Hi, everyone! And greetings from the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan! The weather is extremely cold here as we brace for our first snow storm of the winter (except for the weird one we had on October 29). Tomorrow (Saturday) we could have as much as five inches, with more across the Hudson River in New Jersey where I live. Natives who usually complain about the winters are actually excited because a winter here with zero snow seems oddly wrong. I’m excited too because I’m one of the strange people who truly loves the snow. And being in the city during the storm will be especially fun.
Meanwhile, I arrived at the hotel just as the conference was getting underway. Had to really push my body through the lingering dizziness from treatment #5, a successful push eventually made possible by my mind, which was excited like a kid about coming here. The sessions began at 4:00 p.m., right on the scheduled dot, and did not conclude until 7:15. Upon returning to my room, there was no heat, and within a few minutes I was shivering. So, they had to call an engineer, who was working somewhere else at that moment, and I waited in the lobby bar where I had a club sandwich and a cranberry juice (missing my favored wine and calamari but pretending). By the time they switched my room, it was almost 9:30. Then I settled in (the new room is great–bigger, newly renovated, and a nice reward), washed my face, took off my hair ( 🙂 ), and sat down to transcribe my copious notes for you from the three sessions. But I’m too tired to do a good job for you, so I’ll get the notes out to you first thing in the morning before I report for duty at session #1 at 9:00.
Here are the three topics and presenters, though, as a tease:
- “Writing About Yourself in the Digital Age” — A.J. Jacobs, Author
- “Writing the 21st Century Novel” — Donald Maass, Literary Agent (extraordinary)
- “Pitch Perfect” — Chuck Sambuchino, Author, and Editor of Guide to Literary Agents
All three sessions were outstanding, although my favorite was Maass. And since I was sitting at a table up front, he sat there too for about fifteen minutes ahead of his presentation. I’ve pitched to him at previous conferences, and he just oozes the desire to help writers. A young fellow next to me had never pitched anything to anyone before (and I think this is his first conference). After a couple of questions from the young man, Maass just instinctively and automatically asked him to give the pitch and then began giving him suggestions. Maass used his last-minute prep time for his own presentation to help an aspiring novelist instead. And that just might turn out to be the most impressive event during these three days. We’ll see.
As an update, I’ve decided that I will pitch my nonfiction project tomorrow. Passing up the opportunity to receive input from a bunch of agents would be fairly stupid, I’ve concluded. Unlike last year, I have absolutely no expectations other than to learn something. You will naturally be updated.
Meanwhile, this weekend is definitely not going to be disappointing. I can already tell. Stay tuned for my early Saturday morning post on today’s sessions. Then there will be four more sessions ahead of the three-hour Pitch Slam in the afternoon. My energy is low but happily uplifted by the inspiration and motivational charge I always get from this conference. Can’t wait to share the details after a little sleep.
Have a good night! I’ll take some pictures of the snow during lunch. Sweet dreams to all!