Head in the Clouds

Sunset, High Dynamic Range Image

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Update from the Writers Conference fiasco.  The last posting discussed the silver lining of the literary agent willing to hear my pitch via phone, which I had on Saturday this past weekend.

I wasn’t quite on pins and needles like I’m sure I would have been for our in-person pitch session.  Over the phone seems a little less nervous.  But I was still a little anxious.  I knew my pitch, I know the manuscript backwards and forwards, know every little in-and-out of every character and setting.  But I’d never ‘pitched’ to an agent before. So when the call came around 1pm, my son was still napping, which I’m eternally grateful for.  To have a 2-year-old screaming in the background would have been a little mortifying (even if I had to huddle in my closet with my laptop in front of me). Funny picture? Yeah, that would have been me.

The call was fabulous! She had such great questions about my story, about my writing goals, and I loved the feel of the ‘conversation’ during the pitch.  It wasn’t me just talking about the story or myself.  It was a brief pitch of the story, and actual back-and-forth questions about it. Questions about what market I was targeting, other authors I thought it compared to, what her preferences were for the genre, etc. A nice discussion.

And now my head is in the clouds.  She requested the full manuscript. SWEET!!!! My first full MS request.

But, I know I can’t stay in the clouds for too long.  Because I don’t want to be dropped at 20,000ft.  I’d rather be dropped from 100ft. (Or not dropped at all, but always be prepared for every scenario, right?)  But I will say, the clouds are pretty up here!

*Sweet sigh* Back to writing I go!

First Writers Conference Fiasco

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

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My excitement for my first writers conference this past weekend (as I wore my proverbial red slippers) was dashed and I ended up missing the parties, the second half of workshops, and regretfully my pitch appointment.  The catalyst that made me miss the most anticipated event in my writing career for the last 6 months: an evil bottle of antibiotic pills with side effects from purgatory.  Yes, my yellow-brick road to glory, or at least to enlightenment, fell out from underneath me because of PILLS.

I won’t get into any specifics of what the pills were for or the details of the side effects, but they made me a useless human being who could barely stand.  Out of respect for everyone at the conference, I left on Saturday afternoon to wallow in my painful misery.  I hoped the symptoms would subside overnight and I could go back to the DFW Writers Conference and my pitch appointment on Sunday, but I was not so lucky.

However, an unexpected and gracious silver lining emerged from my fiasco.  My critique partner was also at the conference and she passed along the message to the conference organizers that I was sick and had to cancel my appointment.  And from the inner workings of the great Wizard of Oz, the agent whom I waited for months to meet contacted me via Twitter and conveyed her wishes that I feel better soon and hoped to hear from me.  In addition, she’s offered to still hear my pitch via phone, a week after the conference has ended.

This particular agent is now my favorite.  As much as I respected her before and hoped to become one of her precious clients, that’s only increased ten fold.  Whether she likes my pitch or not, she will still be my favorite and I will always hold her in high esteem.  The epitome of a class act if I’ve ever seen one.

The brief amount of time I spent at the conference on Saturday was wonderful! I heard Sandra Brown’s keynote address (she is hilarious by the way- if you ever get to hear her speak, GO!), attended 4 workshops that opened my eyes even wider than they already were, and braved the anticipated, yet dreaded, GONG SHOW!  This was so cool. A panel of 5-6 judges (all agents or editors) sat up front with their own personal oriental gong. The announcer started to read various query letters that attendees submitted.  The judges would ‘gong’ out whenever they would have stopped reading.  When 3 or more judges had ‘gonged’, they would explain why they didn’t care for it, and they’d move on to the next query.

This whole process was freakin’ brutal.  Anyone who submitted a query subjected themselves to a tremendous risk of humiliation.  Thankfully, the queries were kept anonymous, so if you were gonged in the first sentence, no one would have known it was yours.  And these agents were hilariously relentless.  This became next to a standup comedy routine on several.  But one of the great aspects of the Gong Show was how many partials and full manuscript requests came from it.  That part was incredible!

I missed when my query was read. But my critique partner said I was gonged after the third sentence.  Not terrible.  But not great.  I clearly have some work to do on my query.

So, *sigh* I have to wait another year to attend the next writers conference in my area. Medication chucked in the trash, I know better for next year. But it’s hard to handle the frustration I feel of how I missed my first beloved writers conference.  Have you ever missed a writers conference for something as ridiculous as medication side effects?

Gearing Up for Writer’s Conference

I AM a Writer

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I have the exciting and nerve-wracking joy of gearing up for my very first writer’s conference at the end of February.  The DFW Writer’s Conference, hosted by the DFW Writer’s Workshop, has dozens of agents and publishers scheduled to attend, and I have anxiously submitted my request for which agents I would like to spend my 5-minute pitch session with (I get 1 session).  And the keynote speaker is *drumroll* Sandra Brown!  That’s right, people.  THE Sandra Brown!!!

I have a lot of the big stuff already taken care of.  I’ve registered, paid, have a finished manuscript (woohoo!), and perused the list of workshop titles I’d love to sit in on.  But I begin the strenuous task of creating my ‘pitch.’  I have 5 minutes with an agent/editor.  They suggest you make your pitch no more than 1-2 minutes, leaving the rest of the session for questions and/or feedback.  Essentially, I need to create an elevator pitch.  All sales folks know what an elevator pitch is.  But for you non-sales-oriented-folk, an elevator pitch is simply this:  if you’re in an elevator with the 1 decision maker on something you need, you normally only have about 4-5 floors of their undivided attention.  So you have 20 seconds (or however long it takes to go up 4-5 floors) to make your point.  Summarize your story in a gut-capturing way that makes it impossible for them to turn away. (Meaning, you make your pitch irresistible, not physically hold them hostage in the elevator- that just makes you creepy.)

So I need to shove my 71,000 word novel into a 2-minute teaser.  Sound easy?  It’s not.  At least not for me.  One of my biggest attributes is using 40 words to say something that should only take 10.  So that’s what I will work on over the next few weeks- my pitch.  And try to keep my skin from itching all over the place with anticipation for my first conference.

Writers conferences are a priceless wealth of information for all aspiring authors (and current authors).  The advice and real-life stories we get from others who have broken into the cutthroat publishing industry is more valuable than any self-help book sitting on my shelf today (according to those who have been to a conference).  I’d really love to go to the Romance Writers of America conference in New York in late Spring, but there’s no way I can afford that.  But can you imagine all of the visibility available at that conference?  Where most of the publishing industry is headquartered???  Oh that would be so wonderful!

But alas, *sigh* my dreams are big and will take time.  Small steps… and keep writing.