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?
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:
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.