The morning after. The conference that is 😉 and in this case the morning after = Mother's Day.

The Houston Writers’ Guild‘s annual conference this weekend was awesome.

They attracted a larger-than-in-years-past, and, imho, very high caliber agent panel, too.  My personal faves were Christine Witthohn of Book Cents (intense, analytical, and easy to talk to) and Josh Getzler (loves his job, and it shows), but I was impressed with every one I met.  I loved loved loved Chuck Sambuchino’s energetic speech on How to Get Published, and I really enjoyed the back and forth between Josh and Ben LeRoy as they delivered a somewhat off-the-cuff speech on the state of the industry.  Congratulations to Ben LeRoy who just sold his publishing company Tyrus Books to F+W Media, too.

The best advice I received during the conference came from Katharine Sands’ pitch workshop, and I took it to heart for my four pitch sessions.  The advice?  Lean in and gossip!  Talk to the agent like you are telling him the juiciest tidbit ever, in a way that makes them dying to know what happened.  Place, Person, Pivotal Action, shown not told, and leaving them saying “and then what?”  It resonated with me.

So, how did the agent pitch sessions go?  My friends did well.  We all got manuscript requests, which is great.  This is the first conference I’ve been to that leaned so heavily toward requesting “fulls,” and isn’t the goal of spending money and attending a conference, after all, making a personal connection with a a live agent who may actually look at your work instead of deleting your query letter?

I pitched Conceding Grace on a whim even though I had prepped to pitch Going for Kona.  Kona is my favorite book I’ve written, but I need to strengthen it further before it is ready to pitch again, and I’m starting to get a feel for how I will do that, so I want to hold it back until I’m done updating it.  And I was just feeling it with Grace.  So, anyhoo, I am sending out the full Grace  manuscript to two agents, one of whom gave me their personal cell phone number as I was walking out and threatened to break every bone in my body if I gave it to anyone else.  Which I won’t.  Although now that I have it, I don’t exactly know what to do with it.  :) Two other agents asked for the first three chapters of all of my books, even though I was careful not to pitch Leaving Annalise, because I have had an exciting idea that will come to fruition beginning in June.  What, you ask, is that exciting idea?  Well…Annalise will become two books: 1) something like “Discovering Katie” and 2) Leaving Annalise.  Stay tuned.

I spent eight hours yesterday on my 2nd edit of Grace with my biggest fan, first reader, and eagle-eyed editor Eric (oh he of the froggy fame) taking pages for his edit the moment I finished mine.  We made it halfway through.  The easy half.  Betas, expect a manuscript by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night, and I’ll be asking for a quick turnaround.  I promised the manuscript to the agents by May 23rd.

The conference features a manuscript contest.  My manuscript for Conceding Grace was “a winner,” although RATS it finished as honorable mention and didn’t net me a check.  In the top six, only two of us were actually from Houston.  The prize money was $1000 for first place, so HWG drew a much larger entry pool than normal.  Which is awesome.  I am happy to have made it to the winner’s circle at all.

I adored seeing my friends Nikki Loftin (watch for The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy in a year from Razorbill/Penguin — middle grade but will appeal to much broader audience), Rebecca Nolen (mystery, and middle grade), and Nancy Clements (women’s fiction).  I met wonderful new people as well, like Diane Holmes of Pitch University and her “minion” Brenda (nonfiction), Vonna Carter (middle grade), and many more!  If I didn’t list you, comment and leave your name.  And, writers, getcha some cards, pass ’em out.  Your co-horts WANT to remember you.

The big news of the weekend: I made it through the whole morning without a Shipley’s doughnut then cratered at lunch and had chips and two cookies.  I think the little fat places behind my knees are coming back (inside joke for the Kona beta team).  Ugh, must control caloric (“white food”) intake and increase through exercise my caloric output.

That’s all the news I know for new, friends.


p.s. As of midnight Sunday 5-8-11, Eric and I finished 2nd edit.  Let #3 begin, as I incorporate my notes and handwritten edits electronically while editing again!

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25 Responses to Can we conference, please?

  1. Although I ‘want’ to get into the heat of things and write a novel (I have outlined and thought a lot, but no real writing) I read everything you are going through and it scares the bageezus out of me. It’s one thing to finish a novel (I see myself doing that eventually) but quite another thing to get an agent, do all that pitching, etc. Kudos to you, my friend. You continue to inspire.

  2. Alexandra says:

    Oh, when I read all you do to make things happen I am ashamed of myself.

    I waste too much time goofing off.

    You are serious.

    I need to be serious.

    Seriously, I admire your discipline.

    How do you find the time?? You have children, and a husband, and exercise.

    How do you maintain a blog, visit other blogs, and STILL write and pursue your dreams?

    I must have ADD or something. or LBADD Lazy Butt ADD.

    • Pamela says:

      I get things down in waves — when I write intensely, everything else falls apart. When I triathlon intensely, I write very little. And luckily my kids think both the writing and triathlon are “cool,” so they’re supportive (either that or they want me to leave them the heck alone).

      Right now, sadly, I am not able to read other people’s blogs. I’ll come up for air in a few days, desperate for outside stimulation, though, and you know I’ll be over at GDRP looking for your funny words!!!

      Thank you, Ms. Empress Alexandra!

  3. Ally says:

    Wow, sounds like an energetic, exciting weekend! Seems like good things and good connections were happening. Hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day, as well!

  4. Heidi M says:

    Love reading about good stuff happenin’! Bring on Grace! So proud of you for following your gut… I can tell you’re tracking in the “right” direction. :)
    Big congratulatory hugs!!

    • Pamela says:

      I’m just coming off an 18-hour 2nd edit, and doing my 3rd edit (incorporating manual changes electronically and editing again at the same time) today and tomorrow, around client bookings. My goal is midnight on Tuesday. I have been advised by someone I respect to get Grace in front of these agents within one week, while they remember me and are excited about what they heard from me about Grace.


  5. Eric Hutchins says:

    I am very excited about what you heard from the first agent. I think you have a real connection there and that she is going to give you a legit shot. Go Pamela, Go Grace.

    • Pamela says:

      Prayers :)
      Thanks for giving me your entire weekend to strategize additional tension for Grace, and to edit with me. You’re getting good at this. You’re especially good at plot :)

  6. Sandy says:

    That sounds like a GREAT weekend for you Pamela! I hope that all of your hard work comes to fruition in the near future!! You deserve it.

  7. Irene says:

    Awesome! Sounds like you have leads! It’s hard work getting your name out there! Schmoooooozing is a good thing!

  8. JennyBean says:

    Where. Do. You. Get. Your. Energy?

  9. Tracie says:

    Seriously. You inspire me to reach higher and work harder (and maybe sleep less? Is that possible?) and go after my dreams.

  10. Eric Hutchins says:

    Wow that was are really nice thing to say Tracie.
    And Yes Pamela really does work that hard at it, the feedback and supports she gets is huge though, I honestly think that some days that is what keeps her going. As many of you know trying to establish yourself in this business/profession/passion is so incredibly difficult. The odds or overwhelming people reading her stuff and enjoying it and commenting is such a huge boost to her spirit.

  11. You have just inspired me to get off my butt right now and start working on my novel. This past Monday, I stopped at page 200 to read what I had so far (dangerous!) and then freaked out a little when I saw how much work I needed to do on stuff I’d already FINISHED before even thinking about the second half of the book.


    So this morning I have been blog surfing (and also procrastinating). Then I arrived here. Your post was the wake-up call I needed.

    I am going to go to work immediately. Because I do love that feeling of making progress. And I do have to write.

  12. Ash K. says:

    Loved the pitch-it-like-it’s-gossip advice!

  13. SuzRocks says:

    Congrats on all the leads on your manuscripts!! That’s awesome- I’m so happy for you. It must feel so awesome (and slightly scared of rejection) to get that far.

    Can’t wait for your books to come out!

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