Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Twenty Three Hours...

...until registration for the DFW Writers Conference.

So what am I doing? First, I'm reviewing my objectives:

1. Interact with a bona fide publishing industry professional.
2. Interact with other aspiring authors.
3. Cram as many presentations as I can into a single conference.

The first one is guaranteed. I have a name and a slot. I've got my 25-word pitch and 10 talking points to keep the conversation going. I've been trying to familiarize myself with the agent's client list. It's a good mix, I'd venture to say 50/50 male and female. Query Tracker shows this individual has a good number of upcoming titles, almost all of them YA and MG. Dystopian seems to play a prominent theme. They seem to be mostly newer deals, a good things because maybe their looking to add more. I plan to download one of their clients works to my Kindle.

If that fails then maybe we spend the remaining nine minutes talking about liquor and sports.

I love the Internet and I love my writing group folks, but I'm really looking forward to meeting living, breathing writers without the safety-net of Internet anonymity. I've looked for local writing groups, but Google draws a blank. They do exist. I happened upon one doing a reading in the back aisles of a local bookstore. But they're like antelope, just the slightest whiff of outsider and they're gone. Should be fun to see bunches of them move around in packs.

I'll be watching like a lion in high grass.

There's a dizzying amount of seminars scheduled at the Con. I'm pretty sure that I'm a good storyteller; what I don't know is if I'm a good writer. So my focus is going to be on the writing: plot, dialogue, characters, etc. There's several seminars focused on querying and marketing, but I get enough of that from stalk-- err... following agents and other writers on Twitter and Facebook.

Other than that? I've printed my schedules and maps, drawn out my movements through the conventions center, and even programmed in some reflection time to make sure I've captured the important stuff.

I think I have this covered. As soon as work is over, I'll fill up the tank, throw the wife and kids into the car, then head north to Dallas. Tomorrow morning I'll be in the parking lot and walking towards registration.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two Weeks to Con!

So we are at T-minus fourteen days to the DFW Writers' Conference.


That's the advice my crit-partner Julie Particka passed to me a couple weeks ago when I was on the verge of losing focus and going into a full blown noob-writer panic. I'd made a list of the million things I thought had to get done before the end of the month. Her advice:

Finish the manuscript, prep for the pitch.

Two simple things. Of course, finishing a manuscript is never easy, but I did. And for the last week I've been going over the first five chapters with a buffer trying to make them as smooth as possible.

Then comes the pitch. Now a pitch is a funny animal. It's not a document. As my other friend PJ Schnyder pointed out, it's a live interaction between two people. Conversations do not come from a script, so you have to grab their attention right from the introduction. Let the conversation flow, but be able to guide the discussion back to your stories talking points.

Okay, that sounds simple, but it's not. PJ is a sage when it comes to sales and presentations. She has years of experience making big deals. So if you have no experience, how do you compensate? Easy. Preparation. I'm going to dig out some military stuff here and go to my old buddy Sun Tzu:
'If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt.'

Now, referring to an agent as the 'enemy' might not be a good idea, but the theory behind it is sound. Do your research. Read their recent blogs and interviews. Know what they're looking for and who they represent. Showing that knowledge is another form of showing respect i.e. you're serious about writing and you're not here to waste their time. Just make sure not to cross the fine line over to stalking.

Know yourself. Here's where it gets complicated. You know your manuscript. After all, you wrote it, but do you know where your manuscript fits into the grand scheme of the Urban Fantasy YA marketplace? Do you know how your protagonist stacks up against other similar characters? You should. That's knowing yourself.

So you've done that, you've married your novel perfectly to the agent's expectations. You're good, right?


It's a pitch dummy. That's just the conversation to get your foot in the door. They still have to read the manuscript. Which gets back to probably the best piece of advice I've gleaned after months of agent/published-writer stalking:

Write the best damn book you can.

Where am I in this process? I'm waiting for the email from the conference folks assigning me to an agent. From that point I'll go into Sun Tzu mode and do my homework. I'll craft my eight or ten talking points to suit their individual tastes. In about a week I'll push my manuscript to a couple of betas. Ideally, their comments will come back to me about the time I'm ready to respond to a request (fingers crossed). I'll make corrections and barring major issues the manuscript will go out a week or two of the con.

That's the plan. Now, remember what I told you all about plans?