September 16th, 2006

Long Fun Day (Mostly)

So I just got back from NJ.  I woke nice and grumpy this morning, because I usually sleep in on Saturdays.  Instead I rolled out of bed at 7:30 a.m. to do a guest spot with the Garden State Horror Writers Association (, down in NJ.  The topic was writing a proper cover letter.  Rather than risk driving down and getting lost and thereby keep everyone waiting, I instead opted to take the train to NYC, followed by the bus from the Port Authority.    Only my train ran late, which almost made me miss my bus, which only made me grumpier.

Thankfully I made it, and when I arrived in NJ, Gary Frank, the VP of the GSHWA, was waiting to pick me up.  The drive to the workshop was about another hour, and then I sat through the business meeting before the actual workshop started.  I found this interersting, because I had never sat in on the behind-the-scenes workings of a writing organization before.  So hearing them talk about upcoming events, money matters, etc. was all cool.  And once I got some coffee in me, the grumpiness lifted.

Unforunately, I was saddened to learn during this meeting that Charles Grant, a highly respected writer in the horror field, died yesterday.  When I attended Odyssey in 2000, Charles Grant was my week 2 instructor.  At the time I was still very new to the field, so meeting any writer (even one I hadn't heard of :)), was still a new and exciting prospect.  I'll always be appreciative for the time Mr. Grant took to teach me about the craft, and I wish his family & friends all the best during this difficult time.

Jack Fischer, the former publisher/editor of the defunct Flesh & Blood Magazine, was supposed to be one of my cohorts for this panel, but unfortunately Jack had to work.  However, my other partner-in-crime, Kelly Laymon, was still there.  Kelly is a former slush reader for Cemetery Dance, and she brought in the some of the funniest, wackiest cover letters I've ever encountered.  As to the discussion itself, I went over a bunch of dos and don'ts, adding a caveat that while these are good rules to follow, most magazines will differ slightly in what they want done.

Overall I really enjoyed myself, and everyone proved really receptive and appreciative.  Having been a student at the Odyssey Workshop and also Orson Scott Card's workshop, it was nice to play teacher this time, and pay it forward in whatever small way I could.  It was also nice getting reiumbursed for travel expenses, and honorariums never hurt.

Afterward we went out to lunch (on them), and then Gary drove me all the way back to NYC.  Good man.  Now I'm going to do nothing for the rest of the night, except watch the Yankees play the Red Sox.  Until next time everyone . . . but before I go I will add that I was very impressed with the way the Garden State Writers conducted themselves, and I have nothing but nice things to say about them.