Expectations and Hopes Rewarded: Superstars Writing Seminar 2013 in Review

I went to the Superstars Writing Seminar filled with expectations and hopes.  I expected that I would meet a diverse group of talented writers and hoped that I would leave with a few more friends.  I expected to learn from veterans and hoped that I could grow my career with that knowledge.  I expected that the seminar would be intense and I hoped that I would leave invigorated, inspired and ready to write.  Little did I know that Superstars would deliver on all fronts.  In spades.

Before the seminar, I had a handful of friends that actively supported my writing.  In fact, networking was one of my primary interests in the seminar.  In my anticipatory post, months before the seminar, I commented how Superstars was helping me reach out, enfolding me in the ever growing community of attendees and alumni.  It wasn’t until the seminar, however, that I found I had more than a group of friends and contacts.  I had been welcomed into a tribe.  People who understood what I was going through, genuinely wanted me to succeed and to celebrate those successes with me.

The superstar speakers teaching at the seminar were top tier professionals.  They were friendly, approachable and eager to share their insider perspective.  Through the course of the seminar, I took 26 typed pages of notes and still felt the need to buy the MP3 recordings of the sessions to listen again for details that I missed.

Pannel of Superstar speakers.  SSWS 2013

Left to Right: Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Kevin J Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, James A. Owen, Eric Flint, Tracy Hickman. Not pictured: Joan Johnston and Jim Minz

My absolute favorite presentation was when Eric Flint guided us through a book contract, explaining each clause in detail, what was normal for the industry and what points we should expect to concede on as young writers.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the sessions on trademark and copyright, the economics of publishing, publicity and self-promotion, the “Drawing Out the Dragons” talk, and the day we spent on indie pub/epub and how these revolutions are shaping the landscape of the business.  Those are only the highest of the high points of the seminar for me.  There were no wasted minutes.

My personal experience with meeting publishing professionals ranges from those who didn’t have the time of day for me and wanted me to know it, to those who would have loved to engage me had it not been for the thousand other demands on their time and attention.  These problems were noticeably absent with the Superstars.  The very first night, I sat with Joan Johnston at dinner and she advised me on a romantic subplot I had been struggling with.  I practiced pitching my manuscript with Tracy Hickman and received encouragement and inspiration from James A Owen.  I became beer buddies with Mark Leslie Lefebvre and had the pleasure of enjoying steaks with Eric Flint.  The last night, I sat with Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta and watched the new Star Trek movie.  For the first time, I interacted with professionals who viewed me as an actual person, a less experienced peer.

So, was the Superstars Writing Seminar worth every penny I spent on the experience?  Absolutely.  And that’s a lot of pennies.  Should you go next year?  I intend to return, but the real question for you is: do you want to take that next step to being a pro?

4 Responses

  1. I just want to echo all you said. Superstars was an incredible experience– for the reasons you mentioned– approachable mentors, friendly peers, enthusiasm for a shared craft. Lovely! Thanks for posting about it. 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you came to Superstars and I had a chance to meet you. Great post too. Stay in touch and see you at next year’s Superstars, if not sooner.

    • Nathan Barra says:

      Thanks Nancy! It was a pleasure to meet you too. I’m glad that Kevin had someone with your organizational skills and guts to help lead the backstage work. You really helped make the whole experience better for me personally and the group of students as a whole. Don’t worry, I plan to keep in touch so long as you promise the same. 🙂

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