Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Be Prepared

I think I swore to Be Prepared on Lady Baden-Powell's death bed 60 odd years ago. Be Prepared has come up a few times since, but not many. Too darn busy being unprepared for what happens next. Kids do that to you.
I decided to Be Prepared this time and did some reading on attending conferences and contests. Then I find out that dirty old Janet has just written on the subject. You gotta be REALLY prepared to follow Janet, but it is getting late. I will just have to go with what I have to go with.
I too am hoping to go to the Surrey conference and I'm starting to get twitchy already! I don't think I'm prepared for this sort of opportunity. No finished manuscript..yet. No one line synopsis. One line! ONE LINE!!??!!
The only thing for me to do is to do a switcheroo. I plan to learn everything anyone has to say about anything. I will scare the sweat out of editors, agents etc by asking THEM tricky questions (which I have yet to prepare). If necessary, I will motivate them with a hat pin (if time constraints apply)to make them talk faster.
One thing all we would-be attendees have to do is read our own work - several times if necessary, so that we are prepared to answer any question the Scary People ask, just as if we were the heroines and heroes in question, (and not so darn nervous).
Secondly, I have been advised that we should tape our synopsis to polish the dickens out of it and to be prepared to recite it blindfolded, standing on one leg in a tornado.
Next, you have to read the thoughts of the Scary People so that you know what they are going to ask before they ask it. Write down all the questions you think may be asked and rehearse your answers.
To sneak through that nasty minute between "Hi. I'm So and So", the handshake and the please sit down, ask the first question yourself. "Would you like to see my credentials or have me present my story first?" According to a survivor, this will cover the fact that you just sat down next to the chair.
I plan to enter the non-fiction story contest offered at this conference. Hence, I have been reading up on contests. I picked up a few ideas from a published writer.
1. If you are thin skinned, don't enter a contest. Some judges practise brutality before breakfast.
2. Enter only those which offer feedback, otherwise, go to the casino and waste a lot of time - and money - there.
3. If at first you don't succeed, submit it again next year. One judge's blah is another judge's yahoo!
4. Really go for the contests judged by editors or offered by publishers. Those sneaky folk often let the contest judges do the weeding and have a good look at the entries that rate highly.
5. No matter what the old bats say or how badly they mangle your manuscript, your heart and you ambition, write them a nice thank you note. (Notice I said nice). You may have to wait a few days until your homicidal tendencies subside.

15 comments:

Captain Hook said...

Connie, this post so gave me the laugh I need to end my day (yes, my day is just getting ready to end at about 5 am).

Helena said...

Oh, Connie. What a refreshing take on what lies ahead for us in Surrey. I think my anxiety level just came down a notch or two.

I'm also considering entering the contest, but haven't decided what category yet.

Thank you for a great beginning to MY day.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Connie,
I can always depend on you and Janet for a laugh. Thanks a bunch.

I too am going to Surrey. I've signed up for both a pitch and a blue pencil session and am woefully unprepared for either one. I was reading on the RWA Pro group about "elevator pitches". This is the one sentence pitch you were talking about, for when you run into an editor/agent on the elevator. If you've got something prepared, you know what to say when someone casually asks, "So, what do you write?" Better to have a prepared pitch than to stand dumb-struck. I'm working on it.

By the way, I too will probably write something about getting ready for the conference. So there!

Jana

Suse said...

Hi Connie, et al,

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one unprepared for the Surrey conference.

I would like to enter the contest for SIWC as well. I've got an idea for a short story - we'll see if anything comes of it.

I always enjoy your brand of humor, Connie. Thanks.

Janet C. said...

Excellent, Connie! And exactly the kind of thing most of need to hear before heading off to conferences - don't sweat it :)

I wonder how many of the Scary People actually are shaking in their boots waiting for us to come in and see them. Talk about a high stress job if you're not comfortable meeting and chatting.

Remember we can always help each other out with pitches over on the SRW private blog.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Oh Connie, this gave me such a laugh. Loved it. I do hope someone captures the scene of you menacing Scary People with a hat pin on film. I would hate to miss that!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Connie, I love the spin you put on things. Trust me, you have nothing to fear following Janet. But I'm worried now as I have to follow you and Karen. Yikes!

You have a healthy attitude about the conference. So many people think it's just about the pitch but it isn't by a long shot. There are workshops, networking and yes, time with editors/agents to question and learn.

Good for you. And yes, I'm really getting excited about my conference in Sept which is only 2 months away. I better get writing...

connie said...

Dear Captain Hook
Thanks for the compliment!
5 am!? I manufacture snores but I don't finish until 9 am
What job do you do to such an unholy hour?
Connie

connie said...

Helena
Thanks. Glad to hear your morning started with a grin.
I'll bring some wine. You bring some valium or laughing gas and we'll see it through
connie
ps - how much more rain can we get???

connie said...

Jana,
Glad to hear you are going to write about Surrey too! So there.
As for answering the question "So what do you write?" I think I may say "Obituaries" I actually did write them professionally at one time!
Or, I'll work on a one liner that doesn't start and end with Ahhh
Connie
ps Our rain (24 hours non stop, complete with flooding) is headed your way. Sorry

connie said...

Dear Suse,
Looking forward to seeing you at Surrey and reading your short story!
Connie

connie said...

Hi Janet,
I say the Scary People had better watch out for us.
If it makes them feel better, I have a photo of a Near Eastern building going up so high the crane elevator lives in the cab. Now that's stress! Nevertheless, at least he can say he really lives it up.
My pitch is down to two pages (kidding) so helping each other on the SWR blog sounds like an excellent idea.
Connie

connie said...

Dear Hayley,
Thank you.
I actually do have a hat pin you know.
Connie

connie said...

Hi Anita Mae
Have fun at your September conference.
I intend to have a grand time in Surrey. I am looking forward to workshops.
Are your feet wet? I hear your storm made our's look pretty dry by comparison.
Connie

Captain Hook said...

Connie, I work in a hotel. I'm weird but I actually prefer the night shifts. Nights are the time I'm most awake anyway.