When Sherri Shackelford and I made plans to go to New York for the Writers Digest Conference it seemed like a long time away, but our departure day was upon us before we knew it. Thank goodness we had the foresight to plan and purchase tickets in advance for the things we wanted to see and do, because priority lines were a snap, while others were impossibly long. Those impulsively deciding to go on a statue cruise waited hours, while we got right on the ferry.
For Nebraska girls, New York City was like another world, filled with scurrying people, cabs, buses and strollers, all vying to be first. Our introduction to the city couldn’t have been better, because two handsome young men picked us up and gave us history and geology lessons while dodging traffic like pros. I never knew Manhattan was built entirely on solid granite, except for one strip of marshland, which is The Village. The granite was clearly visible in Central Park as well as in the foundations of the Twin Towers, which remain on display at the 9-11 museum.
After the hustle and bustle of Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Station, the 9-11 memorial was the quietest place in New York. I was especially thankful to see it opening this past Spring, knowing I’d be able to visit. There isn’t a person over 15 or 16 who doesn’t remember that day vividly. The images are familiar. The atmosphere is respectful.
The city truly never sleeps, and has a heartbeat all its own. We’ve already made plans to return. We stood on Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants entered on their way to new lives in America. We touched the names on the reflection pool which honors all those killed in the cruelest act of terrorism our country has known. We walked the streets where Funny Girl, Saturday Night Fever, Ghostbusters and You’ve Got Mail, among many, many other iconic movies were filmed. We listened to street musicians and saw a Broadway Show, ate at The Four Seasons, sat in Irish pubs, chatted with New Yorkers in delis, got separated at the top of 30 Rock, even bought metro cards took the subway, and those experiences only whetted our appetites for more.
Writers Digest plans an extremely well-organized and professional conference with a lot of energy and information. It was held in the historic Roosevelt Hotel on 45th & Madison. Agents and editors took pitches, which they call Pitch Slam. My editor was on a panel the first evening. The workshops I gave were well attended, and it was especially fun to read all the tweets containing quotes afterward. I learned all about metadata and amazon keywords and soaked in info on using social media to my advantage. In an atmosphere different than I’m used to at other conferences, I met writers from all over and enjoyed hearing their stories and about their writing. There’s nothing like getting a bunch of writers together. We get each other in a way no one else does. This was my first conference as a Writers Digest author, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Cheryl St.John is the award-winning author of fifty Harlequin and Silhouette books, which include historical romance as well as contemporary. She was a voracious reader and admits her early passion was for horror and true crime. Eventually she read Victoria Holt and Catherine Cookson, but one fateful day browsing the book section, she took a chance on a different genre and bought Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer, then promptly drove back to the store for The Rainbow Season by Lisa Gregory. She was immediately taken by historical romance, enthralled by Americana, the American West and hooked for life.
And so, when she got serious and decided to write a book, it was, of course, a romance. A very badly written and poorly plotted romance. But eventually she joined Romance Writers of America and her local chapter (then Romance Authors of the Heartland), Heartland Writers Group, and was fortunate to have the late Diane Wicker Davis as her first mentor.
Her book on writing, Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict, released by Writers Digest Books, is available in print and ebook.
Cheryl believes in paying it forward, and her some of her most rewarding experiences have been sharing in the successes of writers she has coached over the years.
Cheryl loves hearing from readers.
email her at: SaintJohn@aol.com.
Visit her on the web: http://www.cherylstjohn.net/
Read her blog, From the Heart: http://cherylstjohn.blogspot.com/
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