The SDSU Writers’ Conference has a long history of launching careers by opening doors. This annual conference was among the first to pioneer 1:1 appointments with agents and editors, giving writers unprecedented access to top-tier publishing professionals — many of whom interact with unpublished authors only through conferences.
Among the more than 300 writing enthusiasts/aspiring authors who descended upon the 2015 SDSU Writers’ Conference was Kathy Weyer, who came in search of feedback on her novel Pages. Among her scheduled appointments was an Advance Reading with Sarah Younger, an agent with Nancy Yost Literary Agency.
Advance Reading appointments require submitting the first 10 pages of your manuscript to be read prior to the conference. Attendees also have the option of scheduling a Consultation appointment, which is a Q&A opportunity to pitch your project as a whole and discuss its viability in the marketplace.
Every year, each editor and agent chooses their favorite project(s) for a Conference Choice Award, and Weyer’s was chosen by Younger. We trace Weyer’s SDSU Writers’ Conference experience, and where she is today on her journey to publication.
As you a writer by profession or is it an avocation?
I was a human resource professional and marriage and family therapist, and writing was my escape. Now it’s my full-time work and, since my first book was published, I can call myself a writer — yes, it is my profession.
What project brought you to the 2015 SDSU Writers’ Conference?
Pages is the third in a series of six books that take place in San Diego Heritage Park (one book for each of the six Victorian houses). Pages takes one of the characters, Jade Robinson, and follows her path as she adjusts to a new life after the beloved Iris Anderson dies, for whom she was a companion. Jade comes from a bleak past and is running from a duo from whom she stole $2 million. She opens up a shop for writers and book lovers and we follow her and others we’ve met in the first book, Stitches. The second book is Canvas, and revolves around oil and watercolor painting.
How long have you been working on it?
About a year, going back and forth from Canvas to Pages.
Care to share the opening line or paragraph?
I kind of miss Iris, especially around four o’clock.
“Jade?” she’d screech in her old-lady voice, “It’s tea time!”
Every single afternoon. That first day I thought I’d have to sit like a lady with a crisp linen napkin draped over my knee and sip tea with my pinkie out; we’d have crumpets and an etiquette lesson.
I was wrong. Tea time meant the bar was open. Iris liked her martinis. That’s when she started with the stories.
Could you tell that Sarah was pretty excited about your 10 pages or was it a complete surprise when you heard your name announced as a Conference Choice winner?
Although Sarah was positive and encouraging — she said she loved every bit of it — when my name was announced it was a complete surprise.
Are you still heady with euphoria?
Yes! The ribbon and award hang from my lamp by my computer and I see it all the time — it’s encouraging.
Did she give you any suggestions on reworking the first 10 pages?
She said she had nothing to add, which was astonishing!
Have you sent her your complete manuscript?
It’s not finished yet.
How did you hear about the SDSU Writers’ Conference?
I attended the year before.
What do you think is one of the greatest strengths of the conference?
The professional panels — great information, good guest speakers — and a great, encouraging environment. I come back armed with good information and raring to go.
Had you been querying agents and trying to get representation prior to the conference? If so, what has the response been?
No, I already have a relationship with Wild Rose Press, but was seeing what else was out there. I do have other books in process that I would like to shop around when I’m ready, so it was wonderful to establish relationships there to keep in mind when I’m ready to query. Sarah will be the first to get a query for The Mavens, a book about a group of women I enjoy meeting up with about once a quarter. That one is about half done.
What’s the first book that spoke to you as a young reader?
The Secret Garden, but I don’t know why. The time period, perhaps?
Who’s your favorite author (or top three if it’s hard to choose one)?
Definitely Alice Hoffman — she writes with magic!
What keeps you going in the pursuit of your writing goal?
Ugh — discipline. I have to write 2,000 words a day and most of it’s not useable, but it moves me forward. Once I get going, those 2,000 words start to come together and the further I get into it, the more I can use of it — once I get it on the right track.
Will we see you again at a future conference?
For more information about the SDSU Writers’ Conference, visit neverstoplearning.net/writers