Back in 2007, I attended Life, the Universe, and Everything, a science-fiction and fantasy symposium — my first SFF conference of any kind. Stacy Whitman was the editor Guest of Honor. At the time, she worked for Mirrorstone, the children and YA imprint from Wizards of the Coast. I took notes at the panels. She seemed like an amazing editor, but I was pretty sure I’d never get to work with her. I wasn’t writing anything that I thought Mirrorstone would be interested in seeing.
But publishing is a strange place. In 2009, Stacy founded Tu Books. Now, I’d often heard that you must have an agent before getting a book deal, but Tu Books, at the time, had open submissions. Why not just submit? After hearing her speak at LTUE, I was pretty sure that Stacy was a brilliant editor I’d want to work with (which turned out to be 100% accurate). Honestly, I was also excited by the idea of sending an editor chapters, rather than trying to pitch to agents. Writing pitches has always been incredibly hard for me.
So I sent her Drift, and waited patiently for my rejection letter, because authors who submit novels through the slush are supposed to get rejection letters, right? Instead I got a revision letter, and eventually an offer.
I know not everyone is a fan of conferences, but I enjoy them. I go to listen to smart people talk, to talk with writer friends, and in more recent years, sit on panels and hopefully say something wise. Being put on the spot on a panel actually forces me to think very quickly and I’ve learned a lot about writing that way, too. And sometimes, the unexpected comes of conferences. I never would have thought that attending LTUE years ago would, rather indirectly, lead to me having a book coming out today.
M.K. Hutchins’ debut novel, Drift, is a YA epic fantasy featuring a floating island surrounded by a monster-infested, watery hell. Her short fiction has been published in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and a half-dozen other places.
She’s studied archaeology in college, compiled histories from Maya glyphs, excavated in Belize, and worked as a faunal analyst. A long-time Idahoan, she now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and her three boys.