Surrey, how I adore you…


Room party!

It has taken me two whole days of recuperation to coherently put a blog post together.

All I can say is, if you’re a writer, and you have not yet been to a conference, you MUST GO. And while I heard some nightmare stories about several other cons from various folks who’d gone in either amateur or professional capacities, I heard only good things about Surrey. And now I believe the hype.

Imagine a ton of people, just like you, who hear the voices in their heads, who create strange worlds (or like me, visit the one we’re in 100 or so years ago), and who all come together for three or four days. They listen to those who work in the field, they get advice, and they attempt to break into the big time by putting their foot on the first rung of that ladder (using agent and editor pitch appointments…).

It’s a pretty heady place to be. Especially if you get good feedback on your Blue Pencil appointment or a positive response to your pitch. I had both.

The agent I pitched to was honest with me initially, saying she was having a problem with selling something sort of like mine (that really isn’t, but only Hollywood related), but she also wondered if it might be the other writer’s voice that was the issue. I explained that the one thing everyone comments on after reading mine is that they love the voice. She dug my platform, and wanted to hear about the other books I was working on in a similar vein. When I was done, she requested a full. So I’ve been spending my days cleaning it up, and I also tweaked it to include the bit of feedback that I received from my Blue Pencil writer, Susanna Kearsley. If you haven’t bought any of her books, you must. Especially if you like the old gothics like Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt.

I had really been at a bit of a low ebb before I went, wondering if it was worth it, and not knowing if my stuff was any good. It’s one thing to have your betas or your writing group telling you something, but when it’s echoed by someone who has been there, and who is able to lend it a discerning eye and still tell you that you have a great voice and that you can write, that means everything. All it took was that little pat on the back, and I was able to take that confidence to my pitch and not freak the fuck out as I was doing it. Susanna’s keynote address also helped with that. I am not an “aspiring” writer. I’m a writer. I have to force myself to remember that sometimes, but it’s true.

Plus, now I know the importance of the bar networking. My first night or so, I was so new, and didn’t know anyone, so I was kind of staying to myself until the sessions began. But I did end up meeting some great gals in the bar, and much wine was drunk. Next year, I will milk every minute even more than I did this year. I still came home with an amazing new bunch of friends, and a thick stack of business cards. Next year, I’m determined to meet EVERYBODY. Or at least say hello to some of the more prominent folk, some of whom I was a little too intimidated to talk to this year. They’re too nice not to talk to!

For those of you considering it for next year…



  1. Martin Crosbie
    Martin Crosbie
    October 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I agree. Surrey is the only conference I’ve attended, this was my second year, and it’s been so good for me. Hope to be able to meet you when you attend next year. Great article, enjoyed reading it.

    • sepiastories
      October 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Hope to meet you too, Martin. I’ll be much friendlier next year, having that bit of experience under my belt!

  2. Shawn Bird
    October 27, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Oh yes. Oh yes. Oh yes. Next year, I hope I’ll actually get my reservation at the Sheraton to go through, so I don’t waste a minute travelling even 1 km! I will be tidying up and posting my workshop notes, so stay tuned!

    Saturday night I met Randy McCharles from Calgary. I discovered he runs a quite well respected conference there, and IT’S ONLY $50!! I intend to check it out this August. (Meals not included, obviously).

    • sepiastories
      October 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Yep, I met Randy several times. And I’ve been meaning to check out his link. Thanks for reminding me! 🙂