The Atlanta Writers Club held its Fourth Annual Spring Agents and Editors Conference this past weekend at the Airport Westin Hotel. It’s a chance for writers to present their most promising works before agents and editors seeking new material. Yesterday I pitched a young adult project I’m calling River Music. It went like this:
"Wally was 12 when his brother was washed away in an icy river. But it was Wally’s life that ended that day. His parents sent him off to live with his grandmother while they tried to cope with their grief. When they finally returned, they moved to a crumbling old house he knew was haunted that overlooked a deep river gorge, where poison vines and trees with foul-smelling leaves grew among the ruins of a crumbling piano factory. When Wally disobeyed his parents and ventured down to the bottom to retrieve something precious he’d lost, he stumbled across the ghost of a runaway slave, who taught him to hear what he called River Music, and helped him find his own song, one that would help him lead his family on a journey back to a place of light and love.
That’s a MUCH better pitch than the one I lamely tried to present to Joshilyn Jackson during the pre-con practice sessions last winter. I owe her big time for the encouragement and constructive criticism she offered then.
Given the constraints of an “elevator pitch,” there wasn’t a way to explain that the story also includes a secret stairway leading to an attic full of talking animals, an animated suit of armor from a samurai warrior, a mummy, the Ku Klux Klan, the Underground Railroad, and a fear of heights. I’ll be sending the synopsis and the first three chapters of the manuscript to New York. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Lots of thanks, too, to Lauretta Hannon for her encouragement –– she read and critiqued an excerpt –– and to the members of the Roswell Writing Group, a brilliant and baffling subset of the AWC, who were kind enough to make me practice for them while waiting for my Big Moment.