Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rolling in the Cheesecake

I hate picking titles for posts. I hate titles in general. They frontload the reader's expectations, and I'd rather folks come to my stories with a blank slate. I just dislike the whole process. cummings had it right.

Anyway, the Super Important Dinner. When I got to Austin I checked into the hotel, got my goodie bag and then went to the first panel. When I got back, there were three messages in my room: two from work, with questions that were frankly idiotic, and the third was from Joshua Bilmes. Joshua wanted to arrange a time to talk, so I called him back and we decided to have dinner on Saturday night, at the Cheesecake Factory about a block away. Swell. That pretty much ruined me, mentally.

I wasn't sure what to expect. This is the first time someone in the industry, much less an agent, offered to buy me food so that we could sit and talk. About what?! I don't know! I don't know how to have normal conversations, people! I was, quite simply, a mental wreck for the next couple days as I tried to figure out what I was going to talk about. Did he want to talk about my book? Was I going to have to "pitch" the novel? I don't know! DON'T! KNOW!

So I obsessed. I worried too much. I did a pretty good job of relaxing, but there was always a little niggling nervousness at the back of my head. It got worse when, on Friday night, I tried to practice pitch the book to some guys I had met at the bar. It didn't go well. So saturday I cozied away into a distant nook of the hotel with my notebook and figured out what I was going to say, if the conversation got to that point. I'll spare the tension - we never got there. I was glad to have the pitch in my head, because it cleared up some of my own questions about the book, as well as revealing some problems with the narrative. All good.

Anyway. The dinner itself. There were five of us at the table. Me, Joshua Bilmes, Steve Macino (Joshua's assistant, and a fine agent and beer drinker in his own right), Frederic Durbin and *handwaving* I believe the fifth was John Richard Parker, an agent out of London. He didn't have his nametag on, and we only exchanged names at the beginning of the evening when I was, quite frankly, high on fear and tension.

Stories have complications. Makes them interesting. This story's complication is that Joshua, our esteemed patron and the central character in the dinner's narrative, had lost his voice. Oh, and Frederic had food poisoning, and spent most of the evening hunched over. And I had been up for many, many hours. So Joshua passed notes on napkins, and the rest of us just tried to get on. It was really a very good night. We talked about publishing, books, fantasy...the kinds of things that I can actually talk about in a social setting. That almost never happens to me. It was an excellent dinner, and a good time.

The next day I did get to actually talk to Joshua, bookwise. There wasn't much to it. He asked when I was going to get something to him, I explained where I was in the progress bar, that readers had copies, I was re-reading the current manuscript, and that I anticipated having the thing done sometime in January. He told me to not bother with a query letter or anything, just send the manuscript and let him know via email that it was on the way. He was also pretty hot on me going to NaSFic in St Louis this year, which I'm not sure I'll do. I just can't afford two cons in a year, and right now I'm intending to go to Saratoga in November. That just seems like a better place for me to be, professionally. *shrug*

Anyway. I'm happy, and writing.


At 4:11 PM , Blogger colin said...

Wow, you are a literary god.

I'm sure all these agent-y people are used to dealing with nervous and antisocial SF authors. Part of their job, no?

Ears prick up...

"Saratoga?" "November?"

At 2:58 PM , Blogger Tim Akers said...

Indeed. Saratoga NY, Nov 1-4, 2007. I think the wife and I are going to amtrak our way in.

At 8:10 PM , Blogger Marshdrifter said...

In my experience you don't really need to worry about the pitch. When you practice one, it'll always bomb and yet, when you need one (assuming you know your subject material) it'll be a lot like a conversation about your subject material.


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