The New York Pitch Conference–One Week Later

Last Tuesday, I left New York City after attending The New York Pitch Conference. I said farewell to my mother, (she joined me in NYC for what became I think, the trip of her life) boarded a SWA flight home and came back exhausted, in someways discouraged, more confused than when I went to New York, and at the same time more comfortable for having taken the trip–even though not one of the editors who heard my pitch asked for more, and several offered reasons why. The most satisfying affirmation of all came from being told my book is NOT middle grade. The best reason it’s not, is that a middle grade book deals with much simpler subjects, and two, is geared toward a special point in a middle grade’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 have yet to enter them into the computer, so I honestly don’t know what the word count is, but I can assure everyone it’s not 53,000. Sunday morning I went to Half Priced Books in Dallas and repurchased a copy of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Several agents now have said that teens don’t much fancy books about the old days. But Netflix’s Stranger Things has blown that theory out the window. Of course Stranger Things is a streamed TV show on Netflix that kids enjoy because it has monsters and supernatural stuff in it. 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 binged watched it cos it was actually an intriguing show and 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 three for like a millisecond in each shot.) My book, The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club all happens in 1977. The book focuses on a voice rarely featured–air force brats–kids who were born to fathers already in the military and knew no other way of life.

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 what they’ve recently seen on Leonard Nimoy’s TV show, In Search Of…. That show set the nation on edge, almost as much as Orson Wells and his radio play War of the Worlds. Nimoy featured Chariots of the Gods to stir up UFO encounters, killer bees swarming over every home across the fruited plain and killing at will, and how on earth could we forget all the Bigfoot encounters that suddenly exploded? It is this part of history I tap into to appeal to adults and younger audience how 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, the way they came to protect themselves from the agony of goodbye every six months to a year, those 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. 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.