Sunday, March 27, 2016

Week In Review March 27, 2016

Welcome to the week that was
A quick reminder you can sign up for my mailing list here. The newsletters will be mostly about client news not the blog.

I've been posting some pieces on my Facebook page that might interest you:
Don't be helpful

Don't get too full of yourself there Janet.

Mystery Writers of America has a call for middle grade submissions for their next anthology, edited by R.L. Stine. You MUST be an MWA member to submit work. Let me know if you want the announcement (email me)

Words I got wrong this week: loath/loathe
Words I did NOT get wrong this week: deserts/desserts. How you would know though, given my decline in spelling standards, I do not know.

Last week's review had mention of mailing pumpkins and watermelons.
Jenny C said
Now that Janet has posted on WIR that I'm willing to write my synopsis on a pumpkin and mail it off to agents I expect to get inundated with requests tomorrow morning! So I'm off to buy a package of Sharpies and a bunch of pie pumpkins, which my local grocery store sells year-round. If no one requests? Well, I can always make pie.

Does anyone else want to see the synopsis on the pumpkin? Yea, I thought so! Ok, Jenny, pics or it Did Not Happen!

Lennon Faris asked about the term "monkey knife fight"
And monkey knife fights! who are the monkeys? editors? agents? both? Is there screeching, or stuff thrown around the room? It's something I'd like to see.

This is a term I stole shamelessly from La Slitherina Herself Barbara Poelle. It's how she describes agents warring over good manuscripts. I've never been in one myself. I just swim up silently and grab the writer from below and swim off to Representation Island, leaving all those other agents splashing around in the Sea of Sorry.

Celia Reaves asked about the marathon editing project that sucked up a lot of time recently:
I hope your editing project has been put to bed and the demands on your time have ratcheted back down from astronomical to their normal level: superhuman.
I finished the last of the line edits on Friday night and the sense of relief to have finished was overwhelming. This has been on my to do list since last November!  Now all I need to do is write the actual letter and then Monday, off it goes in the mail.  It's been a while since I edited on paper and I'd rather forgotten how much more I like pen and paper than I do electrons.  Plus, my pen collection got a good workout!

The pens for this ms are the ones in the far right front mint julep cup.

And a tip of the sailor cap to John Frain's downright awful pun:
Amy, you can't blame your kids when they're naughty-cal, you're raising 'em that way.
(for those of you not aware: Amy lives on a boat)

luciakaku contributed to the unicycle theme from last week:
One of the most surprising things I discovered upon moving to Japan is that Japanese elementary schools keep racks of unicycles for the students' use. The kids ride unicycles during recess. Bigger kids help little kids learn. I've had a few schools do synchronized unicycle dances for big, sporty presentations. 
And Youtube brings you the world:

On Monday we talked about being careful not to burn bridges in this small world of publishing.

Adib Khorram asked:
I hope I haven't been operating under bad information, but it has been my understanding that at the query stage, there's no need to reply to a rejection at all, unless it was a personalized/helpful one (in which case you should say thank you). Otherwise, even short "thank you" notes to form rejections can quickly add up and clog an agent's inbox.

Now I hope I haven't been inadvertently rude.

The woodland creature brain is at it again.

You have not been rude. It is perfectly polite to not reply to rejection letters. I actually prefer it in that it helps me keep my email under control. I understand that some people simply can not help themselves and must reply, so "thank you for considering my query" is just about the only thing you want to say.

Jennifer R. Donohue's mouse story made me laugh
I've worked with people, frequently the general public, in every job I've had. While I'm not surprise, per se, to learn new wrinkles of bizarre/ridiculous/more or less unacceptable behavior, I still look askance.

Example: a couple of weeks ago, a patron for some reason pulled one of those business reply envelopes from a library trash can. There was a dead mouse in it. Then they could not conceive of any other scenario than "a person was going to mail this dead mouse to somebody and changed their mind". After about ten minutes of listening to this patron go back and forth with my coworker, I finally weighed in with "How about you just stop taking things out of the garbage and it won't bother you." And so the poor mousie returned to its erstwhile graveyard.

So there we have it. At least somebody didn't mail you a dead mouse in response to your rejection.

As someone who has disposed of dead rodents I can tell you exactly what happened: the mouse is dead and the person who found it didn't want to touch it. An envelope is a perfect mouse shroud.

Why anyone would think it was intended to be mailed defies logic. Amazing.

This from Bethany Elizabeth (after a discussion of how to spell asshat) cracked me up
DLM reminded me of a game my friends and I would play. Whenever adjective-ass noun was used (big-ass test, nice-ass car, kickass hat) we would switch the hyphen (big ass-test, nice ass-car, kick the asshat).

And in the end Brian Schwarz has exactly the right thing to remember:
I wanted to take a moment to admit a dangerous thing. On one particular occasion, on a very bad day when I was in a dark and desperate place, a personalized rejection rubbed me the wrong way and I got hooked.

I know, I know, a big no no on my part.

It wasn't a long exchange. I'm sure the agent was giving helpful advice by telling me my plot could really use some work. It just hit me at the wrong time, and I replied with something snide. The agent came back with something equally snide, and I'm sure I made the blacklist for that agent's spam folder.

At the end of the day, I bit when I shouldn't have. It didn't go well. I did know better. And I shouldn't have done it. But life goes on. So if you're sitting there thinking "Shit...I really wish I had read this post 4.23 minutes ago before I hit reply to that form rejection..." -- just take a deep breath and keep going. We get caught up in this stuff sometimes, the do's and don'ts, but even when you're well informed, you might still eff it up once in a while.

Life isn't over. Keep writing. Keep querying. Buy shark insurance. :)

AJ Blythe asked
    Two questions... How do you raise the question? Does the agent's answer mean all that much at that point?

    After all, if you've been offered representation than at that moment the agent believes they can sell your work. Some time later said agent changes agencies and now realises maybe it's too hard a sell. So for all the positive talk you might have got at sign-on-the-dotted-line time you're left on the sinking ship.

You'd ask '"what happens if you can't sell this" and "what happens if you change agencies?"  And yes, you're right none of us know what the future holds, but this way, you've asked, and you won't kick yourself later for NOT having asked.

Brigid asked:
Wait, but if those editors passed on it would this project then be dead in the water? The way that it would with an agent who only queried 10 editors and said sayonara?

Yes. I think what the Departing Agent intended here though was that if there was an offer, she'd let the author take it to a new agent so the author had something of immediate value to query with.

Jason Magnason asked:
If I query an agent, and I get a request for a full, and I get signed, then can I expect that they are prepared for the hard questions?

Will an agent be upset if I ask, "So if you move to a new agency, are you going to take me with you? Are you in this for the long haul? Are you going to shop this book till the heels on you shoes break?"

Yes. No.
All agents should be prepared to answer these questions. Any agent that gets huffy about this…well, now you know something about them.
Of course, you're not going to ask this like you're interrogating them about the disappearance of the last pint of Rocky Road from the freezer,  but you still should be able to expect answers to these and other "before you sign" questions.
I've blogged about the Next  Questions you ask an agent before signing before.

E.M. Goldsmith asked:
Is there a disadvantage to being the only author in a genre in an agent's wheel house? Or am I better off with someone who has dozens of hardcore fantasy writers?
I think a lot of this depends on the agent and the agency. I have several "one-offs" in my list. Laird Barron writes cosmic horror. He's the only guy I represent who does. When people write to me with horror novels I always say no. Laird's career is busy and multi-faceted and I want to focus on him. Horror is a limited market and I don't want to divide my efforts between two writers. That's MY approach though, certainly not some sort of standard to judge by.  ASK the prospective agent about his/her approach on this.

BunnyBear asked:
What is the standard contract language concerning who the Writer is signing with - the Agency or the Agent? I would think that would enter in when the Agent decides to dump the Writer for said reasons.
There is no standard contract language for author/agency representation. And this situation is less about the contract than the practice. For example, my clients at Fine Print are clients of the agency. Were I to leave, I would drag them with me, unless they wanted to stay. However, if I didn't want to, they are still repped by the agency as a whole. In practice however, you want an agent, not an agency. You want an advocate, not just someone who can process your royalty statements. 
One of the big values of hanging my shingle out here at FPLM is for what happens when the parting of ways is brought on not by a new job, but by a new plane of existence: if I get hit by the crosstown bus, my clients are not left wondering who has the keys to the office and where their contracts are.

And I really like what Craig said:
Seriously, agents are only human and have just as many quirks and foibles as us who fashion ourselves as writers. Sometimes the world gets too scary for everyone and some have to drop out or cut back.

It is a shame that when an agent stumbles it looks like they stomp the life out of some writer. If a manuscript or writing style is good enough for one agent you can find another that should work out better. Don't lose heart in either your writing or in humans you put your hopes in. Things do often get better in the long run.

Jason Magnason asked:
A friend of mine, who I have done some work for, from Colorado also said that I should not muddy the waters with a bad query. He said send it to about four agents, if you don't get a response you know its your query. If you get requests for pages and get no response, you know its the writing. Either way you know what needs fixing.

Janet, what's your take on that advice?
Bilgewater. You can't know anything from just four agents. Maybe MAYBE 20 agents, but even then, this is a subjective industry. If you're not getting requests from your query, get some face time with an agent (conference, consultation, etc) and get some feedback. It's amazing the number of ways authors can shoot themselves in the foot in a query.

On Wednesday the topic was writing in two very different categories
I urged the writer to focus

CarolynnWith2Ns said:
Isn't this like one man with a couple of sister-wives. Sounds great, actually sounds quite fulfilling, but oh how difficult it could be when one likes rap and the other is into opera.
I'm all in favor of plural marriage (no, really I am) and I like both opera AND rap but I'm not intending to write or perform either. One can appreciate many wonderful things, but when you turn your hand to creating art, I'm absolutely convinced that focusing on one thing is the way to go. You don't notice Yo-Yo Ma taking up the clarinet now, do you? In fact Mr. Ma may be able to play several instruments up to and including the kazoo and the cowbell (MORE cowbell!) but his performance instrument is only the cello.

RachelErin had a terrific idea, one I wish I'd thought of when I wrote the blog post:
The other thing for the OP to consider is genre mashings. If you decide MG is where your heart is, why not write an MG historical crime thriller? Which both myself and my 8-year-old would immediately put on our TBR lists.

Something like The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whittaker, but with a crime element instead of the medical mystery? (That book made me cry, by the way. The author did a brilliant job putting the reader in historically empathetic shoes).

MG is a category, not a genre, but this idea is terrific. (Category= fiction/non-fiction, adult, YA, MG, picture books. Genre: western, romance, crime)

Robert Ceres makes a good point here:
Writing good MG voice is really hard. Great MG voice, nearly impossible. I think that is one of the reasons the genre is tight. If you can write great MG you should go with it, even if you can't get Janet as your agent. Speaking as a parent, those kids are hungry to read, there is just a huge shortage of titles with really great writing. The ones that get it right have been huge sellers. Just my two cents.

I liked the point Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale makes here:
Sometimes it takes an author a while to figure out what they really, truly want to write.

I experimented with different genres, different ages, and pretty much wrote out all those stories that nagged at me until I got my Muse under control. Now my Muse aids me to write what satisfies my soul--Fantasy Romance novels.

Yes, I loved writing my contemporary thriller. I think it's clever. But it is the only contemporary thriller I will ever write. One book does not make a career.

I wrote a contemporary YA and half-way through, asked myself, "Why am I writing this? I don't love this." Turns out, it was a bad book, possibly one of the worst I'd ever written.

But I have written several fantasies and several romances. I am happiest writing Fantasy Romance. Give me love and magic any day.

(But not paranormal. Too close to contemporary. I write escapist fiction. I want to get as far away from real life as I can.)

Just today I read a guest post on an indie blog about an indie author who only wrote "when inspired", and whatever random idea that was. She was her Muses's b!tch. Her works (which apparently there were plenty) were eight ounces of milk without a glass. Her blog post was about how, after so many singletons, she was able to write a sequel (after how many years of her fans asking for sequels?) and that she didn't think she could write a sequel again.

Did she choose the indie life, or did it choose her? I wonder how well she sells with her scattershot career.

Being a successful career author means having a brand. And that means when readers see a book under your name, they expect a certain thing. Nobody expects to pick up a Stephen King book and find a frothy Regency Romance.

My advice to Opie is write your YA, write your historical crime, then write another book. Maybe two. Ask yourself, what do you want to write the most? What sings loudest to your soul?

It seems too many people write one book and think they must immediately go out and seek representation.

Must you?

It seems too many people try to build a career out of one book.

Is it the right book?

And this from CarolynnWith2Ns is spot on:
Kae, for years I wrote what I thought "might" sell better than what I "loved" to write because I believed my writer's passion-projects would languish. I don't do that anymore.
If you're going to commit to the huge amount of time writing projects require you might as well love what rattles around in you brain.

Mister Furkles asked:
You mean LGBT erotica and MG Christian historical don't mix? WTF? Now, what am I going to do? Maybe one of those double novels with LGBTE on one side; flip it over and MGCH on the other.

Which was hilarious until I saw this tweet from FPLM agent Penny Moore this morning:

I have a short list of projects that are just revolting (yes, dino porn is on that list) and this is one of them!

On Thursday we talked about requests for revision while on submission, and the consternation of what to do:

Michael Seese references  one of my favorite scenes in film:
Agent One's advice reminds me of the scene in "Amadeus" where the Emperor tells Mozart to fix his opera.

"Just take out a few notes."

"Which notes did His Majesty have in mind?"

I often think of this when I'm talking to writers about revisions. Particularly when I'm talking to them about paring down.

Christina Seine had a good suggestion:
Opie's question reminds me of a thing they used to do on one of those game shows. I think it was The Price Is Right. You had to guess the correct price of a car or something, and you'd get a certain number of tries. So you'd start with your best guess, and they'd tell you how many numbers you got correct. So the first guess you might have two numbers out of five correct, but then you change three numbers and lo and behold, now you've get only one right. So you are blindly changing things just to change things. I never did see anybody actually win the car that way.

I'm just going to throw out there that reading Larry Brooks' STORY FIX helped me IMMENSELY with my rewrites. I'd gotten a bunch of fulls and a couple R&Rs, all of course with conflicting advice. His book helped me see things from the macro level on in, and I finally had a huge epiphany. Now I think I know what the agents were trying to tell me. Time will tell, I guess, but in any case, at least I have a MUCH clearer vision as I finish up revising. Just can't recommend that book enough.

S.P. Bowers said:
I received an R&R from an agent saying only that it needed more world building. World building is an exhaustively huge area and I had no idea what aspect of it wasn't working. I'm still waiting to hear back since I resubmitted. Sometimes you just have to do what you think is best and hope it checks the box the agent wanted. Good luck opie.

Well, that could have been me. I've said "this needs more world-building" to more than a few querying writers.  By world building I generally mean you need to add the furniture to the room.
I copied the reading list and questions for a seminar on world-building offered by an author recently (and of course forgot to note which author, but somehow I think it was Alexander Chee)

Here's the list of questions;
What are its primary features: spatial, cultural, biological, fantastic, cosmological

What is the world's ethos (the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize the world)?
When analyzing world building in the reading list: what are the precise strategies that are used by its creator to convey the world to us and us to the world? How are our characters connected to the world? And how are we connected to the world?

The books on the reading list:
A Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs)
Dracula (Bram Stoker)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)
Sunshine (Robin McKinley)
V for Vendetta (Alan Moore)
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (NK Jemison)
Lilith's Brood (Octavia Butler)
Perdido Street Station (China Mieville)
Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)

On Friday the question was whether I'd offer unasked for feedback on a query to a writer who wasn't getting any better


Whipchick had a good suggestion:
Friend of Alex: Have you considered asking Alex yourself, "Hey buddy, I know you've gotten a ton of rejections, have you considered hiring an editor or signing up for a workshop? Maybe someone in a class or with some experience would be able to identify some things you could work on to increase your chances of success?"

Or even, "You know, back when I was querying, someone suggested I sign up for a workshop and examine my writing a bit more, and boy did it help to hear from people whose job it was to help me! And I learned a lot about writing from hearing other writers' work, too!"

I like Lydia D's suggestion here too:
That's certainly a rough position to be in. Kudos to Opie for caring about Alex's success and feelings. Perhaps opie could try suggesting a specific craft book or writing blog to Alex? That takes less investment than a workshop, so maybe Alex would be more likely to try that. Ultimately, though, a workshop would probably do a world of good.

And what Dena Pawling said too:

I can only help another attorney who wants me to help. And I'm free to decline anything I don't want to do. I think this applies here. If Alex doesn't want your advice, there isn't much you can do. And who knows? Maybe he's on to the new, big thing. On the other hand, if you want to help him and/or steer him in the right direction, please do, but be prepared for responses similar to what an agent must hear when offering a personalized rejection – (1) silence, (2) much gratitude for the help, (3) constant requests for more help, (4) flaming response requiring purchase of new computer, (5) stalking, and/or (6) broken heart.
Sometimes it's sad to sit on the sidelines and watch. But Alex is an adult and responsible for his own mistakes, his own improvement, his own destiny. And who are we to say we know better about that destiny than he does?
Marie McKay said what a lot of you were thinking:
I'm a little freaked out by this, if I'm honest. The constant worry that I'm deluding myself is never far from my mind. I guess when there are enough signals that are telling you that you need to change, you have to take notice. I suppose the problem lies in not learning and therefore not improving.

If you're worried about this, you're ok. If you're worried about this it means you're not just blindly assuming you're ok and it's only a matter of time before someone recognizes you're a genius.

It's exactly akin to the people who think they're going crazy. They're not, because when you are crazy you think you're normal.

Which reminds me of a surreal experience I had with an acquaintance who was telling me how she got locked in the psych ward of a hospital by mistake. She was so calm and normal about it that it took a good five minutes of her (non-stop) recounting of the story before the light bulb went on and I realized it was NOT a mistake at all. She'd truly had a break with reality, and her friends who left her there "by mistake" had in fact, signed her in on doctor's orders.

On Saturday we discussed work for hire projects
Susan had a good point about the value of writing WFH novels:
I wrote five novels as a ghostwriter with my writing partner. It was her world and under a pen name, which I was happy about because they were very different from what I usually write (and the types of books I want to publish). But it was a lot of fun, great experience, helped me make some substantial money, and, most importantly to me, helped me get back into the writing game after a few years' hiatus. Along with that, it helped me really cement the types of books I personally want to write.

Dena Pawling made a very good point about "straight forward contracts"
All standard and/or boilerplate contracts favor the party who drafted the contract. That's not you.

Some of you read WFH as WTF which made me laugh at this from Theresa:
WTF, I'd be willing to give WFH a try.

On a general blog decorum note:
Lydia D said:
(I feel awkward joining in the conversation without justifying why I've popped out of nowhere, so allow me to add a quick note of explanation for myself: I've been a Reider for a pretty long time now, even delving into the archives a fair bit, but this is only my third comment.)

All blog readers are welcome to comment at any time. Often, not-often, on topic, or not. Succinctly and on-topic is generally good. At length and off topic is generally hilarious.  I'll let you know if you're going too far astray.

Sadly, we are retiring the classic subheader about the Shi Tzu this week.  Here are the choices for this week:
Burn that bridge when you come to it.--Bethany Elizabeth

Guerilla kindness really is contagious. Why not be the flashpoint of kindness in someone's day? --Julie M. Weathers
Y'all ain't right. --DLM

It's a universal truth writers are crazy, but they don't all start out that way.-Julie M. Weathers

You're in a beautiful mess.--John Frain

And the one I'd really love to choose, but can't cause it requires context, and truthfully might be offputting to some of my more secular readers, but I love love love this:
Apparently even God wants me to read this blog. --Lennon Faris


Megan V said...

Thanks for the WIR Janet and Happy Easter!

Congrats on getting the editing done. That pen setup is rather lovely!

I saw that tweet re: MG erotica...

I'm more of a secular bent myself—I'm spending the day preparing to pounce on the after Easter candy sales—and Lennon's quote is not off-putting for me; TBH I find it mildly amusing when taken out of context :)

Megan V said...

Also, WOW for those kids on unicycles! I am certainly NOT coordinated enough for that :)

BJ Muntain said...

Thank you for a great WiR, Janet. So much great information - all week and today.

It looks like you've chosen Julie's universal truth for subheader. I approve. :)

Kate Larkindale said...

Thanks for another stellar WIR. I never know how much I miss until I read these.

Jason Magnason said...

Janet, you never cease to amaze.

The world is better place because your in it.

Thanks for letting me be your chum.

Across the page flies my pen, I am a writer, feel my voice.

John Frain said...

Exactly the subheader I would have voted into office. Well struck, Julie, as usual.

My son, after 7th grade and in one of his more memorable moves so far, traded his baseball glove for a unicycle. I love the story up to that point. It kinda goes downhill when I saw how easy it was for him to ride it and I tried. Turns out you're a little further from the pavement that it appears. Now I tell the story with a limp, but I still enjoy it.

And wasn't it cute how Janet referred to "an acquaintance" getting locked in the psych ward of a hospital by mistake.

Of course it was an acquaintance. Of course it was. Because, well, who else could it have been?

Joseph Snoe said...


Be careful not to end up in Janet's Chumbucket.

Jason Magnason said...

Joseph Snoe: Look here, I'm already in it:

Lennon Faris said...

Whoa. That psyche ward story is freaky. John Frain - 'acquaintance'-haha.

Thanks for the explanation on monkey knife fights, Janet. The little part about your (non)role in them was terrifying.

I love Julie's subheader. It is perfect and so true. I feel much crazier now that I'm a writer. Specifically, since I began querying.

Thanks for another awesome WIR, Janet! May you all get to spend the day with friends and family, fellow Reiders!

Brittany Constable said...

Sunshine! I love that book. McKinley is one of my favorite authors in general; she's highly instructive because she uses basically the same plot every time, but her language and world-building are what make each book special. (Although it wasn't until my most recent re-read that I realized how sloooooow Sunshine is to start. It really front-loads the backstory, but you kind of need it.)

The neat thing about Perdido Street Station is that my edition came with a map of the city, but I never needed to refer back to it. Mieville does just that good a job of orienting you in the story that I had no trouble visualizing how everything related together.

stacy said...

Psst. I was adding this reading list to my Wishlist and found that Sunshine is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon. Kobo, too.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Thanks for a great WIR and for this blog. It has been a gift during a really rough week.

Congratulations to Julie Weathers on the sub-head. And just for the record, I was always crazy. I wrote my first book when I was 15. I overheard the AP English teacher tell a group of students who had read my book that I wrote because I was crazy. His feeling was that no sane person would choose to write. I figured that sounded about right.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter or a lovely and redemptive Sunday whatever your beliefs might be. See you on the far side. I owe everyone of you a drink and chocolate cake.

CynthiaMc said...

The thing about being a Gemini is we are easily bored and we hate being pigeonholed, which is why I break out in hives at the thought that I have to write one thing for the rest of my life. Looking back, the thrill for me is seeing if I can do something, then I want to go on to the next thing to see if I can do that. Children's story? Sold one to Highlights. When they ended up keeping it for a while (years), we moved to Asia and back and I finally remembered to ask about it the editor was kind enough to give me the rights back (they paid right away which is part of the reason why I forgot about it). Civil War? While that one didn't sell, I did get nice letters saying "Please send us whatever you do next." Screenwriting - love it. Placed in the finals of a national contest and semi-finals of an international one. Columns - they were a blast. Blog - great fun. Acting and music are ever changing, and thus interesting. I just entered a song-writing contest (which I haven't done ever, though I used to write a lot of music. Back when I was an Air Force Chapel choir director I had to be adept at arranging because I never knew who I'd have on any given Sunday. I asked God to cut me some slack and if he took a singing pilot to please send me another one. He always did.) Anyway, the contest doesn't close until the end of August so I need to do something else in the meantime. Any other songwriters on here, check it out. Greenshoe Studio Your Lyrics to Life.

I'm thinking about finishing my Time Travel doctors or starting a series about a female Jack Reacher only she's an ex-nun. What do y'all think?

Sorry, Janet I know I'm rambling but it's Easter Sunday afternoon and I have way too much time on my hands. It also occurs to me I probably need to focus and I have no idea which way to go.

Jason Magnason said...

Did you guys know that the first mention of dragons was from a tablet in ancient Sumeria, based on an image of a dragon made from clam shells radio carbon dated to 6000 BC, that was discovered in 1987 in Henen?

Sorry I think I was brainstorming in the wrong window.

Happy Easter to all, and thanks again Janet for the WIR, as usual you Rock!!

Craig said...

Thank you.

S.P. Bowers said...

Thanks for the world building questions and reading list.

It wasn't you, by the way, you don't represent what I write. If you ever change your guidelines though you're top of the list. :)

Celia Reaves said...

Great WIR again, Janet. Thanks. There's always so much to learn here, and such great people to learn with (and from). Whatever your beliefs and however dark things are for you right now, I hope today brings you a sense of rebirth and rejoicing.

SiSi said...

Thanks for another great WIR. Hope everyone is enjoying Easter Sunday in whatever way works best for you.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I too believe the envelope was a mouse shroud, no more no less. But, of course, "mouse in an envelope" is going into that subconscious stew that presents me with story ideas. We'll see how it presents itself in the future.

(like the short story the "Share a Coke with" campaign inspired. Or the one combining a guitar player outside the grocery store with abandoned rest stops. Inspiration abounds, my friends!)

I'm happy to report I've read most of the books on your world building list (7/10). And the existence of the list reinforces, again, that writers must be reading. Stephen King says it. Everybody says it. It's the "everybody's doing it" one should listen to. And worldbuilding is something I've been keeping in mind as April approaches; I have a notion for a story (inspiration came from a J non fiction book called CELEBRITREES that the library got in this week), and maybe it'll be more novella length than 50k novel length, but I've made effort to outline this time, with attention to the reporter questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How?

John Frain said...

If you're looking for votes, I gotta believe there's a lot you could explore about a female Jack Reacher who just happens to have kicked the habit. She'd constantly run into moral issues. What great fun you'd have putting that one together.

I think Jack Reacher (the Lee Child version, not the movie) stands about six-five, so your ex-nun would tower over Mother Teresa in the Calcutta scene, which would be mandatory.

Dena Pawling said...

>>I just swim up silently and grab the writer from below

This made me laugh AND gave me the shivers.

Happy Easter! And here's to everyone having a better week/month starting today.

CynthiaMc said...

John, I just spent a wonderful half hour weeding in the garden and imagining the escapades of Sister Mary Catherine (after St. Catherine of Sienna - "Be who you are and you will set the world on fire"). It made me laugh and it's the first fun I've had with my writing since I wrote that song. I think I'll follow Kate around for a bit and see what happens.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

The crowd just left, (early dinner this year), dishwasher is humming, leftovers have been taken away or put away and I sat down for the WIR. Perfect.
Pens, unicycles, a bad pun and so much more, love it.
May all you leftovers taste just as good in memory as in the first mouthful.
Thanks Janet.

Jenny C said...

Well, you won't believe this but not one agent requested a synopsis written on a pumpkin.

Jessica Snell said...

YES, on Robin McKinley's world-building and language. That's why I read her, too. I mean, she has plots. I know she does. But by the end of her books I'm always so drunk on the world and the words that I'd have trouble telling you what the plot was. ("There were ... roses? and magic. I know there was magic...")

Coming off of her books is like waking up from a fever dream. But, a really *nice* fever dream, you know?

(Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit for effect. And to make up for it, I'll recommend her "Spindle's End", yes, for a plot point: the way she does Sleeping Beauty's wake-up kiss is so clever that I didn't realize what she'd done until I was about 20 pages past it. And then, when it dawned on me, I couldn't stop chortling in delight at her genius. Y'all are smarter than me, and will probably see it right away, but I didn't, and I'll always love her for sneaking that one past me.)

Dave Rudden said...

Happy Easter to all and to all a good night...wait wrong holiday.

Donnaeve said...

Haha, Dave Rudden. I'm supposed to follow that?


What I love about the WIR is seeing if I'm struck by the same thing as Ms. Janet herself. Julie's comment in the sub-header for one. I loved it when I read it, and love it now.

I missed that MG thingy - as far as the tweet. I feel blessed for NOT seeing it.

Happy Chocolate Bunnies! Here's to Peeps! Jelly Belly! ICK on the Cadbury Eggs.

Donnaeve said...

Oh. But most of all. THANK YOU for the WIR! I'm starting to feel normal again! Whoop! (whatever that is for a writer)

Theresa said...

Oh, it's a universal truth..... That's got my vote.

And I loved reading about why the Shark never participates in a monkey knife fight.

Thanks for the WIR, especially a holiday edition. All of the questions (and responses)kept my spring break brain working over time this week. It all kind of spilled over with the WFH question.

Here's to the start of another great week.

Kitty said...

My vote: You're in a beautiful mess.--John Frain

nightsmusic said...

No time to read all the comments, but thank you, thank you for the WIR. Which is not like the WFH we were talking about earlier, which could turn into a WTF if the parameters were skewed enough.

Panda in Chief said...

Thanks for another week in review and all the excellent subheaders. Maybe someday I will write something brilliant enough to be a sub header. A bear can dream.

I thought you all might enjoy this Ted Talk by Grace Lin, a children's writer and illustrator. I saw her speak at the first SCBWI conference I went to, and I still remember it, 7 yeqrs later.
Here's the link to her talk (if it works....Colin, if it doesn't could you fix it for this technologically inept panda?)

Happy Easter, everyone. Now who was it that said they had chocolate cake? I'll be right over.

RachelErin said...

Ha! two weeks in a row in the WIR, I feel so thoughtful.
But seriously, I wrote the comment about writing MG historical crime thriller...and then almost didn't publish it because I don't want too many people to get there first. On my to-write list. When I get an actual idea. (and yes, I smooshed category and genre together, sorry. I do know the difference when I think about it.)
And auto-correct just tried to turn smooshed into smoothed. hmmm. I feel like this is a warning of some sort, but I'm so happy on Easter indulgences that I can't sort it out now.

Janet Reid said...

Panda In Chief's linke to Ted Talk by Grace Lin.

(it runs 12:23 minutes)

And I do have cake but it's ALL FOR MEEEEEEE!!!

I should also mention that I had a VERY humbling experience just now when I tried to follw directions I wrote. The results will be in tomorrow's blog post.

Janet Reid said...

holyf/amoli, my spelling is just beyond bad.
Sorry guyz.

Anonymous said...

Janet, no worries. We're not here for your seplling skillz. :)

Since it seems this is my week (only this week? HA!) to be irritatingly disagreeable . . .

Yo-Yo Ma's instrument is the cello; mine is the written word. A more apt analogy than either of us switching to a different instrument: saying I should only write one thing is like saying Ma should only play one type of music. Yes, he is primarily known for classical music, but has played/recorded many other diverse styles of music. I assume he does it all extremely well. I can write oped columns, funny blog posts, serious blog posts, ridiculous/irritating blog comments. I write one hell of a rant when motivated and truly excel at the college thesis format. I'm not so great at query letters and the dreadly synopsis, but I'm learning. My poetry is laughable. I write a passable novella and hope to excel at longer length fiction. Yes, in more than one genre. But time will tell. Someone should definitely stop me if I ever decide to pick up a paintbrush. Or a cello.

Love the subheader! Well done, Julie.

Hope everyone who celebrates had a lovely Easter. And that everyone had a terrific weekend and feels ready to conquer the week ahead.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Falling asleep after a full Easter Sunday but had to read the WiR first. Thank you for this round up, Janet. I've been enjoying the stories the Shark shared on her facebook page, especially the hoovermoverschmoozer.

Congrats Julie on subheader for the week.

And I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter or Sunday, whichever you celebrated.

JulieWeathers said...

Yay! Subheader.

I've been enjoying listening to Peter Hollens who proves some people can multitask very well. Unfortunately, he just makes me want to write fantasy, so i can't listen to him very often. Peter singing Misty Mountains...several times.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie's video:

Peter singing Misty Mountains... several times

AJ Blythe said...

Early evening Easter Monday and I've finally found time to sit! Great WiR as always, JR. Thank you also for answering my (and everyone elses) questions.

Has everyone else around the world had a 4-day weekend for Easter? If so I hope you've had a wonderful break and recharge (whether spiritually, physically or just through copious amounts of chocolate).

JulieWeathers said...

On my drive by, I neglected to mention this was a great WIR. I always get so much out of it. I wonder at times if we're reading the same blog as I have missed so much. So the WIR is like my beloved Reader's Digest of JR blog posts.

Panda in Chief said...

I have been turning over the idea of doing only one thing well, when you are pulled in multiple directions. I have decided that I need to reject that advice, but with a major caveat. I think you can only LEARN to do one thing well at a time. In otherwords, while it took me 40some years to perfect my painting chops, after, oh, about 25 of them, I could learn various printmaking techniques and get pretty darn good at them, and then mumble mumble years after that, decided to turn my hand...paw? to writning and illustrating for children. Really, it was kind of a natural progression as my paintings became more narrative.

I don't put myself in the same category as all of you writers that have such a wonderful way with words. Truly, I am in awe of your talent and the years you have taken to hone it. But I do think I have a way with storytelling with pictures and words, and I believe that to continue to grow as an artist, I need to through additional vegetables in the soup. Not kale though. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Thanks Janet for linkifying the Grace Lin video.

Rae Chang said...

Random fact: Barb Poelle may be on to something with the "monkey knife fight". The Chinese character for murder is literally translated as "monkey holding knife".

roadkills-r-us said...

I definitely want to see a pic of jenny's pumpkinized synopsis, but even more I want a pumpkin pie.

roadkills-r-us said...

Janet, does each of those pen cups have a special purpose? If so, what?

If one Brian Schwartzes an agent, should they apologize or just move on?

I would say the patron concerned about the mouse being mailed needs some help.

My wife worked for a restaurant at one point. She ended up having to kill the mice they caught on occasion. The other women were squeamish, the guys even squeamisher. The dead mice left in to go bags. I always wondered if some poor homeless guy fished them out of the dumpster hoping for a meal.

Jenny, small is in this year. Try writing your synopsis on a bell pepper.

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) said...

Hmm, had to reread your psyche-ward story a few times to get it: you realized (but she didn't) that her friends had tricked her into the ward. I'm sitting here on my couch imagining a quite uncomfortable conversation. Like that one oddball that works in the same office/building but you never really know how to respond to them.

To be fair, if you talk to the professionals (like crisis hotlines or people who deal with the stuff daily) they will sometimes encourage this kind of "tricking" someone into the hospital. Mostly for extenuating circumstances, I assume.

Peggy Larkin said...

How does one get hired for WFH? I suppose I should pop over to Google and find out.

An excellent week, excellently reviewed!