OWFI provides a shepherd/personal assistant for every visiting speaker/editor/agent. The shepherd picks them up from the airport, makes sure they get checked into their hotel, makes sure they get to each each event within the conference they need to be, fetches them water/hot cocoa/coffee/Tylenol etc, takes them to lunch if they are not asked by anyone else, takes them sightseeing if there is time, and then gets them back to the airport when it is all over. A shepherd also makes an invaluable contact and if they are lucky, a new friend.
I had the honor of shepherding Tor editor, Melissa Frain at this year's conference. This is her and me at one of the banquets.
I really think I was the luckiest shepherd at this conference, because we had so much fun. We even managed to find time to go sightseeing. Here we are visiting the OKC bombing memorial after a fabulous lunch at McNellies Pub in downtown OKC.
The final night of the conference everyone dressed up for the awards banquet hoping to win an award for their submissions in the contest. My friend, Melanie gave me a good luck gift before and though I didn't win, I still appreciate it very much.The judge for my category did say she loved my entry, but other entries were just as good without as many mechanical. *sigh* Yes, you read it correctly...mechanical errors. I could kick myself...hard, but I am happy to know that it wasn't because she thought it was terrible.
We had a fabulous group sitting at our table for the last banquet. In this photo from left to right: William Bernhardt, Erin York, Angela Christina Archer, Aaron Archer, Larry Fish, Sabrina A. Fish, and Melissa Frain.
Also, I pitched my novel this weekend and am happy to say that Melissa Frain asked me to submit the first 3 chapter to her via email. In case you missed it earlier in the post...SHE WORKS FOR TOR BOOKS! *laughs* I know it isn't a contract yet, but this was my very first pitch, so I am over the moon. This weekend was a blast.
In conclusion, my advice to other new writers who may read this post would be: Go to a conference and pitch your work over submitting via mail if you can. The agent or editor will have a face to go with your name and submission. It can only help, right?!! Also, get involved with your local conference. Volunteer! You never know when that could be your open door.