I tried to come up with a really clever post title for my weekend at the Tallahassee Writer's Association conference, but you'll note the reference to exhaustion and hopefully forgive me. But, before I spill my tale, let me announce one of the winners of the SPD blogfest! The other winner is announced over at Colene's blog.
First let me say that I loved reading everyone's post. You guys wrote some awesome stuff! And there were awesome video clips and songs and poems and pics (including some delicious Irish boys). So, it really sucks to have to choose one favorite, and it was a hard decision for me and Colene both. But, that's how contests work. Without further carrying on, the winner is Sarah McCabe! Sarah, please email your mailing address and new release choice to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven't already, go check out Sarah's awesome flash fiction and video clips.
Okay, so I realized that at the conference I got enough fodder for quite a few blog posts. I attended a lot of great workshops with awesome speakers, and I want to pass on what I learned to you. But, I know you guys want to hear about the agents first.
I had my manuscrupt critique session with Katharine Sands of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency at 2:50 in the afternoon on Saturday, and then my pitch with Melissa Flashman of Trident Media Group at 3:10. So, I had almost the whole day to get good and nauseated. I was able to stay distracted in the morning workshops and push off my panic for the most part. But right after lunch, about 1 PM, butterflies pretty much attacked my stomach in a violent manner. I was tripping out! For about an hour. Which seemed. To. Drag. On. For. Eternity.
Then, at around two I started to calm back down. Somehow the nearness of it (the sound of inevitability, right?) (kudos if you get my reference) chilled me out. So, my palms were only sweating a little when I finally stepped into the boardroom with Katharine. Katharine was really nice, and said my writing was strong and she is interested in my story. She pointed out a few things I needed to work on, and said she wants me to submit pages to her after I have. These are the things she noted:
1) My setting was too generic. My novel takes place in NYC, but I didn't make it specific enough. She mentioned that there are lots of different New Yorks: old money New York, drag queen New York, etc. I need to pick the subculture that my characters engage in and flesh it out.
2) She said my opening was really tense and scary (which is the point), but she kept getting distracted wondering what my character is. You know he's something paranormal, but I don't say what. To me, that made it more mysterious, but she said I needed to at least hint at it.
3) Something that surprised me was that she said I actually needed more backstory at the beginning - readers need to know a little about why my villain is stalking my MC.
We talked about some other plot points that she liked and wanted me to develop more. So, it was really great feedback, and I have an invite to submit. Yay!
Directly after my manuscript critique, Melissa called me in, so they were literally back to back. I gave her my pitch, and while I'm sure it wasn't stellar, I remembered all my lines, and delivered them in a natural conversation and didn't strangle on any of my words. Hooray me! I knew from my research ahead of time that Melissa didn't rep any urban fantasy, and she admitted that it wasn't her area of expertise. But, she said her assistant likes urban fantasy and that her assistant vets all the fiction submissions first, and to submit in a couple months when she's back from a medical absence. She also gave me the names of a couple agents that rep my kind of work. She was really cool and laid back.
So, all good stuff! It was a great weekend and I got lots of good feedback and tools for revising my book. Here's a sneak peek of the posts I'll be doing on the workshops I attended:
- Chuck Sambuchino's advice on everything agenty
- Katharine Sands tips on pitching (she actually wrote a whole book about it)
- James Scott Bell on a whole lot of stuff (he's a bestselling thriller author)
- Adrian Fogelin on writing for kids and teens (she's won about a dozen children's writing awards)
- Ron Cooper's exercises for voice and POV
So, I realize that was like a bible-length post. If you're reading this, you rock. Happy Monday, writer friends!