Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Duchess of Yowl would like to speak to the F&B manager

Scene: early afternoon, lovely summerish day, Chez Yowl

A high pitched yowl of cinematic length unfolds such that foundations tremble, windowpanes shudder, and Thumbs, handmaiden to the Duchess, bolts upright from the couch so quickly she falls over.

DoY: I'm hungreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Me: [scrambling to regain footing] There's food in your dish.

DoY: That dish is filthy.

Me: It's your elevenses!

DoY: I require a clean dish.

Me: Ok! Ok! I'll put this in a clean dish

DoY: No. I do not want used food.

Me: Used food?

DoY: That is not fresh from the can.

Me: It's YOUR food. You're the one who ate it.

DoY: How do I know that?

Me: This is food for cats. You're the only cat here

DoY: I beg your pardon.

Me: Oh! Right. Sorry, I mean this is food for a Duchess. You're the only royalty here

DoY: Exactly my point. I know you want my food. How do I know you didn't put your flat-eared, sadly lacking in fur, whisker-less face into my dish?

Me: [at a complete and utter loss for words]

DoY: You know I'm right.

Me: [opens fresh can]

DoY: No, the other can.

Me: That's MY used food.

DoY: It smells like tuna.

Me: It is tuna. I made a tuna sandwich for lunch.

DoY: I want tuna.

Me: Used tuna?

DoY: Repurposed tuna. And some of that ice cream you're hiding in my freezer too.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

How long do I have?

Dear Shark-leader,

I am one of the many who follow your blog - often silently, lurking in the shallows but always close by.

I recently had a short story published (spec-fic) in a pretty respectable magazine. It was my biggest sale to date and a real boost to my confidence.

A week later, I received an email from a credible literary agent (who represents a handful of the most well known writers in Australia) asking if I was working on anything long-form, as they would be interested in seeing my work.
I currently have half of a novel and explained this.

Essentially, they have said they would like to read it when complete and consider me for representation.
My mind is officially blown!

Now, of course, the terror begins.
I have another 30 000 words of this thing to write and a whole lotta editing/streamlining/cleaning up to do before it is ready to read.
I also have two young kids, 2 jobs, various volunteer roles, and am currently in the process of building one house and selling another.

I am swamped. I'm desperately trying to carve out more time from life for my writing but there's not a lot to work with. Less sleep is the only option.

My question is, how long might they be expecting it to take me to complete this draft?
I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by sending it off half-baked but I also don't want to squander this amazing opportunity! I'm thinking 3-6 months is likely the best I can possibly hope for in terms of delivery. Are they likely to still care by then?
Yours in terror,              

First, let's remember the most important thing here is not to make yourself crazy. You have a full life and a lot of responsibilities, and getting enough sleep isn't an option, it's a requirement.

The agent reached out to you asking if you had work ready. You said sortof/maybe/kinda.  They did NOT say "oh never mind." They said they'll read it when it's ready.
No agent in their right mind expects you to finish and polish a novel in three months if you're writing on spec.

If you have a contract and some signing money that's a different story.

Do not send it half baked.
You'll squander a lovely opportunity.

The truth is you don't know how long it will take. Life has a habit of smacking you in the expectations just for fun.

Plus you may write the thing in three months, but take it from me, your revisions will take another three months if you do it right.

And now for the question: They will still be interested. I keep open files on writers I've reached out to in the past. I don't close them unless they sign elsewhere or die.

Take the time you need. Don't rush and don't dawdle. Make sure you don't rush your revisions.
More than anything other than bad writing, failure to revise enough is the biggest problem I see.

Friday, May 24, 2019

My agent is great but...

How does a writer make the decision to leave an agent?  My agent has been wonderful and has all the qualities I need (valuable editorial input, great communication, in love with one of my manuscripts).  Unfortunately she's shopped just one of my middle grade novels and it hasn't sold yet (10+ rejections so far-still waiting on four editors). She is not interested in reading/shopping my adult novel (domestic thriller-my favorite), or my second MG novel.  I'm thinking I need to find an agent who wants to represent me-all of my work, not just one book.  But breaking up is so hard.   

You have an agent who doesn't want to shop your next work.
How is that different from having no agent?

The first thing I'd want to know is why she doesn't want to shop the next MG book. Does she think it needs work?  Was she discouraged by the results on the first MG?

Despite all our good press for being coldly calculating, ruthless and fierce, agents are in fact people. Sometimes it's hard to muster enthusiasm for a project that doesn't seem to be finding a home.

But that's not YOUR problem.
Your problem is she's not advancing your career.

Find out why, then decide if you need to revise or resign.
Yes breaking up is hard, but if you're not happy, she isn't either. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Grieving the loss and mourning the death of someone you never knew

A big part of my job is working on non-fiction proposals in history and biography.
Part of that job is to make readers mourn people they've never met. Could not have met.

A current project involves a Polish woman, a ballerina, a Jew in the Warsaw ghetto.  She did not survive the war. One of six million who did not. An unimaginable number until you think about the fact that it's 3/4 of the population of New York City. Wiped out by an unnatural disaster.

What is one person among these six million?

She's a lens to see the time period. When we read about her life, we learn the stark reality of trying to survive in the hostile urban environment that was Warsaw 1939-1943.

Often history re-writes reality.
People are cast as good guys or bad guys, when no one is one or the other.
Capturing nuance and context is difficult, precision work.

Learning how to do that is an ongoing process.
One way to learn is listen to the people who've done it before.

Robert Caro is one such person. In my opinion, he's more than the cat's pjs. He's the entire wardrobe.

He has a new book out.
If you write non-fiction, On Working is one of three essential books you simply must have. Susan Rabiner's is the second, and a good book on what a non-fiction book proposals contains is the third.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

pages with a query

I'm about to query an agent who asks for a query letter and the first ten pages of the ms. My first chapter runs to 11 pages and a bit. I don't think it would be a deal killer simply to send 10 pages as specified, but would rather send the whole chapter. Would that be a deal killer do you think?

Oh please,  you'd rather send the whole book if you could!
That's the whole reason query guidelines specify  the number of pages to include in a query.

If the agent asks for the first 3-5 pages, you should send 750-1250 words.

If the agent asks for the first 10 pages, you can send 2500 words.

There is a  wiggle factor here is so you don't have to end mid-sentence (do NOT do this, it's maddening)

Try to end at the end of a paragraph.

And of course, ending at the close of chapter is ideal.

BUT you can't send 17 pages to do any of that.

750-1250 words +/- about 10% or 125 words

2500 words +/- 10%  or 250 words (which is about a page)

So 11 pages is probably fine.
I don't know anyone who actually passes on a project if you send 11 rather than 10.

I do know a whole raft of agents who are annoyed when you send the whole manuscript with a query. And it doesn't do you any good, I won't read much past six or seven pages.  (I ask for 3-5 pages in the query)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

At what point do awards become too old to be relevant?

 Scooped up from the comment section yesterday:

At what point do awards become too old to be relevant (for the bio section of your query)?

It depends.
That's pretty much the answer to everything of course, so the next question is depends on what?

The what is the significance of the award. Win an Oscar? It's never too old to be irrelevant. In publishing, that's the equivalent of a Pulitzer or a National Book Award or the National Book Critics Circle Award.  Those are evergreen.

NYT Bestseller is evergreen for #1 of course, and more green for every week you held off the riffraff trying to topple you.

The bigger the prize or accolade, the greener.

Things that are pretty useless to mention, but sure won't hurt you are things like conference prizes, Amazon Breakout novel short list.

What will hurt you is mentioning a faux prize.
Faux prizes are the ones that want big money up front to enter; have so many categories that being in the top three probably means only three books were in the category, and have no prestige what so ever.

These prizes are intended ONLY to make money for the organizers. 

The New York Festival of Books is a great example.
The organizers have a LA phone number.
Lots of categories.
They publish a list of winners; I've never heard of any of them.
(Notice the conspicuous absence of PUBLISHER names by the titles?)

Telling me you won this prize is a big red flag. It means you're not only wet behind the ears, you didn't do much research before entering.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Questions from the comment section

I was accepted to this year's Odyssey Writing Workshop. I even won a prize for my submission entry! I'm looking forward to learning a ton about writing, and about my own writing, and generally just being with a bunch of other writers in an intensive learning environment.

Janet, is this something I would include in the short bio/relevant personal info part of a query letter? I imagine its real value is going to be in the improvement in my writing, but if it helps to mention it, I want to do so.
Yes, you should certainly mention it. It's a competitive selection for your current work. The things you don't mention are classes you signed up for (ie no selection process) or things done when you were in high school.

The more proximate the prize is to your current work, and the current year, the better.

And right now when pub credits are still just a few, if any, this is exactly the kind of thing to use.

You said: "My agency agreement says you've already agreed that I represent everything you give me to sell."
OK, so - just to clarify. What if I write something and don't give it to you to sell? Say I'm a name author and I write a freebie to help out a charity. Technically, I haven't given it to you to sell, so you don't represent it. On the other hand, they would take it and sell it, so you should get a cut. And yet ... you didn't actually do anything, but then again ... my hamster wheel just fell off its axle.

If you write a freebie, you aren't getting paid. Thus, I'm not getting paid. I've done more than a few of these for Bouchercon anthologies and other charity donation.

I'm still going to review the contract and make sure it doesn't tie you up in knots.

If you're asked to write something for an anthology, and you're getting paid, generally I get paid too.

These statements about how things work  are impossible to write to cover every instance. Not all agents work like this this. Situations vary from client to client.

My point was not about the exceptions to the rule; it was about the general rule. You get one agent at a time and I rep you for all your work we sell. In other words you don't owe me a commission for your blog posts, even if they earn money.

Any questions?

Morning? Is it morning now?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Early morning conversation with Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl

Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl: I'm chilly.

Me: The sun will be up in an hour; it will pour in through those windows and this place will be an oven. You'll be telling me to turn on the AC.

DoY: I've never asked you to turn on the AC.

Me: Not since you learned how to open the refrigerator door.

DoY: (smug look of satisfaction crosses her royal whiskers) Oh, right, you need more cream.

Me: Please tell me you left me enough for my morning coffee!

DoY: You drink too much coffee.

Me: That's it, I'm getting up and going to the coffee cart across the street.


Me: Here's a warm spot in the bed.

DoY: Cover me up.

Me: How about the sheet, blanket, and the afghan.

DoY: For a start. And turn on the TV to Project Runway

Me: you know, the catwalk they talk about isn't about actual cats.

DoY: Everything should be about cats.

Me: You're right, the world would be a better place if we spent more time petting cats.

DoY: I am the way to world peace.

Me: I'm not sure peace is a word I associate with you, but you make a good point.

DoY: More cats, fewer spats.

Me: Your slogan?

DoY: I should run for president.

Me: What's your platform?

DoY: Gun control!

Me: More cats, fewer gats?

DoY: Exactly. Also, an end to the designated hitter rule

Me: More cats, fewer bats?

DoY: And no more talking heads on TV.

Me: More cats, fewer yaps?

DoY: and world peace.

Me: More cats, fewer flaps?

DoY: I'm a shoo-in.

Me: Speaking of shoes, Project Runway starts in an hour.

DoY: Rightyoh, first things first.

Me: More cats, more naps?

DoY: Fetch my eyeshade, the sun is coming up. I'm getting too warm under this afghan.

Me: Plus ca change!

DoY:  Plus vous avez besoin de chats

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Expand and correct a comment from earlier this week on what agents represent

It's always interesting to read your comments both for the fun news about short stories, or book deals, or family milestones, and the general hilarity of this talented assembly.

But I really like to read the comments because often it's how I suss out what hasn't been clear here on the blog.  So, when I post your comment here with "clarification and correction" please understand you are taking one for the team, and I'm darn grateful.  Maybe there should be a prize for it!!

Here's a comment from earlier this week about writing something your agent doesn't represent.
I'd always heard that your agent has first right-of-refusal for anything you write. So, if you're still writing thrillers, but come out with a romance and they don't represent that... they might decide it's time to branch out. Or they'll branch out for you.

Or, they'll give you their blessing to query other agents (maybe even a Referral!). Often, while still working with you on all those thrillers you're writing.

You can have multiple agents.
Of course bowing to Her Sharkiness, but that seems in line with what she said. :)
First right of refusal means you must show your work to the party who has that right before showing it to anyone else.

My agency agreement says you've already agreed that I represent everything you give me to sell. I can't refuse something and send you on your merry way.

You and I have an agreement that covers your entire wardrobe. We may have connected cause I like the cut of your cravat, but if you bring me sox, that's still part of our agreement.

Now, how those sox are handled varies agent to agent, and agency to agency.

But the one thing I can tell you is you will NOT be querying other agents while you are my client for anything.  If I can't sell sox, I'll find someone who can, OR you and I will agree that you're going to sever our representation and seek out a sox seller. Darn it.

Writers who approach me with "my agent said I could find someone to do this one book" get a terse letter back: I cannot and will not talk to you as long as you have current representation.

There are agents who will. Draw your own conclusions about their ethics.

I've actually run into very serious problems by being a big fan of authors I don't represent. I've had to cut back my enthusiasm so as not to seem like I'm trying to poach them from their current agent. I regret that a lot.

And while you can have multiple agents, it's VERY VERY rare.

I've had one client who had two agents but the other agent was sitting five feet away from my elbow and I knew every single thing he was doing.

The problem with multiple agents and one writer is that the contracts negotiated by Agent A will have an impact on what Agent B can do. Next work, option clause etc.

And don't get me started on the advent of these new morality clauses. An author who makes ribald jokes will do just fine among the crime community; not so well in picture books perhaps.

In other words, it's a whole lot more efficient to have ONE agent.
Plus I make money from the sweat of your brow. I want to be the only one mopping up.

Any questions?

Friday, May 17, 2019

the sublimely shortsighted neener neener email

Dear Janet,
Boy did you fuck up.
I queried you and you passed.
My new book was successfully crowdfunded and is coming out just in time to rub your face in it.

Dear Janet
Boy did you fuck up.
I queried you and you passed.
I self-published my novel to rave reviews on Amazon.

Let's review how Janet earns her keep.

She sells things.
She takes projects to editors who offer contracts for publication, with a spectacular amounts of money attached. Wheelbarrows are required to haul it to the bank.

There is a brief stop at the New Leaf office to siphon off 15% of course.

So, you crowdfunded your book. Did Janet sell it? No.
You self published your book. Did Janet sell it? No.

Did anyone sell it? No.

Save the neener neener emails for when you win a major prize, after a scrum of agents wanted to rep you.

These emails are filed under bullet dodged, section burned bridge, sub section utterly cluefree.

Yes, those are paraphrases of actual emails.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Feeling restive

I have a dilemma. I’m completing a multiple book deal that my agent, who was the only one willing to take a chance on me, obtained. Although I enjoy working with my agent and believe the publisher will be amenable to more books in the series, I not only want to continue the series, but would like to expand my writing into areas my agent doesn’t specialize in. I also understand not all editors care for submissions from my agent. Do I sever ties and query agents again, praying someone takes me, or do I enter into a new contract for additional books in this series or ????

Sign me – Wondering if A Bird in Hand is Better than Two in the Bush

First, if you want to expand the categories you write in, the first thing to do is talk to your current agent to see how she handles these kinds of situations. I doubt you're the first of her clients with this goal.

As for the second question, I STRONGLY urge you not to listen to petty gossip. You either heard this from an actual working editor who has NO business bad mouthing your agent to you, or you heard it from someone else, and that's second hand at best.

Yes I have had inquiries from writers who were told they need a new agent by their editor. It is very rare, and prompted not by submissions but by things like the agent negotiating in bad faith, being impossible to work with, inculcating the author with unrealistic expectations about marketing and publicity etc.

Absent actual bad-agent-behaviour, leaving for greener pastures is shortsighted. An author with an established series is not an enticing prospect for a new agent; it will take a while to actually see any money from new deals.

And if someone comes to me having had an agent, I ask pretty detailed questions about why that parting happened.

Sometimes they escaped a bad agent and have the contracts to prove it.
Other times they were frustrated and impatient and just made a change.

You can guess which situation is more appealing.

When you're feeling frustrated and unhappy it's very tempting to just change something, anything you can. Unlike cutting your hair, which grows back, cutting ties with your agent is almost always a no-do-over kind of thing. Think long and hard about this.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

You want to write widely, your agent represents narrowly

I apologize if this question has been asked before, but I was wondering about the types of work agents claim they represent. In doing my research and building my spreadsheet of potential literary sharks, I am noticing that most agents have a specific list of genres that they rep. This makes sense, it's what they enjoy and what they are better at selling. But what if a poor woodland creature writes a taught thriller, gets an agent who sells taught thrillers, but then really gets a wild hair to write a sci-fi adventure later on? What if that agent doesn't rep sci-fi? I'm under the impression that agents are looking beyond just a single book sale, that they are looking to help build an author's career, but what if that author also writes things outside of that agent's purview? Will I need another agent to rep my incredible backlog of dinoporn?

When you say claim to represent the implication is that maybe agents don't actually represent those kinds of work."Claim" has an element of doubt. He claimed to have written dino porn ...but in fact it was climate porn.

You're really asking about the types of work agents say or indicate or list that they represent.

*closes the spiffy new dictionary*
*receives accolades from the Smug Diction Brigade and wonder why everyone else is looking pickle pussed...Oh right, pedantic is not how you make friends.*

Your question is a good one. The answer is to ask a prospective agent before you sign with them.

I've had this happen.
Sometimes I've found my beloved client a new agent.

Sometimes I've learned the category.

This is a question I ALWAYS ask before signatures go on agreements: what else do you want to write? If the prospect only plans to write one book, no problem. If someone writing narrative non-fiction also wants to write middle grade non-fiction, no problem. If someone writing  a thriller wants to write dino porn, well, then we discuss, cause I only represent financial porn.

Come here often?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Flash fiction contest results--FINAL

UPDATED at bottom of post

Sorry for the delay in posting results.
I've been busy packing my portmanteau for the trip Chez Yowl.

A raft of splendid entries this week! Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter!

Herewith the results

words I had to consult my lovely new dictionary about:
MaggieJ: moggies 
Steve Forti: bhangra

Great opening line
Alina Sergachov

Every runner knows one word in Swedish: fartlek. (I even have a track t-shirt that says, “I fartlek when I run.”)

Mike Hays

It’s one thing to be streetwise; it’s another to believe the moon is green cheese.

Great line
Flor Salcedo
At one point she’d been someone better.

Thwartied again!

Steve Forti makes mincemeat of my efforts to foil him!
Harry’s limbs were convulsing, reenacting some stupid dance.

“Turn that crap off.”

“Whaddya prefer? EDM, bhangra, cello solos?”

Suzanne rolled her eyes and kept chopping. “It’s all the same noise.”

Harry huffed. “You need some variety in your life, Suz. I mean…” He waved at the counter. “Scallions, leeks, chives – they all taste like onions!”

She set down the knife and spooned her special sauce, offering it up. She knew all about Harry’s variety. His escapist affairs. Harry slurped.

“Mmm…mmmrrrmmhhh!” Harry’s limbs were convulsing again, then he fell. Motionless.

She resumed chopping. The Suz era in this house had begun.
why do I even try?

Dena Pawling
“Great green globs of greasy grimy gopher guts. Yum. Your favorite.”

Duchess sniffed. That was soooo 20th century. Effective immediately, she'd require caviar.

But staff were dimwitted. Take petting. Humans were always busy doing inconsequential “stuff”. Time available for petting was slim.

Today she'd change that.

As thumbed-one left the kitchen, Duchess' sleek feline form dashed underfoot.

The fall was less than graceful.

Thumbed-one returned, arm in a sling, and plopped on the couch. Duchess revved up her best purr and worked her way into the sling. Permanently. Now thumbed-one had no excuse.

Perpetual petting.

Mission accomplished.

One morning during a previous visit to Her Grace, I stumbled into the kitchen to start the coffee open the cat food can, and somehow Her Grace was underfoot. I caught myself on the sideboard before coming down on her tail, thank all deities, but I realized she didn't know to get out of the way! She's lived such a pampered life that she never learned to be wary of feet.  I'd bet serious money no one has said a cross word to her in her entire life.

Megan V
"What do you think, Suze? Rain, or no rain?"
"From the pergola. Personally, I’m leaning towards no, but, well, what do you think?" Carrie gestured to the slim archway.
Suzie bit her lower lip, tried to grab hold of the perfect day that hadn’t been. Eyes closed, she envisioned the grotto awash in a pale green glow—Titania’s garden—as she floated (gracefully) down an aisle of lilacs. No sleek tuxedos, no staff. Just her, Carrie, and a jewel-bedecked officiant.
It would be a perfect day.
Except it wouldn’t be.
Suzie studied her brother’s fiancée.
“Rain fits."
Love those sweet little twists at the end! One word turns the story on its ear!

Colin Smith
The recipe is an old family prescription:

6 green onions
2 lbs leek, chopped
Slimy horned toad
3 Batswings
Uncle Joe’s taffy
1 garlic clove
Dash of salt

I left the pot simmering, the full aroma seeping into every crevice, while I took some samples outside. Anointed the grounds with ritual sincerity, the high priest of noxious concoctions.

The family arrived as I was emptying the pot in the garden.

“Yes, Mr. Briggs,” I said. “That’ll be $50.”
He wrote the check while I swept up the roaches.
“Same time next quarter,” I smiled.
Did I miss "grace"?
The "high priest of noxious concoctions" is a description that we must find further use for!

And living in NYC as I do, I'd like to ask if this roach killing concoction is available in gallon containers.

Katelyn Y

In hindsight, he shouldn’t have kissed her. But in his defense, there should’ve only been one sleeping woman in a tower. “You’re not Aurora.”

“Obviously.” Her slim form slid off the bed with a graceless thump. The green eyes were luminous against the sleek black hair, matching the smoldering orb on her staff. The one pointed at him. “I should kill you,” she said. Then smiled. “But not yet.”

He blinked as she swept past. “The kiss – ”

“Worked.” Another smile, sparks dancing in her eyes. “But unless you want to explain why you woke Maleficent, you’d best forget that.”
I am a sucker for turning a familiar story on its ear.

Aphra Pell

Walk 5k for suicide prevention. It’s a small ask.

Death held me close for years, a promise of escape that let me live another day. By grace of pharmacology, I refused the dust and ashes of the reaper’s kiss. Others aren’t so lucky.

We walk in their memory, to share hope.

At 3k, my joints rebel; the disabled body’s regular game of Russian roulette. Finishing was always a slim chance.

But I hold suzerain over bone and gristle. Clinging to my husband, a living staff, I stumble under sleek flags, as sunrise feeds green grass and brings light into dark.

This really isn't a story but the writing is so good I could not bear to leave it off the list. Phrases like "refused the dust and ashes of the reaper's kiss" and "my husband, a living staff" make me stop and just breathe for an appreciative moment.  

just jan
Eddie hunkered down on a moldy green tombstone. “Hey, Sleek, what’s a ghoul’s favorite dessert?”

My nickname’s Slick, but Eddie always got it wrong. Mama said he was a ‘there but for the grace of God’ person.

“Give up?” he asked.

I shrugged. I didn’t share his latest affinity for the dead.

“Key Slime Pie!”

One thing about Eddie, he never shut up. I didn’t mind anymore. It was lonely here since Mama stopped coming.

“Gravediggers at six o’clock,” I said, pointing.

He kicked at the ground. Still guilty.

The other thing about Eddie, he was a lousy lookout.

Very deft use of the prompt words!
 Plus funny!


To: Chez Yowl Staff and Residents

From: Your Grace, The Duchess of Yowl

Date: May 12, 2019

Subject: Sidewalk Debris

The owner of the slim green garden house that is placed on the sidewalk in my sun spot should alight from the rolling office chair and remove the sidewalk debris at once. I may be sleek, intelligent and beautiful, but unlike the west coast feline suzerain, Marino, I lack the opposable thumbs necessary to crank the maddening hose reel. Thank you.
Those is hilarious, and true.
The only problem is the typo.

I'm going to let this sit overnight, then come back in the morning and read the final list again.
Did I overlook anyone?
Who is your choice?

Also, how the HELL are we going to THWART Mr. Forti????

When trying to pick the prize winner, I get persnickety about things like typos, missed words, not a story.

With those in mind I looked again.

While Steve Forti has thwarted my every effort to stymie him, he has once again prevailed. The only question is how to reward this. Maybe sending him a 3000 page book so he's busy reading every weekend for the next year?

I have some Bill Vollmann books here to choose from:

In the end though, I went with deft and funny.

Just Jan, you are this week's prize winner!

Drop me a line with your mailing address and tell me the kinds of books you like to read, and I'll get your prize in the mail.

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

You provided a very welcome bright spot over this rainy weekend!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday! MONDAY???

Wait, it's Monday?
Where did Sunday go?
Oh right, reading.

Contest results are overdue.
I'll get them up tomorrow.

Wednesday is Duchess of Yowl day!!!
I can't wait.

What are you looking forward to this week??

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Temptress that is The Container Store

I bought a new bed this winter, which means the seven sets of linens for the old bed are now useless (the new bed is a different size.)

Which means, thanks to Mum, they're in storage "Just in case" rather than in the donation box at St. Lucy's School for Wayward Sharks

Just in case of what, I'm not sure.

A Klan rally breaks out in my bathroom?
(too soon?)

I'm called upon to dress ghosts for the Met Gala?

I'll need to smuggle them into St. Lucy's to facilitate a daring midnight breakout?

More likely they'll just sit there, unused, for a decade.
Or more.

When my dear grandmama departed for the Astral Plane, we found linens in her airing cupboard that had been folded and stored for so many years they had discolored at the fold line.

But logic isn't in play here. Nope. It's my mum, who never threw anything away, taught by her mum, who didn't either. I'm third generation "I might need it some day."

Enter my newest enabler: The Container Store.

When you don't throw anything away, ever, you need stuff to put your stuff in.

And whatever evil genius came up with the idea of a store for storage, well, clearly a member of my family, probably my grandmama's daughter too.

So, now that it's not exactly winter and spring cleaning time is nigh, The Container Store begins its sinister campaign:

CS: Those sheets are getting dusty just sitting there. They should go in this pretty box. It's made to fit right on top of your rolling garment rack.

Me: Oh that is so elegant! I need one. No TWO!

CS: You have three garment racks.
Me: Right! Three!

CS: You only need to spend a bit more for free shipping.
Me: oh this is so cute! And sharkly!

CS: You really can't have enough shark in your house. Plus, don't you need to buy a gift soon for La Slitherina Herself??

Me: YES! I do. Let's make that two more bins.

CS: If you spend just a bit more, you get a 30% discount!

Me: I really want, NEED, ....
Let me check the customer reviews on those storage boxes.

CS: Free shipping.Big discount! Elegant living!

Me: no, let me read these...2 stars? FLIMSY? Fabric covered cardboard???

CS: Shark bags!

Me: NO! You are a trickster! I see through you! I'm not ordering any of this.

(clicks browser window closed)
(opens new window to look at paint colors)
Benjamin Moore browser: oh welcome back my beloved. Have you thought about orange?

Some time passes

Me: (checks email)
CS: Did you forget your basket? You have items just waiting to come to your house and help you look elegant, organized and pulled together.

CS: We're sorry you want to leave us. It will take ten days to remove you from our mailing list.

Day Nine

Me: I really wish I had a better way to store these leftover napkins from the carryout bags.
CS: We're here for you!

Me: And those sheets are really getting dusty without a box.
CS: And that shark hamper you wanted for BaPo? It's now on SALE!

Resistance is a bitch.
Also, futile.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Return to Chez Yowl Flash Fiction contest!

A writing contest about me of course!

I return to Chez Yowl next week, I can hardly wait!

Her Sleekness has sent me a list of offerings she will accept; whoever introduced Her Grace to caviar has much to answer for!

In honor of the upcoming CatCation, a flash fiction contest!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.
2. Use these words in the story:


To compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize (or if you are Steve Forti) you must also use: suzerain

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

5. 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.

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

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

8. 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.

8a. 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...just leave me out of it.)

9. 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"

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

11. 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.

12. 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 May 11, 7:32am

Contest closes: Sunday May 12, 9am

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

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

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
Not yet! 

Sorry, too late. Contest closed.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Two essential writing tools

It's not the wrong word, exactly.
But it's not the right word either. Not really.

Words are your tools.
A painter doesn't use a roller for corner; nor a 1/2" brush for a wall.
(yes, painting metaphors again)

Two essential tools for you:

Notice they are books, not electrons.
I'm a firm believer in actual physical copies of these resources.

I like thumbing through the pages of the dictionary to find the word I'm looking up.
Inevitably, there's a word I wasn't looking for that catches my eye (this is why I mourn the death of card catalogs at the library too)

And the Thesaurus in print gives much more information than the Thesaurus that's part of my word processing program. It's a much more versatile tool.

I open these at least three times a day.

You don't know how valuable these print versions are till you start using them.

Your preferences may vary; that doesn't make you wrong.
But I suggest try it before you say "I know what I like" cause I didn't know how much I loved grits till I went to Texas where folks know how to make 'em for real.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Writing for a packager

Thank you so much for your fabulous blog, which has been so informative! I'm also grateful to Reader Kristin for telling you that there's still a need, which there certainly is.

So on to my question. After a short story of mine was published, a book packager reached out to me to ask me to audition for a project by writing a short sample. If chosen, I'd be paid a flat fee up front to write about 75-100 pages, and then a percentage of the advance & royalties if the proposal was sold to a publisher. From my research, that all seems reasonable. This particular packager would like me to write under my name, which means I would have to call this my one and only debut if the project sold.

They did encourage me to personalize the characters, which is important as the whole reason I got into writing was to create representation for PoC like me. I'm still quite hesitant because it isn't *my* story and this would be my debut. On the other hand, I've been writing for quite a long while and this could be an opportunity to finally get my foot in the door of this competitive industry.

I know you can't decide those things for me, but here are some things I don't know.

1. Are agents interested in signing clients who have partnered with a book packager?
2. What happens after the debut? Would this limit my chance to write future books of my own choosing?
3. What would you tell a client in this situation?

1. Yes

2a I don't know. Much depends on the work, the success of the work etc.

2b It will NOT limit your ability to write future books IF the contract you sign with the book packager does not grant them an option on your next works.
There are some things to watch out for in the contract. You'll need advice on this before signing. Consult a book contract specialist. If you need names, let me know.


This is opportunity knocking.
Answer the door.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Rules for Writers: Be Ready

I was at Malice Domestic over the weekend.
Malice is  a fan convention, a readers-meets-author convention.
It's not really where you look for craft workshops, or agent meetings.
It's not a place you'd go for a query critique.

As it happened I was chewing on a delicious client for lunch, tasty oh so tasty, when a writer paused, introduced herself and mentioned she read the blog.

Well, I'm always up for a round of Boost My Ego, of course I invited her to sit and tell me how fabulous I was.

(The poor defenseless client took that opportunity to skedaddle; I had to go back to the lobster tail from the menu.)

Writer said "oh, please don't think I'm trying to butter you up; you don't rep what I write."


Blushing furiously, she said no, she wrote suspense.

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I rep suspense, yes I do.

Please tell me about your book I demanded, trying to look fierce in a lobster bib.

Now here Writer Fiends is where things could have gone south in a big damn hurry.
She could have started in on a twenty minute yarn about the book, and not touched on any plot points. She could have sputtered with mortification trying to get a couple words strung together.
She could have fainted dead away.

But no. Oh no.
She had her query with her.
On paper.

She pulled it from her reticule so I instantly said "give me that!' and seized it from her trembling paw.

And read it.
And of course pulled out a pen and made some notes.

And  mentioned something I thought was missing from the query.

We probably discussed it for ten minutes.

There was NO way she could have known I'd be at Malice, or that she'd see me in the Gnawing Room, or that I'd ask about her book.

But she was ready.

Are you?

Monday, May 06, 2019

My heart is broken: Rachael de Vienne

For long time readers of this and other blogs, Sha'el, Princess of Pixies is a name you know. It was the cyber nom of Rachael de Vienne, a lovely and exotic writer who made me laugh.

Sadly, I have just now learned that she has gone on ahead, scouting the afterlife.

Her book was the first ebook I bought on my treasured Kindle (first generation--the one that cost $300+)

She always had interesting tidbits of information about history.

And she took her pixies seriously.

And then there was Bill E the goat. In love with the French alpine down the road. Always ready with a pithy comment or two.

And of course, she was instrumental in helping me find Gary Corby.
Gary Corby,  where are you?

Her view of the world was idiosyncratic and wonderful.
There simply is no one like her, and her loss leaves a gap that will never be filled.

Words cannot express my sadness.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Kristin Saves the Day

So, there I was at Malice, canoodling with books, tormenting authors, admiring hats.

Yesterday morning I disguised myself as a person and adjourned to the breakfast trough. (Nothing like grits on the menu to pry me from my hammock!)

I was drinking my 17th cup of coffee when who should I spy across the room but Blog Reader Kristin, who had alerted me she was coming to Malice. Nothing to do but grab her, throw her in the chair across from mine and quiz her about her work in progress.

The conversation ranged from her WIP to the vagaries of publishing, to the hot topic of the day. Kristin was kind enough to mention that she'd found great value in the blog posts here, although she confessed to not commenting much. A Quiet Reader!

I sighed and said "I'm running out of things to talk about. I feel like I'm repeating myself."

And then I said, out loud, for the first time, much to my own surprise even,  "I've been thinking about stopping."

The Reader Who Was Previously Quiet and Genteel leapt to her feet, weaponized her teaspoon, with flames shooting from her iPhone (yes, there's an app for that). I think I heard a roll of thunder but it might have just been my chair hitting the ground as I dove under the table for cover.
"No!" she said.
"No! NO! NOO!!

"No, you shall not stop.

"Not everyone has read your blog for all ten years you've been yammering on about all things publishing.

"And what people need to hear about changes when they go from pre-querying, to post-querying, to on sub to after sub, to agent hell, and back.

"It's not a bad thing to repeat yourself."

Chastened, I could only say well, ok then, and abandon any kind of early retirement plan.

So, if you like this blog and it has value for you, don't thank me. Thank Kristin. Who has returned to her quiet and genteel ways, but we know she's out there...reading.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Dave's here!

I'm at Malice Domestic today, swilling coffee and canoodling with books in the book room.
Meeting clients and editors too.

In place of any pithy words of wisdom, here is Dave:


Since my beloved kitties are no longer with me I thought I’d send a photo of my friend’s alligator, Dave. My friend has the space to keep such “pets” for the local wildlife center until they have room, if ever.
Last month some miscreant dumped this poor fellow in Lake Michigan will his mouth taped shut. Luckily a fisherman found him and brought him to shore. After that rescue made the news, someone else dumped a smaller baby alligator at the center. So my friend now has two gators. Dave is named after his rescuer and is almost four feet long. Needless to say, Dave doesn’t like to be pet.
On the other hand, he might enjoy it if you tried.
on the other hand indeed.
Isn't he a handsome fellow?

What the title of this blog post refers to.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Three form rejections

I have three form rejections. The one I use most often says simply not for me, I don't have a lock on the market so query other agents.

The second is a bit more terse. I use it for queries that are slapdash, noodle against the wall, what the hell, I'll just wing it. In other words, the PERSON is someone I don't want to work with even if the book sounds sort of interesting (and they hardly ever do.)

And then I have "No, thank you."

And  thank you is there ONLY because my finishing school teacher has a hatpin she can and does wield from the afterlife.

So, what gets a plain no?

For starters, sexual shenanigan memoirs/thinly disguised memoirs by young men.
You think you discovered sex, and self-service, and clever pick up lines.
Oh honey, you didn't.
And the idea that anyone else is interested in what you do with your "lady tamer" makes me laugh so hard I can barely type.

Anything ANYTHING that victim-blames/shames.

She asked for it?
I don't ask for your book.
Res. Ipsa. Fucking Loquitur.

Anything that undertakes to explain religion to me.
I've got that covered thanks.
The idea that you and you alone can explain the vagaries of faith is text book delusion.
I prefer my delusions to involve Idris Elba (who is a god as we all should acknowledge.)

Anything I think is non-publishable cause it's such bad writing.

In good conscience I cannot inflict this on anyone else so I don't encourage querying widely.
On the other hand...Finnegan's Wake.

What does this mean for you?

I know you fret about your work, and worry that all those rejections and vast silences mean you can't write for spit. Unless you heard "no, thank you" you're worrying needlessly.

Thursday, May 02, 2019


Last week, a hollywood manager saw some of my Twitter pitches during the #DVPit pitch event. She was excited about the concept and reached out to me directly saying she'd like to read my manuscript.

Now, while I'm very familiar with the world of literary agents, I have absolutely no clue about the world of hollywood agents/managers. She appears to represent both books and film and her company appears to be legit based on some early internet research, but I'm not sure what to do.

Is it safe to send a manuscript to a hollywood manager? Do I need to engage an agent beforehand? If she wants to see it now and I need an agent first, is it appropriate to ping agents who have my full about it?

I feel extremely out of my depth and would so appreciate any advice!

"Appears to be legit" is an interesting turn of phrase.
What factors did you use to assess?
Have they gotten any movies made?  Recently?

Getting movies made is 1000x harder than getting a book published. This is also a section of the industry that draws hucksters and fast talking flimflammers. I'm not saying this dame is any of those things. I will tell you that a "Hollywood manager" tracking pitches of unpublished book puzzles me. Generally, a book not only needs to be published, it needs to  have sold well to get any kind of option deal.

Just yesterday, this appeared in Publishers Marketplace

One thing I have learned in the course of my career is that Hollywood is relationship driven like book publishing is, but more so.  It's a very different style of pitching too. Pitching books to Hollywood is like pitching books to publishers ONLY in that you are talking about the same set of words on the page.

The conclusion you can draw here is that successful book to film agents are often NOT the same people as successful literary agents. It's like being a virtuosos cellist and a virtuoso violinist. Both are stringed instruments, but there the similarities end.

It's VERY easy to think "this is my big chance and I'll miss it" but the last thing, the VERY last thing you want to do here is jump the gun.

You want a lit agent on your team, helping you assess interest and viability of other subrights offers (including film),  FIRST.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

#DVpit requests from agents who've already passed

Last week, I participated in the #DVPit pitch event on Twitter. One pitch in particular kind of blew up, so I'm spending my weekend sifting through all the requests (a good problem to have, I know!).

A handful of those requests were made by agents I've already queried and who have already passed. Should I consider re-querying any of them?

Now, for those who passed with a personal note, I'm assuming the answer is no - do not query again. They probably just didn't realize they'd already seen the pages.

But for those who sent a form reject or nothing at all, I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to re-send. Because maybe an intern sent the form reject and the agent never saw the query (and since it's via a pitch event, now it would get to them directly) and/or maybe I ended up lost in spam (on the no-response ones).

Perhaps that's wishful thinking. Would appreciate your sharky wisdom.

It's not your job to remind agents they passed on something.
If they request your work during a #DVPit, send it.

If you're a stickler, you can say "you saw this in March 1906 when I queried directly" but honestly, if they asked to see it, SEND IT.

And of course, the ones who didn't say anything at all, send! And no mention of previous queries.

Try not kick Opportunity when she pulls up in your driveway and knocks on the door.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Querying for Non-Fiction

Can I ask a question? As agents, do you prefer the book to be outlined, fully written, or partially written for NF queries? A friend and I are starting some work on a draft, and while I’m familiar with queries for fiction, this whole NF thing is brand new to me. Thanks!

First, if non-fiction is new to you, time to dig in for some research.
Any book on how to write a non-fiction book proposal will be useful. I prefer the one Elizabeth Lyons wrote.

Absolutely essential however is Susan Rabiner's book. Stop what you're doing and read it first.

As to your question; it depends.

Are you writing a memoir?
Your book needs to be finished, just like a novel.

Are you writing narrative non-fiction (history/biography etc)
You need an overview about the subject that answers the questions of what you're writing (what question you're answering, what problem you're solving), and why it's important NOW (significance.)

Example: narrative history COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen. The significant question here is what really happened, and why. It's important because only when we know the why can we start to address the problem.

You need a list of chapters and projected contents of each chapter.
And you need a section on your platform and qualifications to write this book.

Are you writing prescriptive non-fiction? (how to, instructions, guide to better living, advice, etc.)
You need an overview (as above). You need a chapter list (as above). You need platform (as above)
and you need success stories.

Example: The QueryShark Guide to Effective queries proposes to help writers create effective query letters. Platform is the number of readers who consult Success stories are the folks who not only got  to yes, but those who credit QueryShark with securing agency representation. An actual list of those folks would be in the query.

So, the answer, like always, is what you send me depends on what you're writing.

And this applies across the board; it's industry standard.

Any questions?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Flash fiction contest results--FINAL (updated)

I read the finalist entries again this morning, and then again this afternoon.
Every single time through I thought "how the heck am I going to pick just one?"
The idea of a random number draw crossed my mind but that seemed a bit unfair. Arbitrary is easy, but the work that went in to these entries deserves the effort of a hard choice.

So, I looked again.
I just can't get Morgan Hazelwood's entry off my mind.

That phrase "their drama had outstayed their welcome" was just perfect.
And the ambiguity of it is something I appreciate because it's VERY hard to do well enough to lead the reader to the finish without revealing too much, or worse, not revealing enough so the reader doesn't get it (a lot of entries are too elliptical for me.)

So, Morgan Hazelwood takes the prize this week.

Morgan, drop me a line with your mailing address and what you like to read, and I'll get a prize in the mail to you!

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter.
The work here is insanely good.

And if your entry wasn't singled out, remember, this is entirely subjective and often mood-driven. It's NOT a comment on the caliber of your writing. Or you. Or your story.  

We had a very low turnout this weekend!
But there was no drop in quality entries. You guyz really brought your A-game (unlike the MTA!)

First and foremost, I just frigging surrender. I have met my match and his name is Forti.

What’s the country code for Netherlands, Ma?
>>NL. Y Dee?
DSW - O man. LYW or DS
? The hell do these codes mean?
>>Light yellow. Dead stock. Geez, ur no sneakerhead, Dee. Text me pics.
Ugh. How bout these pumps? DSW only ships from the Netherlands. Shoe Depot has them in East Baltimore, tho.
>>Fatti maschii, parole femine
>>Nvm. Those r cute. O, btw, shop called. Alterations r done on bridesmaid dresses and your gown.
Sweet. Made appt to get these snarls blown out, too
>>Good. Fixate on prep. Matrimonial tunnel vision. Ur dad and I r so excited!

Hits too close to home, Timothy Lowe!

Claire Bobrow
cracked me up.

Madeline Mora-Summonte scares me

The Duchess of Yowl is certain Pen Name should  the winner, although she curls a sardonic whisker at the menu here.
The Duke of Snarl could not fix this. He had ruined his prospects at a happy, easy life with one untimely feast.

He had eaten the Doritos, the sour-cream-and-onion chips, the sandy old snickerdoodles, and even things truly uneatable. The drinks, he knocked over, spilling soda and lemonade on the kitchen floor. Super Bowl Sunday? Ruined.

He had an excuse, of course. Manly deeds, womanly words. Too bad his servant didn’t know Catlingish.

She would be looking for him. Good thing he had a tunnel under the bushes down the street.

And good thing he ate her car keys.

Here are the finalists.

My life has been determined by prefixes and suffixes.
Prefix: un
Un-satisfactory, Un-acceptable, Un-important
Me. Myself. I. The least.
I am—
Prefix: im
Im-pertinent, Im-possible, Im-pressionable
Never going to live up to their expectations, always going to believe their snarled words though actions speak louder on my skin.
Suffix: ly
Man-ly, Woman-ly, Irrevocab-ly.
Manly deeds, womanly words. His hands. Her venom. Never going to change. Because kindness comes with tunnel vision and firm hands fly fast.
Suffix: y
Blood-y, Sleep-y, Sand-y
Dad strikes. I dream of beaches again. Maybe this time I won’t have to come home.
Suffix: ed
I always appreciate this kind of playfulness, particularly when it makes a point.

Colin Smith
Sandy took everything.
Everything I thought was a fixture in my life:
The house. The car.
She even took the kids.
The worst part is, I never saw it coming.
I sat for a week asking what I did wrong.
What sin had I committed against her?
What provoked the snarl that tore our lives?
But there are no answers.
Just an east wind over an empty lot
As I take the Holland Tunnel away from
The wreck of my past.

This is so deliciously subtle I had to read it twice. 

Nice work!

Morgan Hazelwood
She stood transfixed by the edge of the woods until I cleared my throat.

"Carlos and you were supposed to be gone hours ago." As house guests, their drama had outstayed their welcome.

"Long gone. He should be beyond the tunnel by now." Her hand fluttered vaguely toward the road.

Oh no he didn't.

"You know you can't stay here," I sighed, defeated.

"I wasn't going with him while he was snarling. Again."

"I'm not blaming you, I just have to --"

"Let me clean up the blood, and then I'll be gone. It's the least I could do."
oh man oh man oh man.
I love this twists!

Just Jan

I start by asking what they could have done differently.

Lance tunnels a hand through his sandy hair. “We shouldn’t have had intimate relations until she’d gotten divorced.”

Tristan nods solemnly.

“I shouldn’t have faked my death,” says Juliet, clutching her crucifix.

I call on Lois, our newest member. She’s been beastly ever since her boss insisted she attend group therapy.

“What do you want me to say?” she snarls. “That I should have asked if he was an alien with superpowers?”

“What about you, Cleo?” asks Heathcliff.

“Time’s up,” I say, checking my watch. “See you next week.”
This just cracked me up!
I love the inventiveness of the concept, and the subtlety of the name Cleo.
We'll have to ask Jan if that homage to Clio was intended!

Michael Seese
As a child, Tony the Tiger scared the hell out of me. Ferocious beasts should snarl, not wax poetic about glorified Corn Flakes. And don't get me started on Cap'n Crunch, whose eyebrows weren't affixed to his head, but rather, hovered mysteriously in front of his hat. But I dealt with it.

Until that bird ogled me with its googly toucan eyes.

I snapped.

Grabbing my official Red Ryder air rifle, I took aim and Pollocked the kitchen walls with its flavor-bursting reds, oranges, and yellows.

Thus began my runaway train ride into the dark tunnel known as cereal killing.
This is funny, it was Pollocked the kitchen walls that made this stand out. A perfect turn of phrase.

As usual, I can't decide.
You guys read these and let me know what you think.
Every time I read them I pick a new winner.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The L-train debacle flash fiction contest

My normal subway is the L.
The L goes under the East River.
The tunnels were damaged during Hurricane Sandy.

Now they're going to fix them.
And that leaves 300,000 people in a fix.
Cause how the HELL are we going to get to work?

None of us can walk on water, and none of us have jet packs.

This is going to be an EPIC snarl up, and I can't wait to not deal with it.
I'm working from home next week. And maybe forever if this doesn't work itself out.

To give me something to look forward to, let's have a flash fiction contest!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

IF you are Steve Forti, you must also use this phrase which is (I swear!) the Maryland State motto:
Manly deeds, womanly words (Fatti maschii, parole femine)

In that order too! (not in Latin though, unless you want)
(I cackle with glee at the prospect of stymieing Mr. Forti!!)

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.

Thus: East/Easter is ok, but east/TSA exit is not.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. 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.

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

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

8. 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.

8a. 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...just leave me out of it.)

9. 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"

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

11. 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.

12. 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, 4/27/19 at 9:25am (sorry for being late!)
Contest closes: Sunday, 4/28/19 at 9am

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

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
Not yet! 

Sorry too late, contest closed!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Do you have a book problem too?

In my econ classes, so long ago I know how to calculate interest rates by hand, the professor taught us that buyers made rational choices. In Row 3, seat A I listened and thought it made sense. I certainly wasn't buying anything but tuition, text books and beer. My folks were frugal. The only time GrandDad (from Scotland, thank you very much) threw money around was the coin toss for a sporting event.

Today, I think that's probably the looniest thing anyone ever said in that class.

People buy things for completely IRrational reasons: they want! Want! WANT!

And I wanted these books.

and all these

Not to mention these

Now, realistically, you'd think I'd breeze through those picture books, but that's not the case. Picture books are not read; they're savored. The art is such an integral part of the story that examining every detail is essential.

So figure it's an hour at least on each picture book.
And a week on those other tomes.

What the HELL was I thinking??

I wasn't thinking, I was just wanting. Want want want!

Do you buy books even though your shelves are full?
What's the last book you bought and where?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

An egg-selent blog post today

I'm really hoping this is not a photo of my clients, egg-selent writers that they are.

Today's blog post was waylaid by an editorial project that I wanted to turn around quickly.
 Back to business as usual tomorrow.

In the mean time, offer up an idea for the caption, or a guess on who sent this to me!