Last November, I attended the BackSpace Writer's Conference in New York City. I learned a TON about the publishing business, and the feedback on MINDER kept me in rewrites for seven weeks.
The first morning session, though, yielded the best quote of the entire conference:
(Regarding personal information in query letters)
DF: Don't tell me you have a cat. You're a writer; of course you have a cat!
To me, that's right up there with:
Homer Simpson: Animals are crapping on our houses, and we're cleaning it up! Did we lose a war?
I also learned that, if you have enough teenage boys helping you remodel your house, there's a good chance that your old bathtub will end up lodged in a tree in the yard. Thanks for sharing that story, GP!
There's no deep message here, except that the parts of the writer's conference that stuck with me were the great line and the great story. The basic stuff to improve my craft got internalized: don't overwrite, don't under-emote, show-don't-tell, and avoid the passive voice. But the parts I remember best were the charming little details. I think it's the same with a good book, as well.