Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Still Chasing the Dream

While packing for my recent writing conference in Florida, I did the three things any smart gal does: check weather.com's extended forecast, choose the prettiest shoes, and bring lots of books. I was ready for some sunshine, as Atlanta's teaser of Spring went from 60 degree days to 30 degree days and I hate being teased.
The conference was called Sleuthfest, sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America, the Florida Chapter and was geared to the detective/police/PI/thriller/suspense market... more suited for the novel I'm almost done with, not really the one I wanted to pitch, but the agent list was very respectable and I had at least one friendly face in Florida to look forward to seeing, an author pal who told me most of the business gets done in the bar. SO that was one thing I could look forward to. He also promised to show me this cool place. Vizcaya.

One of the statues at the entrance. Boob Anole extra.

Of course, I enjoyed the workshops, learned some new stuff, made some new friends, got the requisite author photos and signatures,
Big name to watch out for and a great guy, John Hart.

Super funny and talented Brad Meltzer, who taught me the value of giving.
did some shopping and went to the beach where we saw this guy catch a snapper, though he had no idea what kind of fish it was until someone told him.All the things you cannot do on the Pier. And now you KNOW I wanted to do them all.

Yes, it was a great trip. Fun times, good food, a bed to myself. Coupled with the fact that my reading of a chapter of We're Not Waving, We're Drowning was very well-received by my peers and I didn't choke on pitch day, nabbing me two agent requests, while two others came in electronically. I also scored some points
with a positive and encouraging critique of the work in progress. It's always good to know you are on the right path.
It may have cost a bit of money, time away from the family, and the bitch of a delay getting home on blizzard day... a delay in a terminal where some guy almost died- when no one could heimlich the chicken sandwich out of his throat.
I am dead serious. That guy is going to have the sorest most bruised chest when he gets out of the hospital. Freaked me out. All I could think about was Palahniuk's book, Choke.

When the people near me invited me to join them for dinner before we flew out, I declined saying there was no way I could eat after seeing what happened with that guy.
"Are you sure?" they asked, "We could bring you back some chicken wings."
"Great," I said. "Chicken bones. Thanks."

So, to wrap it up, I'll say this. I'm glad I went, though coming home in high-heeled sandals to snow drifts and my son's Hooters Snow Girl was a bit unexpected.

Anyone who has spent any period of time with me knows I am stubborn- though I prefer to call it "determined."
I knew a guy once who made his Queensland Blue Heeler attack a deflated soccer ball hanging from a tree on his farm in Southern California with a simple whistle command. That dog ran and leapt into the air, snagging the ball and clamping his jaws onto the scarred leather. His hind legs hung two feet off the ground as he spun in slow circles.
We sipped our beers and watched, waiting for him to understand his predicament and give up, until the guy said, "He'll hang there all day. Once he's locked onto to his prey, until it gives, he can't open his mouth."

I'm like that dog.
I've been swinging under the publication tree for seven years. It's what I want and it's what I'll get. Sure, along the way there have been a fair share of hits and accomplishments for my short stories and essays, but my deflated soccer ball is the elusive book contract dangling from the branch of the perfect literary agent.
And after a few years of hearing, "It's not for us." and "Great writing, but..." my jaws are getting tired.
But here I am. Sending out the novel to a bulldog of an agent, another who wears pink and two secret links, continuing to hope for the best.
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