When I arrived, I got my badge and located the room for the key-note speaker to speak her key-notes. Everyone seemed excited about the day ahead. It was WAYYYYYY early. I don't much like getting up at 7:30, let alone being somewhere at 7:30. My natural body clock says go sleepy at 1am and wake whenever you damn well feel like it. Jaden decided early on I should get up at 7:30 and tend to his needs. I'm willing to give him that until he turns 12 and wants to start sleeping til noon. I will then go into his room at 7:30 with a foghorn and blast away.
Karin Slaughter rocked the key-note. Very funny and offered some insight to her LONG journey to becoming a published author. Very quickly after her speech, we had to decide which of the breakout sessions we wanted to go to. Yikes! Not ready to make a decision/commitment just yet. Need more espresso. I decided to use my quantum physics expertise and open up a few parallel universes so I could attend the different sessions simultaneously. This had worked exceptionally well in the past. Turns out, portals refuse to open at 7:30 in the morning, and I had to laugh. Who would have thought quantum physics was on the same body clock as me?
I went to the session called Get Known Before the Book Deal: A Platform Primer by Christina Katz. Christina had been sitting directly behind me for the key-note and had a great laugh and smile. I love great laughs and smiles as they are usually home to a real warm person. She knew her stuff! After I left, I realized I have a heck of a lot of work ahead of me. One thing I needed to do was write a blog. Someday, I'll get to it, I guess.
The next session I was going to go to was Self Promotion and Social Networking. I've always been a shameless self-promoter. This seemed right up my ally. Thing was, in the next room was an Ask the Agents panel. And I started thinking, I should probably see what that's about. Aren't I here mainly for the Pitch Slam? And aren't half of the participants at Pitch Slam going to be agents? Ah, right.
In I went. I met a charming dude by the door and he thought I would get on well with his wife. This post could take an abrupt turn here, but rest assured, he just thought that since she was a writer and I was a writer and we both wrote for children, and I seemed kind of cool and she was kind of cool - that sort of thing - we should hang a bit and learn about this whole thing together. So he introduced us. And we became friends. She has an amazing YA story - the concept just blew me away. Go read her blog - http://mindifiwrite.blogspot.com
So there we were together listening to all these agents speak about their wants and needs. It was here that I first listened to, met, and fell madly in love with Janet Reid - rockstar agent, blogger, lover of fine scotch, and filled with the kind of dripping, salacious badassness that usually comes only from the mind of Quentin Tarantino. Go read her blog - http://jetreidliterary2.blogspot.com
Alicia (the dude's wife!) and I sat there when the session was over and continued speaking about what we'd learned about the industry thus far, what we wanted to do with our lives, and how we were going to get there. She'd sent out a bunch of queries for her novel and had some really great feedback. In fact, she had actually already had requests for her MS from a handful of agents she was going to meet there! One was the lovely Christine Witthohn, from Book Cents Literary Agency, who'd actually called her after reading the full manuscript! Christine had some editorial advice not terribly unlike Faye had for me. Alicia had since resubmitted and was waiting to hear from her. Sound familiar? (EDIT - Alicia let me know I had that completely wrong. This was no surprise to me as my wife is constantly telling me I do stuff wrong. Apparently, Christine called her after reading Alicia's query and told her that she needed to cut the word count down. So anyway - now back to the original post)
We realized there was an actual lunch for us, so we sprinted across the Javits Center looking for it. After a few near hits, we finally found the room and missed out on all the goodies. Oh well.
Fate has always been good to me. Timing has as well. This time, it was when my bladder told me it was time to go to the bathroom. I left the lunch room and asked the first person I saw where the bathroom might be located. This person happened to be Christine Witthohn. Synchronicity factor of Warp 10! I introduced myself and told her I was friends with Alicia Walker and she got a huge, giddy smile on her face. I was hoping that meant she liked Alicia's story. Otherwise, that smile would have just been creepy. Turns out I was correct in my assumption.
When lunch was over, I saw Christine was still outside the room speaking with a friend and I told Alicia she should go up and introduce herself. They'd never met in person. As we walked up, Christine began heading back to where the sessions were being held. For such a tiny thing, she sure could move! We kicked it into high gear and sped off after her. Finally we caught up and had a fabulous conversation where Christine invited me to pitch my story on the spot to her. I did. She thought it sounded like a lot of fun and gave me her card. She told me to send the full MS!
I was on my way. Hadn't even got to the pitch slam yet and already had an agent request the darn thing. I was on fire! I was the rockstar of the conference!
My next pitch left me wanting to cry in the corner and reconsider whether this was the career for me.