ThrillerFest XIII • July 10 – 14, 2018 • Grand Hyatt • New York City

You Won’t Be Sorry

By Martha Pound Miller

Martha Pound Miller was born and raised on the Arizona desert. She married an architect, had three children and went on to become the Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects Society in Arizona for 20 years. Writing was always of primary interest but with a family and job, there was never time. Much later came retirement and a decision to move to the cool, wet Pacific Northwest where you could turn over almost any mossy rock and find a writer. Possibly a web-footed one. It does rain a lot in Portland where she lives, but rainy days are great for hunkering down by the fire and writing thrillers, so that’s what she did, running her stories through three critique groups and polishing them to the best of her ability. Each manuscript she wrote got a little stronger and she began to get more courageous about pitching them to agents.

Last year, a friend suggested they go to New York for Thriller/Agent Fest, so they began to make plans. Martha went online and studied the bios and pictures of attending agents, astonished at how many there were. She printed all the Agent Fest information and began the interesting task of reading and rereading the bios to find the best fits for pitching her novel. One face in the crowd of agent photos stood out. It seemed almost to say, “I’m the One”, so Martha put a double checkmark beside that picture/bio and on Agent Fest day made her way to the table of Marian Young of The Young Agency. Marian asked for a partial, then the whole manuscript, and after a few revisions, invited Martha to be her client.

In addition to college classes in creative writing, after Martha moved to Portland she studied extensively with and was mentored by James N. Frey of “How to Write a Damn Good Novel” and several other writing craft books. She worked with him for many years, and credits him with teaching her the basics of good commercial fiction. “But if I hadn’t attended Agent Fest, this story would have a very different ending,” she says. “With that many agents in attendance, all looking for thrillers, it was the best thing I could have done for my career. Anyone who is undecided about attending next year, take my advice and go. You won’t be sorry.”