So, today's post will be brief, because, you know, it's today, and I've got a lot to do in the kitchen.
the theme of who or what to be thankful for, I've already said a lot
over the past year, in no small part to this year being a HUGE
one in terms of "being thankful". I've talked at length about some key
people who I'm thankful for, and in the acknowledgements page of Thorn I list a bunch more.
there is someone I don't list, but who did something I was quite
thankful for-- who personified what I think a writers community should
be about. Her name was Brenna Smith.
at the DFW Writers Conference, back in 2011 before I had secured my
agent. That conference is one where fledgling professional writers have
the opportunity to pitch to agents. If you are in the query/pitch
stage of things, and you can manage going to one of these, I can highly
recommend it, because you are surrounded by your peers. Just about everyone there is in the same place.
Well, as I was in that place, I had been querying Thorn and Holver Alley Crew (what would become A Murder of Mages
was still a rough draft at that point), and I had a pitch meeting
scheduled for Sunday morning. I had spent Saturday going to panels,
practicing my pitch, and beating down my nerves.
And then a little after 5pm, I got the email. A rejection on one of my queries for Holver Alley Crew. By the very agent I was scheduled to pitch to the next morning.
Needless to say, I was a wreck.
I'm sitting there, brooding, and this woman--- Brenna-- is with a
group of people, and she spots me and calls me over to join them. She immediately zeroes in on something being wrong and pulls it out of me.
Once I tell her, she asks, "What do you write?"
"All right, hold on."
various agents attending the conference are all at a dinner with the
organizers, and the big mixer was scheduled to start in a little bit.
She slips off and then comes back in a few minutes.
"Come with me."
brings me into the ballroom near the door where the agents are going to
enter in from the dinner. When they start to come in, she goes up to
one and starts chatting her up. She gently leads this agent in my
direction, and then goes, "Oh, hey, have you met Marshall? He writes
fantasy books. Oh, I have to check on something, I'll be right back."
thus, there I was, in a casual, impromptu pitch with a completely new
agent. And it was casual and organic feeling-- we talked about Buffy
and D&D and worldbuilding before she said, "So, tell me about your
That, friends, was exactly what I
needed in order to not end up in a meltdown. Now, of course, that pitch
didn't end up with representation... but having the shot did a lot to
bring me back to a balanced place.
And it was all thanks to Brenna Smith.
writers community needs a Brenna, I think. So while we're all being
thankful, we should also think about how to be the person that others
are thankful for. Because that person can make a huge difference, and
that's how we pay it forward.