The One I Love

The screeching brought me back to reality and I put down the murder mystery I was reading. I looked out my window and saw a group of frantic people running past the side of my house and into the woods. The tallest one was also the fastest and although he ran by in a flash, I swear he looked familiar. The sounds that followed were absolutely terrifying. I searched my house for some type of weapon and only came up with a baseball bat. I’d never had the balls or the extra cash to buy a gun.  I was on the phone with 911 when the strange group emerged from the woods without the man they’d pursued there. They ranged in age from children to withered old ladies, about six in number. I ran out my front door with the bat in one hand and my cell phone in the other. The operator yelled my name as I put the phone away from my ear to speak to the group.

“Hey! What the hell is going on out here?” Most of them ignored me and continued their walk down my driveway and onto the street.

An older man with an all grey beard stopped to speak with me. “Only you can save him,” he said.

“What? Save who?”

He looked at me but his eyes weren’t really focused on my face. It was if he remembered something horrible and was completely lost in the experience. His pupils were dilated to an odd degree. He must be on something. My grip on the bat tightened. I hoped he wouldn’t give me a reason to use it.

“He won’t last long. You have to find him in the woods and convince him. He’ll forget to breathe.”

The message was as confusing as it was frightening. “Why can’t you help him?” I asked still having no clue who the “him” was in this case.

He finally focused on me and got very angry. “Because he won’t see me you idiot girl. You’re the one he loves! Go, NOW!” He pointed to the direction of the woods.

The force in his voice propelled me forward and I dropped the bat and phone at the same time. Something told me that neither of them would be of use. I ran on a frightened adrenaline high and was completely out of breath after reaching the tree line. With my hands on my knees I caught my breath then checked behind me to see if anyone were following. There was no one there. Whatever the mob had come to do, it had already been done. I gathered up my courage and moved forward into the woods. I was thankful this craziness was taking place at 3pm when there was still plenty of light. If it had been dark I might not have found the courage to investigate, no matter what the old man said.

After dodging several spider webs and one black snake I finally saw what the man warned me about. Even with the misshapen face, enlarged head and elongated limbs I still recognized him. My sneakers crunched on the on crispy fall leaves as I approached. He opened his eyes and my heart nearly stopped. His face was devoid of recognition. I felt something inside my chest contract. I hadn’t seen Christian in years but I still thought of him every day and dreamed of him at night. The way we’d parted had been so strange and I simply hadn’t been prepared to never see him again.

He opened his mouth and instead of words a low pained chirp escaped lips that were transforming into a beak. His skin was rough and covered in a blanket of pebbly gooseflesh. Hot tears rolled down my face at his obvious pain. Half his deformed body had been absorbed into the trunk of the tree. I reached up to touch his face and he tried to swat my hand away but his arms had mostly been incorporated. He shook his head from side to side. When I stroked his cheek he calmed. “What’s happened to you, Christian? What the hell happened? I could barely get the words out. He squawked back at me and tears formed in his eyes.

“There is at least some of you left in there.” I reached up to him and did the only thing I could think to do. Despite what the strange old man had said I didn’t think I could do anything to help except keep him company. “I’ve missed you so much,” I said. I placed the softest of kisses on his scratchy face and he became frantic from the contact. He did not want me there. Maybe whatever he had was contagious?

I shook my head. “Uh, uh. I’m not going to leave. You’re the one who leaves, remember?” I held his hand in mine and his long fingers curled around my hand. His newly formed talons pierced the back of my hand but I didn’t let go. “I’m so sorry this happened to you, whatever this is. I was mad at you for a very long time, but I never stopped loving you.” I felt that if I could help him remember his humanity and remember what we’d been to each other…

He looked down at me and I put my arms around the trunk of the tree in an attempt to hug what little of him was left. My cheek was flat against his chest when I felt it rise and fall for the last time. “Christian, no!  Don’t give in to it.  You have to breathe. Remember, what it was to be human? Remember when you broke your leg and I came to your hospital room? Our first kiss? That night in my car when we just parked and listened to the radio?”

His eyes closed and I fell to my knees in frustration. I’d skint my palms on the bark of the tree. I cried liked I’d never cried before, big racking sobs shook my entire body. “We were supposed to be together,” I whispered to no one.  

A rustling sound above me caught my attention. He was still alive and struggling against the tree that held him. He talons reached out for me, a sight that would have filled me with terror if it hadn’t been a boy I onced loved asking for help. I held both his hands in mine and pulled him toward me with all my strength. He emerged from the trunk in one piece and the entire weight of his 6ft frame fell on top of me.

Christian crushed me to the ground but I didn’t complain. He positioned his weight on his hands above me and I watched in amazement as enlarged avian head sank inward. His beak once again became lips and the gooseflesh evened out becoming a smooth handsome face once again. His forehead wrinkled and he closed his eyes in pain as his limbs constricted back into their original shape. And just like that, he transformed back into person I’d loved since we were 12 years old.

“Good to see you, too,” he said. Then he kissed me, and then it was my turn to forget to breathe.

Baby Squirrels Ate My Cake

Last Wednesday started with a squirrel caper. I was still rubbing the sleep from my eyes and about to make morning coffee when my boyfriend, Tadd informed me that I had to “help him with a squirrel.” I went outside still clad in my nightshirt and found he’d taken apart a drain that ran from the top of the house to the ground. The bottom half had been removed and he was in the process of taking apart the middle so he could retrieve a squirrel trapped inside. “I need you to catch it,” he said and presented me with a big trash can that contained a folded blanket at the bottom. He proceeded to beat on the top of the drain until it fell on top of me. Naturally, I ducked instead of catching and the drain hit the ground with the squirrel still stuck inside.

The very end of it’s fluffy tail could be seen sticking out of the jagged edge and the pipe was hot all the way around where it contained the animal. It had bent inward right where the squirrel was trapped and I feared the worst. I was certain it had been crushed when the pipe hit the ground. I started to tear up thinking of how I’d failed the poor little guy after it had probably spent hours scratching and fighting to free itself. I forced myself to touch the tip of his little fluff tail and to my relief, it moved.  I retrieved a pair of plyers and pulled the metal pieces apart until I could see the face. It was looking right at me. I picked up the drain and tried to shake the squirrel loose but I wasn’t strong enough to dislodge him. Tadd picked up the pipe and gave it a mighty shake that sent the squirrel rocketing out the other end. It looked around for a minute and then shot toward the trees apparently uninjured.  After we finished congratulating we heard the very distinct sound of nails on metal from a different pipe. Multiple trapped squirrels? We wondered how they could be so dumb.

After pulling this drain apart it was apparent that the squirrel was trapped in the section that went under the ground. We couldn’t see anything but the scratching was very clear along with the little growls of frustration emanating from the animal. I coaxed the squirrel to find its way out and it finally got far enough up for me to see it was a baby! It was too little to climb all the way out and the sides of the drain were slippery. I put a stick into the hole and after a few attempts and many frustrated growls on the part of the baby, it was able to grab onto the stick and allow me to pull it out. I walked around with the baby squirrel attached to night shirt for two hours while we tried to figure out which tree it might have come from. I placed it into a tree in the front yard only to have it emit a bird like screech as soon as I put it down. We backed away hoping that the mother would show up to claim it, but no such luck. Since the baby didn’t like that tree I tried on the back yard. When I put him down something heavy landed in a tree branch opposite and I was surprised to see hungry white owl staring intently at my rescued baby. It was before noon and I didn’t even know owls were awake at this time of day. I scooped up the tiny squirrel and decided I wasn’t putting him down for anything. His little claws clung to my shirt and he seemed more content walking around my shoulders than he had in the tree.

I realize the obvious thing would be to keep this little guy and try to raise him myself, but it wouldn’t really work with 4 cats in the house. Just as I was looking around for a cage to temporarily place the baby in, I heard yet another scratch come from the drain in the ground. I looked down to see another baby squirrel face looking up at me! I was at a loss for what to do until I remembered a strange flyer we’d received in our mailbox about a month prior. It was from a neighbor who had lost a pet squirrel. In the flyer the neighbor offered a $25 reward for the return of the squirrel but warned that she would recognize her pet and not to bring her any squirrel. The flyer had been so amusing Tadd had kept it on his desk. He called squirrel lady and told her our story and the fact that we now had not one, but two orphan babies. “I’m putting my shoes on now,” she said. and came right over.

Squirrel lady’s name was Abbey and she was a stay at home student. She had time, specific squirrel experience and an empty nest since her former pet had decided to go back into the wild. She immediately took ownership of the baby I’d been protecting. She had long hair past her shoulders and the baby nestled into it to hide. Abbey told us that the squirrel mother had likely made a nest inside that drain and she asked us to show her where the baby came from. When we got back to the drain the struggling scratches could still be heard. As we peered into the hole there were now two tiny faces staring back at us! One of the babies had climbed onto the others back in an attempt to get out. We were all amazed and excited at how special this day had become. The two siblings were close enough to the surface that I could simply reach in and grab them both. Abbey claimed all 3 and wore them on her shoulders like a fur necklace. We gave her a pet carrier with a towel but the squirrels seemed to like her shoulders better and decided to stay put on the ride. The “ride home” was only two houses down so they didn’t have far to go.

One week later we received this picture and an update. The babies are fine and she is planning to keep them until they are old enough to be released.

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Popular Girl

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I’ve seen him sitting in the back of my art class sketching intently and never speaking. His name is Dylan, he’s a senior and plays guitar in a local rock band. Dylan is too cute and probably dates a girl with piercings in odd places and a killer singing voice. I’ve admired him from a distance but never had the nerve to speak to him. As he came around the corner the familiar theme music started up and he swaggered to the beat. I felt a cramp in my stomach as he walked over to me.

The music stopped when he spoke so his dialogue could be heard. “Hey, what’s up?” He was so casual, as if we talked every day, as if it wasn’t a pivotal moment in my uncool freshman existence.

“Uh, h-hello.” I concentrated on being casual and feigned indifference to the fact that this hottie was talking to me.  Luckily I’d painted my eyeliner on in a way that made me look perpetually bored.  I stared up at him through bangs that had grown so long they tickled my eyelashes.

He gave me a half smile. A single perfect wave of blonde hair had come unraveled from the man bun at the top of his head. He offered me a flyer with something written on it.

“I know it’s a school night, but White Rabbit is playing at Starforce tonight and I’d really like to see you there.” He squeezed my shoulder and gave me a wink.

I think I might have died of shock right there but I realized his gesture required a response from me. “Sounds cool. I’ll be there.”

“Great.  I’ll put you on my list so there won’t be a cover.  See you tonight, Ardis.”

He knows my name? OMG the hottest senior in school knows my name!

As I watched him walk away my own spirited theme music started up. It was a cue that my next scene would be a montage of me trying on various outfits in my bedroom.

 

***

I took care to arrive somewhere in the middle of the lineup so that I missed the first band but had plenty of time to see White Rabbit. I didn’t see Dylan anywhere and guessed that he must be backstage getting ready. I was thankful that the music was too loud for talking because I’d come alone and I didn’t see anyone there I recognized. I pretended to be intently interested in the band on stage and my skirt swayed as I moved back and forth to the beat. I decided to try my luck at the bar with my newly minted fake ID when a hand tapped me on the back. I turned around to see Dylan smiling down at me. He looked hot as hell in his tight black pants and almost threadbare t-shirt. He took my hand and I think I peed a little.

Dylan lead me backstage and introduced me to the rest of his band. “Guys, this is Ardis, she’s my special guest for tonight.”

He didn’t bother telling me all of their names so I just gave them a quick wave.

“Do you mind if we have a little privacy?” he asked them.

An Asian kid with a shaved head snickered and earned a punch in the arm from Dylan. “Nothing’s funny, Shinjayu.” The kid rubbed his arm and glared at Dylan. “Don’t be stingy, either.” He stretched out his hand and opened his palm. Shinjayu dropped a ziploc baggie into it and left.

“Finally,” he said.  Dylan grinned at me as he removed the contents of the bag and produced a lighter from his pants. “Want to smoke?”

“Uh sure.” I didn’t want to tell him I’d never smoked so much as a cigarette before and that I really hated the smell. As he handed me the joint I  had a horrifying realization that I would take any drug if it would make him like me. I tried to copy what he’d just done. I took one long inhale and immediately started coughing my brains out. It felt like something tickled the inside of my throat.

Dylan laughed at my reaction. “So I guess you’re not much of a smoker?”

I shook my head because I was unable to form words in between coughs.

He took the cigarette from me and inhaled then brought his face so close to mine that our lips nearly touched. He blew the smoke into my face and I breathed it in. I felt as if I were walking on air. When he finally kissed me he had to hold me to keep me upright. His right hand held the back of my head and his left circled around my waist and lifted my jean jacket.  I felt a tingle from the middle of my back all the way down to my toes. When he finally pulled away from me I was breathless.

“Sorry, I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”

“Don’t be sorry! I really liked it.”

AND CUT!

The Director walked over to us with a stern look on his face. He put his arm around me and pulled me aside so Dylan couldn’t hear. “Look, it just isn’t working for me. I feel no chemistry between Ardis and Dylan.”

“I can do better, please let me try one more take?” I knew my popularity ratings had slipped in the past few weeks but I had no idea how bad things had become.

“You know there’s nothing I can do, Ardis. It isn’t even up to me, it’s the audience. Just take a look.” He pointed to the meter hanging on the wall that gave a numerical value to the likeability of each character. Dylan’s was at 96.2 percent and mine had dropped to 54 percent. I tried not to look at the meters while we were shooting, now I wish I’d paid more attention. I grabbed onto the director’s jacket with both hands and pleaded with him. “There has to be some mistake! You know I’ve never been below 90.”

“That would have been true a week ago.” He interrupted our conversation to speak with a nearby PA. “Get a cleanup guy out here, would you?”

I looked around for help but there was none. Dylan was already being introduced to the new Ardis. My voice rose in panic. “Please, don’t do this!” I’d always known this was a possibility, but I’d never imagined it would happen to me.

As the Director reached for the 9mm on his utility belt I fell to my knees. Tears stung my eyes and spilled out onto my cheeks.”

“Now if you could have just shown this much passion with that scene it wouldn’t have come to this.”

I had time for one last pleading sob before he fired.

You first, everything else second

When I sat down to write you wanted my attention and put your body between my hands and the keyboard. How could I have ignored those soulful eyes that  tried to stare up at me but instead stared into darkness? Your innocent expectation melted my heart. I gathered your familiar weight in my arms and recognized you’ve grown fatter in the past month. I haven’t given you as many treats anymore, but I think you’ve been stress eating because you don’t like your new baby brother. I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t like it if someone was always leaping on my back and I had no way of seeing it coming.

I stroked your head in that spot you like until you fell asleep in my lap. My feet rest on a box speaker under my desk and it is very uncomfortable. I won’t move for anything. You are so often disturbed and upset, stumbling through life with those beautiful but sightless eyes. I won’t rob you of your peaceful dreams. Your mouth and front paws twitch and I imagine you’re dreaming of hunting. Maybe you’re chasing birds, lizards or chipmunks like the one I took from you earlier this year. I’m sorry about that, but he was just a baby and I didn’t want you to kill him. In  your sleep I hope you run through uncut lawns with cool grass tickling your belly. I hope you climb trees without fear. Most of all, I hope you’re happy.  I’m sorry my sneeze was so loud it just woke you up.

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Sleeping like an angel faced baby with his sister Snifferz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lful eyes that stared up at me although they don’t

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing fun with friends

So I’ve got my manuscript with one agent and my first 50 pages with another. Besides that I have queries pending with five others. I’ve done the responsible thing and started the outline for book 2 in my planned dystopian trilogy. I’ll have a more definitive answer the next time someone asks me how long it will take to crank out book number two. In the mean time I decided to give myself a break and play a little game with my writer friends.

I’m not sure what the term is for this but we started with one paragraph previously written as a writing prompt and flipped a coin to see who would continue the story first. The person whose turn it was with the story had 3 days to complete their section. We hadn’t yet determined the exact length of sections, but we did decide that the writer would owe a drink to the other two participants if they didn’t finish on time. I won the coin toss and was given the first opportunity to continue the story. I typically use every excuse in the book not to sit down and write but having a deadline helped me focus. I finished my section with a few hours of receiving the first paragraph and by the end of the night the others had each finished a section as well! Before I knew it the writing was back around to me again.

This exercise has turned out to be the highlight of my day for three entire days. I am delighted every time I open my email and see that the story has gotten a little longer! The first round was not more that a few hundred words each so the story still isn’t very long yet but I’m excited about the SciFi direction it’s heading in. I’ve decided to post a little of it here in hopes that others will enjoy it as well.

Untitled SciFi Adventure by Curt Shannon, Logan Grey and Mary Beecroft

(Round 1)

 

Jessie stood by the open window, bathing in the morning sunlight. Once again I marveled at how settled she appeared, despite all she had been through. She had decided to keep her head shaved after the accident – the scar that ran across her skull from ear to ear still pulsed bright red.

She tapped her long fingers on the window sill, then turned to me, frowning.

“When will they let me out of this place?”

“That depends on you,” I said. “It’s common with a brain injury to lose some short term memory. What do you remember from before?”

She turned to look at me. Her cold blue eyes held me with an intensity that only came with years of training. She had seen horrible things and didn’t want to remember them, that much was certain.

“I don’t trust you. You’re not here to help me. You only want information.”

“And what do you want?” I had been trained in interrogation tactics and knew that I had to find some connection with this woman. It was a difficult task becase there was so little known about her. For instance she had several identities and I wasn’t even sure of her planet of origin.

“Do you have a cigarette?”

I reached into my suit jacket and pulled out a pack of camels that were partly crushed. I  managed to find at least one that wasn’t ruined completely and handed it to her along with a lighter from my pants pocket.

Jessie, if that was her real name, didn’t light the cigarette but tore off the paper instead and poured the tobacco into her mouth as if it were a powdered pixie stick. This action left no doubt in my mind–she was from Mars. I found it interesting that she chose to reveal herself in this way. “I take it you haven’t been on Earth for long?”

“Only for about six months I think. But it’s hard to say for sure.”

“It must have been a terrifying experience, the crash I mean.”

She smiled with one side of her face and showed me a bit of teeth dotted with brown tobacco flakes. “What happened before the crash was much worse.”

I looked away, feigning interest in the soldiers filing past the window. Although it would be a stretch to say I’d grown fond of Jessie, I’d found myself admiring her fortitude. But a Martian — she was a goddamn Martian. Her memory might not have been all there, but apparently she hadn’t forgotten their disgusting habits. I breathed out and turned to her with a much practiced look of concern. Not only was I her psychiatrist, I was her interrogator. I had no choice but to play nice.

“Please start from the beginning. Do you remember why you came to Earth?”

She took her time running her tongue across the front of her teeth. “I’m not a spy,” she said at last.

“I didn’t say you were.”

“I’m also not an idiot.” Her smile was even colder than her eyes. “A face,” she said, shifting her gaze out the window again. “It’s the only thing I clearly remember.”

“Someone you knew?”

She shook her head and brought her arms in tight over her chest. “Not even human.”

“Like in those pictures you’ve been drawing?”

She stepped back, out of the sunlight and into the corner. She ran a hand over her scar. “You people have no end to your questions. All these fucking questions. But no one’s really listening. Why won’t you listen?” I didn’t like the sound of her voice — nervous, desperate. This wasn’t like her.

“I’m listening, Jessie.” I moved toward her and set a hand on her shoulder. “You know you can tell me anything.”

“That face, I didn’t escape it.” She grabbed my hand with a strength that startled me. Her eyes flickered to mine. Up close they seemed more than cold, distant. They were terrified. “It followed me here.”

   I opened my mouth but was interrupted by the shrill cry of the facility’s alarm.

Jessie’s eyes darted to the door. I knew I had to stay calm no matter what.

“It might be a false alarm, like the other times.”

Jessie shook her head and said, “No, it’s different this time.”  Now her voice was calm again. Had she known this was going to happen, some kind of precognition? There was so little I had found out about her since she had arrived.  

She tried to slide off the examining table and stand, but instead collapsed in a heap on the floor. Without gravity adjusters, she couldn’t hold up her weight and certainly couldn’t walk. She tried again to stand, but failed. She cried out, a mixture of pain, frustration, and fear that sounds the same in every species.

I could hear people yelling and running outside, among them Professor Klingor. “Michael, open the door. We have to get her out of here.” But Jessie looked up to me and motioned silence, while Klingor banged on the door incessantly.   

Somehow I knew Jessica was telling the truth. I walked to the metal cabinet at the back of the room and stared into the retina scan lock, waiting anxiously for the recognition protocol to kick in.  It finally did and the cabinet door swung open. With shaking hands I found the grav braclets and tossed them to Jessie. She couldn’t raise her arms fast enough to catch them and they clattered on the floor behind her. She turned and shambled over to them.   

I took out the disruptor and set it to max strength.

At that moment, the alarm abruptly stopped. There was only silence beyond the door. I turned and waited.  Was it my imagination or was something happening to the door? The frame groaned as hinges unbuckled and the blue-gray metal of the door seemed to begin collapsing into itself. And beyond the door, I caught a glimpse…

Jessie was right.  It was different this time.

I was about to fire the disruptor when I heard a cry and the sound of shattered plexiglass behind me.  I turned to see Jessica standing at the now-open window, her hand bleeding, the jagged edges of the double-paned plexiglass security window still falling around her. She kicked at a low-hanging shard of glass and it fell, shattering on the floor.

“How did you…?”

“No time to talk.  Time to run.”  She stepped onto the ledge and adjusted the gravbracelets and floated just outside the window. Without thinking I raced to the window and leapt into her arms.

Please visit Mary Beecroft’s blog for travel adventures and reviews: marybeecroft.wordpress.com.

To find out if Curt Shannon dreams of Electric Sheep please stay tuned.

Tennessee Writing Workshop Review

I read a quote somewhere that said the key to happiness was to have a definite goal, and then to do one thing every single day to move toward that goal. Having face to face conversations with two amazing agents at the Tennessee Writing Workshop was a huge step toward my ultimate goal of getting my story told. The query critique from Chuck Sambuchino was invaluable as well.

I chose this conference in part because it was located within driving distance from Atlanta and also because of the price. This conference was less expensive than some of the others I’d looked at before. I emailed my query letter to the conference organizer a few weeks prior to the event and received an edited version back a few days before. This was great timing because an agent ended up asking for the query letter! I decided to dip my toe in the water with “pitching” and signed up for two sessions with Literary Agents.

Pitching

Despite my king size bed with 18 pillows I got no sleep the night before the conference. All I could think about was the fact that I had to deliver pitches to both agents first thing! I had time to pick up my name tag and get right into the line of people standing around waiting to pitch their novels!  As I walked up I was greeted by nervous smiles from other waiting participants. We had time for brief mini pitches to each other and when 9:40 struck we all walked in together to take our seats in front of our respective agents.  It turns out I was much too nervous for no reason! The fact that Victoria Lea was interested in what I had to say and asked engaging questions made it so much easier to talk to her. After I got my first few sentences out without stumbling too horribly, it felt like a natural conversation. After our time was up she requested my full manuscript! My eyes started to water as I stood on shaky legs and got up from her table. I was overcome with relief and gratitude that things had worked out so well.

The success of my first pitch made it easier to give my second. I loved the enthusiasm that Marisa Corvisiero showed for my story. She even asked me to tell her the ending! It was a great conversation and she also made a request for material.

Below I’ve included some tips that helped me get through this process:

  1. Practice! Out loud in your office, with a sympathetic friend in the car driving to the conference, or on the phone with your mom.  Talk about your book to whomever will listen. Every time I was forced to go through it, it got a little easier.
  2. I had a few notecards in case I got stuck. My pitch wasn’t written out word for word on the notecards but I had the highlights written down.
  3. Try not to think of it as a “pitch” but more like a conversation you’re having with someone who has simply asked you, “what are you working on?”
  4. I had 10 minute time slots so we mostly talked about my story but I was asked some questions about my writing background as well. I was asked how long I had been working on my novel and what my goals were for my novel. I did get the opportunity to talk about my other published novel and short story publications.
  5. My last piece of advice comes from Ms. Marisa Corvisiero, Founder and Senior Literary Agent of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.  During the “Writers’ Got Talent” portion of the workshop she reminded everyone not to be nervous because agents are eager to hear our stories and that they need us as much as we need them.
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My face after 2 successful pitch sessions

Everything Else

After pitching was over and I had stopped shaking from nervous excitement, I enjoyed the “Writers’ Got Talent,” portion of the conference, in which Brian Klems selected random novel submissions and read them aloud to the audience. A panel of six agents sat in judgement of the material and raised their hands at the point in which they would naturally stop reading the selection because of something they didn’t like. It was great to hear the agents perspective and get some inside information into their thought process. Most of the mistakes people made were things that could have been avoided with better editing. There were a couple of first pages read that the agents critiqued for being unclear as to the direction of the story. For instance a story that was supposed to be a romance but had absolutely no tension or anything sexy on the first page! So the take away is to make sure that first page is polished or the rest of your story may not even be considered.

My last activity for the day was the afternoon Q&A session with Brian Klems that focused on, “25 Questions You Need Answered Before you Seek an Agent or Self-Publish Your Book.”This was helpful because he had very specific answers to many questions I’ve had but have heard varying opinions about. It was nice to get an industry professional to answer some questions I had about platform, social media and even the querying process!

I don’t think this conference could have gone any better for me. I made some good connections with people who can help me with my career, I learned some valuable information about publishing and as a bonus, a few new twitter followers! It was definitely worth the money and the drive. Thank you, Brian Klems, Chuck Sambuchino, and especially Victoria Lea and Marisa Corvisiero!

 

 

 

 

Jelly Takes Over

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I’m sorry, where do I look?

Hello World! I’m Jelly and I got my dad to help me write a guest blog post today because well.. I’m a cat and my nails are too long for me to type good. So let me tell you a little about myself.

I’m officially two years old this month! For the first few weeks of my life mom hid me under the house to keep me safe. Except that one time when there was a big rain storm and she had moved me to an uncomfortable spot behind the backyard grill where I nearly drowned. I was crying because the banana tree wasn’t keeping me dry and then a giant hairless cat grabbed me! She moved me to the garage and tried to dry me off. My eyes weren’t open yet and she smelled weird so I was really scared. When the hairless cat left my mom picked me up and moved me back to the same wet spot where she had me. My fur was all flattened and I was very small so when the male hairless cat saw me being carried by my mom, he gave me the nickname “Black Slug.”

After my encounter with the two hairless cats mom kept me hidden under the house. It was just the two of us because she didn’t give me any brothers or sisters. One day the sun was shining and I was finally big enough that mom decided to take me out. I was still learning to walk but my eyes were open and I was very round from all her milk. We curled up under a plant the hairless cats had just put in the ground. The female saw me first. She made a loud squawking sound like a bird and ran to go get the male. They were both excited to see me again and they took turns holding me. Mom didn’t like it but she tolerated them because they left food out for her every day.  The male named me “Jelly” because of my squishy soft middle. They were nice and gave me lots of cuddles and food. Soon after this, mom and I got to move into their house which was much  more comfortable than under house. I got to meet my uncle Magoo who was only about 6 months older than mom, and a random old lady called Poopie. She sleeps a lot and sometimes grooms the top of my head, she’s nice.

So that’s my story of how I was adopted. I think someone is doing a project downstairs I need to help with. Bye for now!

-Jelly

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