Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Week in Review May 24, 2015

In last Sunday's WIR Dena Pawling picked up on my comment that summers in NYC used to be unbearable. She said
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?

Well, we don't want to be someplace else! We just like visiting someplace else in August. And yes, it used to be close on unbearable here. For starters, the subways were not air conditioned.  Men used to ride to work in their undershirts, keeping their dress shirts on hangars to put on once they reached the office.

I myself did not witness this, but one of the MANY great things about having the late (dearly, sorely missed) Richard Gilbert for a client, is that I heard many of his stories of mid-last century New York. I loved hearing them. As a devoted devout New Yorker, who would live no place else, they were like hearing old family stories.  

Richard Gilbert's memoir of the advertising biz is still in print through Diversion Books. I love this book with a passion.

And this from Colin Smith about the source of Mrs. Smith's recent hospital stay:
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
Just begs for a flash fiction contest, doesn't it?

CarolynnWith2Ns had a great turn of phrase:
My first job, back when Jesus was a boy

If you're a devoted Gone With the Wind fan, you'll know that Scarlett's dad used  a wonderful oath: God's nightgown!   Well, now, thanks to Colin Smith, I have a new one: Great Despot's underpants.

 I called this out as the bunk that it is.

Susan Bonifant said
Comments that suggest what "writers should know" just leave us wondering what else we're supposed to know but don't.

Given I'm at nearly THREE THOUSAND posts on this blog, not counting QueryShark, not counting That.Earlier.Blog, if there's anything left you don't know, I'd be hard pressed to imagine what it is.

On the other hand, there will be five new blog posts this coming week, so I guess there are new ways youze guyz twist yourselves into knots no matter how fast I write!

Colin Smith let slip there's an Annual Buttonweezer Family Pig Pickin' and Swamp Diving celebration, but neglected to tell us all WHEN, so we could join in the fun. You can see why he's still on Carkoon, can't you?

And this was a VERY interesting bit of information from brianrschwarz (who is soaking wet I see)
To the Holiday comments, so far my most successful queries (statistically which ones have garnered partial/full requests) have been between November 1st and December 31st. So I think Janet is on to something here.

I think Christina Seine has the title for that book y'all keep wanting me to write: NEVER query during a zombie apocalypse.

Karen McCoy wondered:
this is a relief, as I've heard people say things like, "Don't query right after NaNo, because that's when every Buttonweezer is submitting their first-draft manuscript." But like any assumption, it's probably theoretical.

The number of queries I get does not spike after NaNoWrMo.  I've watched this for a couple years now, cause I'd also heard about people finishing on 11/30 and sending to agents on 12/1. So far, an urban legend.

Regular blog reader/commenter LynnRodz had a lovely hospital sojourn with a panic attack. Let's all give her stern looks and remind her NOT to do that again. (Panic attacks feel like heart attacks. They're NOT fun)

And it turns out that some of the exiles in Carkoon may be trying to wend their way back home, sub rosa. 
kdjames told us:
I actually came over here to tell you all that I've got a guy coming over tomorrow afternoon to evict Woodland Creatures from my attic. I haven't seen them, but the heavy thumping noises make me suspect they're not squirrels. I'm guessing raccoons. Or fellow commenters. So, fair warning. Get out while you still can. And next time, ring the doorbell. I won't answer, of course, but I won't have you forcibly removed either.
to which Colin Smith replied:
kd: I can just imagine the guy going up to your attic and finding pieces of paper with lists of dates "When Not To Query" tacked to the walls... :)

JEN Garrett said something interesting:
I'll never query Janet with my current manuscript (which is ready) because I found out Janet doesn't rep PBs. I still think she'd love one of my novels, but I need to find an agent that reps ALL my work.

Since I don't know what PBs are, I'm going to assume JEN is right that I don't rep them/it/those.  Peanut Butter? Paranormal Bats? Police Blotters? Pantie Brigade? 

Someone, help here!

On Wednesday, I ranted about a new BAD format I'm seeing in query letters. I may have gotten a bit testy.

Brandi M contributed some good info on why people might be doing this:
This is a standard format for many query contests, and I wonder if those committing such a crime are using the contests entries as a how-to guide. If so, they aren't following the other rule most contests put forward. Always check the agent's submission guidelines before sending material.

Lynn Rodz pointed out:
I heard the snarl, but there are some really big tip-top agents who want to know why you've chosen to query them before you tell them about your novel. And some of them want the housekeeping done first before you entice them with dinner. 

Here's why that's a terrible thing to ask writers to do: Many of you get the category wrong. And you (oh so many times!) have NO clue that category is one thing not seven.

I think when you put the category at the top of the query it gives agents a VERY easy reason to click NO or click bypass.

IF on the other hand you've got a good story they're more invested. AND if you've got a good story, and you also got the category wrong (this isn't urban fantasy, it's an apocalyptic thriller!) you've got a better chance of surviving to a request.

I know I tell you to follow the directions, but in this one case, I think you're MUCH better off doing it my way.  I don't think any agent rejects you for putting housekeeping in the last paragraph but we've ALL seen dozens of agents on Twitter say "sf, not for me, reject"

Later down the comment trail, I shrieked AHA! when Dena Pawling said:
In my trawling out and about the Internet, the reason I've seen given by agents who want title, genre, and word count up front is so they can quickly reject if it's not worth their time because they don't rep that genre or the manuscript is way too short or too long. It saves them time. Some of them say they'll skim the query if that info isn't first, so they read it first even if you put it last.


Jenny C makes a good point:
But seriously. If I were an agent, and I represented everything from Middle Grade to a variety of adult genres I would definitely want to know what sort of book I was reading about before I read the first line of a query.
If I can't tell what kind of book this is by how you write, we've got a bigger problem than where you put the housekeeping info.

I DO like to have an idea at the end of the query just in case what I thought was a middle grade adventure story turns out to be a memoir of your honeymoon, but generally the story should show me enough info for me to make a pretty good guess.

And yes, I've gotten queries that didn't have much detail about category including whether it was fiction or not, and that was supremely confusing.

I didn't think it was a good idea.

Kitty asked:
QUESTION: Where to you find your beta readers? And how to you choose them? I would think you'd nix your friends and family for this job. (At least I would.)

Amanda Capper said:
I found my beta readers at the local library. They have a mystery reader group and they were actually flattered I wanted their opinion on my writing. Could they be brutal? they asked. By all means, I answered.

But they weren't. Older ladies for the most part, and sharp. Picky about grammar, not really sure about POV's, but dead on about content.

Lisa Bodenheim said:
Kitty: I found my crit partners and beta readers online through blogs I follow.

I don't use family and friends. Not yet. I'll ask them once my novel is past the worst of its revisions and is ready to be read as a whole rather than chapter by chapter or section by section.

And that odd sound you hear is me weeping with envy at this from Jenz:
I have nothing relevant to add, except that I get to go see the GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE--Casablanca--at the historic Paramount Theater in Austin on Friday. You should all be jealous.

And just a housekeeping note: a whole raft of comments got deleted cause they were about the spam comment that slipped by during the day.  I try to keep the comments column pretty tidy, so if you comment on spam comments, you're most likely going to have that comment deleted when I find it.  Don't be offended, I just don't like to leave spam there.

On Thursday I asked if it was possible to wring the life out of a manuscript with critiques? The consensus is Yup, it is.

I really liked this insight from Craig:
If you paint in something like watercolor you know when to quit on a painting that isn't quite there. The colors get muddy. When that happens the more you screw with it the worse it gets.

I also liked what DeadSpiderEye said about online critiques, particularly that "people who're serious about trying to offer help are explicit"

My experience of on-line critique is limited, I gave it up as a waste of time and effort, after bumping into the resident queen bee. Trouble was he (I think it was a he) had absolute assurance in his own insight and unfortunately, his literary skill, examples of which I persistently flooded the board with.

What I did learn, is that people who're serious about trying to offer help are explicit, qualify their opinion and the really good ones, are capable of easily assimilating style or genre. I'm sure someone's pointed out here already, that a collective analysis will tend to flatten out prose, it may end up more polished but could end up lacking in individuality. In fact, I would go as far as saying that unfocused negative reaction could be a good sign. The essential problem is that writing, is intrinsically concerned with communication, and communication is -always- a two way process, even if you're just asking: message understood?

And from Kurt Dinan:
I revise, revise, revise, but try to heed the advice of my friend (and great writer) Daryl Gregory (name drop!), who always warns against "over-carving the pumpkin." I just love that phrase. (me too!)

KC had a very interesting insight:
I think as writers we're most vulnerable when we are eager for feedback (and encouragement) and show things too soon.

If we ourselves don't know what we're trying to do then it's hard to know which input is useful...

And Terri Lynn Coop is back with what sounds like a punch line to a helluva crit goup story:
Then there's someone who challenges you on the spelling of your made-up word . . .

On Friday the topic was what to do about conflicting feedback
 I said ignore it.

I think Susan Bonifant hit the nail on the head with this comment:
changing a book won't ALWAYS improve it.

And this from Linda Strader makes me want to buy her a drink and hear more:
It took me a year and a half to realize my critique group (and the editor I hired, and some comments from agents I queried) were leading me the wrong direction. I've learned to have faith in my own work.

And Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli asked:

I was wondering if "quesion" is QOTKU testing us to see when we'll see the typo.
What typo? I reply. I don't see no stinkin' typo!

On Saturday, I reprinted Dena Pawling's terrific short synopsis example.

Of course, many of you had already seen it in the comments, but I wanted to make sure it got the attention it deserves, so asked Dena if I could make it a post. Fortunately, she didn't unlease her negotiating skills on me, and I got permission without having to cough up two commenters and a weeklong stay with Amy in Paradise.

I really liked how Susan Bonifant described the pain of synopsis writing:
Synopsis writing is a huge headache, but not just because you're trying fit 250 words in a Volkswagen. It's a headache because synopsis-telling makes you write like a police chief when you would rather spook the campers.

As usual all week, the off-topic comments were some of my favorites.

AJ Blythe mentioned there is a paint color called Resene's Shark, and so of course I clicked on the link to look. Very elegant! 

And for those of you who might still be interested, yes the painting in the apartment continues. I'd planned to work on it this weekend, but the siren call of the filing in the office was just too strong.

And Amanda Capper captured my thoughts completely with this:
Julie, thanks for the picture of shark shit with worms. Another sentence I never thought I'd ever say.

This week's blog sub-heading is from a comment by Poor Dead Jed Cullan
It's not just the blog posts that make this an awesome blog, it's the comments from all the posters.


Sarah said...

PB - picture books. :)

brianrschwarz said...

Fantastic week in review! So much good stuff! And Dena, i didn't comment on your wonderful summation on Saturday because I was too busy using it to write my own summary! And it works brilliantly!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

On the topic of "Is this fiction or non fiction", it's kind of weird. My aunt gets me a subscription to The Sun magazine, which I quite like reading, though I accidentally hoard issues for months and then binge on them. But a difficulty I have (but kind of like? maybe?) with The Sun is that I'm never sure whether what I'm reading is fiction or non fiction, and unless I just miss it because it's in the Table of Contents and why read that in such a short magazine, it's not labeled.

I do like my non fiction to be rather narrative (Erik Larson is my go-to example for this) but with novels, anyway, I'd love to know which it is. And with novels, the querying process is different, isn't it? You write a proposal or whatever, instead of a query letter? Or did I make that up because I don't intend to write a volume of non fiction and thus haven't paid proper attention?

Jenz said...

Aw, sorry you missed Casablanca, Janet. Paramount Theater shows it every year as part of their summer classic films series. The theater is a little cramped and reminded me why we always go to Alamo Drafthouse for movies now, but it was totally worth it.

If any of you ever go to the Paramount, look for the hole in the ceiling. It was put there by Harry Houdini to secure a block and tackle rig for his act.

Kitty said...

Gone With the Wind fan

Dunno why, but that just cracks me up. Simple minds, simple pleasures.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Another wonderful WIR. I agree with Jed, but none of us would be here without QOTKU.

Impossible to not ready every comment.

I guess I go to Carkoon for reporting a *cough* imaginary typo. Such a thrill to get mentioned. Dena must be over the moon.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Poor dead Jed with the crown on. Love it.
We are the bomb, so are you and the QOTKU.
Thanks for the WIR and the mention. Jesus and I played marbles in the sand. We were buds, still are actually.

I got ice cream !! Time for a treat. See I told you Jesus and I were buds.

Susan Bonifant said...

"I DO like to have an idea at the end of the query just in case what I thought was a middle grade adventure story turns out to be a memoir of your honeymoon."

And God willing, not the other way around.

Thank you for the mention in this WIR, and for including the Terri Lynn Coup line which made me literally LOL.

And thank you gang, for the daily chat.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Another great WIR.

My woodland creature mind is at it again.

I often think truth is stranger than fiction, so I think about non-fiction stories that would make fiction stories people might say, umm, yeah, not even believable.

Such as Mad Jack Churchill

The teenaged Jewish resistance fighters in WWII. They started me to thinking about my story. What happens if I took someone going through that and put them in a fantasy setting?

The Russian Night Witches

What a strange and marvelous world we live in, but for heaven's sakes, let your prospective agent know what you're writing.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Back in a previous life, I had two agents. One for the suspense and one for the children's books. It isn't unheard of.

I wouldn't mark QOTKU off the list because she doesn't rep picture books or peanut butter.

bjmuntain said...

Stern look at LynnRodz. I've never had a panic attack (and I thank God for that), but I've been in the position of trying to help friends through theirs. Panic attacks are terrible things to have to live through. I don't know how to prevent one, unfortunately. Just take good care of yourself.

I didn't see Terri Lynn Coop's comment on challenging the spelling of a made-up word. I know that I've had to correct someone's spelling of such a word, but that's because it wasn't spelled the same way as it was previously, so I figured one was misspelled.

I did have one (former) crit partner who took exeption to a term I decided to use. It was a different term than most science fiction authors use, and his critique was, 'well, if everyone else is using it, it's a good term. why don't you use it?' To which I responded, "Why should I use someone else's made-up term for my novels?"

I love how Poor dead Jed Cullen's commenting name looks with the quote. If someone didn't know that was his commenting name, they might wonder what happened to poor Jed Cullen to make him dead...

Regarding the housekeeping up front / is it fiction/non-fiction notes: Remembering back to the query workshop I took from Janet years ago. She was going through the query I'd submitted, saying this looks great... this is wonderful... she was getting very interested in it, because it sounded like a thriller... until the last paragraph where I said it was science fiction - which of course she doesn't rep. Her suggestion was to give some sort of hint at the beginning. I put the word 'interplanetary' in the first sentence, which earned me her approval. But she still won't rep it. :)

Dena Pawling said...

Let's see. This week I had an entire day devoted to my blog comment. I'm mentioned at the beginning of the WiR, the middle, AND the end.

Life don't get much better than this. I think I should retire while I'm ahead.

But then I'm still hoping for publication. Ah well. Back to the trenches.

I'm a little miffed with myself tho, not employing my slick negotiating skills on Janet. She did say unLEASE which I'm positive is NOT a typo. Apparently she wanted me to threaten her with eviction if she didn't use my comment. Maybe I should have exiled HER to Carkoon. Or maybe just out of NYC. I wonder which two blog commenters she was prepared to give up in trade?

Hey brianrschwarz, glad my comment helped.

Have a good Memorial Day everyone.

Flowers McGrath said...

Was MIA this week. WIR always saves the day!
Janet, my dad's dad came to brooklyn from the Ukraine, went to work in the garment business in seventh grade and wound up owning his own textiles company in the city. He had amazing style and class! His family was also in TV - an old comedy review called the show of shows. My dad's mom was many generations bushwick gal! Irish Catholics. My dad was born in the city and grew up in and around the five boroughs. I was born at the now defunct St Vincent's hospital. We used to have a place in the Hamptons as our get away spot. Private beach, twas heavenly. Feeling dreamy thinking about old New York!

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Have you ever read any books by Marsha Skrypunch? She writes a lot of stories about Ukrainian immigrants and is a wonderful writer.

What a great story about your grandfather and the rest of your family.

Good stuff.

Karen McCoy said...

I'll jump on Sarah's bandwagon and confirm that PB = Picture Book. Perhaps it's an SCBWI idiom that hasn't gotten wise use yet?

Great week in review--and I'd say this week was probably even more educational than most. This blog (and all the comments) just keeps getting better and better.

Now let's hope this comment loads--I'm in the boondocks near Saratoga Springs, NY and internet is almost nil.

Jenny C said...

Thanks for a mention in Week in Review! Made a gloomy, rainy Sunday much brighter for this Woodland Creature.

"I DO like to have an idea at the end of the query just in case what I thought was a middle grade adventure story turns out to be a memoir of your honeymoon."

Janet, this made me laugh out loud!

I think I'd better keep "YA Thriller" in the subject line of my query. Wouldn't want anyone to confuse my novel about a pair of jewel thieves with a memoir of my honeymoon.

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Craig said...

Thank you for the mention my Queen. I was starting to think I had reached my limit of saying obnoxious things and was being ignored.

The truth is that my idea of brilliant is different than yours. That, I think, is another reason to not over polish a novel. There are very few books that I have read that are brilliant from end to end. I tend to find lines that stick with me the most. Some of those are rather obscure and I doubt many others would pick the same. If you buff and polish too much you tend to knock the raw power off of those lines. Everything gets too homogenized.

Flowers McGrath said...

Julie! No I haven't but I was coming back to tell you--(fancy that), that my father used to be an avid rider and there was some sort of equestrian school on one of the beaches, I believe in brooklyn! Can you imagine that!? I forgot all about it until this morning. He waxed poetic about riding round sunset on the beach...english saddle though. Honestly, I think he wanted to be a cowboy, but he got a beach in brooklyn instead,
Skrypunch may be the best last name ever! I will have to go to the library and look see.
We've had very colorful family on both sides. My irish catholic grandmother used to tell stories she was part indian, Apache or something ridiculous like that and my dad believed her and also i believed him, such romance with onesself to excuse our wildness maybe. In my mind apaches must climb trees their not allowed to and soar across busy intersections without breaking on their bycicles. That's why i did, certainly.
Recently some closet in Rockefeller center was opened up and they found a cache of old scripts from the TV show my grandfather's cousin produced/directed. So many stories! Agh. Life is rich!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Another great WiR. I also wondered what PB was. Hadn't thought of

Poor dead Jed Cullen at the top of the post. Great humor there. And the racoon story by kdjames with her follow up the next day.

Julie: appreciated your link to Russian Night Witches. Sooo much we don't know.

Well, I'm off to a soggy bonfire night at my sister's new hobby farm. Looking forward to it! I spent a wonderful day at her place yesterday, weeding a flower bed surrounding a pine tree. It held a little wren house and I found an egg shell among the weeds. The wrens were not happy when I was there--lots of scolding coming out of the tree--but they completely curious when I took a lemonade break (sorry, no vodka) to scout out what I had done to THEIR territory.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

*sigh* sorry about the grammar and typos.

Flowers McGrath said...

I am very typo-ful and grammatically Uh how shall we say, loose. And then there's my dear friend ipad autocorrect putting her two cents in.
I'm with Craig on over editing and squeezing the life out of things. If it's all been said already rather perfectly, all we have left is the nuance of our minds and how they emmerge in the written word. Although all of my their they're and there's usually make me blush then crawl into my cave mind.

Flowers McGrath said...

Also, erg so much to say, someone here should write the screenplay for night witches!? We need more stories like that in cinema! Doesn't it just lend itself to the big screen with this scrappy plain,plane,plein descrips?

Too many tasty food captchas

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I don't know why but I just caught a case of the curious. Janet, if you don't mind I'd like to ask a question of everyone today, even the lurkers. Not to get too personal but...
I'll start.
On the coast of Connecticut, USA.

Colin Smith said...

Another cool WiR to remind us how awesome this Tank of writers is, not to mention the Chief of the Tank, the Mighty QOTKU herself! :)

PB: yeah, I know it stands for Picture Book, but Paranormal Bats sounds so much better. :) It also happens to stand for Phyllis Buttonweezer, but trust me--you don't want to be reading about her to your two-year-old. Eeegads!!

With regard to my wife's adventure with the 8,000 lb vehicle, and Janet's comment: "Just begs for a flash fiction contest, doesn't it?" Now I feel I should tell the story, especially since it really doesn't go the way you might think. Which is sort of like my flash fiction... :) I'll save it for a separate comment, though.

Just to add my 2 cents to the topic, I too solicited beta reader help for my last novel from people I met online. I'll probably do the same for the next one, though given the change of genre, I'll be looking for new beta readers. Possibly from This Very Tank... :)

I have to say, I'm very partial to the title SNARK & SHARK'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING for Barbara and Janet's co-authored book. But if Janet should go it alone, then definitely, NEVER QUERY DURING A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Awesome title!

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Eastern North Carolina, USA.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Marsha was absolutely lovely to me when I was working on my children's books. B&W had children's section then. She's such a remarkable writer and a very sweet lady. She's very dedicated to getting stories out that really don't need to be forgotten.

Sunset riding is the best, well and sunrise. That's why I always enjoyed checking Artificial insemination cows. I was horseback when the sun came up and went down and watching that in the North Dakota badlands is spectacular.

Beaches are awesome also. I don't blame your father. I've never ridden on one, but I love Myrtle Beach. I have a friend on Long Island. She keeps saying if I get a NY agent and need to come visit I can stay with her.

Umm, no. I would be that headline. Hick from Texas trampled by NY mob for standing around in the way gawking at skyscrapers.

bjmuntain said...

2Ns: Saskatchewan, Canada

As for typos and grammatical oddities... I am a grammar nazi, a style nerd, and a very fast touch typist.

Yet my first drafts (and comments are usually first drafts) can be riddled with such oddities.

I put it down to the fact that I'm too busy putting words down on paper (or on digitized 'paper', anyway) to think about what I'm writing. From imagination to fingertips, bypassing the logical part of the brain. And that's okay. Because that's what editing is for.

And, while I *usually* proofread and edit my first post of the day, subsequent posts are often published on the fly.

So grammar goblins and typo isms are simply flying words. Nothing to be embarrassed about (unless you forget a letter in 'public' or, as I often do on the virtual keyboard of my tablet, an 'o' in 'I'm good').

We're all writers. We all understand how easy it is for a thought to get away from us or a finger to hit an odd key.

Even our dear QOTKU has been known to tap a wrong key once in a blue moon (although never in public, I'm sure). And that's just proof that anyone can do it and survive.

bjmuntain said...

Julie: There are so many people gawking at the skyscrapers in NYC that the New York mob now instinctively moves around them.

You would do just dandy in New York. Anyone would. Although it's not a place I could handle living in. Like you, I'm at home with big skies and wide open places.

And having a friend there is the best: they can show you around while avoiding the crowds of tourists.

I never thought I would go to NYC. It just wasn't a place that even made it to my bucket list. I'd heard of the crowds, and there just wasn't enough I really wanted to see. And I had never travelled. But I had a friend living there who wanted me to visit, and when I was about to turn 40, I decided that that was the time to break through the artifical barriers and go on an adventure. I never regretted it.

You will find something you really enjoy in New York, and it might not be something you expect.

So if you ever have the chance, I recommend a trip. From one country hick to another. :)

Colin Smith said...

OK, so here's the story. Pretend that I'm Julie and it'll sound even better. :)

My wife and SecondBorn were driving to the store in our vehicle, an 8-seater Ford Excursion. It's our only car, and when we bought it 11 years ago, the salesman at the dealership said it was the first time he'd sold one to someone who actually NEEDED it (we have 6 kids, for those who don't know).

As I mentioned, the car is 11 years old, it's our only car, and has over 250,000 miles on it. And on this particular Friday afternoon, as my wife was making a turn, the car stopped. The engine wouldn't crank. It sat lifeless in the middle of the road.

Wifey climbed out, had SecondBorn sit in the driver seat, and she attempted to push our now 8,000 lb corpse-on-wheels off the road. She pushed and pushed, but needless to say, didn't get too far. Thankfully, wifey had called me first, and I was able to call on a friend of ours who lives nearby to go help. He did, and they managed to get the car into someone's driveway while we figured out next steps (beyond renting a car for the week--which we did).

Later that day, my wife was a little perturbed about chest pain she was feeling. Her perturbation increased when she was stirred at 2am the following two nights with similar chest pains. She finally went to the Urgent Care Center to get checked out by someone with medical qualifications. They asked if it was okay to do a stress test. She asked if pushing an 8,000 lb vehicle qualified as a "stress test." They said yes. The EKG was generally okay, but they were a little troubled by some unusual blips, so they referred her to the hospital Emergency Department.

After running a few errands (as one does when one is referred to the Emergency Department) we went to the ED where, after going through Triage, we sat for about four hours waiting to be seen. Finally, they got her on a bed, strapped a pressure cuff on her and did another EKG. The verdict? As far as their cardiologists were concerned, the EKG was fine. The blips noted by the Urgent Care medics were not really that concerning. However, she did have elevated amounts of a cardio enzyme. It seems everyone excretes this enzyme but it shouldn't ever show up in blood work. Hers did. Not as if she were having a full-blown heart attack, but the fact that it showed up was enough for them to admit her.

Wifey got a bed in the new Heart Center, and the following morning they performed a heart catheterization so they could squirt some dye around her heart to see what was going on. The result: a 95% blockage in a branch artery. We're talking a teeny tiny artery. Nothing life-threatening, something that would have never given her trouble (aside, perhaps, from discomfort) had she not attempted to push an 8,000 lb vehicle. Nevertheless, a blockage is a blockage, so they prescribed her a drug store, and sent her home the next day, hoping that the medicinal Drano would do the trick. This was now Saturday--a little over two weeks ago.

The end of the story? Ha! So we hoped... But no. But since this is getting long, let's take a bathroom break and come back to it in the next comment. :)

Charley said...

After critiquing with other writers, alas, they became friends. On the other hand, they remain way honest. Darn it. (I mean thanks! Really!)

Also - seek specialized critiquers when appropriate. Got in touch with a local Japanese-American born in Tokyo in 1938, and he was most generous commenting on my historical. Exactly what I needed.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Holy moly, Colin.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Jeez Louise Colin you've been in the bathroom a half hour. I'm hoping by the time I get this posted you will have come back relieved and remove us from our pins and needles.

Colin Smith said...

We're back. You did wash your hands didn't you? OK, I'll wait...

Ready now?

Where were we? Oh yes, Saturday, two weeks ago. I collected wifey from the hospital in the afternoon. If you recall, that was Mother's Day weekend here in the US. Her Mom and sister had come to spend time with her, though they hadn't planned on visiting her in the hospital, so we were all glad she could be home.

Saturday night, around 10:30, not long after taking her first round of post-hospital meds, wifey started to feel chest pain, enough that she was concerned. She called the Urgent Care people who told her to call 911. I know that sounds dramatic, and when the ambulance pulled into our yard, flashing lights and everything, our kids were a bit beyond concerned. But the ambulance had an EKG machine and the necessary meds to figure out what was happening and determine what to do next. Again, her EKG was okay, but they wanted to take her to the Emergency Department anyway. When it comes to heart stuff, these doctors don't like to mess around.

My kids are all old enough to look after themselves, so I didn't feel bad about leaving them to follow the ambulance to the hospital, though I knew they wouldn't be getting much sleep that night.

Thanks to the ambulance team and it being about 12:30 am, we didn't have to wait for a bed. In fact, by the time I had parked and found her room, she was already hooked up to the machines. They drew blood and told us they would draw blood again at 4:30am to compare the levels of heart enzyme (this enzyme probably has a name, and you cardiologists out there know exactly what it is, but for us laypeople, it wouldn't make a hill-o-beans difference if I called it "heart enzyme" or "Bob", so please forgive my ignorance). At 5 am they said the levels were a bit elevated, so they wanted to draw blood again at 8:30 to see if there's a change. They ended up drawing blood a few more times, until, after being in the ED for about 16 hours, the cardiologist came in and said, "To heck with the Drano. Let's just see if we can stick a balloon in there, squeeze out the blockage, and be done with it!" OK, so I'm paraphrasing a little, but you get the gist.

Wifey got a new room in the Heart Center, and they scheduled the procedure for the following morning. Essentially, they would do what they did for the catheterization, but instead of squirting dye, they would insert a balloon into the blocked branch artery, inflate it to open the artery, take out the balloon, and hey presto--done! Of course, there were risks--the artery might be too small, for one. But everything went fine. Her artery is now blockage free. They prescribed her a new drug store, but hopefully she won't have to take these indefinitely.

So that's the story of how an 8,000 lb vehicle landed my wife in the hospital.

And for those who are thinking "Enough about your wife--what about the CAR??!" It seems the timing chain broke on the engine. In short, we either need a new engine or a new car. We're going for the former since it would be a lot cheaper to replace the engine than get another 8-passenger vehicle. If anyone happens to have a fully functional 5.4 ltr 2004 Ford Excursion gas engine lying around, let me know! :)

Now back to your regular programming...

Flowers McGrath said...

I am in nyc, obviously at this point, 2Ns! Bushwick to be precise.
I don't have much space for crashers, but I'd be happy to take any visitors around nyc. There is always something to do! And so many places off the beaten path. For instance we have an old growth forest up by the cloisters. Wouldn't imagine that could be here, but it is! Going for my first time tomorrow. So excited!

Julie, we don't trample but we might get huffy or snootie. But I am sure there i thinks I might do in Texas that would garner similar feelings, 😬

Flowers McGrath said...

Not "i thinks" sheesh. Are things. Flying words for sure!

Dena Pawling said...

I'm in Southern California about 15 miles from Disneyland. No we haven't gone in about 10 years because it's too )$&@&$ expensive even for locals.

Colin, not that you want a repeat of that hospital scene (I LOL a bunch at the running errands before going to ER), but here's a good thing to remember. To avoid the waiting room, lie on the floor. It doesn't matter that I had no choice when I did it. Do it even if you're fine sitting. But the sight of someone lying on the ER floor is guaranteed to get the triage nurse's attention. I was assigned a bed immediately. Then to avoid waiting after you're in the bed, lean over the side of the bed and throw up. Again, it doesn't matter if you fake it. Just try dry heaves. Works great. I had a doctor by my side within 5 minutes of when I first entered the hospital.

I've been to NYC once. I was 13. We landed at the airport, I don't remember which one, then rented a car and drove to CT to visit with relatives. This was the year my grandma disowned me. It wasn't until more than 30 years later and dying that she agreed I wasn't such a bad person after all. We spoke on the phone once before she passed away. Anyway, my experience with NYC isn't much and isn't a great memory. The summer my #1 son turned 14, my parents took him to NY and CT to visit family. He got to see Empire State building, Statue of Liberty, etc. Ate lobster in Boston. And my grandma accepted him and treated him like a king. He's probably why she changed her mind about me. So I'll keep him =)

I'm fishing with my husband and kids. Three hours by a lake. My #4 caught two but they got away before she could reel them in. No one else caught anything. Most boring three hours I've had in a loooong time. How do people actually enjoy this?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Well, it was either the power of the doctors, the drugs, prayer, your wife's constitution or all of the above. I didn't know Carkoon had such a good medical facility.
BTW, because you call your better half "Wifey", does she call you Hubby:)

Glad your drama ended well and that you have gone back to instructional comedy.

Flowers McGrath said...

Oh boy, Colin. That's very intense! I am so glad she's well. I don't want to project anything here but you have some saintly qualities (and i am imagining, wifey too,) at least in my mind, with six kids and such a great humor!

Colin Smith said...

Dena: Duly noted! Thanks... :)

2Ns: I think she might refer to me as "hubby" on occasion.

Flowers: After having six kids and being married to me for nearly 24 years, my wife has developed a wonderful sense of humor. She had to--it's called survival! ;)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Yikes, Colin, how scarey. Criminy, you were gone to the bathroom long enough. I hope you washed your hands.

I'm glad she's ok. Being polite, I didn't want to ask, but I was concerned.

Poor wife. Poor Colin needs a new engine. I don't know what I would do if my engine went out. I hope you find one soon.

Flowers, people in Texas are pretty laid back, which is what I love about them. Unless you get irritated about being called ma'am and having people hold doors open for you, and some people do. I guess men particularly might object about the ma'am part, there's not too much to get uptight about. We don't all go around yelling yee haw.

Personal pet peeve, just because you're a politician passing through Texas doesn't mean you need to buy a Stetson. Just say no.

Flowers McGrath said...

Ok one day when it's ripe timing...must tell "the how you two met" story, kay, Collin? I haven't done anything for twenty four years consistently...Uh, except you know like breathing and the autonomic function type stuff that doesn't require too heavy a committment. yup, I can own that. Impressed!😽

And I literally had to go out to buy fries and icecream BC of the dang captchas. Never a salad!

Amy Schaefer said...

Colin, I'm glad your wife is okay, and wish her a safe and speedy unblockage.

Just a little housekeeping: Paradise is going to be untended for the next 2-3 weeks. If anyone wants to keep on eye on things here, please apply forthwith. Duties include gathering coconuts, guarding the wormhole against incursions from Carkoon, and scanning the high seas for signs of literary piracy.

I will be busy sailing from one place to another. See you all in a few weeks!

Jed Cullan said...

Another great week in review, which I have come to expect from the QOTKU. And it's a great honour to back on the sub-header again. Such a big honour, I'm not going to mention the spelling mistake in my name.

Since that stupid vampire film came out, everyone wants to spell my surname with an "e" for some reason. Although, in the main post, Sharkums did spell it correctly.

Quick note for those who keep wondering why I'm Poor Dead Jed. It has to do with an unfortunate accident involving the relocation of Sharky's cake from her plate into my mouth.

Colin, wow, that was an adventure an a half with the car and your better half. Hope she is doing better now.

My location is the middle of England.

Did come up with an idea for a PB whilst I was reading back a blog post I made on temper tantrums this week. Didn't spot it whilst I was writing it, or editing, or proofing. Bored Boris is Bored. May or may not give that a quick try to see if it works. Am also working on a NF book proposal and an MG paranormal mystery. With them and the pressure of blog writing, I have no time. Need more time. Anyone have any to spare?

Terri Lynn Coop said...

First and foremost, Colin! *hug* If I knew the address of Carkoon, I'd send a pizza and some of those chocolate covered berries (because I have a coupon.)

Flash Fiction contest prompts:


This blog comment section could be named POSTCARDS FROM CARKOON: THAT TIME I PLAYED MARBLES WITH JESUS. It really could be.

I had to switch into lurk mode while I've been dealing with estate issues and other weirdness since my kinda-sorta-ex-yeah-we-were-divorced-but-it's-complicated husband passed last October (it's cool, very sad but okay, he'd been very ill for a very long time) and then 3 weeks of non-stop testing when my doctor made this face:


after I described some symptoms I've been having since Christmas. Some scrips, a bit of out-patient surgery and some stern lectures later, I thought I was done. Then I got a phone call to come back in on Tuesday because "we see a little anomaly on the last scan." I'm not worried, just ready to be done with it.

NEVER QUERY DURING A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE must be an ebook on the art and science of the query letter. It must happen. And the subtitle to SHARK and SNARK is "The guide to not getting chomped on the publishing reef and finding just the right handbag."

The spelling lesson came at the end of:

This is well said and spot on and timely and why is there a second T in . . . ?

Uh, thank you, I appreciate it, and, um, because I made it up and I thought two Ts looked good?

Dammit, I am a builder and destroyer of worlds.

Until next week - Terri

Sandra F. Cormier said...

I got to this late because I was interacting with a pregnant groundhog who has taken residence under my porch. We were discussing which sheet of plastic she should steal in order to have a comfy birth. We decided she couldn't have my tarp, because I need it in the fall, but she could have the dollar store tablecloth since she had dug her claws into it already while attempting to drag it off the deck.

Summer places are different from regular places. We live in a suburb, but pine for the pines. Problem is, the pines are far away from the jobs, and brutal in winter.

I'll query when I have a brief moment of confidence and/or insanity, no matter what conference/book fair/holiday/marathon is happening at the moment.

Still, I won't use buckshot. I take proper aim. I hope...

Yes, genre is important right off the top, and querying agents who rep your genre is easy, unless you don't know whether your mystery is cozy, soft-boiled, medium-boiled, hard-boiled, noir or whacky.

I love Craig's comment about quitting on a painting. I paint in watercolour, and if it's overworked, it turns into a mess very quickly. I'd love to please everyone, but in the end I have to please myself, and hope that others might see the colours I see.

Colin Smith said...

On behalf of my better half, thanks y'all! (She's a real American, not a British import, and she has lived in NC nearly all her life, so she can say "y'all" with integrity.) She's doing just fine now with only the daily meds to remind her that she had engine trouble a few weeks ago. :)

Flowers: I can't go telling all my stories here otherwise I'll have nothing to tell people IRL!

TLC: Wow!! I hope it's nothing and you can be done with it. Looking forward to a good report next week.

And a note to the former lurkers who have come out from the woodwork over the last few weeks: if you want to be included on Carkoon's Most Wanted, just provide your social media home (blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, Instagram, AOL--whatever) either here in the comments or email me (see my blogger profile or the List), and I'll add you.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Pleasing everyone. Well, I know I can't, but I have to face facts, my masterpiece needs thinning, so that's what I' diligently doing.

I won't be able to get it to 120,000 words, but I can get a bunch of the dead hair out.

I used to have a horse named Video Replay who loved to be vacuumed. I wish there was a way to vacuum manuscripts. zoom zoom zoom

Amanda Capper said...

Colin, as you know, I love the way you tell a story. And it had a happy ending, those are my favourite.

Dena, I must thank you again for the Cinderella synopsis. I knocked off two for my first and second book in no time. Makes me wonder why I was so frustrated with it in the first place.

Jed, I'll be in the North of England in September. Mother turns 90 so it's party time.

Fun WIR. Makes my Sundays.

Amanda Capper said...

Oh, and I'm in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Matt Adams said...

I'm from Florida, but live about 20 miles west southwest of Denver in the foothills. Where it has been raining for two weeks, and the local rivers are looking mighty angry.

Also, 11 years ago today I met my daughter, still the highlight of my life. The slumber party with six other 11-year-old girls last night, not so much.

charlogo said...

Lurker here, whispering through the knot hole. I'm in the Texas panhandle.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Whereabouts if you don't mind me asking?

Julia said...

Happy Birthday, Matt - it's as much a celebration for you guys as for your daughter. Good luck with what's coming; the tween tornado blew through our home a year ago and we still haven't found cover.

Great week, awesome review, fantastic synoptic example, Dena.

Writing a book is like boarding a train and realizing about a third of the way along that the destination on your ticket bears no resemblance to the train's actual destination - and then about another third of the way through that it probably isn't a train at all, but some other form of transportation - and then somewhere near the end, that you can see the Earth out your window and someone just mentioned that the captain died and has been replaced by your senile dog.

That's my impression of this week.

Bring on the query letters and by golly, let the plot settle. Because although I really like it, it really isn't a mystery any more, and I have to keep in mind that ALL first drafts are supposed to read like a drunk squirrel's pawprints. An entire forest of Drunken Woodland Creatures' pawprints.

So. I'm considering a rum and Coke or a Hurricane - what's your Memorial Day pleasure? Remember, Hemingway did exhort us to write drunk... and... something.

And to all you Vets, from my heart - thank you. For protecting my family, my neighbors, my nation, and the children who will one day fix the problems we are creating - thank you. Xoxo. And no, I haven't been drinking. (I don't actually. Or vanishingly rarely.)


Earnest Fish

W.R. Gingell said...

Back in my days of querying, I would have queried Janet, too. Alas, I write in the wrong genre, so there wasn't much use querying.

I also was curious as to PB. Knew I'd seen it somewhere before, but couldn't remember what it meant.

On an unrelated note, I love that Janet keeps using pics from 'Tangled'!

Julia said...

Terri - Flashfic - is this for reeeeal?
Julie - I have been there with the word count. That is the major reason why, with unbearable agony - I inserted a conflict I would otherwise not have written and then used that as an end point and cut the book in half. But I'm sure you've considered it and so I'll shut my yap.

Did you know that Sharon Kay Penman had "Sunne in Splendour" (the MS), 900+ pages, typed, stolen from her car after she wrote it? She was devastated. It was her first work; it hadn't yet been submitted, and she was a lawyer in NJ at the time. It took her nine years to get over it and rewrite it. I can't even imagine. But supposing she hadn't?

If you aren't familiar with it, it's pretty darn long, and it's incredible, esp for a first book.

SKP is one of those rare well-known authors who actually engages and supports her readers (and emerging authors). She's also a lovely, lovely woman. I haven't read Far Rider (as I only "met" you here a little over a month ago). But... I don't even know what I'm trying to say except that we all know that when the work is done, it's done. My husband hates word counts for precisely this reason. If FR is done and has a high WC and you at any point are looking for someone who might have ideas about where to go with a high WC novel, she might not give you names - but she won't shoot you down, either. I know she's been feeling ill recently, but I think she's getting better. Look her up on FB. (Shrug) Or not, as you wish, but anyway, she's familiar with long books and agonizing waits.

Good luck.

Julie the Lesser

bjmuntain said...

Colin: So glad you're all past that worrying. Those professionals are right - a heart is nothing to play around with. You kind of need it in order to live, and once it's damaged, it's damaged. Take good care of your wife. You kind of need her, too.

Flowers: The Cloisters are amazing. I know you'll enjoy it. Absolutely beautiful, inside and out. I've been once, and I keep meaning to go again every time I visit. But it's off the beaten path, so it takes more oomph than we sometimes have to get there.

Regarding emergency room visits - and panic attacks, for that matter: I once took a friend to the ER for a panic attack. We knew it was a panic attack, but it's often a good idea to go to the ER if you're having one. We were waiting, and waiting, though... until my friend said she was starting to get a headache. Now, there was a sign on the triage nurse's window that said "Notify us immediately if there is a change in your condition", so I told the nurse my friend now also had a headache.

We were taken into a room almost immediately. Her blood pressure was taken - and it was high. Because panic attacks can do that. She was well-cared for then - by a very good-looking young male doctor, I might add - and we were soon on our way home.

So I guess, even if you don't want to lie on the floor of an ER (which can get kind of gross, if you think about it) or throw up (which is what often makes an ER floor gross), a sudden bad headache will get you in, too.

Amy: Have a great holiday!

Jed: I see why you are now poor. And dead. Not even Carkoon can hold a thug as dangerous as you.

Julie: I know people who figure they have a manuscript vacuum. They figure all you have to do is search for -ly and remove all the adverbs. And other words which they've decided you don't need or shouldn't have. Which can make for a very sterile and sometimes odd manuscript. So I really don't recommend it. It's better to comb through it to just take the dead hairs out. (Why do I love your metaphors so much?)

Amanda: You know, of all the people I've met in this fair country, I don't think I've ever known anyone from Ontario any farther north than Kenora. It must be beautiful up there - Canadian shield country always is.

charlogo said...


Charley said...

And Colin, thanks for letting us know about the car. Hope it gets well soon.

(Hey, someone had to say it. And jokes permissible if all else OK, right?) (Right??)

Julia said...

Oh. My. Gosh. Always, always, always read all the comments. THIS is why people online become friends and aren't just "people online." HOLY MARY MOTHER OF HOLY BALONEY, BATMAN, COLIN!!!

I am so sorry you went through all of that and so, so, so glad your wife is okay.

Will be praying for you all. <3


(And it's creatine kinase and creatine kinase - myoglobin B, or CK and CK-MB for short, in case you need to remember for real. And balloon angioplasty after angiography (the dye procedure, unless they did it by CT, which is CT angiography)).

Please, please, please pass on my family's well wishes, and no more car pushing.


bjmuntain said...

Charley - it's a joke? (kidding - it's a good one)

I can see how a vehicle like that can be a necessity for a family of 8. Not only is it (barely) big enough, but imagine all the running around that can't get done without it.

I, too, hope that it gets well soon. Now that Mrs Colin is safe.

Marsha Skrypuch said...

Hey Julie Weathers! Thanks for the kind comments about my books. Just wanted to clarify that my name is Skrypuch, not Skrypunch.

Skrypuch, in Ukrainian, means violinist. It also means irritating squeaking sound.

Julia said...

Charlogo - the printing on my ticket said "Mystery." Now I can't even read the stub, I can't recognize the landmarks, I don't speak the language, and frankly, I think I might be running out of oxygen. But boy, is this place fascinating, and the drink they gave me en route was something else! No, really. It wasn't a drink. Some kind of powder, I think.

And bj, about

bjmuntain said...

Hi Marsha!

Now, *that* sounds like a Ukrainian name. :) I was wondering.

I come from a part of Canadian where a lot of Ukrainian immigrants resided - including my own ancestors. The history surrounding their immigration is incredibly interesting. I may have to seek out your books now.

Thanks, Julie, for pointing these books out.

Julia said...

Stupid iPhone.
Bj, about ER's and getting in quickly:
-worst headache of your life
-chest pain OR pressure
-testicular pain (wouldn't recommend faking this...)
-seeing bugs crawling all over you (or this)
-homicidal or suicidal thoughts (or this)
-just took an entire bottle of certain meds (or this)
-sudden onset incontinence with loss of feeling (or this)

There are just oodles of ways to get right in. But really, in the end... It's best to just tell 'em your story and bring a book and a laptop. And if you, like me, have the kind of history that makes residents say stupid things like "let's admit you... 'just in case,'" then you also come prepared with the "Don't. You. Dare." glare that your dad taught you; a packed suitcase; the phrase "I'd like to speak with the attending," (politely but firmly delivered, with your logical arguments at the ready - as well as reasonable demands such as, "I really only want two liters of saline and then I'd like to go home. Please."); and a backup of your working manuscript so that when your characters suddenly find themselves dancing across Henry VIII's ballroom in tutu's beneath pink flying dolphins, it doesn't take too much time to remedy. You don't want to delete it entirely - it can be very entertaining to read what was written at 4 am on IV pain meds - but it's probably not going to work well with the rest of your manuscript

Julie.M.Weathers said...


I can't take credit for the winter hair metaphor whatsoever. A triple AAA agent made some suggestions and used that comment. It stuck.

Julia, Julie What is your last initial so we can keep each other straight?

I may take you up on it. I was talking to Barbara Rogan earlier, who is familiar with FR.She knows I tend more toward the lean, but at 150,000, it has to come down to be attractive.

In earlier days, I had someone on B&W who used to highlight my work and say, "This is an adverb, cut all these out." "This is a to be verb. This is passive construction and lazy writing." "This is an adjective, find a stronger noun."

I wanted to say, "Why, by jingle, I believe you're right. That is an adverb."

All part of the writer's road. We learn what advice to listen to eventually.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Marsha, gads, I know that and I'm being stupid. I am so sorry.

I was sitting there looking at your books earlier.

Julia said...

(Not that I know anything about the above. I will say that I now go to ERs ONLY in scrubs. It saves time. It gets right to "Yes, I understand what you're saying, so don't talk about me as if I weren't here - I hated it when I was on the other side of the gurney rail; I still hate it; don't do it.")

I'm a big fan of polite efficiency.

Actually, writing about this is making my stomach churn, so I'll shut up now. Colin, I'm REALLY glad your wife is better.

And I hope they treated you both well.

Craig said...

I'm just another alien squatting in Tampa.

Hot damn, I got drinks on reCaptcha. Must be an omen or portent because is after 5 here.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Have been there many times and various other little towns around there when we were on the rodeo trail.

Ex used to say the only thing between Amarillo and a Canadian blue norther in the winter was a three strand barb wire fence and two strands were down.


Kitty said...

I've lived my entire life so far in NYS. I can trace my ancestry on my mother's side to Moses Simonson who arrived in Plymouth on the ship Fortune in 1621. He was 17 at the time and lived to be 85. Some of those early ancestors left Mass. and settled in the Finger Lakes region of NY in the 1700s.

Colin, never dismiss any chest pains, not ever. My husband has had TWO heart attacks (17 years apart). Neither one was a clutch-the-heart-can't-breathe attack, either. In fact, he didn't even know he was having the second one until it showed up in routine blood work during his physical. The doctor called and told me to take him to the cath lab. So my daughter, who's an ER nurse, and her boyfriend, who's an ICU nurse, took us. My husband was talking and joking the whole way. He walked into the hospital and had to wait hours before the cath lab could take him.

Turns out he only had one good, working artery in his heart and it had collapsed, flat as a pancake. The first heart attack had killed off a good portion of his heart. He had a defib/pacemaker installed, and Thank GOD it has not gone off.

bjmuntain said...

Julie, I am totally against adverb-icide - or any crits that use blanket statements against an entire part of speech.

There are perfectly good reasons for every part of speech. And even passive construction or 'to be' verbs have their place.

That said, there are times these can be changed to be stronger... but other times, that would only flatten the prose. And it takes a good concept of your own style and craft (which you obviously have, Julie) to know which times to leave it.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

@Colin, all the best to you. How harrowing.

Julie love the vroom vroom. I hate vacuuming but it would be fun to suck away the fluff from the 120k. I've got to cut 20k and all those typos.

Now I'm feeling like I should hide under a rock because I was sure there was a "t" missin' in that quesion. But my eyes are playing tricks.

Julia 'with an A" I love your description of writing a novel.

Marsha Skrypuch said...

Hey, Julie, don't worry about it. My name is a very hard one to spell. Too many consonants! I have a new novel, recently released in the US, and it was selected in April by the Junior Library Guild -- Dance of the Banished.

And BJ, nice to meet you. My family initially settled in Alberta.

Julia said...

Julie - I'm Julia Hoover, but everyone calls me Julie except for my dad, who passed away while I was in medical school, and people who don't know me well. :)

We're watching Jurassic Park ! Dinosaurs Eating People! What could be better? Love the soundtrack, love the acting... Whoopeee! Spielberg chose the kids thus: The two who screamed most believably. :)


Julie H. Like the dams, vacuums, and that one president they loved to hate.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Congratulations. I'm so pleased for you. You've done remarkably well. Will you be at Surrey?


bjmuntain said...

Angie: We all know that Janet does not make typos. Ever. (At least, there is no evidence of them...)

Marsha: Cool. I have (non-Ukrainian) relatives living in the vicinity of Vegreville. My Ukrainian ancestors came to Saskatchewan. Where are your novels of Ukrainian immigrants set?

Julie.M.Weathers said...


I don't usually get called Julia unless I'm in trouble. Except by Grandma. I was named after her and it irked her to no end people called me Julie.


charlogo said...

Hey Julie-
Small world! (sorry to all you writer-types for having to endure that cliché). It's true that there's nothing much to block the wind between here and the Arctic. This stretch of plains is so flat that, if you're six feet tall, you can supposedly see twelve miles.

Marsha Skrypuch said...

I've written 19 books and many of them are set in various times of Ukrainian history, some of them partly set in Canada. Most recently, I've written a trilogy set in WWII, but have written stories set in WWI and in the 1930s as well. Click on "books" on my website to see specifics:

Marsha Skrypuch said...

I haven't been to the Surrey writers' conference for quite some time. It's a fabulous conference though. Too bad it wasn't closer!

bjmuntain said...

Thanks, Marsha!

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

@ Colin - Glad to see your "Mighty Woman" is out of the woods! Enough herculean feats for her!

@ Jed - Back from the dead; you're a zombie?

@ TLC - Wishing you some TLC

LynnRodz said...

Late to the party, but it was such a beautiful day in Paris (for you 2Ns) my husband and I sat at a sidewalk café sipping our wine and watching people pass by. We called one of my exes and he came to join us with his significant other. We then went to have dinner, so it was a nice evening.

Anyway, another WIR? I could swear it was only two days ago we had a WIR. Is it just me, or is time going by faster and faster? Anyway, another great roundup (I thought you'd like that Julie) of what went on this week. And I was mentioned twice! This day couldn't have gotten any better. Thanks, Janet!

And because everyone is talking about their health issues let me say thank you to those of you who emailed me asking about my health. (you too, BJ) I really appreciated it. I do want to mention, the day before I went to the ER I woke up coughing around 7 in the morning and I couldn't stop. It felt like something was in my lungs and then it stopped when I took cough medicine. Anyway, the next morning I woke up with chest pains and like any normal person would do, I Googled symptoms of a heart attack.

Apparently, there are different symptoms for men and for women. When I read that one symptom for women is coughing, that's when I got scared. I don't think I would have gone to the ER if it wasn't for the coughing episode I had. And no problem once there, I was immediately taken into a private room and seen by a doctor a short time later.

Anyway, it turned out to be nothing, but here's a confession I want to make. I've been thinking about this a lot and haven't said anything to anyone until now. When my husband was taking me to the hospital, here's what I was thinking, "Dear God, you can't let me have a heart attack and die when I haven't even begun to query." I don't know whether that was awful or not. I don't have children and my husband was with me, but still. I could have thought of my mom (my dad passed away decades ago) and the rest of my family, but no, I thought about my novel. I still don't know what to make of it.

Janet, I decided to follow your advice. Even if those top agents want the housekeeping first, I'm going to feed them the main course. Enough said.

Colin Smith said...

Julie (AKA JH): creatine kinase, eh? We have a bunch of doctors at church (everything from family practitioners to pediatricians to cardiologists), and as soon as word got around about wifey being in hospital, they all wanted to know who her doctor was, what drugs she was on--the whole 9 yards. Now I wish I'd been able to tell them "well, her creatine kinase levels are slightly elevated..." I love them all dearly, but they do make me smile. :)

Again, thank you all for your concern and well-wishes. :)

Charley: Right now we're hoping for the best. The poor thing's sitting at the mechanic's while we search for a donor engine. I'll certainly keep you appraised. :)

bj: The fact that the Excursion really is big enough for our family (and groceries, and luggage when we travel anywhere) is what persuaded me to go the route of the engine transplant as opposed to a replacement car. It really would be hard to replace--especially at a price we can afford.

And I just want to say how proud I am of all of you with your bolding and italicizing and linking! You clever people are such quick studies. And I mean that sincerely. :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I've now reached the place in the manuscript where the girls are discussing dead penises, which is better, I guess, than sentient ones.

I may need to cut more than words. Well, I guess I already cut those.

Colin Smith said...

LynnRodz: I'm glad you're okay! And the fact you thought of your novel and querying only makes you human--of the woodland creature variety, of course. :)

Julie: Sentient--!! You had to go there, didn't you?! And cut...??!! Fluffy bunnies fluffy bunnies fluffy bunnies happy thoughts happy thoughts... said...

Thanks, Lisa! I'm glad you thought The Great Raccoon Exodus was amusing. My cat was highly entertained as well.

Holy guacamole, Colin! I'm glad your wife's heart trouble was found and corrected. Must have been scary as hell at the time. Sorry about the car, though.

Carolynn, I'm "from" Minnesota and still have family there, but I currently live in NC. Love it here and don't plan to leave, even though it makes me a "damn Yankee." (According to some Southerners, the difference between a Yankee and a damn Yankee is that the latter comes to visit and doesn't leave.)

I'm going back to my writing cave now. I wasn't really here. If anyone asks, you didn't see me.

Flowers McGrath said...

Skrypuch is brilliant! Marsha were your ears burning?
My grandfather's name was changed when he came to Ellis Island. He didn't know his real name until there was some kind of reason to get his original birth certificate much later in life. Have to admit I don't really know all the details of the story. His family was Jewish. It wasn't an easy name to say and for me to remember. For a long time I thought he was German, even, but no, Ukraine. But he had family from Austria and I know an aunt and uncle hid out in an attic in Paris for all wwII. We had pictures of them that they took during that time in one of our photo books. A grave time, but they were smiling and fabulously dressed, at least by my modern standards, In all the pictures.
I love reading everyone's stories btw! I love imagining us all drawn to this same spot from all over the planet too! Cheers!

Julie.M.Weathers said...


I know. I'm going to blame it on battle fatigue or something.

Forgive me.



Flowers McGrath said...

Lyn, I have read motivational books that say to plan your life based on what you'd regret not having done sitting in your rocking chair at the end of your life. Sounds like your cough and subsequent er visit naturally produced your rocking chair regret. Go super query girl, go, go, go! Form of an agent and book publishing deal!

Flowers McGrath said...

Thanks, BJ! I have a list of fifty, well actually forty seven things I have never done in nyc. I am trying to break out of my rut of doing the same things I love most. I am not bored of them, just there's so much to this city! I should take it all in and not for granted!

And I know this is strange to put out there, but Janet, if you ever need help painting, I'd love to give back some good karma.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

LynnRodz, thank God you are okay. But, I have to mention, your thoughts on the way to the hospital, about praying to God to let you survive to query, is one of the reasons why we call our books, our columns, essays and almost all our writing projects our babies. When you think of where they come from, our very core of heart, brain and soul, they are babies indeed. No wonder you thought about your book, it is a part of you almost as sure as flesh and blood.

Writing keeps you up at night, causes worry and concern, it breaks your heart and fills it up again, it makes you feel accomplished and it convinces you you're are a failure. Rejections are like changing poopy diapers, shit on again.
Yup, just like babies. The only difference, borrowing the car, student loans and wedding costs. Now there's a subject I know something about.

Again, glad you are okay.

bjmuntain said...

LynnRodz: You had every good reason to be thinking about your novel. One of my worries is dying before getting published. We put so much work and hope and stress and energy into our novels...

I know a woman who died of lung cancer. In her obituary - which she wrote herself - she described herself as a writer. Her family didn't know what that was about. Oh, sure, she had a booklet with some poems in it, but that doesn't mean anything. I offered to look at them, maybe see about publishing - or even self-publishing - them, if only for the family. Oh no, they said. It's no big deal.

My soul said: WHAT!? No big deal? She obviously felt strongly enough about her writing to put it in her obituary.

I don't know where that booklet of poems is. I don't know if anyone knows. But I cry for that writer's soul. And I pray that my work doesn't wind up in someone's old stash of 'things left behind'.

It's one of the reasons I gave myself a kick and got serious about my writing.

So no. Thinking about your novel at a time like that was completely normal and appropriate.

Flowers: I have a long story about my Grandfather's name. And his mother's. He was born in Canada, though his parents weren't. I won't tell it, but names can be fun.

As for 'family from Austria' - depending on the historical period, that could include most of what we know as Ukraine, as well. And depending on where the family was from... there are some places in Europe that have been 'between countries' many times, and will have German speakers, Ukrainian speakers, and other languages and ethnicities, all in one tidy (or untidy) area.

Family history rocks.

Got pizzas this time. I want to know who ate those two pieces out of that otherwise large round pizza. *glares all around*

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

As of 93 comments we are from:

Connecticut, North Carolina, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, Florida, Texas, California
Saskatchewan, Ontario
And last but not least, CARKOON

If I missed anyone, please forgive, I’ve scrolled and read these comments a dozen times at least. As someone said a few comments back up the line, how utterly wonderful it is that we are in this one place, from around the world. Kind of makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Thanks for sharing where you’re from. Makes me feel, as a writer, not so alone.

Flowers McGrath said...

Carolynn! Me too!
BJ, you know what? I think you are right! I assumed he was German for so long because the last name his family was given was German. But perhaps his family was all from what was at the time Austria. But he for certain is Ukrainian. My dad was very serious about that when he caught me saying his dad was German. Family history does rock. So much is lost in translation though too, literally and figuratively. I wonder why they would just change people's names? It makes such a muddle. Wish I knew the whole story.

LynnRodz said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words, it makes me feel better, honestly. I knew if I mentioned what I was thinking to some people (family members included) they would have thought I was selfish. Damn, it's good to have this community here that understands.

Janet your blog is food for our souls, thank you! Goodnight all.

Julia said...

Carolynn - Grew up in MA, living in VT. uK heritage, all 4 cultures - that's where much of my heart is. I've lived in: MA, NH, VT, PA, AR, and CA, and, I suppose technically Ireland, but only for a week.

Julie - "sentient penises?" Would that be the only sentient bit? If you cut it off, does a whole person grow back? Is it like a zombie arm? Is there even such a thing? Can you plant them like seeds? I belong to a secret poets' society - can I title my next poem "Sentient Penises" in your honor? Is that sometimes the only sentient part? Is that the real reason they call the bathroom on sailboats the "Head," and not that whole head-of-the-ship thing? Is there some kind of army somewhere made up exclusively of them? Are they called the "SPA?" Are... Never mind. You got me so excited. This might be my next train location. You never know. The Kennedy Files: The Sentient Penis Phallusy.

Colin - Just say "Cardiac Enzymes" or "CK and CK-MB," or they'll look at you funny. But definitely don't tell them anything about elevated Sentient Penises. Especially with my name associated. That'd do to give anyone a heart attack. Come to think of it, that alone might get you seen pretty quickly in an ER...

I wonder if that's one of the lesser known side effects of Cialis that they don't mention on TV.

And Lynn, perfectly normal. I couldn't die without writing a novel. Or without meeting someone who knew what a "sentient penis" was.

And yes, I had to go there. I'm the newbie, I have the least to lose, and someone had to do it.

And nobody will ever confuse me with the other Julie "SP" Weathers again. Is her Woodland Creature a rabbit? Just wondering.

Now I have to go reread everything because I have to know what in the heck ended the image I HAD in my head as Julie in the phrase "sentient...." Well.


Had-to-go-there Fish

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Lynnrodz, you're right. If it wasn't for this "food for the soul" place I probably would have taken up knitting years ago.

Julia said...

Carolynn - Food for the soul; food for the bunnies; food for the sentient...

Julia said...

If nothing else, Julie's odd comment went to prove to me that one should never - ever - underestimate the power of Google, or the human spirit, in the arena of "how low can you go."

Julia said...

And, finally, Julie, the goat thing was awesome. Just sayin. Not trying to butter you up or anything, it really was cute. I know you'll hate me forever, but it really was cute. :)

Ellen said...

I think Dorothy Parker said it best about living in New York vs. living elsewhere. This is from a piece she wrote in 1928, but it feels like it could have been written this morning ...

It occurs to me that there are other towns. It occurs to me so violently that I say, at intervals, "Very well, if New York is going to be like this, I'm going to live somewhere else." And I do—that's the funny part of it. But then one day there comes to me the sharp picture of New York at its best, on a shiny blue-and-white Autumn day with its buildings cut diagonally in halves of light and shadow, with its straight neat avenues colored with quick throngs, like confetti in a breeze. Someone, and I wish it had been I, has said that "Autumn is the Springtime of big cities." I see New York at holiday time, always in the late afternoon, under a Maxfield Parrish sky, with the crowds even more quick and nervous but even more good-natured, the dark groups splashed with the white of Christmas packages, the lighted holly-strung shops urging them in to buy more and more. I see it on a Spring morning, with the clothes of the women as soft and as hopeful as the pretty new leaves on a few, brave trees. I see it at night, with the low skies red with the black-flung lights of Broadway, those lights of which Chesterton—or they told me it was Chesterton—said, "What a marvelous sight for those who cannot read!" I see it in the rain, I smell the enchanting odor of wet asphalt, with the empty streets black and shining as ripe olives. I see it—by this time, I become maudlin with nostalgia—even with its gray mounds of crusted snow, its little Appalachians of ice along the pavements. So I go back. And it is always better than I thought it would be.

I suppose that is the thing about New York. It is always a little more than you had hoped for. Each day, there, is so definitely a new day. "Now we'll start over," it seems to say every morning, "and come on, let's hurry like anything."

London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it. There is excitement ever running its streets. Each day, as you go out, you feel the little nervous quiver that is yours when you sit in the theater just before the curtain rises. Other places may give you a sweet and soothing sense of level; but in New York there is always the feeling of "Something's going to happen." It isn't peace. But, you know, you do get used to peace, and so quickly. And you never get used to New York.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Julie H,

The SP, thing goes back to two agents making comments on twitter about queries regarding SP stories and requesting authors not send any more.

It was apparently trending for a while.

Who knew?

Aren't pygmy goats cute? I like goats. I didn't when I was pregnant because they kept getting out and I had to chase them and rope them, but normally, I like goats.

I should get a goose to eat my grass.

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Glad you are all right. Interesting times. I don't blame you for thinking about it. I have before.


Flowers McGrath said...

Side note, well two. I think I drank too much coffee today. Okay but the real side note, ran off to read up on name changing and Ellis island and according to some genealogists it's a myth. Now i am so totally off topic...but just in case, the researcher in me had to put that out there. The name changing took place somehow else but not by the clerks on Ellis island. Signing off, wonderful writer people!

DLM said...

Loving Terri Lynn Coop's contest prompts. Now hoping we see a good outcome with your story.

Also, why is everyone here so good with titles? I took literally years to discover the title for The Ax and the Vase, and have no idea when the WIP will tell me its name. Synopses are easier!

Colin, from a fellow Old Y'all-er: now bless your heart, Mrs. S. I surely do hope y'all will find either that engine or some new wheels.

Yaaaaayyyyy, Jed!

Julia - several things. FIRST: I know not of this "lesser" of which you speak! Second, what I'd give for time enough to read all the comments every day like I usedta-could. (More southernisms for alla y'all.) Also, I want to go dancing in Henry VIII's ballroom in a tutu. With: alla y'all.

Julie M.W., oh how the adverb-haters tire me out. It's a zero-style idea of editing.

Marsha Skrypuch, your name is nothing compared to my former married name. It was all Ss, Zs, and Ks. Hungarians have no love for vowels. Nor phonics. :)

And, as if it needed explaining: southern United States, in that one state named for Gloriana.

Marsha Skrypuch said...

Flowers, re name changing at Ellis Island -- a lot of it would have just been transliteration and also the clerks trying to make sense of what they thought they heard. The English alphabet doesn't have letter and sound equivalents for every language.

Julia said...

DLM: How long does it take you to explain the difference between "y'all" and "all y'all," and why exactly these really and truly SHOULD become a part of the standard English lexicon? Not... you know... that... (cough) many of the people saying "all y'all" would use the phrase "standard English lexicon," but that's a different point. This country is large enough to accommodate both "lexicon" and "all y'all," even if y'all disagree.

Or even if just some of y'all disagree.


The side effects of reading the above may include fatigue, confusion, dizziness, urinary retention, incontinence, cogent priapism, Cotard's delusion, projectile vomiting, or death. As always, speak with your doctor before starting any prescription medication.

DLM said...

Julia - but will it cause projectile vommenting?

I'm not sure I see any reason people who say y'all would not use the phrase "standard English lexicon." It's not a term reserved for the uneducated. (Cough.)

Those of us who live in the American South have often been presumed to be idiots, not least if we dare to use "our" words. I've lived most of my life not only bewildered by this, but fighting it. I'm entirely capable of using English nimbly and wisely, and I say y'all regularly.

So, y'know. That.

DLM said...

Oh, but I don't think I've ever had to explain it at all. I've had to explain how "bless your heart" can be a lethal insult once or twice, but y'all has always seemed to be self-evident to listeners.

bjmuntain said...

Flowers: I had a whole lesson on genealogy typed in, then realized it was bedtime. So I deleted it. Just know that, after doing genealogical and historical research for several years, I've found that, while history likes to make things all uniform and safe about groups of people, individualism trumps it every time.

Julia - don't think I didn't notice that 'cogent priapism'! Now I think it's time to stop giggling and go to bed. :)

And yes, it's my bedtime, too. Goodnight, all!

Julia said...

DLM - you can say anything at all about anyone as long as you end it with "bless his/her/their/its heart," as in, "She just found out her husband has to take medication for his intellectually dysfunctional you-know-what, bless his heart..." Or, "They just had their second failed exorcism this month for that little boy after he set fire to their puppy, bless his heart. Pass the sweet tea. Who made these lemon bars, Myrna? They're to DIE for! Oh, wait'll I tell you what they're taking off of Bernie's back in surg'ry next week, bless his heart."

And, no, no connection between geography and intellect intended - merely geography and word choice, which is a very different thing, bless its little heart!

Julia said...

This from someone who taught in the deep south. :)

LynnRodz said...

A new day! For me, at least, everyone else has gone to bed.

Ellen, thank you for the DP passage, beautifully written. I know Janet loves NYC (I do too) but I have to disagree with Ms. Parker about Paris. Then again I wasn't here in 1928 so maybe it was resigned, but somehow I doubt it.

Sam Hawke said...

I didn't get a chance to comment in the end sorry Carolynn but I'm from Canberra, Australia, and there's at least two of us from there (AJ Blythe is too). So don't forget our (currently freezing) part of the world! Not as far as Carkoon, obviously, but enough to make your legs go to sleep during the flight. :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Colin: what an excellent (yet I'm sure at the time anxiety ridden) saga. So glad your wife is better. And hope you find an engine.

2Ns: I'm also from Minnesota and lived a number of years in Wisconsin as well as a couple of years in Scotland.

AJ Blythe said...

Thanks, Sam! I'm late to the party this week as well, but as Sam said, I'm in the arctic climes of Canberra, Australia also.

Gosh, a lot of commentts this week, and I thought of heaps to say as I read through, but now I've finally reached the end I've forgotten most of them!

Glad to hear that everyone (and their loved ones) here and Carkoon have recovered from there health woes.

Did a little skip when I saw my paint reference got a mention =) Although after all the painting I've been doing not sure I have the energy to actually skip.

Thanks for another wonderful WIR. It might take me a while to get here sometimes, but it's always worth the wait.

JEN Garrett said...

PBs = Picture Books.
Now I really will end up in Carkoon. Using an abbreviation Janet didn't know. Shame on me.