Proofreading

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Photo credit:  Samantha Hurley for Burst

I’d like to pass on some cool information about proofreading. Credit to author and screenwriter, Martin Johnson and the site Almost an Author.

Martin Johnson survived a severe car accident with a (T.B.I.) Truamatic brain injury which left him legally blind and partially paralyzed on the left side. He is an award-winning Christian screenwriter who has recently finished his first Christian nonfiction book.

http://www.almostanauthor.com/proofreading/

Here are my takeaways:

Sage advice to bring to your proofreading – “From this point on, you have to look at yourself as a professional writer. I don’t care if it’s a simple love letter to your sweetheart or a thank you card to a coworker, it needs to be polished, edited and proofread.”

Writers are only as good as they are readers. Stephen King once noted, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

What to look for when proofreading:

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar
  • paragraph/sentence structure
  • content (did you say everything you wanted?)
  • content flow
  • contextual meanings (sometimes we say something in our heads and it comes out completely different in print)
  • is your voice present

Sometimes we know our message so well it’s what we see on a page even if it’s not what is actually there. Our brains hear it even when it’s not written. This is why it is important to get a second set of eyes to look over our writing.

  1. Microsoft Word: Speak text-to-speech feature
  2. Scrivener: Start Talking feature
  3. Pages: How to use text-to-speech
  4. Dragon Naturally Speaking: Playback Text-to-speech

Each of these features can help us better listen to what we are actually saying in our writing. However, they can never replace a professional writer’s need for proofreading.

When proofreading, look for and eliminate the word “very” if at all possible. Replace it with stronger singular words. For example: Don’t say “very accurate”, say “exact” instead. And so on. Here’s a link that has a handy info-graphic to use.

Submit for proofreading – Do not publish without submitting your work for proofreading. Not that expensive. Pay proofreaders $30-$100 depending on how advanced you are. Use online site like freelancer.com.

Proofreading is part of the Refining process. It includes all the various editing activities, input from other readers and getting opinions, reading your story out load to see how it flows, copy editing, grammar checking, and any improvements that you use to push your work from raw to ready to serve. In my readings, authors have said that one-third of your allocated writing time should be spent on editing and refinement. Rarely are first drafts ready for the marketplace. Editing is a friend of all writers; whether it is formal and paid, with a writing coach, at class, with a writing group; or something more informal, you need to develop a refining process that works best for you.

 

 

 

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Dream With Purpose

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One morning, not too long ago, I had a dream that I published a book. An actual book! I held it up high in my hands, marveled at its cover, thumbed through the pages; stopping here and there to glance at some of the words on several pages. Unfortunately, you can’t read in your dreams (has to do with dreaming being a right-brain activity while reading is left-brain. Or is it vice versa?) so I don’t know what the words said.

But there I was, in a dim room. The sun shone bright over my shoulder, illuminating only the book’s white cover.  The swirly designs that slid across the front and back, failed to convey what the genre of book it was. Again, reading the title was hopeless. Unlike a typical novel it wasn’t thick; instead it was thinner like a novella. The weirdest thing about this book was that it was wide like a textbook, but something told me it was fiction.

And just when the book was going to reveal its contents and subject matter to me, I assumed through osmosis because I couldn’t read it, I woke up to the real world where I have yet to finish writing much less publish a book.

As I laid in bed, disappointment covered me like my blanket. Both the emotion myself became companions just long enough before the nine-minute drowse alarm went off. It was time to get up and go out into the real world, even though I hate mornings and work. But do you want to know something? If you want to live in the real world, it demands action.

Dreams are a wonderful thing, especially the nice ones; this one sure was. Waking up to the reality of not having published a book was the nightmare. I knew this mindset needed to be changed. Dreams are more than just wonderful things. Dreams are goals that we should set for ourselves. We must work hard to accomplish them. They require great effort. That’s what I think that dream was saying to me.

Every morning I get up at 5:30am and start writing. Some experts recommend getting up at 5am, because this time seems to be the sweet spot at aiding people to get more done in a day. Although I’m not ready for 5am just yet, making the switch to 5:30am has helped me immensely. Since I’m not a morning person and never will be, I had to tweak this for my comfort. I use both my phone’s alarm and my Amazon Echo alarm feature to wake me up. My phone wakes me up from sleep and the Echo gets me out of bed and moving. The Echo is in my office/guest bedroom and not my bedroom, so I have to physically get out of bed, walk into the office, which is several feet away and speak out load to the Echo in order to stop the alarm. I picked a great alarm for my purposes. It’s rapper Missy Elliot shouting, “Wake up! It’s time to start the day! You know the first thing to becoming a superstar is rolling out of bed.”

Missy’s playful bit of quick inspiration works for me. No truer words have been spoken. I can’t get anything done if I don’t get out of bed. Usually the next thing I do is go to the bathroom and relieve myself. You can image how much liquid your bladder holds while you sleep. Next, I go to the kitchen and grab a pint glass full of water, replacing the liquids that I lost. Some experts say you should drink 20 oz. of water when you wake up. I can only do 12 oz. If I do two pint glasses which comes out to 24 oz. of water, I immediately have to urinate the second I get to work from my commute to my day job (sorry, TMI). Once I’m hydrated, I sit in my high-back chair in my home office and fire up the old laptop at my computer desk and commence to writing.

Sometimes, when it’s a real struggle to get out of bed, I will finish hydrating, then grab my laptop and get back in bed. Yes, you heard that right. I’ll get back in bed, but I will sit upright and work on my projects there. I invested in one of those cool and comfy laptop tables. They are flat, usually made of wood, and they rest on your lap so your laptop lays flat and even, as if on a real desk. The heat of your laptop doesn’t burn your legs, because on the underside of the laptop desk are cushions that stay cool as the laptop heats up during use. I can’t recommend these things more. They’re great for when you’re sitting on the couch too.

Currently, I’ve just completed and submitted a science fiction novella. The manuscript required hard work on my part, but not without the support of my writing group who critiqued it and my wife who critiqued and corrected it. She even suggested I punch up the introduction and fill a plot hole I didn’t see. Clocking in at over 33,300 words, it’s the most I have ever finished and submitted. Using my morning method process enabled me to stay focused, motivated and finish. As long as I keep working the process, the process will work. Once it was finally finished, I sent my tale off to Tor Books for their approval. Now comes the wait. It might take at least two months for the publishers to get back to me. God, I hope my submission is one of the lucky ones to be chosen for publication.

Dreams are great and all, just remember to change them into goals. Then take that goal and put in the hard work and process needed in order to achieve it. There is no other way to do it. There is no easy way. The road is long and hard, and you have to stay on it. I’m on that road right now. Do you care to join me on it? I know there is a fruitful destination at the end.

Characters

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Do you wonder if your characters feel real enough?

The manuscript I’m currently working on requires strong character. It’s a fantasy thriller with lots of action, or will have lots of action. My biggest fear right now as I continue with the first draft is that my main character isn’t interesting enough, dynamic or three dimensional. So I have to keep checking in with my characters’ story health. Here’s some things I’ve been studying and gleaning along the way concerning Character.

At the crux of a story is Character. Character is perhaps the most important part of a story, in my opinion. Sure you can have setting and plot, but you need a character to be able to play within a setting and be acted upon by the plot.

Character is defined as any person, animal or figure represented in a literary work. There are many types of characters in stories which are based on purpose and function.

To make your character’s purpose and function appear rich and interesting, they must go through thoughtful Character Development. This refers to how complex a character is in a story. If you can make your characters as complex as possible without being a distraction to the overall story, then they will appear more real and interesting. If we learn how a character thinks, moves, talks, who their associations are and what secrets they keep, then they can be considered well developed. Some characters are complex from the beginning, while others become more complex as the story unfolds, with the plot causing a change within them. Meanwhile other characters show only one side of themselves for a certain amount time throughout a book, then eventually revealing another side to themselves by book’s end. Try to mix an match these types of character developing techniques in one story to give it more impact.

The purpose of character is to extend the plot. Every story must have main characters. These are the characters that have the most effect on a story’s plot or they are the ones most affected by the plot. Examples of main characters are protagonist and antagonist, static or dynamic character, or round or flat characters. A character can fit into more than one of the aforementioned categories or move through the categories as the plot progresses.

Every story has got to have a protagonist aka “the hero/heroine”. Their purpose is to generate the main action of the story and engage the reader’s interest and empathy.

Most stories have an antagonist aka “the villain.” A misnomer about antagonists is that they need to be evil. That’s simply not the case. This character, or group of characters, causes the conflict for the protagonist. Being good or evil is of no consequence. The antagonist could even be the protagonist, who is torn by some inner turmoil. An antagonist doesn’t have to be a single person. They can be society at large, an animal, an object, or nature. If the conflict comes from something or somewhere out of the character’s control, the antagonist is fate or God.

Next comes minor characters. They’re not as important as the major characters, but still play a large part in the story. Their actions help drive the story forward. They may impact the decisions the protagonist or antagonist make, either helping or interfering with the conflict. Major characters will usually be more dynamic, changing and growing through the story while minor characters may be more static.

Here’s some examples of character traits that I found from Literaryterms.net:

  • Foil – A foil is a character that has opposite character traits from another, meant to help highlight or bring out another’s positive or negative side.  Oftentimes, the antagonist is the foil for the protagonist.
  • Static – Characters who are static do not change throughout the story. Their use may simply be to create or relieve tension, or they were not meant to change. A major character can remain static through the whole story.
  • Dynamic – Dynamic characters change throughout the story. They may learn a lesson, become bad, or change in complex ways.
  • Flat – A flat character has one or two main traits, usually only all positive or negative. They are the opposite of a round character. Their flaw or strength has its use in the story.
  • Round – These are the opposite of the flat character. These characters have many different traits, good and bad, making them more interesting.
  • Stock – These are the stereotypical characters, such as the boy genius, ambitious career person, faithful sidekick, mad scientist, etc.

The minor characters are impacted by the decisions the major characters make, giving depth to the story line.

Stephen King says in his seminal book about writing, On Writing, that characters are central to a good story. I would agree. King believes that as long as you have a great character, someone who is fully realized, you can throw them into any scenario or plot and you will have a decent story. Fully developed characters, who react realistically, will add gravitas to any plot.

Does my main character feel real? Is he reacting truthfully to the plot in the way I have established him? Is she changing? Will she change by the end? These are all questions I must ask myself. It is a checklist that I need to keep referring back to. At this juncture, I need to take a day and sit back with my main character and double-check if he is hitting his marks.

 

Milestone Planning

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It has been a long time since my last blog post. But I’m back and hopefully on a more consistent basis.

This January, my manuscript reached 40,000 words. A fine achievement in which I proudly pat myself on the back. As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, everyday now is the farthest I’ve ever gone. This is a good sign that shows that I can go for the long haul. I can do this writing thing kinda daily. And if I truly do this daily, I can be published. My writing habit is becoming a writer’s life. Now it is all about nailing down how to keep things organized. Since I’m a combo pantser and outliner, I tested out an outline method that helps me in both modes.

With the final word count of my epic Afro-fantasy story promised to be around 90,000 words, I have completed a third of it. I find that eye-opening. Since my story follows the three act structure, it’s amazing that at around the 30,000 work mark I came to the end of Act One. My word count lines up pretty nicely. This gives me the confidence to believe that I’m on track to reach my structure goals. My manuscript has become a big octopus with tentacles everywhere. I need an outlining system that keeps me both organized and on track.

I’ve chosen a particular three act outlining structure that works well for me. It’s called the 27 Chapter Outline. Here’s how it works:

In Scrivener, I created three folders, one for each act. Act One is Setup. Act Two is Conflict. Act Three is Resolution. Now within each act, I created three more folders, calling them Blocks 1-3. Once again, within each Block, I make three more folders. It is in these folders that I get into the nitty gritty of the outline breakdown.

In Block 1, I name the three folders: Introduction, Inciting Incident, and Immediate Reaction. The Introduction folder is for the start of my story. I use this section to introduce the characters and show the ordinary world of my characters. The Inciting Incident is pretty self-explanatory. This section is the start of the story’s plot; the event that sets everything off. The Immediate Reaction folder holds the part of the story in which the characters immediately react to the Inciting Incident.

In Block 2, the three folders are named Reaction, Action, and Consequence. Block 3 has folders named Pressure, Pinch, and Push

Act 2 is called the Conflict. The blocks continue with Block 4, which contains sections called New World, Fun & Games, and Old Contrast. Block 5’s sections are named Build Up, Midpoint, and Reversal. Block 6’s sections are Reaction 2, Action 2, and Dedication.

Act 3 is the Resolution. Block 7 is called Trials, Push 2, and Darkest Moment. Block 8 contains Power Within, Action 3, and Convergence. And last but certainly not least is Block 9. In here you’ll find Battle, Climax, and Resolution.

If you’ve studies the Hero’s Journey, you may recognize similar sections like Darkest Moment and Hero’s Dark Night of the Soul or Inciting Incident being equal to Call to Adventure.

Here is a link to a great video by writer and vlogger Katytastic, who created this method, that goes more in depth about each block and the folder ideas within them.

There are many outlining techniques, this one seems to be working for me currently. It keeps me focused and mindful on the story elements I need to get across depending on the stage of story development I’m in. If this method stops working for me I just might switch to another technique in the future, who knows.

I’ve been watching a ton of Youtube videos on outlining recently. The reason for this is because I’ve been writing this manuscript as both a pantser and an outliner. This has created some organizational problems for me and I’m just watching how other writer’s keep things in order.

Deadlines

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After my 50th birthday celebration and awaiting the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday, it’s been hard to write. Excuses, excuses; don’t I know it. As you, my constant reader, have followed me on my writing journey, you’ve witnessed how I’ve struggled to maintain a writing habit. For the most part, I have been successful. Although I don’t write every day, I do at least something like characterizing, outlining, revision, etc., for my writing at 5 days out of 7 a week, sometimes more. Based on where I started, this is a huge turnaround for me.

But as positive as that is, the process is slow going. As of this posting, I am 25,000 words into my 90,000 word manuscript. Each day I add to it is the furthest that I have ever gone on a single project. This is great and I’m proud of myself, but I’m moving too slow I think. There are days I can binge write and churn out 1000 words. Some days, though, I log only 100-200 words. Other days I’m just under 500. While others I can’t write at all. Time has come for me to turbocharge my writing habit! In order to do that, I must give myself a deadline.

Most people hate deadlines. They have a tendency to put undo pressure on people, causing them to rush the quality of a project. Some people feel anxiety when faced with a deadline. Deadlines can be too rigid which prevents working minds from being open to surprises. But some folks thrive with deadlines. They can help tackle procrastination, force you to set and focus on goals, or strengthen your resolve with future projects when you’ve stuck to a deadline.

This is why I have decided to give myself a deadline. As you may remember from past posts, how I pitched three literary agents who want to read my manuscript. The literary industry usually will not provide deadlines because one: agents read so many manuscripts and don’t have the time to jump right to yours, and two: agents want to give a writer all the time in the world to submit a well-polished manuscript. But you don’t want to take forever to submit a manuscript. You want that manuscript in their hands in a timely fashion even thought there is no timeline, which there generally isn’t. I want to build up my speed so I can get manuscripts into the hands of agents in a timely fashion on a regular basis.

Now what kind of deadline have I given myself? Let’s take a look at the numbers. I have 65,000 words left in my manuscript. In keeping with my 500 words a day, this should take 130 days to complete a first draft. 130 days shakes out to about 4.5 months. Since I’m feeling really generous, lets call it 5 months. From the time of this posting, that brings us to April as the month I will try to finish the first draft of my Afro-fantasy manuscript. It’s a tall order, but I will try my damnedest to accomplish it.

Words have power. My declaration has been put into words and sent out into the universe. The dream has been given life. It is now a real concrete goal. Doing this is an act of courage for me. Hopefully, I’m able to rise to this challenge.

What if I don’t complete the manuscript in 5 months? Then I will pick myself up, dust myself off and set a new deadline. What I won’t do is beat myself up for not reaching this goal. That serves nothing but to set me back and break me down mentally. I don’t need that headache. This is a learning experience that I hope will build up my writing muscles, preparing me for the next project and the one after that and the one after that.

Milestone

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On this writer’s journey of mine, I have set many goals for myself. One was to write for 21 days in a row in order to make that happen. Another was to finish a piece of prose that was longer than 15 pages long. I had never written prose that was over 15 pages (typed, double spaced). Years ago, I wrote a 30 page sci-fi action screenplay. That was the longest thing I’d ever written, but as far as prose went, I’d never come close to that. But now I have exceeded that in spades.

Back in January, you loyal readers may remember, I completed the first draft of a sci-fi action novella that is now in revision. I say ‘completed’ because I’d never gotten past the first draft phase before for something so long. Currently, the story tops out at 21,517 words. That comes out to about 71 pages! It was the most I’ve ever written. I started it in August of 2016 while staying at an ashram in upstate New York. I’m quite proud of not just what I wrote but reaching the milestone of finishing a first draft of a longer form piece.

Now we come to today. As some of you may already know, I am in the process of writing a 90,000 word Afro-Fantasy novel. Three potential agents were promised 90,000 words and that’s what I’m going to give them. With the full intention of keeping this promise, I can only hope that they find the vast majority of those 90,000 words of great quality. One great thing about undertaking the task, is that I have reached a milestone by breaking the 22,000 word mark. This is truly a momentous occasion that fills me with a small measure of pride. But I must remember that this is just one step in my Writer’s Life. For one, are they quality 22,000 words? That remains to be seen. And second, I still have 68,000 words to go! Can’t forget that little tidbit, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

I considered doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I needed to start this Sword and Soul novel back in late June for pitching purposes. Also, I know it’s probably and excuse, but I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to NaNoWriMo. Hopefully, I will next year. No promises on that yet. Let’s see if I can now make it to 50,000 words, the minimum for NaNoWriMo, to determine if I have what it takes to do it next year.

In the meantime, I will briefly celebrate my 22,000 word achievement by outlining some more and try to write 500 words today. Remember, when it comes to writing, Work is its own reward.

Pitching at Conferences

 

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I’m back boys and girls, ladies and gents! What kept me away? Well, it was a bit of good news. I have three literary agents interested in my work. Cool beans! I’m so excited. That’s what’s been eating up my time, preventing me from posting. But I promise to make this blog a weekly event. There is so much to share.

How did I get these agents interested? I attended a writers conference is how. Agents, editors and publishers frequent writers conferences all over the country in search of that fresh new voice. Believe it when I tell you that they are actually desperate. Sure we’re getting rejected constantly by them, but that hasn’t curbed their enthusiasm for more new writers. And we must meet this demand by going to writers conferences and pitching to them.

From August 17-20th, I attended the 2017 Writer’s Digest Writers Conference, with one of my Climbing Ivies of Blackrock partners, Justine. This was the second year in a row that I attended. I’ll write about some of the workshops at this conference in a future post. But what’s so special about this conference is that it has a Pitch Slam where aspiring writers can pitch their book ideas to a plethora of literary agents in speed dating style fashion. Last year, when I attended this conference, I did not participate in the Pitch Slam. With no manuscript to pitch, I was too scared to create one to pitch. But this year, though I was still scared, I had a story idea I felt worthy of pitching to the agents in attendance and decided to suck it up.

How did I prepare? I studied and crammed like I was back in school preparing for a test. That’s what part of your pitch is you know — a test to see how much you are familiar with your own story. The more you know your story inside and out, the more you are able to break it down to its component parts, the better you will be able to relate that story to agents and make them feel engaged in your subject matter.

For two weeks, I distilled my story down to two paragraphs. When starting a novel, you should have a one or two paragraph synopsis that you know well enough. You should also have a two sentence log line that you should be able to rattle off with ease. From these two concepts you chisel out your pitch.

One of the rules of the Pitch Slam was that each writer was given three minutes per agent. We were given an hour to try and meet as many agents as possible. I was able to see only three agents because most agents didn’t pay attention to the three minute limit if they were positively engaged with a writer. While waiting for one particular agent I was burned by this. On the flip side, I was aided twice by being able to spend well over three minutes with two different agents.

Knowing I had in theory only three minutes to spend with an agent, I managed to get my pitch down to 40 seconds allowing more that enough time for the agent to ask me questions. For a week and a half, I practiced that pitch over and over. I enlisted my wife to randomly ask for my pitch at odd hours and in odd places. One time she asked me right before I went to bed. Another time she asked me from the shower. My co-workers also took part in listening and indiscriminately requesting my pitch. It was most helpful and I greatly appreciated their support.

The day had finally come. The Pitch Slam was on Day 3, which was a Saturday. I scheduled my pitch session for 2pm-3pm. This was the session that took place after lunch. I chose this hour because of something I heard on a podcast once (I think it was Freakanomics Radio or Radiolab, I can’t remember). The gist of it was that the best time to get paroled if your a convict was after lunch. The reason being is that the parole board has had their lunch by 2pm and are well fed and satisfied. You don’t want to be paroled just before lunch because the parole board might be hungry and antsy and take it out on the poor convict who just wants to be released from prison. During my pitch session, the agents looked well fed and not hangry. My critique partner, Justine, had the session before lunch, but she suffered no adverse reactions from the agents; successfully scoring callbacks from 4 out of 5 of them.

What was great for me was that I was able to pick Justine’s brains on what to expect from the Pitch Slam before I went in. Thankfully, she warned me about one agent who was stone-faced throughout the entire process. It just so happened that agent was my number one get!

Now if you’re going to attend one of these pitch slams, you must obtain the list of agents who will be attending beforehand. Study that list. Find out what type of work they are looking for and compile a list of agents who are appropriate for your genre. Then take that list and pick a top three. Go to those agents first. You don’t have time to mess around. I debated if I should’ve gone to a random agent in order to get rid of my nerves, which were off the charts. I couldn’t stop sweating. But I saw the amount of writers in attendance inside that massive meeting room and knew I didn’t have time to waste.

With your featured agents at the top of the list, go to your top agent first. I did this because I needed to rip the bandage off and get it over with. If I failed, I failed. At least I would know where I stood. Justine was right. This agent, who I’ll call Q, was ridiculously stone-faced. Q was not playing around. Q refused to have any sort of expression. I’m sure Q’s heard it all before and was probably a little jaded, so Q didn’t want to give writers any wrong messages or high hopes. Q heard my pitch and true enough I couldn’t read Q’s reaction. Q requested I go into more detail about the amount of magic that was in my story. This almost threw me because I just assumed that if I say my story is a ‘fantasy’ the magic was simply inferred. No. I needed to be clear. That’s on me. And you should be ready to clarify anything and everything in your pitch at a moments notice.

Then Q asked for comps or comparables or comparison titles. Comps are stories  or titles that are similar to your story. You know, the old “it’s Harry Potter meets Dirty Harry” or “Julia Child meets Rain Man” or “Lord of the Rings meets Pacific Rim”. That’s what comps are. Now I know that you hate the idea of your story being compared to anything else. Your story is a unique little flower. Trust me, I get it. But the deal is this, agents want to sell your story to a publisher and to do that the publisher and agent need to know what the market is for your story. The easiest way to do that is to understand what your story is like in relation to what has successfully sold before. The night before the Pitch Slam, I crammed online looking for writers and stories that were similar to my afro-fantasy novel. I found Charles R. Saunders, who is the father of Sword and Soul, an ethnic version of Sword and Sorcery or Sword and Sandal. My story is more medieval though, with Saunders’ work being more tribal and Hyborian Age-like. So I found that 2015 Man Booker Prize Winner, Marlon James, was coming out with a black medieval fantasy trilogy in 2018 called the Dark Star Trilogy. I used them as examples. But Q asked what writer who was currently out now did my story compare to. Luckily, I name checked Nnendi Okorafor for her mystical fantasy style. Q seemed to like that.

Satisfied with these answers Q started to slide their business card across the table to me as Q asked if I had a full manuscript. I told Q I did. It’s nowhere near ready in reality. I told Q it was in revision. But terrified that Q would pull the business card back, I blurted out that the first two chapters were ready to go. Q continued to push the card forward and said to make contact when the full manuscript was ready for me to send.

Taking Q’s card, I was still raw nerves. I managed to thank Q but forgot to shake Q’s hand. We were done with 30 seconds to spare. Success! And on my first try!

Here is something else you need to understand when pitching an agent. Always remember, you don’t want to give the agent any of your work at that moment. They don’t want to carry around your work at that moment either. You don’t give them anything except your pitch. What you do want is to get the agent to give you their information/business card. That’s how it’s done. That’s how you know your pitch was successful.

The other two agents were much smoother sailing going forward. There was P, my other big get, who immediately introduced themselves to me. We even bonded over what borough we had in common. P’s demeanor was very disarming, which helped me calm down big time. P was glad to hear that my work had a protagonist of color in a world of color. P was also very enthusiastic and said, “Your story idea is great, now I need to see that in the writing.” P didn’t want the full manuscript. P only wanted the first 50 pages. He said that he would be able to see if I had “it” or not in those first 50 pages.

Finally there was C. C was icing on the cake because Justine suggested I go to her if I had time. I did have more time so I went. Good thing I did. C was very attentive, supportive and friendly. C liked what I had to say and asked really good questions about my world-building and how ethnicity played into it. She too was glad to see a world of POC. Like Q, C wanted full manuscript though.

I tried to get a fourth agent but ran out of time. Justine and I were so happy that we called the conference a success and didn’t attend any other workshops after that. We achieved what we came to do.

Now in the aftermath of the Pitch Slam, I have once again re-dedicated myself to writing and completing this novel. Everyday after work, I have spent at least two hours at the library to work on my story. Lately, I’ve faced resistance when I try to write at home, because there I get lazy after eating dinner and try to catch up on peak television. So by working at the library, I delay my gratification by putting my time. It would be awesome if I could log 1000 words a day, but that hasn’t happened yet; the most so far has been 800 words. But I am satisfied if I can write 500 words a session. For a novice like me, that is a good pace. I now use a calendar to log in my daily word count. I’ve been averaging between 350-600 words a session. The key, as I have stated in earlier posts, is putting my butt in the seat for an extended period of time. One writer called it TIC or Tush In Chair. If you dedicate yourself to doing that, instead of waiting around for inspiration, the words will come.