Monday, May 03, 2010

A Month In The Life--Thursday, April 29, 2010

So, I'd decided I was going to nail every available pitch session open on the schedule, right?  Well, by gum--I did!  I ended up with ten appointments with both agents and editors from major publishing houses.  My Thursday and Friday were now booked to the point that there would only be a very few workshops I'd be able to attend.  I was quite all right with that turn of events; I was here to promo and sell--and the promo part was going like gangbusters.

I'd come in to a completely empty promotional space yet again. When I walked up with my husband trailing along behind me with a box of water bottles on his shoulder, I was just in time to see some lady rip one of my glued down cover flats from my display.

"Excuse me," I said, removing said cover flat from her hand. "Obviously, since this is glued down, it needs to stay there."

The woman turned redder than my hair. "I'm sorry. I just really like it."

"Well, if you come to the book expo tomorrow, I'll sign this cover for you," I offered kindly. Then, not-quite-as-kindly, I added, "That way you won't have to steal it."

To her credit, she didn't linger while I glued the cover flat back onto the display and restocked the shelves.  In my early naivete, I'd thought that 200 water bottles and 500 document stands along with Eden's 400 magnets for Conference Cupid would keep that space fully stocked. I was totally wrong. I didn't realize exactly how wrong I was until I ran into Jade Lee that afternoon.  I'd given her a few document stands at the pre-con workshop and she told me that she was having to fight to keep them--that everybody wanted them.

Between my promotional freebies and the banner (also known as That-which-shall=be-always-bolded), my name was literally all over the place.  I was wearing the big tag on my badge that read FINALIST from Bobbi Smith's writing challenge, which led a lot of people (morticians especially) to stare at my chest like I'd grown a third boob.  That being said, the FINALIST tag was invaluable to me during my pitch sessions that day.  It was an automatic indication that I wrote well enough at least to impress Bobbi Smith, and the agents and editors took notice. I pitched to Ellora's Cave, Harlequin and Miriam Kriss of Irene Goodman.  I ptiched Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency on the go, trotting alongside her while she went to the convenience store.  I only had a chance to tell Ethan Ellenberg my pitch after the Agent's Panel workshop--and all five requested manuscripts.  The first two or three pitches were rambling and confusing IMO--I hadn't quite nailed down the technique yet.  By the end of the day, however, I had one hell of a tagline that paid off in huge dividends: Something Wicked This Way Comes meets contemporary American theatre.

That night, we met up with Brett, Robert, and James (the three writers from the night before) as well as my husband. Escorted by FOUR men, which no other table in the party could lay claim to, we went to the Fairy Ball. I wasn't in costume, althought I did dress nicely and wore one of the Carnival masks my daughter and I had made the week before--claiming that I was going as the fat, flightless fairy.

Yep. I was the dodo of the Faerie Ball.

The event was beautiful and the food was good. The entire event was marred only by the volunteers who were serving as the seating Gestapo, one of whom told me that my approaching back surgery "wasn't her problem" when I meekly asked if I could just go in and sit just inside the door. Other than Frau Goebbels, the evening was lovely and we came away with a lot of fantastic books.  I ended up with several books by CT Adams and Cathy Clamp--which made me very happy as Cathy is a regular at Absolute Write.

One last quick trip to the once-again-empty promo lane spot, and I hobbled to the car--literally.  My physician's comment that "There's no way you'll make it all week" was starting to look like a potential prophecy. 

A Month In The Life--Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ah...the first full day of the RT convention!

I was excited for lots of reasons. First off, the AMP ladies got in yesterday for the most part.  It was really great to meet my EIC, Sandra Hicks, for the first time--and Laura Baumbach, who is the EIC of MLR Press and a legend as far as I'm concerned.  But I also got to meet some of the writers I edit.  LB Gregg is adorable--little and sassy and spunky and shoes I would quite frankly kill for.  Helen Hardt is tall and elegant and drop dead gorgeous; Sam Cheever has the market cornered on cute and manages to do more things at one time than I do without looking like a spaz--like I do.  Lizzie T. Leaf took one look at me and instantly adopted me, I think.  Instantly, our relationship went from editor-writer to younger sister-older sister.  She told me what to do all week and I loved it.  Then, my husband went to pick Cynthia Vespia up at the airport this morning--she's staying with us in Lancaster.

The first thing I did this morning was head over to my spot on promotional lane.  Last night, I went to set it up and realized that we'd left the cover flats at home.  You know: the things with my names on them? Otherwise, all I had was a shelving unit with some Carnival masks hung on a board covered with fabric.  I ended up putting a few water bottles and document stands on the shelves, thinking I'd come back this morning and fill it all up.

Much to my surprise, it was totally empty this morning. Nary a bottle or document stand to be found. So, I decorated the space as I'd originally intended and stepped back to take a look.

No one else on Promo Lane had anything like I did.  Most of the other writers were giving away bookmarks in baskets.  So when this hit the convention:

--it got a lot of attention.  It also stayed fairly empty throughout the week, even to the point where people would grab them out of my hands while I was trying to restock.  Great fun overall, though--by the end of the convention I'd had my promo items, bookmarks from Lizzie, magnets from Eden Elgabri, flyers from Cynthia Vespia all on my promotion spot and every single darn thing was GONE.  We amused ourselves by wondering how many authors would go vertical next year with raspberry colored water bottles and red document stands in LA next year, and then by coming up with increasingly more outrageous ideas for what I'll do.  I'm thinking lights and fountains.

After all--it is LA.

I hit a couple of workshops on Wednesday afternoon, but the most important things I had to do were agent/editor appointments.  I had two scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and I was nervous about pitching to them.  I wasn't one hundred percent sure of what I was doing, so I took the time after lunch to narrow down and perfect my verbal pitch, implementing the information I'd learned the day before from the writers' panel at the pre-con workshop about pitches.  So when time arrived to pitch I was ready.

And I was stood up. TWICE.  Two totally different people from entirely different companies pulled no-call, no-shows for their appointments.  I found out later that the no-call no-shows were completely beyond their control, but that didn't help matters at the time.  I was pissed, and in my opinion, rightfully pissed and that was the state of my mind all the way through until the opening night party.

The first party was Ellora Cave's tenth birthday party and, as you can imagine, it was a little bit on the wild side.  We hung out there for a little while and then returned to the bar, where we could drink and gaze upon the beauty that was the banner--the book covers LB and I had put on that banner that now every drunk at the convention was staring at.  Those drunks (and not so drunks) were in turn stared at by the morticians' convention that was sharing top billing with Romantic Times.  I thought it was about the funniest thing I'd ever heard of: romance writers and funeral directors?  How funny!

I continued to think so until the next night. More on that later.

At any rate, I'd decided that I was going to nail down every single free spot on the pitch session schedule the next morning.  The workshops were all fine and good, but I was at RT to pitch my manuscript and that had to take priority.  Back in the bar, we befriended a trio of male writers: Brett Battles, James Scott Bell and Robert Gregory Browne.

 After a long evening of writer talk and quite a few beers, we all went our separate ways.