An Uncapped Pen

April 20, 2009

I Confess

The Las Vegas Cathedral

The Las Vegas Cathedral

I killed my prologue.  And I’ve hidden the body.

There.  I’ve admitted my guilt.   Wait–you want contrition, too?  Fine.  I’m heartily sorry for my sins, committed knowingly and unknowingly.  I’m sorry for my relentless fidgeting, dying dialogue, needless gestures, redundant redundancies,  talking heads, poisonous predictability, and my bloody backstory. 

Why yes, I had recently attended a Writers Workshop.  Why do you ask?  (Oh, and I’m sorry for using past perfect tense and the adverb in the middle of my response.)

Today I am back at my desk recharged, refocused, and brimming with ideas for my story.  Special thanks to human dynamos/authors Randall Platt and Dianna Love who generously shared their knowledge, their secrets for success and their encouragement.

Detective Mark McNett, from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, gave a fascinating presentation on homocide investigation.  And I enjoyed the Crime Panel and their advice for realistic portrayal of crime scene investigation, forensic techniques and the interaction between law enforcement agencies. 

Chris Roerden,  author of Don’t Murder Your Mystery:  24 Fiction-Writing Techniques To Save Your Manuscript From Turning Up D.O.A., graciously offered to critique a few pages of my draft manuscript.  Ten minutes with her was worth the price of admission to the conference.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The most painful, yet informative event of the conference was the anonymous first page read with the literary agents.  Brave souls submitted the first page of their manuscript to be read aloud by a moderator at Friday night’s dinner.  Six agents sat on the stage to demonstrate how they evaluated submissions.  As they listened to the moderator reading each submission, each agent raised their had at the point where they would personally stop reading and toss the manuscript in the reject pile.  When all six hands were in the air, the moderator stopped and each agent explained why they would reject the story.  Twelve manuscripts were read and only one made it to the end of the first page.  Some were rejected within four or five words.  I can only imagine how painful it was to have your darling shredded in front of a crowd of your peers.  God bless those writers for their courage.  I hope they bounce back and learn as much as I did from the exercise.

 As this was my third year attending the Las Vegas Writers Conference, I was not afraid to introduce myself to other writers, agents or publishers.  I even screwed up my courage to sit at the “cool kids” table at the banquet on Saturday night.  And my reward was being offered a piece of Jim McCarthy’s personal cheesecake. (Who brings their own cheesecake to a banquet?)

Best of all, I made another new writing friend, Chara: a sparkly, intelligent, witty full-time Mom and part-time lawyer who lives about two miles from my house.   I can’t wait to visit with her this week to plot where we’re going from here.

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

And if all that’s not enough, I spent several wonderful hours with my lovely friend Angel and her family who were in Vegas for a different conference.  Angel and I attended mass at the Cathedral in Las Vegas.  We arrived near the end of the 9:30 mass and waited in the side foyer until the church emptied before joining the parade of tourists taking snapshots and exploring the nooks and crannies.  As Angel and I were discussing the theme depicted of one of the stained glass windows, she pointed out a priest standing near the altar facing a man and woman.  Smack dab in the middle of  the sea of tourists, this couple was exchanging their marriage vows in a ceremony that lasted no more than five minutes.  Only in Vegas…

  Later, Angel and her family trekked across town to my house to have a quick drink before I took them to my favorite pizza place for dinner.   Safe miles on your long drive tonight, Angel.



Stained Glass Windows in the Las Vegas Cathedral

Stained Glass Windows in the Las Vegas Cathedral


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