My First Conference: Chicago RWA Spring Fling

Well, here I sit on break from my very first writing conference. A surreal experience to say the least.

After working up a vigorous lather of panic and caffeine this morning, I arrived at the Spring Fling conference muttering my 60-second pitch to myself and trying not to puke.

Much ado about nothing, like most panic. There will be no hallway pitching for me at this conference. At least, I doubt it. I would not be able to pick out the agents/editors from the sea of faces in these conference rooms, even if they were present (which I’m not sure they are.) So short of devising some ancient sit-com plan to be smuggled into someone’s room under a room service cart, I will not be pitching today.

Which is a bit of a relief, but I think I could do with going through my pitch a couple times before my meeting tomorrow.

Here’s the story so far:

  1. I got a swag bag. Who knew? Three novels, a usb flash drive, oatmeal cookies, a pen and a binder at first peek.
  2. I’ve spent the breaks sitting by myself in the hotel lobby, trying to remember my pitch.
  3. The Q & A with Authors panel was hysterical. Debbie Macomber is a hoot. So were the other panelists, Eloisa James and Christie Ridgway, for that matter. I enjoyed it immensely, even though a lot of the discussion was naturally Romance-focused (this is a RWA conference, after all)
  4. I chatted with a woman before one of the lectures who has turned out to be Susan Rae, author of Heartbeats, a romantic suspense novel about a pediatric cardiologist and an FBI agent. She’s currently writing the sequel. She asked what mine was about and I stumbled through my “hook” sentence feeling like a dork.
  5. I’m eating dinner by myself at McDonalds, cuz the “optional pizza dinner” required pre-registration, even though it didn’t say so on the website.
  6. My agent appointment tomorrow is for “3:07” which makes me wonder how long I have for the meeting.

More later as it unfolds. I must now brave the construction on Lake Cook Road to get back for the next workshop.

The Edge of Memory Cards for Writing Conference

In my continued quest to figure out how to get published, I’ve been researching writing conferences. The Chicago Spring Fling conference I’m attending at the end of this month is sneaking up on me faster than I’d expected.

In addition to cooking up a verbal pitch, I’ve read that I also need to prepare business cards. So, I whipped these up this morning

Front Side

Back, with The Edge of Memory details and description

A new hook for me, too. So we’ll see how that works out.

If you were looking for jugglers, I’d have been a juggler.

Well, I am dangerously close to trying to query. I’ve picked out 5 agents to start with. I’ve researched them and composed letters for each one.

But I still struggle with what to call my book. I honestly think it could be marketed in a number of different ways, and I’m not sure which is the most effective.

I’m going with Upmarket Commercial Fiction for the moment, so I’ve chosen agents who are interested in representing that category. If I don’t find a good agent match this way, I’ll try marketing as something else. Even as a juggler. teehee.gif

Incidentally, I am a juggler. The pool was double-booked for swim class in my junior year of high school, so I spent 6 weeks learning juggling instead (there was very limited equipment available). Your tax dollars at work. snort.gif

Scene Together

I am so close to finishing I can taste it! I just finished editing Chapter 33, which was the major scene I needed to add. I’ve got to go back and review it later to see how it fits after a little distance, but I think it worked out well.daisy.gif

Seven chapters left on the second edit, and then one more quick time through for some minor things (I need to do some global document searches for words that I overuse. This includes my characters’ names, as I tend to identify them more than necessary).type.gif

I still need to add in a brief scene for the final chapter (and a detail I recently thought of to an existing scene). I also am considering an epilogue, or just extending the ending.

Either way, I am close to having a complete-enough manuscript to print my copy and mail out query letters. And that is amazing.


Also amazing is some feedback I’ve had recently from one of the people who is critiquing my novel. He has started to talk about the symbols and themes in my novel, which gives me loads of warm fuzzies. It is so exciting to have someone find the details you weave into your story. highfive.gif

Which reminds me yet again of how grateful I am to my awesome legion of test writers, whether they are Chitties or CC Critters. You guys rock! grouphugg.gifthanku.gif

What’s in a Name?

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few days about pen names.

I had planned that if my book were to be published, it would be under my professional name. I am starting to doubt that decision.

Given the subject matter of my novel, it is conceivable that I may generate some angry responses. I am not afraid of angry responses, however, it would be unwise for me to create any difficulties for my employer or the hospital at which I work.

What are the odds that:

  1. My book will actually be published
  2. My book will be well-enough read to cause a significant public response
  3. The responders will be ambitious enough to look up my place of work and attempt to contact me there.

My guess is… not very good odds. 🙂

But, I would hate to create any inconvenience for my work; I am very happy with my job.

Anybody with thoughts? popcorn.gif

I am thinking perhaps I will use my married name instead– to which my husband replies, “Oh, fine! Sic the crazies on my family!” teehee.gifsnort.gif

Agent Secrets

I spent a large chunk of today looking up information on literary agents. I am starting to really itch to work on the editing, and I know I am still too close to the material to edit well yet, so I am channeling my energy into researching the publishing process instead.

It is a crazy experience, I have to say… not quite as surreal as coming home from work one day and spontaneously starting a novel, but still odd nonetheless.

Searching for an agent is a little like online dating, I’d expect, although I’ve never actually tried that. I’ve been surfing through photos and bios, reading what these agents are looking for and wondering whether it might be me.

One of the questions I struggle with is “What genre is your novel?” I mean, obviously it is fiction, but as far as subcategories go, I’m a little stymied. But genre classification is apparently quite critical when you are looking for an agent.
Is it literary fiction? Maybe… I’ve made some use of symbolism and etymology, for certain, but it is still quite story-driven.

Is it historical fiction? It is set somewhat in the past, but I don’t think it’s far enough in the past for the timing to be so prominent as to define the genre.

Is it a mystery? Sort of. But certainly not a traditional mystery story. No detectives or private investigators involved.

Is it a thriller/suspense novel? Maybe… I certainly hope it is thrilling to read, but I don’t know that it is really in step with what people expect in a “thriller”.

Is it “Women’s Fiction”? I don’t think so… not intentionally. Although most of it is about my female main character’s thoughts and feelings about what happens to her, so maybe that is more geared towards a female audience.

So, does anyone who has read have any thoughts on this? Does it strike you as similar to another novel for which I could peek at the genre classification?

Well, enough stalling… it is time for bed. 🙂