Sunday, March 02, 2008

Back From the Conference II

Whew! I'm back! I had so much to blog about last night - the flesh was willing but the eyelids were weak. The picture here is of Karen L. and me. We were standing around waiting for the 1 o'clock workshop to start. The wonderful Francis D. took our picture.

I ended up not staying long after this picture was made; I had to get home. Nevertheless, I am so glad I got this shot because Karen was so much fun! I met her at the Friday night Meet and Greet. She came up to me, peered at my name tag and asked what I write. I told her paranormal romance and erotic paranormal, and she welcomed me like an old friend. We hit it off right away. She writes paranormal romance as well, and was the only paranormal author I met the entire time I was there. So, here we are, the paranormal dahlings... LOL! ^_^

On Saturday morning, after the editor and agent panel introductions, I went to my Cold Read session with Cori Deyoe. I was somehow bumped off the list and had to make sure I was added, so by the time I got that sorted out, I had six minutes to get to the fourth floor and find the room. The CR was held in a parlour suite on the 4th floor, the same one we used for the Meet and Greet. I made it in just as everyone was sitting down. Low and behold, who else was in the group with me? Why, my buddy, Karen!

For those who want to know what a Cold Read is - I didn't know what it was until I went to this one - you have a group of 6 to 8 writers, a time keeper, and the agent who will do the actual readings. You all hand over the first three pages of your manuscript to the timekeeper, so they are given anonymously to the agent. The agent then takes them one by one and reads them aloud and tells you the strengths and weaknesses, the good and the bad, what they are looking for, what stands out, etc.

Cori Deyoe (pronounced Dee-Oh) was wonderful. She was down to earth, friendly, and I can't begin to say how much I appreciated that kind of atmosphere, especially in that kind of situation. It's nerve wracking enough to have someone read your work, but to do it out loud and for feedback from an agent? Yikes!

She read the first three pages of the first 5 or so manuscripts, giving commentary along the way. She would say if the first sentence caught her, if it was a good hook, needed tightening; whether she would keep reading, etc. As I said, all this is anonymous. No names are mentioned to tell who the work belongs to.

Around the fifth manuscript, we were running out to time, so she took it down to reading one page, or until she came to a place that seemed like a good stopping point so she could give commentary. I was one of those last ones to be read. She had the first three pages of my demon story, the one I have been talking about all this time here on my blog. She began to read, and stopped to say the first sentence was a strong, then went on reading, and reading, and reading. I seriously thought at this point I might burst into tears...or pass out. My heart was pounding! The woman next to me sat forward a little, and made me feel a lot better. When Cori got right over to the "fall from Heaven" scene she stopped and said, "This is good writing. Really strong. Very nice. I would definitely keep reading. I would want to know more."

Dazed and a little shakey, I waited for the closing, then went over to the table with the others and picked up my manuscript. Karen and I went downstairs together. We parted ways at the doors downstairs, Karen went to the workshop in progress and I went to the registration table. My next appointment was in 10 minutes - again with Cori Deyoe.

Winnie Griggs' excellent Honing Your Pitch workshop taught me things about pitching I didn't know before I arrived. I'd done a bit of research before getting to Shreveport; I printed out a worksheet or two about pitching so I'd have a general idea. But after the Night Owl workshop on Friday night, I knew I didn't have it all together, so I went back up to my room, broke out my laptop and stayed up until well after midnight refining my pitch with what elements I learned were missing: the number of proposed words, who I was hoping to target, and refined the blurb a bit.

During that workshop, I also learned we were able to bring a "cheat sheet" to the table with us to keep us from fumbling the pitch. Since I didn't have a printer with me, I wrote my entire pitch onto the back of one of my sample chapter pages. I highlighted the edges between paragraphs to help keep my place. When I was finally called to speak with Ms. Deyoe, I took my cheat sheet, a deep breath, and walked in and delivered the best pitch I could.

I'm so surprised at myself that I didn't stutter; all those days of practicing my pitch, talking to myself in the mirror: it really helped. It felt so awkward practicing, but now I can honestly say it's worth that awkwardness and the time I spent doing it. I'd do it again without thinking twice about it now, silly or not. I'm terribly shy in person, but knowing what I had in my hand, and having in mind what I wanted to say about my book and any questions I thought she might ask about my career, I made it through and felt comfortable doing so. To me, that was the most important thing: to be able to talk comfortably.

From my perspective, the pitch went very well. I have been asked to send in a partial (which is three chapters). I am still Snoopy dancing all over the place about that. ^_^

I'm still cropping images from the conference and will have more up soon. My camera takes these huge, gi-normous photos that are over a MB each, so I have to resize each one individually to make them easier for loading. But, I won't let you walk away empty handed! LOL! Here are a few random shots from the luncheon:

Ooh, the buffet line! Lots of goodies on the menu: jambalaya, steamed veggies, salad, roasted potatoes, sliced roast beef and the most evil, delicious, sinful looking chocolate cake with strawberries on top that you've ever seen! :9

Another table shot. I was standing in line talking with Winnie Griggs about joining the RWA and the Shreveport chapter, as well as taking pictures all around the room. I wasn't targeting anyone, just trying to capture the setting. I do recognize a few people in the shots though. The woman in the red dress, sitting at the table is Lucienne Diver.

And this is from my table. :-) A picture of more friends! The woman with black hair is Martha - she, too, came to the conference alone. As it turns out, she doesn't live far from me. The woman in the purple sweater is Francis D. She had left the table right before I started taking pictures. She came back a few minutes later and when she went to sit down, and I told her, "Oooh, so you thought you were going to escape my lens did you?" and I snapped a quick picture of her. ^_^ Look at that smile! Isn't she just gorgeous?!

I had an absolutely wonderful time, and would definitely do it again. I'm thinking this may very well be the year that I join the RWA. The NOLA Stars Shreveport RWA Chapter would actually be my local chapter if I joined, so before I left home, I looked at it as a great chance to test the waters. The experience was positive all the way.

* * * * *Update* * * * *

One more note before closing for the day. An update on my good friend who has been very ill and in the hospital. As soon as I got home Saturday, I checked in with other friends who are aware of his current situation. Up until Friday noon, there had been no report of any changes. Well, yesterday I learned that on Friday night he opened his eyes! Talk about an absolute miracle!

He is not yet out of the woods, though. He takes a few breaths now and again on his own, but the respirator is still doing most of the work. His kidneys are completely shutdown, and the doctors have confirmed he will be on dialysis for the rest of his life. Someone who commented on the blog a few days ago, I haven't been able to go back yet and take a look, mentioned that it's so unusual to hear about men with anorexia, or even the complications from it. That is so true, and I'm so glad they pointed that out.

I guess it's because we women are usually the one's picking and preening over our appearance; count me in for that. *Does this make my butt look fat?* But it really is a serious issue, and it happens more often that we all probably realize. I think everyone probably wishes they could change at least one thing about their appearance, but whenever I get to obsessing too much, I stop myself and try to think of things that are far more worrisome than my spare tire - war, famine, anything and everything until I feel that "internal nod". That little something you get from a pep talk when the words sink in. It took me years to finally accept myself as I am and go on with it. But I do have my moments. Oh yes. I guess we all have our ups and downs, but after seeing the damage things like anorexia can do to a body, I have to say it is truly never too late to learn to like yourself as you are.


  1. This is great stuff Cora! It sounds like you did soooo much in such little time!!!!! I'm very impressed. Man, I really wish I could go to one of these. I had plans to make the RT convention this year in Philadelphia, unfortunately the funds were just too tight. *SIGH* I'm kind of bummed now, since it looks like such a great time!!! Maybe I'll try RWA as well. I've been tossing it around!

    Thanks for the pictures. Glad you're back safe!

  2. Isabelle, it was a LOT of fun! I was so worried I wouldn't fit in, or no one would talk to me. Most everyone there was warm and friendly, and I was told the smaller conventions are a great way to get started. There's no way I can afford San Fran or Philly right now, although I'd LOVE to go to a big conference sometime.

    I'll pop over to pay a visit in a few minutes to catch up. :)

  3. Love the pics! Hehehe! Looks like it was great!

    I'm happy to hear your friend is responding. :)

  4. I can't believe that you and Karen were the ONLY paranormal writer that you met! I figured there would be LOTS of them there. Crazy...

    I am SO happy that your three chapters was such a success! *Jumps up and down* WOOHOO!!! Have you already sent it in and if so how long does it take before you find out anything???

    I love all those pictures! Especially that hot momma in the first one;) I'm glad you didn't color your hair, I like the color!

    I am so glad your friend hasn't gotten any worse and that he opened his eyes. I've been thinking of the both of you. It really is a shame the public announcements on anorexia don't have men doing them. Or even like on some of the made for tv movies, having a male in that "female" roll. I've seen what it does to the body. It's not pretty...Thank you for the update and i'm so glad you enjoyed yourself;o) Hope you got caught up on your sleep!

  5. Hey, glad you had such a good time at the conference, I've joined my local romance writers group. Great pictures, I like the one you posted first on yesterday's post, the hair looks great! Ya know, RWA is going to be in DC next year (just sayin') :). Have a great week.
    P.S. I got tagged for the 4 things meme, so if you haven't done it yet consider yourself tagged. :)

  6. Thanks, TK. I still haven't heard if he has made any new changes beyond that. But there has been constantly someone there keeping tabs and letting us know.

    The conference was great. The NOLA chapter really went all out for this thing. I was so impressed. I didn't think so much would be happening since it's a smaller conference. I was pleasantly surprised. You definitely get your money's worth.

  7. Crystal, there might've been other paranormal writers there, but I didn't meet the. And I did walk the room at the meet and greet and talk to a lot of people. The most popular question was "So what do you write?" ^_^ Almost everyone I spoke to is an author of or aspiring to write romantic suspense or inspirationals. Indeed there were a few eyebrows that lifted went I answered that I write erotic paranormal and paranormal romance. But it was all good. ;)

    As for the chapters, I'm cleaning up the third one tonight, and I'll be sending them along with a thank you note either tomorrow or Wednesday. I don't want to send anything that hasn't been thoroughly polished, but I don't want to wait too long either.

    LOL! I'm so glad you like my hair picture!! My current profile pic is pretty much what it looked like before, just a few inches longer - a little past my shoulders. I think I took that pic in October? Hubby was skeptical with what I planned to come home with but he loves it. He actually told me he loves what I did with it. *faint* LOL!

    That's right! You were the one that mentioned that about male anorexia in the comments. You know something, until you said that I never thought much about it...but it's so true. People tend to think it's a women only. They really do need ads and things like that posted about the issue. Awareness is the first big step! ((Hugs))

  8. Hi Ann! Thanks bunches. ^_^ Glad you like the hair! Hehe!

    You know something? I printed up my RWA form last night, and will be sending that off at the next post office run - which I must do soon. I have packages piling up that need mailing. Once I'm in, I plan to join my local chapter. I won't be able to go to all the monthly meetings, but it will be good to have that contact. I'm sure I can slip off and go to one here and there. ;)

    As for know, I'd be tempted to go, my father in law lives in DC. But oy, the idea of being there alone is a bit terrifying.

    One of these days all us blog chicks will have to form a posse and take on a big con. That would totally rock!

  9. Hey, I am so going to DC next year, so you can hang with me. :)

  10. Ann, if I end up going to DC, I'm going to hold you to that! ^_^

  11. Okay, where have I been!!!! You got a request! WhooT! And you almost made me cry with your note on your friend. I'm so glad things are looking up. Now I'm going to have to email you and see how things are going!

    I'm so excited for you! Yeehee! How awesome was that read. If ever I get a chance to go to a conference I know how to contact on what to do!



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