Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dallas, Day 4

This was one busy day. Workshops, an editor appointment, workshops, an agent appointment, workshops, a meet and greet with Wild Rose Press authors.

I went to a workshop on turning points given by Robin Perini and felt gratified to discover I kind of understood what she was talking about, and covered these points when I wrote, but since I'm not a plotter, they kind of appear by instinct. At least my instincts seem to be working correctly.

Following Robin's plotting-based approach, I went to hear Allison Brennan's "No Plotters Allowed" workshop. She addressed how to deal with those moments when you're not sure where your story is going without having to plot the whole thing out in advance. Some hints include what is probably something I should take to heart: "If the scene doesn't come to you, it doesn't need to be written."

There's no right or wrong, because there are massively successful authors on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between. Allison does very much the same thing Robin does, but AFTER the scenes are written.

I had to duck out of the chat with Suzanne Brockmann because of my editor appointment. Aside from the fact that the room was kept at meat-locker temperatures, the experience was very well orchestrated. We were herded through the room like so many sheep, delivered to our appointment desks, and had precisely ten minutes to pitch.

I relied on my notes, which were nothing more than my standard query letter. At least I memorized my opener for my Pollyanna meets Delta Force novel: "When someone asks single mother Frankie Castor to clear a room, she'll smile and find a vacuum cleaner. Ryan Harper uses a gun. Can they work together when their lives depend on it?"

I will admit, being able to introduce yourself with, "I have three novels and five short stories published" is a great way to feel more at ease.

After I half-read, half-recited the rest of my query, the editor smiled and said, "ok, send it to me," gave me his card, shook my hand and that was it. Took two whole minutes. I got back for more of Suzanne's talk.

In the afternoon, I went to a panel called "Body Bags and Toe Tags" and again had to leave early, this time for my agent appointment. We spent the whole ten minutes talking, and I left with a request for 100 pages. Stumper: "How would you describe your voice?" But she seemed to think my character driven stories are coming back, so we started talking more about that. I don't mind talking about the writing, but when I have to talk about "ME" things get tough.

Another workshop, Novel Dissection 101 given by Scott Eagan, an agent who had made himself very accessible during the conference and was willing to answer questions away from the dreaded 'appointment' proved interesting. He showed us ways to analyze the depth of our writing, and suggested studying the houses we plan to target, as each has a unique 'voice.'

That evening, I had the pleasure of putting some faces to names of an assortment of Wild Rose Press authors as we attempted to find each other in the hotel's bar area. We ended up in two groups, but managed to unite before the pre-arranged time frame was over, so it was like two separate parties. I ended up having to leave with my wine so I could finish that ugly "real life" work I'm expected to keep up with.

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