When Words Collide 2014
I could easily start at the beginning, or at the end or somewhere in the middle but D. J. McIntosh, SG Wong (sgwong.com), Wayne Arthurson and Clare C.Marshall all said that a manuscript needs the action to hit right away (unfortunately it didn’t and their hands went up despite the excellent reading skills of Susan Forest). That was Live Action Slush – Mystery Edition at When Words Collide.
I was speaking with SG Wong at the end of the day to thank her for her words about my story, she asked me which story was mine but I was too embarrassed to say so:
SG Wong, if you read this it was “Killing Gavin Petters.” I had over described Gavin Petters being philosophical and called a chair an occasional (Something which I must rectify).
(I hope that was “actiony” enough to grab you, dear reader.)
I don’t want to give much background other than saying it’s a writing conference in Calgary that happened August 8-10, 2014. I first heard about it over a year ago; my wife mentioned it to me and said, “You need to go to get Dianna Gabaldon’s autograph.”
I imagined the conference to be like a trade show, only for writers. There would be rooms filled with 400 Diana Gabaldon fans, 80 self-help/motivational writers, 16 hotel guests who stumbled in looking for the bar and 4 people like me whom I would never find in the crowd. Jumping to conclusions without research is dangerous (trust me, it’s the way I write, finish the story, then research and pray to God that you can either twist reality or the story enough to fit without breaking it completely). I had no desire to attend, I had my writing event, NaNoWriMo.
Now fast forward several months. A writer’s group I had joined (but didn't find was the right fit for me) shifted gears, took a hard left and “threw all the dogs out the back”. I returned to what is now the World Famous (my own little world) Montparnasse Group.
Long story short… Barbie “MsBurb” Thompson the organizer and most motivating person I know (that has nothing to withhold from me if I don’t do what I'm told) said, “You are finishing your first draft, perfecting the first three chapters and pitching at When Words Collide.”
I will admit that it wasn't that out of thin air, we had been discussing goals and I mentioned that I may be able to do something like that, perhaps, if I found time, and/or if I
doesn't do excuses. I did it, although the “perfecting the first three chapters”
part is extremely open to interpretation.
(I’m sure if you had read this far you are likely guessing how my pitch went considering the “quality of this post.” Someday I will write one about why you should never judge an author by his blog especially when coming to grammar, spelling, and, punctuation.)
Nothing on the pitch stuff yet, I wish to be chronological and the pitch was Friday at 5:30 I started the conference Thursday night.
Every other Thursday is when we convert the Crown Plaza Hotel into La Rotonde. That Thursday was our Thursday. Rick Northy (no link, tsk, tsk), the co-founding member of our group and Barbie both had rooms at The Carriage House Inn. I did not, a mistake which I hope not to make next year. We had a beer at the lounge and went for a second upstairs on the tenth floor.
It just so happened that Jack Whyte was staying on the same floor. Barbie made some small talk regarding drinking to which he laughed and said something further, which I do not recall, then she said, “Oh my God, you’re Jack Whyte.” Or something like that.
Now, I am a complete ass because I did not research who the big guests were (I mean I saw their names but didn't check out their backgrounds). Perhaps that was a good thing because other than knowing that Jack Whyte was an important enough author to be the head-liner of the show I knew nothing, which came in handy the next day.
I won’t get into the discussions that we had following or Barbie and Rick’s stories of the pre-conference goings on although they are quite funny.
The following morning I arrived back at the Carriage House at 8:00 solely to be sure that I was there in time to sign up for a pitch session (which I was very frustrated to find out the night before had a pre-sign up that I had somehow missed). Instead of sitting around however I decided (talked into by Barbie) to go to a manuscript session with none other than Jack Whyte. Of course you were supposed to hand in your manuscript well before the session was to start but seeing as I didn't know I was going…
Key things I learned from this session:
- Jack likes long flowing sentences
- hates when you use a person’s name too much (especially if there’s less than three people in the room
- he makes every story come alive with his rich baritone voice and Scottish accent.
As with all of the other sessions I went to I will have to do a brain dump which will likely consist of a kabrillion blog posts of information mostly just to solidify what I learnt.
Oh, and Jack did read part of the second chapter of my Novel which I hope didn't give him nightmares (my story revolves around an author who kills his agent, editor and publisher, he read the part where the author is unceremoniously dumped by all three).
During one of the breaks I managed to get slotted in for a pitch session (at 5:30 with the fantastic Brian Hades of EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing . One small issue was that Jack had held onto my manuscript which I had (stupidly) only printed one copy of and I wasn't about to ask for it back, I don’t care if he was planning to just use it for fire starter (I debated sliding chapter one under his hotel room door but Barbie decided that would be a little creepy (however coming from someone who replaced Tom Jones with Jack Whyte as her… well you can guess what list a middle aged woman has Tom Jones on, maybe I should have taken her advice with a grain of salt (you aren't supposed to use a bracket within a bracket but I don’t care))).
Luckily Rick had bought a printer just for such emergencies and after harrowing issues of technology (computer problems, Internet access) I managed to reprint my three chapters.
I went to two great sessions, wrote down what I needed to say for my pitch.
“Hi my name is… …My novel is called Death By Putts. It’s about an author who murders his agent, publisher and editor.”
Believe it or not security didn't come and the pitch went really well! Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I got those chapters printed out.
I don’t think I can do a brief overview of the conference all in this one post so I will save the rest for another time.
|I miss you Dori, 06/04/13-14/08/09|
I hate ending this post on a sad note but just before I gave my pitch I received a phone call from my wife informing me that she had to take our Bull Mastiff, Dori, to the vet. She hadn't been feeling quite right for a couple of days but nothing too far out of the ordinary; even just that morning, although she wasn't full of P&V, she seemed to be okay. We received a call early the following day that she was indeed in very poor shape. Although there were some options for us none were very good and we had to make the heart-breaking decision to let her go. She passed peacefully late Saturday morning with her head in my lap.
When I completely come to grips with this loss I will probably write a post about it on my parenting blog but for now it’s all I can do just to mention this. I feel that I have to though; focusing just on the joy of the weekend makes me feel selfish and guilty.