Search Stories To Tell Dot Com Blog

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stories That Strike Home

The first thing I noticed was the yellow caution tape.  Though it is great at getting attention, it did make me wonder what had happened; all the parking places in front of the building were blocked off.  People strolled down the street, some chatting and some not.  Everyone was friendly and seemed unconcerned.  Stepping onto the sidewalk, I checked around.

A man and his daughter appeared from nowhere.  She asked, "Are you here for the 'Pitch The Publisher' event?"

I smiled, "Yes, I'm James Peercy."

"Go right up."  With a smile, she extended an envelope.  "It's through that door and up some long stairs."

They were right; the stairs were quite impressive.  They extended at an angle all the way up to the second floor, were made of wood, and overlaid in carpet.  It had a nice cozy feel.  The length of the walk gave me just enough time to wonder what I would see at the top.

As I reached the top, a door to my right was open, but when I stepped in the whole scene changed.

There was the smell of sulfur.  To the left side of the spacious room was a huge black dragon.  The dragon was asleep of course, though wisps of smoke escaped it nostrils.  There was a huge chain around its neck and a banner to one side.  The banner said 'Blackwyrm Fiction'.

I hesitated before stepping further in and asked, "I'm looking for the ‘Pitch The Publisher event’?"

A man named Dave smiled.  "Don't mind him," he dismissed the dragon with a wave.  "We'll talk to you in a moment.  Besides, he's sleeping right now."  He pointed toward the other end of the room.  "You need to talk with her."

As I turned to look, in the windows behind the woman, there were planets rotating around a central sun.  I would have sworn it was an illusion until a comet whizzed by and several specks of dust pinged against the window.  Lynn with Otherworld Publications stepped forward smiling, "You must be James from Texas?"

Refusing to be dismayed, I answered, "Yes."

"Please come this way.  Your first publisher is waiting."

She directed me to a room toward her right.  As I entered the room, multiple hissings sounded at once, and I heard a man say, "Down boy, back to your corner unless I call."  The floor shook as the five headed hydra turned around and went back to wait in the corner.  Frank turned to me, his banner showed 'Hydra Publications' though dwarfed by his pet's size.

"Sorry about that," he smiled.  "It's his first time to come and he's very interested in meeting the authors."  He extended his hand, "I'm Frank Hall."

We shook.

"Would you please be seated?"

I swallowed, doing exactly what he said.  Though that hydra may have been his pet, its eyes never left me.

He looked up, not missing my nervousness, "Pay no attention to him.  He's just trying to get to know you."  He  then looked down at his paper work.  "Which was your story again?"

"Without A Conscious.  It’s about a college kid who discovers his grandmother has been murdered over a best kept secret orchestrated back in 1952."

"That's right," he thought back shuffling through the papers on his desk, found what he wanted, and slipped it from the pile.  "It's a mystery.  When I started reading it, it pulled me along."

The words made me forget about the hydra.  "Thank you, that is really nice to hear."

He sat back and smiled.  "Writing a good piece of fiction is only a part of the process.  I see you own your own business, so you must understand what it takes to self promote.  That's important.  The best salesperson for any piece of literature is the author themselves.  We do help, but it takes your cooperation."

After all the research I had conducted over book publishing, that was good to hear.  Yes, an author would love nothing more than to just write and let others advertise, but the realities of today's market say otherwise.  "I understand."

We talked on for a while until all at once one of the heads on the hydra snorted.  "That's your queue," Frank smiled.  "It was a pleasure to meet you.  Do send me your book."

"Thank you," standing up, I shook his hand.  "I was good to meet you too."

Another head of the hydra snorted again.  "Alright, alright, he's going."  Frank turned back and grinned.  "He's just concerned you'll miss your next pitch."

Again I thanked him, gave a slight bow to the hydra which nodded all five heads in return, and turned toward Otherworld.

The planets were still there staring through the windows.  After hearing the comet dust hit, I had a good idea how real it was.  You couldn’t miss the ‘Otherworld Publications’ printed above the view.

Lynn followed my gaze and laughed, "If it's a little too disconcerting, I can always close the viewport.  She reached for a control pad.

I raised my hand, "No, no, I love the scene."

She beamed a smile, "Really?  That's good to hear.  So many authors are thrown by the reality of it all.  They think it's all just fiction."  She waved toward the chair and I took a seat.  "Now”, she spoke seating herself, “your story was called 'The Wall Outside'?"

"Yes.  A fantasy about a husband whose wife is stolen by a magical world, and he’ll do anything to get her back."

She nodded.  "Going through the first chapter, it definitely needs some editing.” she paused catching my expression, “but please understand all writing must be edited.  Odds are the author is too close to the material to get it correct all by themselves.”

I nodded.

“For instance, there’s a place here where you say something twice,” she looked down the page.  “Oh, I can’t find it for the moment.  Instead, why don’t you tell me about your story?”

I remembered the submittal procedure.  It was one chapter, a synopsis, and a bio.  “It is rather hard to get the gist of the story with only one chapter.”

“Exactly so,” she turned to face me directly, “tell me the story.”

A star brightened in the window behind her, shrunk down to nothing, and burst into a rainbow of light.  Did I just see a star go supernova?

“I, uh,” swallowing again I shut out the sight and began, “Here’s what I was thinking about for the back cover: What starts as vacation turns into a mess.  For Jonna there’s more at stake than meets the eyes.  Through pouring rain, misdirection and a curious mind, Jonna crosses the barrier between our world and magic.”

Lynn raised a hand.  “No, no.  I’ve read the synopsis.  I want you to tell me the story from the beginning as if I was reading for myself.”

Wow, how do you do such a thing is so short a time when you only have thirty minutes with each publisher?  I started, telling it as quickly as I could, while completely conscious of the clock.  Watching her face, I wasn’t sure if I should continue.  After a few minutes I asked, “Should I go on?”

“Yes, please continue.”

So I went on, talking about how the husband, Jonna, was called by the elves to help save them, and how he refused because he didn’t want to do something that would endanger his wife.  How he returns back to the cabin only to find an imposter had replaced his wife, and I described the frantic search to find her as he leaps into a world of magic.

After about the first two and half chapters, I knew the time had to be getting close.  I tried to summarize thinking there just wasn’t enough time.   She looked disappointed that I had stopped.  It threw me.

“Today,” she stated, “we are not giving out contracts.  This event was about authors getting feedback on their story, but I will tell you, I didn’t want you to stop.”

Wow, that was incredible.  “Thank you, I appreciate your feedback.”

“Not at all, and now I think your next publisher would like to see you.”

Rising from my chair, I turned to face Blackwyrm.  Dave smiled as I approached, and the dragon stirred, opening one eye.  I didn’t like that look.

“Please, be seated.”

Though I knew it wouldn’t make any difference should the dragon come toward me, I made sure he was between me and the dragon.  He looked around his desk with a frown.  “I don’t seem to have your chapter.”

“That’s my fault,” I apologized.  “I was trying to get ‘Ivan’ ready for you, but the book was written about ten years ago, and I was trying to modernize it.”

“Modernize it?” he shook his head.  “The market is big on older technology, not newer.  As a matter of fact, you might check out this one.”  He held up a book.  “It’s a mystery about a guy who has to go to the land of OZ to solve a murder.  The computers they have run on wooden blocks, similar to punch cards.  Tell me about yours.”

As I began to speak, he raised his hand, reached over and pressed a button.  A holographic clock appeared and he checked the time.  “Almost time to feed the dragon,” he smiled.  “Please continue.”

“It’s a,” both dragon eyes were open now, staring in my direction.  “It’s called ‘Ivan’.  He’s a UCT, Universal Computer Technician, who travels the galaxy fixing different odd and unusual systems.  He,” the dragon snorted and I swallowed, “he has an emotional AI called Suzie that is very jealous of anyone else who travels with them.  Being in the wrong place at the right time, he gets tricked into fighting a war while helping a woman warn her family.”

I went on for a while, when suddenly the holographic clock popped up.

“It’s almost time,” Dave smiled.

The dragon knew it too as it shifted around.

Dave paused thinking, “Send me the story, but without the modernization.”

“Thank you.”

“And now it’s time for the dragon to eat.”   Rising from his chair, he went to the dragon and stroked its chin.  It puffed out smoke with almost a purr.  He then shifted something out of site, pulled out an electrical plug, and connected it to the wall.  The Dragon hummed with delight.  It was mechanical.   Wow, I stood up and made my way to leave.

Lynn called, “You wife came by and said she would be looking around downtown.  She just wanted to let you know.”

Turning around, I saw all three: Dave by his dragon Blackwyrm Fiction, Lynn with Otherworld Publications showing a backdrop of planets, and Frank shooing his hydra back into the room as it narrowly missed his Hydra Publications banner.

“Thanks guys, I was pleasure to meet you all.”  Without another word, I headed down the stairs.

As I passed from the building, the outside temperature had dropped; I was so glad I had brought my jacket.  Looking up at the second floor, no one would think how big those offices really were, nor what was contained inside.  To everyone else, it was just an office building in downtown La Grange, Kentucky.  No wonder there was caution tape keeping the parking blocked off.

Author’s Note:
For those who might not have known, there was a Pitch The Publisher event held in LaGrange, Kentucky this past November 19th, 2011.  I did attend this and had the pleasure to meet Lynn with Otherworld, Frank with Hydra, and Dave with Blackwyrm.  I presented the fantasy book ‘The Wall Outside’, the mystery ‘Without A Conscious’, and the scifi book ‘Ivan’.  There were requests to send all three books in. Yaaa!

If you are interested in finding out more about these publishers, you can go to:

Thanks for reading,