Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My New York Trip and Prison (part 1 of 2)

So I went to New York last week.

Yeah that's right, the Big Apple. Well, here's the play by play on how it went down.

I left my driveway Tuesday afternoon at about 1:30pm, right on time, which is a surprise for me because I had spent all morning running a little behind.

Between last minute changes on my book pitch, printing out the agent profiles, and making sure I had a second pair of underwear in my duffel bag, it was a frantic morning.

With my tires rolling over the open road and a gargantuan ice coffee by my side, it felt good to be on my way to the city that never sleeps. Actually on a side note, I was really heading for New Jersey, but my sister technically lives ten minutes from New York.

It took me a total of about six uneventful hours. I set my MP3 player to play Mat Kearney's new album, (City of Black And White) and just drove and drove and..............drove.

I kept switching off from listening to the album, to practicing my pitch for a little while, and then back to the album again. I had no idea that I wouldn't get past the first two lines of my pitch.

It was all highway driving and nothing really happened. I missed one exit, cursed four or five times, turned around, and was back on track in about ten minutes later.

I do remember passing a town called Beacon NY. Rolling hills, green grass and miles and miles of barbed wire. Yeah, that's right, barbed wire. Highway 84 passed through a sprawling prison compound that seemed to stretched on forever.

The ironic part, out there above my head while sailing down the highway, were five hawks coasting along on windy currents. They were in perfect view of the prisons main building. The birds, an iconic symbol of freedom seemed to be taunting the prisoners. I wonder if the inmates noticed?

Hmmm.... perfect idea for a character.

So........ I arrived at my sisters apartment at about 7:15pm. My brother in law directed me where to park, helped me with my bags and then they fed me.

Thank the heavens, because I was starving!

After a very hospitable stay, I was off to bed by 11:00pm.

The alarm on my phone went off at 5:30am and I was up. I spent the next half hour going over some of the agent bios and rehearsing my pitch, which in hindsight didn't matter. I took a shower at 6:00, then sat down and drank some coffee. My sister joined me for a few minutes, then we left for the Big City at about 7:15.

We ran into some traffic. Oh my god....traffic in New York! After maneuvering through the congestion, we stumbled upon an inexpensive parking garage less than a block from the Javits Center. A three minute walk and we were there.

We walked in the front doors of the center and............well.....we couldn't find the writers conference. Now you have to understand, the Javits center is a massive glass structure four levels high, spanning four blocks, and sporting over 700,000 square feet of space.

So.... it's a little big.

After a few puzzled looks between my sister and I, we found two security guards eating breakfast (of all things). We asked them where the conference was and after a few puzzled looks themselves, they kindly pointed us in the direction they thought might be the right way.

So we headed down the steps to the Book Expo check in area. Now the book expo is the main event, the writers conference.....not so much.

They printed out a badge for my sister and I and then directed us where to go. Yeah.... we were officially part of the conference. It was now about 8:15am and the keynote address was going to start in fifteen minutes. Michelle (my sister) asked if we should get something to eat or scope out the seating. Of course, me being Mr. Prepared, I said let's scope out the seating.

So we found where we were supposed to go and ..........we were greeted by another line. Man I thought I was at the DMV or something. After taking a look at most of the other people in line, only a few people had the printed out name tags.

So, I took it upon myself to walk to the front of the line and ask. I was greeted by a very frazzled man, and after a few side glances, he finally settled his eyes on me and informed me that the line was only to get a program and a lick and stick name tag.

I walked back and informed all the people with the printed tags that they didn't need to wait in line. After some sighs of relief, we all walked into the main room. Michelle and I found a seat and realized it was only a few minutes till the speech.

So that meant no breakfast yet. Luckily, just outside the room was free coffee. I went out and got some. When I came back in, I nursed my coffee and watched the people around me. Much to my surprise, some of the people were going through the agent list in the program and circling possible targets. Wow, and I thought I wasn't prepared enough.

Karin Slaughter came out and gave a very humorous speech. It was direct, informative, and far from candy coated. She kindly explained that the writing business is tough, and despite the romanticized view of it, it was a business. Publishers publish books to make money. Plain and simple. She explained how an advance worked, which in my opinion if you didn't know that already you shouldn't have been there.

I was very satisfied with the speech and when it was over, NO BREAKFAST! It was 9:30 and we went right into the first breakout sessions.

I won't explain each session. I learned some things from each of them, which made it worth it. Even though they weren't classes at all like I had expected. They were more like marketing ploys to sell books.

I know, I have to remember that publishing is a business.

So by 11:30 I was starving and only running on residual caffeine. I found Michelle and we went into the lunch room. They had about fifty round tables set up, with about eight chairs circling them.

Then to our horror, all the tables in view were full.

My mind was kind of numb to it, but my stomach wasn't......it was ready for a full armored revolt.

So we.............

Sorry, I have to call it quits for the day. Those the Partial Thoughts of a George for today. Come back tomorrow, I'll finish........

No comments: