LONG POST WARNING–I DIDN’T WANNA DO AN LJ CUT, THOUGH * JUST THIS ONCE
I survived the RWA “Dreamin’ in Dallas” 2008 Writers’ Convention! Man, I must be really out of shape. Running through the hallways recognizing people and going across the ENTIRE HOTEL trying to find a working Diet Coke vending machine took it out of me. But I emerged with good news.
Agents panel: Candy Havens (author, moderator), Pam Strickland (agent), Holly Root (agent), Liz Trupin-Pulli (agent), Elaine English (agent). Beautiful!
Agent Holly Root is allowing me to send partials of the Marfa Lights mystery *and* of _Little Rituals_. Perhaps she was simply overwhelmed by my fast-talking sales pitch. It must have been like being overcome by a perky Amway distributor! *grin* But I took a different tactic with my pitch this time–talking about what makes my mystery different and how I set my scenes in interesting places so that it wasn’t all “she gets a cell phone call, she drives to so-and-so, she interviews suspect X” as I had seen so many times in various books (and had done before in my earliest tries at mysteries!)–and I think I got the essence of the book across MUCH better. I told you I’d let you know how my new approach went, and I have to say that it made me FAR more relaxed than trying to describe the plot and making the book sound like just more birdcage liner.
Of course, now the book has to live up to all my hype! I think it *does*, but of course we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed.
The real surprise came in the last couple of minutes of our eight-minute interview (only eight minutes! Good grief!), when I mentioned that I also have _Little Rituals_, my magical chicklitty literary novel. I had prepared a short blurb-like synopsis on paper, and when I handed it to her, she said, “Oh! I remember liking this when I read it before when I worked for Jenny.”
Whoa! I knew that I recognized her name, but I hadn’t realized it was from my stack of lovely “no thanks” anti-acceptance letters. My brain flew around the room as she confirmed that yes, indeed, she used to work with Jenny Bent at Trident (that was not in my Googled-up information–it only mentioned Trident), and that she recalled _Little Rituals_ from the time it was being considered by Jenny. *squeee* This was a couple of years ago, and that agency went so far as to request that I fax in a waiver that they required at that time (I dunno whether they still do) saying that I held them blameless if something I wrote caused the end of the world as we know it, etc. But after my fax buzzed down the wires, chick lit cratered, and the agency pretty much decided to refuse all chicklitty stuff. At the time, I was billing Daphne’s story as chick lit because of the voice, although it is actually a literary novel (in my opinion) or commercial women’s fiction. So it came winging back with a standard rejection attached, and I had a good cry. And then a mad fit where I lay on the floor kicking around in a circle and beating my fists on the buffed hardwood. But! BUT! And again, BUT!!
Isn’t that awesome, that she remembered my story all this time, when she reads 100 manuscripts a week? (Or thereabouts.) *glee* I am really excited, because I have done revisions since then in response to Chris Keeslar’s suggestions during his rejection-phonecall (I have had several of those, which is pretty wild in itself) and to a couple of other people’s comments on the book. It’s the new-and-improved Daphne’s life on steroids.
I learned SO much from the workshops I attended. It would’ve been so nice to be able to attend some of the others that were scheduled against the ones I sat in on, because one was about how to set your book at the CIA (!), another about the new direction in paranormals, and a third about profiling criminals and bad guys. Over the next few days, I’ll report on the pattern that agent Pam Strickland recommends your query letter should follow (she has preferences that are NOT the same as those of the Agents Who Blog, for the most part, about how you open your query!), what various houses are looking for, how to make your men sound different from your women (LOL), and what Lori Foster’s Secret Word is.
(Okay, there’s no Secret Word. But I have pulled a U-turn in my beliefs about Lori Foster. Previously, I was completely jealous-hate-O-rama towards her because during that critique phone call I won from editor Kate Duffy last year, I kept hearing, “Read Lori Foster and see how I like things done!” I picked up one of her books and it just didn’t send me (wrong genre–too much explicit sex), so I said, “Phooey! *jealous fit* Not for me!” So then I’m sitting at the keynote luncheon wondering what she’ll say, and . . . she said things that clicked totally with me! She said things like, “Don’t talk out your book–write it first. Have a special friend or two to brainstorm with and then WRITE IT. I’m a seat-of-pants writer who doesn’t know how to analyze and can’t tell you how to write a book, so if you don’t outline in detail, GOOD. Don’t revise for an agent unless you are signed with that agent–and don’t get locked into a contract; always have it book-by-book or have that thirty-day bailout clause, as relationships can change. Don’t listen to the negativity that’s on the ‘net–spend your time working, not carrying on about how some woman plagiarized stuff about a ferret. If critiquers want you to change your essential voice, hang up the phone. I don’t think crit groups where you bring 10 pages every two weeks and everybody picks over the little details but has forgotten what they read last time are so great–you need people who’ll read over the entire book after it’s finished.” [I PARAPHRASE HERE, but that’s the general drift of her remarks.] She was so charming and down-to-earth. *Bad, wicked me* for having had the green-eyed monster. I ended up totally in love with her and EVEN IF I don’t buy ALL of her books right away, I am now a fan and will check out her new dark urban fantasy line, written under the name “L. L. Foster.” All is forgiven! **GRIN**)
Much more to come as I transcribe my conference notes over the next week or so. And from now on, I promise, it’ll be under an LJ-cut so the non-writers among you don’t have to read all that woo and see the pictures.