Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Unleash your capitalist running dog

 I’ve just begun querying my novel, a political mystery, but must confess I’m wondering if it’s an exercise in futility. Of fifty queries, half have come back as declined ("not a good fit, I’m not the best person for this" are two common responses when not a form rejection), and the other half are NORMANs so far. But that’s not my perceived problem.  The story is written from a conservative friendly-perspective, and while other perspectives across the spectrum are included, conservatives and Republicans are definitely portrayed as the better people. The consensus reality is that literary agents are a predominantly progressive-leaning breed.  Given that reality, all else being relatively equal, does any book that holds conservative ideology up as better than Democrat or progressive ideology have a snowball’s chance in hell?

This is a very interesting question because I rep a thriller writer who's a dyed in the wool progressive and I've been wondering if we're having a hard time finding an audience because most thrillers are more conservative.

Without having read your book (or query) I'd be a dunderhead for saying this is the problem, or that is the stumbling block.

What I can tell you is that the thriller market is almost completely saturated right now. It's VERY hard to find room on the shelf, and I'm having a hard time finding books that knock my socks off to the point I want to wrestle with that bear of a category.

You might invest some time in a conference and meet up with agents active in this category to get their take on your query and the state of the market. 

I know this must be incredibly frustrating for you since you're working without a lot of information on the state of the market, because it's frustrating for me too, and I have daily consultations with the market.

To the larger question though: does my personal taste/political leaning influence what I take on?  I'm sure it does and maybe more than I acknowledge, but I like to think I recognize good writing and page-turners regardless of political tilt.

Some years back I was hired to close the office of an agent who had died after a long and quite successful career. She was Jewish. Her client list ran the gamut from born-again fundamentalist Christians to atheists. Her political leanings were progressive. She repped everyone from conservatives to anarchists.  In other words, she took on books she thought would sell.  

(How did I know these personal things about her? I worked from her home office for several months, and handled all the incoming mail...including solicitations for money. Interesting what you learn from who asks you for dough!)

You also might be surprised at the political leanings of those you query. Me for starters: I'm not a Democrat, and after this election I'm mortified to confess to it: I am a Republican. Don't ask me how I can stand Donald Trump because I can't.


Just Jan said...

It's interesting that you classify most thrillers as conservative. I've never really thought about it, but I would have guessed the opposite as I think of thriller protagonists as progressive and the antagonist conservative ala The DaVinci Code.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Janet, I love your timing.

AJ Blythe said...

When I started reading I made the assumption the OP was concerned with the current political climate in America making the sale of a political thriller a bit like pushing water uphill... how wrong was I (maybe it's just me who is sick of hearing about it? And yes, we hear all about it here in Oz).

Back after a trip for work to find I missed an FF contest. Well done to everyone who made the short list - some awesome entries there!

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

If my definitely politically conservative brother can end up enjoying The West Wing, then certainly a well-written conservative novel of any sort can win over an liberal-leaning agent. As Janet says - agents are looking at the market.

That said, we also see how subjective rejections and requests are... an agent has to love your book to want to take it on. I don't think it's a stretch to believe that a liberal-slanting agent would have a harder time loving your book unless it instead has the "wow" factor.

I think it's easy to assume one thing about getting no requests (been there, done that... wait, *still* there, doing that) when it might instead be either the saturated market that needs a major "wow" factor or that your book isn't quite ready, or.... well, so many "or" reasons could follow....

Lennon Faris said...

If it was just the politics, I'd think it would depend more on specific topics rather than a conservative vs liberal lean. Most people I know wouldn't pass up something they love just because the person behind it doesn't politically lean their way. I'm middle-of-the-road. I can enjoy books about things I don't agree with. But I don't read books that champion a cause that I feel very strongly against. I don't want to boost their sales or numbers and besides, I don't enjoy reading them.

As long as your query doesn't contain any odious topics, I'd get a professional to peek at it. There are so many reasons a query doesn't get a 'yes' as I am very familiar with! Good luck!

Colin Smith said...

does my personal taste/political leaning influence what I take on? I'm sure it does and maybe more than I acknowledge, but I like to think I recognize good writing and page-turners regardless of political tilt.

I applaud your honesty, Janet. We are all affected by our worldview and our convictions. I would guess that 90% of the fiction authors I read do not share my theological and political convictions. Sometimes it's obvious from the story, other times not. As writers, we need to decide who we're writing for and why. I've used this example more than once, so forgive the repetition, but I've been surprised at how many people don't see the Christian allegory in the Narnia stories. It leaps off the page at me. But I have encountered people who loved the books, but didn't see the parallels until someone pointed them out. The reason for this lies in why Lewis wrote the stories. It seems he used to get very annoyed when the Narnia Chronicles were described as "Christian allegory." He said his hope was they were first and foremost good stories. He didn't set out to write Christian allegory; he set out to write cracking good children's stories. Of course, his Christian worldview affected what he wrote, but the fact they are good stories means they appeal to a broad audience well beyond the church.

To my writer friends, and perhaps to Opie, I would say this: if you think your stories are too overtly from a particular worldview, then perhaps look for agents that are seeking that kind of novel. The most obvious example would be to market overtly Christian novels to agents that represent Christian literature (Rachelle Gardner, for example). That doesn't mean the agents themselves are Christian (they may well be), but these are agents who read a lot in that genre and know the market. Google, and sites like and other agent-finding sites are useful for this.

Robert Ceres said...

Well, first off, 50 queries and 25 rejections, 25 NORMANs means nothing.

But if it did, and I hate to sound judgy, I would say the problem might be "The story is written from a conservative friendly-perspective, and while other perspectives across the spectrum are included, conservatives and Republicans are definitely portrayed as the better people." Without having read the book, this sounds like the book is preachy and jams people into stereo types. Conservatives are good people who take care of their kids, go to church dot dot dot. Meanwhile liberals all smoke crack, support black people shooting each other, and hate America. This is NOT the way 95% of Americans view people. And, if the reverse were true, had the OP said, "liberals and Democrats are definitely portrayed as the better people," I would feel exactly the same way. Books like this, for me, are no fun to read. Nobody wants to read and get preached to, or at least most don't.

And, for partisan books in general, conservative adults buy more books than liberal adults. Look at sales of Trump/Clinton books. Pro Trump anti Clinton books sell way more copies than the pro Clinton anti Trump books.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin I am right there with you in Narnia. When I first read the Chronicles, around age 8, I complained to my mother that Prince Caspain was a bit boring. It was my mom's favorite. I was surprised when she explained about the Christian aspects about his books, about how my time and God's time were different, and so forth.

My favorite was The Magician's Nephew. The Chronicles of Narnia were simply great stories. When I was older, I read Lewis in a very different light. However, as a child, and I was deeply impacted by Lewis's work. One of my early short stories was titled "Looking for Narnia" about a kid trying to escape abuse by hiding inside books.

The point being, unless you are trying to shove ideology down a reader's throat, it probably won't matter much as long as the writing is strong and the story powerful. I expect Janet is right, the thriller market is saturated at the moment so competition is crazy. I suspect I face same hurdle with fantasy.

But them is the breaks. Write what you are passionate about anyway. The market can turn on a dime and there's not a thing we can do to change it. Write the best book you can and persist. We writers be constant students of the school of hard knocks.

JulieWeathers said...

Thank you, Janet. I owe our dear Joseph Snoe some emails. I should send him one before he reads this and goes into a tailspin.

I've had some of the same misgivings about The Rain Crow. Frankly, I wonder about Cowgirls Wanted also. With RC it's just going to be a politically incorrect if historically correct book, but I hope people will look past that and get so sunk in the story they forget to be offended for a while. Same with CW except we add in the rodeo element and many people are convinced rodeo is hell on earth for animals. Oddly enough, my middle son just built a swimming pool to exercise his bucking bulls in and rents it out to other people to exercise horses, show calves, etc.

If we write to the market, however, we're chasing an ever receding mirage. Better to be the oasis and let people come to you than chase one.

Every category has it's ups and downs. You can't write to the market. F.Scott Fitzgerald drove Hemingway nuts by "whoring" his work to publishers instead of writing the story as straight and true as he could.

"[F. Scott Fitzgerald] had told me at the Closerie des Lilas how he wrote what he thought were good stories, and which really were good stories for the Post, and then changed them for submission, knowing exactly how he must make the twists that made them into salable magazine stories. I had been shocked at this and I said I thought it was whoring…. I said that I did not believe anyone could write any way except the very best he could write without destroying his talent." Ernest Hemingway

Janet is pretty keen on these things so if she says the market is saturated, that means your story has to be danged good. I'd be more concerned about the query letter right now. Try to get a critique from someone reputable. Even some of the twitter contests have query letter mentors that have had good successes.

Whatever you do, don't give up. Nothing beats persistence; not even God-given talent.

JulieWeathers said...


"Without having read the book, this sounds like the book is preachy and jams people into stereo types."

"liberals and Democrats are definitely portrayed as the better people,"

Agreed. I had to stop watching Supernatural, one of my favorite shows. I loved the stories, actors, and was interested to see how the writers interpreted various demons. I just finally got fed up with the Republican bashing and what seemed to be an all out war on Christianity. I'm not a Republican, but I lean heavily conservative. I would have gotten tired of it if they had been doing it to Democrats. Writers, leave your agendas at home. Protest, campaign, write your propaganda on your own time.

If you're a writer, your first job is to entertain or affect the reader in some way so much they want to return to the table. Your goal is to get them so sunk in the characters and story they don't want to come up for air.

Mister Furkles said...

First, try the Query Shark. If Janet has time, she may tell you what is wrong with your query other than the market is crowded.

Second, I echo Lennon Faris:
I don't read books that champion a cause ... And for me, it matter not whether I disagree with the cause.

Such books are a dull read because the plot is telegraphed in the first thirty pages and the characters have the depth and color of monochromatic paper-dolls.

But that is unlikely to be the problem because an agent must read thirty or more pages to know. So it's the query. Get help on the query.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Julie Damn straight. Write a great story with characters who jump off the page. If your propaganda shows, most readers, viewers are going to assign you to the trash bin. Most are sick to death of being told what to think and how to think.

A great story make readers think all on their own. A great book keeps me mulling over it for years after first reading. The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mockingbird all stuck with me for all time, haunted me even.

Colin Smith said...

E.M.: I know what you mean. WHEN DINO MET SALAD: A CARKOONIAN LOVE STORY still gives me nightmares...


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin You are a treasure. :)

stacy said...

If someone captures me with their artistry, I don't give a damn about their political leanings. I mean, as long as they're not trying to start the Fourth Reich or something. I love Stephen King and I'm pretty sure we're politically aligned, but I also love Dan Simmons's Drood even though (it's my understanding) we're on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Dena Pawling said...

When I was querying, one of the more-personal rejections I received said “my list goes more toward the dark and gritty.” I definitely don't write dark and gritty. For a brief moment I worried that most/all agents that I'd researched, did seem to rep only dark/gritty, and the books I'd seen recently also seemed more dark/gritty, and maybe if I wanted to be published I'd need to change my style. My antidote for that was to read more books that were NOT dark/gritty, and do more research on agents who rep my style of book.

I don't want to change what I write. And neither should you.

I like the suggestion to go to a conference and ask folks there. What have your CPs and beta readers said about your book?

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Implicit Bias - its everywhere. My daughter and I had a conversation about this just last night. We watched the debate from two different states and chatted through FB messenger. She has a Political Science degree from Montana, and is working on her Masters in Public Health in North Dakota. At age 27 she has only one of three positions in the State dealing with Health Insurance and Addiction; already has spoken to a few committees at the Capital. Addiction is a problem that wont go away with jail time - there needs to be mental and physical health intervention. And its not just illegal drugs- you probably unknowingly interact with someone who is addicted to legit painkillers and because they are not a criminal, you will never know until the poop hits the fan so to speak. Its becoming an epidemic.

BTW Implicit Bias refers to "the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner." It isnt just about racial profiling. It happens all the time because it is a deeply ingrained social reaction. I would suspect that publishing is no different than any other source. If I was the OPIE, I would study my querable (is that a word? whoops!) agents closely and determine who reps what. Lots of reading, but hey, arent we suppose to know who is our comps and not comps anyhow?

Mark Thurber said...

I like what others have said above. Some years back, I read a commentary from a noted science fiction author who has strong political and religious convictions that differ from mine. I've enjoyed his fiction despite disagreeing strongly with some of his personal positions. He said something to the effect that deliberately injecting his personal views into his work would be inimical to good writing -- the writing has to go where the characters and story want to take it. (In fact, he mentioned that some members of his religious community have criticized his work at times for having inappropriate messages.)

I imagine there can be tension in this area when it comes to building an "author brand," as Dana Kaye discusses in her book. When I feel very strongly about something outside of my writing, it can be hard for me to hold back about it. Sometimes that might be "on brand" for me, but I could imagine cases where it might not be.

John Davis Frain said...

We all carry a bias whether we recognize it or not. And it happens throughout life, not just in publishing.

It's why Catholic-raised Bruce Springsteen has Mary appearing so many places throughout his stories.

It's why Major League Baseball finally did away with National League and American League umpires.

It's why we think Jennifer Aniston is smart. (You might be, Jennifer, I have no idea, but if you are you're probably reading this blog.)

A fun exercise is to look inside yourself and pinpoint some of your own biases. They're a lot easier to see in everyone else.

And, as usual, there's a 50/50 chance I'm completely wrong.

Donnaeve said...

OP, as hard as it might be to digest, maybe it's not the political leanings at all. Maybe it's just market saturation, like QOTKU mentioned.

When you're in query mode, it's hard to step back and consider conferences and meeting agents, b/c it's feeling like you're applying the brakes. But now might be a good time to stop and assess the situation before you "waste" those golden query tickets on other agents. You're 50 queries gone on this, and a little toe test of political thriller water is the best advice.

It sounds like you need something unique that stands out - maybe even tweak the ms (okay tweak might be more like overhaul) to bring something fresh into it. Something not yet written about.

Joseph Snoe said...

I hated to read this the first thing this morning:

What I can tell you is that the thriller market is almost completely saturated right now. It's VERY hard to find room on the shelf, and I'm having a hard time finding books that knock my socks off to the point I want to wrestle with that bear of a category.

I better open and read Julie Weathers’ email before heading to the basement to work on Escape From Brazil. Don’t worry, Julie. I’m going to finish revising the novel (even if the Colombian government and FARC’s peace settlement ending fifty years of civil war does require a total re-write of the Colombian part of the book – I’m in the middle of the Amazon part now).

Calorie Bombshell said...

I love thrillers! I don't care whether the characters are Dems, Repubs, Commies, Socials, Anarchists, Fascists, Independents, Libertarians, Whigs, Prohibitionists, Exhibitionists, Pirates, Strict Constructionists, Anti-Nebraskans, Vegetarians, Lacto-Cannibals, Nazis, Marxists, or Lennon/McCartneyists. If the story is great and the action nail biting - I'm buying it!

Colin Smith said...

Calorie: I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND GRENADE: A Lennon/McCartney Thriller. :)

Calorie Bombshell said...

Colin - bloody brilliant!!!!

Charlotte Grubbs said...

I'm leery of anyone, regardless of which way they lean, who claims to write fiction from a certain political perspective, or who describes their characters in terms of political parties or ideology. Particularly when a person says the "better people" in their story are all conservative/liberal/Republican/Democrat/etc. That tells me your characters aren't people so much as they are ideological mouthpieces. I don't care how much I agree with you, if your storytelling is merely a guise under which you try to push your political beliefs, I'm going to be annoyed as a reader. I'm about as liberal as they come, but I've put books down because the author portrayed conservative characters as inherently stupid or hateful or otherwise one-dimensional.

OP, maybe you've managed to write three-dimensional non-conservatives, but I would look at whether your "conservative-friendly perspective" is overshadowing your actual story. It may not be your politics that are turning agents off, but the fact that your politics are intruding on the story in ways that come off as forced or distracting to the reader.

Joseph Snoe said...

i just read "The Short Drop." That should satisfy you. Also Jeff Abbott's "Downfall' is almost constant nailbiting action from start to finish.

Less nailbiting action perhaps, but if you like legal thrillers, check out Robert Bailey's "The Professor" and "Between Back and White."(read in that order)

Oh - and say a prayer "Escape From Brazil" finds room on the shelf.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Joseph - thanks for the awesome recommendations! Always looking for the next gem.

Andrea said...

My first reaction was 'but fiction isn't about politics, it's about truth'. Not philosophical Truth with a capital T, but individual people's truths, their experiences, emotions, thoughts. That's what I'm interested in when I'm reading and writing. Non-political example: There's nothing that infuriates me more than child abuse and animal abuse, but Nabokov's Lolita is one of my favourite novels. I never once sympathised with Humbert Humbert, but he fascinated me, and I felt devastated at the end when he'd basically ruined Lolita's life. I never once felt Nabokov was trying to force his own opinion on me (whatever it might have been), he just described.
My point is, even though I mostly sympathise with left-wing and environmentalist views, that doesn't mean I'm only interested in characters or stories that share those views. On the contrary. But they have to be well-rounded and not stereotypes.

I can't help thinking of Ursula Le Guin in this context. I've probably mentioned her many times here, but she's such a brilliant storyteller, and I love how she uses her stories as a social experiment. I recently read The Dispossessed, about an anarchist society, and although Le Guin herself doesn't hesitate to give her opinion, she doesn't preach anarchism in that novel. She explores it and describes it from different sides, and I thought it was a fascinating story.

Others mentioned C.S. Lewis. I don't agree with many of Lewis's Christian ideas, but I still enjoyed Out of the Silent Planet. It's quite a beautiful story in itself. (Perelandra on the other hand... oh my)

I must say though, I won't read books by authors who are openly homophobic, racist, misogynist, etc. I don't want people like that putting their words in my head. Life's too short to waste valuable reading time. I once tried to read Paradise Lost, but eventually Milton's portrayal of Eve got so on my nerves that I promised Eve I would write a story from her point of view. (And then I read Joseph Campbell and realised that had already been done even before the bible was written, because she's actually the mother goddess)

Wow... I think I probably went off topic a bit with my rambling. Sorry about that.

Craig F said...

I too like thrillers. In fact I have written a couple and am considering tossing them into the trenches soon.

I have to stick by my delusion that my thrillers are above most of those languishing on Amazon's shelves.

Part of the reason is because I do not push an agenda when I write. The only race or creed I discuss in the first one is that the young woman it turns on is of Maronite extraction. Evil is just evil and has nothing to do with dyeing your butt red or blue. Just because you liked the red butt idea doesn't mean all the other red butts are good and the blue butts are evil.

Even though I like thrillers in the whole I have problems with those who push their agenda on me. You letter seems to point at something like that. Individuals are not the policy of their party and I doubt any would stop to check what color butt you have before pulling you from a burning Senate Sub-committee.

Barbara Etlin said...

Ditto what Dena said. Write the book you want to write and don't change just to fit a perceived market trend.

Like Dena, I had a rejection letter from an agent who, after he complimented my writing, said he preferred books that were more "edgy." I had submitted a middle-grade animal fantasy. Later someone in my critique group said I should make my book edgier by including a scene where everyone was naked. I replied, "All the owls in my novel don't wear clothes." :-)

Joseph Snoe said...


Owls, huh?
So your book is about the Illuminati?
(just joking)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Naked owls. Now that is edgy.

Colin Smith said...

Naked owls? Sounds a bit of a hoot to me, actually... ;)

Steve Stubbs said...

I don’t have the URL handy, bit I did read a comment by an agent on the net whp said lots of people watch Fox News and get worked up about politics and want to write a book holding forth on why we need to reutrn to the seventeenth century or whatever. It is a great book idea, but the agent said agents tend to reject these things because nobody cares what we plain mortals think unless you have a platform. If your name is Jeffrey Toobin and you write for THE NEW YORKER and you are fascinating as hell to listen to, you can write about a tired subject likje Patty Hearst and it will be a commercial success.

Unfortunately for most of us, not so much.

So what I am wondering is, if you are banging away about politics in your query and giving the impression this is a political rant by someone who is not a professional ranter. If my suspicion is correct, your query can easily be fixed by focusing on the story and not what you think about Donald J. Trump. Leave the politics out altogether, in other words, and use the freed space for your story.

The novel might need to be fixed as well. There is an erstwhile writer who is also an erstwhile member of the homeless population who wrote a science fiction novel even would not publish. I never saw it but a lady who did said it was 500,000 words of ain’t-it-awful that not everybody is equally rich, with a thin layer of science fiction overlaid on it to make it look like a story.

The moral is, unless your pen name is George Orwell and your real name is Blair, preaching about politics may be a bad strategy for writing a novel. It can be done. Witness Orwell’s novel DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON, which is even better than 1984 IMO. Orwell was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. If you want to know how to mix politics and story he is a great role model. Let me rephrase that. He is the best ever. If you are not a genius of the first water as he was, or suspect you are not there yet, you might want to heed the old Hollywood maxim given as advice to screenwriters:

“If you want a message, call your answering service.”

Joseph Snoe said...


One more if you like a crazy woman (in a nice way) writing about a crazy woman (in a not nice way), try something by Chelsea Cain. I read "Heartsick" and "One Kick" sits on my shelf demanding to be read.

I warn you: The evil woman in Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell) is really a sicko psycho.

Joseph Snoe said...

Steve Stubbs

Atlas Shrugged still does pretty well, too.

JD Horn said...

Talk to me after your 200th rejection. That's when I'll listen to a writer cry in their beer. (And then tell them to write something else.)

Publishing is a tough business. But it is first and foremost a business.It's highly unlikely that a compelling thriller would get turned down due to the author's political leanings.

My advice to the writer, if he or she can manage it, is to attend International Thriller Writers' ThrillerFest next July in NYC. (If you sign up early enough, you even have an opportunity to attend a briefing at FBI Headquarters.) The answer to the writer's question about why the submission has been getting rejected can probably be found at either the Pitchfest or Craftfest portion of the conference.

RosannaM said...

As a reader, I will read books where the characters have nothing in common with me, not values, belief systems, way of life-you name it. And I don't care as long as they are compelling and the story draws me in and carries me away.

But there is nothing worse than hearing the writer try to pound home their ideology. Can they explore religion and politics and race relations and any other topic that polarize people? Absolutely. But don't take me out of the story.

My advice to the OP is to have someone or a couple of someones read your query. Then hopefully you can figure out if the query is the problem or the market is saturated. It is hard to fix the problem if you don't know what it is. Best of luck!

Timothy Lowe said...

Going to pop in with some unrelated mishmash. Been super busy but just wanted to give a congrats to yesterday's finalists as well as (of course) Donna. I have your book on pre - order and am very much looking forward to reading. Like my buddy Bob proehls book (which was FANTASTIC by the way) I look forward to putting it on my high school's reading list. We have a fabulous library and an awesome cadre of readers. They really nail the shit out of my list (love those kids). But I get to read Dixie first! Best everyone, and thanks for last week's contest, host of hosts.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Joseph Snoe - I have Heartsick and a couple of other Cain novels. Agree that the antagonist is deliciously twisted. Not that I, personally, would know what twisted is, of course. :-)

kathy joyce said...

What's a NORMAN? How about OP (opie)? Thanks!

BJ Muntain said...

kathy joyce: In the top right corner of the blog page, there's a link to the blog glossary, for times when you're curious and we're not around (not everyone sticks around as late as I do):

NORMAN is Colin's acronym for agents who don't respond to queries: "NO Response MeAns No".

OP means 'original poster', sometimes written as Opie, to sound more friendly. Basically, the person who asked the question.

Welcome to the comments! We are happy to answer questions. (((hugs)))

RosannaM said...

Hello Kathy and Unknown,

Yeah. That took me awhile of reading before I figured those out. NORMAN means 'no response means a no' in regards to your query letter. Some agents who do not feel your book is right for them simply don't answer.

And OP--means One Posting. Or the questioner that Janet answers.

If I'm wrong one of the old-reiders will chime in.

RosannaM said...

Oh, and also there is a blog glossary on the right of the home page. I guess I got OP wrong--it means original poster. Welcome to the newest commenters!

Lennon Faris said...

Yeah when I when I was first lurking it took me a long time to figure out what QOTKU was (Queen Of The Known Universe, aka Janet). In my head, it sounded like everyone was cursing in Russian.

Colin Smith said...

Hey there, Kathy and others new-to-the-comments! Yes, aside from being a published author, my industry ambition is to make NORMAN a standard term of derision. "Oh, you aren't a NORMAN are you...?" "Uh... well, I was but I'm trying to quit." Apologies to anyone whose name is actually Norman. You are not the intended target. Unless you're an agent who NORMANs... ;)

Lennon: You know, it might be. Has anyone checked to see if Qotku is actually a Russian curse word? Perhaps that's why we don't seem to have many Russian commenters...

Claire Bobrow said...

Sun has set on the reef, but I'm chiming in to say it was a great read through the comments just now. So many of you made excellent points, and gave the Opie great advice.

As for me, I'm an equal opportunity reader. Unless you're pushing something truly heinous, I just want to read a good story, politics be damned.

EM Goldsmith: The Magician's Nephew was my favorite, too. I still want to shout "NOOOO!" as Digory strikes the Bell of Charn, which is inscribed: "Make your choice, adventurous Stranger; Strike the bell and bide the danger, Or wonder, till it drives you mad, What would have followed if you had."

Julie Weathers: I love what you said so much: "Better to be the oasis."

Calorie Bombshell: I'm with you. And when a thriller featuring a Whig, an Exhibitionist, and a Pirate hits the shelves, I will buy it!!!

Finally, Colin: I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND GRENADE. Oh. My. God. :-)

Panda in Chief said...

There is a big difference between writing with a specific agenda (aka preachy shit) and having a character, whose political/philosophical/religious leanings that are crucial to the story. I get the general impression that Julie Weathers and I are not on the same side of the political aisle, but I would read any thing she wrote, because she's a good writer who writes with conviction.
I loved The Chronicles of Narnia and it only occured to me long after the fact that CS Lewis wrote it as a Christian allegory.
If it's a great story with compelling characters, I don't really care what their belifs are. Convince me that their beliefs are pivotal to the plot and I'm yours.
Beat me over the head with your personal dogma and you'll see how fast a panda can run.

Colin Smith said...

And here's a late night tidbit for you: It seems "Battlestar Galactica" creator Glenn A. Larson was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormons"), and incorporated themes drawn from his church's theology into the show. :)

DeadSpiderEye said...

I was on a jet once, flying over what I considered to be a desert but which the locals insisted was the plains. The destination was Denver and I met a couple, we got a bit chatty through dint of my not inconsiderable personal charm. Suddenly, through what arcane prompt I'll never reconcile, the topic turned to politics: 'We're conservative!' they exclaimed proudly, (whether it should be a capital 'C' I cannot say) 'what are you?'.

'--um I don't really do politics' and so began my inculcation in the world of US political divisions. I suppose they must've considered me one of the souls without affiliation in the rebellion of the angels because they really weren't happy with my statement. As my education developed it became apparent that the political divisions that occupied the thoughts of this couple, were materially non-existent. It's funny though, one would assume that consensus politics would breed, you know--consensus but that turned out to be a far cry from the state of affairs I encountered.

So it doesn't come as a surprise that an author should seek to reflect their partisan affiliations in their writing, it's just that I suspect it's likely to be a teensy bit contrived. The test I would apply in that regard, is to examine the characters and look for traits like; wife beating, sexual indiscretion and drug abuse applied conveniently to colour a party as undesirable. If that's not present and the narrative confines its exploration to the issues, such as they are in this instance (I'm not exactly sure what they would be, as far as I can tell one party likes toast, the other likes crumpet with their breakfast) then you should be okay. I would though, give Johnathan Swift a gander next time you've got time on your hands.

MA Hudson said...

OP = original poster
NORMAN = NO Response MeANs no

Blog glossary:


Kate Higgins said...

Fascinating reading this.

I started to read at 4 (Grandma was a grade school teacher) and never stopped. I read (past tense "read') any and all stories from Pooh to Poe. I loved stories like Noah's Ark, the birth of Jesus and Brave New World. I am an agnostic. I believe all things are possible given enough time.

I read stories of the old South in the USA and sad tales of Hitler and the Jews. I liked Aesop's tales and Silverstein prosey poems. I wanted to live in Narnia, Oz, Camelot and in Middle Earth (but not in Carkoon). I read everything in-between, still do.
It is the story matters. It's the story that sticks, not necessarily the lesson. The writing in the story had to take me where I've never been, let me see with different eyes. I learned to think, analyze, fantasize and wonder with all those stories.

So the most important thing is a story well told and well written.
All else is a waste of worry.