This was my fifth year attending this amazing conference. Unlike other writer events, this one has the networking element, with cocktail parties thrown in every night. Being from New Orleans, drinking socially is right up my alley.
My network of friends and industry professional get bigger with each year. I'll admit, Pitchfest is still the big draw for me. Putting your face in front of agents and editors is invaluable. But, that happens on a Thursday, the same day I leave Chicago, so I take the earliest flight at 6a.m., landing at LaGuardia about 9:30a.m.
SIDEBAR: What the hell is going on at that airport? The place looks like a a bombed out European city during WWII. The roads are like knotted shoestrings or designed by Dr. Suess. It took forever just for the free bus to get us to the subway because the shuttle I usually take had changed its hours. I mean for 360 degrees, every damn structure is under some kind of repair or demolition. As odds would have it, I met a nice Columbian woman going to Grand Central Station where my hotel was, so we chatted along the way.
I got my room, ran into Steve Vincent, author from Australia, and we immediately started the line for Pitchfest. For the next hour we practiced. I won't name names in my pitching journey as they are currently considering my manuscript and I just don't want anyone to know who is really my favorite. But, in my first stop in the "speed dating" setup, because we have gotten to know each other over the past two years, we greeted each other with a friendly hug (yes, face to face is invaluable). Other agents know me by name, also, and it is reassuring that even if/when they pass on my manuscript, it isn't because I was a faceless email they threw into the slush pile.
After pitchiest, I met up with Steve Vincent and Lynne Constantine in the Hyatt bar "where the magic happens." It amazes me how many authors, agents, or editors will cycle in and out of our group, chatting and having a beer or cocktail. LOVE THIS PLACE. Anytime of day during the conference, you could run into and chat with an industry professional.
Speaking of which, I ran into Jon Land (who hasn't), and Karin Slaughter. Jon Land proceeded to take this picture where he indicated who is more important. He couldn't hold my cell straight with the beer in his hand. But, at any time you can run into Lee Child, James Rolllins, or even George RR Martin, who was Thrillmaster this year. I was only a "fanboy" with Karin Slaughter.
I had just read The Fourth Monkey and sent J.D. Barker an email message that I'd try to meet him at the fest. He emailed me back, saying, yes, search me out. Well, not only did I meet him. I ran into him at least five other times. He even sat by me at the debut authors breakfast where we chatted a bit. He is on the cusp of greatness. His latest book The Fifth To Die is now out.
Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep, and I drank late every night. There were so many more pictures I could have gotten, but I was too busy enjoying the conference instead of trying to record it.
I ran into agent Doug Grad in the Hyatt bar one night and had a nice conversation. He wasn't able to take pitches at pitchiest and I was disappointed, so seeing him in the bar was fantastic. And he remembered me by name. After catching up, he invited me to pitch him again through email. Sweet!
(yes, face to face is invaluable).
Below are some shots of the great panels, including George RR Martin, Karin Slaughter, Lee Child, James Rollins, Lynne Constantine and Val Constantine, Daniel Palmer, R.L. Stein, Megan Abbott, Steve Berry and many more...