Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, July 26, 2010


The more that time marches on, the more I find that I want to do odd things like put glitter on my face and go to a calf roping. I think it's because writers draw on their experiences and it's essential to make new and interesting memories. Lately, I find myself with a yen to go to a church with a snake handling service. Rattlesnake handling and strychnine drinking are against the law but it goes on and I'm curious. Unfortunately, I can't get anybody on board with me and I do not hanker for this experience so bad that I am willing to go alone. I guess I'm going to have to be satisfied to read Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington. I'll let you know how that goes.

I know you can't tell from that lead-in, but I am going to talk about pitching to editors or agents.
Thanks to the fabulous training of the Queen of Pitches, Harlequin Blaze author, Kira Sinclair, and our own Katherine Bone, who can write a pitch like nobody's business and helped shine ours up, Stephanie and I are ready for our appointments. I'm not going to tell you how to pitch. I can't do it better than Kira. Go over to the Writing Playground and read her article. It says it all.

Kira's Pitch Article

I'm also not going to give you a pep talk and talk about confidence and state of mind. I am going to tell you a few things that ought to be common sense but refute actual tips I once read that are supposed to make the pitch go better.

Pitch appointments are not the place to wear a costume, even if we are at Disney.

Inasmuch as I believe it is important to get out of the comfort zone (i.e. the snake handling), do not do it at a pitch appointment. If you write westerns do not wear a cowboy hat to your appointment. If you write erotica, do not priss yourself up in there wearing a bustier and carrying a whip. They will think you are nuts.

Do not take the industry professional a gift.

That's just creepy and they will think so too. So no mouse ears. No Hershey's kiss. NOTHING, except your business card—and don't write a personal message of any kind on it

Don't take a good luck charm—especially if it is distracting

Okay, if you've got some lucky earrings that are not flashing skulls, go ahead. But don’t go in and lay a rabbit's foot or a lock of your dog's fur on the table. Last year while we were readying ourselves to go pitch, I put on my charm bracelet. Like most southern women, my charm bracelet was started for me as a child. The bracelet itself has been replaced but I still have my first charm and every single subsequent one that has been added over the years to mark special occasions or just because I thought it was precious. As you can imagine, it jingles a little from time to time. Stephanie said, "You are not wearing that bracelet. Take it off." I whined a little. I pointed out that it was my lucky bracelet and that I have had a more enduring relationship with it than I have had with most people in my life. It didn't do me any good. "It rattles," she said. "It sounds just like a rattlesnake. Take it off." And she was right.

Don't take a rattlesnake to your pitch appointment, even if you are certain the agent or editor likes snakes.

This is the only point that is not in response to advice I read. I just couldn't help myself.

Tell us about your pitch experiences. Anybody pitching for the first time?

Note: Stephanie, Katherine, and I will all be at conference the rest of the week. Cheryl will be a little out of pocket too. The blogs will be business as usual and we will check in. Your responses to our blogs are very important to us and we will answer you. We may even tell you a little about what's going on with us. But forgive us if we don't get back to you as promptly as usual.


  1. "lucky earrings that are not flashing skulls" Oh man! I just got some the other day...

    Thanks for the shoutout, Jean! Kira Sinclair and Kelley St. John taught me everything I know. I'm glad your pitches came together and that I was able to help.

    Great blog! I never really thought of snakes and pitches before. Though the south and southwest are riddled with rattlesnakes, every southern girl ought to have a charm bracelet. And a pitch should be quick as a snake bite, providing just enough flavor of the book to entice the agent/editor from the word 'go'.

    I love making up blurbs, high-concept pitches and pitches. Call me weird but there is something of a challenge in doing it.

  2. Even though we haven't discussed it, and just so you know, I am not going snake-handling on Sand Mtn. with you.

  3. I've got one of those charm bracelets too. I love to hear it jingle! I have one thing, though, that you don't - an eagle!

    I will go with you to one of those churches. Since I live on Brindlee Mountain, next to Sand Mountain, I have heard about them my whole life and am more than curious. Except, to draw on Mr. Clowery from Yazoo City Mississippi, if that church don't got a back door, 'reckon where they'd want one?

    Hope you all do exceptionally well at your pitches (I have perfect confidence that HOD will be admirably represented - after all our girls are the best!)

    I just came in from admiring the beach and will be headed down there soon to soak up some sun. Everyone have a safe trip tomorrow and Wednesday!!

  4. Cheryl, enjoy the beach! Lounge back and sip on those drinks cabana boys continually supply. And if you happen to see that rogue Cap'n Jack, slap him once for me.

  5. Good luck with your pitches! My fingers are crossed for you. I'm sure each of you will do well.

    Have a great time at the beach, Cheryl.

    I'll be thinking of everyone while the workers begin the additions to our house--they are marking off the driveway today and who knows what else. We're finally going to have a concrete driveway! No more twisted ankles on rocks.

  6. You should take a Brit to a church in Little Tater Valley, Tennessee. You could tell by the look on his face he was waiting for the snakes to come out at any moment... (and wondering why he married me).

    Just remember that editors and agents are people, too, and they aren't going to literally eviscerate you. Smile, be yourselves, and let the joy you put in your book shine through.

  7. Kathy, I would never slap Capt'n Jack - Johnny Depp is my fav...

    Thanks Crystal! I just came in - the water is perfect - no oil!!!

  8. Kathy--We'll keep an eye open for those earrings!
    OF--I could get you to go.
    Cheryl--What a great field trip! We could all go!
    Wish you were going with us tomorrow but enjoy the beach.
    Kimberly--Oh, the movie that makes in my head. Little Tater Valley. Doesn't that just say it all?

  9. Crystal--Thanks. Wish you were going. When the all the building noise gets to you, remember it's the sound of progress.

    I've been there.

  10. Of course, I meant to slap Jack like the vixens do in the movies because he has ignored them. ;D

  11. Thanks, Jean--I'll do my best to remember it is progress...it is one aspect of the dream manifesting into reality.

  12. Kathy - But I'd make sure that he didn't ignore me ( I wish)...LOL

  13. Every one needs to remember, "No Rattlesnakes allowed!" I hate snakes.

    I am glad Jean has shared our experiences so that you can all learn from our almost mistakes.