Four weeks until the Algonkian Writers’ Conference in Niagara Falls. This for me is the next step… the big one into the real world of presenting my novel for potential publication. This conference promises to nip and tuck the manuscript, help me develop and present my pitch. Once I was accepted to take part in this conference the preparation work started to roll in. We are to read four novels, read several first pages of current literary works with an eye for specific details, scrutinize and look at our own work from several different perspectives, create our own book jackets and write our synopsis. Many of these things I had already done, but this new set of instructions launched me into another phase, made me adjust the wheel on my lens and add some more colours to the palette of the story. It’s been an already enlightening experience  and we’re still four weeks away.

We will have the opportunity to pitch to acquiring editors and publishers, and that fact, in itself makes me sweat. But it has to be done, right? What’s my hook? What will make you want to read my book? Do you want to read about a loving but ineffectual father who is talked into a shared custody agreement that is never honoured and spends years trying to first maintain and then reestablish contact with his daughter?

Once I began writing this story I kept meeting men to whom this was happening in one form or another. Men who loved their children but were prevented access. Most of the mothers appeared to be using the children to punish the men. It isn’t that I think some men don’t need a little shaking up, but using the child to do it is unconscionable. I believe it is an important story. We hear often of “deadbeat dads” – they are real and many – but to lump all men into that category who don’t see their children doesn’t represent the whole.

I’ve read the prescribed books, hung out in bookstores reading many first chapters and dust jackets, written and rewritten my synopsis, my own dust jacket, my “Pitch logline” and studied my manuscript from many angles. I think I’m ready. But I’m still sweating. I’m so grateful that a few of my fellow “Write Brainers” have also been accepted, and that I won’t have to face the dragon completely alone, or at least I’ll have someone to help me with the bandages once I’ve been torn to shreds.