Wow, I’m spent and it’s only day two.
I’d forgotten how exhausting this conference can be.
There are three workshop/panel sessions every day except Sunday, when there are only two. Each is 90 minutes long.
Factor in the two keynote speeches per day and the evening events, plus the blue pencil sessions with writers and the pitch sessions with agents and editors, and that’s a lot of information to take in over a four-day period.
Not to mention there are hundreds of friendly writers to talk to. You will meet so many people writing so many wonderful-sounding books in so many different genres it will make your head spin.
For example, just today I met:
- a woman who writes Young Adult fiction partially set in North Korea
- a guy who writes sci-fi horror about zombies
- two adorable young sisters who collaborate on Young Adult books
- a woman who practices a sword-fighting martial art and who has created a literary magazine
- another woman who writes a thriller set on a commune
- and two romance writers–one sci-fi romance and one historical.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
Today was the day I pitched Dragonfly Summer to an American agent and an editor from Penguin. Both were interested in my genres–psychological suspense, paranormal mystery, and horror, so I was very excited. These days it seems like everyone is looking for YA and nothing but YA (and NA).
I had awesome chats with both women. I talked about the symbolism of dragonflies with the agent and the lack of really good, slow-build, ominously spooky stories with the editor. It was enough to calm my nerves and make me feel better about pitching again.
I walked away with requests for the full manuscript and for a partial, which is fantastic.
But I also discovered why I was so nervous.
Dragonfly Summer is not an easy book to pitch. The teaser line I have down, but when they want to know more, it’s easy to ramble. It’s not a book I can sum up neatly yet, and I think that’s why I felt so nervous about it. It’s much simpler when you have a query letter and you can take the time you need to explain the story in writing. If you read off a query letter paragraph during a pitch session, you’ll sound like a dork.
Oh well. I did the best I could and it’s the writing that will really make up their minds, anyway. The pitch is just the foot in the door.
I’m hoping to get one more appointment with an agent tomorrow, and then I have a blue pencil session with mystery writer Hallie Ephron.
One of the best moments of the conference so far? While I was waiting for the editor appointment, a woman recognized me from Jack Whyte’s masterclass.
“I loved your story! It was my favorite,” she said. “I told my husband all about it. Yours was the best.”
And that will always mean more to me than anything else, because it came from a reader. Ultimately, after myself, that’s who I am writing for.
Just like you.
Thanks for reading!