Saturday, September 29, 2007

Back From Writing Conference, Part I

Goodness, what a whirlwind of activity. The ACFW conference was great, as usual. The organization gets better each year. Next year's conference is going to be in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I can't wait. I've never been to Minnesota before. I'll get to add another state to my list of "been there" states. And if Elaine goes with me and we use the conference as the jumping off point to our yearly vacation, I might even get to add Michigan to my list.

I left home on Wednesday, a little disappointed that we had not gotten word from The Wild Rose Press about our novel, First I'm Nobody. I'd been checking a couple of times daily for word as to acceptance or rejection. I wanted to be able to see people and tell them that I had another contracted book. It's been five years after all. Sigh. All I could tell them was we were waiting for news, but that Elaine had a contract for her Sonora from the same company.

I was so nervous about the agent and editor appointments I had looming in front of me. Even up to the minute I walked down that long, long hallway to the Pecan room, I started to back out. But I pushed my feet ahead, swallowed my fear, and smiled as I walked up to the agent. She was friendly and demanded a hug instead of a handshake - "I'm Italian." That put me at ease at once.

She asked for my one-sheet - I didn't have one. Because I didn't know who I would be seeing I wasn't sure which book to pitch, one of mine or one of ours. After I got my appointment assignments on Thursday, I had to sort of work up a pitch. Since I had gotten an editor appointment with Zondervan, I decided to pitch Alaskan Knights. But I didn't have a way to work up a one-sheet at the hotel.

She then asked me for a business card - gulp, I'd left them in my car. I promised to retrieve one and get it to her. I did, the next day on my way to the editor appointment. But, I pitched the book anyway. Alaskan Knights is a romance with bits of suspense in it. She read my name tag and it indicated that I wrote romantic suspense, which is what I'm writing now, but that book was written with Love Inspired in mind. The agent said Alaskan Knights sounded more like women's fiction, and I agreed. It is.

She liked the idea behind it and asked that Elaine and I send her a proposal. I left feeling better. Whether or not the editor liked it, someone did. I just have to tweak it and get it sent off to her.

The next morning I met with the Zondervan editor. I knew it wasn't going to go well as soon as I walked into the room. Oh, she was friendly enough, but she made me wait over five minutes while she and the woman before me continued their discussion. Then when I got seated and launched into my pitch, she told me about a minute into it that we couldn't do what we had already done in 100,000 words. We should divide the story into two books of 80,000 each. I didn't bother trying to convince her, her mind was already made up. I listened politely and left after about five minutes.

Oh well, that's the publishing business. The right person at the right time with an open mind. Elaine and I have always been ahead of our time. Things editors have said aren't and shouldn't be done when we approached them with an idea out of the box are now being printed and sold.

But, I had the agent's interest, and that was enough for me. I sat through the awards ceremony on Saturday night happy for the finalists and winners, especially Kim Vogel Sawyer because we've become friends over the years I've been going to conferences, but I wished one of my books had been at least entered into the contest. I'm too recently published for consideration in the Genesis contest, and too long past publication to be considered in the Book of the Year contest. There is no place for the middle-of-the-roaders like me.

So the conference ended. I had met face to face with four of the other Naner group members. That was a highlight of the conference for me. I had gotten hugs from friends I'd met at other conferences. I made some new friends that I'll look forward to seeing next year. The conference was a success just for those reasons, but to come home with the possibility of getting agent representation again was icing on my cake.

After the conference I drove on up to Denton to work a couple of days with Elaine on a new project we started last October - a cozy mystery. Meet me here later for part two of my story.

No comments: