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Each year at the Willamette Writer’s Conference I look forward to meeting up with author Julie Fast, who is always engaging, inspirational and has a welcoming energy about her. Julie is a bestselling mental health writer who taught the first ePublishing class at the WW Conference. She enjoys helping writers reach their dream of publishing a bestselling book. Julie also works as a speaker, writing teacher, and mental health coach. You can read more about Julie at www.JulieFast.com
Julie is one of the few authors I know who can mention Oprah and Dr. Oz in her bio. More on that later. Julie was kind enough to participate in my author interview series about writer’s conferences. Below are her answers.
MH – What is your goal/hope/intention when you go to writer’s conferences?
JF- I teach classes and do the manuscript ER. I love both of them. My goal is to create the most interesting classes I can and then inspire and change the mindset of the people in the class. I want attendees to say- wow, I didn’t know that before! It’s also my intention to reduce my amount of material and slow down when I present!
MH- How many do you go to each year?
JF- I only go to the WW conference. I’ve attended for 9 years and taught there for seven years. I volunteered the first year. I love the entire experience.
MH- Do you think writers conferences add or detract from the writing community overall? If so why?
JF – I think they add value if you use them correctly. Attendees must choose the right classes and then take the teacher up on special offers. It’s also essential that a person carefully choose anyone they want to pitch to. I taught a class this year called Power Networking for Writers. I explained that a conference is as much of a network experience as it is a writing experience. It is about who you meet so that you can use the connection to further your writing career. This is hard for some people as it may seem calculated. But it’s reality. The writing community in Portland is very big. If you hang out with those who are not published and are continually trying to get a project on the market, it can slow you down. If you hang out with published writers, it will inspire you to finish your book or screenplay. The conference is a way to meet the people who can help further a career. I tell people to pitch a class or start with volunteering.
MH -Does attending conferences improve your writing or is it purely a social event?
JF – It’s very social for the teachers and conference planners. We have known each other for years. It’s very, very social for the agents and publishers. The all go out together on a big bus on Friday night and have quite a good time. I also take classes and definitely learn from them. I always try something new. The screenplay information is very helpful. For new writers, it’s about writing of course, but it’s also a pitching event. That is the highlight of the conference. Social media and self publishing are also very popular.
MH – What was your single most memorable moment at a writer’s conference?
JF – Meeting Luke Ryan and learning about the inner workings of Hollywood movie production companies. I also enjoyed Kirk (I need to find his name!) a local film producer who really explained the current state of Hollywood. I like to hear about the politics of the industry.
MH – This year at the WW or PNWA conference what did you feel was the biggest draw?
JF – The pitching and self publishing classes. My networking class was full which tells me writers are looking for a way into the publishing world. Traditional publishing has changed and though the pitching is important, it’s also a good idea to try what I call ‘private publishing.’ People also love the social aspect of the conference. The organization, location and atmosphere are a big draw as well.
MH – What was your most engaging ‘aha’ moment this year?
JF – On a personal note, it was wonderful that I didn’t have as much anxiety as I usually do. Conferences can be very overwhelming and exciting for everyone. The energy is amazing. I always tell people to pace themselves to make sure they have a good experience. I write books about this, so I know the importance of taking time to yourself if things feel a bit overwhelming. People are always surprised to hear this as I come across as very outgoing, but there is a lot of anxiety underneath. All of the people at the conference are human. There is definitely a hierarchy, but it’s possible to get into that hierarchy if you want to move in that direction.
MH – What conference speaker/lecturer of any year has most inspired you to write? Great question. I write so much non fiction on my own, but I do want to do fiction and screenplays, so I feel inspired in that area. I usually focus on my own classes and spend a lot of time talking with attendees all over the hotel. I like helping writers reach their goals. Regarding inspiration, I have to say Luke Ryan once again as his classes opened my eyes to the screenwriting world. And you know we all want to write movies one day!
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