It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Turkey Vulture!

Everywhere I go for the last few weeks I see turkey vultures. Turkey vultures here, turkey vultures there. I look out my window, turkey vulture. Driving, stopped at a light, turkey vulture. Go out to the back yard with my dogs, two or three turkey vultures circling overhead. They’re everywhere. Since I am a rational, level headed human being, naturally my first reaction when I noticed this phenomenon was that it must be an omen from the spirit world bringing tidings of my impending death.

I’ve always seen turkey vultures I guess, they aren’t exactly uncommon. But this has been a daily occurrence for a few weeks now, me and my turkey vultures, sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes three times a day. Has the turkey vulture population recently exploded? Have there always been this many turkey vultures and I’m just noticing them right now for some reason? Possibly. After about a month of this, I turned from my computer to stare blankly out my office window (to think, of course) and saw two turkey vultures, circling high in the sky over my neighbourhood and asked what I guess all writers ask eventually: all right, pal, what’s your story?

“In the earliest of times, the sun lived very close to the earth – so close that life was becoming unbearable. The animal world got together and decided to do something about it. They wanted to move the sun further away. The fox was the first to volunteer, and he grabbed the sun in his mouth and began to run to the heavens. After a while the sun became too hot, burning the fox’s mouth and he stopped. To this day the inside of the fox’s mouth is black.

Then the opossum volunteered. He wrapped his tail around the sun and began running toward the heavens. Before long, the sun became too hot, burning his tail and he had to stop. To this day the opossum has no hair upon his tail.

It was then that vulture stepped forward. Vulture was the most beautiful and powerful of birds. Upon its head was a beautiful mantle of rich feathering that all other birds envied. Knowing that the earth would burn up unless someone moved the sun, the vulture placed its head against it and began to fly to the heavens. With powerful strokes of its wings, it pushed and pushed the sun further and further up into the heavens. Though it could feel its crown feathers burning, vulture continued until the sun was set a safe distance in the sky away from earth. Unfortunately, vulture lost its magnificent head of feathers for eternity.”*

Stories are everywhere. Thanks for the reminder, turkey vulture!

*Andrews, Ted. Animal Speak (Woodbury MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1993), pp. 201-202.

Writer’s Digest Annual Conference – Pitch Slam

As I mentioned in my last, long ago post, I will be attending the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference this August in New York. I’ve never been to a writing conference before and I’m pretty excited. It’s still a few months away, but there is quite a bit of preparation involved and I’m making some progress on that. Aside from the many sessional offerings, I’m also doing the pitch slam, which is both an exciting and deeply terrifying notion. Since I have no experience in this regard, I read some blogs by people who have attended writing conferences with pitch slams to get some idea of what to expect. Some were very encouraging and some read like the stuff of nightmares. One thing they did agree on is that I’ll need a pitch and I’ll need to know what agents I want to pitch to.

The Pitch. Short, sweet and well rehearsed seems to be the consensus there. I don’t have a pitch, per se, but I have a few similar notions from various attempts at query letters and such that I can get started with. I’ve been reading a lot of articles about creating a pitch and made a lot of notes, so that’s something I’ll be working on for the next little while. Last year my closest writing pal passed away unexpectedly, so I guess my dogs will be judging my delivery. I figure the German shepherd will be the most critical.


Nuka: Your book SUCKS!


Know what agents you want to pitch to. Here’s where a lot of the blogs I read took on a frightening tone – long lines, lots of agents not at every pitch session, mean agents, tired agents, horrible ghoul type agents sent from hell to destroy your soul, basically the pitch slam sounds like a land of chaos, where nothing makes sense and everyone is confused. Maybe this is accurate, maybe not, I won’t know until I get there. I figure the best I can do is be prepared and just think of it as an adventure. My own brain and its horrible, horrible thoughts are what screw me around more than anything else, so I’ll just be as prepared as I can and see what happens.

Writer’s Digest has a list of the agents attending, so I made a list of agents that represent my genre. Now I’ll research them all further and rank them in order of who I’d like to pitch to most to least. Once I’m at the pitch slam I can use that based on what agents are there and how long their lines are. Seems like a reasonable approach to me, I guess I’ll find out!

Writer’s Digest Conference 2016

The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference is taking place August 12 – 14 at the New York Hilton Midtown, and guess what, I’ll be there!

I’ve never been to a writer’s conference. I’ve thought about attending before, but since I live all tucked away up here in Canada under a pile of snow, it’s a bit of an undertaking and it has never quite come together for me. This is the year!  I’ve read Writer’s Digest magazine for years and used their Second Draft services as well. I follow the blogs of their editors and enjoy their articles and tweets. These are informative people and it will be pretty cool to meet them in person.

I’ve also never been to New York. This adventure is still in the early planning stages, but I’ve bought my registration for the conference, including the pitch slam and the hotel is booked. What to expect from a writing conference? Well, I really don’t know. The schedule is just starting to take shape on their website, but it looks like many incredible authors and agents will be giving workshops and participating in panels on many different aspects of the writing life. If nothing else, it will be great to be surrounded by a bunch of other enthusiastic writers for a few days. I like my own company as much as the next writer, but a little boost of comradery in this largely solitary pursuit can go a long way.

The next few months will be spent making travel arrangements and deciding which of the many offerings of the conference I want to attend beside the pitch slam. I’ve got some research to do about what to expect and how to be prepared, especially for the pitch slam, but I’m excited about this opportunity. I look forward to meeting some like-minded folks and maybe even get a few requests for my manuscript. There will certainly be plenty to learn.

If anyone knows some good resources to help me prepare or if you’ve been to one of these before, please comment! I’d love to hear about your experiences.

The early bird pricing ended January 31, but you can still register until April 1 for a better rate. I’ll be blogging about this more in the months ahead, I’m sure. One thing we know as writers is that you have to continually invest in the craft of writing and this seems like a great opportunity to do so.

Check out the website for all the details, see you in New York!


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