DFW Con 2019, the 2020 Online Version

For the past several years, I’ve been on the steering committee for DFWCon, the DFW Writers Conference, put on by the members of the DFW Writers Workshop. Before the pandemic, we’d get 350-400 attendees and had some great keynote speakers. Each year,  it takes us several months of weekly meetings to gather agents to take pitches, set up educational session teachers, set up the hotels, and organize the whole circus. There were 8-10 of us volunteering, and truthfully, it’s a lot of work.

Then came Covid. We were into the planning for the June 2020 edition when it became apparent the prudent thing to do was cancel the Con. We argued for weeks, but a doctor of microbiology and a forensic scientist with the county medical office are on the committee. We heard the science firsthand and no matter how much we wanted to have the conference, putting 400 people at risk was not something we were prepared to do. Things hadn’t improved enough when our deadline to book hotels and airfare for speakers and agents in 2021, so we postponed the June conference to October. And Covid doubled down with the Delta variant. And one member of our committee came down with it. Thanks for that, Universe.

Last week we held our first virtual DFW Writers Conference. We kept it smaller because, having never put on a virtual con, we were building the parachute on the way down. It was a scramble as the decision to go virtual wasn’t made until about six weeks before the curtain went up. Fortunately, Jason Myers and Steve Manning, the Con directors, are exceptional problem solvers and work their butts off nights and weekends to make this event happen. Scheduling classes, recruiting agents. Figuring out how to make Zoom classes work. I could shout out the whole team because everyone went above and beyond to keep the Con alive.

My part of the conference was working on the pitch team and coordinating the Zoom-based pitch opportunities that come with every registration. We had agents and editors Zoom in from all over the country to take pitches for books, offer advice and hopefully ask for some sample pages or, better still, the entire manuscript. I saw quite a few happy writers come out of pitches.

I also presented a class on the fundamentals of getting started in screenwriting. It was well-received, but it was bizarre presenting to a computer screen and not seeing the class/audience.

All in all, it seemed to go well. We’ve heard good feedback, and one member of the team who didn’t want to do the online version even said he thought we should consider a hybrid version for folks who can’t make it in person.

But man, am I glad we’re through that. Hopefully, we can get back to the Con we know and enjoy, live and in-person, come June 2022.

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