Novels

Wednesday
Jun232010

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

Well, of course it was a dark and stormy night, this was Washington in early February. Tomorrow would be dark and stormy too. And the day after, and the day after, etc.

For all you intrepid out there who believe yourselves immune to unrelenting winter drizzle, and think moving to Washington would be just your cup of tea, come join us. We are a fun-loving, albeit damp, group of writers here on Whidbey Island just north of Seattle, and we love company. I give fair warning, though; winters are a thing to be reckoned with. Still, there is no more sunny, green, and temperate place to be than western Washington in summer. Our island is surrounded by deep blue water, so blue in fact that the only things bluer are the lips of children playing in the 55-degree saltwater.

Yes, we have drop-dead-gorgeous summers and long cold rainy winters, and for the most part we count them as nicely balanced. So that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Here’s the catch. There’s always a catch. Summer runs from mid-July till mid-September. During those two months we bask in the light from that big, bright yellow thing in the sky that by February we have forgotten the name of.

Such was the case that morning a few months ago. Wednesday, February 3rd to be exact. Cold and misty as usual. Two weeks before, I had finished my first draft of Free Flight (though I called it Taking Flight then). I had also signed up for a writing class up-island in Coupeville: Crafting Fiction that Sells In Today’s Marketplace, Andrea Hurst, agent extraordinare, presiding. Was I ready? Barely. Finished novel (but largely unedited) in hand, I hopped in my pickup and headed north with the opening twenty pages for our first class.

The class format seemed too good to be true, I worried, as I put the 30-mile-drive behind me. Maybe I had misunderstood; maybe it would be more like a 10-writer critique group. But no! Andrea had every intention of reading 50-100 pages of each writer’s novel and giving expert feedback over the 8-week course.

Who wouldn’t sign up for that?!! Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to slog through sending dozens of query letters only to get most of them summarily rejected or left unanswered, or (and this is almost worse) to receive a note saying what a good writer you seem to be, but…

At a meeting recently, convened to do a postmortem on this June’s Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference, Andrea asked me what I would have been willing to pay for her class. My answer? A whole lot more. I said to the group present, “Any writer would pay bigtime to force an agent to read his novel.” Got a good laugh all around with that. One of the others present suggested it would make a great marketing slogan, “Come to Whidbey. Force an agent to read your story!”

 

(By the way, the class will be offered again this fall. So if your mind wanders the same devious paths as mine, I recommend signing up early.)

 

 



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