Day Three written September 21
Waiting more than two days to write this entry, I’m afraid it’ll be short with regard to the continuing education classes.
Plus my appointment with Steve Laube started at 10am, so my mind was mostly focused on that. My expectations were low as far as he asking to represent me. Mostly I wanted his perspective on my first chapter.
When I first sat down, I introduced myself and he asked, “So what do you have for me?”
“It’s science fiction,” where he gave me a look that said, “Oh.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said, “I chose a hard sell.”
“Actually, I queried you a few years ago, but you rejected my story. You said that while the premise was good, the writing was a B. Since then, I had a few editors look it over and, “I held up my name tag that showed my Finalist ribbon, “since I finaled in the Genesis contest –”
“Congratulations,” Steve said.
“Thank you. Anyway, I was hoping you’d be willing to give it a second look.”
“Sure. Do you have a synopsis?”
As I handed it and my first chapter over I thought, “I was afraid you’d ask for it.”
Based on what I learned Friday and Saturday, my one-sheet was not that great.
As he read it we somehow got on the subject of the Kindle, which he had sitting on the table. He picked it up and said, “Check it out.” So I played with his kindle while he read my first chapter.
I looked over to see what page he was on and I said, “Oh, man!”
I reached over and pointed at the end of a paragraph on the second page. “I forgot a period right there.”
He gave me a sideways glance and said, “You shouldn’t have said anything. I was already passed that part and I didn’t even notice it. Now it’s this glaring empty spot driving us both nuts.” He took out his pen and placed a period. “There, now we’re both happy and can move on.”
Steve read all seven pages in less that two minutes. Quite the speed reader. He said the first part where I’m in the mind of a character who dies doesn’t have enough punch.
“I want you to terrify me,” Steve said. “This doesn’t terrify me. I want you to make the reader feel like he’s drowning like the character. You can also move it to a prologue, because even if a reader skips over that part, it’s okay. When you switched into the mind of the assassin, that’s where I felt the story really began.”
He gave me a few other pointers that I know will make the story really pop and hopefully grab the reader from word one.
All in all, a very positive interview even if he didn’t offer to represent me. He gave me excellent advice, and that’s more than worth the 15 minutes.
The next class I took was taught by Jeff Gerke, the publisher of Marcher Lord Press and the editor I met with on Saturday. His was entitled “The Last Show and Tell Class You’ll Ever Need.”
In short, because this entry is getting long, writers need to think in terms of cinematography. If a camera can’t see it (interior monologue excluded), then it’s telling. Backstory is telling, as is exposition and explanation of character motives. There are times when it’s necessary, but it’s making sure to add it at the moment the reader needs the information, and not before or after.
Description is not telling, because the camera can see it.
He was fun, because he required lots of audience participation. As tired as I was, his energy was contagious. I know, telling, but this is my blog and I can do whatever I want. So there.
I took two other workshops (tired yet), on how to keep track of details in the book such as the passage of time, character description, and weather, especially when it comes to historicals. Invariably, if a writer talks about the full moon on May 25, 1956, a reader will write to complain that it was actually a half-moon. Makes me glad I write futuristic fiction!
The last class was on author law and what to look for in publisher and agent contracts.
The last workshop ended at 5pm which gave us one and a half hours to prepare for the annual awards banquet. The Genesis awards were only part of the ceremony. There was also a life-time achievement award, and the Carol Awards. The Carol award is for the book of the year in multiple genres.
I spent the first hour reading, knowing I needed only a few minutes to get ready. Once dressed I felt compelled to practice my speech once again. I wrote it down from memory of previous practices a week ago and used my stopwatch to make sure it was under 30 seconds. Three minor rewrites later, I got it down to 29 seconds.
Supper came first where I chatted with those at my table. The ceremony began about an hour later, and another hour later the speculative fiction category came up.
When Camy Tang said my name as the winner, I mouthed, “Oh my God.” The entire room seemed to disappear, and all the voices and other sounds turned into pure white noise. Odd sensation.
I stood with speech in hand and weeded my way around all the tables to the stage. Whispered “Congratulations,” followed me all the way up. The entire time I kept saying to myself, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry.’
The speech went well. 30 seconds isn’t enough time to make a total fool of myself. The audience even laughed at the right time.
I was given a plaque with my name and the title of my book, and a lapel pin. With tears under control, and elated beyond description, I weeded my way back to my table. Whispered congratulations followed me back.
Two minutes later I received an email from a friend expressing her congratulations. “What?” I thought. “She’s not even here.” Then I realized the banquet was live-streaming over the internet. Ten minutes later I received another congratulations via facebook email. So much for keeping it a secret.
The other awards were given with lots of applause laugher and tears. Thoroughly enjoyable, but I was glad when it ended. I was beyond exhausted. After I called Dave to tell him I won, I went straight to bed and hoped to sleep in. There was nothing planned for Monday except an informal breakfast that consisted of fruit and pastries. Since my flight didn’t leave until 3:45, I hung out in the lobby and talked to others about the conference and exchanged business cards. Over the next few days, I’ll be spending time sending emails to everyone I met. It’ll include sending thank you cards to both Jeff Gerke and Steve Laube for their time and advice.
After that, I have some writing to do.