Tag Archives: WANACon

WANACon Vs Whistling Frogs

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‘Did you see JK Rowling in the mirror this morning?’ – Daven Anderson

A few months ago, I wrote about why I went to WANACon for the first time. I’m going to talk about why I went again this weekend, despite being faced with the distraction of whistling frogs. It was because I *knew* this digital writers’ conference would live up to its last installment. And it was well worth some creative logistical leaps to make attendance possible.

My Dad’s visiting from the UK and got into town on Friday. We planned a trip to the remote Catlins Coast, a 4 hour trip from my home in Queenstown NZ (& full of cute whistling frogs). Living half a world away, I don’t see my parents very much, so was obviously planning to treasure the trip. But horror of horrors! I realised it would clash with WANACon – such an important conference to attend at this pre-published point in my writing career.

So, I booked somewhere with wifi – The Whistling Frog Holiday Park. And it was awesome. There was a mixture of sunshine and storms (typical NZ), so it wasn’t their fault the wifi was… questionable. Also, you could gain free wifi vouchers if you spent money in the cafe (read bar) – match made in heaven :p I got up at dawn to watch as many sessions as possible – and now I’m catching up on everything I missed, because there are *recordings* and there was a high level of internet interference / teddies thrown out of pram in the wilderness.

Alongside a visit to Teapot World (A garden containing 776 teapots – worth a visit. I’m not kidding), some wonderful waterfalls, a petrified forest by the sea, caves alongside sandy beaches, rare penguin sightings… I got to see some of the most valuable names in the new world of small press, self-publishing, writing, web-building & branding – all imparting their wisdom while I sipped tea in my PJs and shook my fist at the signal strength / weather.

Since the last WANACon, I have had a website built by Laird Sapir & hosted by Jay Donovan, both WANA presenters/professionals; I have won NaNoWriMo and am revising a book for publication; I have met *amazing* bestselling authors, pre-published authors and many authors in between; and I have continued to *learn a lot* from the wonderful resources shared by writers, editors and craft experts who agree with WANA’s main principle – We Are Not Alone.

I’m reminded of this principle every time I connect with someone new, having found their blog through WANA. Every time someone tweets me an encouraging response on Twitter, having read a tweet of mine through #MyWANA. Every time I have a burning question answered, expertly and honestly, by someone who wants to help because they know me through WANA. All the WANA enthusiasts seem to embrace my motto – make the right mark.

So, thank you Kristen Lamb & everyone who presented at WANACon! It was just wonderful. And for my non-writey readers who might be a bit baffled by some of the above – here is a picture of a *really* rare penguin 🙂 Whatever your passion, have you found a forum where you can enjoy support and friendship in its pursuit? I hope so – it’s worth finding!

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Why I Went To WanaCon


Image by Cellar Door Films sharing in WANA Commons

‘Let us be grateful to people who make us happy,

they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom’

– Marcel Proust

In November I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Before this weekend I hadn’t even heard of it. On Wednesday, I’m meeting with Laird Sapir of Memphis McKay and Jay Donovan of TechSurgeons, neither of whom I knew of before this weekend, to help me achieve a professional business/author website, something my technically-challenged self has been struggling with for a while. I’ve attended craft lessons from best-selling authors and technology lessons from social-media experts. I’ve started a brilliant new book – Firelands by Piper Bayard, which wasn’t on my radar. I’ve laughed. A lot. I’ve made new friends on Twitter – but most importantly, in real life. I’ve met Kristen Lamb. All of this came from the best last-minute decision I’ve ever made – to sign up for WANACon, a digital worldwide writers’ conference. 

My return on investment? More than taken care of in the first half an hour of attending well-structured, easily accessible sessions and meeting the presenters and attendees. Over the last year, I’ve been reevaluating many of my old romantic notions. My previous (and unrealised) imagining of Sara The Writer was someone sitting loftily alone in an attic study, quill in hand, writing beauteous prose and bestowing it upon the world (and the world loved it). Sara The Writer would attend writers’ conferences, but in person and would never have thought to travel to one when not yet published by a big name publisher. Wow, what a turnaround. I’m pre-published, I’ve embraced the digital age and the indie age, and I’ve learnt this last month exactly what WANA stands for – We Are Not Alone. 

How amazing how much so many want to share – their time; their wisdom; their support. Writers here aren’t acting as rivals – they are cheering each other on, with words of encouragement from their own experience. I think a strong network can be the difference between success and failure. After discovering the ‘WANA Way’ and attending WANACon, I think I’m on the right path. 

But before I knew all this, why did I go? It’s because I practise what I preach. I believed in the idea as it was presented to me, so I followed through. It wasn’t just for published authors so being pre-published shouldn’t stop someone. If it had been a physical conference I could have travelled to, I would have. But if it had been a physical conference in the US, I couldn’t have. So being online was a bonus. I went because of posts like this one, from Kristen Lamb’s blog – Doubt, Fear, False Alarms & “Giving Birth” To Our Dreams. I lost sight of my dreams and have piles of unfinished masterpieces lying around. At least I started writing again. Now, I’m actually going to finish something! And I’m going to do it surrounded by inspirational people actively motivating me to do so.

Do you feel alone? I’m not just talking to writers, but everyone, whatever it is you do.  Don’t be an island. There is so much more joy and comfort in joining up with people who have the same loves and the same struggles. With the wonder of the internet, we can now connect with such people, even if they’re nowhere to be found nearby. We can all help each other. We are not alone.