Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week in Review 7/17/16

Welcome to the week that was, and what a week indeed.

Scott G took note of the time I pasted my name tag on someone else at a cocktail party full of writers:
So what you're saying is, if I approach a woman at a bar with a name tag that says "Janet Reid" and I say, "Can I buy you a drink Snookums?" I will get slapped, or a drink thrown in my face, if you have given your name tag to someone else.

Similarly, if I approach a woman at a bar with a name tag that says "Janet Reid" and I say, "Can I pitch you my book?" I will get slapped, or a drink thrown in my face, if you have not given your name tag to someone else.

Therefore, I can only conclude that the only way to approach a woman at a bar with a name tag that says "Janet Reid" and not get slapped or a drink thrown in my face is to say, "Can I pitch you my book, Snookums?"

Again I say, the advice I continue to take away from this blog is immeasurable.

You left out Option D: say hello.
Cause you'll have me at hello.


Dena Pawling was hilarious on the subject of name tags, RSVPs and judges, and this line was perfect:
As you might expect, this is not necessarily terrifying because, as attorneys, we're not human in the first place.

Colin asked for confirmation about querying through an all agency portal
When you're querying through an all-agency portal: Ladies/Gentlemen of the Agency

Really? I have never seen this anywhere, and would never have guessed. Am I missing another joke, or are you serious about this, Mighty Snookums?

No joke.
You can leave off the salutation if you want, but if you just can't, that's the one to use.

The conversation then drifted, as it tends to do, this time to cats, dogs, ice packs, and air conditioners.

On Monday the results of the flash fiction contest were announced

The quality of the entries this time was mind boggling. I think you're all plotting against me in some waterfront dive bar, exchanging ideas, critting each other's work and coming up with new and nefarious permutations of the prompt words. In other words: writer's revenge.

Keep it up.

Mark Thurber said
Sorry not to join you all this week, though my silly office story about whisky and a disguised ex-wife would not have stood a chance against this week's masterpieces. I finished it two minutes before post time, then I got flustered and couldn't convince blogger that I wasn't a robot. Shouldn't the fact that I got flustered prove that I am not a robot?

It killed me to see those two entries that were marked deleted by author. Then the last one was after the deadline. I honest to godiva thought about letting it stay up, but that seemed like the start of a very slippery slope.

Kae Ridwyn was enthused about her entry getting recognized
And now I'm off for some celebratory cake. Because that's what you eat to celebrate a brilliant achievement like this, yes?
YES! And really, you should share with the poor overworked contest judge!

And I think Janice L. Grinyer summed up all our feelings about the winning entry by Steven D
Steven D. That has to be the creepiest story I've ever read written here. I needed to hug puppies and eat ice cream and sing Mister Rogers songs to clear my mind! Please take that as a compliment- not too many things can creep me out.

But yep, that story of yours did so.

And it sounds as though Colin's family will be moving house, whilst he is off in Carkoon….again
Thinking about it, it might make an interesting twist to the contests if Janet did, every now and again, throw in a theme restriction. E.g., "No gun violence", or "Must reference one of Patrick Lee's novels." Just to spice things up a bit... :)

BJ Muntain asked
Should we hold a vote? Send Colin to Carkoon or not?

I think that's a terrific idea.

Here's the poll


On Tuesday we talked about "super agents" and trading up.

Mister Furkles cracked me up with this
The chances of this happening are less than lightning striking and killing you.

If you want to improve your chances, put on ESD bootstraps and stand on a steel manhole cover during a thunderstorm.

Uh, ...that's for being struck by lightning. No help on the breakout novel. Sorry about that.

Adib Khorram makes a good point here
I think it's also worth pointing out that even if you sign with a so-called "super agent," it's no guarantee of some sort of smash success and a giant advance. Those books aren't only outliers in the market—they're outliers for those agents, too.

And then had some questions about the asbestos underpants part of today's entertainment.
Here's my question about the asbestos underpants: are they made of 100% asbestos? Or is it a pair of underpants with some sort of asbestos lining? I feel like the risk of inhalation is lower with the lined pair vs. the 100% asbestos pair, but of course it depends on the breathability of the material housing the lining.

Asbestos underpants is one of my favorite phrases and I seize every  opportunity to use it. Thus, some time ago I emailed Steve Ulfelder (Edgar nominee in Best First for Purgatory Chasm--the fourth book he wrote after I signed him) who is a great writer and a race car driver.

I mentioned asbestos underpants (I can't remember why)
Turns out, yes, race car drivers wear this stuff. It's discreetly referred to as your "base layer"
I guess flame resistant lingerie doesn't have the same appeal.

Bethany Elizabeth makes a good point here
Hello all! I'm checking in from the beach (beautiful Cannon Beach, to be specific) and my week of reading to add my two cents. I've got some sympathy with OP here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you sold a book with an agent and there's no line in your agreement specifying that they have the right to pick up your next book if they want it, you don't actually owe the agent your forever loyalty.

Loyalty is certainly important, but if you feel like your novel isn't in good hands, then you may build mistrust and resentment into the relationship, which hurts everyone. Agent-author relationships are more akin to dating then marriage. No one really expects them to last forever, though it's wonderful if they do, and if either partner starts wanting something more, it's not necessarily wrong to end it.

Although I wonder if OP has honestly talked through their ambitions with their agent. Have you been honest with what you want and sought advice on how to get there?

I think Jen gets the last word on this topic
My novel landed me a New York "super agent." And when he couldn't get me an advance for my novel, he stopped pitching it. He wants novels that will sell, and sell well.

I wanted to be a small fish in a big pond. I wanted an agent with contacts in the major houses. I wanted an agent who could get me good deals.

I got an agent who is lax about communicating. I got an agent who puts his top clients at the top of his "to-do" list. I got an agent who won't touch a second novel I wrote because he doesn't have the motivation to sell it.

Be VERY careful what you wish for. If you have an agent who you can communicate with on a regular basis and who SOLD YOUR NOVEL, I'd stay where you are. The grass always looks greener when you're not the one doing the mowing.

On Wednesday we talked about whether you can use other people's character names in your novel

Michael Seese generously stepped up
If someone wants to have a character named Michael Seese who is a brilliant author (and bears a striking resemblance to Brad Pitt) that would be OK with me. Just formally putting that out there

Theresa has her eye on my office:
World Domination Cloakroom and Plotting Center--I want one of those!

Joyce Tremel is planning ahead:
So, in other words, if there's a book 4 in my series I can add a slightly grumpy agent bearing your name who comes into Max's brewpub and is incensed that they only serve beer and not twelve-year-old scotch. Got it.

Yup. But you should also have me be the corpse in the case too!And I really hope there is a Book #4. I really loved To Brew or Not to Brew!

Stephen Kozeniewski said
I always assumed Janet from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was based on you.

I did too.

Colin Smith asked:

Here's a question for Janet: Has any published writer who isn't one of your clients put you in one of their novels? I think it's only a matter of time before you show up in a Jack Reacher novel. :)
Not that I know of but one can always hope.

Janice L. Grinyer is getting caught up on blog posts:
In one WIR, JR so eloquently invites us to visit with her at the Writers Conferences she will be attending - I must admit, I was over the moon at her generosity for newbie Writer's conference people like me!

"How WONDERFUL! I MUST email her with my appreciation!!!"

In the next WIR, she admits to switching her nametag with other people at Writers Conferences.




I think we have been given a little insight to as why her name has been used in those Novels...?

No no no. If you're going to a conference I'm attending, and you don't know anyone, LET ME KNOW AHEAD OF TIME!!! I promise not to torment you with switched name tags. The switched name tags were for cocktail parties where people were so aggressive about pitching that it was down right frightening.

And I'm really serious about this offer for hanging out at writing conferences. A little background here will make you understand: I went to seven different school in seven years when I was in elementary, junior high and high school. I well remember the first day of school when I didn't know a soul, and didn't have anyone to eat lunch with. Some years were easier than others, but sometimes it was pure torture.

If you're a blog reader, don't torture yourself! Let me do it!

Craig F had some interesting info:
Donna: murder of crows is called a venery term. Those date back to the late middle ages. Almost every animal that is used for hunting or is hunted have a term for them. Some are quite complicated, like vultures.

Flying vultures are a kettle. If they are resting in tress they can be a committee, volt or venue.

A wake of vultures are vultures that are feeding.

What do you call a group of agents? I think we need some suggestions here!

On Thursday we talked about reasons nine queries didn't get to yes:

RachelErin said:
Oh Janet - now the woodland creatures get to agonize over whether we comment enough to call you Snookums! You've achieved daily torment.

Exactly my goal.

Craig F asked:
The questions I have are more on what makes you consider a query successful?

Well, there's a blog here that will help with that.

Joseph Snoe asked
I'm curious what about each of the two fulls said that tipped the scales in their favor.

Pretty simple. I wanted to read the novel.
A query has two goals: entice me to read the pages, show you are not an asshat.
Your enclosed pages have but ONE goal: entice me to read on.

Both these queries did that. Simple yes. Not easy. (as our subheader some weeks back said!)

John Davis (manuscript) Frain asked:
From #1: "How you will avoid that: do not open your query with a rhetorical question. If anyone advises you to do this, ignore them."

First, I LOVE any advice where I get to ignore people. So thanks for that pre-approval. Second, I've seen this advice before and I don't get it. Why is opening your query with a rhetorical question so horrendous? Trust me, I won't do it. I just like to understand why I'm not doing something. This strikes me as a reasonable way to get into your 250-word query. Why are rhetorical questions taboo?

This was explained deftly by someone else a while back and I'll try to come as close as I can to their answer. Rhetorical questions are about the reader, not the story. Rhetorical questions assume your reader comes to the story with the same world view as the writer (an act of hubris we don't need to explore further.)

So "what would you do if a terrorist kidnapped your child" doesn't have much resonance with agents who don't have children.

And of course you run the low, but terrible risk, of saying that to a person who has lost a child. (Something you simply can't know ahead of time.)

What would you do if you got fired from your job? isn't going to resonate with an agent who owns the agency.

The "right" answer to "what would you do if " is all too often not the answer you're going to get from a whisky swilling, abrasive, fuck genteel kind of agent. Yanno, the kind you want negotiating your contracts.

But mostly cause it then is about the reader, not the story. Start with your characters. Tell me what they want. Tell me what's at stake. That's all you need to do.

and then JD(ms)F dropped the mic with this one:


You must be a hoot in brainstorm sessions. I suddenly have a dozen rhetorical questions in my head and the answer to all 12 is: Julie Weathers.

and youse guyz are just Very Lucky there is a WIR cause of this from Timothy Lowe
BTW - Janet has mentioned "The Wire" - "Marcella" (on Netflix) has been pretty boss lately. If you're looking for something to suck you in on a summer night, I recommend it.

On Friday we talked about how we pay authors in other countries

I'd tossed off a comment that paying authors outside the US was a PITA. I should know better than to do that. It caused the woodland creatures in far flung ports of call to worry. Sorry guys.

How you get paid has zero bearing on whether I sign you. I'll pay you in pennies in a wheelbarrow if you want. Jeff Somers can vouch for this.

On Saturday we talked about agents looking for writers in anthologies and periodicals.

Michael Seese asked
I'm curious about one thing. If you read a particularly tasty piece, do you:

a) file away the author's name in the hopes that he or she some day submits to you, or
b) reach out to the author and say, "I really liked you short story about Felicia Buttonweezer. (Sister of Felix.) Are you working on any fiction novels that might interest me?"

(Yes, that last part was to yank your chain.)

More B than A. I reach out and see what they're working on next and what they want to do. Some already have representation, some have a pretty good novel tucked away.

Jennifer R. Donohue asked:
How many books have authors killed you in, Janet? I think Jeff Somers did in one of the Avery Cates books, any others? I didn't realize it was such a badge of honor!

I don't know. I do think of it as a badge of honor though. Most agents look at acknowledgements or dedications for kudos. Me, I look for my prone form and the hint of sulphur.

I'm heading to Vermont this weekend to look at cows and torment writers. At some point, a writing conference may be involved, and a talk on query letters. That is unless I keel over and die after watching the Republican Convention.

As a life-long Republican, this year it's like watching the Titanic sail off. I finally read a piece that seems to explain the ShihTzu HairDo's resonance with the non-deranged class. When Trump Happens to Good People.

And on that note, that's the week that was.

There's only one choice for the subheader this week but it's perfect:

"Life is short. Play with your dog."--CynthiaMc.


BJ Muntain said...

What a fun WiR today! I voted. And not to send a certain politician to Carkoon - imagine what he might do there!

A group of agents? How about... Well, if they're literary agents (of course), a negotiation of agents? Does that fit?

BJ Muntain said...

Or maybe a brawl of agents?

Dena Pawling said...

>>If you're a blog reader, don't torture yourself! Let me do it!
>>What do you call a group of agents? I think we need some suggestions here!

A torment of agents.

Lance said...

A bar of agents.

Beth said...

Thanks for the week, and have a wonderful trip to Vermont.

Excuse me. My dog keeps dropping her toy on my foot.

Lennon Faris said...

I do love these WIRs. "...prone form and the hint of sulphur' - had to read that a couple times to fully appreciate the sheer beauty of that.

I like 'torment of agents'.

CynthiaMc said...

Thank you for the subheader. It made me cry.

Congratulations to the FF winner and mentions! It's been another crazy week. I always read the blog post just before dashing off to work but don't always make it to the comments. Thank you again for the WIR. It's my lifeline.

Thanks also for Submission Grinder and all the other where-to-send-your-stuff posts. I am taunting the universe. I put in my planner "Income from Day Job" and next to it "Income from Writing". My hope is the second will exceed the first.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I think Lennon Fairs is spot on with "A torment of agents"!

I just got back from playing with my dog. Well, we took a field trip to Tractor Supply for a number of things, and she charmed everybody in line, even distracting the ongoing transaction ahead of us. Then when the cashier asked if she could have a treat, Elka obliged by putting her paws up on the counter (I'd taught her to do that for the bank ladies, who were sad when she wouldn't jump up for a treat). Amazingly, she ate the Milkbone she was given (in the past, princess would take the treat, very nicely, and then put it on the plastic bag rack and look back at the treater, like "well, what else do you have?" Also, we got her some squeaky tennis balls, because as she perused the toys, that's what she lingered over (I can trust her to not pick up items/steal food/etc, such is her "leave it" and "drop it"). Her eyes turned liquid and Disney when I said "Elka, should we get some squeaky tennis balls?" Of course, members of the household are still sleeping and she can't have one right this second....

I really, really liked "The Wire" (and sadly, it's most of what I know about Baltimore, other than what my cousin tells me. He lives there and is running for City Council President on the Green Party ticket), so I shall at some future point check out "Marcella". I've been watching some "Narcos", and then began watching "Mr. Robot" on Amazon because of my current WIP, a cyberpunk diamond heist gone awry. Not much of a body trail just yet, but maybe there's room for a shark corpse in there (I've already had a whale coffee house).

Curt David said...

So this WIR had me follow the link to Jeff Somers' blog, and before ya know it, I had spent an hour binge-reading his very funny blog. And as a constant reader of Janet's blog, I of course found Jeff's blogs about his agent Janet Reid hilarious.

In his words, here is why he started a newsletter on his blog: "So when my agent Janet appears in a swirl of purple smoke and prods me awake with her bedazzled halberd and orders to me to start up an email newsletter, I do it."

And this other conversation with Janet was great too: Admitting Defeat

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Love the WIR... this one was most-excellent. Thank you. Have a wonderful time in Vermont, Ms. Janet.

How about a "lexicon of agents?"

Theresa said...

Sunday Love: WIR, subheader, mention in WIR, "bar of agents"

Wish you all a great start to the week.

Karen McCoy said...

A "torment of agents" is great. Feels better than a "murder of agents".

Megan V said...

A murder of crows is also called a story of crows.
And then there's my personal favorite—a parliament of owls.

A group of agents? Hmmm...Can't call em a league. That's already taken by sports and the league of extraordinary gentlemen. A gaggle is for geese and nuns. Clutch of thieves.

A cabal of agents.

If we want to stick to sharking, maybe a shiver of agents.
In fact,now that I'm thinking about it, I quite like a shiver of agents. Makes me think of Rocky Horror. And pirates.

Barbara Etlin said...

My all-time fave is a parliament of owls.

I think a group of agents should be a "pre-empt of agents."

I'm not a robot; I've had my coffee.

Adib Khorram said...

"Torment of agents" gets my vote. What would the venery term for writers be? A panic of writers?

Craig F said...

An agenda of agents

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, a torment of agents. Even better than a conspiracy of Ravens - thank you for WIR and everything you do. Back down the rabbit hole with me.

Donnaeve said...

Thank you for this lovely WIR!

I missed Craig giving me that explanation for "murder of crows." The explanation was fascinating. I didn't know any of that. A belated thank you Craig!

I haven't voted on Colin. I can't decide. Either way, it looks like he's going.

I like all the suggestions for the agents. For some reason an apocalypse of agents keeps drumming in my head - maybe b/c we sometimes feel/think our world will end if we don't have/keep/get one.

DLM said...

Another vote for Dena's torment of agents! And Adib's panic of writers. Beautiful.

Cynthia, thank you for a great subheader. *Scritching Penelope and snoodle-facing Gossamer TEC*

BJ Muntain said...

Donna: In the poll window, scroll down. There are other choices. If you want them.

Colin Smith said...

Well! Knowing how much you all love having me around, and how you all hang on my every word whenever I comment...

... I'm doomed.

I managed to stay away from Carkoon for nearly EIGHT months! I'm sure things have changed. Not sure what to pack. I guess the asbestos underwear is a must. You never know when you need to visit the Great Pit of Granthor. Personally, I would sooner use the public toilets, and that's saying something...

I will make this plea. As bad as Carkoon is, and as much as it curls our teeth and sets our hair on edge to say it... don't send Trump there. I gather rumors abounded that Trump might be visiting Carkoon some weeks ago. Apparently, Mr. B. L. Z. Bubb, who is currently vacationing there, complained, saying Trump would lower the tone of the whole place. :)

A wonderful WiR. Yes, let's talk about the collective name for agents. A much better topic than my potential exile. Focus on the important things, folks!

How about A Query of Agents. Has that been suggested? I like A Bar of Agents.

OK. I need to go play Mario with SecondBorn. And pack... *sniff*...

S.P. Bowers said...

I didn't vote on Colin's expulsion to Carkoon. In this case either answer would have worked. I may not vote for president either, but that's because I'm terrified of both options. This could be your year, your sharkiness, I'm seriously considering writing in QOTKU.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am a citizen of the known universe. Janet is my queen. As far as the election goes, for some reason I keep hearing Jimi Hendrix All Along the Watch Tower..,

"There must be some kind a way outta here said the joker to the thief. There's too much confusion. I can't get no relief."

Maybe we're all wrong and the Shih-Tzu will stage a coup... Or we'll just keep writing. Maybe more people will read to escape the calamity that is devouring the world.

So a bar of agents? I was loving a torment of agents but a bar of agents seems far more likely. Or a distillery of agents? Nothing better than a well fermented agent.

Just Jan said...

I like Colin's "query of agents" (exactly why I didn't vote to send you to Carkoon) and Adib's "panic of writers".

Or how about A Rejection of Agents?

Enjoy Vermont. And the cows. And thanks for another great WIR.

John Davis Frain said...

Oh, the creativity around here. First, the WiR. Then, the comments. I can't get enough. And what more do I want?

An explanation to THIS...

"I mentioned asbestos underpants (I can't remember why)"

Now I get it if one mentions the weather and can't remember why. Or when one mentions a restaurant or a car or an author's name, and can't recall the context.

But, oh I happened to mention asbestos underpants. Ya know, just a regular conversation going on and I felt the timing right to jump in with asbestos underpants! Isn't that something most reasonable people weave into their daily conversations?

Like the remarkable Hunt for Gary Corby, we must track down the origination of this story!

Meanwhile, awesome WiR. Such fun and frivolity this week!

I do have one legit question from this:

"Steve Ulfelder (Edgar nominee in Best First for Purgatory Chasm--the fourth book he wrote after I signed him) who is a great writer..."

Let me see if I read this accurately. You signed Mr. Ulfelder based on a ms. It didn't sell. He wrote two more that didn't sell. Then, he wrote a magical ms, Purgatory Chasm, that sold, and was nominated for an Edgar.

I don't mean that to sound harrowing, I'm just curious if I'm understanding it correctly. That's a definition of perseverance. I'd be interested in knowing how much time passed from signing to sale of Book Four.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Thank you for the WIR, I mean really thank you.
I miss you guys.
I miss writing.
I miss walking with two normal knees.
I miss my life being in order.
I am tired of packing boxes.
I am tired of living with piles of boxes.
I am tired of not being able to find anything.
Whine, whine, whine.
Time to pet the dog.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

If I can find the Frisby maybe I'll play with the dog instead.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Found it.

Mark Thurber said...

Great WIR, thanks. I'm still so pleased with the wonderful advice yesterday on anthologies/periodicals from Michael, Jennifer, BJ, and others. (And for the record, I fully support not pandering to me when it comes to contest rules.)

I voted to send Colin to Carkoon (and leave a dessert making child here), but it's not because I don't like Colin. Quite the opposite, in fact! It's rather that I still have a somewhat romantic view of Carkoon despite Colin's best efforts to disabuse me of it. I feel better with Colin holding down the fort and making sure the lives of poor downtrodden Carkoonians don't get any worse as a result of less savory visitors who might try to take advantage of them.

Donnaeve said...

BJ Thank you. I'll claim writer brain again. For those who follow on FB, you know I had that episode this week - as in I picked up my cordless phone, pointed it at the TV and tried to change the channel.

That's writer brain.

Julie Weathers said...

Great WIR. I'm so glad you did it before you sank into Marcella. I got sidetracked with Penny Dreadful for a bit. I'm on to Hinterland now, a Welsh show.

A group of agents, a group of apes is also known as a shrewdness. Armadillos in a bunch are a roll. Negotiation or brawl would certainly fit. Seeing as securing an angel might be something akin to a miracle, I will refer to them as a host of agents.

With the approaching convention and the realization this country is probably faced with such lousy choices this fall. I had been hoping the delegates would rise up and depose Trump. Anyway, between politics, Dallas, Nice, Baton Rouge, promised violence in Cleveland, and personal things, I am nearly too depressed to function.

That means I sleep little. So, while I was lying awake the other night, I was thinking about a scene in RC with Janet Reid the character. She lives in a house in DC with her Jewish friend and very loyal housekeeper she rescued from an abusive husband.

Lorena wants to know if it's safe to discuss some dangerous information and Adelle, the friend says of the housekeeper, "Oh, yes. If Janet said, 'You know, Anna, I think Mr. Smitherby is in need of killing.' Anna would simply respond, 'Yes, ma'am. Which flowerbed would you like him buried in?'"

I'm not sure it will make it into the final cut of the book, but it laid out an interesting insight into the relationship of the three women. The character Mrs. Reid inspires great loyalty (much like her real life persona). Who knows if we will ever see her laid out for viewing in the parlor in her best black moire. I don't foresee more scenes with this group, but you never know where the rabbit trail will take you.

Anyway, off topic, but it was an interesting group of scenes that ran through my head with our intrepid ladies. When characters start revealing themselves like that I can't help but believe they will have a more important part later on.

Regarding John's comment about me brainstorming: I don't know, but my mind does tend to meander down strange and wondrous paths at times. I don't mind if people meander with me.

AJ Blythe said...

What a fun WiR.

That post by Jeff Somers cracked me up. And I love the subehader (I took my gorgeous boy, Biggles, for an extra long walk this morning to celebrate his 10th birthday).

A group of agents...

When negotiating anything: a shrewdness (apes)
Plotting evil to be inflicted on woodland creatures: a cauldron (bats)
Laughing at aforementioned evil: a cackle (hyenas)
Picking over the carcasses of woodland creatures: a wake (buzzards)
Those who NORMAN: an unkindness (ravens)
At the bar: a party (jays)
Swapping name tags: a conspiracy (lemurs)
Chatting with publishers: a charm (finches)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

AJ hahaha...

BTW the pooch and I had great time. Great sub header.

Hey Colin, how about running for Pres. Oh wait you can't, you're not a woman.

Colin Smith said...

Mark: Carkoon is an exile planet full of unsavory characters. They spend their days trying to rid the place of people like me! It's like waking up one morning and realizing your the bad guy in a super hero movie. :)

Seems I need to try harder to distract you all from the vote thing:

How about a Norman of Agents? Of course, that would only apply to a particular breed of agent. :) Ooo... we can make "Norman" a verb:

Telemarketer: Hello, Ms. Reid, can I interest you in...?
[dial tone]
Telemarketer (to self): I do believe I've just been Normaned.

And we're writers, so we're allowed to make verbs out of anything. I'm going to make one out of the shattered remains of my dreams to stay off Carkoon... *sigh*

(Am I getting to you yet?) :D

Lisa Bodenheim said...

that was some rabbit hole I fell down (dustin' self off).

I wanted to be clever, too, about a name for a group of agents. One website called a group of sharks, a gam but another site defined gam as a group of whales. I liked all the other connotations of gam.

And then I found a site that had baby kitties....awwwww

and I found a crash of rhinoceroses and a tower of giraffes and now, I've just read through the comments and I like Dena's torment of agents and AJ Blythe's categorization.

Back on-topic, thank you Janet for the WiR. Have a wonderful time in Vermont.

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and one more consideration: If you send me to Carkoon, the experience will be so traumatic, I'll be writing off-topic comments about the woes of exile and life on Carkoon again. You have been warned!


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

Attempted murder.

Craig F said...

Okay, I have more time now. Holding back the waters takes a lot of energy.

Thank you for the WIR my Queen. I am glad you were able to find the venerary story. I think it is important for writers to remember that word. The terms obviously cover a lot more than the vultures I mentioned but I live in Tampa and we have snowbirds. Snowbirds can also be vultures. Every year most of the vultures from the Eastern Seashore come visit us. That was why I picked them.

On Queries:
I have read maybe too many attempts to explain queries. I know the science of them and I can sometimes make other people's queries better. I have a problem with mine because of too much information. It all collapses down on me when I try to write a query. Someday I will find the right place to start it and things will be fine. I hope.

I had the joy of visiting just because the Queen wanted me there. In other words she said I said and it was history. It was something about prologues sucking the mystery out of stories but I had said anything about prologues for weeks.

Colin was, at that point, trying to find an editor for Fuzzy Print. I turned him down and paid twenty four dollars worth of Gasparilla beads for the cave next door.

When Dena arrived he said the big hairy monster next door needed evicted. She never did tell me how the beer was.

Anonymous said...

I haven't experienced torment-by-agent (yet), but from stories I've heard it seems apt. I also think a "mirage of agents" works, as they shimmer and disappear if you get too close. Or so I've heard. And I suspect "cabal" might more descriptive of publishers than agents (she said innocently).

A panic of writers made me laugh, but the writers I know, including you all over here, are more accurately termed an eloquence of writers. I mean, c'mon. Words matter, none more so than the ones you use to describe yourself.

As much as I love reading Colin's stories from Carkoon (and as much as I think he secretly enjoys exile), I voted for him to stay. Real life lately already feels too much like an enactment of Lord of the Flies, which I read at a much too young and impressionable age. Aaaand, it just dawned on me-- this is why I can't stand to watch that TV show, Survivor. Huh. Janet Reid's blog: come for the information and camaraderie, stay for the deep psychological revelations.

Janet, I'm also curious about Steve Ulfelder and the timing of writing his fourth book in relation to you signing him.

Thanks for another great WIR. Much appreciated in the midst of my summer internet hiatus (also, if anyone asks, you did not see me over here procrastinating).

Gypmar said...

Janet, as someone who has contemplated starving over venturing alone into the university cafeteria, I think it is absolutely lovely of you to extend a warm welcome to your blog readers (Reiders) at writing conferences. You are awfully humane for a bloodthirsty shark, and that's why I like to hang out here. :)

Joseph Snoe said...

I don't have a dog. When I play with my cat I end up bleeding (except when she wants to be held and petted, which is pretty much four hours a day).

Gypmar, I enjoyed eating alone in the School Cafeteria (The CAF). I also enjoyed going there with colleagues. And if I was in luck, a colorful school benefactor would eat there and I'd visit with her (and sometimes her wonderful actress sister.) Let's all meet at the CAF.

I like Query of Agents if we're still voting.

I'm also curious about Steve Ulfelder.

Julie Weathers said...


Heh, whenever I see CAF I think Confederate Air Force. It was based in Midland, Texas for years. It may still be. They made them change the name to Commemorative Air Force or something a few years ago to be more PC. CAF

I don't know, with agents dealing with so many queries, do you think they would run screaming at the thought of a gaggle of agents being known as a query of agents?

I like flock. I like to imagine flocking agents busily searching through queries looking for just the right match or maybe they're looking for a scotch, who knows?

Joseph Snoe said...

This question is off topic but it's late (or early) (and what are you doing up. Julie?).

What do commercial publishers do if after the novel is printed they find an embarrassing (distracting) typographical error in the book's first few pages (or paragraphs) (not well into the book)

Textbook publishers wait until a new printing or new edition goes to print to correct it. Sometimes they send out an errata sheet or email.

Does it work the same way in novels (obviously the errata sheet and email options are impracticable)?

Joseph Snoe said...

Sorry, Colin, Julie nixed Query of Agents

what else?
A Jigger of Agents
A Library of Agents
A Travel of Agents
A Shelf of Agents
A Twain of Agents (I like that - no even better-)
A Dickens of Agents

Writer of Wrongs said...

"I think you're all plotting against me in some waterfront dive bar..." Ha! As if that was a bad thing. As an author of scuba mysteries set in the Florida Keys, I assure you that is where the stories lurk and the sharks let down their guard. In fact, there is a new cocktail called Writers Revenge; 2 parts scotch, with a splash of agent tears. Cheers!

BJ Muntain said...

Joseph: I can tell you what happened to Mary Robinette Kowal when the printer left off the opening sentence to her novel, but she says it much better: New beginnings, or What happened to my novel's first sentence?

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) said...

Like others, I'm a bit perplexed by the spontaneous discussion of asbestos underwear. Particularly, I'm incredibly perturbed by Adib's mention of inhalation danger. We do realize these are underwear right?!

Ok, so maybe there's some fruit-loops out there who sniff to find out if laundry is clean. But if there's an inhalation danger on asbestos underwear, I'm tempted to claim the user deserved it for sniff-testing their laundry. Certainly, they would remember wearing itchy, racing underwear...

Joseph Snoe said...

Thanks BJ

So the error stays. That's rough. I'm sure some (many) prospective buyers will pass when the first or second paragraph is missing words or has some other typo; and as Mary Kowal says, the first printing must sell out before they print a second, corrected run.

I was tickled to see they do offer errata sheets or stickers if they can get the word out. Too bad they don't stick them on before shipping the books out.

They should correct the page before letting it go to Preview places like, or B&N or Goodreads. I guess they don't.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

I'm so happy for your week roundups! They're always amusing and contain great bits gleaned from the comments.

I've just realized it's because Wordpress's reader doesn't show your comments section! It took me so long because I've long been trained by the internet to avoid the comments.

Clearly, I need to start clicking through to the site!

Morgan Hazelwood said...

My personal agent-group suggestions:

A contract of agents
A submission of agents
A query of agents
A book of agents
A convention of agents [a con of agents?]

Clearly, these are all used in the appropriate circumstances.

Joseph Snoe said...


Julie already squelched 'A query of Agents.' (even though Colin and I like it)

I thought of a good one last night but sleep erased it.

How about, with a tip of the hat to Jean Shepherd, calling them Raggedy Ann's and Raggedy Andy's?

BJ Muntain said...

Joseph: I think Mary paid for those stickers herself, though it's been awhile since I've fully read that post. That happened a few years ago, and she's still handing out the stickers... though I do believe the first hardback run did run out. After all, she was marketing it as a collector's edition!

I talked to her a couple years ago at a conference where she was signing. She still had some of the bookmarks with her, and I was with someone from the local library system. She said that she would send as many stickers as the library needed if they had any of those hardbacks.

roadkills-r-us said...

I think Janet wrote the subhead this week:

"If you're a blog reader, don't torture yourself! Let me do it!"

As for the RNC convention, both major parties abandoned me some time back. Apparently this year they just want to rub it in,

Now I'm thinking I need to remove my rhetorical question from all my material. At least it shouldn't offend anyone; I've yet to find anyone alive today whose parents were eaten by dragons.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Very, very, very late I know - I'm blaming the dreaded day job that's just started back and is more hectic and chaos-filled than I ever remember it being. Sigh.
Thank you, Janet, for an enlightening WiR as always - and the chance to catch up on so-darn-much that I missed out on. And I'd continue venting about the blasted day job, but I've remembered that you mentioned me, and cake, and I wanted to say thank you for the mention, and when I get to New York, I'll be sure to share some celebratory cake with you... assuming you're still happy to, of course. Managing to successfully get myself halfway around the world would be cause for celebration, methinks. :)
Anyway, I need to stop rambling and get stuck back into the dreaded day job stuff (11.19pm and you'd think it would quit at some point, but no) ...
and I just wanted to finish with stating my preference for KD James' "a charm of agents".
Wishful thinking on my part, perhaps?

Brittany Constable said...

Re: Rhetorical questions

I think the biggest thing is that it doesn't remotely matter what I would do in that situation. We only care about what the character would do. You don't want me writing self-insert fan fic before I've read a word.

And you also don't want anything an agent could answer easily. "Have you ever--" "Nope. Next!"