Wednesday, March 2, 2011
She Winds Up, and Here's the Pitch!
Like I said, there were pitches of novels and picture books and middle grades going on all over the place. But not by me. Though I hadn't attended a conferences for several years, I remembered from the last one that those professionals really want you to come in with finish manuscripts back at home, as polished as you can make them. And I didn't have anything ready. Not even close. I was going just to learn, not to look for anything beyond that.
So on Friday as I mingled and chatted and discussed, when the question arose, "Are you going to pitch?" my response was a laugh and a "No. I'm not anywhere close to being ready."
On Saturday I sat through classes and workshops without a care in the world while there was stress oozing out of all those poor suckers actually having to talk about their books to these industry heavyweights. Ha ha, I thought, at least I get to enjoy all of this without any worry about that an agent might say no to me.
As the morning classes ended, I went in search of my ANWA chapter cohorts. One of them had pitched to one editor first thing in the morning, while the other had the last slot before lunch. While we waited for her, the kind volunteer asked if I wanted to slip in right then, as the agent wanted to work through llunch. Again I laughed and said "Thanks but no thanks. I've nothing to pitch."
Here's where my plan fell apart. See, there were other writers at that conference. Other writers who were encouraging me to take the time slot, just go in and talk to her, to practice pitching, because even if my stuff wasn't finished, it would be done soon and I'd be pitching for real anyway, either by query or in person at another conference.
So caught up in the energy of it all, I heard myself blurt out "Sure, okay. Let's do it. Sign me up."
Luckily the agent was saved from me going in and rambling all over her because a wise member of the conference committee swooped in and made her eat lunch. That gave me time to actually sit down and WRITE the dang thing out. So over bites of Caesar salad, I took what I'd learned from the conference so far and whipped something out. I barely had time to run it past a few willing ears before it was my turn.
Only one butterfly had time to form before I went in. The agent was friendly and kind, complimenting my style and blouse. After about 30 seconds of chit chat, we got down to business. I told her it was YA urban fantasy, and even though I'd heard she wasn't really interested in fantasy, she said nothing about it and asked me to continue.
I apologized for reading my pitch (which you're not supposed to do), since I'd just written the dang thing. So here it is:
In REBORN, highschool seniors Iris Maat and Oscar Lightfeather are attracted by more than hormones: the reborn Egyptian dieties Isis and Osiris are caught in a web of love, jealosy, and murder as Set, the Lord of Chaos, hunts them down, determined to kill Osiris all over again. That he's Iris's boyfriend makes it all too easy.
I honestly didn't know what to expect. What I did not expect, however, was that she would ask me for a partial, or the first three chapters. I told her it was unfinished, and she said to send it after it was finished, but she still wanted to see it. (Just for the record this will undergo many more revisions. I'm just as surprised as you are that it got me a partial request.)
We talked about several things during the rest of my time, and she reiterated as I walked out that she wanted a partial. I left in a bit of a daze. What was I supposed to do now? Oh yeah. Finish the book.
Everyone else was so excited for me, but I could barely hear them over my voice screaming in my head "I have to finish it! I have to finish it! I have to finish it!"
So here I am, a few days removed, and I think the voices in my head have started to quiet down. As long as I'm writing, that is. If I write, they're quiet. Sooooooooo, I think I'll go write some more. Besides, I have to finish three books before this time next year. I know. Insanity. (Thanks tons, Jen.)