Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pitch Perfect - Mostly

At the Spring Big Apple Conference in New York sponsored by the International Women's Writing Guild, I have signed up to pitch my novel "Grinstead House" to three agents.

Tables have been set around the large conference room and behind each table  sits an agent. I have my times lined up and I have been allowed ten minutes with each of the three agents I had chosen previously.  I picked these three because the information package said they were interested in commercial fiction and mystery. Now that the moment has arrived, my nervousness has disappeared. I have a "what the hell" feeling about it all.

I approach my first appointment and, after introducing myself and mentioning my writing background, I start in.

Linda Langton, literary agent, liked my pitch and wants to see the manuscript

Here is the pitch:Grinstead House, May 1918, London England.

When an 11 year  Emily Simonson’s boarding school, Grinstead House, is closed due to the Spanish flu, the child must be sent to Russia to join her father, a diplomat in Petrograd but also a British intelligent agent involved in a plot to rescue the czar. 

Robin Findlay, who also works for MI1, objects to using a child as a pawn to smuggle special codes into revolutionary Russia to restart the rescue operation. Colonel Charles Swindon, a Canadian officer in charge of the mission and also Robin’s lover, insists the scheme will work. Even King George and Queen Mary give their approval.

At the same time, a Bolshevik agent in London gets wind of the mission and attempts to force information from the child by terrorizing her and threatening to kill her.

The journey to Petrograd is perilous.  But young Emily figures out who has betrayed them and vows to kill that person if she survives.  76,000 words.

The first agent, Katherine Sands, of the Sarah Jane Freyman Literary Agency,  is lukewarm. She suggests I change the plot to put the emphasis on the czar. I leave her table discouraged.  I am reluctant to change the story because I want to make it as historically accurate as possible even though my main characters are fictional. 

However Lori Perkins of the L. Perkins Agency and Riverdale Avenue Books seems enthusiastic. "Send me a query letter, sample chapters and a summary," she says. I am hopeful when I leave her table. 

The third agent, Linda Langton, of the Langtons International Agency says "What a great plot." She asks me to send her the manuscript.

So two outta three ain't bad. But what an emotional roller coaster! I am happy that a new friend made at the conference agrees to a stop for wine, in her case and a gin and tonic in mine.

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