A) I haven't shown off my pictures yet.
|Erin Knightley and I on our way out to CA. I was so excited I couldn't breathe! ;)|
|It's the uber-talented Darynda Jones! I love her grim reaper Charley Davidson series.|
|Julia Quinn! I managed not to spill my drink. Points for me!|
|Miranda Neville, Beatriz Williams and Isobel Carr. Umm. No comment.|
|Courtney Milan challenges Jo Bourne to a lemon duel, for the Historical RITA win. Jo is wily. And also got the RITA. ;)|
B) I have something to say and I'm just arrogant enough to believe you might benefit from hearing it.
In case you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I'll just say I had a blast last week. I really couldn't have had a better first RWA conference. Not only was everyone lovely and fun, but the workshops were fantastic, the signings amazing and I did exactly what I went there to do.
I pitched my manuscript to three agents and got three requests to see it. (I want to stop right here and thank Shana Galen and Maya Rodale for their awesomeness. We'll just leave it at that.)
For those of you who don't know what a pitch is, at conference, it's exactly like Speed Dating. A bunch of editors and literary agents sit at small tables spread throughout a room and the writers are herded in like a Hollywood cattle call. We then find our way to the agent/editor we have an appointment with and have precisely eight minutes to express why said agent/editor should be interested in our baby...er...book.
Anyway, there's a reason that the herders (for lack of a better term) kept telling us all to breathe and "no one faint!" It's nerve-wracking to plop yourself down in front of a total stranger and tell them about one of the most intimate things you've ever done.
Yes, we are still talking about writing a book. Get your mind out of the gutter.
I was so nervous earlier in the week about my pitch that every time I thought about it, I wanted to toss my cookies. But after a few sit-downs with some amazing and lovely ladies (Kieran Kramer, Leigh Evans, Marni Bates, Erin Knightley and Samantha Grace- I adore you!!!) who allowed me to pitch all over them, I started to lose my nerves. Not nerve, but nerves. It wasn't the practice, although I'm sure that helped, but it was learning to answer the question "Why did I write this book?"
That's when I remembered something.
I wrote The Lost Room, the contemporary that I pitched last week, because I fell in love. First, there was a tingle of excitement when I came across a tidbit of recent historical lore about a lost treasure. As I read on, clicking over to the next article and the next, my interest grew into a need to know. I needed to know what would have happened if... The characters and story were born out of that need, and I tripped head over heels into love.
Again, I feel the urge to stop and clarify. I love my book, but that does not mean that there isn't room for improvement. It doesn't mean that I'm going to be offended by critiques or sob wildly if there are revisions to do. What's that line? "If you truly love something, set it free." Do not cling to your writing like Gollum with a shiny, gold ring. Be ruthless, be brave, and for God's sake, just because you love a line, paragraph or even chapter, if it's not right for the novel, cut it.
Marni Bates will have a heart attack if I don't mention here that you should save everything in a separate document, so...do that.
*Steps off soapbox*
Where was I? Oh, right. I fell in love. And when I sat down at those tables, or in one case, cornered her in the lobby, I let it show how much I loved my book, how excited I was about it and how well I understood my characters. I'm sure the story sounded interesting and fun, but I'm certain it was my enthusiasm that carried the day.
Remember, and this goes for anything in life, if you don't promote and advocate for yourself, who's going to do it? You must take the helm and steer your own ship. If you have a book to pitch or sale to make or business to fund, let it shine. Let your love for your project, whatever it is, come through and I promise you that people will be drawn to it. If you don't put forth your best effort, then you will always wonder "What if..." and that's a crappy way to live. Don't do that. Just...don't. Because I will hunt you down and force you to be the awesome person I know you can be.
Have you ever taken a big chance on something important to you? Did it work out? What's your advice for someone gearing up to put it all out on the line?