I need to work on the book A LOT. My draft is not a winner yet. It was firmly suggested I find an editor-for-hire who has also been a writer who can pick apart the story from top to bottom. Then I will reach out to agents with the preface that my work has been requested by specific editors from specific publishing houses.
After all that, I will submit my novel. It's not a race per se. The conference was a big step in validating my effort but it does not mean I get a contract, at least not immediately.
So I must get back to the primary work at hand, catch up on a lot stuff I let slip.
This does mean though, if I dig in, keep cool and continue making smart moves... this book will get published with more to follow.
So this is how I pitched my book at the conference with the changes and additions in parentheses:
Black Saturday (was Heritage Fields but no one liked that title) is an urban fantasy (originally I said a mix of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River but I was told to go with Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series instead) with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I envision this as a continuing series. (editors want to know you have more than one book in you.)
Randall Toussaint left his hometown, Hapsburg, Pennsylvania, before the lure of magic landed him in jail or worse. Mages in the slums use their skills to pull small cons. The wealthy warlocks in town crave arcane power, use it to pawn off emotional guilt but someone always ends up taking the fall. Randall went “legit” as a corporate spin doctor, what seemed the perfect fit for someone who grew up brewing hoodoo and moonshine in his basement and ran confidence games on street corners.
Hapsburg is a town with three faces: The warlocks rule the evergreen estates, tourists enjoy ghost tours in Middle Village and the back alley mages sell talismans in the slums called Silt Town. (I left out this background originally)
When Randall’s cousin, Chaka, disappears in those slums, the détente among rival mages begins to unravel. Chaka is a prodigy who pulled off the greatest trick of all: He raised the dead in the flesh without facing divine wrath.
Myla, head of the Toussaint family and Chaka's sister, demands Randall take up the search regardless of who gets in the way. (You must show there is a strong female element in the book if the protagonist is not a woman)
Chaka’s secret could erode the borders of magic and death, but not even the man who put a bullet in his head knows where he is. Now Randall must scour the town for the enemy threatening to destroy his family.