Last year, when I attended the Surrey International Writer's Conference, I was completely oblivious to etiquette, dos and don'ts, and who many of the agents, editors, and authors were. This year, I had a much wider awareness of all of those things and yet, I still feel like I was ill prepared to pitch. Regardless of how much you believe in your writing and your story, it is really hard to sum it up in a couple of lines in front of someone that you've admired from afar and think would be a great fit for your work. So even though I have far more knowledge this year and feel a lot stronger as a writer, I ended up looking like this in front of Carolyn Forde.
She had to prompt me to tell her what my story was about and I actually said (out loud), "I don't know what to say to you." Nice use of my ten minutes, I know. Nearing the 8 minute mark, she mentioned that I'd told her nothing about myself. I managed to tell her, without suddenly shouting it like an idiot, that I was going to be published in a Christmas anthology next month through Foreward Literary. She kindly mentioned that sharing your publishing credits is kind of important.
And let's not forget that I had the wonderful opportunity of having lunch with the lovely Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary. She has a full of my work so I can tell you it took some effort not to shameless beg her, but instead, just enjoy her humor and company.
This doesn't include my wide-eyed wonder (ok, staring) at being in close proximity to Michael Slade, whose stories, voice and laugh I could listen to endlessly. He just seems like the kind of person you WANT to be friends with. Not me of course, because that would involve carrying on a normal conversation with him that didn't start and end with me telling him, "You're Michael Slade." Cause I'm cool like that.
In the end, I did okay. I don't think I embarassed myself too much or scared anyone off. It was nice to meet some of the people I've been chatting with via social media. It was awesome to listen to writers speak and just be in the same room with them. I had an excellent lunch and if nothing else, made a new friend. And I got a request for a full of my manuscript. I may not have been any smoother at pitching or socializing this year, but I appreciate the opportunities that arose much more than last year because I actually recognize them as that.
I often feel like a teenager uncertain of who they want to be and now that my first story is being published, that feeling has doubled. I thought I was done trying to figure out which group I wanted to be part of, done trying to figure out where I want to belong. Apparently not. The thing is, I don't have one place I want to belong, one person I want to be, one thing I want to do. The benefit of no longer being a teenager is, I know that this is okay. The people that care about me, want to be in my life, and know me, won't ask me to choose. I can be a quirky grade five teacher that does her best to get kids pumped about learning and reading. I can be a mom who is trying her best to raise two girls who believe in themselves and see how beautiful they are. I can be a writer who turns out a children's story in a half an hour. I can be a romance writer that sneaks in little pieces of herself into her characters. The one thing I can't be, is only one of these. I worried when the cover for Holiday Spice came out (which, if you missed the news on Twitter, is the Christmas anthology that is going to publish one of my stories) that maybe it wasn't okay to blur the lines. I considered using a pen named and had a lengthy discussion with more than one friend. In the end I decided, no, I'll use my own name. It's one piece of who I am, but it's still me. It's the piece of me that cries easily at sweet moments, the part of me that truly believes people can be meant to be, the side of me that re reads all the sappy moments in every book I have when I'm feeling down. Letting people know that there's that side of me is a risk and I'm not great with risks. But, as an adult, we learn that the people you really want in your life accept every part of you. Did I take some teasing on the cover of the holiday romance? Yes. Were the people that care about me proud of me anyway? Yes. As a teen, we don't realize that the more we become ourselves, the more appealing we are. It's still hard to accept that as an adult but I think that by using my own name and not a pen name, I've made a step toward that. Do I want my grade fives reading my romance stories? No. They're written for adults. My children's books? Yes. They're written for kids. Can I write a children's story and work on romance in the same day? Yup. There are many sides of each of us and sometimes those lines blur but we need to surround ourselves with people that see the whole picture and not just one little piece. As it is Thanksgiving today, I am thankful I have so many people that do see all of me and, more importantly, like me anyway.
Technically, it rains a lot in BC. But that's not really what this is about. This is about me waiting for things to happen and realizing that so much IS happening. I have some publishing news that I want to share but I haven't received my confirmation email so I'm cautiously waiting but promise I'll tell as soon as I can. But here's what's up in October:
October 9th.................................So You Think You Can Write
Top 50 entries chosen
October 15th................................Gold Rose Competition
Finalists are notified
October 18th.................................WE Day Vancouver
I will take 20 kids to see amazing and motivating
speakers & be reminded of what really matters in life.
October 24th................................Dinner with REAL authors
I was invited last year, by a friend, to spend an
evening w/writers like Diana Gabaldon, Sam Sykes,
Jack Whyte, and Michael Slade. Last year I was too
nervous to speak. This year I will talk to someone!
October 25th.................................Surrey International Writers Conference
Keynote speakers, workshops, authors AND
I will get to meet/talk to Michelle Johnson,
Carolyn Forde, and Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg
All the while, I'll be waiting to hear back from agents who are reading Damaged, my newest contemporary romantic suspense manuscript. Busy. And let's not forget what this month is really all about, according to my ten year old and seven year old (because writing is great and being published would be lovely but does not hold a candle in their world to:) HALLOWEEN
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