Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pitching in Seattle

I'm pretty sure today's my day to blog since Piper just posted on Monday, but if it's not I apologize for stepping on someone's toes!

I'm so excited about the conference I'll be attending in Seattle tomorrow. After all the hoopla about RWA Nationals, this is anti-climactic for most romance writers, but the PNWA Conference will be my first time there and I get butterflies just thinking about it. I'm not new to writers conferences after attending every single Colorado Gold for the past 14 years, but this one is new and different for me so I kind of feel like a conference virgin. I remember how it had felt at my first CG, and I'm hoping to recapture that jittery sense of awe and anticipation.

I'm treating myself to this pricey excursion because it's my birthday present to me, and on my special day, July 28, I have an agent appointment with Rachel Vater. It's been a long, long while since I've explored the agent search, so this is extremely gratifying that I get to pitch to my first-choice agent with my nearly completed Urban Fantasy novel. I also have a group appointment with Tor editor Paul Stevens right after that. So I'm primed for having a super good time.

Okay, now comes the all-important pitch that I'm still working on. Maybe you can help me, and at the same time, give me an example of your own one-sentence pitch of your novel. The object is to get it down to as few words as possible and still get the story's main conflict in there. This is tough. How do you boil down a 100,000 word book into one sentence?

Here's my attempt: A thief becomes a hero, risking death for freedom from the greedy group of modern-day sorcerers who forced her to steal.

I know I'll have the chance to say more than that during my appointment – I have a whole ten minutes -- but this is the hook, the main stakes of the story and the character's motivation to achieve her goal. So now that I've shown you mine, will you show me yours? 8^)


Paty Jager said...

Karen, have fun at your conference! Your pitch sounds intriguing.

Here's mine: Duty and honor binds and rips lovers apart.

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Paty. Yours is interesting, too. I can see how duty and honor could test a relationship when the couple is tugged between the two.

wavybrains said...

Have fun Karen! I'm trying to not to feel too bummed about not going! I hope you have a great time. I love the PNWA organization.

I hope your appointment goes well. My only suggestion is to make it more clear that your central character is a woman. (I think?) If this is so, it makes the story instantly more intriguing, and you might want to think about how to highlight her--maybe simply by naming her in the sentence.

Good luck! I'm still working on a tagline for the WIP that I just finished. I've been playing with: "A woman with too many plans meets her match in a guy with no plans. She's about to find out how wild & wonderful life without a plan is." Bletch. Need more work. Still working on it.

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Wavy. Yes, I agree, I'd like to make it clear the character is a woman, and I'd really like to include her name but I'm afraid the unusual name of "Chalice" will throw people off. I've got to figure it out somehow.

Your hook is terrific! It also offers a taste of your voice, which is hard to pull off. Using the word "plan" 3 times may not be a good idea, but you can replace it easy enough with a synonym for the third reference. I think that's all you need and you have a winner! 8^)

wavybrains said...

Thanks Karen!

I think Chalice is clearly a feminine name. Also, it conveys a bit of "Fantasy" without hitting them over the head with "In my urban fantasy of 90.000 words." I'd include her name.

But, I'm also a BIG fan of unusual names. Chalice is a great name for a thief turned hero. And I like that you don't use the word heroine, b/c that is just TOO overused in the romance genre.

Something you might not know: At other PNWA events, there's a wide mix from business casual to REALLY northwest casual with a few east-coast chic thrown in. Artsy Business casual seems to REALLY stand out and give a professional air when there's a lot of rather wacky outfits meandering around. IMHO. There's also a lot of guys---which is really weird when you're used to RWA. But, I think your Rocky mountain events also have guys, so you might be more used to that :) GOOD LUCK!

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks for the fashion tips, Wavy. Lord knows I need 'em. In Bend the look is "grunge chic." Use your imagination. My style is pretty casual, but not dumpy, so hopefully I don't stand out too much. I'm bringing a variety of clothes. In fact, the ironing board is up and waiting for me to feed it my wrinkled tops and trousers. I'll toss in some summer dresses for the evening events. There are a lot of 'em!

I'm totally used to guys attending conferences and I think it's weird when there are none. I've never been to an RWA conference (other than our little one-day event every year) so I have no clue what that's like. I think it would be strange. I'd have testosterone withdrawal.

Alice Sharpe said...

Karen --
I just pitched a book over the phone yesterday to my editor. I used more than one sentence and don't know why you are limiting yourself the way you are. I don't know that a pitch needs to resemble a blurb.

I'll tell you what I told Eli. Talk like you are talking to a friend.

So, regardless of overworked words and keeping in mind this is spoken and not written and needs to be both intriguing and crystal clear, I'd work on what you have just to loosen it up and make it easier to grasp in the midst of all the things she is going to hear.
Like this--
My book is a futuristic fantasy (or whatever) of XXX words. The heroine is a thief who risks everything to gain freedom from a greedy group of modern day sorcerers who forced her to steal. (I used "everything" instead of death to imply there is more at risk than her "life" because I have a feeling there is more at risk in your book than her survival.)

It seems clearer to me, less rehearsed, and more like spoken words though the differences are minute.

I'm sorry to go on, I sometimes think I am half editor. And maybe I'm wrong.

Anyway, have a wonderful time at your conference and come home and tell us all about it! It's good to do something different. I'm anxious to hear how your appointments go and what you think.

Fingers and toes crossed,


Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Alice! The one-liner is something preached by many agents, Jessica Faust of Book Ends being one of them, but I know I'll be saying more than that in my appointment. The one-liner is what you say while standing in the buffet line or riding in the elevator and someone asks you "What's your book about?" Just a snappy one-two-three and the concept is there. Short and succinct. The appointment, of course, gives you lots more leeway. Still, I wanted to open with the one-liner. I love your suggestion! Thanks!

Alice Sharpe said...

Oh, good Karen, I was worried I'd intruded!

Have fun!


Anonymous said...

Good Luck Karen! And be sure to have loads of fun too!

I'm really looking forward to reading Chalice's story and I love, love, love her name too!

Lisa Pulliam said...

I love that single line! I think that's a great way to open the pitch. Either go into a bit more detail, or let them ask you questions based on that. Either way. Very engaging!

I hope it went well. Update! Update! Update!!! Can't wait to hear :)