Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bright Lights, Big City Pt.1

(^^^borrowing a little Gary Clark, Jr. for some inspiration there)

Well, hey y'all! I'm back!

I know. It's been a long, long time, and you probably thought I fell off the face of the planet. In blogging terms, yes, yes I did. However, I now have some wonderful experiences to report back.

This past weekend, I flew up to NYC for the Writer's Digest Annual Conference. You see, back in April when I thought graduate school was not going to happen, my lovely roommate and best friend Sara convinced me that I needed to get out there and try to go to one of these conferences. After all, that's where Veronica Roth met her agent. A Cinderella story after all!

So I signed up for this madness called Pitch Slam at the conference. In a nutshell, this was speed dating with agents. I had three minutes of face-to-face time with an agent representing my genre of work, ninety seconds of which I could pitch my novel. Then I had to do it again and again and again. FOR AN HOUR.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My new friend Shadow at my cousin's house. She didn't want me to leave.

Friday, I flew out of Charlotte early in the morning and arrived at the lovely Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan around 11, a feat which seemed to me, really awesome. 1.) I haven't been to NYC since 2001 and 2.) I've never taken a trip completely alone before, and that's what I was doing. While I was very excited for the conference, I was also as anxious as a cat. I hadn't slept the night before and spent all week trying to perfect my pitch while drinking too much wine.

Some light reading for the plane. Also, ELEANOR & PARK ruined me. Go read it. It's fantastic. Rainbow Rowell is amazing. The end. 

OMG, I'm official. 

I wasn't pitching until Saturday after lunch, so that meant I had plenty of time to psyche myself out about what was coming.

That afternoon, I was most excited to see Chuck Sambuchino speak during the Pitch Perfect Session about what to expect the next day. After listening to everyone's questions, I realized no one else had any clue what they were doing either. In fact, they seemed more confused that I was. Chuck schooled us on the elements of a solid pitch:

A log line: one concise sentence that describes your book. 

The details: your title, genre, and word count 

The Pitch: 
1. Introduce your main character. 
2. Tell us something interesting about him and tell us what he wants. 
3. Introduce the inciting incident (what's driving the story--why did you start where you did?)
4. What's the main conflict? (Basically repeating the log line.) 
5. What are the complications? 
6. Give an unclear wrap up. 
7. Make sure to include the stakes throughout: if the main character fails, what is at stake? 

And bam! There's your pitch. I was relieved that much of mine already had that. You can read what I pitched over on my Works page. It's the same thing.

The lobby of my amazing hotel. 

I'm so fancy. 

After the Pitch Perfect session, I stuck around for a panel on Ask the Editors and Ask the Agents. Some interesting notes here: Don't use a Q&A as a way to pitch your novel and/or badger the agents/editors as to why you haven't been published before. It's in poor form. There was one highlight though: the 70 year-old woman asking the senior editor of Harlequin how much erotic content was too much. If you have to ask, then it's probably too much. 

My swanky hotel room

By the time the keynote speaker began that night, I had a headache like a bulldozer and was so hungry I wanted to gnaw my arm off. I hadn't eaten most of the day because of said nerves. The fantastic Dani Shapiro gave a wonderful speech about facing the blank page and giving yourself permission to call yourself a writer, something I have most definitely struggled with. Now I basically want to read everything this woman has ever written. The combination of her beautiful words and my low blood sugar nearly had me in tears. I went up to my room, ordered a $35 cheeseburger, took a shower, and passed out for seven hours straight.

My pitch revision would have to come the next morning.


I've split this post into three parts which I'll be publishing throughout the week because it's simply too long.

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