Saturday, October 20, 2007

Surrey International Writers' Conference: Day 2

Today was my "Goblin meets the publishing industry" day. I did go to a presentation in the morning, but I had to leave early for my "Blue Pencil Cafe" session (where a published author comments on your first three manuscript pages.) I went back to that presentation, but I don't feel like I got much from it, so I'll skip giving a detailed description.

The Blue Pencil Cafe session with Pe+er M0rew00d went very well. I'm second-guessing it because of what happened in my agent pitch later, but at the time, I was very pleased (PS - Mr. M0rew00d is a reallyreallyreally nice man; I'm looking forward to his presentation tomorrow.) The first comment he made was that he wanted to know what happened next in the story, and the second was that there was nothing in the pages he could poke holes in. I was delighted to hear both things, of course.

After lunch, I attended "SiWC Idol". This is where a panel of five agents (J@net Re!d, Kri$tin Nel$on, R@chel V@ter, Jen0yne Ad@ms and Cr!cket Pech$tein-Freem@n) listened while a presenter (Author J@ck Why+e and his wonderful Scottish accent) read the opening pages of the audience's manuscripts. The agents stopped him at the point when they would have stopped reading. Then they explained why.

They didn't get to my pages, which is both a disappointment and a relief, because the agent panel didn't even make it through the first page of most of the entries. It was great to hear the agents' reasons for why they were passing, however, as those were quite specific and well-justified. There were a few moments when the agents had conflicting opinions, but surprisingly few, given they all rep different genres.

The really cool part was that one author had their pages literally pounced on by J@net Re!d (she dragged them out of J@ck Why+e's hand) and was asked to come talk to J@net after the presentation. Two more authors also had either one or two agents perk up and ask to see more.

I skipped going to a final presentation, since I would have had to leave early for my agent pitch with R@chel V@ter anyway, and I was nervous. The session went well enough, although I wouldn't call it a success. Ms. V@ter was very nice and gave me specific comments about what was and wasn't working for her.

She didn't have any particular arguments with the writing, although she wanted more sense of place at the very beginning. The main problem was that she was really struggling to wrap her head around the plot. I sincerely hope some of that was due to her being tired after a day's worth of pitches (it was four o'clock), but I'll have to look hard at my query and first pages again. It was a bit distressing to watch her flipping back and forth between the query and the pages with a frown on her face. She didn't say anything particularly negative, but that's a clear sign something is wrong.

And after that, I went home to curl up in bed, read a book, and suck a chocolate bar or three. Tomorrow's presentations look very interesting, so I'm sure I'll be my chipper self again by then.

Oh! And one incredibly cool and random thing happened to me this morning. A complete stranger looked at my name tag and then said she was pleased to meet me--she "knew" me from from comments I've made on J@net Re!d and other agents' blogs. Isn't that wild? Hi, Brenda! *waves* You totally made my day, just by saying hello. :-)

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