Those Magic Moments

  • By Laura Hazan
  • May 17, 2023

Thanks for an amazing 2023 Washington Writers Conference!

Those Magic Moments

The word “magical” was mentioned several times during the Independent’s 10th annual Washington Writers Conference last Friday and Saturday. But the excellent panels, authors, networking opportunities, agent pitches, and building of the writing community were only part of the magic.

As always, I want to start by thanking our volunteers. This event would not happen without the dedicated members of our planning committee. From programming to agents to hotel logistics and everything in between, this committee worked on every detail. Then they arrived at the Marriott on conference day and continued to help out. Each person behind the registration desk and the pitch desk, as well as everyone assisting with the panels, was a volunteer. Thank you for creating magic.

Our panelists conjured their own magic with tales from debut authors, chills from horror novelists, news from assorted corners of the publishing world, insider scoops on the glitz of Hollywood, and tips from workshop leaders on everything from finding an agent to hiring a publicist. You can’t get much more magical than hearing firsthand from a New York Times bestselling author!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the magic happening in the pitch room, too, where 19 literary agents heard over 650 pitches from writers seeking representation. The room was abuzz all day long with eager queries, questions, and (for many elated folks) requests for materials. Every year, we have a few attendees land an agent. We can’t wait to hear the good news about who it is this time.

While budding writing relationships were nurtured Friday night and all day Saturday, actual futures were predicted Saturday evening. After a whole day of taking pitches, Jennifer Chen Tran from Folio Management sat at a table and read Tarot cards for interested attendees. I hope the cards’ magic foretold many bestsellers to come!

Finally, the Washington Writers Conference also wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful sponsors, the Writer’s Center and the Gaithersburg Book Festival. The Writer’s Center provides year-round classes and programming to keep our creative skills sharp, while the annual Gaithersburg Book Festival (which happens this Saturday, May 20th!) is a free, daylong celebration of all things literary. If you go to either, please mention that you heard about them at the Washington Writers Conference.

I’ve no doubt missed somebody in this wrap-up, but if you had anything to do with the conference — from organizing it to attending — I thank you. Author Elizabeth Gilbert describes the creative process as “big magic.” Here’s hoping you take all the magic from the 10th annual Washington Writers Conference and create something big out of it. We’ll see you in 2024!

[Photos c. Bruce Guthrie.]

Librarian Laura Hazan is chair of the Washington Writers Conference.

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