Reporting back from the FictionFest

I ended up at a the Connecticut FictionFest this weekend despite myself. I wanted to go last year but couldn’t because it conflicted with Kiddo#2’s First Holy Communion (I joked at first “I’ll miss you, honey!”) and this year I almost wasn’t able to go either due to schedule issues.  But seven days before the conference, I figured out I could go, and because God looks out for fools, drunks,the United States of America, and me — they still had room.

Going to the conference involved getting up at 5:20 and being in the car by 5:45 AM, leaving my groggy baby in my husband’s arms, and taking off with my coffee and my manuscript. I got there a little after the conference opened at 7:30AM,and thank heaven they had more coffee. In the way conferences always seemed to work, I found The Perfect People when I arrived. I attached myself to the two people in line behind me, one of whom it turned out was interested in Christian inspirational (which I know a bit about) and in turn she saved my bacon by having white-out so I could change my conference-given name from Janet to Jane.

Throughout the day, I met a number of really interesting writers and may even have scored the ultimate prize: a new critique partner. A good beta reader is worth a million dollars. Let’s hope she feels the same!

Another amazing score at the conference: the morning session I attended was about Jungian archetypes and the heroic journey, and learning about the stages, I realized how I should turn my string quartet novel inside out to make it a hundred percent better.  Yes, the guy leading the session just handed me two months worth of work.  Yes, it’ll be worth it.  🙂  Something to hand to the new critique partner.

I also met with an agent and an editor, and both wanted to see part of Honest And For True, so I’ll be sending those shortly.

In the past I went to conferences to see agents and editors. This time, I went to see other writers and take the classes. I wanted to have — and indeed had — great conversations. There was the vicious debate about the evils of the Kindle over lunch, for example. It was fun. There was laughter. There was a guy whose story focuses on luck and then it turned out that six of the door prizes were won by:

1) the person who sat in the chair he’d sat in at lunch

2) the four people who sat near that chair, two chairs in each direction


3) his wife

Tell me that’s not the funniest thing ever.

Overall, it was an awesome conference, and I’m hoping to get there again next year.


  1. Bill Clark

    I never know what to expect at conferences, and since this was only my second (in two years), I went with no expectations. Whatever happens happens, I told myself.

    But, like you, I had an amazing time. Everyone was *so* friendly, and at the end I wound up joining CTRWA so as to stay in touch with my new best friends. (And my in-box has been overflowing with chapter e-mails ever since!)

    As I tried to sort through the whirlygig of experiences the next day, one stood out first and foremost in my mind: I had met someone else who knows about Uriel. I think she even had a tiny sock around her neck that she was knitting for her own guardian angel (did I hear that bit correctly?). She told me how she used to spend hours contemplating the statues in her college chapel of the four Protestant archangels–Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. I told her there is an Episcopal church dedicated to Uriel (in Sea Girt, NJ) and a glorious stained glass window of him by Christopher Whall in Canterbury Cathedral.

    The agents and editors I talked with about Uriel all had the kind of eyes that tend to glaze over quickly when angels are mentioned. But my new philangelist friend had eyes that lit up immediately at his name. It made my whole day.

    So thanks, Jane, for getting up at the crack of dawn and wending your way to Meriden. I suspect our guardian angels probably had it all planned beforehand, don’t you?

    1. philangelus

      I’m never sure what our guardian angels have planned. It probably balances out with the way I either don’t plan anything or else plan it badly.

      The tiny sock was something to keep my hands occupied while waiting for sessions or the like. When I knit for my guardian angel, it’s scarves, and then we donate them.

      For the Sage chapel guys, check this out:
      They’re in the dome over the sanctuary area.

      Thanks for stopping by! It was so much fun talking to you at the conference,and I’m looking forward to reading your book. 🙂

  2. Bill Clark

    O…M…G!! Look at them!! No wonder you spent hours in the chapel. I tried to find pictures of Sage Chapel this morning on the web, sans success. Thanks for the link!

    One good link deserves another:
    Click on “Our Patron Saint” at the upper left to see and read more about him. Do you really think his hair is dark? Both Michelangelo and the NJ church make him blond.

    I’m off to England in two days. I’ll send you a separate e-mail about how to mail you postcards of Uriel and any other angels I may encounter.

    Thanks again!

    1. philangelus

      Oh, I’ve got the full set of those angel windows on my hard drive! I found them online a few years ago and loved them. 🙂

      I imagine Uriel as dark-haired (and messy-haired too) with dark eyes and an unshakeable calm. A lot of the artwork makes angels blonde for reasons I don’t understand. Actually, for a while I had Uriel with purple-black hair. 🙂 But this is usually how I picture Uriel:

  3. littlehouseofpenguins

    Sounds like it was really neat! Glad you got to go and that you enjoyed it.