Thursday, July 27, 2017

PNWA 2017 Summer Conference Overview

(Image:  My conference badge illustrating what genres I like to write in--Historical Fiction, Sci-fi, and Fantasy)
This past weekend, I attended PNWA's Summer conference, after a year-long hiatus. A different theme is chosen every year, and this one was:

 However, due to my work schedule, I had to put off writing for the first, and final days of the conference.  While I enjoyed the event itself, and the new home at SeaTac's DoubleTree Hotel itself, I felt rushed commuting back and forth to it each day.  I'm thinking about reserving a room at the hotel the next time I'm able to attend.

In the past, I've written extensive posts on the details of each workshop, and panel discussions I attended.  I'm not going to do that anymore.  Such posts took a lot of time to write, occupied a lot of cyberspace that I want to devote to gaming, and the webcomics I concoct as a result of the games I manage to play.

So from now on, my writing conference reports will be overviews with plenty of name dropping of links to the authors I know, or recently met.  


Because I was getting off night shift, and didn't have anything ready to pester literary agents, and publishing editors about, I skipped the Agents and Editors Forums that morning.

I arrived at the DoubleTree with less than 15 minutes to spare, giving me barely enough time to pick-up my attendance packet, and scurry-off to the first workshop on my To-Attend List.  

This was the Craft of Writing Backstory by Cherry Adair, who loves writing action-romances.  Or as she put it:  "Stories about running, chasing, shooting and wild monkey sex." A one-sentence synopsis of her workshop would be:  Don't bore readers with infodumps--instead, entertain them with vivid accounts of running, chasing, shooting and wild monkey sex.

While the second workshop Panster vs. Plotter, made no references to wild monkey sex, it was hosted by the delightful duet of Deborah Schneider (a.k.a. Sibelle Stone) and SaraLynn Hoyt.  In this yin-yang couple, Deborah's the Plotter (a meticulous planner and outliner), while Saralynn's the Panster (as in writing by the seat of your pants).  Both writing techniques have their benefits and pitfalls.  The trick is to write in a way that utilizes the best of both techniques.

After these workshops, I hung around for the Featured Speaker Dinner, which should have been called "Featured Speakers Dinner," because instead of one individual giving a stirring speech; this was a panel discussion with Cherry Adair, Deb Caletti, Gregg Hurwitz, Donald Maass, Christopher Vogler, singer/songwriter Donn-T, and hosted by PNWA's perennial emcee, Robert Dugoni.

While this was a new concept that promised to be entertaining, me and 30 other individuals ended up at the "Kids' Tables."  Apparently, there was a misunderstanding/miscommunication on how many conference attendees would be attending The Featured Speakers Dinner.  The staff ended up scrambling to literally roll-out additional round tables, flip on table cloths, and fling down some silverware.  Then we had to wait for them to cook-up our meals.  

I, along with several hungry victims-of-circumstance dinner companions were at furthest, and most forward "Kid's Table," and couldn't see any of the Featured Guests, beyond where Bob Dugoni was sitting.  So I hardly remember any of the amusing Q&A entertainment.

The Autograph Party afterwards turned out to have some pleasant surprises.  First, the gentlemen I sat next to turned out to be local author Matt T. Ryan.  So I bought his first book, Revenge of the Banker's Daughter

(Image by Kitsap Publishing)
I initially thought the woman next to Matt was his daughter.  Instead, she was Sonya Rhen, author of Space Tripping with the Shredded Orphans.

Her and Matt were placed so close together I felt compelled to buy her first book, "Trip 1." The front cove reminded me of a whacked-out, dystopian version of Josie and the Pussycats.

The one thing I did remember from the Featured Speakers Dinner was the response Christopher Vogler made when asked what he likes to do in his non-writing spare time:  Create scenes with toy soldiers.


With that in mind, I set out to stalk ask him about his hobby.  It turned out he's not a gamer, but uses playsets as a creative free-form exercise.  I told him about my webcomics, which he thought was neat.  I lied was wrong when I told him I already had a copy of his seminal work, The Writer''s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. So I bought his book Memo From the Story Department, based on my false assumption.

(Image from:   

In my defense, I have another writing book with a similar-colored cover.

After my purchases, I spent the rest the time catching up with Chris (C.C.) Humphreys and meeting his lovely wife Aletha. 

I would have loved to have stayed longer, but I had a long drive back and an early morning workshop I wanted to attend the next morning.


After another Hell-for-Leather drive, the workshop I barely arrived in time for was Intersection of World Building and Character Development, by Nicole Persun.  In the past, Nicole usually ran workshops with her dad, Terry Persun. But this was the first time I attended one of her solo performances.  She did a wonderful job instilling in us that character and setting are inseparable. 

And speaking of settings, the next workshop was Location as Character (a.k.a. "Location! Location! Location!") hosted by C.C. Humphries, Joe Beernink, and moderated by PNWA President Pam Binder.  Considering a locale as a character is often critical in writing, because since real people are affected by their environment, imaginary ones should be too.

After lunch, as I entered the Speculative Fiction Short Stories workshop, one of my classmates from Pam Binder's Popular Fiction class was chatting moderator Cat Rambo about disasters.  After our "hellos" she told Cat about my job in Washington State Emergency Management, and I ended up talking a bit about my job.  Cat was an engaging and concise instructor, briefing the few of us attendees on the mechanics of what makes story telling work.  

During last workshop intermission, I ran into Jeff Ayers, the PNWA Board Secretary, who introduced me Gregg Hurwitz.  He commented on the Punisher shaker bottle I was carrying, and I discovered:

(Image from iHerb)

a.  Gregg wrote several Punisher comics #69-95, 75 (2008-2009).
b. He dresses up in a Punisher costume similar to mine. 

Then we had to end things abruptly because the last workshop of the day was about to begin.

By this time I wasn't in the mood to an extensive note-taking seminar.  So the final workshop I chose was Kay Kenyon's Landscapes of Fantasy, from Mythic...

(Image found on Pinterest's Arthurian Legends) Dieselpunk
(Image of Jet City Comic Show's Bomber Girl by Shane White)

This was an overview of the 15 or so sub-genres of fantasy that has been, and is currently being written.  I never knew there was such a thing as New Weird.  I thought the run-of-the-mill weird was weird enough.

As my epic two-day workshop quest came to an end, it was time for the Literary Contest and Nancy Pearl Book Awards Celebration and Dinner.

Every year, in conjunction with the conference, PNWA hosts a Literary Contest.  By my count there were 103 finalists in a dozen categories, along with 7 finalists for the Nancy Pearl Book Award.  Fortunately, there was no "Kids Table Crisis," which I'd attribute to a grown-pain hiccup with the conference's new home.  However, I didn't take any notes, so I couldn't tell you who won what.

So my congratulations best wishes go out to the winners--you rock!--whoever you are.

And with that, PNWA's Summer Conference 2017 came to a close for me.  

The dates for next year's conference are already being reserved at DoubleTree for sometime next September.

Until I know what my 2018 work schedule will be, I'll pencil myself in as "Interested" when PNWA creates an event on Facebook.

See you next year!  Maybe.

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