Archive for July, 2008

See You in San Francisco!

Monday, July 28th, 2008

If you’re going, that is. My first flight is at 6 a.m. tomorrow and I need to get up at 4 a.m. to make the drive, so wish me luck getting to sleep early tonight.

I’m still busy doing last minute packing, getting the family prepped for my absence, etc., etc. When I return, my first priority will be contacting Microsoft to fix the dag-nabbed problem I’ve been having with my automatic updates ever since they introduced SP3 for Windows XP. Note I don’t have SP3, I have SP2, but ever since SP3 came along, I can no longer install updates for SP2 and neither will SP3 install. I’ve heard they’ve had some problems with SP3 and Dell, and, yes, I have a Dell, but I had NO problems installing the updates prior to the advent of SP3.

Most annoying.

I’m usually brain dead when I return from the conference, so spending a day on the phone is as good a task to assign as any. And, you know, I have been trying to fix the problem through support emails, but my support email person suddenly disappeared and has not answered any of my emails since she asked me to send her specific files.

Not impressed.

Of course, when I call for telephone support, I’m given a different number to call for Canada and when I call it, of course the Canadian office isn’t open on weekends, which is when I’d way rather deal with computer problems. During the weekdays, I want to be writing. Alas, I must give up a day. And it’s August 4th.

All this is to say that I might disappear for longer than the time I’m away at conference.


Pitch Crazy

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

My Liege has been on holiday all this past week—that puts a crimp in conference preparations, I tell you. My latest obsession is Improving My Pitches. I have a number of pitches, partly because I write under two names and partly because I don’t want to forget about the other stories rambling around in my brain/currently on submission. Next Thursday I have a meeting with an editor who has a requested revision of my pen name’s erotic romance single title manuscript. I also have meetings with two agents (one during the official appointments, another arranged outside of the officials), and, you never know, while I’d rather talk about anything other than my pitches and just get to know them, they might want to hear about the book. I also have an official editor appointment, during which I will pitch my WIP. This is an editor who read another full for me late last summer/early fall and invited me to submit future works. So I’d like to come across halfway coherent to her.

Agh, I don’t like pitching. You’d think I’d be an old hat at it by now. I don’t mind writing the pitches, but, honestly, I’d rather type them up in an email and zip them off and see what happens. Why? Because. It doesn’t matter how much I prepare my pitches, how well I memorize them, I feel like an absolute moron sitting there summarizing my story like a back cover blurb. Or whatever method is your choice of poison. I feel like I’m reading off an invisible teleprompter. Both the ed or agent and I know I’m not “talking about my book,” I’m trying my best not to pass out while sounding witty and insightful. The obvious solution is not to memorize the pitch, but read it off cards. That’s the approach I usually take, but I still feel like a moron giving the pitch.

So why take an appointment? I don’t have to. There’s no requirement. I could just type up the blurb and mail it in a query letter. But for me the whole point of editor/agent appointments, especially agent appointments, is to see what I think of the editor/agent. Is this a person I’d want to work with? That question isn’t as important with editors, because you can sell to an editor who then leaves the house and you’re assigned to another. I’ve had this happen 3 times now with my pen name. I’ve sold three novellas to three different editors all for the same house. That’s actually great experience, if nerve-wracking, because you must learn how to work with different editors who all have slightly different approaches. There’s less turn-over with agents. Yes, you might sign with an agent who later leaves the agency, but usually you have the choice to move with them or stay at the original agency with a different agent. Or…you leave of your own accord and begin the Great Agent Search anew.

I don’t know if there’s a solution for Pitch Craziness. If anyone has advice, bring it on. Not that it will help. I don’t like pitching, and that’s that. Is there anyone who does?

Saying No

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Some of you might remember that a few weeks ago I received an offer from an epublisher to re-issue my romantic comedy short story, Deceiving Derek. After an interesting discussion and much thought, I decided not to accept the offer. I let the acquiring editor know late last week, and she was very gracious about keeping the door open for future submissions.

The publisher in question has a good reputation, but, in the simplest terms, the timing wasn’t right. For me. Yes, Deceiving Derek is “only” a short story, and, yes, it’s been published before, so this would have been a re-issue and why not just get the story out there again? Because. It’s not enough to just put the story out there again, how and when it goes out has to work for me. Unfortunately, because of other opportunities that may or may not pan out, the “work for me” and the “timing not right” issues outweighed the thrill of the contract offer. Because it’s always a thrill when an editor and house wants to publish your work, but, in this case, the thrill alone wasn’t enough.

How about you? Having you ever said no to a contract? Am I insane?

Can You Top Me?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

A few weeks ago I told Avery Beck that her 92 words per minute intimidated me too much to try beating her on this Internet typing speed test. Well, guess what? I did the test this morning, and I’m 3 words faster per minute than Avery! Nah-nah-a-boo-boo! Apparently, I type 598 characters per minute. I typed 95 correct words and 14 wrong words. What I don’t know is if the program eliminates the wrong words from the total words per minute of your determined speed. Is it just a coincidence that I typed 95 correct words and have a typing speed of 95 words per minute?

What I do know: No way could I type 95 words per minute for very long. The keyboard sounded like a rabid woodpecker. And, oh, if the entire graphic isn’t showing below, I have no idea why. On my end, the “95 words” is cut in half…almost as if the program doesn’t believe me. Sob.

So, who’s up to the challenge? Can you top me?

95 words

To Mug or Not to Mug

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I spent all of Sunday designing business cards for conference. I had to design three cards, because I write under two names. How does she arrive at that math, you ask? I needed:

  1. One card showing my pen name only, which I can tuck into copies of the book Penny is signing at the Literacy Autographing. I put the covers of Penny’s first two releases on this card. Okay, so the second release doesn’t come out until the end of the year, but the title, cover, yada, are there to hopefully garner reader interest (note the adverb).
  2. Another card showing my real name only. This card is to exchange with other writers, which, to be honest, I don’t do a heckuva lot, because it’s the Internet Age after all and I can Google with the best of them. But if someone asks for your card, you don’t want to be caught card-less, so I put the cover for Borrowing Alex on this card to guilt my writing friends new and old into buying a copy if they haven’t already.
  3. The last card shows both my pen name and my real name. This is the card I’ll use for my editor and agent appointments, if the e/a’s want them (I always ask, because, frankly, a lot of editors and agents toss out the cards as soon as they get back to their rooms—what, you thought they had ginormous Rolodexes and backs of steel?). However, as per #2, if the editor or agent WANTS to see your card, you’d better have one.

This is where the mugging comes in. Last year on the ’07 Golden Heart Finalists loop, there was discussion as to whether or not it’s adviseable to put your headshot on your business card. I thought, what a great idea—an easy way to help the ed/agent remember to put a name to a face (that is, if they keep the cards, which they in all likelihood won’t, but let’s continue to pretend they will/do/might). However, then I started asking around on other loops, and the general consensus seemed to be that it’s tacky. Like you’re advertising yourself as a real estate agent or something. Well. I left my mugshot off my card, but when I got to National and saw biz cards with mugshots, I didn’t find them tacky at all. I liked them. And I found them useful for putting faces to names when I developed my conference pictures.

So, this year I’m being tacky or clever (pick your poison). My photo didn’t go on the cards I’ll hand out to readers and other writers, but it dang sure went on the card for editors and agents. If that makes me tacky, I can live with it. God knows I’ve been called worse (like weird).

My Cat Gave Birth…

Monday, July 21st, 2008

All over my conference clothes. Eek!

Actually, she didn’t. She can’t give birth, because she’s not pregnant. She can’t get pregnant, because she’s fixed. But here I am, doing last minute conference preparation and shopping, a task that quite frankly bores me out of my mind. I am so not a shopper. I know it goes against the Estrogen Pledge, but there you have it. However, I can’t show up at the RWA National Conference next week naked, so shop and prepare I must.

So I’m going through old conference clothes searching vainly for Stuff That Fits, and it makes perfect sense to pile all the Good To Go conference clothes on my bedroom floor beside my nightstand—a constant reminder that it’s not enough to prepare the stuff for conference, I must also pack it. Except, the cat normally sleeps under the side table near the nightstand, and she leaves quite a mess of hair on her blankets, too. Wonder if she decides to start sleeping on my Pile? Wonder if she coughs up a hairball on my Pile? Wonder if she decides it’s a litter box? What if, if she were pregnant, she decided it would be a marvy-lous spot to give birth?

This is why a writer should never be kept from her WIPs. I don’t know about you, but one day without writing whilst doing something braindead like organizing packing lists is enough to send my muse around the bend.

Agh, I still have business cards to create, pitches to perfect. Why did I leave everything until the last week? Why did I ever think I would thrive on the last minute panic?

Do you love prepping for conferences? Or, like me, does it drive you around the bend?