Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Week in Review August 9

It's nice to be back on track after a couple weeks of being away and feeling very untethered by too much to do.

Last week's review wasn't really more than a hodge podge of quick notes from the Writers Digest conference but as usual, the best part of any blog post is found in the comments.

I just loved this news from bjmuntain:
I'd been going to give a whole bunch of travel tips I learned on this trip here, but there's really only one that's important. Edmonton, Alberta, airport has stress relief dogs. They wear vests that say Pet Me and go from gate to gate to let guests get some loving and wet faces.

I never thought I needed to go to Edmonton Alberta, but now I do. And I guess I should quit teasing our neighbors to the north in Canadia. Any country that can come up with this idea should be off limits to teasing.

I'm on a typo kick this week after having DIFFRNT in large letters on the overhead screen at the conference.

Some of you are sharing my pain:
Kregger: And listen to god old rock and roll while doing it.

The fact that there is something called Armadillo con just makes me happy:
Jenz: "but I did go to ArmadilloCon last weekend"

And I think this one wins for both good intentions and "holy moly what are you doing"

Janice Grinyer: 
Packing for Bismarck North Dakota so I can finish my book in my daughter's basement apt. while she works during the day. I am holding myself hostage until I rework this one damn chapter that holds me back from completing the damn thing. I must be getting close because I am annoyed with it and it with me and whoever survives the week in Bismarck wins.

I really liked kdjames Sunday ruminations:
wondered what anthropologists or explorers will make of our language and customs one day in the far distant future when language has changed yet again. Will they discover our flash fiction entries and ascribe them to religion? Will they try to decipher the meaning of the favoured words, repeated over and over, and see them as an offering to appease a powerful demi-god? Will they dismiss the idea of word-play as being too advanced a concept for our inferior and under-developed species?

I used that metaphor a while back to explain why non-fiction book proposals needed to cover the significance of the book being proposed.

The entries are getting better each time and that means it's getting harder and hard to pick finalists and a winner. I think this is all some sort of vast conspiracy, probably hatched on Carkoon, for revenge on The Agent. (and I'm ok with that, having gnawed more than my fair share of writers in the last few years)

I really liked hearing why you all enter the contests, and the individual goals you set for yourselves.

Dena Pawling started a very interesting discussion with her comments about not getting subtext in a story:

When I was in high school, my Sophomore English class was the typical “read and analyze the classics”. The first book we were assigned was Animal Farm. I read it. Twice. It was about a bunch of farm animals, and the pigs were not very nice. That's all I got out of it, even after the class discussion.

bjmuntain added
I have to admit, I didn't get Colin's ending, until Janet pointed it out. Sometimes subtlety is lost on me, I'm afraid. Once I saw it, I thought 'oh yeah', even though Janet didn't say what it was.

And Theresa:
And I always struggled with the "meaning" in novels. I once asked my 8th grade English teacher if she was sure that every story had a particular meaning. What if the author had simply wanted to tell a story? That teacher didn't like me very much.

Colin Smith
I've read that C.S. Lewis was annoyed by people who referred to the Narnia stories as "Christian Allegory." Now, it would be absurd to deny that the series is based in a Christian worldview, and leans heavily on Christian themes and biblical allusions. However, C.S. Lewis wanted the Narnia books to be regarded FIRST and FOREMOST as "good stories." And I agree with this perspective. It's cool if you can pack some deep and significant symbolism and allegory into a novel. But if the story sucks and I can't connect with the characters , then what's the point? I'm probably going to give up reading it, and all your cleverness will be lost on me.

And of course Julie M. Weathers summed it all up to perfection:
I have to agree with you. Someone years ago on the forum pointed out how much they appreciated the symbolism of whatever in my story. That never occurred to me whatsoever. I was describing something on the family farm exactly as I remember it. It didn't represent anything except a typical Montana farm.

    Gads, don't ever accuse me of being literary or deep.

    It's like an intellectual having a discussion with a cowboy who's staring at something on the ground.

    "I see you're pondering life. How that fragile flower can break through that rock to find it's way, reaching upwards to the sun. Triumphant against all odds!"

    "Hmmm? Oh, no. I was just looking at that dry cow pie and wondering where my fence was down. Not supposed to be any cows in this section."

    Yep, that would be pondering the cow pie of Julie Weathers literature. We all have our place in the sun. Some of us just have a kind of flat green place.

And Colin asked: Janet: What do you mean by "not quite a story"?
It has a start and a finish, and something changes. Maybe it's our (the reader's) perception or maybe it's something to do with one of the characters in the story. 

And Colin also asked:
Janet: Do you have any objection to the contests being announced and discussed on Twitter? I know you've said we are not to Tweet you directly and say "Hey, Shark-for-Brains, look at my awesome story!" What are the parameters for Twitter discussion of contests? Are there any? Or, like Chum Bucket, would you prefer to keep the contests for regular blog readers?

I don't have any objection to touting the contests far and wide. Just do NOT include me if you do it on Twitter or Facebook. (ie don't link me, or include @Janet_Reid in the tweet.) Link only to the actual contest on the blog.

And there's been idle chat about doing a Facebook page of some sort for the reader of this blog. I can't control what any of you do (even here on this blog, other than delete comments) but I STRONGLY urge you not to do this.

For starters, none of you have time for that. You should all be busy writing.
Second, starting a group from scratch is time-intensive. If you need a critique group, find a place that's already set up to help you form one.

And finally, under No Circumstances is anyone allowed to attach my name to that kind of effort in ANY way. I have to be very careful about  the perception that something has my OK particularly if it involves critiques of any kind, or information about publishing. And since no one is all that interested in my opinion on anything BUT those items, it's better to just say no and be done with it.

I'm sorry to be such a bucket of cold water on an idea birthed only of good intentions but I've learned the very hard way to be cautious about this kind of thing.

On Tuesday, the question was what to do with a train wreck of a novel when the reviewer was also a novelist

The key piece of information was the reviewer felt some of the book had been plagiarized, which of course meant the reviewer must decline to review it.

Lisa Bodenheim asked a good question after seeing the book in question had such egregious errors:
I had assumed big publishers still had copy editors who review books before publishing them. After all, it is the publisher's name on the book too so it reflects on their professionalism.

So this is a good question to ask on the road to publication. Do I ask my agent (when I got one) or my publisher (when one is found)?

Nothing goes out of my office with that level of error. I'd be mortified to submit something like that to a publisher..  Most publishers I work with do have copy editors, and they make my purse-lipped, eagle eyed nose for errors (and adjective strings) look like a day in Slackerville.

That said, some smaller publishers do not have resources for a top flight copy editor. If you know that's the case, it's entirely reasonable to retain the services of a copy editor yourself.  Not all copy editors are created equal, and I've heard some stories that would curl your hair, so as always, get references and check them before retaining anyone to do work for you.

donnaeve asked: "do reviewers HAVE to review books"
No. No one is obliged to review a book even if you got one on a Goodreads give away with the presumption you'd post a fair review.  Certainly that would not be the time to say "I don't have time to review this." You'd need a more substantive reason. The question poser did have one though: plagiarism.

You simply can not review a book that you believe is plagiarized. You also do not want to post a review saying "this book is plagiarized" unless you've done the page by page comparison needed to substantiate the claim.  Your obligation is only to write to the publisher about your concern and say you will not be reviewing the book. What the publisher does with that information is their business. You do NOT want to be in the position of making statements about a book in a public forum that can lead to a lawsuit. Publishing your opinion about the writing of the book is one thing; saying "this writer stole material from someone else" is quite another.

Her Grace the Duchess of Kneale  posted my new favorite sardonic phrase: diversity bingo cards in their books.

And I had to laugh that it wasn't until the very last comment THREE DAYS LATER that someone pointed out there were two points labelled #6.  Either you didn't notice, or you didn't want to say anything.

I'm totally fine with readers pointing out those kinds of errors. I like to fix them.

And if you want a comment deleted, it's ok to write to me and tell me to delete it for you. I'll only need your posting name, date, and timestamp.

I like to keep the blog tidy. That means deleting the "this comment removed by author" dead spots and fixing errors no matter when they are found.

After a terrible Google mess, I'm still trying to update all the posts that have missing images.  I fear I'll be working on that until the cows (or Colin) come home.

On Wednesday the topic was republishing short stories:

and of course Colin is determined to take up permanent residence on Carkoon with this little gem:
So--how about an anthology of, oh, say, flash fiction stories previously published on a certain literary agent's blog? I'm curious to know what the interest would be in that, if Janet knows of any publishers that would take such a project on, or would this be better as a self-published project?

For starters, no one can self-publish those stories since there are multiple authors. Each author retains copyright of his/her work even if it's posted here. Unless you mean self-pubbing only your own entries.

Second, no publisher is going to be interested in something like this given that all the material is already available at no cost here on the blog. 

If by some twist of fate, I am struck by lightning, killed, then revived as a crazy person who thought this was a good idea, there would need to be fresh new material-- essentially bonus content --for a book to have any chance of  finding a paying market.

Craig brought up the sticky issue of rights:
Make sure that the rights really do revert. Places like Short Story America don't do much of a contract because it is implied that they own the rights forever. Some of the more interesting anthologies have a sliding scale of reversion. If you are a headlining writer you can keep the rights. If you are a filler writer they keep the rights. It has to do with sales generation versus opportunity.

I can not agree with this more. Short story contracts particularly from small presses are often a hodgepodge nightmare. Make sure there is either the phrase "non-exclusive" or a a specific amount of time for the exclusivity.

Example: Author grants Publisher the non-exclusive right to print, publish and sell the Poem  "Ode to Kale"  in the English language throughout the world
Author grants Publisher the exclusive right print, publish and sell the Poem "Ode to Kale" for twelve (12) months, and the non-exclusive right to print, publish and sell Poem thereafter, in the English language throughout the world.

And in case anyone has forgotten, yes there is an Ode to Kale.

Leafy green and verdant plant
Whose charms my taste buds tease
Though food of pleasure here is scant
Your bitter juice doth please

Now this exile land is home
And here my days will end
I'm glad to know your wavy comb
My succulent best friend.
---Colin (The Man of Great Ideas) Smith

and it turns out that Christina Seine's pint size person has a great idea:
8yo: No! Yeah! They could put all the agents in tanks and then you could pitch to them that way! Instead of aiming at them, you could just aim at the target thing, and if you hit it but they don't like your book, they go in the water.

Honest to godiva, if we did that as a fundraiser at Bouchercon, we'd clean up. Well, someone would clean up. I doubt they'd let me keep the lovely lolly proceeds.

Christina Seine harked back to my presentation at the Writers Digest conference wherein I spelled different without the second e:

I meant to tell you Janet that you were eclipsed by another presenter during the conference whose slide was supposed to say "hands." So when we all read that a character had her hans on her hips, a general giggle rippled through the audience. It was followed by several Norwegian-themed erotically funny whispered one-liners that had the attendees in the middle rows doubling over with silent laughter. I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

Sven and Lena jokes? Oh dear, I know only one. It's utterly disreputable and can not be printed on this blog. However. Should we have a Welcome Back From Carkoon gathering at Bouchercon for our exiled Colin Smith, someone remind me to tell you the story of the fellow who pitched me a marriage tips book at a conference one year. (This story is why Barbara Poelle got an air horn for Christmas that year)

And in case you need a discussion on breakfast cereal, this was the comment trail for you.

On Thursday we talked about waiting time for following up on requested fulls.

[There were 177 comments by week's end, which I think is the record now. Fortunately for me, at least 2/3 of them were far afield of the day's topic, thus hilarious but not requiring follow up.]

Jennifer R. Donohue asked a good question:
I'm unclear as to how I ought to word it, though. "Dear Agent, emailing to check the status on the full of TITLE sent DATE. Kisses, have a good summer!" (maybe not with kisses. too early in the possibility of a relationship).
Here's how you email for a follow up:

Subject line: Follow up on TITLE by AUTHOR requested DATE

Dear Snookums,
I'm writing to follow up on TITLE which you requested on DATE.

Option A: I wanted to make sure you received it in good order. Yours truly, Woodland Creature
Option B: Please let me know if any further information will be helpful to you. Yours truly, WC

You use Option A if the agent did not acknowledge receipt of the full
You use Option B if the agent DID acknowledge receipt of the full.

Notice that in neither option do you ask how soon the agent will reply to you. The purpose of this is not to get a date certain, but to make sure the communication pipes are running clearly.

When I reply to acknowledge receipt of requested fulls I tell writers to expect me to take 90 days but they are welcome to touch base as often as their nerves require. You might think that anxious
woodland creatures would email me every day but no only do they NOT, it's cut down on actual follow up emails. Interesting isn't it that telling people it's ok to be in touch salves their anxiety enough that they don't have to.

I can't figure out why more agents don't do this.

Laura Mary had a good question:
I know that some agents are 'no reply means no' at the query stage, which is annoying but I guess understandable - what is the etiquette form an Agent's perspective with partials/full requests? I naively assume that that would warrant a reply, even if it is a 'not for me' 12 months later.

I believe that agents should reply to partials and fulls. Most agents I know say that is their practice, even if they've gone over to the Dark Side on "no response means no."

What happens is they get woefully behind, and it's kind of embarrassing, not to say humiliating to keep writing back with "not yet." I think that's why there is the Great Silence sometimes. Or, they mean to read it this week, and things get out of hand, and then the email gets buried, and pretty soon it's three weeks old and starting to smell like ripe gym sox, and it's just easier to delete it and pretend you never saw it.

I liked kaitlyn sage's imagery here:
I tend to view my partials and fulls as little unicorns I put out to graze and get fat on the lush grass of being read by strangers. Maybe they come when I call to check on them, maybe they don't. They're unicorns. Suckers have minds of their own.

And Lizzie makes a good point:
I wish it was more professionally acceptable for agents to post status updates on fulls even if they are a year or more behind. The waiting is a bummer, sure, but it's the daily today-could-be-the-day suspense that niggles.

The problem with that is I don't always read in date order. In fact, I read out of order a lot. I do my queries in chrono order, but short of actually posting names or titles, I can't think of a way to keep up on the status of requested fulls.  

On Friday we paused to compose entries for the flash fiction writing contest. The results for that will be posted on Monday.


Colin Smith
And if I might just say something else about Bouchercon (and then I'll shut up about it--unless you all carry on talking about it...), I'm actually looking forward to the fact that this is, essentially, a fan event. It's not a writing conference, so I'm not going to be there trying to get published, and agents are not going to be there trying to build their client lists. This means we can all relax and have fun, which is a much better way to get to know people. That's not to say I don't want to go to a writing conference. Heck yes I do. But this sounds to me like a much better atmosphere in which to meet the likes of Janet, Barbara, and Jessica for the first time. Especially given my relatively inept social skills. :)

A note about Bouchercon. It's in Raleigh North Carolina October 8-11. As Colin mentions it's a fan convention, NOT a writing conference. I go to support my authors. That means I attend their panels.  If you want to find me, that's the first place to look.

Second, I'm in the bar A LOT. And not sozzled either (mostly) It's just a convenient place to hang out.
I'm very much looking forward to seeing blog readers there as well. 

Here are some tips for you:
1. If I'm talking to one person, intently, it's most likely a meeting. Please save your hello for when I can buy you a beverage and have an actual visit.

2. If I'm in the middle of a bunch of people, please feel free to join in. Even if it's all clients or colleagues, we're happy to include you.

3. If I'm sitting alone in the back of the room at a panel, please feel free to talk to me. Even if I'm reading. I tend to get to panels early and stake out my claim to the back of the room.

4. If you see Loretta Ross, say hi. She's a client of mine, and this is her first Bouchercon. She's one of the nicest, funniest people in the world.

5. Under no circumstances will you initiate a conversation about your query or manuscript. This is a convention for READERS and I'm there as a reader not an agent.

Fire away with any questions about B/con.

And a heads up that it's almost vacation time again. I'm not sure what to do for that week+ here on the blog. Here are some ideas:

We can have blog posts with pets again
OR I can do reposts of earlier topics (like all the Rules for Writers)
OR we can just go dark
OR ??? your suggestions appreciated. (Except for Colin. He just gets in to trouble with those)

Subheader choices for the week.
"And then the cat yakked up a hairball."--kdjames

"The thread here is like a stream of consciousness interrupted each day by a post from Janet."-Colin Smith

"Topic? What topic?"--kdjames

"One of the many reasons I love this blog is that Janet understands exactly how batshit crazy we writers are and seems to like us in spite of it." --kdjames

"The first thing on my to do list everyday is read this blog. Worrying about things I can't control is #2.

Unless I wake up super early. Then the order is reversed."--SiSi

kaitlyn sage:
I tend to view my partials and fulls as little unicorns I put out to graze and get fat on the lush grass of being read by strangers.


Terri Lynn Coop said...

Good morning to Carkoon! Is everyone sleeping?


John Frain said...

If vacation week+ is going democratic, I'll vote for reposting earlier topics like all Rules for Writers.

If it's not going democratic, then Janet, have a fantastic vacation. I'd suggest not telling us where, so coincidences of running into blog readers on vacation are held to a minimum.

Not that I would do such a thing and happen to have the first 50 pages of a WIP under my arm.

Julia said...

Is there a "How to Avoid Xanax and Just Be Happy and Write" post?

Or a "Top Ten On My Things That Annoy Me" post?

Or a "Janet's True Opinions On Oatmeal, Long Trips In Station Wagons, And Southern Food" post?


Dena Pawling said...

1. On Friday, August 7, I received a form rejection beginning "Dear Author" to a query I emailed on March 28. I am, however, grateful for the response.

2. To the person who can't delete his/her comments -- I find that I can't delete my comments from my laptop computer but I CAN delete them on my phone. Just something for you to try.

3. I vote for reposting of previous topics.

4. I vote for Janet having a wonderful vacation.

5. And yes, the pigs weren't very nice =)

Marc P said...

If you are coming to the UK for your vacation Janet, can I have some of that Maple Syrup please? I will swop for cake! :)

bjmuntain said...

What a great WiR! I have to say LOL - simply because I did Laugh Out Loud through most of it.

I loved that yellow lab at the gate in the airport. Others just pet the dog. I got myself on a level with the dog, and wound up with a wet face (not a bad thing!) I did tear up a bit afterwards - I'd only left my own dog behind the night before, so I hadn't been away that long, but I just suddenly missed her.

Choices for posts for the holidays? I did like the Easter ones, where we shared our internet homes. Why not something similar? Maybe a short something per day, and we can have at her? I'd hate to have the blog go dark, if only because I'd miss everyone.

The short something could be a publishing quote, a quote from a client's novel, a short piece of advice, or even a link to a previous blog post, or another interesting blog post by someone else. Just something to rally the community around for a day.

What do others say?

Regarding subheaders: I like kdjames' batshit crazy one. :)

Second choice would be ... a tie between Colin's and SiSi's.

How helpful is that? :)

Hope that wherever you go for your vacation, Janet, and whatever you do, that you have a lovely, restful time.

Julia said...

1. Sigh. Because it's that kind of day on this end.

2. Anything batshit crazy works for me. Reminds me of a Demotivations poster (if you don't know Demotivations, Google it - hilarious) about Nicholas Cage - "Nicholas Cage: Available in Stoic and Batshit Crazy."

3. That moment when you click an icon and your computer does nothing, so you double click, and it still does nothing, and a minute passes, and you end up with fifty windows on your screen. And the next thing you open very carefully and wait for two minutes before realizing that this time, it really (ha HA!) just didn't pick up on your super-careful click. Defenestrate computer - NOW!

4. P!ink - You gotta get up and try and try and try...

Donnaeve said...

Thank you Ms. Janet for a lovely WIR. Again, and I know I'm regurgitating here, but it's the fact you capture the important comments/points of the week, which sometimes get buried.

My "suggestion" for your vacation week+: First and foremost, whatever is easiest for you since, after all, you will be on vacation.

I do have an idea though, which is sort of in line with that free for all mentality, i.e. the " letting us have at it" except with a twist.

What if you post a topic du jour about querying/agenting/publishing, i.e. a different topic a day, but that's all you do. Give us the topic and let us tell everyone what we learned, (or not, i.e., good OOPS stories)etc. We've obviously shown how verbose we can be. Very spoodle verbose actually.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

While you are gone on your amazing vacation, (it will be one I'm sure), lets visit each other again. There's some new folks too, so it's get acquainted anew, and all over again.

As for sub-header, "Topic, what topic".

Thanks for the WIR, life is not complete without a WIR.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Great to be home and connected so I can comment here again. I read all posts and most comments while dodging jellyfish in the south. Luckily there were far less meduse than comments. Lucky we were to make it home with all the accidents and storms Friday. Vacation traffic is mass migration. A victim-free car fire blocked the autoroute for hours. We missed that one but saw others.

I've copied the Janet's follow up formula to my writing advice file.

Suggestion for the Shark's vacation week, oh fun.

Go dark sounds good. Vommentors work on their WIPs and Janet can read all those fulls.

Or she could host a FF contest: One sentence a day for seven days to make one story for the week.

Maybe we could scheme how to free Colin from Carkoon.

We could sleep for a week and recover from all that côte de Provence on vacation.

Jed Cullan said...

During Janet's holiday, we should just post rude shark limericks all week.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Suggestion for the QOTKU's vacation week: We could parse sentences. Or she could post a peice of prose and we could try to edit it. While she's relaxing we'd work.

Marc P said...

Carolynn with two N's has the right of the matter. Seems to me a holiday should allow swimming clear of the tentacles of the thousands of jellyfish floating in the coastal waters of publishing - and clear of overworked metaphors too! :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Whew, week in review!

Thank you, Janet, for addressing my question in particular. As I did receive acknowledgement of receipt (that didn't seem to be automated), I will be going with Option B. I'm not terribly hand-wringing over it, I know summer + conferences + rhapsodizing over my references can make anybody in the industry take awhile to reply. Just seemed like it was getting on to check in time.

Blog posts with pets? Those may have been before my time. Or eclipsed by more latter awesomeness. Given that I'm possessed of a (much neglected....) dog blog, I do enjoy blog posts with pets! However, Rules for Writers never cease to be useful, even (especially?) in repetition.

In other writerly news, I had lunch with a Local Writer Friend yesterday, which is a rarity for any number of reasons. So that was fun. I made it to 65k on the WIP. Also, I had three rejections this week for short stories, two of which were personals. I in fact have a story which has received personals 3 out of the 4 times it's been out so far, which is both awesome and hand wringing of the "If you like it then why won't you take it?" style.

But, I asked the library's Magic 8 Ball if I was going to get an acceptance soon, and it said "You can rely on it."

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Great week in review.

And there's been idle chat about doing a Facebook page of some sort for the reader of this blog. I can't control what any of you do (even here on this blog, other than delete comments) but I STRONGLY urge you not to do this.

For starters, none of you have time for that. You should all be busy writing."

Thank you. This blog, a small group of writers on twitter in a private chat, and Books and Writers are my guilty pleasures. The last two usually revolve around the craft of writing, so I excuse them to a point, but still limit my time.

As much as I love y'all, I have to control myself here also. The hours spent coursing through the comments and replying to all the interesting comments, (How would a person have time for anything, they're all interesting) with intelligent or mildly interesting responses would chew up a significant part of the day.

This place makes me about as happy as a tapdancing terrapin, but I still have to control my time sinks.

I've been babysitting most of the week while Will went back To Texas to visit his dad. Will being my youngest son. I got no writing done to speak of, but I finished Sarah Morgan's diary and made copious notes. Diaries, letters, and memoirs are gold mines for historical details. I'm finishing Shelby Foote's novel SHILOH now. Lawsy, that man had a way with words without being high-toned.

I had a long conversation with Diane Ciarloni, my former editor. She asked how the Civil War piece was coming. I told her I'm 35,000 words in, but having to be very careful to get details correct, especially regarding campaigns. Then I said I was trying to weave in a lot of facts and actual conversations in an unobtrusive way as Foote did in SHILOH.

"Mr. Foote is a fascinating man. I called him when he was about 60 and asked if I could speak with him about a thesis I was doing for college. He was truly gracious and what I think of as the consummate southern gentleman. He answered all my questions and very generously gave me two hours. This is amazing considering I was a nobody student and he was a highly successful author."

She had the impression coming away from the interview he did not allow life to set him off course. He handled whatever came his way with grace and stayed firmly focused with singleness of purpose.

This is a philosophy all successful writers should strive for, methinks.

Audrey Shaffer said...

"The thread here is like a stream of consciousness interrupted each day by a post from Janet."-Colin Smith

That's my favorite subheader choice. Although Kaitlyn's unicorns make me smile. :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Regarding your vacation. First off, YAY! Have a good time. My fondest wish is to own a painted lady where I can sit on the porch and drink sweet tea with friends. I'll let you know when I have the grand dame so you can come visit. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful time.

Regarding the blog. I think reissuing previous posts about writing would be awesome, but whatever is easiest for you.

Mainly, just focus on you.

Jenny C said...

I love the idea of blog posts with pets!

Colin Smith said...

Wow--I actually said something worthy of consideration for Sub Heading of the Week!! Makes a change from my kids groaning "Daaaaad!" :)

And I appreciate the responses vis-a-vis tweeting about the contests, and the various other expanded universe ideas (Facebook group, anthology). Just FYI, I'm off the idea of the anthology for a couple of reasons. The first, as Janet indicated, has to do with the logistics of permissions etc. Of course, Janet's pearl of wisdom that publishers would avoid it like a rancid rabid cat really puts the proverbial nail in the coffin on the idea. But also part of the fun of the contests is that they are of the moment--flashes of creativity for fun, and writing practice. To make them more than that would, I think, detract from their fun. HOWEVER, it is fun to go back and read over old contests, which you can do by searching for "contests" on the blog.

If anyone wants to reproduce the ODE TO KALE, I hereby grant permission to do so on the proviso that you do NOT give me credit. You know how much people hate kale; can you imagine what they would do to someone who eulogizes it?! :)

Love your notes about Bouchercon, Janet. I'm looking forward to using all my social skills to interrupt meetings and pitch novels at you. ;) Seriously, I'm really looking forward to meeting you, Donna, TLC, and any other vommenters who are there, as well as (hopefully, Lord willing), Barbara P, Jessica F, and all those lovely published writers. I enjoyed DEATH AND THE REDHEADED WOMAN, so it'll be cool to meet Loretta. :)

As for what to do during your vacation, going dark is simply not an option. I know you don't want to hear any ideas from me, but a couple of these aren't bad, really:

1) Use this time to visit people using the Carkoon's Most Wanted List. You should have at least one article up that we can comment on so newcomers can leave their social media deets for me to add to the list.

2) Flash-back articles sound like a good plan. Or, as someone else suggested, a topic of the day. Perhaps a question for us to answer?

3) Get a babysitter in. Maybe have one of your Blessed Minions run the blog for the week+, or have some of your agent colleagues guest blog. If they dare... :D

Whatever you do, post at least one article so we have somewhere to comment!

Now back to lesson prep for tomorrow. First day as Head of English at Carkoon High. :)

The Sleepy One said...

If a few people here really wanted to connect on Facebook, there is one other option: a closed group. The posts aren't visible outside of the group. You can set it so the only way to find about the group is to be invited. I'm in one where a handful of friends discuss problems and make a surprising number of jokes about poop ever since someone discovered the poop emoji.

But if the primary reason people here know each other is through the blog, why try to start something secondary? Especially since almost any conversation goes here. It would be sad to mess with the energy here in addition to the potential problems Janet listed.

I'm jealous of everyone going to Bouchercon! But I can't complain because I'll be in Belgium.

Oh, and if anyone wants to share their favorite airplane reads with me, I'm in the market for suggestions. Added bonus if its a book that will be easy to find used so I won't feel bad leaving at a hostel somewhere in Europe for another reader.

LynnRodz said...

As always, another great WIR. Thank you, Janet, for doing these. I hope you have a great time off from here because it's well deserved, so I vote for going dark for the week. I know there will be withdrawal symptoms for some who are addicted. (No names mentioned, Lol.) But, it may do them more good than bad.

Oh yeah, I vote for kdjames' comment on batshit crazy. SiSi's is a close second.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I love Raleigh and have a dear friend there who's writing a mystery if I can get her back on track. I should nudge her to go to Bouchercon. I may have to go next year even though I don't write mysteries. Who can resist New Orleans?

"3) Get a babysitter in. Maybe have one of your Blessed Minions run the blog for the week+, or have some of your agent colleagues guest blog. If they dare... :D"

And that's what when Colin landed in Carkoon's oubliette, never to be heard from again.

Amy Schaefer said...

I vote for blank posts (or cute animal posts) all week to give the commenters a place to romp while you are away. Don't invite extra week by posting actual content or recycling old posts. We'll all still be here when you get back.

I had a delightfully unproductive weekend. Sometimes going for a swim and playing endless games of Uno with the kids is the right call, no matter how much work is stacking up behind you.

Amy Schaefer said...

That would be "invite extra work". Darn that off-brand spell/grammar checker Colin sent me! I expected more from a product named Carkoon's Finest Compewter Tool What Makes Yer Comment All Smart and Stuff.

Craig said...

Vacation, come on down. I'll lend you the house across the street from me. It has a hot tub in the back yard or you could walk over and use the pool anytime.

I'll cook you the best Pecan Pie you ever had and a blueberry one with a crumble top for some variety.

Let me know what kind of food you like and I'll do most of the cooking.

We are very casual down here. Dress up to me means a pair of dress shorts and a tee shirt. said...

Good lord. I'm mentioned in the wrap up AND have three-- THREE!-- quotes as subheaders? This confirms my suspicion that I've been spending way too much time commenting here and not enough time writing fiction. Thanks for the mentions. I think.

I love the sardonic truth of Colin's quote and SiSi's is hilarious.

Janet, enjoy the vacation! Knowing that you read all the comments over here, I'd suggest making it a true vacation and just don't post for a week. But I imagine everyone would simply continue to comment on whatever was the last post anyway, and probably break the blog, so . . . post title: "Monday" post content: "Have at it." Although, I do like the idea of a refresher of earlier topics.

Maybe you should devote one day for people to ask questions anonymously in the comments. To be answered by you in future posts, not by fellow commenters. A means of refilling the well, as it were. I bet there are woodland creatures out there who have questions but are too timid to send them to you in an email.

Do whatever is the least amount of work for you. This blog is already well above and beyond what anyone could reasonably expect from an agent. said...

Am I the only one who finds it troubling that there are schoolchildren on Carkoon? Oh. Or maybe the classrooms are empty. Is that part of the punishment, Colin, teaching to an empty room? Or is this a school of the fish variety?

bjmuntain said...

I would think that Carkoon's school would have to be a private school for bullies and pranksters. Imagine the threats:

"If you don't stop picking on Billy, we're sending you to Carkoon."
"If you pin one more obscene picture to your teacher's back, we're sending you to Carkoon."

If the threats don't work... well, the kiddies learn, don't they? As do the teachers, I'm sure.

(Colin, if a kid pats you on the back, head straight to the bathroom and check out the back of your shirt.)

Amy Schaefer said...

kdjames, I wouldn't be too worried. I'm pretty sure that Colin has just drawn faces on a bunch of paper plates. No actual schoolchildren involved.

John Frain said...

If Colin teaches an English lesson, but no one is in the classroom to hear it, does he make any noise?

Being a liar, sorry storyteller, I have learned to embrace certain parts of politics. Mostly, vote early and often. So...

I'll vote for reposting earlier topics from days past regarding Rules for Writers.

Also, I'd like to vote for reposting earlier posts on Rules for Writers.

Vote. Rinse. Repeat.

Kitty said...

Btw, I'd like to thank Lilac Shoshani, donnaeverhart, AJ Blythe, Jed Cullan and Lilly Faye for stopping by my "Breifs..." story blog and leaving lovely comments. I'm not good at checking for comments -- and those were left last April! -- but I figure better late than never! Again, thank you!

Donnaeve said...

Btw. Just an observation. Ya'll are voting on a sub-header, but kdjames' batshit one is already up there. I think Ms. Janet was just saying here's the one's that caught my eye, and decided on the one she liked best!

Congrats kd!

And, you're welcome Kitty!

bjmuntain said...

Donna: It wasn't up there earlier. I think she's made her decision and the Shark has Chosen. :)

bjmuntain said...

That should be, the Shark has Spoken.

And yes, I did check earlier to make sure she hadn't already chosen before I gave my vote. Because I do that. Because... well, I can't actually delete my posts when I post from WordPress, so I need to make sure I'm right.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats, kdjames, on the subheader of the week.

And Janet, go enjoy your vacation.

If you're able to schedule ahead, it'd be nice if comments were allowed under the gosh-all, expressive critter pics that you're able to tap into. It's not quite the same when we all swirl around to find one another's websites. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy reading other's blogs but we don't seem to make the same type of goofy comments let alone get a spiral of holyschmoly ridiculousness.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: I don't think anyone's paying serious attention to my suggestions anymore. They've become the equivalent of singing suggestions from Milli Vanilli. :)

High School, people. Do you remember what high school kids are like? Can you imagine what Carkoonian high school kids are like? I've asked for protective clothing, but apparently no-one make any that resilient. :\

Colin Smith said...

Oh-My-Goodness! FirstBorn just made some chocolate lava cake (AKA, I Love Dad Cake) and it was superb. She makes it in a soup mug, and she just served me a half of it with the chocolate middle flowing in a lovely gooey river all over the plate, and squirt of whipped cream on the side with sliced strawberry embedded in the center. The presentation alone was exquisite, and the cake... wow... mmm...

Sorry, I had to share the news. Not the cake. I would have taken a picture of it for you but by the time I thought about it... *burp*. :D said...

Maybe they can help you formulate an escape plan, Colin. ;-)

I read the post linked, about NF proposals, and don't remember reading it before. I was definitely reading this blog back then and have no idea how I missed it. Perhaps because I'm as likely to write NF as I am to eat a Mallomar and I skipped it due to the title. Who knows. It does feel a bit strange to have used the same metaphor. There are no new ideas . . .

Debbie Dorris said...

Awesome WIR, Janet!

My vote is for Rules for Writers refresher posts, that is if you decide to blog during your vacation.

I, for one, find the posts and comments fun, humorous, entertaining, and informative. Sort-of a mini-vacation in itself. No stress, no pressure (well, except maybe for Colin), just relaxing camaraderie. If you need a true break from keeping us grounded, take it. As Amy Schaefer said, "We'll all still be here when you get back."

Colin: Yesterday I found that Costco now sells Kale Chips (of course not one package was taken from the shelf in my area's store, but hey!). I'm not sure if there is a Costco in Carkoon, but if so, kale chips might come in handy if your "students" become unruly. Just feed them a few and they'll most likely be off to the bathroom in no time, thus granting you time to plan your getaway, I mean to figure out how to get back into the QOTKU's good graces. Yeah, that's the ticket! Good luck, it looks like you're gonna need it.

Colin Smith said...

Debbie: That's a great idea, though the tough part is figuring out how to win Janet's favor. Perhaps if I turned up at Bouchercon with some of the aforementioned chocolate lave cake (courtesy of FirstBorn)? Maybe laced with scotch? :)

Donnaeve said...

bj - LOL, no worries...although I think it was up when I did my first post, hence my comment about the vote.


My attention has now been diverted to LAVA CAKE.

Jed Cullan said...

Dibs on the chocolate cake.

Dena Pawling said...

I'm allergic to chocolate but if anyone has carrot cake or cheesecake or apple fritters, you'll have to wrestle me for it. And I don't play fair because otherwise I'll lose.

You have been warned.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin has an escape plan? Don't trust him. I hid the oars.

Colin Smith said...

Dena: That has to be the saddest thing I've heard in a long time. Allergic to chocolate? Somebody has to be working on a cure for that. Where I do donate?

bjmuntain said...

Dena, I share your pain. I can eat chocolate, but I can't eat a lot of things made with chocolate because gluten.

Maybe we can come up with some scientific means to take all the chocolate out of something. I'll eat the chocolate, and you can have the rest.

AJ Blythe said...

Wonderful week in review as always, and fun-to-read comments to top it off (icing on the lava cake?).

I don't think it matters what her Sharkliness decides to post while she joins the swarms terrorising Australia's coast at the moment, because you guys just can't stick to topic.

So I reckon JR could play a drinking game with her blog while on vacation. A finger of scotch for every post that is on topic. Poor thing, I bet you didn't want a dry holiday!

SiSi said...

It's great to have the WIR back, although I completely understand why you couldn't do it the last couple of weeks--I had one of those weeks myself this past week, and the coming week isn't looking a lot better.

While you're on vacation, be on vacation. Do whatever is easy and fun for you with the blog. While we'll miss it and you, don't let working on the blog be the first step on a slippery slope that slides you right out of vacation mode!

Darling Kitty said...

I vote for the subheader: "And then the cat yakked up a hairball."--kdjames

bjmuntain said...

By the way, I'm pretty sure that, no matter what Janet decides to do, she won't actually be posting on the blog while she's on holidays. I'm betting she'll have them all ready to go before she leaves, all scheduled to post on the appropriate day.

Which is, of course, the best thing for her to do, because she shouldn't have to do any work at all while she's on holidays. (Though I don't doubt she'll stop in once in awhile to laugh at us... I mean, with us... and to keep an eye on Colin)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I'm of the firm belief that any native Carkoonians are of the "Shadow over Innsmouth" sort. I mean, what are the coordinates for Carkoon, do we know? Anywhere in the neighborhood of S. Latitude 47° 9′, W. Longitude 126° 43′?

Dena, I'm sorry to hear of your chocolate allergies. Apple fritters are, however, divine (and the more cinnamon the better). We're also somewhat into strawberry rhubarb season, aren't we? said...

Reflecting further on what I remember of middle school, and of my children's experience in middle school, I imagine Carkoon middle school would be a cakewalk in comparison. Moving on to Carkoon high school must be a sheer relief. And who better to whip those kids into shape than Colin? They'll be prime candidates for the next generation of writers, what with their tender sensibilities all toughened up by the harsh reality of exile and kale. It is a far, far better thing that you do, Colin. :)

Wendy Qualls said...

I'd love to see "vacation week" be taken over by your evil twin and include some tongue-in-cheek "worst advice an agent could ever give a writer." Because I'm sure you've seen most of it done, and taken seriously. And it makes me feel less neurotic to know that someone out there truly doesn't know that carbon copying their "Dear Agetn" query to 150 agents isn't a good idea.

Christina Seine said...

Another amazing WIR! I really do love these. Thank you Janet for putting it together.

I haven't had a chance yet to read through all the comments yet (I will, but it's been a long day/week and my sweet pillow beckons). May I humbly request/suggest that during your vacation week Janet, you simply ask us readers a brief question each day and let your audience have at it in the comments section. I can think of several right off the bat, like What's your caffeine of choice, Who's your fave author evah, Would you vote for Julie Weathers for president, and Why on earth would anyone willingly eat kale? Just a thought.

Marc P said...

I was made to eat Kale the other day, It was like someone had tasted baby spinach and said this is too good for human consumption. Mutate it, fill it with aluminium give it the texture of thick paper and a spine made of hemp and then colour it really green, but not a nice green. Who would do something like that?

Theresa said...

My vote for is a Shark's Greatest Hits while Janet vacations.

Loved the WIR and was tickled to be mentioned.

Michael J. Craft said...

I want to publicly apologize for breaking the Twitter rule. In my excitement for the flash fiction contest I linked Ms. Reid's handle in a tweet. That particular tweet was congratulating a fellow writer for being chosen as a finalist. I'm sorry, and I promise I'll never do it again.

Janice Grinyer said...

*stagger dancing around with an empty bowl of chips in a basement apt in Bismarck*

Thank you for the shout-out Ms Shark! I am trying my best to keep on writing and not be diverted from all the fun that goes on in the comments of your blog - Thats why Im in a basement in Bismarck! Its the only way!

And so thats why I like the selection "One of the many reasons I love this blog is that Janet understands exactly how batshit crazy we writers are and seems to like us in spite of it." --kdjames".


*stares at the empty bowl and recognizes this might not be a good lifefood choice, but could be inserted into a plotline...*