A couple of years ago, I was finishing up my fifth novel, wondering if I would ever make it as a full-time writer, when I received an invite to a writer’s conference being held in Denver, CO and decided to attend.
Don Maass was doing a pre-conference seminar: Writing the Break-Out Novel. I had no idea who he was, but the day-long seminar sounded interesting, so I signed up, along with over 500 other writers. I’d brought the novel I was working on, Infernal Gates, and made furious notes for eight hours. Whew! That was the BEST money I’d ever spent toward polishing my craft.
At the opening dinner, I sat two tables away from Don and other guest speakers, wondering how I could get a few minutes of his very valuable time. Amazingly, after dinner, as the room emptied out, Don was sitting alone at the table, having coffee. I didn’t need a prompt to go over and introduce myself.
(During the break I’d checked him out on the Internet and discovered that he was a well-known NY Literary Agent who divided his time between representing authors like James Scott Bell, writing, and teaching his seminar, Writing the Break-Out Novel. He’d just published a new book entitled The Fire in Fiction, which I immediately ordered online.)
Now I was telling him about my vision for writing and asking lots of questions. Turns out, he was interested in my take on Fallen Angels, also known as Nephilim. I was more than a little shocked at that! I pitched my storyline to him, and he told me to send him the synopsis and first chapter when it was finished. I got his card, gave him mine, and we parted company.
Over the next two days I’d scheduled appoints with a total of seven agents and publishers, all Christian focused. I met each of them for fifteen minutes and did my best to get them “hooked.” I’d done my homework, called in a few favors from other writers who knew some of the agents and publishers personally, and expected that I would not leave the conference without at least a couple of them asking for more of my novel.
Out of seven, five seemed very interested. I was more encouraged than I had been in over a decade. I returned home, sent out the requested information–and waited. Something I had grown accustomed to over my long years in the writing “desert.”€
Three months later, I’d added another five rejections to the dozens I’d accumulated over the years, well on my way to a Ph.D. in Rejection.
Then, I remembered what Don Maass had offered. Without much hope of success, I sent off my synopsis and the first chapter of Infernal Gates . Don really liked the novel, and seven months later, exactly one year to the day after we’d met and talked at that dinner table in Denver, I signed a contract with him.