Thursday, April 12, 2012

Update #15: fisticuffs ensued

At last report, we'd gone two rounds and gotten the pool down to 38. After a refreshing five minute break the judges were herded back to the reading cages and told to get serious about choosing finalists.

The sound of wailing and gnashing was heard throughout the land.

Eyeglasses wore out. Eyeballs too.

The Keeper of the Timetable urged everyone on:

Work resumed.
Horsetrading began
There were Threats.
There was Conniving.
Actual Begging.
A lot of Pleading. (Also, the Alot, pleading)
More threats.
More conniving.

Fisticuffs ensued.

The constabulary arrived.

Combatants were sorted,  summonses written , and order restored. Sort of.  There was grudging agreement.

16 remain.

There will be one more round before the finalists are announced this weekend. If the judges can stay out of the hoosegow. And the bar. And perhaps each others faces.


Leah said...

I definitely had to look up the word "hoosegow."

It is my new favorite word.

For those who have not yet looked, it means jail. :)

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Is this a flashback to update 11, which was actually update 10? Should this be update 16? Is that why there are only 16 finalists? Do I have any more ridiculous questions?

Apparently not. *Nail Biting Time!*

Jared X said...

Can we assume, in the absence of a disclaimer, that no animals were harmed in the composition of this blog post? That shot of the cat landing a haymaker on the dog is a tad too realistic for my animal-loving sensibilities.

Janet Reid said...

Laura, the updates did get renumbered. I think this is #15. On the other hand, I think I'm a shark, so take everything I say with a grain of seasalt.

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Is it because I'm from the "west" that I already knew what a hoosegow was? lol

And Janet, I don't know why you're planning on staying out of the bar. Where's the fun in that!? Drunk judging should not be frowned upon.

Side note: One day I'm getting myself an ALOT. One day.

Side note #2: @Mittens, (Who is Laura? *scratches head*) I was wondering the same thing about 15 vs. 16. maybe Janet's already at the bar but she doesn't want us to know?

Janet Reid said...

Jared, define "harm."
Cause I yowl about people harming my authors by not paying them properly and I stole every one of those photos.

On the other hand, all the judges are still intact. Sort of. A few are wearing icepacks on their head after a brutal attack by Jim Beam.

Chro said...

So how much chocolate and wine to we have to send in order to get a peek at the list of 16? >.>

Or maybe just first letters, like, "LW by LMA".

Or maybe just genres.


I knew I should have planted a hidden camera on that constabulary.

Brent Stratford said...

No...stop...don't let my corny side out...I can't help it.

Hoosegow is in the barn right between Moscow and Pa's cow.

Sorry about that everyone. I really did try to resist.

Lanette said...

And there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the 410 knowing that most have been cut. But as we all stand here, looking from one person to the next, we don't know who the lucky sixteen are. Commander Shark marches down the line. A thin smile cuts across her intelligent features, but the glint of mischief in her eyes tells us how much she enjoys the suffering of her chum.

Janet Reid said...

Torturing authors is one of the perks of the job. On the other hand, you all got your jabs in early by writing really good stuff.

Have I mentioned that we may have to choose a winner via dartboard? Or drawing lots? (drawing alots!!)

Or setting a fire, and seeing who comes out with a dragon. (Ok, way too much Game of Thrones imagery here)

In any case, any torture I'm dishing out now is cause You Started It!

Jamie Wyman said...

If you set a fire, I win. I'm a pyro. Also, I can spin said fire for your enjoyment. I have pictures and character references.

Also? This entry had me snarfing my cereal. Props for using the word hoosegow. It's not used often enough outside of bad westerns and Looney Tunes.

Leah said...

If it's trial by dragon-fire, I'm totally there!! Like, I will get in my car, drive to NYC, and watch. And enjoy. And call for an ambulance maybe?

Anonymous said...

Chro, you didn't plant the hidden cameras on the constabulary?!

Seriously. I thought we discussed this.


Dana said...

For what it's worth, Brent, you made me laugh with your corniness.

Brandon said...

Are we going to know what round we made it to when this is all said and done? Assuming of course we didn't make the finals.

Janet Reid said...

Brandon, everyone who didn't make the finals should assume they were in the semi-finals.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I'm disturbed by the lack of sharks and herpat-related creatures in these reenactments. Did the deceptively fuzzy judges do away with the others so there would be no one to object to their picks???

(You know I'm upset when I use 3 ??? in a row!!!)

Brandon said...

Ms. Reid, I'm assuming I was number 17 if not in the finals. Just curious if we'd know for sure.

BP said...

Haha HOOSEGOW. Hooooose. Goooowww. So much fun I almost forgot about the cute sparring kittens!

BP said...

And I also forgot about the blog! Is this a new makeover? Or what? Am I crazy? Tell me I'm not crazy. I love it! It's very fresh and spring-esque. Have fun staying out of the Hoosegow during the next weeks!

Brent Stratford said...

When the contest is over, will you reveal the names of the judges?

Perhaps I am being pessimistic, but I have been reworking my query letter since you made it abundantly clear that it SUCKED. I was about to continue on my list of preferred agents when I realized my next victim is at your agency and may have already passed on my work.

I've read enough agent blogs and guidelines to know that they hate writers who incessantly query them for the same project. The judges for this contest have already been extremely generous with their time. I'd rather not waste more of it by querying them on something they already gave a pass.

Shall I just assume our contest entry counts as a query to your agency and that you will reveal any judges not from your agency at the contest's finale?

Sara DSpain said...

Good question Brent

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Jessica, I was reading the "Rules for Writers" late last night (oddly, it must have been when the Shark was changing the background of this blog, since it went from cranberry to violet to this lovely oceanic blue while I was here), and the "Be Reachable" post grabbed me. I realized that my entire online presence, other than my Authorly Email address, was known only as MittensMorgul. That didn't seem very professional. At least now Google can find me, and so can everyone who knew me as Mittens.

Especially since there's already an author named Laura Anne Hughes (which is my full name). Kinda frustrating!

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Oh, and I agree with Sara: Good question, Brent! I've been holding off sending queries to anyone at Fine Print during the contest. I hope I haven't been plaguing other agents with (completely innocent) multiple submissions.

Crisply Spoken said...

Photo of the judges waiting for more chum:

Brandi M. Lynch said...

What a battle! I've been on the edge of my seat for weeks now! (I'm also reworking the hell that is my query letter since the general suckiness was exposed.)

So excited for those that make to the final round!

Kay Camden said...

I hate to be smug, but I have no stress at all because I already know I've been cut.

Mine had a prologue. :)

Next time, save yourself from this agony--all you need is a prologue!

Hahahahwaaaahh what? No, I just have something in my eye.

Janet Reid said...

We imported judges from Transylvania. We needed judges who'd proven their mettle with howling crowds and torches to take on this task.

No one at FPLM other than The Finned One Herself ogled your work.

That said, your queries are for shit and everyone should spend some time over at QueryShark reading the archives.

Janet Reid said...

I hate prologues but no one got cut cause they had one.

No one got cut for format.
No one got cut for crappy queries.

We read your work.
This contest was ONLY about the novel.

(Was that the sound of Kay Camden fainting??)

Amanda said...

I've been spending hours and hours at QueryShark since you warned us of the vast shityness that was our queries. After much revamping, I'm hoping it isn't as awful now.

*crosses fingers*

You know, I thought I would be scared having the infamous Shark rip into work, but I enjoyed it. I'd rather know what was crap so I can make it better. Thanks Ms. Reid :)

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

I caught a typo in my query a week after sending it. Can a person die of embarrassment?

BPatterson said...

I'm joining Amanda in the QueryShark archives.

Thomas said...

A few words for those feeling a trifle snitty and even perhaps a wee bit shitty about their chances of being witty while lunching with the Shark in New York City.

"Not life but living builds a monument bequeathed for others to gaze upon and deify, denigrate, or disremember the knowledge one walked this earth.

Some amble only along well-worn paths with challenge less and comfort more, do no good, commit no evil, plodding always in the track most trodden in soil so barren soft and churned by those before faint footprints left are swallowed by the old.

Unhappily, it is true that without a blade of grass to bend a sign to leave cannot exist and thus a driven man, unlike the others, elects departure from historic ruts defined by countless preceding common feet to cut a trail down unknown ways of direction uncertain but destination sought so demandingly future men will see his passage hewn deep within virginal earth resistant, know a man walked there, cast his spoor and lived a live of good or bad or both but never disremembered.".

Congratulations on your walk through high saw-grass and thistle; and good luck in the contest.

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

Instead of the Backspace conference admission, I think the prize should be that someone writes my query for me, since clearly I cannot manage it.

If I ever manage to sign an agent... I am FRAMING my winning query in gold... or at least in something gold-colored...

Judith Gonda said...

Tension mounts.

You're right, Janet, this is torture. I think the albino self-flagellating character from the Da Vinci Code must have been based on a writer who entered contests.

On the plus side, it's National Grilled Cheese Day!

Also, the first pic looks just like my dog (who also likes grilled cheese).

Larissa said...

I'm wondering if there were ANY good queries in the bunch. (Having been told mine was good by someone Ms. Reid works with...)

Good luck on that whittling entries down! :)

Susan Colarullo said...

I'm a relative novice as a writer. But my guess is that not revealing which submissions made the cut for each round is standard procedure for writing contests.

Think about it. If you didn't make the first cut, your manuscript ranked in the bottom 75% of all submissions. Knowing this would prove devastating to many writers, some of who might be inclined to hide their manuscript in a drawer in shame, never to write again. Not something that any agent wants to see happen.

If you made the first 91, but didn't make the second cut to 38, you'd be convinced that it was that one line in your ms where you forgot that the heroine was
crying and couldn't have answered the cop's question the way she did. Same situation with not making it through to round 3.

If you're one of the exceptional writers who make it to the semi-final round and don't win, you'd be convinced it was because you ill-advisedly answered the question 'If you could save the life of any one fictional character who would it be and why?' with 'Fredo in The Godfather'.

Janet knows what she's doing. Quit bugging her about how many rounds your ms lasted. Just relax and enjoy the ride. It's like someone wrote in a very early post -- the wait itself is pretty sweet.

Wry Wryter said...

I’m taking up the challenge:

Whose cow are we talking about?

Brent Stratford said...

Oh good. I am so glad you are using only Transylvanian judges. Not only am I avoiding Transylvanian agents (the turn over rate is too high) but they should be well accustomed to true horrors (like a battle with Ms. Shark over what is or is not worthy of victory). You truly are a clever shark.

Polly said...

All Y'all can just quit worrying, because in fact, I take up all 16 final entries. Why? Because my butt is THAT BIG, that's why.

So there you have it.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Sounds like a tough time for the judges. Hopefully they survive. But those are some funny animal pictures.

Over 400 to 16... does crossing my fingers help? :)

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Oh Janet.

That query was created AFTER reading through all the QueryShark archives. I'm a good little chum, really I am.

But, alas, the query wins again.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate query letters? No? And oh yeah,that synopsis thingy too. Ugh.

I'm going to go drown my sorrows now.

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

And amen to what Susan Colarullo said! She's puttin us all in our place(s)!

Steve Stubbs said...

I have to say, Ms. Reid, you have had us fooled. I have read a lot of unpublished MSS by various authors, every single of which will long remain unpublished, and if you’re kind enough to say that stuff is “really, really good” you’re a kitten, not a shark. I appreciate your kindness, but really, shark is the wrong animal.

I’ll rub your head while you purr if I win.

That is, if I don’t get robbed by a terrorist and struck by lightning twice while trying to redeem my winning lottery ticket that day.

Anonymous said...

so...nobody knows if they are so far in or out. Correct? (I've been trying to keep up with updates/comments.)

*On a side note, my word verification words below to type proving i'm not a robot were: "sent Ass". um, does that mean the MS I sent in was Ass - like ass backwards? Is it a sign from the universe or something? Cuz that's just rude, Google.

Susan Colarullo said...

@Lavender Writer, don't feel bad, I actually got an encrypted word verification code that said 'yull lose douchehag' when I posted an earlier comment today.

Everybody, just calm your tits. With a 1/400=0.25% chance of winning this sucker, you're more likely to get mowed down by a bicyclist on your way to work tomorrow morning.

Lanette said...

Susan, the odds are the same every time we send out a query. If we didn't believe that our chances were good for being visited by the Easter Bunny, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the agent of our dreams all at the same time, none of us would do this.

Michael Seese said...

This is like the longest Christmas Eve, ever. When it's all over, Janet may have to come to my house and scrape me off the ceiling with a spatula.

Janet Reid said...

Have spatula; will travel.

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

Funny blog post!! two things I love right now: 1. That I did not enter this contest, and 2. That the passive voice is employed to such great effect by the Shark.

(word verification: "indecided." How true.)

SueJ said...

Hmmm just wondering if a lot and alot are similar to alert. You know:

Be alert! The world needs more lerts.

Bonnee Crawford said...

Hoosegow... I like that word :)

Good luck to the judges, struggling through the reading pile to locate those lucky finalists!

Rick Anderson said...

The questions--won't people know where they stand when/if they are asked to answer... the questions? If no request arrives soon, I presume, won't it all be over but the rising din of woe?

Michael Seese said...

@ Rick...

"Den of woe." Is that anything like a den of iniquity?

Rick Anderson said...

Mike, you are kidding, right? Right?

kregger said...

I think the "din of iniquity" is what is herd(sic)on all the other forums.

I also wait with baited breath--chum and worms--yummo!

Charley said...

Ooh, bait-breath, yes. Now where did that toothbrush go? Ah, right, I was using it to fine-polish my manuscript. Again. When I should be working on my query letter.

Spent months reading every inch of Janet's Query Shark archives, studying other agents' advice (like Michelle Brower's), etc., and still can't write a decent one. Talk about a slow learner!

Rick Anderson said...

Great puns. May I add that baited breath would be the great equalizer among the herd. And that what is heard is the rising din created by the baited breath.

Susan Colarullo said...

Since The Shark thinks our queries spectacularly suck, maybe we should set up a blog where we can critique each other's queries. My query is wicked long, and I'm sure that there are other issues with it. Find it on my DISPLACED blog, and have at it! Then submit your own and I'll post it for others to rip on.

After the contest, maybe we can set up a separate blog specifically for shredding each other's queries. Oh, wait. I forgot. That's what Query Shark is for.

Now my verification code is 'cin dem undies'. Which is really weird, because I'm wearing brand new underwear today.

HannahDanielleStewart said...

Dear Janet Reid,
After you have pried Michael off the ceiling would you come wield your spatula down here in Texas?
I may need some help getting out from under the kitchen table where I will be holing up with my laptop and a bottle of tequila until the finalists are announced.
Thanks so much.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

How come everyone gets interesting "are you a robot" words, and I get a bunch of gobbledygook? My words are "esenlifi estFor" What's that about?

Oh, great. It doubted I was actually human, and now wants me to type: ieadult ocestax. Are these even words?

The Writer Librarian said...

I have a blog where I'd be happy to post queries to shred...the problem is I'm afraid I'm one of those with a crappy query! (A nice parting gift for finalists might be a query critique?)

Still, an intriguing idea. Susan, please email me at info (at) kbmccoy (dot) com and we can discuss further.

April Brown said...

I have definitely made use of the Query Shark blog.

In fact, I wrote one query directly from one she said was great. I sent it to a friend who said I needed to review Janet's blog. I sent them the link to the exact sample I had used, and said the only difference I could tell, was the character names, and story setting.

Friend pointed out a few things, that weren't really relevant to my story.

So yeah, while the examples help with formatting a query, sometimes, they don't help.

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Oooh, Susan! What a great idea. I would love some peer critique for my miserable excuse for a query. You can find mine here:

Now buckle that chin strap and brace yourselves people, its going to be BAD.

PS. Janet, I just wanted to let you know that through this contest, and your blog, I've found my very own, super shiny new CRITIQUE PARTNER! (Now someone will actually tell me the truth about my writing! LOL!)

Anyway, wanted to thank you for that! :-)

Ann Landsberger said...

I noveled by mistake and found The Fin much too late in the process, thus, the immeasurable suckitude of my query writing. Instead of actually starting a new project, I've devoted myself to writing novel-less queries exclusively. In the spirit of "oh, man, that's a great name for my next band", DEN OF WOE has moved to the top of my list.

Lanette said...

Good idea, Susan. I'm heading over to your blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Susan, Jessa, and The Writer Librarian! What a great idea. Obviously, we all need query RX. :)

I've posted my query here:


Susan Colarullo said...

@The Write Librarian, just click my name at the top of any of my posts and you'll be directed to my site, then click on the 'Displaced' link to get to the blog.

This suddenly feels all wrong, though. Like we're cheating Janet Reid out of a host of delicious chum. Maybe we should just use it as a staging trawler for prepping queries BEFORE we push them over the stern, at which time The Shark can have her way with them as she sees fit.

Never even thought of using the blueprint method, as described above by @April Brown.

Rick Anderson said...

Can't we just form our own Janet Reid Losers Writing Group? I would be honored to be a member.

We can probably set up a password protected community room, post three or four pages for others to comment on, meet virtually once a week to chat about the writing, and then attack the shark with shared knowledge and new vigor?

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

@Susan, I already sent mine to Query Shark before the contest started, so I'm not *technically* cheating. (Am I?)

"We were on a break!"

Yes, I just quoted FRIENDS. Don't flog me for it.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

I posted my query, too. Click on my name, and then click on my blog's name (Writing the Bad Things out), and then Query. That should do it.

It's been interesting reading everyone else's queries. Thanks for sharing, you brave, wonderful people!

Susan Colarullo said...

I really like Rick Anderson's idea about a password-protected community room. That way, no one person is in a position of having to monitor and publish posts. Consider me in.

Rick Anderson said...

Susan, lets make it happen. Contact on Facebook?

Lanette said...

I posted my query to my blog. Just click on my name. I think this is a great idea, and I appreciate any feedback.

Amanda said...

I have joined the masses who have posted their query. Just have to click on my name. :) Thanks ahead of time to anyone who rips it to shreds! Time to go check out everyone else's query.

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

You've started a query revolution, Susan! Lol

Wry Wryter said...

Query shsmeary...drum-roll please.

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

I'll play, please.

Blog's under my name/ The one labeled Michelle4Laughs: It's in the details. Query is top of the blog in a tab. Complicated. Sigh!

SueJ said...

So where to us poor losers who don't have a blog go?

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Start a blog, Sue! :-)

Its easy, just go to and pick a name. Many of us can help you if you need it. Don't hesitate to ask!

Its a good thing to have for building your web presence. Everything I've read (and trust me, I've inundated myself with so much research I'm now a complete crazy person) says that you should begin buiding your web presence long before publication.

So, since we all have that ultimate goal in mind, why not!?

PS. Janet, I clicked on that link in the vampire trap post and didn't know my 8yo daughter was standing behind me. Thanks a lot! LOL! She's like, "Um, Mom, that's kind of scary." And then I couldn't get the window to close fast enough because my computer is the first one ever made.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

SueJ, you can set up a blog through Blogger. It only takes a few minutes, post your query, and then take the whole site down again in a few days if you don't want to keep it.

I've re-posted my revised query as a regular blog post, instead of a page, so I can receive comments properly now! Huzzah for having my idiocy pointed out in multiple new ways today! :)

And thanks for the input, I think it's a better query now. I got so attached to mentioning some of my characters that I forgot the person reading it would feel like they were drowning in character soup.

Anonymous said...

SueJ --You can leave it in a comment on my blog if you want (on query page), so long as others will agree to pop by and read it. I will, for sure.

I think Writer Librarian also offered to host queries for critiquing. (email in comment above)

**Thanks for connecting so many writers Janet! You've started a query revolution. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm such a nerd. I just saw Jessa's "query revolution" comment above.

Did I read it and channel it subconsciously?

I'm going to sit in a corner now.