Archive | February 2015

Agent Carter

It's like this. Direct TV and my local ABC station are at an impasse. I can't get Agent Carter on telly anymore. I can get it on the computer, but therein lies the rub. I live in Blairstown, Iowa, where there is a little old man who cranks our Internet in a building somewhere, a la Metropolis style. I have tried to continue Agent Carter, but it takes me about two hours to watch one episode on the web. I have watched through the Dum Dum Dugan/ Howling Commandos episode.

Yeah, I should just move. Or we should have the state pass laws for faster Internet in rural areas.

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That said, you know what? Agent Carter is smart and fun to look at for a vintage fan like me. The hair and the clothes are excellent, authentic, and perfectly fitting. The mood that the show creates feels very authentic to the 40s, without stereotyping or diminishing the era. Hayley Atwell plays her role well, and the dilemma of being a working woman in post WW2 US in accurately portrayed. Sexism aboundeth, but we know Carter will persevere and triumph. After all, she gets to be head of SHIELD.

Mind, there is an excellent support cast as well. It's a smart, funny show that takes on a serious issue of the time, and doesn't pull dramatic punches. People you don't expect will die do die. in this subtle espionage series. And good guys and bad guys blur from time to time.

I hope you have an easier time of seeing Agent Carter than I do. I hope to catch up this weekend.

The San Francisco Writers Conference

That was cool.

Let's talk about pitching and writer's conferences, shall we?

I've never been to a conference that has been about the business of writing before. I have been to many Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions. Now, I do like SF/F conventions. What I like about them is that I can be among fellow fans and I can hang out with other authors. Most of the other authors I've met are friendly and I've really enjoyed their company.

The SFWC was about two things: education and contacts. When I say education, I don't mean the same kind of stylistic education you'll get at Paradise Lost or hanging out with your critic buddies, or you'll get by climbing a mountain to see Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress. Feedback and writers groups are good too, but this was a new beast.

I learned a lot about the industry this weekend, things I hear talked about occasionally at science fiction and fantasy conventions, but not a lot. I talked to Stuart Horwitz, who has two books on revision that a composition teacher could love, and he didn't try to sell me anything like a time share. I pitched to the agents who were interested in the kind of thing I do, and 4 out of 5 asked me to send them pages. I wore a business suit and was treated like a professional by a real person in the room talking to me. I met many people who acted like professionals. In short, it was the first time I've been in an environment as a writer where my skills as a professor were the same skills I needed.

Now, there are some barriers to attending a conference like this one. Once again, I paid for it by using Kirkwood's very generous professional development, because I thought it would be the next logical step in my writing development. I was not disappointed. However, I think many writers might find the conference fee prohibitive. It is not unlike the fee for most academic conferences, so I was less fazed than someone else might be. Also, the business like atmosphere might be a turn off for some. And unlike myself, who teaches on a daily basis, some writers might not want to memorize a pitch and try to convince an agent, and possibly be rejected by an agent face-to-face. I was okay with it, and I theorized that I might be able to use some of my teaching abilities to make a favorable impression.

Overall, I'd recommend doing this sort of thing, but I'd recommend it to a writer who

1. has their book done, or at least heavily in revision. The more you know, the better your pitch will be, and the more composed you'll be.

2. isn't a total beginner. There's lots of programming at SF/F conventions and other genre and craft workshops for you to go through first. Seriously.

3. can handle themselves professionally with strangers, or at least can pass some of the time as a not a nerd. I play a professional on tv...

In short, if I hadn't been to VP, to Taos, to a ton of writer retreats and writer education seminars, if I hadn't written as much as I have since 2009, I probably would have wasted my money. I'm getting interested rejections and full reads. I think that this is about the optimal time to go. Something will eventually break, and if you present well personally and you have good pages, this is the kind of place it could.

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I had a fantastic time. Our pitch team, me, Chris Cornell, and Debbie Goelz, supported and bolstered each other, gave each other pep talks, and allowed us to practice our pitches and our material. It was much more fun than doing it alone. San Francisco, where this is held every year, is a Fan-freakin'-tastic city with awesome places to eat, and things to see. Man, if I'd had anything left at the end of the conference day, I can go to Japan town and do box karaoke. There's a Walt Disney family museum. Lots to see and do. I believe sometime I'll go visit with the husband when I'm not conferencing and take some advantage of it. I even lost weight because everything is uphill both ways. The Irish coffee is to do die for in that town, and I could see Alcatraz.

Now, it's my hope that I will not need to return to San Francisco looking for an agent, but I think it's a good place to learn. I will try something like this again, if all goes as planned, as I hope to pitch at the Writer's Digest conference in August. The conference made me feel the most like a real writer that I ever have, and, more importantly, I felt like I was taken seriously. My confidence has received a real boost.

The Wind Up and the Pitch

Feverishly working on my prep for the San Francisco Writer's Conference. Also trying to get stuff around for a department retreat, and some Florida job aps before I go. Before any rumors fester into fact: I'm find being at Kirkwood. I just saw a couple of things that looked very good to apply for. Like publishing, I don't expect miracles.

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So. You can expect a big ole report on SFWC in about two weeks. Maybe multiple part reports! I'll get to see some awesome VP buddies, so that'll be good, and I hope some other writers I know. 🙂

Um...right. Better get back to all that stuff. I swear, some day you guys are gonna get a report on what I'm reading right now. Or Agent Carter. Really.

This entry was posted on 2/3/2015, in General.