Long weekend and, somewhere over South Dakota, it is clear that even in my exhausted state, I'm not getting any sleep. So, the recap. The goal of the weekend was to meet my agents, see them work, and accomplish the very specific task of getting enough face time with a New York editor to have somewhere to send SOULS when I finish the rewrite. Oh, and not make a total ass of myself. The trick with the last is it is complicated by the amount of alcohol that was scheduled to be drunk over the course of the weekend.
I took the red-eye out Friday morning, thinking I was clever by minimizing the time off from work, but that just meant that by the time I arrived in Madison (noon) after a four hour layover in Minneapolis I was completely wiped. Of course, I had to be scintillating by 10pm when the Scribe and West Coast Posse party took place. I had two choices: drugs or nap. I couldn't get a room until 3pm so drugs it was.
I managed to sneak past Jesse and Kristopher (my agents) at the airport and get into town, so there I was wandering around the hotel in a daze, already looking and feeling like I had been on a three day bender. One aspiring zombie writer coming right up. Jesse, when he found me, quickly established my need and whisked me around the corner to Michelangelo's Coffee where, over a stiff latte (which, for the record, was fucking spot on), we got the mutual love-in out of the way where no one could see us doing it. Propped up by our mutual ego stroking and a jolt of caffeine, we got to the planning.
This is the brilliant part: the lads of Scribe Agency in addition to being sharks in the literary agency sense (I had two and a half days to watch these lads work and I'm even more thrilled than I was to be represented by them; they have the right sort of zeal that is going to make me write hard for them Ð- it is the viscious circle we both need) know how to brew beer. The alcohol at the Friday night party was nine cases of homebrew: dark, pale, brown, amber and hard cider. The label on each type of beer was a piece of flash fiction by their clients. As I mentioned previously, I was the amber ale.
Prior to the convention, I had no idea how they were going to use the pieces I sent them, though I knew it was going to be just a clever marketing ploy. So I wrote pieces that, in addition to being representative of what I was interested in doing, could also be linked to specific products. "Nail and Nettle Soup" was a Roderick Mallory recipe, pointing folk towards the Scattered, Covered and Smothered anthology by Two Cranes Press. "Hold Tight, Lest Ye Fall" was a piece of conversation between Markham and Marielle, intended as an conversation starter that would lead into a discussion of SOULS. "Flower" was a throw-away piece. Something I had been thinking about but hadn't really gotten past the initial image of the flower growing out of a dead man's hand. The Metaphysical Detective's examination of the dead man's hand and what was growing from it turned out to be the one that people remembered best. Funny, how that works.
Anyway, so the goal of Friday night is for us to throw a wildly successful party and talk up the crew of writers that Scribe is representing. While the lads work the room, I work the bar, realizing that I'm going to know three people the entire night and, really, the best place for me to be is behind the counter being charming and handing out beer. Everyone likes the guy handing out beer. The lads were supposed to make contact with Editor X and Y, the two people we had picked out as first choices to see SOULS when it was ready. Jesse and Kris were to prime them for me to do a pitch later that weekend and I was supposed to not eat my foot in their presence when the time came. Meanwhile, I was supposed to drink one of each of the beers so that I could talk coherently about their differences.
They rock as brewmeisters. That's the bottom line really. Each was sharp and crisp or warm and nutty or bitter and tangy or deliciously sweet as to be expected. The cider was a Sweet Jesus! of a beverage. Went down like nectar, 10% alcohol content: that's all you really need in a beverage. Naturally, we ran out of cider first. Actually, we gave out all the beer but for about nine bottles and most of those nine were from the display we set up behind the bar, so I think we can call it a blow-out.
They also rock as golden tongued agents, informing me by the end of the night that the only thing I needed to do the rest of the weekend was finish the fucking manuscript because their pitch meetings with X and Y had gone well enough that I didn't need to do my dog and pony bit. (I did get time with both Saturday night while wandering between parties but that was only to put a face to my name). It's very nice to come away from the weekend with those ducks lined up and all that we're waiting on is for me to hammer out the last 20K words of the rewrite. And, since those ducks are in a row as well, it's just a matter of finding the time.
I also got to hang out with barthanderson, fellow member of the Scribe Posse and all around nice guy. He is, probably, still giggling like a schoolboy about the sentence: "They're defecating the Senate!" And The Patron Saints of Plagues is, by his own admission, a head-shakingly bloody book. We have to wait until March to read it. Bastard. I want it now. Well, in two weeks, you know, after the writing bit.
Okay, dumbest thing that came out of my mouth all weekend. Being my first time in Madison (and it's been probably thirty years since I've been in Wisconsin), I was taken with how fervent the badger-ing of everything was. Badgers are big in Wisconsin, as is cheese. I commented that there should be a synergy of the badgers and the cheese. Maybe they should train the badgers to go out and harvest the cheese off the trees.
This came out of my mouth while in the car with Jesse and Kristopher, midway through the first day. It was followed by that long silence where I hoped they hadn't really heard me. Until I hear Kristopher drawl from the backseat. "Yeeeaaahh, trees..." Jesse started snorting with laughter. I tried to cover by correcting myself, but unfortunately my correction was "No, wait, it's on vines." No fucking luck. Apparently, I've never seen a cow before.
I wandered around the capitol building on Sunday morning, watching the squirrels route through the carpet of yellow leaves for tasty nuggets, and I thought it wouldn't be a bad world where badgers climbed trees and harvested cheese. Wouldn't be a bad world at all. Take note, lads, when I run out of things to blow up on the novel front, we might have to re-invent my career. Children's books. Badgers and cheese. We could do goats and pies next. Orangoutangs and string beans. It's a gold mine of random associations. Kids will dig it.