Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Hiatus Day 1

I happened to be in Seattle the night of Anne Belov’s most recent gallery opening. Here we are in front of one of her beautiful paintings.

Happy Hiatus!
Claire
Anne and Claire!


Love!
Love!
Love!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Editors like my #PitMad entry. Now what?

During #PitMad  I was fortunate enough to get likes from two editors at reputable publishing houses. Huzzah! Except... both editors only take manuscripts through agents. They did mention wanting to be your submission list if they liked your pitch, should an agent send your MS to them.

So, my question is, when I query agents that might be a good fit, should I even mention these editor "likes," or will it just make me look like an arrogant asshat?
For starters, just asking the question means you are not an asshat of any kind.
Asshattery is largely performed by folks who don't think about what they do or say; they see the world as a reference librarian  on demand: put on this earth to answer questions and solve problems for them and (the arrogant part here) no one else.
Now, to your question: YES this is something you put in your query.
And despite my oft repeated instructions to put all that stuff at the close of the query, I'd lead with this.
"My #PitMad entry for this book was given star/likes by Luious Lucy at LotsABucks Publishing and Snobby Snodgrass at Snooty Rooty Tooty Publishing"

Then you start the the query as you would normally: 

She was a dark and stormy knight. Sir SharkForBrains and her trusty steed Plodgrass were set upon by ruffians. Ruffians who spoke the Queen's English but looked more like the Queen's gargoyles.

oh my godiva, it's the Q!
Or however your own dark and stormy story starts.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Writes with agents but no books?

From time to time, while reading national publications (like GQ or the New Yorker or the NYT’s Modern Love column) I come across writers who are agented but don’t have a published book. Sometimes they are writers who have MFAs, sometimes they are writers with big online presences (100k+ followers on Twitter) and sometimes, as best I can figure, they’ve just been writing for a lot of national publications for a long time.

I’m wondering how that process works. Do most of these people have unpublished books that nabbed them agents? Is it a networking thing? Is there a term for the kind of agent who reps longform features reporters and essayists that might one day write books?

I have several clients who have unpublished books, but have had essays or other long form pieces published.

They secured representation with the book and the other stuff comes as a part of their inventory.


There are other ways this happens as well.
I know several agents who regularly scout prestigious MFA programs for talent.
They sign promising writers in hopes of a good novel, or a collection of short stories.
Often they'll have stories published in lit mags before a novel goes out on sub.

I regularly read lit journals, particularly those that focus on non-fiction, scouting for writers working on projects that I think would make good books.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors hosts an annual conference for writers and journalist to meet agents.  No book required since many of these writers are working on non-fiction.

Most agents are actively looking, not just waiting for something to turn up in the incoming queries. By nature we're an entrepreneurial bunch, and sniffing out new things is something we're collectively good at.

Does that answer the question? Let me know in the comments column if you're wondering about something.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Where I am Not.



And my only question is WHY am I not there??

If you could be anywhere else today, would you want to be and where would it be?


Also, there's a new post up at QueryShark.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

What do we do with Linda Fairstein?

Linda Fairstein is a writer. Crime novels. She's been a presence in the crime writing community for years. I don't know her at all. We may have said hello at some event or another in years past but I don't remember, and if you asked her who I was, she'd have not a single clue.

Linda Fairstein is now a pariah. She used to be a hero. What happened?

Some background:
She worked in the Manhattan District Attorney's office as a prosecutor.

She was largely responsible for the creation of the sex crimes unit, later made famous by Law&Order: SVU. Her tenacity, her downright tunnel vision led her to champion victims of sex crimes against all comers and made her a hero to many women.

But she was also part of -- how much and how directly is subject to interpretation and unreliable memory but is nonetheless an ironclad fact --  the team that built the case against the Central Park Five.

The Central Park Five are five young men (then ages 16, 15, 14) who were charged with, and then convicted of a brutal rape.

DNA evidence later exonerated all five; they sued the city and won.
The crime occurred in 1989.
The trial took place in 1990.
Another man confessed to the crime in 2001.

The convictions for all five (now) men were vacated in 2002.

The dates are important because it's now 2019.
17 years have passed since it became clear there was a terrible miscarriage of justice.

But it was more than a miscarriage of justice: the confessions wrung from those (then) boys were clearly forced or coerced. This wasn't just a mistake, it was getting what you wanted, regardless of who had to suffer.

Now, 30 years after the event and 17 years after the vacated verdict, Linda Fairstein is in hot water.

The first sign was when she was selected to be a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. The press release was issued, and several authors protested vigorously.

Their point was that a woman who had been part of team that railroaded the Central Park Five, and continues to this day to maintain she did nothing wrong, was not someone that MWA should honor.

Then, Ava DuVernay released her movie about the Central Park Five. Felicity Huffman plays Linda Fairstein, in a casting choice so ironic you just have to stop for a moment to admire the machinations of the universe.

Felicity Huffman is a compelling actor. Her portrayal of Linda Fairstein evokes serious anger and outrage.

And a lot more people see movies than read press releases from MWA.

The fallout was instant, and brutal.

Some of the charities Linda Fairstein has been part of for years accepted her resignation.

Glamour magazine went so far as to strip her of their Woman of the Year award...given to her in 1993.

Her publisher, Dutton, in a tersely worded press release, said they would no longer publish her. They "bought out" her contract. Specifics not disclosed, but it wasn't a pittance.

Her agency has severed their representation.

If your first reaction is "Good, she should feel what it's like to have your whole life taken away from you by people who can do that" I can sympathize. That was my first reaction too.

My next point though is this: Dutton, the charities, the agency, all of us knew that Linda Fairstein participated materially in the Central Park case prosecution. It's never been a secret. The information wasn't kept quiet. EVERYONE KNEW.

In fact, everyone knew it was botched as far back as 2002, and botched BIG time when the city settled for millions of dollars.

I can understand why Linda Fairstein might feel blindsided here.

And I can understand why she might be wondering why and how things changed so much, and so quickly.

Two things changed: first, the Ava DuVernay movie. No longer described in dry, objective newspaper and magazine articles that are subject to litigation, Linda Fairstein is now made flesh and fang by an actor.

In a movie, what's real, what's true, what's accurate often takes second place to what's cinematic. And what makes a good story.

So what is Linda Fairstein paying for now? Her bad judgment in prosecuting the five young men? Her unrepentant position that she did no wrong? Or the movie that paints her in broad strokes of cruel?

The second thing that changed: The advent of social media that encourages and foments a pile-on mentality that allows for no nuance, no grey areas, no reasonable dissension.

I must say I thought long and hard about posting this because frankly, I'm not eager to be a target of that mob mentality.

If we can separate out our feelings about what happened with the Central Park Five (just for the purposes of this discussion) is it fair to penalize Linda Fairstein NOW for something that not only happened 30 years ago, but was never hidden, concealed, or covered up?

Linda Fairstein is paying an enormous price it seems NOT for her role in this case, but for creative choices made by an actor and director, and the advent of Twitter.

And some people might say, with no small bit of just cause: it's about time.

But the larger question is this:

Is there a statute of limitations on penalizing even the self-righteously obtuse?

And how far back are we going to go?

If someone made a movie about the worst choices in your life, and cast you to as the villain, how would you fare?

And the biggest question, the question that took me a long time to see and for which I have no answer: The Ava DuVernay movie is the first time this story has been told by a black person. Is that a factor in this reaction?

I'm thinking about this a lot.

I'd welcome your thoughts on the subject as well.

Usual rules for comments: no invective, no political insults, no blanket statements.  Anything like that will be deleted by me with no notice. Thoughtful comments offering different opinions are welcome.



Friday, December 06, 2019

Blind spots

I attended Malice Domestic last May, and lurked in the audience of several panels.

Often a photographer will take informal shots of the audience for the Malice newsletter and for Twitter.  I, of course, slink down in my seat, and hope to pass unnoticed.

At one of the panels I attended, a lady stood at the side of the room and raised her camera.
Down I slunk, wishing I'd gotten my hands on a burka.

Across the aisle, I noticed another lady who didn't like having her photo taken either. She didn't slink down though, she embraced the moment, and lay down across the chairs in her row.

Zowie, I thought, that's a good idea!  I wish I could do that. Too bad there were people in the chairs I'd need to my right.

The photographer snapped a few more shots, then sat down.

I glanced across at my Sister in Shyness, who was still lying across the chairs. I should tap her foot and tell her the photographer was done.  I had just turned to do this when one of the ladies seated behind Sister leaned over and spoke to her. I couldn't hear what she said, or what Sister said in return.

Another minute went by.

I realized soon thereafter that Sister wasn't avoiding the camera, she was in actual medical distress. She couldn't catch her breath.

The lady behind her, who had leaned in to help, rendered aid. Sister was able to sit up and proceed. She left the panel at the end under her own steam.

Leaving me more than slightly aghast and more than a bit ashamed.

Because of course I'd seen what had happened through the lens of MY expectations and experiences. It literally did not cross my mind that she was in distress, so sure was I that she was LIKE ME.

What -ism is that?

Which brings me to the point: we see the world as we know it. We bring our own expectations and experiences, and world view.

If you're writing about people who aren't like you, it might be a good idea to bring in some beta readers who aren't like you.

There's a new thing in publishing called "sensitivity readers" that supposedly help deluded, ignorant folk avoid making deluded ignorant assumptions.

The idea is that if you're green, and writing about someone who is turquoise, you need a turquoise reader.

Which misses the point completely. Sister and I were peas in a pod. White ladies who love to read, carry weaponized walking aids, and like to sit in the back of the room. I still saw what she did through my world view, and I was 100% wrong.

Not all African-Americans have the same life experiences. Certainly not all Asians. Not all women. Certainly not all teenagers.

You can't ask someone to read your book to find things that are offensive; there's always someone willing to be offended about something.

But you can ask beta readers to help you find where your world view is getting in the way of character development or portrayal.

One blind spot I see a lot, and I've yammered about here as well: writers who describe men by what they do, and women by how they look.

Are the good guys in your book always black?
Are the bad guys always white?
Are the Asian characters always bad at math?
Is the redneck sheriff the smartest woman in the room?



This post isn't about sensitivity and racism.
You're as sensitized as you're going to be today.
And while I care on a cosmic level if you're a racist, the only place I'm going to make a judgment about it is in your writing.

This is about blind spots in your writing.
A lot of us have those about race, ethnicity, religion, and class.
I would have told you I'm as aware as the next person about mine, but I sure won't be doing that anytime soon now.



*just a reminder: this is one of those topics that many people can get hot under the collar about. Your comments are welcome with some provisos: no politics; no blanket statements; certainly no name calling.  Thoughtful dissension welcome.





Thursday, December 05, 2019

Building community in a lonely profession

I saw this tweet a couple days ago and it got me thinking:
as you know the writing, editing, publishing, and marketing process can be lonely without community and guidance. So far, I haven't made any strong writing friendships in my area or online where I can share and critique work. How did you guys build community?
When the online world came into being, I was dismissive that any kind of real friendship or community could arise with people one's never seen in real life.

Boy was I wrong.

I've been privileged to be part of two writing communities in the last fifteen years, both of them created by blog posts and readers.


So how do you build community if you're not the person posting to the blog?
I think the first thing to do to find community is show up.
The people who are here everyday, even if they aren't commenting, they're the invisible readership.

The people who asks questions drive the content.
(And the people who send me photos of their pets for the upcoming hiatus!)

The people who contribute comments build the community.
So come here, read the posts, and comment.

And the people who give the blog shout outs on other platforms (Twitter, Facebook, the Ne'er Do Well Saloon and Revision Palace newsletter) are the outreach.
So, come here, read the posts, link to one on Twitter. 

You can find friends here.
It takes some time.
But this is a welcoming collection of fabulous writers and story tellers.
And a nemesis!
But don't let the inside jokes push you away.
You'll cotton on to those pretty quickly, and a question in the comment column (Who is this Steve Forti and how did he earn nemesis status?) will get some pretty good, if somewhat truthful answers.

Enter the flash fiction contests!
It's hard to put a foot wrong in 100 words.

And readers, what other ways have you found to build your community?



Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Blog hiatus coming up!

If I don't get make a serious dent on my requested fulls soon I'm going to be eaten by wolverines.

Work for Hire Wolverines!
Hired by writers of requested fulls!


Honestly, there was an ad on Craig's List this weekend, and it looked like it got a lot of interest.**


The first applicant!


So I'm going to need some help on blog content for a while.

Send me your pet photos!
Or your writing area photos!
Or pictures of you with other blog readers!

Include juicy details!

Send to: JetReidLiterary@gmail (you know the rest)

Save me from the wolverines!






**no, really, here it is.


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Monday, December 02, 2019

I know this can be better

I think I have taken this ms. as far as I can, but I have no illusions that anyone would say it's ready to publish as is. I'm certain that a good agent/editor could make it better, and welcome that process, but does that mean I should keep at it? I feel like I would be making changes for their own sake. I don't see problems that I hope someone else will solve, but open to the possibility that I have blind spots. 

I really like what Ira Glass said about the creative process here.

It resonates with my own experience. When I decided to post to the blog every day, my writing gradually got better.

And when I started critiquing queries by the bushel, my acumen on what worked, what didn't, and most of all, why, sharpened perceptibly. 

So what does that mean for you?

If you feel like you've gotten as far as you can, you have to remember that's as far as you can go AT THIS LEVEL.

You need to get to the next level.

How do you do that?
 
Write more.
Write daily.
Not just work on the novel, but shorter pieces too.
100 words daily on a any topic.
A short story a month.
A poem a day.

And read more.
Read with your writer's eye.
Watch for things that work really well.
Then WRITE why they work.

It's translating what you think to paper that builds your writing chops.

Watch for things that don't work.
Write why they don't.
[And "it sucketh the almighty lemon" isn't an explanation.]

Three paragraphs on why "bad writing" is compelling. (Example: DaVinci Code; Fifty
Shades of Grey)

Figuring out what doesn't work is as helpful as figuring out what does.
Being able to explain both is what you want to work on.

There are all sorts of ways to get eyes on your work if you want feedback.
You could post 100 word stories to Twitter using the newish threading tool
that Twitter allows.

Flash fiction contests are always fun.

You can critique query letters at Absolute Write.

You can certainly wait for help. Or hire help.

But no one can build your skills for you. No one can write in your voice. No one can edit zing into your work. No one can wrangle words deftly for you. No one can write your book as well as you can.

Let the novel sit for a while.
Come back to it after you've done some other writing.
You'll see things then that you can't see now.

Yes, Michael Jordan had a coach.
But he also practiced more than anyone else on the team, famously the first one to the gym and the last to leave.

Happy December!
Now go write 100 words on the joy of mashed potatoes!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Happy Sunday!

Dweezil in the snow


How's your weather?
I moved the plants from beside the windows. The weatherwarts say snow is coming!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Harper and Ramona!

This is Harper, AKA The Brother from Another Planet, doing his job.




"I’ll protect you Ramona!"


Friday, November 29, 2019

Where none of us are, except BrendaLynn!

The picture doesn’t do them justice. This is taken near where I work, just south of the Yukon border. It’s pretty bushed up there (we helicopter to work), so the lights stand out more clearly than if you’re in an urban area. Cracking and popping across the sky like whips, every colour under the rainbow—they are the best part of a forty below night shift. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving morning, chez Yowl

Her Grace and Sleekness, the Duchess of Yowl: Time to get up, Thumbs!

Me: mfffll??
DoY: Get UP, Thumbs! It's morning!

Me: Holy tuna breath, what time is it?
DoY: Time to get UP! The turkey must go in the oven!

Me: What turkey?
DoY: The turkey in the kitchen.

Me: I didn't order a turkey.
DoY: Of course not. You are a complete and utter slacker, indifferent to my needs and wants.

Me: Happy Thanksgiving to you too.
DoY: I've turned on the oven, so it's preheated and ready to go.

Me: You turned on the oven? Jebus! (bolts from hammock, shark eye shade tossed aside, shark slippers forgotten, races to kitchen)

Me: Where's the turkey?
DoY (innocently) Turkey?

Me: The oven is cold!
DoY: You sound surprised.

Me: You said! Wait. How does a cat turn on an oven?
DoY: Now that you're up, I'd like tuna for breakfast.

Me: Is it too early for vodka?
Alexa: It's never too early for vodka.


Happy Thanksgiving from Her Grace and Sleekness the Duchess of Yowl,
and her slightly befuddled handmaiden, Thumbs.






Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Where I am not!



I love to see where all ya'll live.
.

This is the desert sky and the Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, NM. Gorgeous isn't it?



Monday, November 25, 2019

the Duchess of Yowl wants to sunbathe

Monday morning, chez Yowl

Her Grace and Sleekness the Duchess of Yowl: Pick me up, I want to sit on you.
Me: I'm trying to work here.

DoY: I need to sunbathe here!
Me: ok, ok, come on up.

DoY: No, I want you to move to the left. I want to sit on you and get the sun through the window.
Me: (scooching to the left 3/4") ok, is this where you want to sit?

DoY: No. Move to the right.
Me: (scooching to the right 1/4") ok, come here, I'll pet you.

DoY: Your paws smell funny. You've been drinking toxic sludge again haven't you?
Me: If you mean Cafe Bustelo, then yes.

DoY: Civilized animals drink tea.
Me: You don't drink tea.

(sardonic glare standoff)

DoY: move to the left again, you're still not in the right place.
Me: As long as I'm moving around, you're not getting petted in the sun, yanno.

DoY: A beam on the head is worth two on the tush.
Me: I'm being out punned by a cat.

DoY: Better than being outbunned by a hot dog.
Me: You're in league with Colin Smith, aren't you?



Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Duchess of Yowl is shopping


Sunday morning, chez Yowl, at the end of a long fraught week

Her Grace and Sleekness, the Duchess of Yowl: Thumbs. Thumbs!!! THUMBS!!

Thumbs: (coming bolt upright in sleeping hammock, such that the hammock flips upside down, leaving Thumbs on the floor with her head through the netting) Holy Mother of Godiva WHAT?

DoY: Are you awake?
Thumbs: Every conversation that starts this way ends badly.

DoY: Not for me.
Thumbs: I'm awake. I'm awake. You didn't make coffee did you? No of course not.

DoY: I wouldn't touch that foul brew with a ten foot claw.
Thumbs: It has cream.

DoY: Contaminated cream.
Thumbs: Good, more for me.

DoY: Forget that superfund cleanup you call a coffee pot. I have an important question.
Thumbs: Questions cost a dollar before coffee.

DoY: How much after coffee?
Thumbs: Free.

DoY: (consulting her cash cache) Brew your concoction. I'll wait.

Five minutes later, Thumbs is on couch, slightly less bleary. 


DoY: What size are my feet?
Thumbs: You don't have feet. You have paws. Paws do not come in sizes.

DoY: This order form won't let me complete my purchase without specifying a size.
Thumbs: (very much less bleary, in fact, slightly panicked) What are you ordering??

DoY: Winter is coming. I need a bigger fur coat.
Thumbs: you don’t need a shoe size to buy a coat. And what kind of coat?

DoY: A coat suitable for one of royal rank, of course.
Thumbs: (has learned some things are better left unasked) What kind of shoes are you buying?

DoY: Really Thumbs, isn't that filthy brew supposed to jump start your brain?
Thumbs: There isn't enough coffee in the world to keep up with you, Your Grace.

DoY: That's so true. Also, I'm getting Pumas. Now what size are my feet?
Thumbs: (holding up her own sneaker) my shoes are sevens. See if this fits?

DoY: (eyeballing the sneaker) It looks a bit cramped.
Thumbs: Your Grace, my feet are the size of your torso! You can't walk in these!

DoY: Walk in them? Heaven forfend. I'm going to sleep in them. Nice and cozy for the winter!
Thumbs: You really need something more like boots.

DoY: Puss in boots is such a cliché.
Thumbs: bonus content! They come in a box!

DoY: The best things do!






Saturday, November 23, 2019

Equal time for the canine friends

This is Flora. She mostly distracts me from writing by doing silly things like rolling around on her back with her paws in the air (we have a song about that) or poking me with her snout as a reminder that I should be giving her T-R-E-A-T-S. She has not yet learned to spell. She is probably disappointed because she is not the star of the humorous mystery novels starring a talking Chihuahua, which I wrote with my friend, Curt Colbert, under the the pen name Waverly Curtis. Flora is part Chihuahua but the rest is a mystery..

Friday, November 22, 2019

Kitten emergency!

Last year, I sent you a picture of two frightened kittens, smooshed together under a shelf. I now write to you with one little kitto smooshed up against my face.






Phone typing in bed is rather challenging these days.

Back in January, I finally got to bring them home.






It took them hours to come out on their own, and I was certain I wouldn’t see them for days. Still only six months old, they could fit just about anywhere, and I gave them the run of the place.

But lo and behold, the very next day,





a couple of kittens sat together atop their tree.

They got braver over the next few weeks. Black and white Miu could always be coaxed out with treats, and I used the distraction to get her more used to my touch. Meanwhile, Aki the tabby loved to play more than she was wary of me. But no touchy.

And all the while, they curled up on my feet at night.

Our friendship had a small setback when I needed to pack them up for a visit to the vet. They both may be girls, but I’m a responsible pet owner who gets my animals fixed.
For a few hours, it seemed like I had to start all over. But then, a miracle:



Even Aki, who isn’t much of a people cuddler. This was when my kittens became my kittos.

These days, Miu is an aggressive cuddler who sucks on her paw and has the loudest purr in the East. Aki is an Independent Kitto, Thank You So Much, but she likes to rub herself on my hand and nap nearby but not IN my lap. She doesn’t need me THAT much.
Currently, this is the kind of thing I deal with from my kittos on a daily basis:


https://www.facebook.com/lucia.culpepper/videos/10157578376037189/
They live happy, fulfilled lives full of treats, pets, and zoomies. And wrestling. Lots of wrestling.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Novella sales

There are a lot of publishers accepting unsolicited novellas right now.

Last week, there was a pretty public brouhaha on Twitter. A publisher had ‘accepted’ a number of novellas earlier in the year, held the rights for about 6-8 months, then killed all the deals, returning the rights to the writers. The contracts had no advances and no kill fees (which is normal for short stories).

I understand short stories having simple contracts but shouldn’t novellas have contracts similar to novels?

Also, would an agent be interested in an unsigned writer who has an offer in hand for a novella (I’d expect not)?
There are a lot of shoulds in contracts, but often small publishers don't know, don't care, or won't bend.

Standard language in a book contract requires publication within a certain amount of time (18-24 months) or the deal is off and the author keeps any money paid to them.

Of course, with no advance, there's no money to keep.

Honestly you're better off with a company that returned the rights instead of publishing and never paying you.

My guess is the publisher over-bought and came to their senses before any real damage was done.

Real damage is screwing up any chance of reselling the novella.

Whether or not an agent is interested in a novella with an offer in hand is too individual to answer here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

More on platform, cause Wednesday..

Hello, your royal sharkness! Are you sick of platform questions yet? I’m trying to build my following, and I have a few questions:

1) Does the ratio of followers to following matter?
I see a lot of people who have high follower counts (let’s use finance terms and call these “inflows”) but only because their following count (“outflows”) is so high (“follow for follow, like for like.”)

Many of them are following far more accounts than vice versa. In these cases, outflows exceed inflows. On the flip side, actual influencers usually only follow 200 or 300 and have follower counts that are orders of magnitude higher.

I assume we need inflows that are a certain percentage higher than outflows (aka “profit,” and nonprofitable channels are likely not marketable)—what ratio should we be shooting for?


2) What percentage of audience engagement should we be aiming for, and how will that change with insta eliminating likes?
It’s all well and good to have thousands of followers, but if they never engage with likes or comments, I’m guessing they won’t mean very much (it doesn’t in the PR world.)

What is the current standard? Any inkling of how it will change with insta’s new like-less format?

My hamster wheel is outfitted with an abacus, as you can see. Thank you for any insight you can shed!


When I look at the social media presence of a prospective author, I don't assess your metrics, I evaluate your content.

First, I want to make sure you're there;
Second, that you're not doing anything stupid;
Third, that you're talking about something other than writing.

Sure, I look at the number of followers you have.
The more the better generally speaking.

I fully understand that when you're building, you'll be following more people than are following you.

My follower/following ratio is quite skewed cause I can only pay attention to so many people before I start to get crazy.

I unfollow or mute everyone who posts too much. I just don't want to be inundated (I had to mute Roxanne Gay for that reason. I'm a devoted fan of her work, and she's amazing and brilliant on Twitter but egad, it was a deluge!)

I look for an indication you understand that Twitter isn't about making statements, it's about engagement.  As in asking questions, responding to questions.

A Tweet like: My first book pubbed today!!
doesn't give me much room to say anything. A heart maybe if I know you.

But, a Tweet like: my first book pubbed today, and I am filled with gratitude for
the folks who helped, even when they didn't know it

That gives me a way in.

Questions are even better.

Big bold political statements are a huge turn off for me.
He's a moron is a good example.

But NONE of this is industry standard. Not even close.
It's how I deal with social media.

This is a question you should put to any agent who does Q&A on blogs, YouTube or #AskAgent.

A variety of opinions will help you triangulate.

For me the bottom line is:
1. Have some sort of social media presence
2. Don't be an asshat.





Tuesday, November 19, 2019

"The money isn't the issue." ...oh, yes it is.

Ok, so this might be an odd question, but I’m genuinely curious.  By trade, I have been a video game developer and teacher of video game design for thirty years. Last year, I finished my first novel (a YA Urban Fantasy). I tried querying 4 or 5 dozen literary agents, but 70% never responded at all. The 30% that did respond, sent a form letter rejection.

This is probably to be expected. I have no track record as an author, no educational background in writing, and don’t have a massive twitter following. I get it.  By virtue of those unknowns alone, the chances of getting the time of day from an agent are close to zero. (1)

That being the case, I self-published my novel. For a brief moment, my book climbed to #4 in its category on Amazon. But of course, I know absolutely zero about marketing or PR, so after the launch spike died out, sales did too. I sold 400 in the first two weeks, and another 100 or so in the ensuing 4 months).  Interestingly, I have 22 reviews on Amazon (I had closer to 35, but Amazon has some oddly draconian rules about removing reviews for a variety of reasons). Either way, the reviews I have left on Amazon, most of which are from total strangers, are all 4 and 5 star reviews. This leads me to believe that the book couldn’t have been horrible, and that the lack of sales might plausibly be attributed to my non-existent marketing skills. (2)

So this leads me to today. The next book I write, I’ll have to find a way to connect with an agent. I get it that I still represent the exact same risks I did before. However, it also seems to me that given the Return on Investment calculus of the average agent, I might have considerably more flexibility than the average author. I have a good job that pays the bills. I am pragmatic enough to recognize the tradeoffs of business. In my position, since I don’t actually need the money from book sales, I’d happily exchange revenues for name recognition.

The typical agent fees (as far as I’m led to believe) hover around 15%. Given the risks I represent, that undoubtedly looks like a poor bet. But I’d cheerfully give the agent 50%, 60%, maybe more. The money isn’t the issue. At this stage, it’s about getting some level of recognition.

How would an agent react to that sort of offer? I’m just curious.


You've made some key errors here.
(1) your chances of getting an agent have nothing to do with track record, education or social media. It's about the writing first, and whether I can sell the book second.

Urban fantasy is not a growing category.
In fact it's shrinking.

Unless you are spectacularly fresh and new, have turned the category on its ear and your writing is breathtaking, this book is a hard hard sell.

(2) Don't ever assume the book isn't horrible by the number of starred reviews on Amazon. A lot of people have really terrible taste.

Check out some of the one-star reviews on books YOU like to see what I  mean.

And books that are "terrible" often do well: The DaVinci Code;  Fifty Shades of Gray; Left Behind series.


As to your actual question: people who offer me more money to take on their books are insulting me.
It's as though I am a maitre d' and you'll get seated faster when you wave a $20.

I don't want to work with people who think they can buy their way on to my list.

Nothing earns a rejection faster.
Not even fiction novel.






Monday, November 18, 2019

Shark for Brains contest winner

Here are the entries that I think deserve special recognition

Casual-T
Once upon a time, I fell in love head under heels; had it been the other way around, things might have gone differently. Cupid and his fucked-up aim! I always tell him, go see an optometrist, or, at least, take archery lessons.

"This is your own stupid fault," Janet snarled, "always stomping around the place."

"Pray tell, what must a gnome do?"

"Do yourself in, for all I care. This marriage's done. I'm taking the hut, carriage, gold spindles, and our firstbor--"

STOMP!

And thus she vanished, in a puff of powdery air.

Agitating Rumplestiltskin? Never a good idea.

It was head under heels that caught my eye first.
I love those kinds of phrase twists.
And fractured fairy tales always amuse me.


Timothy Lowe
One little update and you’re snowed under. Snarls of e-mails, muddles of files --

“You can’t do that.”

“What?”

“Talk to your audience. It’s called --”

“I know what it’s called. Get off my lap.”

“I will not.”

“Let me work in peace!”

Sheesh. Grumpy Cat is my worst critic. Always picking apart everything I do.

“Don’t do that,” GC cautions. “Or you’ll be deader than . . . you know.”

“Want catnip?”

“I want good writing.”

I snap the cage closed. “Let’s see you break that fourth wall!”

Back at the keyboard, I crack my knuckles.

This (story) is your own stupid fault, Janet . . .
I'm a sucker for these kinds of meta entries.

SamaraG
I’m Sasha the dog.
My two-legger brought home a dunderheaded dog today.
She said it was a cat.
I snarled.
I never heard of a cat.
Don’t like it, I grumped.
Smells weird.
Has a stupid bark.
Asks for food when it still has half a bowl. What a dodo.
Then I heard the worst thing from my two-legger, “I’m a cat person.”
I brought her my leash.
Here’s something that idiot won’t do.
“Don’t worry. I’m a dog person too,” she said.
She opened the door, the cat bolted.
It’s your own stupid fault Janet.
What a bad dog.
This just cracked me up completely.



Jenn Griffin
At last up, I delivered my best rendition of “Go-going to the chapel,” as I teetered up the aisle.
The result was gr-grum. Possibly because I’m tone-deaf. And d-drunk.
My ma-maid of honor actually turned and s-snarled.
I belched when I reached the altar.
“It’s all your stupid fault, Jan.” Etiquette be d-damned, I hurled my bou…bou… flowers in the groom’s face.
Hope had died under the deluge of newly discovered texts. “I do-do not take this man, Jan. You can have him. Since it appears you already did.”
It says nothing good about me that I think this is hilarious.
I love the idea of marching up the aisle, drunk, to hurl your bou...bou...flowers at Mr. Not-So-Wonderful


NLiu
Today the gawpers carry coats, grumpy about the rain. But in here it's perfect: dry, great temperature. Always is, behind my glass.

“What's she thinking about?" A girl, nose against my window.

"Nothing, stupid. It's stuffed. Dumb if you ask me." Dunderhead boy drags her away.

The girl doesn't even snarl. Like she's used to this kind of thing.

So when she turns for a final glimpse, I tilt my head. Just a little. And wink.

Dead as a dodo, eh? Well, long as I'm here, I'm keeping imagination alive.

One wink at a time.

This appeals to me on so many levels. I love the vivid language.
I love the concept.
And that last line is perfect.


Sherin Nicole
Down by the river, I spy that snarl-headed McPherson. Like his kin, you kin tell he’s dunder brained. He keeps stroking them purple flowers and tilling the earth ‘round them with cow dodo.

Like that’ll make ‘em grow.

And he hums. It gives me the grumps.

I suppose.

So, I’ll keep watching him. We Perrys don’t hold with McPhersons. We drink blood or they’re moonstruck animals. The origins is fuzzy. Yet there’s something in his melody. Maybe I’ll go drink from yonder river. Ask him a question or two. And find out just how stupid the McPhersons are (for myself).

Everything this story is about isn't on the page.
It took me two passes to see the subtle beauty here.

What drew my eye first was kin: Like his kin, you kin tell. Lovely lovely clever use.



It was a VERY tough choice this week, but after re-reading everything again the prize goes to Nliu. 

Thank you to everyone who entered, who took the time to write and post. It's always a real pleasure to see your work.

Last week's contest results!

Actually dawdling around is my new way to torment writers.
I think it's very successful. I could hear Colin gnashing his fangs all the way from North Carolina!


Special recognition
C. Dan Castro 
I am not a coward.
“Gentlemen, tomorrow’s sortie against Ploesti will cripple the Nazis.”

Some men...boys cheer.

I know I wouldn’t make it back.

“Heil Hitler? We’ll hail a firestorm down like God’s wrath.”

All the boys whoop.

It’s suicide. I’ll feign illness.

“What about air defenses?” God, he’s 18?

“Partisans with HEAT rounds’ll smash ‘em. Let us breach AA defenses.” If the partisans show.

“Gentlemen, tomorrow we end this war!”

The boys erupt, unleashing a cacophony that if the Ploesti Nazis could hear it, they’d quake.

I can’t...won’t abandon these boys.

These men.

I’m not a coward.
This just grabs you and doesn't let go.
I had to look up Ploesti but the the entry is sublime even without knowing the details.


TS Rosenberg
Built my empire with sweat equity. Years of rice and beans. When I gazed up at the skyscraper bearing my name, I cried.

After the hostile takeover, I moved fast to the “acceptance” stage of grief. I hail from Chicago, where corruption's part of life.

Then they smacked me for breach of contract. My sortie with lawyers (Dewey, Cheatem & Howe) left me so broke I couldn't buy beans, never mind rice.

Slipped into the “disgruntled ex-employee” stage of grief.

Chicago knew something about fires, too.

I gazed up at the skyscraper. My name faded within the smoke. I cried.

Of course, any mention of Dewey Cheathem and Howe will catch my eye.
Rice and beans on the building phase, then on the downward slope is a nice mirror.

And of course the subtle reference to the cost of revenge. Lovely work.

John Davis Frain
The four-way is now a stoplight. I pass the theatre where my procrastination backfires. It’s a three-story condo. Lover’s Resort (i.e., Coal Mine Road) is grown over.

At Mom’s, the oak is gone. Tire swing, too.

I’m surprised when my key works. Guess it would have all this time, ten years and change.

Inside, memories hail from the walls. Mom asks if I’m here to fix the toilet. Every bone, every fibre, aches as I bend to hug her. She can’t remember my name.

I thought when you had no one, no one could hurt you. But I’m wrong, Mom.
If I had a heart, this would be tugging at my heartstrings.
Lovely use of language here.


JustJan
Unbeknownst to Pam, the new thermostat Jim installed in her mother’s apartment was a direct portal to Hell. Programming it sent her on a sortie to the land of fires, red-hot hail, and teeth gnashing.

“This is a breach of contract,” Satan wailed.

“You actually wanted my mother?”

“She’s post-menopausal and feisty--she can handle the heat.” His eyes twinkled. “Besides, most husbands don’t read the fine print when they ask me to take their mother-in-law.”

“You mean--?”

Satan giggled. “For all eternity.”

“That’s genius!”

“Pure evil! Wanna watch?”

And so Pam learned the true origin of reality TV.

Satan wailing and giggling is perfection.



Efa foy
It’s picture day and the boy breaks out in fish scales.

Peachy. Derek and his alpha-ilk will LOVE this.

He tugs at the plates breaching his flesh. They tug back.

Can we wait this out?

The bathroom door thumps—“Hon, bus’ll be here soon”—as gills blossom on his neck. Miss the bus, and he’ll have to face Dad’s switch-stiff ire.

So, that’s a no.

Even toothpaste smeared, they are stunning: Blue-green iridescent.

Maybe this’ll work?

Deep in the striations or tiers of himself, he changes, too.

This could be his eucatastrophe. At least, he’ll be visible.

This is a stunning work of imagination and metaphor. 


This was the only week in memory where I knew who had won the moment I read the entry.
This week's prize goes to Efa Foy.

Efa, please send me your mailing address and the kinds of books you like to read and we'll get you your long-overdue prize.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter.

And all of you who were unbelievably diplomatic about the long wait for results.

 
 

Shark For Brains Flash Fiction contest results

All y'all were in rare form this weekend.


Why do I even try?
Steve Forti 6-Janet 0
(again!)

My new favorite phrase
C. Dan Castro
Fort-thwart strategies


Talk about a twist!
MarieMcKay
Jennifer Delozier

Homage to my bio pic the Rocky Horror Picture Show
Megan V

Sadly disqualified for time
Claire Bobrow


The Duchess of Yowl has a new name for all dogs
courtesy of Unknown 3:22pm 
Doggy MacAlkeyFace

Here are the entries that I think deserve special recogniton

Casual-T
Once upon a time, I fell in love head under heels; had it been the other way around, things might have gone differently. Cupid and his fucked-up aim! I always tell him, go see an optometrist, or, at least, take archery lessons.

"This is your own stupid fault," Janet snarled, "always stomping around the place."

"Pray tell, what must a gnome do?"

"Do yourself in, for all I care. This marriage's done. I'm taking the hut, carriage, gold spindles, and our firstbor--"

STOMP!

And thus she vanished, in a puff of powdery air.

Agitating Rumplestiltskin? Never a good idea.

Timothy Lowe
One little update and you’re snowed under. Snarls of e-mails, muddles of files --

“You can’t do that.”

“What?”

“Talk to your audience. It’s called --”

“I know what it’s called. Get off my lap.”

“I will not.”

“Let me work in peace!”

Sheesh. Grumpy Cat is my worst critic. Always picking apart everything I do.

“Don’t do that,” GC cautions. “Or you’ll be deader than . . . you know.”

“Want catnip?”

“I want good writing.”

I snap the cage closed. “Let’s see you break that fourth wall!”

Back at the keyboard, I crack my knuckles.

This (story) is your own stupid fault, Janet . . .

SamaraG
I’m Sasha the dog.
My two-legger brought home a dunderheaded dog today.
She said it was a cat.
I snarled.
I never heard of a cat.
Don’t like it, I grumped.
Smells weird.
Has a stupid bark.
Asks for food when it still has half a bowl. What a dodo.
Then I heard the worst thing from my two-legger, “I’m a cat person.”
I brought her my leash.
Here’s something that idiot won’t do.
“Don’t worry. I’m a dog person too,” she said.
She opened the door, the cat bolted.
It’s your own stupid fault Janet.
What a bad dog.

Jenn Griffin
At last up, I delivered my best rendition of “Go-going to the chapel,” as I teetered up the aisle.
The result was gr-grum. Possibly because I’m tone-deaf. And d-drunk.
My ma-maid of honor actually turned and s-snarled.
I belched when I reached the altar.
“It’s all your stupid fault, Jan.” Etiquette be d-damned, I hurled my bou…bou… flowers in the groom’s face.
Hope had died under the deluge of newly discovered texts. “I do-do not take this man, Jan. You can have him. Since it appears you already did.”



NLiu
Today the gawpers carry coats, grumpy about the rain. But in here it's perfect: dry, great temperature. Always is, behind my glass.

“What's she thinking about?" A girl, nose against my window.

"Nothing, stupid. It's stuffed. Dumb if you ask me." Dunderhead boy drags her away.

The girl doesn't even snarl. Like she's used to this kind of thing.

So when she turns for a final glimpse, I tilt my head. Just a little. And wink.

Dead as a dodo, eh? Well, long as I'm here, I'm keeping imagination alive.

One wink at a time.

Sherin Nicole
Down by the river, I spy that snarl-headed McPherson. Like his kin, you kin tell he’s dunder brained. He keeps stroking them purple flowers and tilling the earth ‘round them with cow dodo.

Like that’ll make ‘em grow.

And he hums. It gives me the grumps.

I suppose.

So, I’ll keep watching him. We Perrys don’t hold with McPhersons. We drink blood or they’re moonstruck animals. The origins is fuzzy. Yet there’s something in his melody. Maybe I’ll go drink from yonder river. Ask him a question or two. And find out just how stupid the McPhersons are (for myself).


Given my ABYSMAL performance announcing last week's winners I've already posted this week's but it won't go live until later in the day.

I have noble intentions on Monday morning but the day gets away from me as often as not. And the rest of the week is worse.

Do let me know your opinions here though. And if you think I left anyone off the list. Posts can be revised up until the last minute!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

SharkForBrains Flash Fiction contest

This is the Don't Upload a New Operating System to Your Hardrive In the Middle of the Week flash fiction contest.

Cause, yes, that's what I did yesterday (Thursday). And oh holy helvetica did I live to regret it.

First, it takes forever. Like 40 minutes.
And the new system moved all my files.
Which means I thought they were lost for a few minutes.
I found them, but now they're in a new place, a place much less convenient, and I hate change so grump grump grump.

Also, did I mention I did this in the middle of the work day? Stupid stupid stupid.

So, I don't have a post for today, which means we're having a writing contest cause I need something to take my mind off my own idiocy.

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:
stupid
grump
dunder
dodo
snarl

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.


4. To compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize (or if you are Steve Forti) you must also use this phrase: "this is your own stupid fault Janet"


5. Post your entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

6. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

7. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

8. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)


9. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.



10. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail the next day...just leave me out of it.)


11. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

12. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

13. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.


14. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: Saturday, 11/16/19 at 5:42 am
Contest closes: Sunday, 11/17/19 at 9:00am

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?

Not yet! 
ENTER! 
Sorry, too late!
Contes has closed


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Rights board at PM

I received an offer of representation for my middle grade manuscript -- YAY! Having had a schmagent before, I'm doing more due diligence. I also joined Publishers Marketplace based on your blog advice. The agent who offered is a junior agent at a fairly young agency and according to PM here are their stats: 30 deals in the last 12 months | 21 in the last 6 months | 49 overall -- quite a few digital deals, so I'm thinking about what that means... (not the real reason I'm reaching out, but if you'd care to comment on that tidbit, please do).


Anyway, the junior agent does not have any deals listed, and, yes, I will be them asking about that. But I did see that this person has three listings on the rights board. I didn't realize PM had this sort of offering and after perusing it for a bit, I didn't recognize any other names on the board and so that has me wondering -- why would an agent post to the rights board in the first place? Shouldn't they have contacts already established with editors and so this sort of offering wouldn't be necessary? Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

The rights board at PM is an interesting backwater indeed.
I keep an eye on it ...sort of.

When I looked at it again last night, as I wrote this blog post I was shocked to my shoes to see that it's become a  place writers tout themselves! I have no idea if anyone has gotten rep from one of those postings, but I can tell you that I never go looking there for writers. My incoming queries, maybe one of the Twitter #hashpits give me all the material I need. And more.

I don't think editors use it much either.
And those that do, are generally going to select for repped material first.

But, I digress.

In answer to your question:
I posted an offering to it once about 15 years ago, when I was beating my head against the wall on a submission.

There's nothing overtly wrong with agents who post offerings there. Some reputable agents do, usually for some sort of sub right from what I could tell.

It's not a sign of anything other than the project might appeal to editors they don't yet know.

What you want to look at it is exactly what you did: what the agent and agency have sold and to whom. Where I meet editors isn't important. That they buy my stuff is.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

the right word, the best word and how much can you leave out

I'm always glad to see one of you take issue with something I've said. Two reasons for that: it helps me ascertain if I made the point clearly enough; and, it gives me something to yammer about the next day.

Jennifer Mugrage's comment on yesterday's blog post caught my eye:
Naming no names, but I once had an English teacher who would have taken Revision #2 and turned it into the original.

I do feel we've lost some information in the revisions, though. Specifics about how Felix plans to stalk Steve electronically. I guess that is going in the next sentence where we find out that the Twitter handle was a decoy?

This is my problem with revising queries too. I am great at leaving out extraneous stuff, but then I'm left without any vivid details and I've left out about 80% of the plot and I honestly don't know how much of it needs to go in the query.

Initial effort
Grumpy, frumpy, jumpy Felix Buttonweezer was insanely jealous of Steve Forti's dexterity with prompt words. He walked to his desk, and clicked The Forti's profile where he found an email, and better yet, a Twitter handle. He created a new Twitter account and proceed to stalk Steve, intent on discovering the details of his deal with the devil. He must have deal, right? No one can be that deft without some sort of demonic assistance.


Revision #1
Felix Buttonweezer was insanely jealous of Steve Forti's dexterity with prompt words. He proceed to stalk Steve, intent on discovering the details of his deal with the devil. He must have deal, right? No one can be that deft without some sort of demonic assistance.

Revision #2
Felix Buttonweezer was insanely jealous of Steve Forti's dexterity with prompt words. He decides to stalk Steve, intent on and discovering the details of his deal with the devil. He must have deal, right? No one can be that deft without some sort of demonic assistance.



Let's look at the second part of the comment:

I've left out about 80% of the plot and I honestly don't know how much of it needs to go in the query.

Leaving out 80% sounds like a good start.

A query ONLY covers the first big choice, or change in the main character's circumstances.

I used the movie Silverado yesterday when I was talking to a writer about leaving out backstory in a query, so I'll use it as the example again.

Silverado opens with Scott Glenn being set upon by three ruffians. He kills them in a feat of gunfighting that leaves us certain he's a tough guy.

As he continues his trek, he comes across a man lying prone on the desert sands. He stops, gives the man water, and then, offers him a lift on his extra horse.

The plot starts with the man in the desert, not the gunfight.

The man in the desert is the first big change; Glenn's no longer riding alone. AND he faced a choice. He could have just ridden by and let the total stranger kick the bucket.

So, how much more of the movie would you put in the query is the next obvious question.

And the answer is I don't know.
It's hard to say this works, or  that doesn't unless it's on the page.

Which means a LOT of trial and error.

Except it's not really error. It's not error if it's not right.  It's just not right.



Jennifer's other point:
I am great at leaving out extraneous stuff, but then I'm left without any vivid details
I would offer this: vivid should describe the language, not the details.
You can be vivid about the main plot points.
It's your word choice that makes something vivid.

In my example above I revised out
lets him ride the extra horse
and replaced it with
offers him a lift on his extra horse.

I used trek instead of journey
As he continues his trek, 

I spend a LOT of time asking "is this the right word or is it the BEST word?" Those can be two different things.

I also spend time trying to use active or dynamic words: offers him a lift is much more dynamic than lets him ride. (There's probably a term for this, but I don't know what it is.)

And I hope it's sort of humorous too. To me, the artful words that convey style and humor are voice in the query.

I only find the best word when I have all the right words in place, and I can actually see which right word is tepid or passive.





Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How's your NaNoWriMo going?

November is National Novel Writing Month, and I have an inkling some of you are taking part.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is getting a certain number of words on the page by a certain date on the calender.

To accomplish that, don't stop for ANYTHING, particularly not tinkering with sentences.

Just pass directly to the comments section today and tell us how you're doing.




For those of you who are revising, the topic today is over-writing. Also known as why you have to revise even when you are insanely talented and brilliant. 

Consider:
Grumpy, frumpy, jumpy Felix Buttonweezer was insanely jealous of Steve Forti's dexterity with prompt words. He walked to his desk, and clicked The Forti's profile where he found an email, and better yet, a Twitter handle.  He created a new Twitter account and proceed to stalk Steve, intent on discovering the details of his deal with the devil. He must have deal, right? No one can be that deft without some sort of demonic assistance.

You really don't need grumpy, or frumpy, or jumpy. What we need to know is Felix is jealous, and that he's insanely jealous.

We don't need to know Felix walked to his desk or what he found.

We might not need to know he created a new Twitter account. This is one of those places where I take it out, then if the paragraph feels off, I put it back in.

We need to know Felix is stalking Steve and why.

 Revised:
Felix Buttonweezer was insanely jealous of Steve Forti's dexterity with prompt words. He proceed to stalk Steve, intent on discovering the details of his deal with the devil. He must have deal, right? No one can be that deft without some sort of demonic assistance.
You can see that taking out some of the words requires further revising:

He  proceed decided to stalk Steve, intent on discovering the details of his deal with the devil

Proceed doesn't work cause nothing has happened yet.

Revision #2
Felix Buttonweezer was insanely jealous of Steve Forti's dexterity with prompt words. He decides to stalk Steve, intent on and discovering the details of his deal with the devil. He must have deal, right? No one can be that deft without some sort of demonic assistance.

Revision #3
Felix Buttonweezer was is insanely jealous of Steve Forti's dexterity with prompt words. He decides to stalk Steve, intent on and discovering the details of what surely must be his deal with the devil. He must have deal, right? No one can be that deft without some sort of demonic assistance.

 It's only after clearing out all the underbrush that we can see how to really energize the sentence (the italics.)

This example is four sentences. It took about four passes, ten minutes total. You can do the math if it won't send you scurrying to the couch, weeping.


This is why you revise, let sit, revise, let sit.

You see things on that third pass that get all the pieces in the right place, and pump up the energy.

Are you doing this with your flash fiction?
Blog posts?
QUERIES?????

 I will be glad to gnaw on your delicious queries!



But really, how's NaNoWriMo going?



Monday, November 11, 2019

Flash fiction contest results

The prompt words were quite hairy this time, weren't they?


words I had to look up
Craig F: Thaumaturgy
Unknown: bothy
Efa Foy eucatastrophe

Outstanding use of the prompt word HEAT
Aphra Pell: Heart Ever Adoring and True
Craig F: (Health, Environment, and Thaumaturgy) Team
Colin Smith: Hell’s-fires at Extremely Amplified Temperatures

Why do I even try?
Thwarted AGAIN

Steve Forti!
“This is a serious accusation being leveled. You swear your innocence?

Ha! I look’a gilty sort? I eats me own, no moor.”

“What about Maxwell? He’s always been a shifty, shady character.”

D’ weezil? He n’ wood’a dun it a’lone.”

“But as you say, he’s weaselly enough. Makes for a good suspect.”

“Aye. He ate ‘em, n’ dowt. But he’n’t b reachin no hand n no jar less’un he b tolled.”

“Told by whom?”

“Hmm… ‘f I reson i’ out, I b gessin i’ were yu.”

“Me?”

“Thass’ rite. Yu stoled d’ cooky frum d’ cooky jar.”
Lennon Faris having some fun
“Next act will be from ‘Chicago!’”

“Is that their name, or hometown?”

“Wasn’t Chicago a band?”

“So it’s a person, place, or thing.”

Thing, we decided. Whatever it was, swung around the stage whipping wild hair and hailing demons with an electric guitar. At the end, it turned around, dropped its Firestone trousers, and mooned us all.

“Disqualified!” screamed Principle.

“Name?” asked the judges.

“Dweezil Henwood. Also, Sortie.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” said Principle.

Dweezil winked.

Judges whispered, then called, “Carry on.”

“What?!” cried Principle, heated.

“It didn’t breach any rules. It’s a noun, alright, but nowhere near proper.”

Special recognition
C. Dan Castro 
I am not a coward.
“Gentlemen, tomorrow’s sortie against Ploesti will cripple the Nazis.”

Some men...boys cheer.

I know I wouldn’t make it back.

“Heil Hitler? We’ll hail a firestorm down like God’s wrath.”

All the boys whoop.

It’s suicide. I’ll feign illness.

“What about air defenses?” God, he’s 18?

“Partisans with HEAT rounds’ll smash ‘em. Let us breach AA defenses.” If the partisans show.

“Gentlemen, tomorrow we end this war!”

The boys erupt, unleashing a cacophony that if the Ploesti Nazis could hear it, they’d quake.

I can’t...won’t abandon these boys.

These men.

I’m not a coward.

TS Rosenberg
Built my empire with sweat equity. Years of rice and beans. When I gazed up at the skyscraper bearing my name, I cried.

After the hostile takeover, I moved fast to the “acceptance” stage of grief. I hail from Chicago, where corruption's part of life.

Then they smacked me for breach of contract. My sortie with lawyers (Dewey, Cheatem & Howe) left me so broke I couldn't buy beans, never mind rice.

Slipped into the “disgruntled ex-employee” stage of grief.

Chicago knew something about fires, too.

I gazed up at the skyscraper. My name faded within the smoke. I cried.

John Davis Frain
The four-way is now a stoplight. I pass the theatre where my procrastination backfires. It’s a three-story condo. Lover’s Resort (i.e., Coal Mine Road) is grown over.

At Mom’s, the oak is gone. Tire swing, too.

I’m surprised when my key works. Guess it would have all this time, ten years and change.

Inside, memories hail from the walls. Mom asks if I’m here to fix the toilet. Every bone, every fibre, aches as I bend to hug her. She can’t remember my name.

I thought when you had no one, no one could hurt you. But I’m wrong, Mom.

JustJan
Unbeknownst to Pam, the new thermostat Jim installed in her mother’s apartment was a direct portal to Hell. Programming it sent her on a sortie to the land of fires, red-hot hail, and teeth gnashing.

“This is a breach of contract,” Satan wailed.

“You actually wanted my mother?”

“She’s post-menopausal and feisty--she can handle the heat.” His eyes twinkled. “Besides, most husbands don’t read the fine print when they ask me to take their mother-in-law.”

“You mean--?”

Satan giggled. “For all eternity.”

“That’s genius!”

“Pure evil! Wanna watch?”

And so Pam learned the true origin of reality TV.
Efa foy
It’s picture day and the boy breaks out in fish scales.

Peachy. Derek and his alpha-ilk will LOVE this.

He tugs at the plates breaching his flesh. They tug back.

Can we wait this out?

The bathroom door thumps—“Hon, bus’ll be here soon”—as gills blossom on his neck. Miss the bus, and he’ll have to face Dad’s switch-stiff ire.

So, that’s a no.

Even toothpaste smeared, they are stunning: Blue-green iridescent.

Maybe this’ll work?

Deep in the striations or tiers of himself, he changes, too.

This could be his eucatastrophe. At least, he’ll be visible.



I think I know who gets the nod this week, but I really like getting your opinions on who you think should win, and who your faves were, and most important, who I left out.

Results later in the day!