Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More on how to figure out what agents represent

I have finished Signal (loved it), but am left puzzled by one thing. How is it you think you don’t rep speculative fiction? Oh, I know Patrick Lee and Jeff Somers write a fast-paced story that you could nudge over to thriller/suspense, but seriously. People are going to start putting two and two together, you know. If you sell it they will come – the queriers, I mean. Heck, I might even lead the charge.

Well, I don't represent speculative fiction cause I'm not really sure what it is.  I signed Patrick Lee for a book that I think of as a thriller. I pitched it as a thriller. It got published by an imprint of Harper that does science fiction. We sold enough copies that I know it sold to people who don't read science fiction.  Same with Runner. I pitched that as a thriller. It was marketed as a thriller.  If you think it's speculative fiction, I'm ok with that as long as you buy many many copies of the book.

And Jeff Somers was signed for a book called CHUM that isn't speculative fiction (whatever that is) and when I sold Electric Church I thought it was science fiction, or a dystopian thriller.

I make jokes about this by saying I sold dystopian by mistake, I thought it was something else.

Which is of course really funny until you're a writer trying to figure out what the hell I want to read.

Well, here's a suggestion: ignore category. Just send everything. I don't particularly care. I'll read pages from enticing queries no matter what category you place it in because I've learned that what I call it can be much different than what the editor calls it, or where it gets shelved after the marketing people take a whack at it.

This is why you do NOT start a query with "here's my speculative fiction novel." You start with the name of the protagonist and what's at stake. You reel the reader into the story FIRST, then close with what you think is the category (and half the time you're wrong, but I don't care about that either.)

The reason most people who write what you might call speculative fiction won't find a place on my list though is cause I've already got Patrick Lee and Jeff Somers, and those guys keep me pretty damn busy. Fortunately Brooks Sherman likes that kind of writing too, and he's got more room on his list than I do.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"Well, here's a suggestion: ignore category. Just send everything."

Oh my, I can see it now, queries of all kinds cascading into your inbox.
As Momma Cass said,
"...broke busted, disgusted agents can't be trusted..."

Really boys and girls, I don't think OUTKU handles children's board-books will pics of butterflies and deer. Sharks maybe but not guppies.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

What a wonderful morning this read is! (sorry, I really want that exclamation point there)

So the takeaway is--in the real world of agents and editors there are ambiguous boundaries within, around, among, in the midst of all these genres. Good clarification.

Well, writers/authors, they are messing with out minds...

Lisa Bodenheim said...

ooops, early morning

they=editors, agents

and it is "our" not "out"

Michael Durant said...

I think it would be accurate to say that speculative fiction and thrillers are not incompatible. One describes the trappings; the other describes mood. SFF could as easily be horror, suspense, or romance.

Ms. Shark is after the mood of a thriller, and if you have THAT, it doesn't matter if you have vampires or cyborgs in it.

Joan Kane Nichols said...

Thanks so much for this. I've read advice to querying writers that says you must know what your category is (and implies you're some sort of idiot if you don't). Encouraging to know that agents, editors, booksellers can be as confused as I am.

french sojourn said...

I finally made time to start "We are not good people." Didn't think it was my genre...damn this guy's writing is as slick as mercury. How a publisher managed to keep it on the page...just wow.

Thank you again for recommending it and sending it...we'll always have Bora bora.

Cheers Hank... err um Felix that is!

Colin Smith said...

I understand and appreciate the sentiment, Janet. But surely there are broad genres that are pretty well defined that you won't take on, mostly because it's not a genre you have a lot of experience selling. For example, YA. It's not that you don't enjoy YA, or can't spot a good YA query when it hits your in-box (I know of at least one that was a FTW on QueryShark). But you know other agents (e.g., Mr. Sherman, Ms. Poelle, Ms. Townsend) have more experience selling YA, so when it comes to selling the novel to a publisher they have the contacts and the market knowledge to know who might buy it and how to pitch it.

So, while you consider yourself an equal opportunity genre agent, perhaps you could list the genres you think you're most likely to sell, and those you'll look at, but think another agent might be better at selling? At least then the querier isn't shocked when they send you their erotic zombie speculative romance dystopian and you send a form rejection. Unless you've started taking EZSRD...? :)

MB Owen said...

I found Michael Durant's comments especially helpful; trappings vs. mood within genres whose borders are being trespassed.

I think Janet may have opened the floodgates: will be fun to read about.

Craig said...

I think of speculative as being something of some importance to the plot that is beyond current technology. It works for either thriller or mysteries.

To me thrillers are just updated westerns. Speculative would be something like a Messerschmidt strafing the OK Corral.

It really would be nice if choosing genres was just a marketing tool for publishers but it won't work. Some writers need to think they are working within a certain genre too.

Very recently someone asked for help on a query. My response included not pegging a genre to it. There wasn't one that fit properly. Both the protagonist and antagonist were dead and the book is about the survivors. I also didn't think the 4 C's of querying fit but that is another story. The next posters freaked because I said no genre. One even said that agents drop to the genre first to make sure it fits what they want. I hope the world isn't that way.

Carolynn with 2ns: I apologize. Yes I got called that other name a lot, still do in fact. I gave up attempting to correct people about it when I was somewhere around the first grade. There were bigger things to worry about.

At least I didn't bring up Lima Beans.

Anonymous said...

When I was on the ranch, one thing I always enjoyed was the weekly Killdeer Herald News. Busybody "reporters" from the various small towns around Killdeer would send in reports and it made for some fun reading.

"The Kolbachek family from the Diamond X Ranch out of Grassy Butte went into town Friday to get a tractor tire fixed and do some shopping. They had planned to have dinner at Ella's Steak House, but due to it being full, they had to eat at Dairy Queen. They're now petitioning Ella to put in more than five tables.

In other news, Julie Weathers was committed for psychiatric evaluation after reading an article on Wednesday written by a Miss Sharque Reid. Weathers nee Oversen's breakdown has long been expected and we wish her a speedy recovery."

I have no idea what speculative fiction is. This category drives me nuts. I love that Janet invites people to query her. You have no idea how much I love this. I read other agent comments on twitter, however, and it makes me very aware not all are so forgiving.

#tenqueries Another fantasy. I still don't rep this. Stop sending.

I love the advice of starting the query with just the meat, which I do. I leave all the housekeeping for the end. I do put epic fantasy in the subject line, though. I'll stop doing that. Maybe I can entice them enough to love me anyway by the time they realize it's fantasy. I'm sure dead guys, senile sorcerers, and demons won't give it away.

I would have never thought of Lee and Somers as Speculative Fiction. I assumed they were thrillers. That's how they read to me, anyway.

Of course, what do I know? I thought Frankenstein was horror and I've been informed it's literary.

Susan Bonifant said...

On this: "You reel the reader into the story FIRST, then close with what you think is the category (and half the time you're wrong, but I don't care about that either.)"

I think other agents have that take. My book has a foot in two categories; it doesn't fall cleanly into one or the other. I have been submitting to agents in both and so far, I've had decent response.

I see the recommendation everywhere to label work genre-wise, but I wonder: if you're likely to be wrong, and, if the genre speaks for itself in a concise query, do we really need to agonize over this?

Colin Smith said...

Julie: I wish I could just put "novel" as the genre in the subject line, but I'm afraid some agents might take that as "ignoring the submission guidelines" and form reject on principle.

Of course, if you didn't get the genre(s) of the last novel I queried from the title, you probably shouldn't be in publishing. (It's A TEENAGE ALIEN IN VICTORIAN LONDON). :)

Dena Pawling said...

Me: So, Ms. Sharque-for-brains, let's go over your testimony here today, because honestly, I'm a little confused.

Witness, delighting in a confused lawyer: Sure.

Me: Your testimony here today, if I have it right, sounds like you're friendly with writers, and you like to encourage them, and you're willing to read almost anything, so long as it's well-written.

Witness, purring from the stroke: Yes, that sounds right.

Me: But let's think back to what you said earlier in this trial. Can we do that?

Witness: Sure.

Me: Please correct me if my memory is faulty, but you previously said you were bordering on a nervous breakdown?

Witness: I don't think so?

Me: You were lamenting that you requested 78 manuscripts last year, I think I'm remembering that number correctly, and it made you a little crazy because you still had more than 30 to read through. Do you remember that?

Witness, with some hesitation: Yes?

Me: And you thought it would be fun to have a little contest?

Witness, with more hesitation: Yes?

Me: So you asked all those writers-you-are-so-friendly-with, to GUESS how many manuscripts you'd requested last year.

Witness: Yes, I remember that.

Me: As as I recall, my guess was 152, which you included in your list of writers-who-misunderstood-the-last-year-as-the-last-decade.

Witness: Yes, I would have really gone crazy if I'd requested 152 manuscripts in a single year.

Me: But isn't it true, Ms. Sharque-for-brains, that you really WANTED to have 152 manuscripts last year?

Witness: No. That would have really made me crazy.

Me: But isn't it true, that you just testified you WANTED writers to send you queries for pretty much every genre under the sun?

Witness: Well, yes and no.

Me: And isn't it true that you were NOT really sobbing on your couch, but you're middle name is Punxsutawney Philomena, and in reality you sadistically wanted to torment writers into entering a contest and send you manuscripts because you knew this winter would be nighmarish?

Witness: No!

Me: And isn't it true that my guess was RIGHT? You had really requested 152 manuscripts and you just didn't want all your colleagues to know your middle name.

Witness: No! You have it all wrong! No, right! You have me all confused! I really was NOT sobbing on the couch! Yes, I admit, that's my middle name, and I wanted more manuscripts. And I just wanted to run a contest. And your number 152 was right. [sobs into hands]

Judge: The witness will send counsel an ARC of counsel's choosing. Case dismissed.

Anonymous said...


That is awesome.

I'm sure you've seen the gathering of quotes from trials, which always make me laugh.

Susan Bonifant said...


Janet Reid said...

That odd sound you all hear is me guffawing so loudly I scared the pigeons off the fire escape whilst reading Dena's comment.

Honestly, the comments are the best part of this blog.

NotaWarriorPrincess said...

Allow me to edu-ma-cate, since I are a teacher, and that is how the teacher do: "Speculative fiction" is a weasel category from academics. It's a label we've given to the trifecta of science fiction, fantasy and horror--genres that, mood be damned, "speculate" a "what if" scenario that can't be lived in real life. Science fiction speculates on technology and is generally futuristic. Fantasy speculates on magic and is generally medievalistic (yes, that's the correct word--it means not ACTUALLY medieVAL, but using/abusing/appropriating the trappings commonly associated with the medieval whether they ever happened or not, e.g. chastity belts and "prima noctis" rights--all bull pucky). Horror speculates on death and can be set in any time period, but in a select few miliuex it comes out "Gothic" (another misnomer we could wax boring about).

The reason this abomination of a label exists is for convenience (and sneakiness) in teaching a few books we wanna teach without getting in trouble from our snobby peers for smuggling trashy ghetto genres into our tender students' minds. If we were to teach them (Heaven forfend!) that Grrrreat Litt-rich-chah can include wizards, zombies, or techy devices we do not understand, we may end up leading them to the society-demolishing conclusion that such things are Worth Reading. Can't have that!

Oh, except for Frankenstein. That has all three. Oh and Ursula Le Guin; she writes all of them PLUS other trashy ghetto genres but SHE's brilliant, so we give her a pass.

Oh, and everything ever written by the Pre-Raphaelite Victorians, because THEIR medievalism is...somehow literarily okay.

Oh and King Arthur stuff, because anachronism doesn't COUNT if the past being presented wrong was also WRITTEN in the past.

Oh and Beowulf, because we excuse monsters people actually believed in. Even if they didn't.

Oh, and Ray Bradbury, because Ray Bradbury (see Le Guin)

Oh, and the 20th century Latin American magical realists--don't want to come across as racist!!!!!! Oh and...Oh, and...Oh and...

You get the idea.

Megan V said...

This is the perfect post for today. Happy #MSWL day! Now's a good time to check out the hashtag and read about what books agents are looking for (even if you're confused about what genres they might represent :))

P.S. Dena- you had me laughing way too hard.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Dena, applause.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

A further wrinkle I've thought of (because this is what we woodland creatures think of): what about when you write in more than one genre?

I've got a number of novels at various stages of completion (don't we all?), and while two of them are what I would firmly consider urban fantasy (one is the first of a werewolf trilogy, the other is a retelling of the Orpheus myth), I've got another which has no woo-woo speculative elements at all but rather is a thriller-y gender swapped Hamlet. Say Ms. Sharque is really into my take on Hamlet....that doesn't much help us, because what on Earth is she gonna do with the werewolves?

I know, cart, horse. But we worry.

LynnRodz said...

Dena, I wish there was a "Like" button here. Two thumbs up.

"Just send everything." Whoa, when the avalanche occurs, Glossy won't be able to help you. You'll need a photo of a Saint-Bernard.

Jenz said...

So all this time, as I've been hunting for books with sci-fi elements but set in the contemporary world, Janet has been handling them and hiding them under the thriller label.


Anonymous said...

Thank you NotAWarriorPrincess for clarifying this. Shelley's Frankenstein came up with intriguing arguments as to what it was.

We're having this debate on Books and Writers. One hardy soul thinks the government should support literary authors because soon only the rich will be able to write it and what a loss that will be to future generations.

Truly gifted writers cannot create under pressure. They must have a room of their own and be freed from the shackles of having to worry about making a living. It's ok for genre writers to struggle and work their arses off because anything other than literature is fluff and not really important.

It's been an interesting conversation to say the least. One for the most part I have watched from the sidelines since, I'd rather spend what brain cells I have writing the next horrific battle scene or dragon love call, fluff writer that I am.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ya know, there's a few lawyers among us. I used to be afraid of lawyers and I used to be afraid of sharks. Seems apt that lawyers and sharks fit in here. Now they just crack me up.

Actually, I was having a perfect read until Mr. C not G, mentioned lima beans. Bah ! Nothing like a flat little green mushy blob to put damper on your hump-day.

I'll get over it. Ice cream for lunch topped with Amy's nuts.

Colin Smith said...

Jennifer: YES! I love it!! A new genre: "Woo-Woo Speculative"!!!

"Dear Ms. Shark, My fiction novel about zombie lovers in a post-apocalyptic western town is my first attempt at Woo-Woo Speculative (W-WS)."

As Janet says, the comments here are usually priceless (which is why I love to participate), but today... Dena and Jennifer, you've made me LOL for reals. And it's not even lunchtime! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Dena, NotaWarriorPrincess, Jennifer...awe hell, all of ya...STANDING OVATION !

Colin Smith said...

I was so busy laughing, I forgot I actually had a serious(-ish) comment to make about Jennifer's comment.

I feel your pain, Ms. Donohue. I write the story I want to write and worry about genre later. However, I do think there are certain types of stories I tend to write better than others. My wife tells me that, and she's usually right. But if I look at all the flash fiction I've written over the years, and look at the ones I consider the most successful, they seem to have certain elements that might push me into one particular type of story-telling than another. All that to say, you may be a multi-genre writer, but I bet there's one genre you excel at, and that's the one you should probably concentrate on writing. And when querying, find agents for whom that's their primary genre, but will represent a range of other genres.

Or just query Janet. She'll take anything. ;)

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: So not only do we have sentient doo-dahs, but we have Amy's nuts? I'm putting in a fresh order for fluffy bunnies and cute kitties...!

Anonymous said...


I'm pretty careful to follow instructions. If they say put the genre in the subject line, I would. I do now. "Query-FAR RIDER-Epic Fantasy" is the normal subject line.

I wonder if it would make any difference if I left off the epic fantasy if they don't require it in subject line. Probably not, to be honest. It doesn't take long to figure out we are not in Kansas anymore.

Anonymous said...

Or just query Janet. She'll take anything. ;)--


Anonymous said...

Speaking of the new "Woo-Woo Speculative" genre -- there actually is one. At least according to the Wall Street Journal. It's called "Slipstream," and it's gone from the sidelines to mainstream with literary-cross-genre-ing.

I'm new here, so I don't know if I should attach a link to the article or not. I'll err on the side of caution, but you can google it under WSJ Fiction Gets Weird. The title rather annoyed me, because of course they mean literary fiction. Apparently all the weird and wonderful stuff I've been reading for years isn't "fiction."

If that is the case, I darn well want my jet pack. And a unicorn.

Colin Smith said...

Hello, Laura! Welcome... :)

I much prefer "Woo-Woo Speculative" over "Slipstream" "Slipstream" is about as helpful as "Speculative Fiction." In fact, I'm waiting for Janet to post on the Twitter #MSWL hashtag saying "I'd like to see more W-WS." :D

As for posting links, I think Janet's okay with it, as long as they're not for profit or adult entertainment (if ya know what I mean, nudge-nudge-wink-wink-say-no-more-say-no-more-a-nod's-as-good-as-a-wink-to-a-blind-bat).

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Colin: sentient doo-dahs? That's not how I remember the phrasing but, yeah, fluffy bunnies and cute kitties.

LynnRodz: a new nickname for Gossamer? Glossy?

Dena and Warriorprincess: LOL

Colin Smith said...

Julie: No... wait... I didn't mean...! *sigh* I guess I'd better pack for The Great Pit of Carkoon... :)

Colin Smith said...

Lisa: Please. The concept is bad enough without having to be anatomically correct.

Amy Schaefer said...

Has everybody gotten snowed in today? I see you all hovering over your keyboards, hitting refresh.

I disagree with NotaWarriorPrincess. I don't think speculative fiction is a weasel category. That would imply it is trying to hide or circumvent the facts. For my part, I like to read (and write) both sci-fi and fantasy, and I don't consider those categories to be very different. They, like horror (darn! I should have included Laird Barron in the original question!), take a "what if" approach to a story, as was already mentioned.

This is all a matter of perspective. I can see why Janet viewed these books as thrillers - they are, indeed, thrilling. I think this brings us back to the idea that category is useful only to give the reader a general idea of what she is getting into. Writing category x means your story adheres to certain conventions, but it doesn't mean you can't branch beyond that.

As for my nuts, I'm just glad I didn't mention the melons growing beside the house.

REJourneys said...

@Laura: You can have my unicorn and jet pack. I'm upgrading to a dragon.

I have the genre problem too. I was marketing (querying, sorry) my MS as Fantasy, but when characters, who go into genre books, end up in a Victorian world and Ancient Egypt, it's not really fantasy anymore, it's adventure. Then my little writer brain frets that adventure doesn't cover the genres of the books in my MS (meta, isn't it?). I've got mystery, "historical fiction", coming of age, and a bunch of other things going on.

But hey, I'm a convoluted kind of person.

I did query Janet during a Chum Bucket, with a lovely rejection saying "DO query onward." (Yes the "DO" was capitalized).

I have fretted over this. Is it a typo or strong encouragement that my ramblings could be something....

There should be a post/blog somewhere called "You know you're a writer when..." because "fretting over every little word in a rejection or a submission guideline" should be on it....

Sorry, that was long and pointless.

Colin Smith said...

Amy: Work was delayed a few hours this morning, so I'm working from home. I like to keep the blog open and refresh periodically, even at work--it's a nice distraction when trying to debug code. :)

REJourneys: "but when characters, who go into genre books, end up in a Victorian world and Ancient Egypt, it's not really fantasy anymore, it's adventure..."

I have six words to say to you: A TEENAGE ALIEN IN VICTORIAN LONDON. It's YA. It's sci-fi. It's history. But is it YA sci-fi with history? Or YA history with sci-fi? I've queried it as both YA Historical/Sci-Fi and YA Sci-Fi/Historical depending on the agent. I want to say, "It is what it is... just read it, pleeeeease!!" But I don't think that's an accepted genre. :) So I completely understand your frustration.

Andrea van der Wilt said...

To whom it may concern:

I would like to offer you my fictional fantasy novel for representation as I think we will get along very well. You are my dream agent and I look forward to your representing me. You like cats, I like cats, and you recently said on your blog that you would be interested in any story that is well-written. I assure you that my novel has been through Word spellcheck at least once, and this will be a bestseller and will make us both filthy rich. God has told me so.
Please email me with instructions how to send you my complete manuscript, or I could phone you to tell you all about it.

Seriously though, I'm terrified of sharks and I don't think I'm bold enough to send a query for a YA fantasy.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Yes, "Slipstream" to me is another one of those words which really doesn't mean a whole lot. Just another word people use when they're too scared to say science fiction or fantasy (I work at a public library, I seen Genre Panic™ nearly every day).

Protip: When saying "woo woo speculative" you might make some kind of jazz hands gesture to accompany.

And I made use of Ms. Reid's very, very generous chumbucket awhile back and while she wasn't interested in my Orpheus, she also didn't tell me my query was a hot mess. So that's all right then, isn't it?

S.D.King said...

I've been labeling my novel as speculative fiction because as it was described to me, it fits my project. My book takes a historical character and says, "what if?" It assumes that Rasputin really did have the creepy powers of which he was accused. Any other suggestions for genre? I am open (and sort of confused myself).

Colin Smith said...

SD: "Speculative History" would be more descriptive, I think, but a) I don't know that's a real genre--I might have just made it up, and b) that could describe a lot of other historical novels (e.g., Philippa Gregory's novels).

Christina Seine said...

Everything important has already been said, but I will add that I dearly hope the next flash fiction contest includes the words woo-woo, nuts, melons, lawyer and panic.

Christina Seine said...

PS - Colin, it's supposed to get up to 43 today. Evil of me to mention, I know, but fear not - come March and April when the civilized world is eating Cadbury sharks and romping on real, live grass, we'll get our below zeros. It never fails.

Colin Smith said...

Christina: *sigh* They're calling for record wind chills for the next couple of nights here in E. NC: temps between 5 and -5. I'm looking forward to the weekend when our highs will be in the mid-40s, and maybe into the 60s on Sunday! Woo-hoo! :)

SiSi said...

I loved getting home from a looong day at work and finding all these fun comments! Sounds like I'm not the only one uncertain of genre.

In my mind, I'm writing a mystery where the setting happens to be the future on another planet. But the basic storyline is "who is killing these people" as my protagonist tries to solve the crime. No aliens, no ghosts. Some made-up technology, but I'm not a scientist so this is minor. But some of my readers have immediately said, "Oh, this is science fiction. Mystery readers won't read anything scifi."

Well, at least one mystery reader does (me), and I hear J.D. Robb is doing well. (Note: I'm not comparing myself to J.D. Robb, just pointing out the setting in her In Death series is "scifi.")

Anyway, all this is to say I love Janet's response that I shouldn't get too worked up over this. At least, not yet. Back to the writing.

REJourneys said...

@Colin: That sounds like fun! I love Victorian London. and "It is what it is... just read it, pleeeeease!!" should be a genre.

My friend mentioned this when applying for jobs. She asked why she couldn't answer the question "Why should I hire you" with "Because I'm awesome".

At the end of the day, it's kind of like "Oh, you want to know XYZ, well, how much time do you have?"

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I had tons of trouble with category for Devil's Deal:

Romantic suspense? Well, kinda, sorta, but there is no HEA, so straight up romance readers will not be happy.

Legal thriller? Well, kinda, sorta, the MC is a lawyer and there are legal concepts, but the single courtroom scene is purposefully undramatic to put a spotlight on how actually undramatic courtroom scenes are.

Police Procedural? Well, kinda, sort, there are cops but nobody is much interested in the "book." The whole op is completely off the reservation.

Thriller? Okay, we're getting closer. There is a ticking clock, but there is as much character driven action as plot driven.

Mystery? I kinda opted for this one because there are puzzles to figure out, but there is still plenty of the round hole showing around that square peg.

About the only think it wasn't was YA Dystopian written in Haiku.

Categories are hard . . .


Christina Seine said...

I was just skimming the #tenqueries tag on Twitter, and an agent berated someone for saying their MS was basically both literary and commercial. I cringed, because that's what I tend to say about my MS. But after reading this post, I feel better. I'm just going to change my MC's name to Janet Reid and query the sharky QOTKU.

But also, I read a really awesome article recently that suggested I just make up my own genre, and that person sounder super knowledgeable about the pub industry, so maybe I'll just do that. ;)

Colin Smith said...

OF COURSE! I get it now! Janet says, "Ignore category. Just send everything. I don't particularly care." What happens? All the little woodland creatures scurrying around worrying about thriller or fantasy or woo-woo speculative breath a huge sigh of relief and send all their stuff to Janet... and not her competitors!! Janet then gets the pick of all the queries!!!

Then one day, before you know it, she's QOTKU!

Ummm... does anyone actually object to this plan? ;)

*sound of Colin Smith packing his bags for The Great Pit of Carkoon*

*As long as it's warmer than -5 there tonight...*

Amy Schaefer said...

Hey, Christina, it is 43 degrees here today, too! You did mean Celsius, right? No? Okay. Just me, then.

Where did this "woo-woo speculative" term come from? It sounds derogatory in a sneering, sixth-grade kind of way. Does this come from the same people who run down genre fiction for not being serious enough? We can do better, people.

Colin Smith said...

I can see it now...

DENA: My client Ms. Poelle claims that you stole all her queries. How do you respond to that accusation?

QOTKU: Not true! She's been at the Polish vodka again.

DENA: How do you explain, Ms. Shark-for-brains, the sudden spike the number of queries submitted to you over the last month?

QOTKU: I don't know. My charm? My people skills?

DENA: Is it not true you received more queries in the last month than Ms. Poelle has purses in her closet?

QOTKU: Oh, come on! No-one could have THAT many queries!!

DENA: Nevertheless, how do you explain the fact that your inbox has been devouring queries like a teenage boy at a pot luck supper?

QOTKU: Perhaps all the wonderful commenters on my blog have been spreading the word to their woodland friends?

DENA: How many queries did you receive last month, Ms. Shark-for-brains?

QOTKU: Umm... some. A number. A lot?

DENA: Precisely 106,432. Do you know how many my client received?

QOTKU: More? The same?

DENA: One. And that was because he accidentally copied her when he
queried you.

QOTKU: Oh. Well, some people just will not read the guidelines--

DENA: I submit that you have subverted the querying process by--and I can barely bring myself to say it--encouraging writers to ignore genre...

[Gasps and muttering around the courtroom]

DENA: ...thereby enticing them to query you, the only agent in town willing to do such a perverse and incomprehensible thing. I mean, reading queries outside your designated genres?

QOTKU: I can explain... um... I feel sorry for their furry hides. The poor things. They scurry and chatter so, and worry, and... and...

DENA: The prosecution moves that the court find Ms. Shark-for-brains guilty, and she be sentenced to write a book with my client on the publishing industry, said book to be titled, SNARK AND SHARKS GUIDE TO PUBLISHING.

Okay, I've had my fun. Thanks for the inspiration, Dena.

Christina Seine said...

You said it, Amy.

And 43 Celsius??? I wish. Sort of. I think if it ever got that hot here, Alaska would simply melt into the ocean.

Am I the only one who can't hear the word woo-woo and not think of Laverne and Shirley?

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

@Amy Schaefer: Oh dear, I didn't mean to sound derogatory towards genre fiction. Genre fiction (and specifically, the "woo woo" stuff) is my wheelhouse.

I think my brain jumped from saying "spooooky" and making threatening wiggle fingers to use "woo woo speculative fiction" as a means of denoting the fantasy spectrum of things (with ghosts and magic and beasties) from the Scifi end of things, so I guess "crunchy speculative fiction" (bio thrillers, cyberpunk, spaaaaaaaaace).

I absolutely do not want ANY genre writers to feel bad, or "less serious", even if their genre is not my genre. That's just not cool, and I apologize for any misinterpretation of my tone. Sadly, having spoken to me face to face would not necessarily have helped you differentiate; my dry humor gets me in trouble fairly often, even with people who know me well.

Susan Bonifant said...

Colin, I have to mention that my son and his buddies at Elon held an "epic snow-pocalypse party" after the town was battered with an inch and a half of snow and university officials were prompted to cancel classes.

I've already made my thoughtful comment today, so I thought I'd throw that in :)

Also, I love millennial humor.

Anonymous said...


Oh. What? Wrong answer?

*lays head back down on desk.*

(Dena, you make a woo woo lawyer. Just sayin'.)

Amy Schaefer said...

@Jennifer R. Donohue: Nah, no worries. Fantasy is full of beasties, after all. And frankly, if you don't have a sense of humor about what you do, you shouldn't write genre fiction, anyway. Or anything else, for that matter.

Amy Schaefer said...

Could someone hand donna a cold compress? Or another vodka soda, whichever.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I'm gone for supper and look at what all happens. And what's we all the vodka? I'm missing a party.

Colin: your skit is too precious.

DLM said...

laurajbrennan, I rather thought the WSJ *was* woo-woo speculative fiction ...

It doesn't matter where I encounter a discussion of genre and the difficulties in defining it, I am ALWAYS grateful that this is one question I've never had trouble with. I write fiction based on the lives of historical figures - without "alternatives" and without claiming to be an historian. Histfic. It's so easy.

One more blessing to be grateful for.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Family crisis for the last week and a half. Today I chased my one year old granddaughter for 13 hours. I am flat-ass exhausted or I would add my usual uninspired, misinformed, lame, lackluster attempt at humor to this list of comments that have kept my head above water the whole day. I have one more baby-marathon tomorrow so watch out boys and girls, I plan on having you snort hot chocolate out your nose before the next WIR.

LynnRodz said...

Me thinks there are way too many people snowed in which has caused this avalanche of comments lately. Believe me, I'm not complaining. Case in point, Colin's great follow up to Dena's courtroom drama.

Sometimes when I comment I feel like George Gobel on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show when he said, "Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?" (The younger crowd here is saying, "Huh?")

Lisa, DLM mentioned a few days ago that Gossamer's new nickname was Glossy. I like both, but I think you'll have to ask him which name he prefers.

Dena Pawling said...

I posted that comment, evicted a single father and two daughters into the cold cruel winter [it was 80 degrees today, I gave him 2 weeks to move out], went to the office and drafted a bunch of briefs, and then attended a CLE class on changes to landlord/tenant and eviction law for 2015.

Looooong busy day, but not as busy as 2Ns day [chasing a 1yo all day sounds exhausting but fun].

I did check this blog from my phone 2-3x during the day. WOW there are 62 comments on this post!

I apologize to anyone who has a wrecked computer because they spit coffee on it while reading my comment this morning :)

Is being a woo-woo lawyer good or bad????

I'll leave y'all with this parting shot. My boss took this week off to go skiing in the local mountains with his son. He turned it into a staycation because, drumroll, there's NO SNOW!!

I'll crawl back into my hole now.

Kaye George said...

Janet, further confirmation that you are a gem.

DLM said...

LynnRodz and Lisa and all - Goss is like me and his pal Penelope. He will answer to anything as long as it is sweetly said, and especially from The Bearer of the Kibble. I once posted a partial list of my late, great Sidney's nicknames and it ran probably two dozen items long. I've always copiously named my beasties, and will answer to Donna and Debbie and Dana and quite an array of other names myself, as long as they aren't outright insulting. :)

Sam Hawke said...

I find it very encouraging how many people on here are, like me, writing genre-smooshing stories. I label mine 'fantasy' because it's in a fictional world. But there's no magic or mysticism or religion... it's basically a mystery/suspense in a fantasy setting.

Now I know it's fine to query Janet with it... ;)

Karen McCoy said...

Fully agree with Hank--I am loving "We Are Not Good People." Jeff Somers is a magician.

I think that's all I'll add--67 comments is plenty to sift through!