The Fifth Day

The Rewrite

There comes a time in every author’s life when they hear themselves say under their breath, “This book needs a lot of work.” That time has come. I hear the echos of my friends who encourage me by saying, “it’s a process.” and “don’t get discouraged.”  It is a process and I’m not discouraged, but I do have a tendency to get overwhelmed. That’s where I’ve been living for quite a bit of time where this novel is concerned. Well, that’s over. I’m taking it paragraph by paragraph and I’m crushing it…in a good way.

This novel is so fun and breathless (again in a good way) that I simply can’t wait to share it with all of you. Here’s a short excerpt to get you excited:

Because this isn’t the first time I’ve organized and managed this particular conference, I know the drill.  There are eight lines, seven for main registration and one for speakers. The hotel provides all the food and drink that we coordinate into menus well before the event, and in the case of this San Francisco hotel, the Oasis, they also have staff hired and trained especially for conference hosting. I’ve become very familiar with all the registration staff. They are swift and thorough, and keep the hiccups to a minimum. But as I approach I see a dire look on the faces of two of the eight registrations clerks. When I pass through the door to the office, Cammy, one of the Oasis staff, hands me a clipboard and my nametag attached to a lanyard.

“Cammy. How’s it going?” I ask tentatively as I slide the lanyard over my head.

“Well, there’s a group from Seattle that isn’t coming up in the system. They’re over there.” She glances at the group tentatively.

“And?”

“And it looks like you made a last minute change to the lineup…today’s lineup?” She sounds panicked and uncomfortable.

“Yes, I did. We had a last-minute cancellation. Here’s his information.” I pull a packet from the back of the stand-up file and hand it to Cammy.” She visibly relaxes. “Now go ahead and check on all the registration stations. I’ll take care of Seattle over there. I think they might be miscategorized.”

“Oh, and Roger…,” I call.

“Yeah. I can see he needs something. I’m heading that way.” I dismiss Cammy with a smile and head toward Roger. He’s moving people through the line smoothly but I still notice the pensive and slightly confused look on his face. “What’s up, Roger?”

“Hey, Alex. Did Cammy mention the keynote change…today?” He doesn’t move from the registrant when he addresses me but keeps moving smoothly. I do love that about Roger.

“She did. I gave his registration packet to Cammy.” I pause. “Was that it? Everything else going smoothly?”

“Yeah, except for…” He nods in the direction of the Seattle group. Well, well, Roger and Cammy. They’re little leaders in training, those two.

“On my way.” I head out and he’s back with the next registrant.

The Seattle group is huddled off to the side of the line. I approach, all smiles, expecting to encounter either panic or anger but I get something else. Five guys, three definitely in their twenties. Their too tight button up shirts, too skinny ties, and hair swimming in product gave them away. Two seemed a little older, somewhere between thirty-five and forty, professionally dressed and sporting wedding bands. They stand before me and they’re eyeing me…smiling as if they have me all figured out.

“Hi.” I extend my hand to Mr. Wedding Band in the front. “I’m Alex Connor. I understand we’re having some problems locating your registration information.” Lesson number one: always assume it’s your fault. He takes my hand–less firm than I’d like–and looks me up and down before he responds.

“It’s a pleasure, Ms. Connor. Dante Williams.” The others observe as if I’m a pawn in an interesting chess game. I pause, expecting a rant or something similar; instead, they all look at me with very entertained expressions on their faces. I drop my hand, wanting to rub the creepy off and begin again.

“If you have your registration confirmation I can get this taken care of right away.” I look each of them in the eyes hoping they’ll focus. They look to their apparent leader, Mr. Wedding Band number one, and smirk with some kind of inside joke in mind, I’m sure. Then each produces papers with separate confirmation numbers. “You don’t have to wait in line again. I’ll be right back with your packets.” I grasp five sheets of paper, and spin on my heel, headed back to the registration office. It takes me a few minutes to discover they were miscategorized. Not speakers, not general registrants, but a host company. With a few strokes of the keys, two screens later with new name tags printed; we’re in business.

The Seattle group has changed location so I don’t find them immediately, but when I do they’ve joined a group of girls looking ever-so-zealous. I try not to grin, and clear my throat as I approach.

“Mr. Williams, gentlemen, ladies.” I nod to each. “Everything is in order. Here are your registration packets. I hope you enjoy the conference.” Quick and to the point, I turn to retreat.

“Ms. Connor?” Mr. Williams clasps my upper arm before I complete my turn. My eyes go to his very inappropriate grab before I answer.

“Was there something else?” I’m as pleasant as I can be, considering he’s manhandling me.

“Maybe you’d like to join us for a drink later?” He releases my arm. The remaining four in his group look on as if cheering his efforts.

“Thank you for the invitation, Mr. Williams. If there was any way I could possibly break away from my work I’d be happy to join you. But I’m unable to.” I’m so disappointed, I think, sarcastically. “But you have a great time. The reception immediately follows the last session today.” I impart one last smile and get the hell out of there. 

A quick glance at The Fifth Day

conference-speaker

The Fifth Day is a departure from my young adult novels, The Emily Series. It’s a more “grown-up” novel, if you will, exploring the fast-paced world of successful adults in the tech world. Can they balance their careers and their social lives? Can romantic flings be more than just romantic flings? Alexandra and Ryan are about to find out.

My most recent novel, The Fifth Day, is currently being edited, but what’s a little preview between friends?

Excerpt:

I’ve come to know the conference circuit quite well over the years. There are several types of registrants in what I refer to as the “conference subculture.” And these type stay true to themselves. Of the speakers there are those that have a high opinion of themselves and love to hear words come out of their mouths, especially behind a podium. Ego is their middle name, and they are often found massaging said ago by not only speaking to the organized group but also to smaller groups before, in the middle of, and after sessions. This group is abundant at every conference.

Second are the self-promoters. The networkers. These people strive to gain copious business contacts from the event. They’re the first to belly up to the bar at the end-of-day reception and the last to leave. Business cards safely tucked in their jacket pocket or handbags, they snake through the crowd with intention and purpose.

Next are the avid learners. This group can be spotted at ten paces. They’re rarely dressed appropriately; either overly formal or simply too casual. They carry their laptops and notepads everywhere, and lean forward in their seats while listening to the speakers. Their enthusiasm always makes me smile.

I was once surprised by the next group, appalled even. These motivated individuals spend more time trolling the sessions for their next conquest than listening to the speakers: the conference whores. They rarely sleep in their rooms, and are often spotted wearing some combination of the clothes they wore the day before. They’re always in the bar until it closes, rarely leave the venue, and as all humans seek like-minded humans, they travel in packs. I guess everyone needs a wingman…or five. The Seattle group I encountered before are true and true conference whores.

My favorite group, however, and another of the speaker type, is the teaching group. These individuals love to give back and find imparting best practices fills them with a joy once reserved for inner-city school teachers. This group is small in number―almost mythical like the jackalope, much to my dismay. They’re serious, humble and above all they bring the most substance to the event.

For this particular conference, Tech Con, we kick off the first day with a keynote speaker over lunch followed by afternoon sessions. I’m embarrassed to say I know nothing about this particular speaker. Matt booked him. Our original Keynote cancelled unexpectedly at the last minute, and Matt was able to secure this new speaker in a pinch. As I trust Matt’s expertise implicitly, I didn’t duplicate our efforts and research this particular speaker. He said he’d be perfect and I take Matt at his word. I do however look at the program now, on my way to the event and notice something. Although not the best photograph, he looks strikingly like the guy I spotted in line with those eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes. 

Finding A Great Editor

When I made the transition from short stories to novels and made the decision to publish my work, I had no idea how the publishing world worked. I envisioned an editor pouring me a glass of whisky and making suggestions while I sat in front a roaring fireplace making notes.  Maybe I wasn’t that idyllic, but close. Needless to say, that’s not how it works.

As a self-published author I have contracted with an editor for the entire editing and development of my novels. I’d recommend that for any author that wishes to self-publish. But what about authors who choose to pitch queries, hope to land an agent and then a publisher? You still should hire your own editor and this is why. When you submit queries your novel must be complete. All agents require a complete novel or they won’t respond to your query at all. Typically with your query, agents require a chapter or a number of pages. You want these pages and your entire novel to be submission ready. You want the best possible version of your work out there. Not anything short of what you consider to be story and copy perfect.

The next important decision is aligning yourself with an editor. I use the word “aligning” intentionally because you are glued to each other’s sides for the duration of your project. Maybe not literally, but definitely figuratively. Each editor has a style and so do you. Contact as many editors as necessary, have each one give you a sample edit on about six pages of your novel, meet in person if you can, have long conversations about whatever and anything, and evaluate your compatibility. Compatibility is the key. An editor that you are compatible with will coach you, urge you to make better writing decisions and encourage you to turn out your best work.  With a great editor, all of this will happen without you even knowing it.

Where do you find an editor? Start with referrals, then look online. I have built an entire publishing team by doing internet research. There are many, many freelance editors out there. Do the research, make a list, and start interviewing. It can be time consuming, but in the end it will be quite worth it.

Good luck to you. Your amazing novel is just around the corner.

Yours in writing,

LJ Bethmann

 

The Fifth Day by LJ Bethmann

LJ Bethmann Alexandra Keller has seen it all. Years of events – conference planning – and all the same people. Going through the motions: that’s what she does. Until one day. One normal day. The first day actually, of a five-day conference. He’s simply standing in line. She’s simply walking by. But that’s all it takes and her mundane world stands on end.
Ryan Wright has spent the last decade building his business. Relationships? Who has the time? A self proclaimed geek, he’s hardly a player. Then with one smile from her he’s considering dusting off his figurative playbook. But something tells him even if he had the moves, she wouldn’t buy anything short of authentic.
She has five days. Five days to break all of her rules. Five days to wonder if he’s too good to be true. Five days to see the truth.  He has five days. Five days to make her see she can’t live without him – regardless of the truth.