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After-Action Report: Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans

paper stuffJust a portion of the swag bag goodies, including my postcard for “Bayou Fire”

I have to say that, hands-down, attending Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.  I met nice people (including blogger friend Ray Laskowitz), I learned important things, and I came away with a changed perspective on my career as an author.

bourbon corn cakeBourbon Corn Cake, Bourbon House

I also ate a lot of really good food. Because it’s New Orleans, and there’s a ton of that.

Anyway.

That changed perspective has to do with how I’m going to choose shows from now on. I won’t just be looking at how many books I sell or sign (I did both in New Orleans, by the way).  I’ll be looking at whether it’s a good place for me to educate myself and meet new potential readers, whether I sell or sign a single thing.

book tableMy table at the book signing

I admit, I had primarily been thinking of my return on investment when I looked at which shows to do. Now, none of us are made of money, no matter where we are in the publishing game. My funds are not infinite, so upfront costs are always going to be a consideration. But if I can laugh, learn, and talk with new folks, it’s going to be a good thing. Every single time.

I had originally intended to visit this conference solely to learn things. I was going to sit back and bask in the waves of information. However, I wound up agreeing to be on a panel about how authors develop characters. Then, when the moderator fell ill, I showed insufficient reluctance (with tremendous

david heather jonDavid Morrell, Heather Graham, Jon Land

encouragement from my fellow panelists) and took over the podium. Several people remarked that, had I not said I was a substitute, they never would have known. That made me feel good.

Especially since panels during the event had folks like those in the picture to the right on them! That’s some pretty heady company for this author!

monteleoneFriends of the Library plaque saluting the hotel’s literary history

The event was held in New Orleans’ historic Hotel Monteleone, which has a rich literary history of its own.  The atmosphere was gorgeous, and the location was central to everything in the French Quarter and beyond. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Speaking of beyond … after the conference was over, a number of us did an escape room. I can now tell you, from primary experience, that if the zombie apocalypse should ever come to pass I will be of no use. We did not escape in the 60 minutes allotted to us, but we had

mystereOutside the Mystere Mansion Escape Rooms

a good time trying to escape the zombie anyway.

I am sure that if I try to list everyone I met, I will forget someone.  However, there simply has not been, in my experience, a more congenial and helpful group of authors and professionals assembled in one place. I am definitely putting this conference on my calendar for next year.

(All photos in this post were taken by the author)

 

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