Thursday, November 27, 2014

Always More To Be Thankful For

So, today's post will be brief, because, you know, it's today, and I've got a lot to do in the kitchen.
On 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. 
But 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.
I was 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. 
So, 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."
The 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." 
She 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."
And 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 book."
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.
Every 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.

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