Sunday, October 31, 2010

Learning to Pitch

I am at my Mom and Dad's house for Halloween this weekend. I brought the page of summaries I wrote for FWA just in case I found the occasion to show it to my family. Late in the evening, sitting with my sister Sarah and my niece Kristin, both big readers, I got the chance to Vanna it around. I found myself telling them about all the stories, discussing genres, but most of all telling them about the main plot points and what made each story special.

In other words, I pitched them. Wow! This is a miracle. I never talk about my stories. I would say it was the summaries that gave me the basis for my pitch, but I also told them about Clockminders, a story I didn't (and haven't) written a summary for.

They sounded pretty good.

What I may have learned is that I need to tell more people about my stories, or at least tell my favorite people more about my stories. It works. It felt really good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Networking for Introverts

Last Saturday, October 23, I attended the Florida Writers Association (FWA) yearly conference. I was nervous, because meeting one new person a week is my preferred networking speed.

Nothing was a bad as I imagined, barring the workshops delivered via powerpoint presentation and the hours-long awards ceremony (which was probably dull only because I didn't submit!).

Here are my observations:
  • First workshop at 7 o'dark: Jamie from Woodstream Writers gave a writing prompt and read around. I knew the prompt would be great as always, but I doubted my ability to write before ten o'clock in the morning. The result? Actual words. I wrote 'em. I don't remember them, but I think I saved the file. The bonus? Jamie stalked every single one of the 50+ participants to give them notes on their piece. Her notes on mine made me glad I wrote it. Thanks, Jamie!
  • Speaking to fellow writers: OK, I expected most writers to be unpleasant and self-engrossed, like me. Not so, not so at all. Some prime examples of their generosity are: Peggy Miller, editor, teacher and poet and Dana Summers, cartoonist.
  • Meeting authors of published books without slobbering or trying to jab them with my pen: These authors were lovely to me, and I would recommend them based on friendliness alone--Laura Parker Castoro and Mark H. Newhouse.
  • The PITCH. Oh, yeah, I did--courtesy of Jamie at Woodsteam, who steered me to the sign up table. During the day, I heard horror stories about agents waving writers away before they even sat down, but I got lucky, lucky, lucky. Veronica Hart signed me up with Roger Williams of the Publish or Perish Agency, and he treated me with such kindness that I was smiling for an hour. He doesn't often represent science fiction (no one at the conference did, as far as I know), but he gave me tips and ideas, and offered to take a look at my mystery novel in progress. Wow.
My take?
Being with a large group in a confined space for 12+ hours almost guarantees that even a social inept like me will eventually speak to writers, authors and agents. Some of whom will talk back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

Today I took the day off, planning to spend it setting up character sheets and an outline for my NaNoWriMo novel. Instead, I spent the day getting age spots lasered off (and thereafter contemplating my bad decision-making), watching a movie, reading a book on biocentricism, and, of course, napping. 
Finally finding my way to the novel, I realize that the way I spent the day was healthy, even though it didn't produce any pages. My life is so over-stuffed these days that I view my drive to work as my most contemplative time. (Sorry, fellow drivers.) Downtime, time in which I allow the flow of thought to reverse direction, even stop, is essential to my creativity. All I have done lately is work, worry and watch TV.
I have, secretly, been afraid that I have wrung out the dregs of my creative juice, and that there is nothing left in me but words. My pride in what I have so far been able to write was completely obscured by my fear that it was all I would ever do.
There is no magic today. I don't feel a surge of excitement, I don't have a novel beating its way out of my head. But I have allowed my thoughts to rest, and maybe that's all they need.
For those who are noticing, Maniac with a Knife has won. The thousand worlds of Habitas were just too dim for me to see them, right now, so I will be writing the second novel in a series at the same time--and finishing the first draft before--I even get the first one well started.

The Prompt:
Take a day off from your life. Don't do anything important. Rest.

Friday, October 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo is Nigh

A Clip of NaNoWriMo's Banner

Last year, I participated in my first NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the 30 days of November.

I loved it. I wrote "Ephemeral," a novel I consider to be my most grown-up, I'm-actually-a-novelist novel yet. Plus, it made me realize that even while working a full-time job (and even in the midst of changing jobs), I can average 1,666.66667 words a day, without even losing sleep. It was amazing.
The best thing about NaNoWriMo? -- Chris Baty, the director, who sends funny emails to encourage you.
The best thing I got from NaNoWriMo? -- My third complete 1st draft of a novel.
This year, I didn't have a novel in mind, but now I'm considering one that I found in my ideas pile, tentatively titled "Habitas." Also in the running is the 2nd installment of my Zini series, which keeps intruding when I try to write the first one.
So, a challenge: Write a novel in a month!