I've just enjoyed the most amazing weekend at my literary agent Selwa Anthony's annual Sassy event.
As far as I know, Selwa is the only agent who holds a yearly conference and awards night for her family of authors.
I say 'family', because once Selwa takes you under your wing, you are part of a family, not just a name or number.
Each year, as many of Selwa's authors as possible get together with publishers, editors, writers, and other amazingly talented people in the book industry.
It's a time for encouragement, inspiration and motivation. The environment is supportive as authors share their journeys towards publication, and also form life-long friendships. Amazingly, Selwa has been doing this for 16 years, and each year just gets better.
I love it.
I missed last year's Sassy event, because I was living in New Zealand. Although the airfares were good, the extra time needing to be factored in for customs etc, just made it unworkable.
This year, after a massive lifestyle change and marriage breakdown, I wasn't going to attend because I couldn't afford it. And also, I felt I'd be a fraud to take a place at Sassy, when I hadn't yet followed up on my previous book Happily Ever Parted. (Yes, there's a bit of irony in that, isn't there?)
Anyway, in stepped Selwa, who said that my reasons for not attending, were exactly the reasons I should go.
And not only that, because of my rather delicate financial position, she would cover the cost of attending the conference and dinner.
And that is where Selwa is so different from any other agent in Australia. She is an extremely generous soul, who is always supportive of her writers. Some writers at Sassy talked about how long it had taken to get their books to publication (ten years in some cases), but Selwa had stuck with them, guiding, motivating, suggesting changes, and getting them fantastic book deals.
I've been motivated by her faith in me, and I've been inspired by the lovely, talented people I met and/or reconnected with over the weekend.
With my conference costs covered, I still had to shell out for airfares and accommodation, so attending Sassy was still going to be tricky.
First, I contacted VirginBlue, who, to my surprise, agreed to sponsor my flights. I've always been a VirginBlue fan, and even wrote for their in-flight magazine Voyeur several times during my travel writing years. The fact that VirginBlue so quickly agreed to help get me to Sydney is just another example of a company which takes its role as a good corporate citizen extremely seriously.
That left accommodation. Unfortunately, the Sassy venue, Swissotel in Sydney declined to sponsor me, which is fair enough. So I got out the credit card and charged it, looking at it as an investment in my career. (I may have closed my eyes, covered my ears, and gone "lalalalalala" as I paid the bill.)
So along with taxis, hotel, and airport parking charges, it was a still an expensive weekend, but I believe it was worth every cent.
Because I'm worth it.
Thanks Selwa and your wonderful team, and also to Virgin Blue. Love you long time!
One view from my room at the Swissotel Sydney
Nice, huh? No one leaping off at regular intervals like at the Auckland Sky Tower though!
It was kind of a water view
My room, before I had a chance to mess it up!
My favourite part, the big bath. And see? There are two nozzles so you can actually wash your hair in the bath. We need one of these for bath-loving Miss 7.
So, has anyone else invested in their future and/or careers? And how did it turn out?