Party All the Time

by Rob Gregory Browne

 

I don’t know how many times we’ve talked about conferences here. Probably more than we should.

 

But with Left Coast Crime coming up next week (holy shit, time flies!), in Los Angeles no less, I’ve kinda got conferences on the brain.

 

Before I sold my first book, I had no idea what a writers’ conference was. I vaguely remember something called Bouchercon — which I pronounced boo-shay-con — but I really had no idea what the heck it was, even though I knew it was named in honor of William Anthony Parker White, otherwise known as Anthony Boucher.

 

But other than that one small kernel of knowledge (ha!), I was completely clueless about such things.

 

The way I looked at it, I really only had one shot at selling my book. That shot was my former screenwriting agent, who I hadn’t spoken to in a couple years and who I hoped would agree to read what I’d written and pass it on to one of her contacts in New York. Which, fortunately, is exactly what happened.

 

Had my ex-agent not loved the book, I’m not sure what I would have done, because I really had no idea how to go about getting a literary agent to read my work.

 

If I’d been smart and had been paying attention to the novel writing community (although I didn’t even know there WAS an actual novel writing community), I would have noticed that these little get togethers are not only a great place for authors to get drunk and gripe about their lives (let’s face it, we’re all lonely, isolated sonsabitches who need some simple human interaction), they’re also a truly terrific place for unpublished writers to get their feet in the door.

 

When I went to my first conference — Thrillerfest #1 in Arizona, still the best conference I’ve ever been to — I was surprised to find that there were a LOT of unpublished writers there. In fact, I was surprised there were any unpublished writers there at all. For some reason I had the mistaken impression that there would be writers and readers, with no crossover.

 

Shows you how stupid I am.

 

So it surprised me to meet so many aspiring writers. But it also delighted me. Because I knew that these people were playing the smart game. There is no better way to get your work read by those who can really make a difference than to MAKE FRIENDS WITH THEM.

 

Yes, I put that in caps.

 

MAKE FRIENDS WITH THEM.

 

So next time you’re at Bouchercon and Lee Child walks by, be sure to grab him by the elbow and shout, “Lee! Lee! I love your books, will you be my BFF?”

 

Because I’m sure Lee will love you for it.

 

Okay, maybe not.  That’s actually a pretty terrible idea. This ain’t Facebook. And even though Lee is one of the kindest gentlemen you’re likely to meet, you wouldn’t want to subject him to such abuse.

 

So it’s probably not a great idea to grab anyone by anything. That kind of behavior could potentially get you arrested.  Or hurt.

 

What you DO want to do is not target any author or agent or editor in particular, but to simply start talking to the people around you. Make real friends. Share the moment.

 

Strike up a conversation with Joe over there, and Barbara over here, neither of whom have a book deal yet but may well introduce you to Bill or Trudy, who do. And who knows, by this time next year Joe and Barbara may have deals themselves. If you’ve become drinking buddies with all these published or about-to-be-published authors, sooner or later one of them may agree to read your book and give you the help you need.

 

But only if you’re sincere. Because insincerity will be spotted right away. If you try to be cynically manipulative you will be ignored. People aren’t interested in that kind of bullshit. Just be honest and real and, most of all, yourself. And remember that we were all in your shoes at one time — outsiders looking for a way in. So we understand.

 

And unless we’re total douchebags, we’ll be happy hang out with you and offer encouragement and sometimes even offer to help if we can.

 

I know because I’ve done it. There are a couple of people I’ve met at conferences whose books I agreed to read — books that turned out to be so good that I sent them on to my agent.

 

But this was after seeing these people time and again at different conferences and signings, developing a genuine friendship with them and knowing that they are sincere, talented people who just needed a little nudge from someone who has been fortunate enough (and I do think luck plays a part in it) to get published.

 

And if you want to get a good jumpstart on it all, one of the best things you can do is come to blogs like Murderati, make comments, have interesting things to say. Then, when you do show up at a conference, the first hurdle has already been made. We KNOW you. And we’re happy to see you.

 

I think I’m rambling at this point. I’ve been working so hard lately I tend to do that. Ramble.

 

So, I guess the point is, if you want to get your work read, if you want to be inspired to keep writing, then don’t be a clueless clod like I was and get your butt to the next available writers conference.

 

There.  That should do it.

 

I’d love those of you who have been to conferences to tell me your best author-meet story and how it affected you and your career, if at all.

 

Oh, and see you next week in Los Angeles. In the Omni Hotel bar, of course.

 

Lee? BFF?

 

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49 thoughts on “Party All the Time

  1. Alafair Burke

    Have fun! The guests of honor this year, as you know I’m sure, are Lee Child and Jan Burke. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who have emailed me to say congratulations! Wish I’d be there to hang with you at the Omni bar. That sounds pretty great.

    Reply
  2. TerriMolina

    I love to go to conferences and have been to four RWA national conferences and one Backspace conference. They are all so fun and you meet some really great people and I’ve met hundreds over the last seven years who I try my darndest to keep in touch with. But, when it comes to "asking favors" or for a read of my work…I try to avoid it because I feel like I’m taking advantage of a friend. I don’t mind being the one sought out for reads and am more than happy to offer whatever I can, but somehow me asking feels wrong.

    Anyway, since I can only afford one conference a year I’ll be going to the Desert Dreams RWA conference in Scottsdale…it’s hosted by my chapter and I’m on one of the committees…but it’s going to be an awesome conference and I’m looking forward to seeing our own Toni there!!

    Reply
  3. James Scott Bell

    See you there, Rob. You’re right about conferences and how to act therein. I’d add: don’t be dull, don’t be desperate and act like a professional. (And don’t just stay at the Omni bar…right down the block is the Gallery at the Biltmore, where the Black Dahlia was last seen alive…)

    Reply
  4. Dana King

    Great advice, Rob, and I can personally attest that it works. I’ve been a reader and commenter here at Murderati for a couple of years now. At the Baltimore Bouchercon a couple of years ago, I found myself sitting next to the lovely and talented Zoe Sharp as the session started. I was about to introduce myself when the session ended, but she beat me to it. "Are you the Dana King who comments on Murderati?" Then she asked if I’d sign a get well card for JT, who missed the conference due to illness.

    Last year in Indianapolis I went up to JT to introduce myself and she smiled and extended her hand before I had a chance to say a word. She also recognized me from here.

    As for making friends indirectly, I had become friendly with Peter Rozovsky through his wonderful blog, Detectives Beyond Borders. We were chatting between Bouchercon sessions, and I mentioned I was having a bit of trouble getting into the flow of things, as I don;t meet people easily, and didn;t know anyone.

    "You know me, right?’

    "Yes, Peter, but…"

    Peter looked around. "Do you know Scott Phillips?"

    "Uh, no…"

    "Scott, come here. This is Dana King, Dana, Scott Phllips. Scott wrote The ice Harvest. Now you know him."

    And we had beers together the next night. And again this year.

    Everything Rob said above is true. be yourself, and don’t be a douche. Unless you are a douche. Then you have issues that probably can’t be resolved in a blog comment.

    Reply
  5. alli

    A few years ago I met Allison at the RWA Nationals and we had a really nice chat after one of her workshops. I’m pretty sure Allison doesn’t remember me, but if I were to see her again, I’d have no qualms about introducing myself. She was friendly and had some really interesting things to say. (The fact that I had read a couple of Allison’s books just before the conference kind of made me feel like a groupie because I was in awe of her talent!). But my point is, Allison (as I am sure are most published authors) had time for me and my writing related questions and encouraged me immensely. I will always remember this. And I hope to do the same for other aspiring writers should I be published one day. Sigh….

    I’m with Terri in the not wanting to ask favours of writer friends (especially published ones). If they offer, fabulous, but I don’t friend them because of that. I friend them because we have a love of writing and that’s a pretty strong foundation for a friendship in my world.

    Reply
  6. Robert Gregory Browne

    Yes, Terri and Alli may be right about not asking directly for favors, but being friendly can certainly put you in a position for the offer to be made.

    The point is, we all want to help our friends. If our friends happen to be struggling writers, and we happen to be less so (we’re all struggling in one way or another), then we’ll want to help them make that hurdle.

    Reply
  7. alli

    "The point is, we all want to help our friends."

    So, so true, Rob. When I started this writing journey I had no idea about the strong friendships I would make and the amazing community I would be part of – this is one of the reasons I keep writing and pursuing my dreams.

    Reply
  8. Allison Davis

    I was encouraged to go to my first major writer’s conference by Cara Black, Louise and others who hang out at Book Passage during July and I went to the Baltimore one, then to last year’s in Indianapolis, and now I’m a "volunteer" for the SF ‘con. I have met wonderful, generous people (including going to one of Lee’s after hour parties with Cornelia) who were very helpful, providing agent names, encouragement, ideas and support to me. While I had written and published journalism stuff and legal stuff, this novel writing is, well, novel.

    The Book Passages Mystery Conference was really my first conference a number of years ago and although it is small and regional, it was a huge eye opener for me and I learned tons of craft, but also lots of lore, which is just as valuable.

    Great post and great advice. Hint: if one of those writers is giving you some nice advice at the bar, pick up the tab or buy their book and have it signed.

    Reply
  9. anonymous

    I have never been to a writer’s conference because I assumed it was for WRITERS, duh. I think I would have made it past the security guards at a Bouchercon, however, as I have always known how to pronounce Boucher. He was a home boy here in Oakland even though I was too young to have read his reviews or radio plays. I am planning to attend this October’s Bcon because it is being held in San Francisco and I thought it would be fun to put faces and voices to some author’s names.
    BTW. The man who owns Al Capone’s yacht is having it restored and wants to dock it in SF during Bcon (it’s in Alameda for restoration) and hold a prohibition gin party on board for any crime writers who would be interested. The yacht, built in 1929, is pretty amazing and has great history that ties in with Al’s last resting place, our dear Alcatraz. Do you think any writer’s, either historical crime writers or boat nuts or whatever, would be interested in seeing Al’s ship and downing a few cocktails at an Art Deco party aboard?

    You mentioned that readers attend these conferences. What does a writer’s conference have to offer its reading community?

    Reply
  10. Rae

    I’m so looking forward to LCC in LA.

    And completely agree with everything you said, Rob. The friendships you start at conferences can really be something special. Also agree that Thrillerfest 1 in Phoenix was the best ever – I don’t recall ever having such a good time. If we can get something close to that kind of vibe in San Francisco, I’ll feel like we’ve succeeded.

    Reply
  11. pari noskin taichert

    YES to everything Rob says!

    I’ve met incredible people and have made dear friends (who have also helped me in my career, but that’s NOT why they’re friends) at cons.

    One of the most difficult things in my life right now is that I promised my husband I wouldn’t travel to any conventions/conferences for at least the next two years.

    So I’m hoping that everyone will come to LCC Santa Fe — that’s one of the reasons I agreed to chair the darn thing — because that way my friends, and new friends, will come to me.

    I’m serious. It’s the only way I’m going to get to see all y’all for the foreseeable future.

    Reply
  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I’ve only been to one conference and that was Bouchercon in Indianapolis, and, Good God I loved it!
    I can’t wait for LCC. I even signed up for Forensic Day. So, I’ll already be exhausted by Thursday.
    It’s so cool that you’ve agreed to buy all the drinks for LCC this year, Rob. We’re all going to appreciate that!

    Reply
  13. Rae

    Hi,

    Responding to the question from Anonymous about what writers’ conferences have to offer readers.

    Strictly speaking, Bouchercon is not a "writers’ conference" From the bylaws: "The purpose of the conference is to provide a place for fans and practitioners in the field of mystery fiction to gather." Bouchercon is organized and managed by volunteers, most of whom are readers (although there are a number of exceptions to that generalization). The whole point of Bouchercon is for everyone who loves crime fiction, whether they’re a reader, writer, agend, editor, whatever, to hang out for a weekend and have fun, and enjoy entertaining and informative programming.

    As far as what a writers conference has to offer the reading community, it depends on the specific conference. Some are organized to allow good interaction among readers and writers, with programming of interest to readers. Others are so focused on the writing community, that readers probably won’t get much benefit from attending. What’s important, in my opinion, is for conference organizers to be very clear in their publicity about what kind of conference they’re presenting, so that people can make informed choices about whether or not to attend.

    Reply
  14. Robert Gregory Browne

    Stephen, I owe drinks to the following people:

    Gayle Lynds
    Allison Brennan
    Lee Child
    Debra Webb
    Ann Voss Peterson
    Patricia Rosemoor

    Everyone else is on their own. Unless, of course, you play your cards right…

    Reply
  15. Berenmind

    "Lee! Lee! I love your books, will you be my BFF?"
    Because I’m sure Lee will love you for it.

    (LOVE me for it!!", she thinks. "Shit.! I didn’t know Lee Child could be had so easily.)

    Lee,? If I buy you a drink will you be MY BFF?

    Reply
  16. Mike Dennis

    I went to Bouchercon in Indianapolis last year and didn’t know a soul. Amid the nearly 2000 people there, I felt like a Red Sox fan in Yankee Stadium. But I will be at LCC next week and hope to meet some of the people I’ve mixed with on the blogs, including this one.

    See you there!

    Reply
  17. Boyd Morrison

    Rob, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said, including that the Thrillerfest in Phoenix was the best conference I’ve ever been to. Going to conferences has been by far the best move for my writing career. I’ve made great friends, learned a ton about the industry, and even met my agent a conference. I couldn’t recommend them enough to unpublished authors.

    Reply
  18. Tom

    The only writers’ conference I’ve been to was the one my wife ran in LA several years ago. Ye who are skeptical, take heed; attendees made new friends, learned new things, got good crits, and several new writers (who showed up prepared and ready) even got agents. Honest. Really. It happens. If you’re prepared.

    Reply
  19. Robert Gregory Browne

    Boyd, after meeting you in Phoenix, then seeing you again at LCC in Seattle and at subsequent conferences, you were one of the guys I was really, really rooting for. I’m so happy to see your career taking off.

    The first book comes out in May, right?

    Reply
  20. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Coming from screenwriting, as several of us here are, I could not believe that there was such a thing as a writing conference where agents and editors actually made themselves available to aspiring authors. And the community is incredible. Best thing any aspiring author can do – who has done the writing is serious about going the next step.

    Al Capone’s boat? I am so there, Anon…

    Plus Rae is going to throw the party of the century.

    Reply
  21. Boyd Morrison

    Thanks, Rob. That’s really nice of you to say. I remember meeting you there and you taking all the photos of the sessions. It was especially funny because I met Sandra Brown in the bar later, and she thought I was the one doing all the photography, so apparently you and I are doppelgangers.

    Yes, THE ARK comes out on May 11, almost four years after that first Thrillerfest.

    See you next week!

    Reply
  22. Nancy Laughlin

    I LOVE writer’s conferences. They are so fun, and the creative energy there is incredible. I’ve learned so much attending them, and I’ve made contact several times over the years with the agent I really, really want some day to represent me. If I’m lucky.

    My first writer’s conference (in Fresno, CA) I met Harlan Ellison. What a kick! He’s an very interesting man. I also met one of the nicest, and funniest, romance writer’s there. Unfortunately my mind is a complete blank right now as to her name. She was thrilled to death when I told her she was my sister’s favorite author (even though she’s published like 40 books over the years).

    My favorite conference is the San Diego State University Writer’s Conference at the end of January. I’ve attended several times although, unfortunately, not recently.
    I’d like to go to the Book Passages conference someone mentioned above, but somehow the timing and money for it never sync up.

    Reply
  23. Robert Gregory Browne

    Boyd, if you add about 100 lbs and subtract about two or three inches, then, yes, you’re my doppelganger. Actually, make that 130 lbs after these last couple years of putting on weight.

    I should have a sign: no photos allowed.

    Reply
  24. BCB

    Make friends, you say? On the internet? HAH! Don’t you know how dangerous that is? I wrote about my daughter and her BFF (sadly, not Lee Child) expressing their concern about my internet activity here: http://kdjames.com/2007/01/06/role-reversals-and-other-shifts-in-the-universe/ That memory completely cracks me up, all this time later, although the comments are much funnier than the post. My kids still refer to anyone I talk to on the internet as my "imaginary friends."

    The only conference I’ve attended was the RWA conference in Atlanta, however many years ago that was. I am such an introvert it’s painful and the hardest part was making myself leave the hotel room. It involved lengthy debate: "Oh god, I can’t do this." "You did not pay all that money and come all this way to sit in the room." "But I don’t know these people!" If you ever see me at the bar, I’ll be the one with the fresh imprint of a doorknob embedded in my palm. Even then, I’ll be the one standing quietly against the back wall. You might think I’m kidding, since I’m so talkative over here. But commenting here isn’t talking. It’s writing.

    The best part of that conference was volunteering as a cashier at the Literacy Signing. I would strongly recommend to any unpublished writer (well, anyone, really) attending a conference to find a way to volunteer. Most of it was a blur of faces and voices and an unbelievable noise level but everyone was so friendly. Many readers asked whether I was a writer and, even though I said I wasn’t published, just gushed all over me and said to hurry up and finish my book so they could buy it. Astonishing. I’ll never forget the last woman who came through my line. It was very late and most people had closed up already. She had such a huge pile of books I couldn’t believe she could carry all of them. She talked the entire time I was tallying her purchases, telling me how she’d had to work late and almost missed the MARTA train to get there in time and how her friends didn’t believe she was really coming and so didn’t come with her and how excited she was to get to see some of her favourite authors and how jealous her friends would be when they saw her signed books and how much she just loved to read and was I really a writer too and she’d be looking for my book next year . . . And I tell you what, the headache from the hectic mayhem and the backache of sitting there hunched over a calculator for hours just disappeared. People like her are why I write and I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. Really. Volunteer.

    The second best thing was the drive there and (especially) back, but that’s another story.

    The worst thing was "conference head" — overload from all that external stimulus and non-stop mental input. Some people say it takes them a couple days to recover. It took me weeks.

    And now I’m rambling. Must be contagious. Rob, probably you owe me a drink now too.

    Reply
  25. BCB

    Oh, and about that whole "helping" thing? [sigh] I’ve read the work of several writers and was more than happy to do it. LOVED being asked and was delighted that my input was reportedly helpful. I feel incredibly uncomfortable when I contemplate being the one who asks. I don’t know why. It’s silly. I know other writers want to help. Still. I won’t be asking. It truly does feel too much like an imposition, like there should be some reciprocity or something. Which is even sillier. Is that a word? It looks wrong.

    I am grateful beyond words that I have "imaginary friends" who are smart and well-read and eager to be beta readers for me. I might someday ask one or two published author friends if they know which reputable agents might be looking for the kind of thing I write — not by way of recommendation, but as a nudge in the right direction. Although, honestly, I’m more likely to go online and do my own research.

    I comment over here because I love this blog. You should change the byline to: "Mysteries, Murder, Marketing and a Master Class in Something Different Every Day"

    Reply
  26. Robert Gregory Browne

    Let’s face it, most of us become writers because we’re introverts. I certainly am. Part of the reason I didn’t do as well in Hollywood as I had hoped was because I hated going to pitch meetings and putting myself out there. "I’m a writer," I’d say. "I’m not good at this face to face thing."

    I, of course, thought all that changed once I got into the book world. Imagine my surprise when I found out I needed to go to conferences and appear in FRONT of people, on panels, and even doing a workshop with dozens of people staring at me, thinking (or at least hoping) I had all the answers.

    The sad truth is, you can’t be an introvert. Or you CAN be, but you have to learn to push past the natural tendency to hug a corner of the room and put yourself out there. I found that once I did my first panel, the next one was easier. Once I pushed myself to do a solo workshop, the next workshop was easier (although, admittedly not solo).

    As much as you may hate it, it’s part of the job. I used to be terrified of public speaking, now I get the usual butterflies, but they’re not too intense and I’m able to do what I have to do.

    Never in a million years thought that would happen. But it does.

    Reply
  27. Berenmind

    Hah!

    Rob. You sit with YOUR BFF Mr. Lee, and I’ll buy us drinks alrighty……….maybe even an olive or two……..

    Sadly I won’t be at LLC. Was hoping to give many Hollywood air kisses to Cornelia but I will be in Tecate for 3 wks. I will be at Bcon in October. Maybe Louise will be able to go? Drinks all around………….

    Reply
  28. Robert Gregory Browne

    Also, BCB, you’re right about the volunteering part. My first Thrillerfest — as Boyd mentioned — I volunteered to take photos. I did that simply to make things easier on me and to "have something to do."

    Reply
  29. BCB

    I once had to unexpectedly "chair" a chapter meeting. The President, VP and Secretary were all AWOL (without MY permission, at least) and that left me, the Treasurer. In charge. There were 30 billion people at the meeting, including 50 million potential new members visiting for the first time. No, I am not exaggerating. NC is a big place. It was a nightmare come true, with no warning and no time for preparation. I got through it because Sabrina Jeffries and Claudia Dain were there and heckled me unmercifully to the point where I was just giggling through it. Perhaps they will agree to be my minions and attend all future conferences with me… I’ll ask. I’m sure it’s no trouble.

    I refuse to think about panels or workshops. No one is ever going to ask. Really. I forbid it.

    Reply
  30. anonymous

    Glad to see that there is interest in Al Capone’s yacht. It’s pretty unique. It is a ‘ghost’ sister to an exact copy made for Constance Bennett. It could never be registered to Capone for obvious reasons. The IRS would have asked how he could afford a 140 ft. yacht in the middle of the depression. Got him, anyway, dint they! Hopefully it can be docked right outside the conference hotel at the Embarcadero… so walking distance. The yacht owner also has vintage cars that he likes to show off. He would bring them around, as well. The best part of this plan is that the conference is honoring Laurie King, who writes about SF in the 20’s and Ace Atkins has a new gangster book out this spring set in the 30’s and his last year’s Devil’s Garden is about 1921 SF. !!! Poyfect!

    FYI: Possible tie-in….Capone’s glory day yacht party and then a trip to where he ended up….The midnight tour of Alcatraz is said to be really eerie and cool. I have never taken it but I have heard.

    Our own "Bonnie and Clyde", Alex and Rob, in gangster drag doing the Charleston under the disco ball……. Priceless………….

    Reply
  31. Tom

    "I’m a writer," I’d say. "I’m not good at this face to face thing."

    Rob, having met you at one of Brett’s book drop parties at Mystery Bookstore, I have to say that’s not true. You may not really enjoy it, but you do it more than well enough to make sales.

    Try, try again? College tuition?

    Reply
  32. JT Ellison

    Sorry to be so late – but I couldn’t agree more. I’ve met, well, 90% all my writer friends at cons. And it’s such an organic, can I help you situation, rather than the other way around – what can I get from you – I really have yet to deal with THAT.

    I think we always remember our first times – Thrillerfest Phoenix was my first biggie, I’d had my deal for three weeks, we were giving away Killer Year tshirts, I met Brett and Rob and Allison and Toni and Marcus and Alex and a billion other amazing people and LEE CHILD WAS THERE! (Yes, we all want to be Lee’s BFF), I met my editor and it was the most amazing few days ever. I doubt it can ever truly be recreated, but LCC looks like it might come close this year. I’m anxious to get out there and see all y’all!!! ‘d like to order up some sunshine, if you please.

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  33. toni mcgee causey

    The amazing thing about Lee is that he makes you all feel like you really are his BFF–he has that knack of listening and you feel like he really sees you.

    My favorite, too, is my first, which was Thrillerfest. Everything everyone mentioned above. I had known Rob for years, and saw that he was taking photos and since I knew no one, I sort of followed around like a lost puppy because people were introducing themselves to him. (I was terror struck and having a hard time introducing myself.) It got easier after that, and then I met Allison and we hit it off and had a blast. (Poor Rob and Allison got dragged to the restaurant more times than they cared for because I was constantly hungry, then too nervous to eat much. How they didn’t smother me is a miracle.) Then I met JT and Marcus and Brett and… wow, just a host of people like Debra Webb and MJ Rose and Alex and Lee (I was too shy to say anything to him) and Tess (I, um, babbled incoherently and I think I may have scared Tess)(grin). I met Boyd there, too (and am so proud to see him with a deal now! yay) and so so so many people (I am going to kick myself for not being able to name everyone here).

    It helped me get over my terror of crowds, that’s for sure, because forever after, any conference I went to, I had friends going as well. I’ve met wonderful editors and agents and the energy after a con is just phenomenal–it’s like a mega booster shot of vitamin Butt-In-Chair.

    Reply
  34. Robert Gregory Browne

    Vitamin Butt-In-Chair — hahahahahaha. Toni you continue to wear the crown.

    Tom, very gracious of you, but a social situation is a lot easier for me, especially when I’m not the one at the center of it.

    I remember going to one pitch meeting thinking I was going to be talking to a single producer, and when I walked in the room there were about six or seven people all sitting in a semi-circle in front of a couch.

    I was invited to sit at the couch and do my pitch as they all leaned forward and listened intently.

    Talk about nerve-wracking. No wonder I ran screaming from Hwood.

    Reply
  35. JT Ellison

    Oh, GAWD, Toni, that’s right. You just reminded me…

    Thrillerfest Phoenix was where I went up to Tess to introduce myself and ended up saying, "Hi Tess, I’m JT. You’re my biggest fan!"

    Really, if anyone should never be allowed back to a conference, it’s me. And anyone who’s worried about going to one – honestly, I’ve already embarrassed myself enough for all of us, so you’re all good.

    Reply
  36. BCB

    You want gauche? I’ve tried (and failed) to block this from my memory: I went to a Nora Roberts book signing (waaay back before I joined RWA) and must have told her I was a writer too [cringe] because she asked what I was writing. I’m pretty sure I said, "A book." She was amazingly gracious and didn’t even smirk.

    Of course, I’ve learned a lot since then. Thanks to reading agent blogs, I now know the correct answer to this question is, "A fiction novel."

    Reply
  37. Donna Kuyper

    lol.

    JT, that’s good to know! In spite of the heat, Thrillerfest Arizona will always remain my favorite. You and Rob and the two Johns, Marcus, Brett, Tess and many others were so warm and welcoming even to an unpubbed writer. I wore that t-shirt to the gym proudly advertising Killer Year.

    Without Thrillerfest, I wouldn’t have my writers’ group, my agent, and some wonderful friends like you, Rob. I look forward to making new ones at LCC (my first time there).

    Reply

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