So where to begin… It’s been a busy week and weekend. Let’s go chronologically, shall we?
On November 6th, the local Agricultural Commission board had their monthly meeting in which I was nominated president. Certainly not something I expected (I was thinking secretary, maybe), but I was very honored that the group thought I was up for the job. (Quite frankly, it was more likely that no one else wanted it and something told them that I was a sucker. But, hey, we take our compliments where we can, right?)
The agricultural commission provides input to the town in regards to farming and open spaces. Too often family farms are sold because the family can no longer afford to farm the land, then developers chop the land into smaller parcels and build homes. Property taxes in New Hampshire are the second highest in the United States making it difficult for people who make their living off the land to make a profit.
Many people understand that locally sourced food is healthier and buying locally supports the farmers and economy in your area. Sadly, too many people cannot afford the cost of locally grown foods. The high costs come in part because the cost of farming is expensive and the sizes of the local farms are smaller than those in the mid-west. For you business people out there, this results in the economies of scale, the larger the farm and the more food you can sell equates to the ability to charge a lower price and maintain bigger profits. This leaves the smaller family farms struggling to survive and subsequently in quick decline.
It is a vicious circle and one I hope to help with, at least in my small community. How can we help our local farms survive and thrive? Famers Markets are fun and convenient for the shopper, but expensive and time consuming for the farmer. Purchasing direct from the farm is easier for the farmer, but too time consuming for the shopper. For our town, we are proposing a Farm Map that lists all the farms in our town. This includes farms that sell their products from their own farms. Our hope is that if people know where these farms are located, perhaps they will find a way to visit and purchase locally grown items.
We are also looking at ways to share information and knowledge by providing forums and workshops to local farmers and residents. We are looking for input from the farming community to help us learn and understand their needs so that all farms can prosper.
And then there was…
On November 7th, 8th and 9th, I attended my very first Crime Bake. What is Crime Bake, you ask? Crime Bake is a conference for crime fiction novelists. While apprehensive at first, I had a great time and learned quite a bit about mystery writing and the world of publishing. The sessions included panels on specific subjects such as candid discussions about the different types of publishing options, writing true crime, and how to get your facts straight when it comes to the law. A great talk was given by retired Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Elaine Gill on crime scene investigation and a very interesting talk on interrogation tactics by Douglas Starr.
Part of the weekend included a five minute agent pitch. I agreed to do this, though only hesitantly. I had some help…okay a LOT of help. When the time came, I was calm, cool and collected and right on point. The agent requested the first 10-20 pages of my manuscript and I was thrilled.
Later that evening a second agent I met during the banquet also asked for a copy of my manuscript. Can you believe it? TWO agents in one day!
Of course, I know that this may result in nothing more than another rejection. But just knowing that someone is willing to read my manuscript is amazing to me. Now comes the tough part of making sure it is perfectly edited and ready to go, getting it out to the agent and then waiting that magical four or more weeks for them to respond.
Who knows… perhaps this time next year, when I attend the next Crime Bake, I will be a published author…or, I may just be pitching my next novel.