Sunday, April 10, 2011

Woo-Hoo!

I am enthused, enthralled, exhausted this morning after three days at the Missouri Writer's Guild Conference, JUST WRITE! I was C. Hope Clark's assistant when she presented at workshops. If you don't know who I am talking about, check out Funds for Writers. Hope is the founder; she puts out three newsletters packed chock full of information, call outs, contests etc.

I pitched my woman's ficton, The Hot Mess Chronicles, to two literary agents. One of them (a big name in the industry) asked me to send her the first thirty pages. I had a tear in my eye!

The other agent, who was closer to my age, asked, "Why would I want to read that? I lived in that era, I certainly don't want to relive it."

Obviously, we were not a good match. That's the way it goes; you can't take those comments to heart.

I am very realistic and know that chances are slim that my novel will be picked up. It is set in the 1980's but they want contemporary ficiton. I am hopeful that there might be a baby boomer market for it one day. I am patient.

I attended a workshop, An Agent Reads Aloud from the Slush Pile. The slush pile (stack of queries on an agent's desk) is where most work ends up if it survives the trash can. Writers submitted the first two pages of their work, (I did not) and as the work was read aloud, she dissected it, commented frankly why she would or would not read on. Few works made it past a few sentences. It's a brutal industry. But,in a very professional and friendly manner she made us aware of glaring errors that many writers make.

"She scurried down the hall." MICE SCURRY.
"Her ears pricked up." Did you really ever see ears prick up!
"His voice came through the wall." REALLY, let's rephrase that.

And so it went as she slashed flowery words; too many descriptors slows the story.

I met lots of nice people, and hugged presenter and inspirational writer, Linda Apple. She and I are running neck and neck with Chicken Soup books. Our stories are in many of the same books.

Elaine Viets, was keynopte banquet speaker. She has a fun, twisted sense of humor; she had us laughing out loud. She is St. Louis's hometown sweetheart, a former columnist for the local newspaper. She was fired from the Post-Dispatch for insubordination. Everyone knows that her humorous columns were the main reason why most people bought the newspaper. She's laughing in their faces, living in Florida in a beach condo, writing books.

Some day ...

22 comments:

Odie Langley said...

All in all seems it was a wonderful experience and you were around some enthusiastic people to keep you pumped up. A good post today girl.

Bookie said...

Sounds like it was fantastic for you,Linda! That slashing slush pile slashing sounded brutal though. Makes me wonder how we'd ever get the rigth words.

Crossed fingers on the book...50% this time, 100% the next!

Sioux said...

I had no idea that is why Elaine Viets left. What did she did that was insubordinate? (If it wouldn't take too much effort/time to relay the story...)

Hey, at least the editor asked for the first 30 pages...That's encouraging. They could have just completely blown you off.

Sioux said...

Ooops. Sorry about the typo. What did Viets DO that was insubordinate?

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Best wishes, Linda! Sounds like some really good things are happening for you! Bravo!

Susan said...

Sounded great, Linda. So glad you got to go. Look forward to more posts telling about it. Susan

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi all. Thanks for your comments.It was an eye opener.

Sioux, she didn't say, but I vaguely remember that her husband had been transferred. She went with him and continued to write from out of state, which they objected to because I think she also wrote for another publication while there, I am not really sure, but they discontinued her contract after about a year. Now she churns out two books a year.

Susan Fobes said...

I came around to say "Hi." I don't get around to other writer's blogs much since the end of Microfiction Monday, but I will try to make a point of stopping.

Linda, to me you lead such a glamorous life-I haven't the guts to put myself out there yet...

Sioux said...

Linda---Susan thinks your life is "glamorous?" If she only knew...

Linda O'Connell said...

Ha-Ha, I should never read Sioux's comments when I'm guzzling soda, snort!

Thisisme. said...

Sounds like a very encouraging time for you Linda. Hopefully, one day YOU will be at that beach condo writing novels. How wonderful would that be?!

melody-mae said...

I popped over for a visit after the mentioned in Barb's blog...what an inspiration you are!!! I am a brand new follower...and like you, I long to live on the beach reading and writing all day long!

Tammy said...

I didn't know that about Elaine Viets, either. Always wondered, because she says in her novels that she's had some pretty goofy jobs (I can relate). Anyway--congratulations on sending off your first 30 pages! Very encouraging! I lived through the 80s, too--all the more reason to read about it.

BECKY said...

Well, I already knew this since I saw you all weekend...BUT, Congrats again, Linda!!!!! Keep us posted on everything!!

Vicki Rocho said...

Congrats on the request! That's awesome news! I loved the slush pile session. It was very enlightening. Elaine (for some reason I want to call her Vicki) was super funny!

Chatty Crone said...

Congrats on her getting to look at the first 30 pages - a big deal! sandie

diannagraveman said...

Congrats, Linda!

June Freaking Cleaver said...

I had fun at the conference (though I needed a nap after I got home).

Just think, if this whole 30 pages thing works out like you hope, we can all say we knew you when...and beg to come visit you at YOUR condo overlooking the Intercoastal!

Terri Tiffany said...

Sounds like a fun time and you learned alot. I love conferences like this!!

Janet, said...

congratulations on getting asked for your first 30 pages! And that slush pile thing, they don't seem to give the 'story' a chance. Maybe they think if they see those mistakes in the first sentence or two, it will be like that throughout. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever succeed, but for some crazy reason I keep trying.

Linda O'Connell said...

Janet, don't you dare put your work on the shelf; put it out there! Hearing that agent read aloud and explain her reasons for rejection helped me to understand what they want. It persuaded me to do better.

And June Freaking Cleaver, WHY aren't you multi-published? Your stuff is so good.
Thank you all for your continued support.

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

I presented Elaine Viets in a reading back in the 90s. She is as cool as she seems to be.

Reading this post made me rethink my feelings about the conference this year. I just bagged the whole idea--been feeling sort of run down and tired of the hype. But you have shared some valuable information here, Linda. I loved the bit about the faults in the first pages. Thank you.