You know what bugs me about this fancy hotel? There is no comfy chair to sit in. There are two lovely queen sized beds, so presumably the room was designed to accommodate two people. Yet there is only one chair–a desk chair. No comfy chair in which to sit and knit and contemplate the meaning of life. I feel like they could have afforded to put a chair in here. I would really love to put my feet up and be comfortable while writing about today.
So anyway . . . after the second almost-sleepless night in a row, I started the day off at a distinct disadvantage. I had a very strong cup of tea with my protein bar breakfast, but it didn’t seem to make much of a dent in my exhaustion. The convention center is literally right across a narrow street from the hotel entrance, so I got there about 7:40, which was good because the check-in line wasn’t all that long yet. I don’t remember it taking so long last time!
I had to walk out in the middle of the first keynote address because my first appointment was at 9:00. Yes, I was nervous! When we were let into the room, I looked for the table labeled with my agent’s name, and I eventually found it, but I was very puzzled because there was a man sitting there with a computer, and the agent is a woman! Turns out she was unable to come at the last minute, so she was conducting her interviews over Skype. It was unexpected, but it actually went really well. I pitched one book and she asked for a full manuscript, so I told her about another book I’m working on and I felt like we hit it off pretty well.
I was much less hopeful about my second appointment at 10:00. That agent had been much farther down my list and I wasn’t sure she even represented the kind of stuff I like. But you know what? She loved my story idea and asked for a query letter, synopsis, and first five pages. So surprising!
One thing that both agents mentioned was how efficient and succinct I was in telling them what my book is about. Ha! I’ve had plenty of practice . . .
After the second interview I went back into a class and tried to pay attention, but I could. Not. Stay. Awake. I took one of those little “5 hour energy” shots and it perked me up until about halfway through the next class. I was so embarrassed about my drowsiness that I finally left the class and sank down in a chair in the lobby and dozed off until lunchtime. I felt guilty about it, but I was out of strategies for staying awake.
Lunch was a pleasant surprise. Instead of the boxed sandwich lunches that we had last year, we got two kinds of salad, roasted veggies, roasted chicken, meatloaf, rolls and desserts. I was so tickled. I could eat both of the salads and the chicken so I didn’t have to eat more protein bars! I sat with two interesting ladies and we had a great conversation that mostly centered on New Orleans, the Civil War, and World War II.
During the lunch hour, we had another keynote address followed by the infamous Gong Show. It is both entertaining and instructive.
The first class after lunch was really excellent, but by the end of it I was fading again so I gulped down my second energy shot. It did not help. I fell asleep in the next class and then sneaked out in shame. My falling asleep had nothing to do with the quality of the class. It had everything to do with the quality of my sleep for the last two nights!
This left me in a quandary over the last session. I had signed up to participate in an interactive session titled “So Close and Yet So Far.” In it, I would have a chance to present my work to a panel of agents, editors and writers and ask for their help in determining why I haven’t made a sale yet. Yikes! I was afraid of two things. First, that I’d end up sounding like a complete idiot, and second, that I’d fall asleep in front of everybody. I wanted so badly to just sneak out and go back to the hotel, but I did sign up for it and I felt obligated to follow through.
I hung back and let everyone else go first. They were all a lot younger than me. One was an adorable young lady who has written a picture book about axolotls! I was interested in that since Flynn has a pet axolotl. Then it was my turn and there was nowhere to hide so I had to stand up and talk about my book. Not the one I pitched this morning–a different one, that I’ve been reworking the beginning of. One of the people observing the class was Isabella, a lady I met at the seminar last month. Bless her heart, she all but cheered me on audibly all the way through!
The panel members were very encouraging. They said to resubmit it ASAP to the editor who rejected it, but asked me to resubmit it if I fixed the issues she had pointed out. The axolotl girl popped up and offered to read the first 50 pages tonight and give me some feedback! I was so tickled! Then, as the class ended and I was getting the girl’s email, one of the agents walked up to me, handed me his card, and said, “I want to read your book.” Just like that. I want to read your book.
I almost burst into tears. It was so unexpected. I had not even considered pitching to that agent because I didn’t think he was interested in the kind of stuff I write.
This morning when I walked across the street, I was really hoping that I’d get a request from that first agent—and I did. I honestly did not dream that I’d get two more agent requests today, and that one of them would be completely unsolicited.
So, when I finally got back to my hotel room, do you think I was able to rest? Nope. I was too jazzed about that final request and I finally sat down and ponied up for the hotel wi-fi so I could sent the 50 pages to Lauren, the girl who offered to read them. I ate the chicken salad I’d brought from home and drank another strong cup of tea. Then I changed into my “nice” dress and walked back across the street for the cocktail party/reception. This was something I skipped last year but I felt I should make the effort to be there this year. (They do sell water and soft drinks too.)
I ended up talking for a long time and sitting with Stephanie, the other acquaintance I made at the seminar I attended last month. I was so proud of myself for actually socializing. Then when I was waiting in line to get a drink, I was next to a social worker who writes sci-fi and motivational books! He was fascinating to talk to and I enjoyed hearing a little about his life. Once we were all in the ballroom, they had two of the attendees get up and read some of their poems. Wow. Powerful stuff. Not the kind of poetry I write or gravitate toward, but as I said, very powerful and well done.
So there you have it. In my mind, today was a win. Successful interviews and some actual human interaction. Tomorrow I can just relax and enjoy the classes. No pressure. Nothing to dread except the long drive home.