Tag Archives: convention

Waiting Game

It feels like all I’m doing. Waiting. Waiting to hear back on the status of my works. On if it even “works.” Waiting for November, for the full-tilt NaNoWriMo madness I love and dread every year.

Last October, I entered my first book, Alt.World, a science-fiction dystopia, into the insane HarperVoyager open submissions cattle call. I figured, “why not?” I had it edited, had sent it around for queries and got lots of rejections, gotten disheartened and set it aside. But I still love it (do you ever not love your works, even if they don’t take off?) so I figured it was worth a shot at one of the 12 digital titles Harper Voyager crazily said they’d take from open calls.

Except they got way more of a response than they expected–more than 4,500 entries in two weeks. So that kind of blew their whole timeline, and they said it would take longer. So I put on my patience hat and worked more on Undead Rising, my second novel, a zombie-survival gamebook.

In May, they said they’d read through and rejected 3,595 of those submissions, leaving 948 in their “further review” pile. I hadn’t heard anything–I’m in the further review pile.  So that was exciting, and I was content to keep waiting. After all, they promised to check in more frequently.

It’s the end of August, and no further updates. I’m checking my junk email folders twice a day out of pure paranoia. The internet rumors say maybe they’re down to fewer than 400, but no one seems to know for sure and I won’t take it as gospel until they say so. Here’s hoping they haven’t forgotten/overlooked mine somehow.


Patience. Patience.

And then there’s the manuscript for Undead Rising, which two agents seemed excited about at DFW Writers’ Convention in May, resulting in two glorious requests for fulls. It’s hard not to pester them (okay, I pester a little. Just a “hey, how’s it going?” email once every month. Just one sentence, I swear. Teensy pester…).

It’s hard to wait.

My writing brain can’t live in the same space as my business brain, it seems; I have to switch one off to work on the other. And lately, with all this waiting, my business brain has been fussing at me a lot.

Any suggestions for winning at the Waiting Game, folks? I felt like I was doing well at patience, but it’s starting to wear on me by now. Let me know your advice in the comments.


Filed under Publishing, writing

Total Recap: DFW Writers’ Conference

DFW Writers' ConventionOne of the things discussed in a session at DFW Writers’ Conference this year was not to blog about writing. I’m gonna go right on ahead and break that “rule,” because when I was first starting out, there were so many mixed messages and people with a bias making proclamations that it was hard to tell which way was up. I wish I’d had someone “in the thick of it” to tell me what was going on, so I’m going to provide that resource.

I’ve had a little bit of time to recover from the sugar-and-caffeine soaked two-day marathon that is DFW Writers’ Conference, and I’m here to tell you it is money well spent. I was a little nervous going in that I wouldn’t get as much out of it as I had last year, in my first visit, but this year was better. I was more comfortable, had better business cards (based on experience from the year prior), and knew to wear a sweater because some of those rooms are cold and because I sweat with nervousness during a pitch. All good lessons!

If you’re on the fence about attending a writing conference–maybe you’re worried about the cost–I’d recommend you do it. I can’t vouch for any but DFW Con, as it’s the only “big” conference I’ve attended, but if you even think there is something you’ll learn, go. And if you’re querying agents, DEFINITELY go.

On that note: My pitch session(s)
At DFW Con you get one pitch session with an agent included in the ticket price. You look through all the attending agents, pick your top three, and are assigned a pitch session.

A pitch session is basically like speed dating. And you’re speaking on behalf of your book. You have 10 minutes to convince the person across the table that you have something they could sell. If they’re interested, they may ask for you to query them, or for pages. Or, if you’re really lucky, for a full manuscript.

She asked for a full manuscript!

And then, at DFW Con anyway, you can pay $40 for a second pitch session. So I did that, with another agent who I’d seen around and who I thought maybe would like a zombie gamebook.

And then SHE asked for a full manuscript.

So I’m like:

That alone made the conference worth it to me. Especially when my query letter was read at the Gong Show at the end of the conference, and my letter got triple-gonged before they even read the third line (no, I’m not telling you which letter it was. I’m embarrassed. I swear it was going to be SO GOOD, if they had only read a little further!)

But that explains some of the trouble I’ve been having. I’ve gotten nothing but rejections from my letter. If I was only sending out that letter (continuing to make the mistake/take the risk), I may never have gotten the chance to put my manuscript in front of an agent. By going to DFW Con, I get to do it TWICE. That’s huge.

Even without those parts of the conference, there’s a lot to learn. I went to an incredible session on how to do your taxes as a writer. In fact, I wish I could explain it well enough to do a post on it, because it will be so useful. (The short version: It’s pretty complicated).

I also got to meet lots of other writers, of all kinds of backgrounds, and got to hang out with some pros. I took sessions on grammar and dialogue and social media. I got the inside scoop on the different royalty rates (and I WILL be blogging about that. That was too good not to share), and had an excellent session with Jenny Martin on finding your voice.

In short: Conferences do a lot for you. Go try one out.

And let’s dance a little more.


Filed under Conventional

Prepping for DFW Writers’ Con

This weekend I’ll be attending my second DFW Writers’ Convention, held in the Hurst Convention Center.

It’s the biggest gathering of writers of all sorts in my area, and–importantly!–is attended by authors of all stripes, as well as editors, marketers, agents, and other folks interested in books and writing. It’s kinda a big deal.

I went last year, and it pretty much scared the pants off me. Like, I don’t think I could have been more nervous if you’d told me it was a walking-on-hot-coals-over-a-volcano conference. But I went, met some nice people, got to chat with two agents, and felt it was overall a good experience.

So I’m trying to prep for this year. My goal last year was a) to show up (accomplished!) and b) talk to people, even though I found that really hard. This year, I’m going to try to “connect”/”network” with two people. That sounds low, but I’m not naturally comfortable with small talk, so my goal is basic: just make a connection with two people that can continue after the conference.

I bought two sets of business cards, one advertising my book and one advertising my editing business. I’m planning out my outfits and going to build my schedule of what I actually hope to attend and where (so hard to choose when good classes are simultaneous!).

I’ve been doing a bit of research on Louise Fury, who I’m lucky enough to have a pitch session with, trying to plan out what might appeal to her. I feel more relaxed about it than last year, because now that I’ve done it (twice!) I know a little more what to expect, and my expectations are a little lower. (I’m writing a genre that has fewer affiliated agents and guests, unfortunately, so I am not sure Ms. Fury will have a definite interest in my novel, but she has such a great reputation with her clients that I hope to get a lot out of our talk.)

Maybe it’s just because we’re still a few days out, but I’m feeling a little more zen about the conference. Perhaps it’s just the “calm before the storm.”

If you haven’t yet attended a writer’s conference in your area, I recommend it. It makes you feel so much more “official” and you’ll learn a lot. It can also be a humbling experience; you’re definitely not the only person with a great idea looking to get some attention.

If you have, what is your best advice?


Filed under Conventional, Publishing, writing

First Experiences at ConDFW

I attended my first-ever ConDFW today, which is amazing to me because I’ve always lived in the area, always loved science fiction, and I’d never heard of it before two weeks ago. I wasn’t nearly as plugged in to the science fiction world as I thought I was!

The morning was all about panels. I sat in on panels about writing, about game theory, and general science-y fiction-y stuff–various and sundry things. It was a pretty small con, compared to some (I did go to San Diego Comic Con a few years ago, and that was ridiculously overwhelming. This was not that.) It was cozy, and not in the your-realtor-is-lying-to-you kind of way. I think the panels could have been a little better moderated, but it was nice to be around people who can comfortably name-drop James Bond, Serenity, and Star Trek all within five minutes. These were conversations I’ve been having for years; now there were other people who wanted to have them, too? Mind. Blown.

The best part of my day was a moment of pure fangirldom. I got to meet Rachel Caine.

I’ve liked Rachel Caine for several years (I LOVE her Weather Warden series), but the moment she really transcended into super-stardom for me was when I realized she lived in Dallas and had begun writing when she was 26. Most of my favorite authors, until that point, were dead (I ❤ you Isaac Asimov!) or lived in New York in what were apparently unreachable author-y worlds of mystery and magic. It wasn’t until I learned about Rachel’s background that I realized hey, that’s something I could do. She’s kinda like me!

Since then I’ve been hoping to meet her, but it took me awhile. She was my main motivation for attending today. She signed my well-loved copy of Ill Wind and was gracious enough to chat with me for awhile. I did my best not to squee in front of her. I even got to sit in on a reading from her next book!

The next-best part of the Con was an unexpected but very welcome dinner invitation. I am a bit on the introverted side, so my goal (as recommended in Quiet) was just to have one really good connection by the end of the day. I worked hard at being friendly and chatting with people, but things didn’t really come together until dinner. I met some lovely people (hey people on twitter!) and learned a lot more than I ever could have in a panel. Mission accomplished!

I’m glad I had the privilege of attending a sci-fi literary convention in my hometown. What a treat!



Filed under Conventional