Got the chance to get my feet wet last weekend with a whirlwind, one-day visit to VCON, the local science fiction and fantasy convention and one of the reasons I moved out west — to have a local Con! VCON reminds me so much of Ad Astra, held in Toronto, that it felt both new and familiar, and a much needed break, to boot. A bit of media, a bit of art, and a bit of writing, with a bolstered writing track thanks to Sandra Wickham (who tackled the job with a get-out-of-her-way zest that should be the standard, IMO, of getting shit done). There were pitch sessions, workshops, and a live slush panel!
I convinced myself, and I think rightly, to avoid the Pitch Sessions. I just don’t have that glib, five minute, novel-nutshell to throw at people like a peppy squirrel. I did have a great conversation with Aviva Bel’Harod, author of Blood Matters among other titles, who gently coached me on how to approach a pitch. (And to mostly not put my own work down. A duh-tip for anyone else in the Universe but me!) I felt a little better about the whole idea of pitching, but still didn’t sign up for any of the open sessions.
But on no account was I allowed to skip the live slush — Sandra had given me marching orders. I dutifully added my (poorly formatted) page one into the basket and wobbled over to my seat in the back. The panel format? Four editors, one reading and the rest all raising their hands when they would come to the point they would stop reading if it were a submission in their slush piles.
They read it. (Last, too. I nearly died.)
They liked it. (They did what?)
Two of them even asked me to submit a synopsis and first three chapters. (Falls over.)
There is not a GIF in the world that describes my feelings. I don’t even have proper words, but let’s try by cutting to the heart of the thing: it’s the first external encouragement I’ve gotten since Viable Paradise. I’ve got great supportive writing friends that offer me critical, useful feedback on my novels and short stories, and I’ve gotten damn close to a few fiction markets, but I have never gotten to see people reading my work and reacting to it, live, outside of the realm of critique, and liking it.
Now, it’s not a sale, it’s not a yes — it’s a “we want to see more.” Well, good. I can get you more. Damn skippy.
So if I didn’t have a fire lit under my ass as I look forward to and prep for the Surrey International Writers Conference, or SIWC, in two weeks time, I sure as hell do now. This month is all about synopsis, query and pitch crafting. I will be signing up for every additional pitch session I can lay claim to for SIWC and look forward to living and breathing this glorious beast called writing for four whole days. I’ve already started on the formative work for STAR DOOR, my (ineptly, inelegantly titled) urban portal fantasy with strong YA appeal, but will try my damnedest to get the same ready for BLOOD OF WOLVES, my AU gothic werewolf novel.
SIWC will be a huge and exciting learning curve for me. I’ll get to practice my pitches, learn what works and doesn’t work, and leave better equipped to throw myself into the next phase. When I get back, I start sending those packages everywhere.