First, I should have done this on Monday, but a HUGE congratulations to Mysterista alumna Cynthia Kuhn – Agatha winner for Best First Novel for The Semester of Our Discontent!
(I wish I’d had a camera ready to take a picture of Cynthia’s face when she won. It was priceless.)
And now, on to our regular business.
Yesterday, Becky talked about planting seeds and how those seeds can turn into a beautiful writing garden. I planted a few of my own last weekend (or I hope I did) when I went to Malice Domestic 29 in Bethesda, MD.
Despite being on crutches (don’t ask) I was determined to schmooze. The hotel had eliminated the lobby bar (really?), but I went to the hotel restaurant bar. I hung out in the hospitality suite. I went to the banquet happy hour.
I met Barb Goffman, who opened gave me my lightbulb moment regarding short fiction (“a short story is about just one thing”) and we spent at least fifteen minutes chatting in the hospitality suite. She also gave me an…explanation of my injury that – to be honest – I was too embarrassed to use most of the time.
I crashed Saturday after my panel and lunch. Much to my pleasure, I spent a good amount of time – a at least an hour – in the company of book bloggers extraordinaire Dru Ann Love (Dru’s Book Musings) and Kristopher Zgorski (BOLO Books), as well as Robin Templeton (who was all over the conference with her camera). By the way – Dru Ann just won the prestigious MWA Raven Award. Always nice to be close to the people who love books and want to spread that love.
While at the Agatha banquet happy hour, I was talking to friend Joyce Tremel and book-blogger Mark Baker when a man walked up. Nice suit, he was very pleasant. He passed around his card. When he walked off, Joyce looked a me. “That was Charlaine Harris’s agent. You should query him.”
I sat at Art Taylor’s table for the banquet. I spent a lot of time talking to him and his lovely wife Tara (Tara and I are starting our own company for people who a) aren’t really interested in climbing the corporate ladder and b) get to go home as soon as work is complete even if you’ve only worked six hours). To my left was a lovely woman, Janet. Her lanyard had a blue ribbon, so I know she worked for a conference sponsor. “I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s so loud in here. I didn’t catch you last name.”
It was Janet Hutchins, from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. I mentioned they’d sent me my favorite rejection ever – addressed to me, signed by an editor. “That would have been me,” she said. “If I signed the email, I really liked your story.” We spent a good long time discussing short fiction and I mentioned I had a couple stories I was polishing up to send. When she left after the banquet, she said, “I’ll be looking for your story.” No guarantees of course, but yay me!
And I introduced myself to an agent who has my manuscript. She’d asked me to “pester her weekly – nicely” ages ago. I mentioned I was feeling kind of awkward about this – was she sure? “Yes, absolutely. I give you permission. And trust me, I don’t tell that to everyone. If I said that, I really want to read your stuff.”
My friend Annette Dashofy said I put myself on the map – in a good way. I hope so.
Lots of seeds. Will any of them sprout? Only time will tell.
But boy, I’m taking care of them like crazy.