The second session I attended was a traditional read-and-critique with Laurie McLean, the agent I wanted to pitch to. I wanted to see what she was like. The feeling in this room was a lot less wired, maybe because everyone had a chance to read three pages instead of just one. Laurie's responses were direct and honest, never condescending. After everyone had finished reading, she gave the rest of us observers a chance to read. I only had my copy of the one-page opening I'd just read in the Xtreme session but Laurie was kind enough to listen. Since the page had already been judged once, I felt there was less riding on it. She didn't say she wouldn't read on, and that was enough for me.
The other good thing that happened at this session was meeting Cheryl, the writer who'd won first place in the category in which I'd placed second. http://cherylreifsnyder.blogspot.com/ As we left the room together, someone said to her in a low voice, "417, pass it on." The person just kept on walking, without looking back. I'd just overheard an important bit of information about where a heist would take place! Cool! Who would've thought that these things happened in a writers' conference!
But then Cheryl turned to me and said, "417, you got that, right?" My stunned expression must have prompted her to explain further, "There's a party for children's authors tonight after dinner at room 417. You should come!"
The truth was not as outlandish, but sounded exciting nonetheless, so that night after dinner, I went. The party turned out to be a blast. It was the most fun I'd had in a long time. We talked about CO2 poisoning, cardboard violins, the relative merits of chocolate/orange Milano cookies and sauvignon blanc/chardonnay, limericks, and yes, the pain of rejection and the craziness of having to impress a power-to-be with 14 lines of writing. I also met someone who offered to make an introduction to his agent. Nothing may come of it if my writing doesn't impress, but still. An introduction is an introduction.
The party could have gone on a lot longer if management hadn't called up to the room to say we were too loud. I don't know what the mystery or romance or sci-fi writers were doing, but we children's writers rocked!