kinda speechless.
Yes, I do have that as my tag line, and yes, I do post on the RMFW loop. She was right. Her pointy finger was also still right in my face (okay, I exaggerate).
So…while still keeping the table between her and me, we discoursed and I discovered that she was keenly aware of my e-mail signature block.
To say I was stunned puts it mildly. I was also..humbled.
Here was someone “out in the wild” who had recognized not only my name…but part of my brand. Little old me. My branding had actually worked!
Turns out, Sheri and I kept running into (?!) each other throughout the conference, and she is actually a very sweet person.
But, I’m still dumbfounded, humbled, shaking my head…and checking over my shoulder….
All I can say about this section, is that I am finding—without a doubt—that many people experience aspects of the supernatural than is currently realized. They just don’t talk about it much or openly.
I am not going to get into what others told me—that is not my place—but, man, it raised the Chicken Skin! It’s easy to hear this stuff around noise, commotion, and friends…and quite another to remember those conversations when you return alone to your dark room at night.
I have to say, I did spook one of my friends, Susie Lindau, who write a great series of blogs! I told her about many of my “weird things that happen to me,” and then told her about the “Silver Man” who had visited me as a kid. In this relation, there’s a part where my brother, Greg, told about how the Silver Man, who had been looking at me, turned to look briefly at him—then away. I demonstrated that to Susie, and she cringed and contorted and weird mewling noises emerged from her. I don’t even know if there are vowels in the English language to convey those, um, “intonations.”
I released my fifth novel, Voice, last year (2105) about a guy’s disintegrating familial and romantic relationships. It has emotional content. It has supernatural content.
It also has erotic content.
Some might call it “pornographic,” but they would be wrong. Porno is written to excite and titillate. I did not write it to that end. It was written as part of the story of this character’s issues, within the confines of working in the fashion and modeling industry and in his dealing with a voice in his head. Yeah.
Next: back in the late 80s, when I was with The Capitol Hill critique group, one of my critique group, Kay Bergstrom, aka Cassie Miles, had signed one of her Harlequin Temptation novels, It’s Only Natural, to me. In it, she signed it as—well, read it for yourself:
NOTE ADDED LATER: In all fairness to Kay, as I thought about this, I remembered that I’d told her to make the autographing as raunchy as she could!
Well, that has been a long running joke between Kay and me. And I’d found at this conference she and Linda Joffe Hull were presenting a session about “Writing Sex: The Ins and Outs.” Since I had written some pretty steamy sex scenes in Voice, I wanted to see if there was something I could learn from Kay and Linda…see if I’d done something wrong (turns out better writers [Stephen King, Jonathan Franzen] than me wrote far worse scenes that I remember writing…)…better learn for any future sex scenes I might write (Voice is my last and only book of “this nature”; you’ll see what I mean if you read it: be warned, it ain’t for the easily offended—or my family).
And during this session Linda and Kay made it known that they wanted someone from the audience to read a passage from this porno novel that Kay had contributed to.
Though I sat at the very front table, I felt the awkwardness of those behind me. I doubt any eye contact was made with Kay or Linda then.
So I shot my hand into the air.
What in hell was I doing?
I don’t know. Didn’t care. Linda and Kay were unabashed, joyful, good-natured, and easygoing about the topic, and I was at the conference to have fun. Even at my own expense. Embarrassment.
I was taking a chance…putting myself out there…and trying to grow as a writer.
So I found a steamy passage and told the room that I may get red-faced while reading this…but we were gonna work through it!
And I liked it!
I mean, well, yeah, it was fun!
That was the first time I’d done anything like that…in public.
We were all writers trying to learn about how to write legitimate sex scenes in our work. Our work is about people…and one of the things people do…is have sex…and it’s up to us to portray that in as real a fashion as possible, per the genre within which we all write. There are definite dos-and-don’ts.
Put yourselves out there.
There is so much more to say about this past weekend, but it’s all writerly-geekness. But I’ve come away with a [re]new[ed] appreciation for newsletters (I’m going to try to restart my previously feeble efforts), “event table psychology,” writing (blogging!) legalities, and new methods of promotion. Found a new and legit need for a smartphone.
I got to meet new people (finally—faces to names!) and renewed current friendships (Karen, Aaron, Bonnie, Janet, Laura, Angie, Warren, Nathan, and so many more)! Cried on the inside at Ann Hood’s Sunday luncheon speech.
And I gained a stalker.
What more could an up-an-coming writer ask for?
- Denver Comic Con 2016 (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
- MileHiCon47, a Knot, and a Head (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
- MileHiCon46…or This Blog is Really All About Aaron Michael Ritchey (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
- Mountain of Authors 2016 (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
- Mountain of Authors 2015 (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
- The “You Belong” Anthology Read (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)