So there I am, standing in the mezzanine on the second floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, attending a reception for authors and agents after the first day of Thrillerfest 2008, the big, five-day event featuring some of the biggest names in the thriller-writing genre, plus me.
That reminds me, I still haven't figured out why it's called the "Grand" Hyatt. I assumed it got its name because of the fact that it's located about fifty feet from Grand Central Station - so close, in fact, that even I managed to find it after stepping off the train, and I've only been to New York one other time. I'm such a bumpkin that I'm the guy New Yorkers picture when they think of out-of-town visitors being overwhelmed by their city.
But the thing is, the hotel could have been named the "Grand" Hyatt due to the fact that the inside of it looks like the kind of place my mother would have forbidden me to touch anything in when I was a kid, for fear that I would have broken something and we wouldn't have had the money to pay for it. I mean, this place was fancy, featuring a waterfall inside the lobby!
But I digress. So I was standing in the middle of this reception, feeling like a sixth-grade kid at his first junior high dance, afraid to talk to any of the girls, when Donald Maass wanders by and starts talking to me and another aspiring author, Greg Burton, who had seen how lost I looked and taken pity on me.
Now, if you're not involved in writing or publishing, you probably have never heard of Donald Maass. I hadn't, until I got it in my head that I could be a writer. But he's the owner and official Big Cheese of the Donald Maass Literary Agency, one of the oldest and most prestigous in the city, at least out of the agencies that will deal with plebeians like me. He's Stuart Kaminsky' agent, if that means anything to you.
Now I find myself, ten minutes after feeling like the last kid picked for the kickball game at recess, talking one-on-one with Donald Maass, after Greg got pulled away by another group!
Want to hear something funny? Donald Maass is a regular guy! He was friendly and pleasant and spent about fifteen minutes just chatting with me, until a pushy young lady elbowed her way past me and took Donald Maass for herself.
But that's okay, because before he was kidnapped, metaphorically speaking, Donald Maass inquired about my project and listened with interest (at least he seemed to be interested, but maybe he's just really good at hiding his boredom) as I explained my book to him. He gave me his card, the one with his personal email address on it, and invited me to send him my material.
So now, Donald Maass himself is reviewing my manuscript. Or perhaps he handed it to his newest assistant after it came in - who knows? - but I have at the moment at least the possibility of gaining representation by the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Stranger things have happened, although I really can't think of any offhand.
At least he didn't give me the finger and send me on my way, which was usually what happened at those junior-high dances when I finally got up the nerve to ask the girl to dance...