Not really. I know that the agents don't like to hurt anyone; they want us to learn from our mistakes so we can actually sell a book. (Not sure why Andrea ended up on the panel as she's an editor, but they probably explained that at the start of the class.)
Shortly after we sneaked into the back, the panel let out for a ten minute break. I wondered aloud how they would rank my one-sheet. Kellie, now knowing I had mine with me, urged me to throw it out there. Peer pressure!
I tiptoed up to Steve and asked if it was too late to be ripped apart. Well, maybe not in quite those words. He took the paper with a maniacal gleam in his eye.
Actually, their main complaint was the quality of the graphic border. Steve thought I'd printed it out on a low resolution, but the real problem is that it was a template that's been emailed ten too many times between my agent and myself. I didn't have a way to fix it before conference and thought no one would notice. :-}
I expected to get torn up for using a first-person synopsis, but that didn't seem to bother them. Boy was I glad when it was over!
OK, on to the next day.
It's not the best picture, but it was the BEST class. Sharon Hinck spoke on Habits of the Healthy Writer. Mom and I enjoyed the feeding of our spirit, as we've been to many a writing-as-a-craft class. Those kind of classes are terrific, but it was a great change of pace.
A woman I'd never seen before came up and introduced herself as my friend Ruby from Shoutlife. I hugged her and got a picture (see below) all while searching my brain. The name fit, but her face was completely new to me. When I came home and looked her up, I discovered why. Her Shoutlife profile picture is striped sock in fuzzy bunny slippers!
Each conferee was to be slotted two editor appointments, two agent appointments, or one of each. With Mom and I pitching together, we hoped for four. One of us ended up with an extra so we shared five appointment slots.
That translates into 1.25 hours of pure pitching time. That number, of course, does not take into account the ten minutes early we leave class to pee, pray, and p-find the right place. Add another five minutes afterward when we debrief each other to make sure of what we heard and take notes. Add some mealtime pitches and hallway encounters and we figure we pitched for FOUR hours! Need we say we arrived home mentally exhausted?
We'd hoped to attend without having to pitch, but since both houses that are considering contracting our books couldn't make decisions until October, we sucked it up and decided that we were going to be a bright spot in those editor's schedules. We had so much fun! Without going into details of editors/houses, we came home from the conference with seven parties interested in one or both of the books.
My dad's theory is that they were attracted to confidence. Maybe it's just a matter of God's timing. Whatever the case may be, we were drenched with confirmation that we're on the right path. Only God knows who will actually make an offer, but the odds are for us. :-)
Since dinner was not scheduled, we decided to hit the Mall of America a day early. When we booked our trip with Travelocity, we added a coupon book so maybe this meal could be a BOGO and pay for the book in one transaction.
Here's the thing about the Mall of America. It's a mall. Somehow all the hype had us expecting a wondrous experience, like nothing we'd ever seen before. The amusement rides were very cool, but I didn't have my kiddos (including Kevin) with me, so there was no real point.
The Sign for the Roller Coaster
The Lego Store
Rainforest Cafe--if it isn't obvious :-)
The other place I really wanted to see was the aquarium. Yes, there is an aquarium in the mall. We even had a coupon for half-price second adult admission, but when we took the escalator to the basement level, the price was still too high for the short time we'd be there.
Here's the mascot. Talk about a lucky guy in a suit!
These two signs were a political statement:
And an elephant-nosed fish.
The only other wildlife we saw was a mouse skittering across the floor in a upscale woman's boutique.
So we found ourselves, not half an hour later, outside the mall waiting for the next shuttle. Pretty sure we sent a Guinness World Record for shortest time in the biggest mall in America.
We look so happy, sitting on the bench, waiting for the shuttle. Almost obliviously happy. Like we have no idea that the last scheduled shuttle for the next two hours had pulled away one minute before we left the mall.
Fortunately, God takes care of even the not-so-smart sheep like us. Five minutes after we sat down, the hotel shuttle pulled up. After the passengers disembarked, we jumped on.
The driver seemed surprised to see us. "Are you going back to the hotel?"
"Well, I'm not supposed to be here. I only came because there wasn't enough room on the scheduled shuttle before me, but I have to go to the airport."
Once we found out the next ride wasn't due for two hours, we decided we were going to the airport, too. The driver chatted the whole way, using big words like "titillate" and others I didn't understand. The instant other passengers got on, he went silent.
Our dinner plans had been to eat at the mall, but we didn't really want to get stuck there.
Our dinner plans became the comedy club in the hotel. Until we found out they didn't actually serve meals in the club.
Our plans became the TGIF across the parking lot. The menu had so many great items on Wednesday night, why not? Because a storm had risen, that's why. A few steps out the door convinced us we'd be staying in.
Our plans became eating in the expensive hotel restaurant. Their motto has something to do with lingering, and they sure lived up that promise. We almost fell asleep waiting for our food, even though there were few diners in the place. At least it was delicious with huge portions. We had to chase down our waitress to pay, but once we got up to our rooms sleep was sweet surrender.