I knew it would be good, but I had no idea how good. A friend had told me that the SC conference was the best in the Southeast for fiction writers and boy, she was right! As a single parents/starving writer, I could hardly afford the five hundred dollar ticket price, so I signed up to volunteer. I figured that would be even more fun and it sure was!
I helped out at the registration desk, handing out tote bags full of goodies and walking some folks to different locations, which I had learned about at the volunteer orientation. At breakfast I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic from the fifteenth floor while greeting attendees and collecting meal tickets. Could it get any better than that?
The next day I got to attend several sessions, with wonderful, kind agents and editors who not only knew their stuff, but had new stuff to say that I hadn’t heard before on the conference circuit. I enjoyed two short shifts at the information desk and did my best to supply a presenter with a last minute flip chart.
It was all fun, but the best fun came at the very last minute. SCWW has a special feature called SlushFest, in which participants anonymously supply their first two pages in hard copy and also as transparencies for overhead projection. An agent or editor critiques the pages aloud for the group and says whether he or she would ask to read more and why or why not. It’s fascinating and I was thrilled to be able to attend this session with two agents who specialize in what I write, women’s fiction.
These sessions usually have a facilitator who collects the pages and organizes them and reads them aloud. But no one appeared. The manuscripts are limited to the first fifteen participants and I was worried they would pile up and someone would get left out. The clock ticked past the appointed start time. I looked at a conference veteran I knew from volunteering. She nodded at me. Go for it.
I jumped right in, introduced the agents and started reading. It felt very scary to be in the presence of such powerful women, but I managed to shuffle the hard copies to them without getting mixed up more than once. In a fog of terror, I read the pieces, which were all very good. When it was over, I breathed.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder causing another rush of adrenaline. It was one of the agents. She thanked me for reading and then complimented me on it. She wondered if I had ever considered reading for audio books. Completely thunderstruck by this unexpected praise, I could hardly speak, but I managed to eke out a thank you.
Thanks to this totally unexpected delight, I now have a profile at ACX where I’ve been auditioning for various audio books. It’s fun and even though I haven’t gotten a gig yet, I still have hope. And I hope to make the trip to Myrtle Beach again in October. Who knows what can happen?