INTERVIEW: Paul Atreides on behalf of the Las Vegas Writers Conference

Our staff had a conversation with Paul Atreides about the upcoming Las Vegas Writer’s Conference and here are the highlights of that conversation.


LVWCLogoTell us about the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. Who is the keynote speaker this year?

The Henderson Writers Group hosts the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference each April for three days at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall. Well-respected industry professionals, from agents and authors to editors, present workshops on a variety of topics.

The Keynote Address will be given by Larry Brooks during the closing banquet. Brooks is a well known and highly respected leader in the industry. His three best-selling books on writing, published by Writer’s Digest, are go-to resources for writers of all levels. He’s also the author of six novels. His blog Story Fix generates many thousands of views per week where he offers tips on a variety of issues, and story coaching for novelists and screenwriters. Over the course of the event, Brooks will lead workshops and conduct short one-on-one coaching sessions.

How has the conference evolved over the years? What opportunities are available for local writers?

The conference has gotten larger in scope; not to be confused with size. Not to impugn the quality of local authors, editors, or publishers, but we want to pull from the national platform. We love our local people, and we want them to be exposed to new trends, standards, and practices in the publishing business. Dipping from that larger [national] pool of experts provides that opportunity. They’ll also get the chance to pitch their work to agents and acquisition editors, and make those all-important connections. An author may not even choose to pitch his or her work, but making that connection can be quite useful in the future.

How does the conference differ from other regional conferences? What makes it stand out?

Two things make this conference unique and stand above others: First, it is all inclusive. The cost gains a registrant entry to all workshops and panels. There is no additional charge to pitch to agents and acquisition editors as you’ll find with other conferences. And all the meals are provided. That means you won’t pay extra for the final banquet to hear the keynote address.

The second is attendance. Total attendance is deliberately limited to 150, including faculty. Each workshop will have a maximum of 40 people. You aren’t going to be lost in a sea of faces. This gives each person in the room the opportunity to ask questions, and ensures a quality experience for everyone, not to mention more face time with faculty.

What is the First Page Read?

This began a few years ago and proved to be extremely popular. It operates a bit like a lottery in that the pages are selected at random, so there is no guarantee that a page will be read. But, it’s such a terrific learning experience for everyone because it provides a bit of insight into what an agent or publisher looks for in that crucial opening. During the Friday lunch and dinner breaks, we’ll put some of our willing faculty on the dais to listen to first pages of manuscripts, as if they’d received them as part of a submission query. If, at any point, they would stop reading, they raise a hand. Afterward, each person gives a quick critique to explain what stopped them, and what they liked.

It’s also a great way to get your work noticed. As I did last year, a writer may overlook a particular agent or publisher, thinking they wouldn’t be interested in a piece. Last year’s First Page Read panel resulted in a signed contract with a traditional publishing house for me; one I hadn’t considered until the acquisition editor asked for the manuscript.

Attendees may submit as many first pages as they wish at a cost of $5 each. This is the only added fee they will experience, and the proceeds go into a Scholarship fund, which provide local high school students all-access to the final day of the conference, including the banquet and keynote speech.

Who is sponsoring the conference this year?

This year’s conference is sponsored in part by Writer Workshop, a website which provides news on various workshops and conferences around the country. It’s a terrific resource for writers. And by Stone Field Editing Group, another great source of help for writers, whether they are students in need of a bit of tutoring, or authors in need of editing services. They also offer ghostwriting services to the person who has a story to tell but doesn’t know how to go about it.

What is the cost to attend the conference?

The full cost is $475.

What kind of workshops or panels are planned for the conference?

Among the authors presenting workshops is songwriter/producer and dystopian author John Darryl Winston (IA: Initiate, IA: B.O.S.S.), who will present on world building. It’s an important part of any story-telling. Setting a realistic stage helps to fully immerse the reader, whether one is writing a novel in a galaxy far, far away, or writing a contemporary mystery or thriller. Senior editor Frances Seville will be doing a two-session workshop on how to write short fiction – everything from postcard to short novellas. Being able to condense a story to its essence is a good tool to have for any piece of any length.

In addition to the First Page Read, agents Brady McReynolds and Sam Morgan, both of JABberwocky Literary Agency, will present a lunch panel on the red flags to look for when searching for an agent, publisher, or editor. And John Darryl Winston will do a short breakfast panel on his journey from songwriting, with the likes of Quincy Jones and David Foster, to novels, and why he made the leap.

What advice would you give to a local writer who wants to attend the conference, but is new to publishing?

I can’t recommend this conference highly enough for authors of any skill level. The author just starting out will gain a wealth of knowledge and, best of all, the access to faculty makes it even easier. A five minute conversation with Larry Brooks, or author-playwright Elena Hartwell, might give a writer the perfect advice on getting started. Yet, there’s something for everyone, even those who have already been published, whether self or traditionally. We are all still learning, still striving to hone our craft.

For further information and a list of workshops, please visit www.lasvegaswritersconference.com. The conference is scheduled for April 28th – 30th at the Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall

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