Too much good stuff

Day Three, San Francisco Writer’s Conference

Yep, at this point, I’m out of catchy titles and clever preambles. I dragged myself out of bed, dressed, and ran to catch the bus. If only conferences could be every other day for a week so there was time to assimilate!

I’m happy to report that the lone science fiction panel was in a bigger room this year and very well attended. I didn’t quite understand the title, “SCIENCE FICTION: THE PROMISE OF THE FUTURE?” and I still don’t.

Panelists included Gabrielle Harbowy, Ross E. Lockhart, Ransom Stephens, and moderator Laurie McLean. Ross Lockhart gave the quote of the day. “Fantasy is literature of the impossible, science fiction is the literature of improbable.”


R.L. Stine gave a funny, self-deprecating keynote during lunch. His humility, given his success, was appreciated. Funniest story? A parade at Disneyland in honor of him and his books…he rides in a convertible and is greeted by fans cheering…”MICKEY!!!” He said, next time, no mouse in the same car!

Next, we meet the fiction agents. I’m including the photo, below, mainly because I can’t believe I attended several sessions in this room (the Peacock Room) before I noticed THE GIANT PEACOCK. Kudos to whichever speakers so bewitched me!

fiction agents

Advice from the agents was, as usual, contradictory. Understood. When do 10 smart people ever agree on anything? As a not-quite-published author, one point jumped out at me. Don’t apologize if you haven’t been published. They do sign unpublished authors. Own it. Write good stories. Move on.

Day Four

I’m not sure what to say about terrible sessions, so I’ll say nothing. Fuzzy unicorns and rainbows from 10:00-10:45. Next, a great session on critique groups.

Finally, the last session of the day with Martha Alderson, author of The Plot Whisperer. I saw her last year and loved her. She has such clear, actionable insights on how to improve plots. Just what I need right now. I’ve been hacking away at dead branches in Six and I’ll be able to do more of that thanks to her great advice.

I’ve spent four days hearing people insist, “You have to hook me in the first page,” “The first sentence has to be great,” as if nothing else in the book mattered.

Thank you Martha Alderson for providing perspective and the perfect finale to this conference:

“Beginnings hook readers, endings create fans.”

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