NY Pitch Conference–1 Hot Week Later

NY Pitch Conference–1 Hot Week Later

Last Tuesday, I left New York City after attending the NY Pitch Conference.

I said farewell to my mother, who had joined me in NYC for what became one of the most exciting trips of her life.

A Southwest Airlines flight brought me home to Dallas-Forth Worth exhausted.

In several ways, I inwardly felt discouraged and more confused than before going to New York. At the same time, I felt a burst of comfort in having taken the trip. This, even though not one of the editors who heard my pitch asked for more. To make matters worse, or for the better, several offered reasons why they had no interest in my manuscript.

This is not a middle-grade story.

The most satisfying affirmation of all came from being told my book is NOT middle-grade.

The best reason why is that a middle-grade book deals with much simpler subjects. Second, most middle-grade books focus on a special point in a middle-grader’s curriculum.

Having worked in the world of public education when I first moved to Dallas in 2001, I knew before my next heartbeat I had no intentions of submerging into that morass.

Plus my work count at present is 83,000 words.

After my last write-through, I can assure you it is not near 53,000 words.

Taking a mental break from writing after the NY Pitch Conference.

Sunday morning I went to Half Priced Books in Dallas and bought a second copy of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.

Several agents now have said that teens don’t fancy books about “the old days.” My writing advisor often tells us in class that if we get stuck in our manuscripts the cure is simple; “Add aliens.”

Speaking of Stranger Things.

Netflix’s Stranger Things is a prime example.

This streamed show has found a large audience because it has monsters and supernatural stuff in it for starters. Add in good writing, a plot that works, and great acting, and there you go.

The presumption in New York is that parents are watching it, too, so that they’re making sure their kids are not watching anything they should not be. I’m not sure I buy that argument.

I binge-watched Seasons 1-3 because this is an intriguing show. The bits of ’80s nostalgia they brought in are cool to see again. (My sister is also seen exiting the theater and restroom in Season 3 for about a millisecond in each shot.)

But here’s the thing…

My book, The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club all happens in 1977.

The book focuses on a voice rarely featured–US Air Force Brats. Kids who were born to fathers and maybe a handful of mothers at the time, who were born into military families or had one created, in large part by Vietnam.

The story also includes a Soviet-era spy who is hiding just off base in the woods so that he can monitor the goings on, and carry out a critical, some say is true, mission.

Military Historical Fiction

There are a ton of books in the genre of military historical fiction, but most of them are about WWI and WWII.

I have, as of now, found none that feature teen boys trying to have fun in the woods just off base by building a treehouse and being visited by what seem like supernatural occurrences straight out of what they’ve recently seen on Leonard Nimoy’s TV show, In Search Of….

That show set America on edge almost as much as Orson Wells and his radio play War of the Worlds.

Nimoy featured The Chariots of the Gods to stir up UFO encounters. He made many flee from the outdoors because killer bees were said to be swarming over every home across the fruited plain, killing at will!

Oh, and to this day, still wildly talk about. How on earth could we forget Bigfoot encounters?

It is this part of history I tap into to appeal to adults and the younger audiences who most likely won’t believe was possible. But I also show a side of America most won’t realize was going on. B-52s sitting on alert ready to be airborne and headed for the Soviet Union in a very short amount of time. How prevalent the Soviet KGB and other organizations were about having spies here in America. How family life of those who stood ready, suffered the loneliness, the loss of friends, the constant moving, and the way they came to protect themselves from the agony of goodbye every six months to a year, are stories almost never heard.

So as of this morning, after a week’s thought, prayer, Morning Pages writing, Publisher’s Marketplace searches, book reading, letting the MS breathe, more reading, thinking and not thinking, and the like, this is how my mind has evolved.

Conclusion about the NY Pitch Conference

I may not have left NYC with an offer in my pocket, but I left with the keys to open my mind and get a peek at one of the last big steps I need to take before my book is pitched and hopefully acquired.

This is an image of the tree line from the new County Road 510 Bridge near Marquette, Michigan.


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Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, a selfie from camping for 13 weeks in 2022 on the Claxton family land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northwest of Marquette.

Donald J. Claxton is
‘The Timberlander’

Hello, I’m Donald J. 

I refer to myself as “The Timberlander” because I love off-grid living and woodworking.

My Great Pyrenees, Maycee, and I enjoy spending our time in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In the UP, I craft, make, grow, run, carve, and generate:

  • Custom crosses
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  • Basswood figurines and ornaments
  • My own power

Check out my crafts for sale in The Timberlander’s Treasures.

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