This is going to be quick...
Let me say my time at the Surrey International Writers Conference was --- what shall I say ---
The writer that went into that conference on Friday morning no longer exists.
As the conference continued I found myself getting more and more focused; so much so that I noticed on Sunday I was no longer taking notes that read as general writing advice and was, instead, making notes like:
Raise character name's stakes by doing this.
Give character name a ticking clock.
Lose character name's backstory and give vital info through dialogue with character name.
Yes, I met and shared conversations and meals with authors I truly admire. I took workshops from many authors, editors and agents who are not only gifted at their jobs, but can teach.
And --- one more thing...
The agent I pitched to was intrigued by my novel's title (and wanted the story behind it), said "You'd be a perfect fit for...and named a publishing house", loved that it's the potential beginning of a series, and wants me to send her the first 50 pages.
As I said to someone over the weekend, I haven't won the race, but I'm off the warm up track and the door opened on the starting gate. (I may have read too many Dick Francis in my life -- sorry, I digress)