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Writers Ask: Elevator Pitches and Caviar Dreams

Lots of websites and conferences promise to help you craft an “elevator pitch” for your novel. But is that something writers will ever use? This week we’re talking agent queries, the good and bad of writers’ conferences, and a few scams writers should avoid, like agents charging fees. We also answer a question about confident protagonists, specifically: How do you create a confident character without veering into a parody of confidence?

Other talking points include: AWP table antics, dirty Valentines, overalls, faking your own death, selling a novel, good agents vs. not-so-good agents, dramatic irony, how to pronounce the word ‘quixotic,’ and Tom’s forthcoming novel.

For more on “agent” Melanie Mills, here are a couple stories worth checking out.

For a hilariously pedantic/pissy argument about how to pronounce the word ‘quixotic,’ check out this Wiki discussion.

As promised on the episode, here are a couple photos Mike took while Tom sold his novel in a Wawa parking lot in Delaware.

"Silver Linings Playbook? Never heard of it, sir."

“Silver Linings Playbook? Never heard of it, sir.”

Half-eaten hot dog, sneaker that's seen better days.

Half-eaten hot dog, sneaker that’s seen better days.

Oh, and here’s a photo of Dave Housley from the early 90s, from the Barrelhouse archives.

"Hey Lance, if this doesn't work out, what do you think about starting a lit mag?"

“Hey Lance, if this doesn’t work out, what do you think about starting a lit mag?”

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. While you’re there, do us a favor and leave a quick review, which will help us reach new listeners.

Thanks for listening! And come back next week for more!


Download Writers Ask: Elevator Pitches and Caviar Dreams (right-click, save-as)


AWP 2014: Reports From the Writer-Industrial Complex

While Mike skipped out on this year’s AWP conference, Tom has made the voyage to Seattle, and will be filing periodic updates from inside the belly of the beast. He’ll have recaps of the day’s best and worst events, plus brief interviews with writers and editors. As new episodes drop we’ll update this post. Or you can make it easy on yourself and subscribe to the podcast feed–in iTunes, on Stitcher, or through Instacast or whatever other podcast app you prefer. Then you’ll get each new episode as soon as it’s available.

Special Report #1: Joe Killiany

Tom talks to Barrelhouse editor Joe Killiany about what’s to love and what’s to hate about AWP, writers (and ex-presidents) Joe wants to fight, and beard maintenance.


Download AWP Special Report #1 (right-click, save-as)

Special Report #2: Tom Williams

Tom (McAllister) talks to another Tom (Williams) about his novel, Don’t Start Me Talkin’, what he looks forward to each year about AWP, and conference-goers’ book-buying habits. Barrelhouse editor Dave Housley also jumps onto the mic to ask Tom about slam poetry, and his arm-wrestling prowess.


Download Special Report #2 (right-click, save-as)

Special Report #3: Aaron Burch

Tom talks with Hobart editor Aaron Burch, for some reason.


Download Special Report #3 (right-click, save-as)

Special Report #4: Erin Fitzgerald

Tom sits down with writer and friend-of-Barrelhouse Erin Fitzgerald to talk flash fiction, unlikeable characters, and the complicated worlds of fan fiction.


Download Special Report #4 (right-click, save-as)

Non-AWP Special Report #1: Lee Klein

Mike updates from Philadelphia on what it’s like to NOT be at AWP. Also, he’s joined by Lee Klein, author of Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck, to talk Austrian novelists and The Silver Linings Playbook.


Download Non-AWP Special Report #1

AWP Special Report #5: Katherine Hill

Tom talks with fan favorite Katherine Hill (author of The Violet Hour) about getting old, AWP parties, creepy dudes, dogs, kissing, and confrontational panels.


Download AWP Special Report #5