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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« aqua barbie song | Main | figs »

surrey writers' conference

Got back from Vancouver very early this morning (about 1 a.m.). Had an absolutely wonderful time at the Surrey Writers' Conference. My two workshops (Promoting Yourself Online, Online Markets) actually went okay, considering how nervous I was. People participated, were interested, shared info. I got lots of good feedback afterwards, which was nice, and the conference organizers have asked if I'd be interested in coming back next year. :-)

Still have a bad cough, unfortunately. Took a package of Fisherman's Friends (thanks for the suggestion, Luisa! they taste AWFUL but work pretty well) and only had one bad coughing fit during my workshops. Also a froggy woman at the conference was surprised when I apologized for my cold; she thought my voice ALWAYS sounded like that. :)

Met Diana Gabaldon and bought her new book, The Outlandish Companion. Very nice, energetic, warm, full of dry wit. Met my romance columnist, Judith Bowen, for the first time! :-) Bought one of her books at the trade show. Eventually I hope to meet ALL the people who help me with Inkspot. I'll be meeting Fox, one of my assistant editors, shortly after the UK filk con next February. I'm also hoping to make a trek out to the west coast next year to visit with my markets editor (Saratoga, CA) and associate editor (Mountain View, CA) and Arkansas and New York to visit with my assistant editors.

Back to Surrey... Speakers were treated VERY well at the conference. In addition to getting my airfare, they gave me a huge room on the Executive Club level (the type with fluffy terrycloth robes in the closet and someone who comes in to turn the covers in the evening and put a chocolate on your pillow :)), with a passkey to access the Executive Club hospitality suite on the floor above where I could get a free continental breakfast, snacks, cold drinks, appetizers as well as lounge about with the other speakers (and the agents and editors who were there for one-on-one sessions with conference participants). All our meals were included, and we also got a generous honorarium. In return my duties were as follows:

  • Two workshops (one 90 minutes, one 45 minutes)
  • Several hours of on-on-one sessions (Blue Pencil Cafe)
  • Casual Connections (more casual setting where local writers can meet and talk with speakers)
  • Make myself as available as possible to local writers during the rest of the conference.

The work above was fun but also pretty gruelling...there wasn't a lot of downtime, and I never had a chance to attend any other workshops. However, it was *definitely* worth it and more than a fair trade, as far as I was concerned, and I'd be very interested in going back again.

I used to turn down invitations to speak at conferences because I used to be deathly afraid of public speaking. However, my experience at the SCBWI conference in L.A. a couple of years ago (I was invited to give a brief talk at a Regional Advisor meeting) persuaded me to give the Surrey Conference workshop opportunity a shot, and I also figured it would be good for me :-). And now the Surrey experience has given me a bit more confidence...I still may not LOVE public speaking, but not nearly as closed to it as I once was. My experiences with Urban Tapestry have also helped with this. :-)

Speaking of music, I even got a chance to play my penny whistle at the conference. :-) I tend to always have it with me these days, and on the last morning of the conference, I pulled it out on impulse while in a casual chat corner. I ran into several musicians, actually...Charley Snellings carried his guitar with him and strolled around singing some rockin' blues and bluegrass, often original songs with a writing-related theme (e.g. "Slush Pile Blues"). I bought one of his CDs, and he gave me another to use as a freebie on Inkspot. I had hoped to have more time to hang out with Charley and perhaps even jam a bit, but alas...not enough time.

Moving into our new office!

Jeff went out to IKEA and bought most of our office furniture today. Tonight, he, Doug, Scott Murray and I are going to the office and moving the boxes into the space...perhaps even putting together a few desks. :-) I'm very hyped! I went out earlier to get a four-wheel trolley in preparation, as well as getting a short lesson from someone at the property management office in learning how to use the freight elevator. Wish us luck....

Still more about figs

Frances S. pointed out that I missed out on the beauty of figs. Frances writes:

    Figs are enjoyed most when:

    You eat them in Australia
    You steal them from the neighbours tree that overhangs your lane
    You beat the green parrots to the feast
    You get them slightly overripe, just before they fall making goo in your garden
    You push your tongue deeply into the red and white fruit and you think improper thoughts
    and you ignore all those statues and statutes
    You share them with your love as you walk.

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