Monday, July 27, 2015

PNWA Conference 2015

I attended the annual Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, just as I did last year. This is a great opportunity to pitch one’s manuscript to agents and editors.

But first, I had to get in. When I pulled up to the parking garage, one car was right ahead of me, and one was at the gate that should go up. Nothing was happening. Finally, a woman in the car ahead of me got out and talked to the driver at the gate. Then she came back, made eye contact with me, said “You need to go back,” and got in her car.

Great. Great communication skills. I hope she’s not a writer.

Those of you who follow this blog might remember my unpleasant experience at this same garage at night back during Norwescon.

As usual, the main events were the pitch sessions. Those of us who signed up would be allowed to pitch our manuscripts to agents and editors, four minutes at a time. It’s best to summarize your novel in just one minute, then let the professional ask you questions for the rest of the time.

Instead of trying to summarize the whole plot, try to point out what’s unique about your character, then describe how that character encounters the first major conflict in the story.

People gather twenty to thirty minutes before a pitch session. This is a time when many desperately go over their pitches. When the doors open, it’s not quite as bad as the start of a rock concert. It’s more like when a Costco opens.

Inside, people fan out and find the editor or agent they want to pitch to first. The first people in line get to stand with their toes on a white line, just like in school. When a bell rings, they can go forward and pitch to that agent or editor. When the bell rings again, they have to leave and let the next person come up. The first person is free to get in line for another agent or editor.

I was first in line for the editor I wanted to pitch to. All I can say is it didn’t go well, and that person was not interested in my vampire parody. But I got in line for another editor. She was somewhat skeptical about my science fiction novel Day 10K, but she said to send her the first ten pages. Then there was time to get in line for an agent. She liked my idea for The War of the Worlds and Fairies, so she said to send her the first chapter.

So, mixed results. But you can’t get these results without trying. These editors and agents who go to these conferences want new clients. And they want to meet with you in person, to see that you’re not some guy living in his mother’s garage. If you’re a wannabe writer, don’t you want to do this same thing? 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Movie Review: Terminator Genisys

Before a few weeks ago, I had never seen a Terminator movie. They obviously featured brutal, gratuitous violence, and the word was the scripts were not exactly intelligent. 

I did see a scene where Kyle Reese revealed a photo of Sarah Connor and confessed he had traveled through time for her. That was a nice moment, and the actor Michael Biehn uttered the lines in just the right way. 

 Outdoor poster
Notice the railing and field lights for scale

Fast forward to nowadays. As I described in a previous post, the audience in a theater I was in laughed out loud when Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared. But when I watched the trailer again on TV, the concept of a reimagined Sarah Connor grew on me. 

So I did see it, and to my surprise I was delighted with it. The time travel aspects were interesting. No spoilers here, other than the trailer below. I'll just describe the actors. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Unlike other actors, Arnold doesn't pretend he's not aging. More than once, he grunts out that he's "old," and the science fictional excuse is the flesh encasing his body ages. He still gives an intimidating performance after originating the concept over thirty years ago. And through the magic of CGI, he gets to play two roles. 

Jai Courtney: He seemed an odd choice to play Kyle Reese in the trailer, but his versatility grew on me, so I didn't have to suspend disbelief to to see him as the soldier who travels through time to save the woman he's grown to care for by reputation. They don't meet cute, though. 

Emilia Clarke: She's rather compelling as the hard-then-soft Sarah Connor. Unfortunately, she doesn't look strong enough to pull off the more amazing action scenes. And if you ever saw the Sarah Connor Chronicles, this is a completely different version of her. 

The frustrating tic in this movie is the I-won't-take-five-seconds-to-explain-my-motive thing, which leads to fights and conflicts among them. But overall it was a satisfying story, and the violence is only PG-13. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Warby Parker Glasses

Warby Parker is a class act. You can go to their website, pick out five glasses frames you think you might like, and they will send you a sample of those for you to try on free of charge.

They include a label so you can send them back at their expense.

Warby Parker is very tempting. Alas, I have a big head, so even their largest sizes will not fit me. I will have to go to an eyeglass shop as usual and have them bend the frames around to fit my head.


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