Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Week in Review May 8, 2016

Welcome to the week that was.

Beth picked up on our earlier conversations about job applicants bringing parent/s to an interview:
I am currently serving as a member of a selection committee. We have been seeing a number of applications from candidates who have none of the required training or experience. I was horrified when one of their letters informed us that she would call within a week to set up her interview. This disturbed me enough that I decided to poke around the Internet and see if this is a common problem. Imagine my dismay when I read a number of websites telling job applicants to include this phrase, and to actually do it! According to them, it increases odds of landing an interview by 25%.

So far, no writer has brought their mom to a meeting, but it wasn't for lack of me trying. I invited Donnaeve's mom to join us at Bouchercon, and the look on Donna's face (pure horror) was quickly replaced by a Southern Lady smile and she said "that's very kind of you, let me see if we can" which is code for "SharkForBrains, if you think I'm introducing my dear mother to this crowd of hooligans you need a cranial lube and oil change."

Speaking of moms and grandmas, Joseph Snoe said

My Grandfather's father was a Sniegorski before the name change to Snoe (For a while three children of the same parents were Sniegorski, Snow, and Snoe).

My grandmother was a Paluka.

My misspent youth involved a lot of Erle Stanley Gardner novels so I know that "palooka" is slang for a boxer who's not very good at his sport. I kinda love the idea of Grandma being a "Paluka" and teaching her kids how to throw a punch.

On Monday we should have had the contest results, but as we all know, I'm a total sloth, so the results were pushed off till Tuesday and we talked about what previously published meant.

SiSi picked up on my warning about unscrupulous beta readers who put manuscripts up for sale on Amazon.

I've heard before about beta readers selling an unpublished novel, and always wonder why they would do such a thing. Are they selling it as a novel they wrote? If so, then clearly they know this is a bad thing to do and I would think criminal charges can be filed. Or do they just sell it as an advanced copy by the original writer? Do they realize how much this can screw up the author's publishing hopes? Do they really make money by selling an advanced copy of an unpublished/unknown writer? (Assuming a well-known, previously published writer would likely have the book under contract.

The ones I've seen have been listed as for sale by the Crit Partner, and the book listed as by the author. The CP wasn't trying to plagiarize, just purloin. I can't begin to fathom someone's motivation to do that. But then I'm having a very hard time understanding why Donald Trump attracts voters and there are a lot more people doing that than purloining beta mss.

Jason Magnason asked:
So as long as I don't have an ISBN for my work I am still a debut author?

Let me repeat:

1. Does the work in question have an ISBN?
2. Is it registered at the US Copyright office as PUBLISHED?
3. Is it or was it available for sale?

You want all three answers to be NO.

And this really has nothing to do with the more amorphous "debut author" which is a marketing term NOT a contract term. Previously published involves your contract. "Debut" involves your publicist.

Bethany Elizabeth asked the question that always gets asked when we talk about this:
This is kind of a side point, but I wonder how often people steal ideas from unpublished authors based on short anecdotes available online, such as OP mentions. I just don't understand it. Writing a novel is tremendous work, and I think you have to love the craft to actually get your story into a publishable state. And if you love the craft that much, why would you steal an idea from someone else?

Not a lot. The plagiarism problem is with finished books. People steal the entire book, slap a new cover on it, and put it up for sale as their own. THAT'S a problem, particularly for self-pubbed authors.

As for people "stealing" ideas. You can't actually steal an idea. You can steal words, phrases, sentences, whole books. But ideas, and concepts, no. There's simply no way to prove who had an idea first.

What you can measure is how close the development of an idea or concept is to another work. Sadly there are some very public cases of well-known authors who published work that was entirely too close to someone else's and in fact seemed to lift turns of phrase from that work.

And there was the VERY unfortunate case of QR Markham who essentially stole all of his book from other sources, and was discovered by the fans.

But as you all can see in the flash fiction contests, even if two writers have the same idea, the actual story ends up quite different.

On the other hand, I'm not going to argue with Julie M. Weathers (I know better!)
I know for a fact people will steal ideas, but only you can write your story. If you're worried about your ideas, don't share them and keep your peace of mind.

I think however that E.M. Goldsmith really said it best:

I wrote 9 words today. 9! If anyone wants to steal them, have at it. I will probably kill them tomorrow anyway. I think the A to Z thing drained me of creativity much like a vampire sucks blood from the vein. Now I am all grouchy.

If you didn't click on the links from the Duchess of Kneale, you should!

If you wish two or three hard copies of something without worrying about losing your potential debut author status, how about a little perfect binding DIY? Just need to get the right cover.

If you don't have a book press (although they are easy enough to make; I made my own) a couple of strong rulers and bull clips can do in a pinch.

On Tuesday, the contest results were posted, but not in the timely manner, so I had you guess when I'd actually get them up.

Julie M. Weathers said
9:39 I hope the dog is the prize.
Which was close, but sadly, no dog for the prize.

Colin Smith's entry cracked me up:

12:01pm. Or whatever f****** time Janet da** well pleases! Who's QOTKU around here, after all?? ;)

E.M. Goldsmith too
12:34 because that would be cool.

As did Lisa Bodenheim
O Great QOTKU, only you know!

Oh wait, there's a prize. 8:47 am ET.

and my favorite o'clock from RKeelan

3:14 pm, or Pi o'clock.
And SiSi!

I'll guess Sooner. Or Later.

And, as I suspected, and Brian Schwarz confirmed, y'all have been conspiring
after reading all those entries, it would appear our conspiring together worked magnificently.

And Dena Pawling of course had the perfect answer. Not right, but still perfect
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Wait, it's May already?

Amy Schaefer actually was closest, and her comment made me laugh:


I'm off to bed. My husband is reading me scary stories about the crocodiles, tiny jellyfish, snakes, fish and spiders that want to kill us as we sail along the Eastern coast of Australia. I'm going to go read something cuddly and snuggly instead. Some Dennis Lehane, maybe.

The contest results were interesting. I think I made it too restrictive with both phrases and prompt words. It created too narrow a space for you to produce your usual flights of wild fancy. Back to the old way next time.

Brian Schwarz nailed the difficulty of these contests:
think the thing that is most difficult about flash fiction is finding the perfect balance between saying too much or not enough

On Wednesday we talked about what to do when an offer falls through.

I mentioned there's going to be some 'splainin to do, through no fault of the questioner.

E.M. Goldsmith asked:
If you are a writer that actually gets an offer and you have other fulls out, can you mention to the agents with the full the name of the agent/agency that is making the offer so that the other agents will be able to check and know you’re not being a liar, liar pants on fire writer? Publishing is a small enough community that the other agents could check if they are suspicious, yes?

I would suggest that you provide the information when asked, rather than offering it up unasked. Offering it up unasked might be seen differently than you intend.

And we don't assume writers are lying to us when they say they have offers. I believe what prospective writers tell me me until the evidence suggests otherwise.  Where that confidence wanes is when I ask who the offer is from, they decline to tell me. Or they say they have an offer, we pass on the ms, and the author doesn't ever announce signing with an agent or getting a deal.

nightsmusic asked:

Okay, I'm going to be the bad guy here and say that, while I totally agree with Janet as far as being honest with those agents you are now going to try and contact again, why would OP jump the gun and tell everyone else she'd gotten an offer without waiting to sign 'on the dotted line' first? So, so many things can happen between the offer and the contract signing. Why burn your bridges before you're positive and everything has been ironed out? Can anything still happen after you've signed? Of course. Your new agent could keel over and you're left on your own again, but at least that doesn't sound like you're trying to pull a fast one.

and many of you knew the right answer: an author DOES want to let other agents know if an offer has been received. The sticky point here is that it turned out to be an offer the writer didn't accept. Generally we assume that if you have an offer you'll take it. Thus if you get an offer from an agent you know you won't work with (although why you're querying such a beast, I do not know) you would not contact all agents with your full because you do not have an offer you would accept.

Sam Hawk said:
@nightsmusic -you tell everyone else you've got an offer so they have a chance to offer too. If you wait til you've signed on the dotted line, you haven't given them a chance! The OP told the other agents that they had an offer, not that they'd accepted one, so they weren't burning bridges.

Nightsmusic replied
@Sam, I'm sorry, but I disagree. I wouldn't tell anyone else I have an offer until I knew all of the details. Then, and only then, would I tell the others. Because if you don't like the details, you're not signing anyway. Why do you want to play a game of things? Unless you're looking for better representation than the one offering and if that's the case, why are you considering the offer? Because you're desperate to be published? But getting an offer and immediately telling the other requesters that you've gotten one without knowing what the offer entails, to me, is exactly that. Burning your bridges. To me, it sounds like the OP did exactly that. Got the offer, emailed everyone else to tell them, then got into the details of the offer and didn't like what he/she heard. And not knowing what those unliked details are doesn't help the speculation here, but no. I'm sorry. Because now, OP has to scramble to try and get picked up with one of the others and Janet already mentioned that the red flags would be flying at this point.

It's NOT burning bridges, and it's NOT playing games. It's exactly the right thing to do. The problem is that if you wait to see the author/agency agreement, and have a long call with the offering agent, and decide this is an offer you can accept, you've spent a couple days here. And the offering agent at this point isn't going to wait around for you for two weeks while you alert other agents, give them time to read, potentially read THEIR author/agency agreements, and have long calls with them.

That's when agents get annoyed and pull the plug because now it feels like you are shopping their offer.

The right thing to do is notify everyone at the start.  You've got between seven and fourteen days before you have to tell the original agent yes or no. While you wait for the other agents to read, that's when you read the author agency agreement, have the long call etc.

This happens ALL the time. This is what we expect to see. We do not view it as burning bridges or jumping the gun. Really!

Adib Khorram asked:

It sounds like it wasn't details that tripped up the OP, it was the terms of the author-agency agreement itself. Is asking to review such agreements something authors should do in their initial call, or is that considered too forward?

Definitely yes you should. I try to remember to send it to prospective authors after my initial expression of interest but sometimes I forget. On the other hand our author agency agreement doesn't have red flags like no way to sever the agreement, and a duration of years.

Craig said:
You don't, usually, have to tell agents who else you queried. Why tell them when you get the first feelers of an offer. It is not even really an offer until you accept it. When the sailing looks clear tell the other agents that your ship has sailed. Don't do it too early.

It IS an offer before you accept it. There are three parts of a contract: offer, acceptance, consideration (ie something of value)

When you have an offer (or expression of serious interest) it's time to take action. You do not want to wait around to see if you'll accept it or you've essentially prevented anyone else from offering.

SiSi asked:
What is the best timeline when you get an offer? Get offer--let other agents know--get details--sign/not sign? Or get offer--get details--let other agents know--sign/not sign? I can see advantages and disadvantages for both.

Here's the timeline:

Day One: Agent #1 either offers, or tells you to get in touch with other agents who have the full and tell them you have "serious interest" (this is what I do.) You email all the agents who have the full. You might email agents who have the query if it's been less than 30 days since you queried.

Day Seven: You have the other agents replies. If you have multiple offers or multiple expressions of interest, you tell ALL the agents about this.

Day Eight through Ten: You talk with each agent about the novel on submission, revisions, submission plan, future work. You ask about how they handle subrights and film. You get a sense of the agent and if you'd be a good fit.

You contact the agent's clients to see what it's like to have her as an agent.

Day Eleven and Twelve: you panic, light candles, sacrifice a goat, and make a decision.

Day Thirteen: all the agents who didn't get you weep into their vodka tonic and make plans to glue Joanna Volpe's keyboard to the ceiling.

Off topic, E.M. Goldsmith asked:

Slightly off-topic, I think I am retiring from the query trenches for a time. On my own, after my R&R rejection, and after looking at my manuscript with fresh eyes after the A to Z challenge, I think I am going to do a complete rewrite. I see ways to make my story so much better, so much tighter, and much more intense. This is just a gut feeling. My beta readers love the thing, but I feel like the book is good, not great.

Is that crazy? I have two requests, one partial and one full, from pitch sessions. Does this mean I have lost those opportunities? If so, that is fine. I can query those agents later and explain, can’t I? I think this could take me as long as six months. It may go faster as my vision is quite clear now, but I do wonder if I have lost my mind.

I think you should contact the agents NOW with that first paragraph. When I express interest in things, and the author doesn't reply in a timely fashion (weeks here, not minutes) I lose track of them, particularly if it's one of those wild pitchfest things.

Better to get your email address on their address book, and nice polite explanation of why you're going to contact them in the future. This isn't some sort of do or die requirement, but it's the kind of thing that says conscientious writer to me, and those are the folks I want to work with.

On Thursday we talked again about third party help with queries.

I outlined what has to happen for that to be effective for a writer.

Colin Smith asked:

Minor detail follow-up: Would the hypothetical me mention the Lee Child endorsement in my query trusting that he has contacted, or will contact, you to let you know how much he loved my work?

It never hurts to mention that Lee Child likes your work. However, if I don't hear from him directly, I discount it entirely. You think people make up offers? Let me introduce you to how people extract blurbs.
It's somewhat akin to how the loaner cat gets what he wants.

(Loaner Cat should not be confused with the Duchess of Yowl. For starters, the Duchess would never ask if I thought she was beautiful. It wouldn't cross her mind that I would not. Also, Loaner Cat is more the silent type. The DoY is … ahem ... Not.

nightsmusic said:
They used to call people like the "I can get your book sold for you," Snake Oil Salesmen. I don't think much has changed there...
Yes! Snakeoil salesman is one of my favorite phrases and I really don't get enough chances to use it.

Then Julie M. Weathers said:

Oddly enough, genuine Chinese snake oil actually is effective on arthritis and inflammation. Cowboy Clark Stanley's snake oil, while he put on an impressive show, didn't actually have any snake oil in it. But it works! Yup, because his magic medicine show patent medicine had red pepper in it.

Complements of JW, repository of useless information.

Julie, I'll stick to Sloan's. Tried and true all of my life. Snake oil or no, it worked on the horses and it works on me! :)


The main ingredient in Sloan's is *drumroll* capsaicin...chili pepper. The original Clark Stanley's snake oil ingredient.

: )
Snake Oil aside, anyone heard of Blue Emu? I swear by it. For sore muscles. It won't get you an agent.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale
(Dunno about Blue Emu, but His Grace is fond of Goanna Oil.)

Julie, yes, I did. I still have a bottle from 1875. Earl's father came up with the formula during the civil war and Earl started peddling it in the last third of the 1800's. Foul smelling, but still more effective than anything else I've tried.

I'm trying very hard to think if I've EVER seen a discussion of snake oil before.
It's amazing what y'all come up with. I'm kinda in awe right now.

Back to the topic:

Jennifer R. Donohue said:
My local writer friend told me to send The Last Song to her agent. He rejected it, kindly, and invited me to think of him for his next project. I know that whole "think of me next time" is a "nice" thing to say....but he also didn't have to. So I always take that as genuine.

And you should. Trust me. No agent said that to a writer s/he didn't want to hear from. We have plenty of dreck; we don't encourage more of it.

And lookie here, Claire wants to go to Carkoon:
This is OT, but I forgot to post it on the relevant day... Janet, I know you have more than enough on your plate as it is, but I wonder if some day it would be possible to do a post on how you go about judging the flash fiction contests? I'd be fascinated to know what process you go through as you whittle them down to the final one or two.

Yes Claire, that odd snapping sound you hear are my shark jaws on your britches.

There are a couple reasons this isn't going to happen. The first is time. I've been late posting the results twice in the last couple months simply cause I couldn't get it done on Sunday night, my night for reading the entries. To go into more detail than I do now would require more time than I have or mean the results would be delayed for days. Second, entering a contest is not asking for a critique. To critique someone's work in public without asking would be the height of hubris…and I should know, given I have an ego with a side of hubris that requires heavy machinery to lift.

And third: it's so subjective I'm not sure "I like this" would actually help anyone, and it would desperately hurt the feelings of everyone who didn't have that said about their entry.

I'm afraid you're going to have to make do here with just the comment column and other writers comments.

And Claire then said:
Well, it's been raining a lot here. I hear Carkoon is lovely this time of year... :)
Which is true, but on Carkoon when it rains, it rains cats and dogs. Literally.

And Friday was the writing contest.

Let's see if I can get the results up on Monday this time.

Completely off topic but interesting:
Blog reader Nikola Vukoja has a good rundown on the road to self-publishing. Well worth the read.

The Duchess of Yowl continues her state visit.

She heard a noise

She  discovered geography

And she's got a plan

When I wasn't staffing the cat, I updated my website here

If you care to take a spin over and see it, I'll be glad to hear what you think.
If you are a writer in the query trenches, let me know what other info would be helpful to include.
I may not take all of your suggestions (The Duchess of Yowl has already complained about a dearth of cat pictures, specifically hers) but I would like to hear them.

Subheaders noms:

Sometimes when you think you can't do a thing, the best solution is to just do it anyway--kdjames

I'll sit here and wait, hoping for another Julie story.--Donnaeve

Reading all these posts is like watching a not-paid-for-view Special Event on Everything Books.

--Claudette Hoffmann

Ask one women what she wants in a man and she might answer, "A romantic." The next woman might respond, "A bullet."--Julie M. Weathers


french sojourn said...

I'll sit here and wait, hoping for another Julie story.--Donnaeve;
Gotta say, I also scan for Julie stories.

Great WIR, it struck me as even more informative than usual, I love auditing this writing and publishing course.

Cheers Hank

Dena Pawling said...

Nice photos on your re-designed website! And I like the new look. I sent you a private email with my specific thoughts. Feel free to ignore if you don't agree with them [just like I tell my CPs].

Great WiR as usual. Thanks for that timeline on responding to an agent's interest. Here's hoping I actually get that far some day.

I like this subheader
Reading all these posts is like watching a not-paid-for-view Special Event on Everything Books.
--Claudette Hoffmann

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers here at the reef.

nightsmusic said...

I'm not quite sure what to say. I got admonished and laughed at in the same post! ;)

Thank you for another great WIR. I tried to keep up this week, but I've also been trying to take advantage of the weather and get some outside stuff done and believe it or not, they actually made me work, at work, this week!

I love the new look on your site! I miss NYC. Beautiful pictures. You have a lot of blank space at the bottom though. Take advantage and put the links to your other sites there as well. They can be teeny tiny, even with a pic of DOY next to them, but I just keep thinking of what you said, Be Reachable! However, as some of my posts this week have proven, I'm often wrong...

Happy Mother's Day today to any and all who are a mom to someone or something!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So, I will be writing some emails to agents today. Scary. I would be such a clueless little beast without this blog.

Thank you once more, Janet, for sharing so much of your valuable time with us woodland creatures. I am not sure there is enough Scotch or cupcakes or loaner cats in the free world to repay you.

Julie's subheader is hilarious. As per usual, all the sub-head noms are wonderful in their own way. Ok, so now emails to agents. *quivers*

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Thanks to Colin Smith, I am keeping my day job. Unfortunately, it means working outdoors at 6600' ft and dodging falling trees & mountain lions, with crappy cell service. I miss a lot here during the Forestry timber cruising season - but now I really agree with JR - any comment longer than 100 words gets scrolled while working in the woods. Tiny screen, hella sunlight means big time eye strain. And I can't leave any comments either-only one bar. Lucky you.

But it does mean that after hours while sitting in a tiny travel trailer in the middle of nowhere I get to write without interruption. Except for the visiting skunk under the trailer. Lucky me.

Now I am home due to thunderstorms. Lightning is a scary thing in the woods.

So thank you for the WIR, JR - it helps us Timber writing cruisers keep up.

Meanwhile - congrats to last week's FF writers! That was fun!

And somewhere out in some forest, some timber cruiser is irritated that I went over 100 words...

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Second comment - The new website is nicely formatted - classy photos of NYC, easy to find and click on sub-headers. I appreciate the query section especially. You provided more detail in what you expect from writers when they query. Very helpful!

However, there are no pictures of Duchess of Yowl.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

So far as Snake Oil goes, my favorite comes from the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (a perfume joint where everything is literary, horror, etc. inspired). Opinions rage on whether it's wearable fresh or not (I think it is) and consensus is age only makes it amaaaazing.

I've mentioned this blog and Query Shark a bunch to my writing workshop at the library. I also mentioned the 100 word contests with the 5 prompt words, and they looked at me in frozen horror. I think they thought I was going to make them write 100 word stories, as if the "write about this prompt for 10 minutes" wasn't enough for their brains sometimes. I didn't intend to make them do it, but it was fun to tease ^^

SO I know people always say thing like "don't read the comments" and "don't read your reviews", but with Mosaics 2, I'm absolutely reading the reviews. It's like a compulsion. And a couple of the reviews mention my story specifically, in a complimentary way. So that's really nice, actually.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

30 second ray of sunshine after a week of rain.
Life is good.
Can't decide. Not only are they all good but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and I want everybody to like me, really, really like me. Yup, I'm full of bull juice. KD James all the way or Donna and I like Claudette's and of course Julie.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Checked out the new website.

You really do love the city, don't you. I find something comforting about that and I don't know why. Maybe it's because I used to live in Jersey, look across the river with wonder, until the next time I could take the bus over and pretend I was a New Yawkah.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Snake oil? How do you make it?

I viewed the new website on my IPhone. The width is bigger than my screen and the links are very small. You can send me to Carkoon for nitpicking. I know how much work websites are.

Jessica Snell said...

Count me as another one who thinks that "think of me next time" should be taken seriously.

I'm an editor at a (very small) press, and despite the size of our (very small) operation, I get enough weird queries that I'd never say that if I didn't mean it.

And the happy thing is, it really does work out sometimes! A little while ago, I rejected a book that just wasn't right for us, but I liked the author's voice and asked her to consider submitting to us again.

She took me seriously and I was delighted to see her name in my inbox again. Even better, it turned out that her next book was perfect for us. I'm glad she believed me.

So, yeah: take the agent (or editor!) at his or her word. You never know what might happen.

Jessica Snell said...

(I should add that there are also the sad times when the second query *still* isn't the right one ... and that's hard. But rejection is just part of the game. On both sides.)

BJ Muntain said...

Another wonderful week in review!

I'm sorry, Joseph. I missed your comment on your family's name change! I went back to read it and the other comments, and I'm flattered you thought of giving a character my initials. :) Our Galician family was Lutzko, my grandmother's mother's maiden name.

I like Claudette's subheader nomination.

Love the pictures on your website's homepage, Janet!

Hey Colin - did you notice? In the FAQs, under "What have you sold?", Janet mentions: Gary Corby, DEATH ON DELOS (Soho Crime 2017)

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) said...

I noticed the same site peculiarities on my Galaxy. No big deal though, I usually prefer full sites to the (often horrible) mobile versions.

I like the personality on the website. Some agents or agency sites are so uniform and say almost nothing about the person. That always aggravates me because then I'm consigned to Google stalking just to find out if the agent has a disdain for novels written under a pen-name (or something equally mundane). said...

Another splendid WiR. I've already squirreled away the day-by-day timeline for handling an offer, against that happy day when I need it. Thank you!

Your redesigned web site looks great, Janet. Gorgeous photos of The City. Like Angie, I viewed it on my phone, and while it sprawled over the edges of the little screen that didn't bother me. I agree, though, that the text is small and faint (dark gray on light gray), which made it hard for my old eyes. Maybe that's the point, though - it is the FinePrint Literary Agency, after all!

Theresa said...

My vote this week goes to kdjames. That's how I got through graduate school.

Had to wait until after lunch to read the WIR this Sunday. My Mother's Day treat was lunch with my son and a walk along the river. Beautiful, sunny day here in WI. Hope it's a good one for you all.

JSF said...

Night and Day improvement on the website (whichever you prefer.) It's beautiful. That's a big-city agent site. The blank space at the bottom seemed a little out of place, but it might be my browser, or me. FYI - so far I have read The Breach, We Are Not Good People and a Laird Barron story. You have clients with VERY cool books. I get bored easily anymore and these guys had genuinely fresh and interesting ideas. If you had anything to do with it, good job. I think I'm going to crack open the Egypt mysteries next. When I have time. And in case I haven't mentioned it lately, thanks for this GREAT blog.

CynthiaMc said...

Love the WIR. It hits right when I have time to read it, in this case post Mother's Day lunch with the fam.

Love the new website.

Love the Duchess.

Love this moment in time. Hubby and Son are bonding over oil changing (they discovered my car had none - oops) and Son decided to change his since he's never done it (he has a relatively new car) and it appears to be a useful skill. Daughter is napping and the chihuahua, the Japanese Chin and I are chilling on the hammock with my new book from Son (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). Life is good and I am grateful.

One of my Mother's Day presents from Daughter was an email of my email to her linking to her favorite column of mine - Anaconda in the Living Room. It appeared in the Orlando Sentinel a while back. I had totally forgotten about it. It made me laugh. It also made me realize this living in the moment thing is all well and good but I might ought to keep track of the stuff I write, especially the stuff that's been published. It also made me realize apparently the Sentinel still has all of my guest columns (several years' worth) in the depths of its site somewhere so I should probably get copies of them. It also made me ask myself why I quit writing columns since I loved doing it (and it got me a certificate, a coffee cup, and an awards dinner every year) and the only thing I could come up with (besides the instant gratification of posting on my blog) is I just wanted to see what else I could do (hence the novels and screenplays). Long way of saying if you're not keeping track of what you've written and what you've pubished, you might end up like me. Keep track.

One thing I am keeping track of, thanks to whoever did that on here earlier, is books I've read this year. Henrietta will be #28 (I think. I am not leaving the hammock to go look).

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms on the Reef (that sounds illegal somehow, except maybe in Colorado).

John Frain said...

A weekend isn't complete without the WIR. Thanks for that, Janet.

I find it fascinating how varied the opinions are on a subheader. Every week. If you nominate four or six subheaders, there are inevitably people who cling to one or another, but rarely does everyone gravitate toward the same one.

I mention it because it's so fitting for us here. Think of subheaders like your manuscript. And all the commenters here are like agents. Some resonate with certain agents and some don't. Doesn't make one agent correct and another agent wrong. They're just different. Likewise, it's not necessarily a knock on your manuscript. You just have to find the right person.

And some weeks there's Fred, who is opposed to subheaders on some principle.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Congrats KD, love it.

Claire said...

Gadzooks! I'll stop labouring this point now, but I feel the need to make absolutely clear I was not looking for critiques of anyone's flash fiction entries! Perish the thought. Was simply interested in the process by which you go about whittling down so many entries to a final few - i.e. is it simply a gut feel, or does it start with scanning every entry for the prompt words, then eliminating ones with errors of grammar/vocabulary, etc. As applied to the contests in general, not a specific one.

Completely understand you don't have time for this, but didn't want to let a heinous misconception stand!

(Packs bags for Carkoon...)

Where There's A Quill said...

Thanks for another great WIR, Janet.

I really like your website's makeover. There is a bit of blank space, though. Maybe you could put pictures of your clients' books or something? I love when agents do that.

Amy Schaefer:

I'm off to bed. My husband is reading me scary stories about the crocodiles, tiny jellyfish, snakes, fish and spiders that want to kill us as we sail along the Eastern coast of Australia...

During my recent trip to Darwin, I learned our saltwater crocodiles have a bite force of 3700 pounds - the strongest bite in the animal kingdom. Sweet dreams, Amy. said...

Oh cool, my words are up top! Thank you. Although, the credit really should go to my mom (fitting, today) because she has always been one to say "just do it," long before Nike ever did. Often with a tone of loving exasperation.

The new blog looks great, even though I can't remember what the old one looked like. Love the pics and the clean simple look. Clicking through, it felt like there should be MORE, even though I think it has everything it should to be effective. It's just that I've gotten so used to all the information over here, and on queryshark, by comparison it seems lacking. That's not a criticism, just an observation about how valuable your blogs are.

Another great wrap up. I especially love the timeline all laid out like that.

Good luck judging the FF entries. I had to stop reading when I got to one that was just . . . devastating.

LynnRodz said...

Great info, as always, in this WIR. Thanks, Janet. Love the photos on your website homepage and I love the colors — very peaceful and zen.

Mark Thurber said...

The day-by-day post-offer timeline is SO helpful. I have really struggled to understand what that process is supposed to look like. Thanks so much for this, Janet, and for the rest of the great WIR!

Donnaeve said...

I've made it through the WIR, but will have to go back and read the comments.

Fifteen people here for Mother's Day - and although I'm a Mom too - and a Mimi (doesn't that sound all Southern gentrified) I'm the one who shucked 20 ears of corn, peeled five lbs of potatoes, topped three qts of strawberries, baked a hot milk cake (ya'll have to try it) whipped up the whip cream, deviled some eggs, and hey, how about a three bean salad just because?

Having said that, HA! Ms. Janet, I thought I was so subtle. NOT. The thing with Mom...ya know I tell stories right? Yeah. So, Mom tends to tell stories too, and she EMBELLISHES them. And they're about ME. Running around the back yard in my underwear. Um. No. If I can't keep my eyeballs and ears tuned in to Mom? She will have you thinking I swung from the power line attached to the house playing Mighty Mouse with my brother. Oh wait. We did that.

Yay! A subheader was spotted too, but KD's is perfect. And I do swear by Blue Emu.

Donnaeve said...

THANK YOU for the WIR. My brain isn't up to par. Thank you for all you do.

AJ Blythe said...

My work is piled to the rafters (I have deadline today) but couldn't start until I'd read the WiR. It didn't disappoint. Thanks, QOTKU.

Amy, he didn't mention the sharks? It's safer to swim here, even when our Queen is chomping, than off our (Aussie) coast at the moment.

JR, love the images of NYC. I'm hitting the query trenches again later this year, so read your page with that in mind. From a Reider pov I couldn't see anything.

So then I tried to think outside the Reif: I think you should add a line to your Query page recommending queriers (I'm sure that should be a word) read the FAQ page before subbing. I bet a lot don't and they'll miss the linkies to Query Shark and the Reif.

Or maybe just stick those links on every page, perhaps with flashing lights and great big red arrows saying "click here before subbing".

All queries to the Shark should come with a requirement to state:
I hereby swear I have read every Query Shark post and have swum through the Reif. I survived. Here is my query.

Craig said...

Thank you, thank my Queen.

Firstly I thank you for be so considerate to us little beasties.

Secondly I would like to thank you for that timeline. It clarifies some things for me. Being in business for myself I have already seen some weird things. It seems the universe sometimes likes to toss monkey wrenches into the works. While in the environmental business I invented a different way to extract and test soluble landfill gases. My first attempt to get state approval crashed and burned when the FedEx plane went down with all my samples.

I have also had a landfill fall on the building where another product was going to be manufactured. Never expect the rainbow to carry you to a pot of gold. Expect something to get in the way.

CynthiaMc said...

Published. Where is spell check when you need it?

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for answering my minor follow-up question, Janet. And thanks again for another WiR. Lots of great stuff. I really need to make some PDFs with all this info for the Treasure Chest. That whole timeline for when an agent expresses interest--very useful. I hope you don't mind me culling the blog for Treasure Chest articles? I think it makes it easier for people to find, rather than scouring the blog archives.

As for your web site redesign... lovely! Really. The pictures of NYC are cool, and make me want to visit properly. Of course, I would love a guided tour. In fact, that might have to be part of the contract should I land a NY-based agent: "Must give author guided tour of NYC at least once in the life of this agreement." Perhaps if the advance is good, I'll bring the whole family! :D

Sorry this is a bit of a hit and run comment. It's been a busy day (Mother's Day in the US for those that live elsewhere). I'm looking forward to another week of thoughtful and witty comments, and some good blog articles to go with them. ;)

Mark Thurber said...

Ah, good! I was thinking of suggesting that the timeline be entered into the Treasure Chest, but I didn't want to be sent to the exile planet for people who ask Colin to do extra work (unless it is pleasant and rains lighter animals there).

Colin Smith said...

Mark: Feel free to throw suggestions my way. Part of the purpose of the Treasure Chest is help address in detail some of Janet's FAQs, cutting down on the amount of time she spends repeating herself. And if someone else wants to compile the information and just send me a pdf to upload, I'm cool with that too! I don't have to do all the work. ;)

Colin Smith said...

I'll take Word docs, too. Any standard format document. Whatever most people will be able to read.

Miles O'Neal said...

I love the new site. But I have a QAFAQ (Question About a FAQ):

"Just FYI, I do not consider books that deal with assassinating the US President as a major theme."

Do you mean only the sitting president? Past presidents? Fictional presidents?

Just curious, as I know someone who has a novel in their head that revolves around this. Whether they will write it us another story, but they have developed it fairly well, and it has potential. (It does not include an actual US president.)

Janet Reid said...

When I heard there were more threats to President Obama than to previous presidents (by several times), I realized I didn't want to be the agent for the book that gave the guy the idea.

It's not likely it would happen, but yanno...I'm just not prepared to answer to God on that one.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

For those who are concerned over Amy Shaefer's visit to Australia, here's a little song for you:

Come to Australia - Scared Weird Little Guys

She'll be fine. She might even make it as far as Perth.

P.S.: It was also Mother's Day here in Aus as well. I got breakfast in bed and enough spare time to realise that nearly all those freebie indie series starters I downloaded are proving that there is an upside to commercial publishing, namely, professional editors. Sorry.

Panda in Chief said...

And if Amy hasn't read Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburnned Country"... um, she might want to wait till they get done with their sailing adventure. big deal. Forget I said anything.

I forget what the PSI of a panda's bite is, but may I just say, can crack large stalks of bamboo with their teeth. Just because we're cute, it doesn't mean we're easy.

Thanks for another great WIR.
Back to full speed ahead this week.

Ashes said...

I hate to pick on one throwaway line in what was another helpful and informative weekly recap.

But I have to step in and comment after reading the post linked here: "Nikola Vukoja has a good rundown on the road to self-publishing. Well worth the read."

I don't know Nikola, and I wish her nothing but the best on her self-publishing path.

But can I counter with my own link? It's from a couple years ago, but here's a terrific account of Kelly Walker's first year of indie publishing.

My main problems with Nikola post are:
-$4,000 is a lot to invest in a debut standalone. A lot of indie authors lose money on their first publication and the key to visibility on Amazon seems to be writing multiple connected books. (You do have to invest money for quality, but maybe 1/2 or 1/4 of what Nikola is advocating.)
-Hiring an illustrator with, as far as I can tell, no experience in book design is, to me, a red flag.

In fact, a different post on the same blog is miffed at another aspiring author who "intended to use stock-standard free-clip-art for her front cover".

Stock images are not necessarily bad. In fact they can be a better approach than hiring an illustrator (particularly one who doesn't understand book design), because in book design clich├ęs aren't bad.

Anyway, maybe Kelly's experience can help Nikola. And while I encourage people to follow Nikola on her journey, I also want to remind them she's just setting out on the path and the best advice comes from those who've walked it.

Joseph Snoe said...

Janet Reid

Thanks for the timeline advice. I hope it comes in handy someday.

Grandma Snoe came from the Paluka side of the family, but she was no boxer. I’ll email you a classic picture of her with her shotgun and hunting dogs and, of course in Texas, her sun bonnet.

What I wish I could really show you are some handmade quilts she and my aunt made for me.

I always thought it was cool to be a Paluka. A popular comic strip when I was a boy was called “Joe Palooka.” Since in an abstract way I was sort of Joe Paluka, I could relate to him (but I’m not a boxer, either).

BJ – I don’t think the Lutzko’s associated with my family (or vice-versa).

BJ Muntain said...

Joseph: Considering they came to Canada, and yours went to Texas, chances are they came from different places in Galicia. People from the same village often migrated to the same settlement, wherever they went.

Janet: That is a very cool reason not to accept books with that theme.

Jason Vierra said...

Janet thanks again for the WIR. This site is like: writers 101, a guide on what not to do.

Thanks again.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Wow; I missed so much being offline for a week!
Thank you Janet, for the life-saver that is the WiR. And for that timeline!!!
The crocs aren't so bad down here in Aus. Well, the plastic ones that we wear on our feet, anyway :D
Congrats KD on the subheader.
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mums here on the Reef,
and happy writing to all!

Julie Weathers said...

I'm late posting a response to the WIR, but as always, it was great.

"and the look on Donna's face (pure horror) was quickly replaced by a Southern Lady smile and she said "that's very kind of you, let me see if we can"

This made me laugh so much and I can see it so plainly in my mind.

It reminds me of a story of those tours people do of southern antebellum homes. One home featured some china that had been hand painted by Audubon as he was friends with the original owners and stayed in the home.

A tourist picked up one of these nigh priceless teacups and was tossing it in the air. The tour guide nearly had heart failure, snatched the cup away, and screamed at the man. The owner of the home, assured him it was fine and soothed the man (and his wife who was probably contemplating his murder if it wouldn't have ruined an equally priceless rug) and told funny stories about Audubon to take the attention away from him.

It's a southern thing.

Re the ideas. Let's be honest, ideas are a dime a dozen. The magic is in the execution. I say ideas can be stolen due to my experience with agents tweedle dee and tweedle dum who were gung ho about my books about the personal lives of a series of western women. I later saw a book in the bookstore with a collection of these same western women and was going to buy it. Then I read the acknowledgments. The author thanked his agents tweedle dee and tweedle dum for the wonderful idea to write this book.

That's fine, it was a dry history book and missed the soul of the ladies. Regardless, I didn't buy the book.

Janet's timeline was great. spot on.

Ha, Donna's subheader made me laugh and Hank's comment warmed my heart. Thank you all. You have no idea how many stupid stories I delete and nearly did the snake oil story.

Great, subheaders and I agree totally with K.D., but boy didn't Claudette hit it on the head?

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Alright, QOTKU found humor (or...was it I found out how to write humor?) Thank you for continuing to give us these Wirs.

What a lovely website, Janet. I like the pics on the home page.

I wondered, if under your Query page, you might like to mention Queryshark. You list it under FAQ and About me. But sometimes, do people just land on 1 page then wander off, thinking they know it all? Yes, there is something to be said for being thorough rather than impatient.

Under Query, under non-fiction, it looks like you're still thinking as you ended with a semi-colon rather than a period after health.