Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Context 2007!

So, as many of you already know, I spent last weekend at Context 2007, a convention for writers and fans of Sci Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Context is held every year in Columbus, Ohio (my home town), and is run by a dedicated staff of volunteers, all of who love genre fiction.

This was my fourth Context, actually, but the first one that I ever attended as a panelist and guest (and thank you, Susan Kehner for inviting me – it was very flattering and I hope I contributed to the con’s success). I first learned about the con from my writer’s group – several members also helped with the con planning and suggested that I go. Editors and authors of every stripe were said to prowl the carpeted halls between panels, their eyes filled with an unholy, insatiable glow My first year there, I met people like Mike Resnick and Tim Waggoner as well as editors from every publication you can imagine, from magazines and fan-zines to actual New York publishing houses. Heady stuff.

Of course, I’ll always have a soft spot for Context because it was there, in 2006, that I met Paula Guran and sold BLOOD MAGIC in the hallway in a frantic 5 minute pitch session. Paula and Ellen Datlow (another famed editor) had just finished up an early-morning panel on “A Day In The Life Of An Editor”, in which Paula had mentioned her new imprint, Juno Books. She announced that she was looking for manuscripts, specifically ones that featured strong female leads and deep relationship elements. The only wrinkle: Juno was looking to publish “romance/speculative fiction cross-over stories.

Afterwards, I cornered Paula in the hallway and desperately pitched my little heart out, explaining to Paula that not only was the manuscript not completely finished yet (generally not recommended) but also that my book, while featuring a strong female lead and deep relationship elements, was not truly a romance/speculative fiction crossover like she said Juno was looking for (DEFINITELY not recommended). All the while, Ellen was tugging on her elbow urging her to go have breakfast with her so they could catch up and gossip it was madness.

Even with all of this happening, I must have made a favorable impression because she asked me for my first three chapters and a synopsis. The rest, as they say, is history.

This year, I sat on several panels, including a very interesting one on “Killing Your Characters”, as well as a very informative panel (for me, anyway) on “How I Published My First Novel”. Everyone on the panel has such different stories, and I now realize, even more than before, how there’s no one right way to catch the attention of a publisher, other than persistent hard work and a genuine love of writing. Your enthusiasm will shine through, believe me, but it must be tempered by clean writing, so practice, practice, practice!

I got the chance to socialize with Mike Resnick at my autograph session – he just sat down next to me and started shooting the shit. God, I LOVE small cons like Context. At a larger event like Marcon, an author like Mike would probably be mobbed for the entire weekend. Mike very generously offered me some advice on finding a literary agent and gave me half a dozen names of people I might contact.

Even better, I met a boatload of extremely nice people, writers and fans, all of who walked right up to me as if I were someone worth talking to. Many presented me with a copy of my book to sign. Talk about mind-blowing. Other writers gave me their cards (or even copies of their books) and invited me to contact them.

Did I mention how much I love small cons?

In the end, the Con dealer room ended up selling completely out of BLOOD MAGIC, which gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling thats only topped by a few other experiences (the birth of my kids the day I got married etc.). Thanks to everyone that took a chance on my book, and I hope you like it. If you end up writing a review, whether it be on Amazon or on a web site, please let me know and I promise that Ill link back to it, good or bad, regardless of what you have to say.


heidi ruby miller said...

It was good to meet you, Matt.

Hopefully we'll get together again soon.


Matt Cook said...

It was great meeting you too, Heidi. Looking forward to seeing you again as well and thanks for visiting!