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Thank you, SIWC!

I'd heard the Surrey International Writers' Conference was fun but I had no real idea what I was getting into until I read the schedule and wondered how I could be in three places at the same time.

This photo is Steven Galloway, Chair of the Creative Writing Program at UBC and author of Cellist of Sarajevo (read it!) diagramming some good writerly advice in the last workshop of the weekend. I only wish I'd been able to get to his earlier one.

Such great presenters and camaraderie but I have to gloat about the biggest wins personally because I'm (as yet) unpublished and my own strongest advocate:

First agent pitch: 25% through my spiel, she stopped me to tell me about an event in her life that made her relate completely to my story. "Here's my card, send me the entire manuscript."

Blue pencil: 3 pages with check, check, check and enthusiastic response. At the bottom is written: "Get this work out there!"

SIWC's version of IDOL: 1 page only and it must be the opening of the book. 4 agents listen carefully as the piece is read by author Jack Whyte (powerful voice, lovely Scottish accent). When hands go up, the reading stops. Mine made it through to the end with lots of positive feedback.

Second agent pitch: I told her my story like we were having lavernder gimlets together, the official conference cocktail. She asked a few questions, said if I submitted it as non-fiction (it's memoir but reads like fiction) she would want a book proposal, gave me her card and told me to email her.

Four big wins! Could not be happier. Thank you SIWC for an incredibly valuable experience.

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