Wild Ride in NYC!!!

OK, got the partials and full out over the last couple of days. Now, let me catch you up on my wild ride in NYC!

First up was BEA - Book Expo of America. Last Wednesday was the Writer's Digest Conference portion of the 5-day conference. The day started with a talk by Karin Slaughter, crime writer. My BEA buddy Judith and I decided she's the Ellen Degeneres of the publishing world. Every sentence out of her mouth was funny. Here's a pic of me, Karin, and Judith:

She told how she owned a signage company and decided to go for her real passion, writing. She was an overnight success ten years in the making. It took her that long to secure an agent, but once she did, she's been publishing books ever since.

After that, Judith, and I attended several workshops including How to Build Characters, an Ask the Agents Panel featuring the hilarious Janet Reid, Barbara Poelle, Ted Weinstein and Michelle Andelman, and finally a Polish Your Pitch Session, which geared you up for the big event... the PITCH SLAM! Pitch Slam is like Speed Dating for authors and agents. You've got three minutes to pitch your book (yup, they time you, although some agents didn't pay much attention, which was nice). The agent then either passes or asks for sample pages. I pitched to six agents and all six asked for pages - five partials ranging from 10 - 50 pages and a full. The first five I pitched to all asked for sample pages, and I almost quit while I was ahead. Thankfully, I didn't, because I LOVED the last agent and she's the one who asked for the full! Like I said, that day was right up there with the day I got married, the days my kids were born, and all the times I performed live with my band. It was that good.;-)

The next day, the Backspace Conference began with an Agent/Author day. I was in a room with 29 other writers. We stayed in our seats while different groups of agents rotated through. We were supposed to have had the opportunity to read our query and first two pages to at least two groups. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, and instead we only got to read to one group each. I was lucky, because the group I read my first two pages to included the agent who'd asked me for my full the previous day. Thank goodness she liked my first two pages, or that may have ended her request for my full! A lot of writers were unhappy with the way the day went, mainly due to the inability to get much feedback. I'm sure Backspace will correct this in the future.

The next two days were filled with fabulous workshops. I attended a Buy this Book! session led by agent Jeff Kleinman, where we took on the roles of Marketing Manager, Editor, Publicity, etc. and got a real sense of how editors pitch our books to the publishing houses. It was fascinating. I learned that you need a platform for both non-fiction and fiction, it's important to secure book reviews by known authors, and that you've really got to have an enthusiastic editor pitching your book. Additional workshops included a panel on the Agent/Author Relationship where two agents with two of their clients talked about what that relationship is like, Query Letters that Work gave helpful tips such as personalizing your query, doing your research, putting title, genre and word count up front, etc. Some additional workshops I attended included What Literary Agents Want or Why It's So Hard to Find Representation, Getting Your Book Reviewed, and Yes, No, Maybe - When Agents Ask for Revisions. On Friday night, they had a cocktail party and famous thriller writers Lee Childs and David Morrell were in attendance. (David Morrell won a Backspace Award, and also participated in a panel on Saturday and was the closing keynote speaker.) The most important part of my Backspace experience was finally meeting my new BFF Julie from Columbus, Ohio in person! She's an extremely talented commercial fiction and YA writer. Here we are all dressed up for the party.

Overall, both conferences were extremely worthwhile. I'd highly recommend them to all serious writers with a completed ms in search of an agent. Just beware, your stomach will not thank you! Mine was in knots most of the time, but I figured that was simply proof that I was throwing my hat in the ring and playing full-out. After all, ain't that what life's about?

After the conferences, Chuck met me in NYC for an extended weekend. On Saturday night, we met up with my friend, Wendy and her wonderful husband, Vince for a scrumptious dinner at Beacon. I met Wendy last September when I attended my first writer's conference, The Algonkian Pitch and Shop in NYC. Since then, Wendy has gone on to find an agent. She's near the end of the revision stage, and is gearing up to send her women's fiction book out on submission. I wish her the best of luck! It was great seeing her and catching up.

The next day, we saw Wicked, which is absolutely NOT to be missed, and visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex (the "real" one is in Cleveland, OH) where there's a special exhibit on John Lennon produced by Yoko. Being the rock princess I am, I was completely in my element and could have moved in and lived there happily ever after. If you're in NYC, I insist you attend both of these shows. You'll be forever in my debt, and I love when people are forever in my debt. Also, one lane of Broadway is closed off to traffic for a few blocks until the end of the year, so people can walk around or pull up a lounge chair and sit on the famous street. That was quite a hoot! (You can see in the picture the cars and taxis on the left, and pedestrians on the right.)

Here are a few more pics. Enjoy, and thanks for not giving up on me while I was away from my post this past week or so. You guys rock!!!!!
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