Sunday, May 17, 2015

week in review May 17, 2015

Last week's Week in Review was also the Sunday when Mother's Day sweeps the land.

I think Carolynnwith2Ns had the perfect summation:
You don’t have to give birth to be a mother, don’t have to adopt, don’t even have to be female. If you step outside of yourself and love, guide and believe in the self-worth of someone else, you are a mother. If your kids have four legs, fins or wings you are a mother. And if your children are gone, you are still a mom, always a mom, a special mom, the kind who wears longing and loss as a badge until the day you are reunited.

I loved the visual here from Jennifer R. Donohue:
I've now performed the magic trick where my 3 dimensional Doberman is currently a Flat Dog on the Couch.

Donnaeve offered the perfect motivational phrase. I intend to steal it:
Jed - get your pants off your head and and write the damn book. I'd read it.

It turns out we're running some sort of medical ward here with Mrs. Colin's sojourn in the horsepistol, and various bouts of flu being suffered by significant others.  Time for everyone to Get Well! Summer is coming!  

For those of you who aren't familiar with a lovely publishing tradition "Summer Fridays" begin the Friday after Labor Day. Memorial Day!! (oops, thanks for the correction in the comments column!) 

This year that's Friday May 29th.  Summer Friday means most places close at 12:30pm.  Here at the Reef it's often honored in the breach than in the observance, but we do try.

It's a  holdover from when New York was close to unbearable in the summer, and people fled for country homes, and beach house shares on the weekend.

And sometimes people used to just move to the country for the entire summer.  I've got letters on stationery from old time publishing hands that listed their New York address on the left and their "summer address" in Maine on the right.  Of course, it would be very easy to do that now, what with the electronic leashes we all have, but back then? It was like work just stopped for a while. 

Many of you, myself included, wondered what would prompt someone to blackball a publisher.

Donnaeve wondered:
maybe this means the contract was dropped, not renewed, or something. But NOW I'm on my own hamster wheel trying to figure this out. HA!

If an author offered that as the reason for not doing business with a publisher, we'd have no one to submit work to. All those things happen with good and reputable publishers, all the time.  This is a BUSINESS and if a line of books isn't performing, the contract doesn't get renewed.  It's NOT personal. It's certainly not a reason to stop doing business with a publisher.

Amanda Capper wondered:
I suppose if I knew an author friend who was treated badly by a publisher, I might be leery of dealing with them

The problem here is that one person's experience with a "publisher" isn't going to be the same experience anyone else has. For starters, it's often the editor, publicist, marketing/sales people that one has experience with. And much of  that experience is dependent on the book. I can tell you that some authors have great experiences at BigAssPublisher and other authors do not.

AJ Blythe made a good point here:
The problem I see is that someone made the decision that has caused the OP to feel how they do. And that someone is just as likely to suddenly appear at the desk of a different publisher. Would that mean another publisher to be struck off? And what if they're already contracted to that publisher?

I remember being asked to send pages to an editor at one of the Big 5. Went to do so, only to find they'd moved to a non-commissioning role at another industry organisation. Fast forward a couple of years and there she was taking pitches for another of the Big 5.

Pharosian mentioned something that does stick in my craw, the altogether reprehensible involvement of otherwise reputable publishers with the printing mill Author Solutions:

Funny that you mention Penguin, Colin, as I was wondering whether the OP's concerns of an ethical nature about a certain publisher might be related to the Author Solutions fiasco.

Penguin Random House is the corporate parent of Author Solutions, which purports to offer publishing services to authors. AS is now facing two class-action lawsuits, and is accused of failure to pay royalties, predatory sales calls, and breach of contract, among a laundry list of other charges.

David Gaughran has been following this situation and has an in-depth analysis on his blog.

AS has signed 180,000 authors as clients (per its own website), and yet, according to Gaughran, they have exactly ONE employee assigned to calculate royalties for all those authors! But they have 732 sales reps (most of whom are based in the Philippines).

One has to wonder why one of the Big 5 publishers would have a subsidiary devoted to selling self-publishing services. It probably has to do with the amount of money involved, as the average client spends about $5000.

Of course it's money. LOTS of money. That's the ONLY reason anyone would do this kind of thing.
I've said this before, I'll say it again now: this kind of business is a morally bankrupt way to earn money, and publishers should be ashamed of themselves for being involved with this kind of place.

Laina wondered:
Hmm. Ellora's Cave, maybe?

for those of you not familiar with this, Ellora's Cave is a publisher with financial woes. This isn't news since many small publishers have financial travails.  The problem is how they handled them, and then, when a blogger reported about how they handled them, turned around and sued the blogger.

This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that would make me not want to do business with a publisher. It's not the money woes, it's the IDIOCY of suing someone for reporting on what's essentially public knowledge.  That kind of idiocy is something to avoid when at all possible.

As it turns out, the person who posed the question wrote to me later to say:
"I was amused and slightly horrified by the speculation. My concern is indeed about a publisher owning a 'service provider' such as Author Solutions. Being vague was an attempt at discretion."

Clearly I need to get out more cause I missed seeing these, and honestly, I count this a very serious loss, brianrschwarz:
Except for that one publisher who posted all those billboards with me in my underwear and the sound bubble that said "Go to college. Don't be a Brian. Carkoon University is now accepting MFA applications."

You'll notice brian does not mention locating of said underwear, or whether socks are involved. 

On Tuesday the talk turned to concerns about the business practices of the agency where an agent works.

Dena made a very good point:
Where are you obtaining this information? If it wasn't at a local chapter meeting, private email or text message, or on the telephone, I'd definitely consider the source. It's one thing to post on Query Tracker “this agent took 6 months to reject my query.” It's quite another, at least in my opinion, to talk about your former agent indiscriminately and/or in a public forum over the internet. It doesn't strike me as professional, and I'm sure agents talk amongst themselves, just like lawyers do. I would venture a guess that those writers would find it difficult to secure future representation. And I assume you don't want to be in those same shoes.

Dena is 100% correct that agents see or hear about these posts/discussions etc and talk about them. There is no such thing as a private discussion board.

There are some conversations I have with editors that are never reduced to email or paper. Some that I won't even have on the telephone.  It's no so much that they are top-secret as I just don't want the information repeated. 

And Dena's link was one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen.

Ardenwolfe also had a good point about sources of information:
This question reminded me of a certain lawyer/literary agent who got a lot of negative attention some time ago.

I'll be honest: I marked him as a 'do not query' . . . ever . . . after I read some of the comments and listings.

Honestly? It depends on your source. If it's random gossip? Take it for what it's worth.

But if you read it on sites like Writer Beware? Consider it more carefully.

Sour grapes are one thing. But you know what they say about smoke? Research, research, research your potential agent or publisher first. That way, you don't have to bring on an extinguisher later.

RobCeres said:
Before I sign with an agent I will ask her for references, which, I hope, she will be delighted to provide. When I call those references I hope they will tell me what a wonderful job she did for their book. And once I've signed a publishing contract, I hope I will tell her that she can use me as a reference, and I hope I am a good enough client that she does
When prospective clients talk to me, I do urge them to get in touch with clients, ANY of the clients, they get to choose.  If one is unhappy with me that day/week, oops, my loss.  I'm always leery of agents who say "ask these three" because I wonder what four, five and six would say.

And of course, you're not going to CALL, you're going to email. I'm sure you knew that, right?

Amanda Capper asked
How does one join the Imperial Stormtroopers Ladies Aid Society? Does one have to be invited, or is it open to the critters? Because, due to my mother's rigid how-to-behave-as-a-proper-young-lady upbringing (bless her heart), I should be a shoo in.

And Theresa said:
I, too, would like to sign up for the Imperial Storm Troopers Ladies Aid Society. I adore the alternate reality vibe from this blog.

It's membership by summons I think.

On Wednesday the question was what constitutes a "short synopsis" and the answer included some comments on the art of revising.

Susan Bonifant asked:
I feel slow saying this, but I am not getting how a 250 word "brief synopsis" is different from the query.

A query will have more style to it than a synopsis.
A synopsis will include the ending of the book.
The entire query is 250 words or so. That means about 200 to entice to reader to go on to the pages below.
The synopsis is NOT intended to be enticing. The purpose is to be expository: here's the plot skeleton of the book.

I'm stealing this from Colin Smith as my new description of synopsis (nee the spawn of Satan)
Beelzebub's underpants. 

Although Jenz's link later on to Miss Congeniality has a LOT of potential as well.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli asked:
I have a question. I see that Harry Potter lives with his wretched cousins. Not lived.

Does the synopsis tense need to be parallel with the m/s tense?

Synopses (plural of The Dreaded Synopsis) can be whatever tense works best. Often it's the present tense. 

paz y puente got the example sentence whittled down even further:
Thank you for the Harry Potter example. It was very helpful. Hm...looking at it again, I think this could have gone one step further. It seems it can be just 6 words! "Harry lives with his wretched cousins." After all, does his last name really matter? His first name conveys that he's a male and "boy," as you said, that he is not an adult! SIX words! ;)

and of course, most of the comments were hilariously off-topic, this time running with the underpants footnote at the bottom of the blog post.

I had to agree with what  Christina Seine said:
What jolly comments today! All I have to say is that I hope Janet uses the word "underpants" in her next flash fiction contest. ;D

On Thursday the question was the advisability of putting a link to a published piece revealing the key moment in a book in the query.

Carolynnwith2Ns had a question:
Out of this question another looms in my mind. Is it ever wise to even mention you had your manuscript professionally edited. If it's a plus, doesn't that leave us woodland creatures with less nuts, at a distinct disadvantage?

Do not include whether the ms has been professionally edited. I don't care. I only care about results. I HOPE that if you did use an independent editor, you learned a lot, and will be able to employ that knowledge on the next book yourself.

That said, I do know a lot more authors are using independent editors even when they have editors and contracts at publishing houses (ie they are not self-pubbing)

Lisa Bodenheim asked:
My question is: If this writer has their crisis moment printed in a magazine, does that influence an agent's decision of whether or not to take on this manuscript? Won't the writer need to let the agent know about copyrights for that piece of the writing?

And Dena Pawling echoed:
But then I'd be concerned an agent wouldn't want to rep it because there might be some rights issues with a portion already having been published.

Having a piece from the book published first is a plus. You'd list it in the query as a publication credit like this.

A portion of this book has appeared in GotGrants Literary Review (April:2015) 

Copyright is NOT an issue. The writer retains copyright for the piece excerpted in  the magazine, and can license it to the publisher without worry.  The warranties and indemnities clause of the book publication deal requires that the book not be previously published, but that means the entire book, not an excerpt.

Jennifer R. Donohue had this to say about my comment on a women's fiction writer getting "the go-ahead" from a writer for Rolling Stone:

But sometimes there's that dark night of the soul where rejections are everywhere and nothing is good enough where you normally look, and that bit of any source faint praise is a lifeline.

On Friday the question was whether an agent would be worried if s/he found out it took the querier 5+ years to write the novel being queried.

Beth wrote (and several more of you also agreed with her) that having a deadline helped get the work finished:

 I personally find it easier to work for something when I have an actual deadline. Right now, I'm writing with the goal of eventually being published. I don't have a true deadline. Sure, I can make a self-imposed deadline, but since there are no real stakes, who cares?

I loved what Elissa M said:
One of the questions artists are asked all the time is, "How long did it take you to paint that?" The correct answer is, "All my life."

I liked the link that bjmuntain provided on close vs distant3rd POV:

I really loved this from Carolynnwith2NNs

Speaking of first novels, we were, weren't we, anyway...

I wrote my first exactly ten years ago. September actually. I know that because it was the most stressful period of my life, new job, kid off to college for the first time, father dying, mother desperate, blah, blah, blah. I had my MC, drop everything, jump in her car and head west. I won't go into all the gory details but it wasn't until I started a second novel, I realized the first book had been my savior. I wrote what I wanted to do...leave all the BS and heartbreak behind. The book will never be published but at that time, that book not only changed my life, it saved my life.
I will always consider it my greatest writing accomplishment.

Karen McCoy asked:
And Beth's comment brought me to a question about deadlines. Probably very cart before the horse, but I'm wondering about tight deadlines from editors.

I've heard a few stories of authors having anywhere from three days to two weeks to turn around an entire novel--authors that also have full-time day jobs. And I got a small taste of this when I wrote an article for School Library Journal, and the turnaround was so quick that I ended up pulling an all-nighter.

Like most woodland creatures, I'm not afraid of hard work...but I also want to ensure that I'm putting out my best work.

So is it typical for agents to stand behind authors when they ask for extensions? Or is this scenario not as sticky as I think it is?

I think what you're talking about here is turning around copy-edits. Under no circumstances can I image a publisher requiring an entire novel in three days or two weeks!

Copy edits ARE on a tight schedule because it's the production pipeline, not editorial schedule. As long as you're only on the editorial schedule, you've got some flexibility. I've had to move books from Spring to Summer; colleagues have had to move books from one year to the next.  This happens with both fiction and non-fiction.

Once you're in the production pipeline though, it's assumed the book is ready to be published and there isn't  a lot of room for flexibility absent the most dire of circumstances.  There are a lot of reasons for this including getting time at the printer, the publication of the catalog, the production/distribution of the review copies etc.

Copy edits are part of production. The author gets the manuscript back from the copy editor and generally has ten days to two weeks to review the suggested changes.  Stet or agree, that's about it. There's some room for minor changes if needed (like changing the word panties to underpants--something that the copy editor would not have suggested but the author feels conveys the right tone)

If you mean the publication schedule, that's covered in the contract BUT it's flexible for the most part. The key is a good relationship with the editor and LOTS of advance notice. It's a whole lot easier to negotiate an extension in January  for a book due in July, than it is in June.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli gave voice one of the great writer angsts:
Often I consider how long it takes a writer to produce a polished manuscript. Then query, revise upon further request.

By the time the work is published, thanks to the team, years go by.

Then the book is read in a matter of hours, or days at best. It's crazy. Years of work for a few hours of entertainment.

Then books sit on a shelf, collect dust, are inherited and in some places banned and burned.

To fret or not to fret, this is the question.

bjmuntain's reply was lovely:

Ah, but Angie. That's just for one reader. Multiply that time by a thousand readers. Ten thousand. A hundred thousand... All those years of work go into entertaining people for years.

Not to mention, there's a very good chance that, while the book may sit on a shelf for years, it's also sitting in the reader's mind. There's that character that just won't go away. There's a couple lines that seem to fit daily occasions. And then, the book is re-read. The connections become clearer. The book becomes more entrenched in the reader's life.

A book is so much more than a few hours of entertainment.

And that exchange is just one of the many MANY reasons I think the comments section is the very best part of this blog.

On Saturday the question was from someone trying to help a writer who lives in Poland but writes in English, and who had decided to publish her book herself.

Several of you seemed to think I was disparaging self-publishing. In a way, I probably am, simply because I see a significant increase in queries these days that start out with "I self-published this and now I want a traditional publisher, cause I hate to market/publicize/etc." 

The people I see who've self published are by and large very unhappy with their experience. I'm sure there are people who are happy self-pubbing (W.R. Gingell seems to be one of them who is) but my query queue is populated with people who aren't.

I think querying is the logical first step if you have a novel you want people to read.  What happens AFTER you query is then up to you.  

Colin Smith is angling for a furlough from Carkoon. He might just get it since he's a Gary Corby fan:
I, too, agree with Janet. Both because she's correct, and because summer's about to start here on Carkoon (yukk) and I'm hoping she'll give me leave to visit Amy in Paradise. :)

And on a completely different yet very important note, Gary Corby's latest Athenian Mystery, DEATH EX MACHINA, comes out on Tuesday. Of course, I have my copy on pre-order. :D

brianrschwarz has the new blog subtitle this week with:

Now I'm a writer. I create and destroy worlds.

Have a great week. 


Anonymous said...

Winter is just about to start here in Australia. Urk.

On the bright side, First Comment! Whoot!

Anonymous said...

As for loving self-publishing- well, yeah. I really do. But I'm aware that there are other ways to do it, and that there are some things a big publisher will offer that will always be out of my hands. Trad publishing was what I started out wanting. My wants and decisions changed as I learned more about publishing, and what I really wanted from the experience.

That's not to say I wouldn't accept a deal from a publisher (a la E.L. James :D) but it would have to be a pretty good offer to seem better to me than what I've already got. Maybe I'm deluded. But it's a happy delusion.

Besides, unless I sell in the sort of bulk lot that E.L. James sells, it's unlikely that I'll ever get an offer from a publisher.

I do still occasionally send out short stories for publication, but the pace there is even more glacial than for novels . . .

One of the things I love best about self-publishing?

I get to set my own timeframes. And deadlines too, for when I need to push myself.

I certainly wouldn't want to be thought to be disparaging those who are going the traditional route. It's a very good, very sensible way to go. It used to be the only way to go. It's just not the way I want to go.

Anonymous said...

Great week in review and it was an interesting week. As always, it gave us a lot to think about both in the posts and the comments.

Amanda Capper said...

A summons!?!! Not sure what this says about me but I find the prospect of a summons oddly titillating.

I shall now go sit by the mailbox.

Susan Bonifant said...

Congratulations, Brian Schwarz! Here's the crown, have fun!

LynnRodz said...

Thanks, Janet, another great WIR where I've learned something. I thought having a portion of your book published in a magazine would cause more problems than not. Good to know it would be considered a plus. Not that I'm ready to send a piece to the Carkoon Chronicle anytime soon, but it's good to know.

Congrats, BS!

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Wonderful Week in Review. What a thrill to be mentioned twice. Great writer angst, how well put.

Twice I found my paintings collecting dust at flea markets and a friend found one at the Goodwill.

Congrats Brian, you made it to the top.

BJ, Since your comment re mine I've thought of many books that still live in my head. QOTKU's writing and blog live in my head.

Thank you, Janet for the details about Publish America and the link to the Feb 2010 post. I didn't know about them or the scam. I remember some of those commenters names from 2010, Josin in particular.

I missed seeing Colin this week.

Donnaeve said...

Way to go BS! I mean Brian Schawrz!

(that was a really good line)

Now my Sunday is complete. Reading the WIR has become a part of my steadfast Sunday morning routine.

Sipping on coffee, I take my laptop and the Sunday paper outside to the side porch. I read the Raleigh N&O Arts & Living section which not only features local authors who've published, it also discusses a variety of books doing well, or coming out, gives the Top Ten list and finally, highlights one area book club.

I then savor the WIR..., as in I save the best for last.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Dena Pawling said...

“It's a holdover from when New York was close to unbearable in the summer, and people fled for country homes, and beach house shares on the weekend.”

Are you referring to the days before air conditioning, or is NY more bearable in the summers now?

And my parents are from CT. I've always heard people moved south to Florida for the winter [and one of my uncles actually moved to Florida permanently]. I've never heard that people move north to Maine for the summer. But this does beg the question – why do people live in NY at all, if they'd just rather be somewhere else?

And I'm mentioned TWICE in the WiR! Three times if you count the link separately. My week is complete. =)

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at Brian's world destroyer comment.

Something similar is on my twitter bio. God maker, world destroyer. AKA epic fantasy writer.

And now I'm off to buy the Hobbit movies because I need mood enhancers. It's not enough to kill off half your favorite characters. You need to kill them with feeling.

french sojourn said...

Wow, I get so inspired by your weekly reviews and the work that you pt into them. Congrats to you and all the contributors.

I have been remiss, but I do read them. Thanks for all that you do to better us.

Cheers Hank.

I'm not a robot...I'm not a robot.

Flowers McGrath said...

Yay! All that's fun and good in one awesome blog post!
As usual, didn't get to read every comment this week and was floundering around with underpants, "I mean, like where the heck..." But i had faith in the WIR. Never fails to clear up the whole rambling glory of this blog-planes comment dimension.

Pharosian said...

"For those of you who aren't familiar with a lovely publishing tradition "Summer Fridays" begin the Friday after Labor Day. This year that's Friday May 29th."

Oops! That should be the Friday after Memorial Day.

Flowers McGrath said...

Hey Dena.
you live in New York City because when it is working for you, there's nothing that can rival it. It's just an amazingly powerful awesome place of extremes. Every time I hop on the L train and leave my hipster cave of a neighborhood and end up somewhere in Manhattan, my whole world view expands. And I have lived in all kinds of other scenarios, Including Los angeles, the deep country, small towns, even outside the U.S. Nyc is not perfect, but it's not trying to be. It is what it is, and it's unlike anyplace else.
I am sure Janet has her own reasons. The challenges I feel here, are intense, but I don't want to give up on it because it's got something I need. 😀

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Love the WIR.
You're all invited to my summer home in Maine. Damn, we sold it, but you're invited anyway.

Thanks for the mentions, I am humbled.
Here’s a short synopsis of my personal WIR.

Sunday - We’re all a bunch of mothers.
Monday - Give me a title page and I’m yours.
Tuesday - Want my title page and I’m yours.
Wednesday - She left, she arrived, she discovered, she changed, the end.
Thursday - How not to link 101.
Friday - How long, who cares, Nike.
Saturday - fasola limenska

From Susan, to creator and destroyer Captain BS, the crown is passed. I bow in admiration.

Jenz said...

I met a couple of self-publishers at a small event some time ago. When they found out I planned to try the traditional route, they laughed. "A publisher won't do anything for you! They just take a cut of your profits!" I think they actually believed it.

Hasn't everyone here had that question lobbed at them: Why don't you just self-publish? I heard that's the big thing now!

reCaptcha is convincing me that I must be robot. After all, I don't recall ever having harmed a human being, or through inaction allowing one to come to harm (that's just my programmed memories, of course).

Lizzie said...

I love BJ's comment about books lingering in memories.

On an unrelated and random note, does anyone have experience going to a writer's cabin? A weekend in the woods has me daydreaming about one. Does anyone here go to one to do work? I have a feeling it's something writers just fantasize about, but there must be someone on the blog, or in Carkoon, who has finished a novel with a fire going, a view of pine trees from a picture window.

Thanks for the WIR, Janet.

Dena Pawling said...

I wouldn't get anything done if I spent a weekend in a cabin in the woods. Too peaceful, plus I'd be itching to go hiking. Maybe I could use that for brainstorming and research tho.

But your comment made me think Misery meets Cabin in the Woods, which I'm sure was not your intent. Nor does it sound conducive to a productive writing experience.......

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Lizzie, I live in the Connecticut woods with pine trees, a fireplace and peacefulness. I have indoor plumbing and power and although I'd say my house is considerably larger and fancier than a Lincoln Log with a privy out back, it is an awesome and wonderful place to write.
Wanna buy it?
We're downsizing.

It would make a great retreat and summer home for a big-ass NYC agent too. And, we're half-way between NYC and Boston and we're only a mile, as the seagull flies, from Long Island Sound. I only mention our proximity to the briny deep in case one one needs to hydrate ones sleek-skinned fin.

But seriously folks, regarding the whole "writing cabin" thing, I have two words for ya, "FUNNY FARM". Watch it.

Anonymous said...


My dad lived in Lincoln, MT. I'd go up there sometimes. He had a gold mine up in the mountains and I'd go pan gold and sort through 150 years of leavings then write at night. If I ever get money, I'll retreat to Lincoln in the summers and be a hermit, lease a plot to pan gold, write, drink beer and shoot pool with the locals.

The only drawback is you really do need to carry a gun with you because occasionally there are animal attacks and that kind of messes up the zen when a bear's trying to eat your face.

When the crew does writer retreats we usually rent a big house on Myrtle Beach though the last one was a cabin in NC. We rented a cabin in Evergreen, CO after the Denver conference that had a heated lap pool and a tennis court. The tennis court was the best part because a fox would come play with a tennis ball in the mornings and we'd watch him.

Colin Smith said...

Another wonderful WiR! Congratulations, Brian--subtitle of the week! :)

Thanks again for those who expressed well-wishes for my wife. I won't go into the whole story of what happened to her here (maybe I'll bless those at Bouchercon with the details), but suffice to say it had to do with pushing an 8,000 lb vehicle leading to the discovery of a blocked branch artery which led to five nights in hospital as they figured out how to treat it. All is well now, but it was quite an experience. I could do with fewer weeks like that, but I'm not complaining. Many people--some even in this very Tank--have gone through things much worse, and more regularly. We've had a trial, but we're still blessed. Now I just need to find a new engine for the car!

And you're welcome to Beelzebub's underpants, Janet! No, wait, let me rephrase that. You are very welcome to use the phrase "Beelzebub's Underpants" as a description of the synopsis, Janet. There, that's better. :)

Though I was thinking it would be a great name for a new column in the Carkoon Chronicle...

Angie: Thank you! I hated not having as much time to hang with you guys this past week. Not just because of my wife's situation, but also because of work. Frankly, I thought you'd all be relieved not to have my babble filling up the comment column. Hopefully next week I'll be able to chat more. :)

Writing retreats? I don't know. As I've aged, I seem to have developed a deeper appreciation for things like sunlight and the outdoors. The thought of a writing retreat never appealed much to me. Now? I'm not so sure.

Janet--I presume you spoke of the rest of the publishing industry when you described "Summer Fridays" and this tradition of moving to somewhere other than NY for the summer? I'm sure it would take more than a change of season to get you to leave. :)

Jed Cullan said...

A great week in review, again. It's not just the blog posts that make this an awesome blog, it's the comments from all the posters.

Donnaeve is great at giving advice, and she's right of course, and very kind. But, she's way too good at motivational phrases. So, not sure we need to encourage her even more. Just saying. :-)

And because The Sharky is going to nick that phrase, I'm going to send her a picture book query that'll blow her mind. Or, at least annoy the carping carp out of her for sending her something she doesn't represent. Giggle-Giggle-Jiggle-And-Tickle.

Colin Smith said...

Jed: I've thought about querying Janet my YA novel. After being sent to Carkoon, what's a form rejection? ;)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, I missed your babble this week. Glad you're on your way back.
BTW if you need a columnist for Beelzebub's (or is it Beezlebub's) Underpants, for the Carkoon Chronicle, I actually have experience. Not just in writing, but in underpants too.

My first job, back when Jesus was a boy, I worked for a discount department store in Men's Haberdashery. (Insiders called it habo). As an eighteen year old I loved telling all my friends and family that my job was working in men's underwear.

Anonymous said...


I wouldn't do them with people I don't know, but we do them with the posse. These are very talented writers who all get along well.

We'll sit down at times and shares lessons someone has learned and discuss how to apply it to our writing or apply it to scenes. Other times we just amble off and write.

In MB three of us were curled up on couches writing and one writer who is an award winning romance author tapped her chin and said, "I just put my heroine in a whore house and now I'm devising ways to torture her. I wonder why no one invites me to polite dinner parties." She's a master of good dialogue, so we'll sit down and brainstorm dialogue techniques.

Another is very good at conflict, so she works with us on that.

It's like tiny workshops.

One night I was balled up in a corner writing and thought, "Hmm, someone is playing show tunes music on the beach." It was one of the crew out on the balcony singing in the twilight. It was magical.

When you find the right group, magic happens.

This was the same group that captured a group of knights after a Medieval Times performance, so it's not always magic. Sometimes it's...odd.

Anonymous said...

Holy cats! Thank you Janet for quoting me in the headline!

In Carkoon, that counts as a publishing credit, so I'll be sure to start including that in my weekly queries for my latest novel ideas! ;)

And thank you everyone for the props and crown passing! :)

Fantastic week in review!

I'm still curious as to Janet's take on the author/agent relationship, but she may be avoiding commenting precisely because she has an opinion and refrains from giving said opinion on colleagues.

This community and this blog are flat out inspiring. Pretty easy to keep up with this whole thing we call writing when I feel surrounded by wonderful people like you all! :)

And my recaptcha was "sandwiches" but they had literally zero sandwiches, and two hamburgers... which apparently qualify as sandwiches.

Anonymous said...


I think agent author relationships are as varied as marriages. Some are very amiable and hands on, not in a "come here, baby," but the agent takes a pretty active role in the author's work. Others are this is strictly business, no kissing.

A friend who is published just parted ways with her agent because there was no communication. zilch. Friend had to hire an editor, because the agent wouldn't say anything other than this isn't ready to submit to editors, but no clue what was off.

The agent is successful, the agent's clients love said agent and for them it works. It just didn't work for this author who needed a bit more guidance.

I think that's where the communication up front comes in to find out what you need in an agent and what they offer. Thank God there are no arranged marriages in publishing.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Your intimate acquaintance with men's intimates more than qualifies you for Beelzebub's Underpants. Okay, I need to rephrase that... perhaps? Maybe not. ;)

Julie: That sounds appealing, but you're right. You really need the right group of writers to make such a retreat work. In theory I could imagine a bunch of us Shark Tank-ers getting along like that. But you never really know until you meet people IRL. And for some of us, relationships like that time a long time to develop. I wouldn't rule out a retreat though. It could be a lot of fun.

brian: Publishing credit indeed! Any commendation like that from QOTKU makes you royalty on Carkoon. I keep trying to tell people here that Janet has said some nice things about me before, but they just snort and jeer, "When was the last time she quoted you on the sub-header, eh?" So I just shrug my shoulders and get on with ironing the Great Despot's underpants.

Anonymous said...

"Now I'm a writer. I create and destroy worlds."--blog reader Brian R. Schwarz

Yup. Ain't it great? :)

I'm glad folks liked my comment on how books are more than just a few hours of entertainment. I firmly believe it. And that's why I write.

Colin, I'm glad your wife is doing well. Times like that can be scary, and while we missed you, your wife is far more important than we are. And don't degrade your experience: Just because others go through rough times doesn't mean your times aren't just as rough.

Megan Sayer said...

I'm really sorry. I'm really REALLY sorry...but I feel compelled to say something, and I haven't even got past reading the first line yet.


The reason Carolynnwith2NN writes her handle like that is because...umm...her name actually has TWO N's.

Thank you. *hops off soapbox now to continue reading WIR*.

With kind regards from someone who hates having her name spelled wrongly.

Donnaeve said...

Okay, b/c of Megan's "soapbox," I had to back up to see what I missed. But. I don't think I missed anything - did I? About 2N's? I.e. C.A.R.O.L.Y.N.N.? Um Yep. 2N's there. Am I the only one cornfused?

Jed - hey, I just like the visual of people sitting around with pants or, underpants, on their heads. As long as it's NOT pantIES. Ick. As to doling out advice? IDK. Makes me think of Lucy in the Peanuts cartoons. That'll be five cents.

Megan Sayer said...

Sorry Donna, back up to the very first line of the post:

Last week's Week in Review was also the Sunday when Mother's Day sweeps the land.

I think Carolynwith2Ns had the perfect summation.

Am I picky? YES. Hence the wild apology. Do I have better things to do? YES!!

and...oh gosh, I just read Janet's comment moderation thingy on the comment page. Oh. Oh whatever.
I just felt bad for Carolynn's other N.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Megan Sayer, thank you, thank you, thank you. I noticed it right off but I'm so used to it being spelled wrong, even when I say it has 2Ns, that I thought I'd let it go.
Also, I didn't say anything because Janet scares the shit out of me.

Your check is in the mail.

Anonymous said...

Lol at Brian- Yes. Yes, that is a publication credit. Go for it! Mention that sucker in every query letter you write. Those agents are gonna LOVE it!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OMG, Megan stood up for me and I replied with the word "shit" (there I said it again)and she's a Christian writer. Do Christian writer's say S***? (See what I did there) but I implied the bad word.
Okay, how about, Janet scares the poop out of me. I would have said crap but I hate the word crap.

I'm going to shut up now.

Megan Sayer said...

HAHAHAHA!! Oh Carolynnn! (See what I did there? I made a contribution to the Missing N fund, for the future!) Oh dear.
Two things:
1) I didn't notice :)
2) Although I'm a Christian, and a writer, the whole "Christian writer" thing is a completely separate ballgame...and NOT my ballgame. So although I told my youngest son of severely yesterday for saying the s word my own WIP has much worse language, because 2a) I'm Australian and writing for regular old swearing-is-pretty-much-like-breathing Aussies and 2b) I completely forget where I was going with this.

But thanks for brightening my Monday Morning! Happy to keep paying some NN's forward, for when you need them :)

And a big shout-out to W.R. Gingell...HELLO!!! COME BACK TO YOUR OLD WORK, I MISS YOU!

Megan Sayer said...

GACK! I told my youngest son *OFF* severely yesterday.

Sorry. Proofreading. Yeah. Not my thing.

Colin Smith said...

You can tell I avoid the whole issue with 2Ns name by calling her 2Ns. One day I'll forget what the rest of her name is and I'll have to train myself to call her 2Nswith1Caroly. :)

DLM said...

Brian - congratulations and felicitations!

Colin, my lack of reading here lately had me sketchy on what was up with your wife. I'm glad to hear y'all are well.

Gossamer the Editor Cat is apparently in hiding just at the moment, but Penelope is sitting here by my feet, looking up at me with her giant brown eyes, ears quivering. Maybe I should let *her* participate here for me. She's wagging her tail. I think she's up for it.


Colin Smith said...

Diane: Don't worry, I was in your world last week--not commenting much because of the day job. That and my wife being in hospital kept my conversation to a minimum, so you really didn't miss much. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

COLIN, yes I am shouting, YOU CRACKED ME UP !!!
Now I'll need a new blog,

Hahaha, you and Megan made my day man.

Lizzie said...

Carolynn: ha ha. I wish I could buy your house. It sounds lovely.

A writing retreat in the mountains is a very good idea. Any takers in the LA area?

Lilac Shoshani said...

Lizzie, LA area? I'm in! ;-)

Colin, I'm so glad that all is well with your wife. :-)))

Carolynn, I loved what you wrote about mothers. It's awesome. I want everybody to read it.

What a great WIR! It always feels like the best party here.

Lizzie said...

Lilac: Fun! Yes!

Janet Reid said...

Youse guyz need an ocular exam. There's no stinkin' typo on Carolynn's name. Not on one, not on two, not even on three.


I JUST looked.



*drapes Colin's underpants over edit key*

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

And I thought only snakes were sneaky :)

W.R. Gingell said...

I was there this morning, Megan :D Not to work, but to smirk that I wasn't at work :D My old workers wanted to leave with me, but I was on an antiques shopping trip for me Ma, so we needed all the space in the tray of the ute (that's 'the bed of the pickup' for those of you who are American ;) )

Karen McCoy said...

Very late to the party...but thanks for the mention and the thorough and well-thought out answer to my question!

And I'd vote for a sabbatical away from Carkoon for Colin.

Karen McCoy said...

(Especially since his underpants are held for ransom over the keyboard). That comment had me in stitches!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I do love the blog tag line. Very appropriate.

Two nods this week? I'm tickled, thank you! (right now the dog is Ball of Dog, and very confused that we humans just took a late night run to the grocery store without expressly getting her anything).

One of these days (....years...) I'll have a home down the Shore (in New Jersey. Please don't believe that goddamn show) and we can have a Reef Writing Retreat! Bagels and pork roll all around!

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

@ Lizzie - I don't have a writer's cabin, but today I took a hard copy of an excerpt from my book with me on my walk to the dyke/slough. I sat on a bench, overlooking the water and the mountains, and the eagles and even came across another bear! On the path, at 4pm in the afternoon!

@ Colin - Glad to hear your wife is doing well, and I always enjoy reading your "babbles." Regarding your potential forgetfulness - i can relate. Last night I asked a friend if she'd been to a particular restaurant. Doh! I drove her there a week ago! Oh well, that's what happens when you start drinking wine at noon - you know, long weekend and all (in Canada).

@ CarolyNNNNNNNNNNNNNN - Loved what you said about your first novel saving you; beautiful. (Just banking some extra N's in case I forget in the future. My memory's a delicate, failing thing - more Gingko Biloba!)

AJ Blythe said...

Loved, loved, LOVED WiR this week. Especially as I had little chance to read the posts each day.

Have just meandered through all the comments. You guys had me in stitches.

In a really good mood now, so will go and study before it passes.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I love the WIR like fire.

Weird stuff put me back into lurker mode, but I know I can hit the WIR and have all the info and entertainment delivered to me.

Thanks again! Terri