Free For All August by Gina Fluharty
It’s August. It’s hot, the sun is shining and my garden has more tomatoes and cucumbers than I know what to do with. My third book is finished and marinating in a dark corner and I am determined not to think about it. What better way to accomplish this feat than to reminisce about my time in New Orleans at RT back in May?
Let me first say: I had a blast. Not only personally but professionally, as well. I’d never been to NOLA before and like every new place I travel to, I went with only the expectation of having a great time. NOLA—the citizens, the city, the food, the weather, absolutely everything—did not disappoint. First off, let me tell you that every person I met outside of the conference was an absolute treat. I have never met a nicer bunch of strangers in my entire life. Didn’t matter where I met them—street corner, bar, trolley stop, CVS liquor aisle, sidewalk, dark alley—everyone was NICE and super helpful. It was as if a smile and the statement, “I’m not from here, could you tell me ___,” was a gateway for them to make my experience in their city as exciting and worthwhile as it could be. I live in a pretty welcoming city but even we aren’t this nice. Way to go citizens of New Orleans! You’re now my benchmark for what makes a city a great place to visit.
As for the conference—whoa. I found out that the editor I love and really want to work with wants to work with me just as much. I just have to get my storytelling skillset up to the level that an editor wants to take it on. I also pitched to an agent (something I haven’t done before and wanted to try). I pitched her my paranormal and this is how our conversation progressed.
Agent: “You don’t need me to sell that. What else have you got?”
Me: “I do have another project in mind. It’s a dystopian fantasy that’s basically a mix of the Bene Gesserit from Dune meets Gladiator. I’m calling it ‘The Breeding Games.’” (I fleshed it out for her but I won’t share what those details here.)
Agent: “Do you have anything written?”
Me: “No. I need to finish my paranormal trilogy before I wrap myself up in this. I haven’t even started the research for it yet.”
Agent: “Not even thirty pages? I’d really like to read this.”
At this point I just stared at her. My mind was in total vapor lock. What do I say? What do I do? Do I lie to her and tell her I’ll get right on it? Do I actually drop the WIP I’m working on for the editor of my dreams? ARGH!
Agent: “You know what? Doesn’t matter. When you get thirty pages written, or even the finished book, send it to me. I really want to read this.” (Turns outs silence is fricking golden.)
She slid me her card, I shook her hand, thanked her for her time and left.
I swear I floated out of that room.
I learned a lot at this RT. While I didn’t attend all of the events like I did at my last RT (Kansas City), I toured the hell out of the streets of NOLA on foot. I ate at several delicious places, never eating at the same place twice. I bought some great art. I fell in love with a city that sparkles even after enduring horrific tragedy. I learned I can do a successful pitch with ZERO preparation. I talked and caroused with some lovely people I don’t get to spend enough time with—you know who you are. I got to hug and reacquaint myself with people I met last year at RT and those that I discovered on Twitter. Let me tell you, meeting the people you interact with on social media is AWESOME—you all know who YOU are! I discovered an author on a panel and fell in love with not only everything he had to say but how he interacted with his fans. I bought his first four books at the book fair and binge-read the first three. I only stopped reading him because he writes in first person and I write in third and I have to finish my damn book!
In a nutshell, I came back exhausted and exhilarated, my mind whirling with delicious possibilities.
So tell me: What experience have you had this year that affected you so?