Saturday, October 07, 2017

Don't even hope you're exempt

I have one burning question that has tormented me for years:

Clearly, queries are evil inventions, the diabolical brainchildren of pissed off agents who'd reached the end of their Conrad-esque tether with generic "Please just read my book" letters, and decided to overcomplicate the process to an obscene out-of-control level that borders on criminal lunacy.

...okay, that isn't true. Apologies. I just wanted to write that and see what it looked like.

Anyway, my question is simple: Is it really true that the quality of the query AND the book is entirely irrelevant? And the only thing that matters is whether or not it can be sold? I mean, the most brilliant query letter for War and Peace wouldn't matter because no agent would offer to read it, as no agent could sell it to a publisher, right?

Or is that just a profoundly cynical, I-hate-how-marketing-and-the-masses-have-killed-art mentality?

Yeah, I have a book (literary fiction blended with historical fiction, with themes akin to those found in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and "Total Recall"), and I think it's good. But I keep coming back to my question and I worry.

At any rate, thanks for indulging me,

This is like asking if you can get a second date with the Miss Felicity Buttonweezer if you didn't comb your hair, wore last week's underpants, and chewed with your mouth open when you met her.

Yes, it's possible.

It is however not the norm or even probable.

You think I invented queries to make you crazy, and while that is true (and my fiendish plan has brought me unfettered joy at your wails of woe and hapless tears) it is also true that I too must write the Dreaded Query cause what you call a query, I call a pitch letter to editors.

And yes it is true that I have sold things by saying "read this or else" and yes it is also true that I know of a book deal that was nice and juicy that started with the pitch "this made me cry" and I also know that Barbara Poelle sometimes just waves her bottle of vodka at a chosen editor who then trundles over with a wheelbarrow of cash, but MOSTLY I spend a good deal of time writing and revising pitch letters (two hours today just in case you're wondering why I'm still in the office at 6:51pm)

In other words, none of us are spared this Fate Worse Than Death so time to get used to it.

And yes, I could sell War and Peace today just in case you're wondering.

64 comments:

french sojourn said...


Count your blessings, in 2020 there are rumours of a new Query-Synopsis Hybrid requirement. So it would behoove all writers to get their manuscript out before then.

Smile and wave fellow writers, smile and wave.

Cheers.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Just so you know, our friend Miss Felicity Buttonweezer, never combs her hair, she does not wear underpants and when she chews she talks, so bits of food sprinkle the listener.
That's why we love her. She is unique.
Did you know, she is a writer?
She loves writing queries.
She LOVES writing a synopsis.
And log lines? She is the princess of log lines.
It's the proposal which stumps her. Not the writing one, the other one.

What was the question? Oh.
OP if you wanna write, wanna publish, wanna sell and wanna put change in your pocket, suffer the query. There are no shortcuts unless you are already famous or a republican. (Sorry couldn’t resist)
Resist! (Sorry again, Felicity told me to type that.)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I think it's too early for me, I maybe didn't quite understand the question, other than "do I really have to do this?" And I mean, you don't. If you self publish.

I'm not here to woo anybody to the dark side, and I know I'm really taking a risk with my intent to self publish my werewolf trilogy. But I keep seeing agents, editors, everybody hither and yon saying "the werewolf market is saturated". And then I see the book deals, announced now, slated for Winter 2019 and beyond, and just want to weep (yes, theoretically I have time. Theoretically. I haven't really aired my personal health problems, other than my migraines. And I'm not going to here, at the moment).

Mind, my werewolves aren't WAR AND PEACE (and really ANNA KARENINA is probably all the Tolstoy I'm ever going to read); they're different, but not WEREWOLF WAR AND PEACE different.


(and yeah, I have a query for book 1 and a synopsis too actually.)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

For some reason, I heard the word 'buttercup' at the end of the line so get used to it. Must have been my imagination.

Opie: Many of us will be joining you, if we have not already, in the query trenches. I've just finished the 4th draft of my WiP but my query? That has undergone....oh....about 658 revisions! Or maybe there's a one with a couple of zeros in front of that number.

We're wordsmiths. Words are our tools of the trade. And it'd be nice to hand the query-writing task off to someone else but what a heavenly smell of thorny roses that bed becomes.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I'd like to see the werewolf version of War and Peace.
And Anna Karenina. The part where the lovelorn werewolf throws herself under the train would be really cool.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, the query letter and dread synopsis may actually lead to my untimely end. I am not even kidding. I am really struggling with my latest book.

I have had an unholy awful week and am trying to push myself to go to the bookstore cafe and write until all this pain stops. It usually works.

I made a major mistake. I let a someone in my school district beta read my book- a person I didn't know. One of my friends recommended her as someone who would be good at offering valid editorial feedback because this woman is published herself in Academia- lots of textbook credits in early childhood ed I think. I did feel hesitant about it because this was a person who had been openly hostile with my old boss. Still, I had so many stylistic issues I wanted fixed. I wasn't worried about content at all. Silly me.

Anyway, long story short- she hated my book. HATED it. Said that I would likely be "damned to Hell" for writing it. She clearly did not understand the whole "fiction" concept.

She personally called me evil and compared me to Ayn Rand in the same breath. She really hates Ayn Rand apparently which has nothing, NOTHING to do with my book. Not genre, nor thematically, nothing. Is Ayn Rand evil and did she write fantasy? No. I am so confused. I know these things are subjective and not everyone will love any book but this was so intense. She wouldn't even finish reading it.

I kind of think the red ink she used to write her critique might have been in blood. Anyhow, rejection honestly doesn't bother me, but this was so personal. I mean, yeah it's a weird book, and maybe it will get me exiled to Carkoon but damned to Hell? Really? Can even our mighty queen sell a book that might damn the author to Hell?

Now, I am really afraid to query it. Maybe my book does need one of those trigger warnings although I can't figure out for what. Ah well, I will show myself out.

Timothy Lowe said...

EM - That is some incredible validation. After all, if the book moves her to pure hatred, it must have some punch, right?

Ok, I'm kidding.

Read some reviews on Goodreads for mega-popular reads. You'd be surprised how many people crap all over beautiful, best-selling reads.

Fuck 'em. Love your fans. Query the book.

Matt Adams said...

EM -- about the hell thing. It's good to know, right? I mean now that you know where you're headed, it takes a LOT of the pressure off.

I don't like betas for the reason you're giving. Unless you're lucky, they don't know what they are talking about -- they just have the same visceral reaction as anyone might have. They're more than likely to have a wrong reaction than a right one. So using them is one of those things we do because we feel we have to, but in my opinion, the best they can do is reinforce ideas you already had. The worst is to destroy your confidence in your work. My suggestion instead of betas is to read backwards -- chapter by chapter first, then graph by graph. It'll break up your narrative flow and you'll see any plot holes that way, because as you read backward you'll find yourself looking for clues as to how you arrived at the ending.

As for Opie, I have no idea what he's talking about. One of my father's best pieces of advice was "You take their money, you take their shit. You don't wanna take their shit, don't take their money." If you want an agent to rep you, you have to play by their rules. If you don't want to play by their rules, then don't try to get an agent to rep you. Selfie, or trunk it, or keep writing letters that don't work and cursing agents until you die. All of these are viable and realistic alternatives to writing effective queries.

I think Janet's wrong, though. I don't think she could sell W&P in this market. Maybe as a series, but Russian books just aren't moving these days. And translations? Forget it. Now, if she changed the name to War? Huh, What is It Good For -- that might fly.

CynthiaMc said...

Hey EM - I hated Anna Karenina. I would have been the one standing there going "Hey Anna! Get off the freakin' tracks! There's a train coming!" I probably would have yanked her off the tracks, gotten her Baker Acted and put her in therapy. Yet some people love that book.

Write the story you have in you, submit it to someone who can actually buy it and see what they say. If they buy it, wahoo! If they say "I think you should do this" weigh what they have to say, then resubmit or send it somewhere else.

Write on!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Thanks, everyone. I am a bit in the dumps anyhow - nasty cold all week, more editing left to do than I had hoped, nasty feedback that I mentioned, a form letter rejection on a short story I had great hopes for. My daughter got really sick in Paris and had a rough week in New York, and I can't mother her as I used to. And the world on fire. So very on fire.

I was so grateful for the levity at the Reef yesterday. We all need to laugh as much as we can. There is too much reason to cry.

Anyhow, I am at my favorite bookstore cafe surrounded by precious books, a cup of coffee, laptop open and ready to go.

Thanks, Timothy, that made me laugh. And my friends agree. A visceral reaction must mean my words have an effect. I wish it would be less negative. One story I wrote in high school about got me expelled so I am way too good at eliciting negative reactions from authoritarian types.

Matt That is excellent advice. I actually write my 1st and last chapter first when I draft a book. Only now my 8th chapter is my 1st chapter and my original 1st chapter has been cut away completely.

Cynthia I am right there with you on Anna Karenina - hated it. I also hated Hamlet. I wanted to push both Ophelia and Hamlet off a very high cliff. Whining babies. So yeah, I am not too broken up by this aside from the personal attack. And that I got zero feedback on what in the actual text upset the woman so much.

So back to editing. I write some really messed up sentences - I know what I meant but I can see how no one else would have any idea.

Theresa said...

E.M. I think Timothy is on to something. Your story evoked a deep emotional response. But all that other stuff from the beta reader is pure crap. There's nothing worse than a beta reader who doesn't provide constructive criticism. Except maybe writing a query.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

E.M,

I once had a woman I didn't know pass a rumor around town that the music I wrote for a children's play had been lifted entirely from a best selling soundtrack.

I also pissed off some local people because a school produced a play I wrote about the Vietnam War and how it affected a group of teenagers.

My best feedback ever came from a 6th grade classroom who read an MG manuscript. The teacher was a friend of mine and told them to be honest. They were, on both sides!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Sharyn That must have been some badass soundtrack :) i always wished I was better at writing music. Such a wonderful talent.

I once had a nun accuse me of plagiarizing a history paper I wrote in 5th grade. It ended up having me promoted to 7th grade and a full scholarship at a fancy private school. That in combination with the nuns all being so afraid of me at my Catholic school. No idea why. I suppose I did have quite the mouth on me and no filter. Good times. Good times.

Colin Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

OK... let's see...

Query Letters: Everyone wants agents to read their novels. Queries are how they figure out what they want to read from what doesn't interest them. The query's job is to get the agent to read your work. Simple as that. As painful as writing queries can be, I get it. I understand. And, as has been said above, if you want to be trad published, they're part of the rules of the road.

Beta Readers: Good betas can be really helpful. They can give you an objective reader's perspective that you lose when you're too close to your story. They can ask difficult questions. You don't have to listen to anything they say. But I've found them to be helpful. Provided you get good ones.

Elise: You've got this. Hang in there. And you know my email address. :)

OK... now to my news which is totally OT but I'll gladly go to Carkoon for saying it...

Colin Smith said...

OT ANNOUNCEMENT
My story in Empyreome Magazine went live this morning!!!

I'm published!!!! :D :D :D :D

You can read it here:

Empyreome Magazine, October 2017

If you want to support the mag, you can purchase it in pdf and ereader versions. Otherwise, the stories are free to read online.

Now back to the topic...

Susan said...

E.M.: Throw that feedback in the trash, set lighter fluid to it, and burn the hell out of it. That's not a useful critique--that's confidence-damaging, and anyone--especially a writer--should know how the words they choose can affect people.

Keep going with your story. You know what you're writing and what it means to you. Guaranteed it will mean something to someone else in the end.

Susan said...

Yay, Colin! Congrats!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin I am so proud of you. I can hardly stand it. Going to read right now while I try to figure out a better way to describe a bridge. :/

Megan V said...

EM—hang tight, toss back a shot, and light up the barbecue.
If you're not sure what to use as fuel, might I suggest that rotten letter?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

This might earn me a trip to Carkoon but I have to say it.

Colin Holy fuckohmolie, that is an AMAZING story. Fantastic. Just incredible. Wow. Everyone, go read. Wow. So good. So very good.

Sherry Howard said...

Great story, Colin!! It held me spellbound! Congratulations!

Elissa M said...

E.M.,the one thing that nearly worthless scathing "review" is good for is to prove you can survive the worst that people spew. Yes, it hurts like a gut punch and feels almost as bad as a breakup, but you're still here. You're still a writer. In fact, you're a damn fine writer no matter what some caged monkey has to throw at you. And if you're going to hell for writing fantasy, maybe we can be roommates.

Back to the topic: I don't understand this idea that "art" is ruined if it appeals to the "masses". Michelangelo got paid for his work, and "masses" of people still go to see it. Libraries aren't full of books that no-one checks out. Musicians don't perform in closets where no-one can hear them.

To me, art isn't Art unless it appeals to more people than the artist and her mother.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Haven't had time to read all the comments regarding EM but...
EM damned to hell?

EM YOUR BOOK WILL BE A BEST SELLER

RosannaM said...

By the time I get to the bottom of the comments, I have totally forgotten what the original question/post even discussed. Today I think it was about the query/publishing business.

Yes, if we want to enter into their world, we must learn their rules/etiquette and follow them. If we want to moan about commercialism destroying true art, we need to get a fourth-story walk up, cold water only apartment in Paris and drink absinthe all night with our fellow compatriots. Which actually sounds more pleasurable than I believe the reality of living it would be.

OT COLIN Congratulations!! Will head over to that site when I have some uninterrupted time.

EM Weird book or no weird book, critiques that are not critiques but soul-crushing, body-slamming vicious insults deserve all of the above suggestions of how and where to burn them! Hang in there and good luck with the bridge!

Jennifer, Hugs! (No need to disclose)

Steve Stubbs said...

What is WAR AND PEACE anyway?

Woody Allen said he took a speed reading course and read WAR AND PEACE in fifteen minutes and it had something to do with Russia.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

2Ns I surely hope so. Isn't success the best revenge or some sort of thing? I feel it will sell extremely well in Carkoon ... all I have to do is bind the cover in Kale and they'll eat it up.

This whole thing probably would have made me laugh except this woman said I needed psychological treatment (no shit, I am a writer) and went to my new boss about it. He laughed at her. He is one of my regular beta readers and loves my stuff a lot. Too much to be any use actually in that way.

But still, she actually tried to threaten my employment and that shook me up as much as anything. I felt like an idiot. I so want to make sure my book is polished and ready before submission, and she is reputedly good at style and grammar edits. I stepped into a land mine. Apparently, her hostility toward my old boss reflected on to me somehow. At least, that is my best guess. I could be wrong.

So not what I was expecting at all. Live and learn. I guess you need to vet your beta readers as much as you do the agents you submit to.

kathy joyce said...

EM, It's my experience that people who damn others to hell, and people who incorporate Ayn Rand into their lives (pro or con), have a lot of axes to use. (It goes well beyond grinding.) And none of the reasons they're chopping you up have ANYTHING to do with you. You got a two-fer in this "lovely" person. Hell and Ayn Rand!

You know that lovely song that Elsa sings? Let it go....

(Wow, not often Frozen, hell, and Ayn Rand all get mentioned together :)

More later, but I gotta go read Colin's story first. Yippee!!

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


Woo-hoo!
Congrats, Colin!

kathy joyce said...

EM, she went to your boss?! @$!#%& I rest my case. I am great at line edits and grammar, and I would be happy to read your book. I don't believe in hell and I don't give a damn about Ayn Rand.

Colin Smith said...

Thank you, Sherry and Elise! This is what it's about for me. Putting stories out there for people to read. Empyreome weren't able to pay me much for the story, but that didn't matter. That they wanted to give me something for the rights to publish it was gobsmacking. And then they put it in their mag which is read by people I've never met, for whom this will be the first thing of mine they've read, and hopefully it will give them a few minutes of... feeling something they didn't feel before they started reading. Joy? Tears? Anger? Pity? I don't know. Something! And on top of that, all you guys, my friends, get to read it too!

There are some writers that write for the sake of it, and don't care about being published or anyone seeing what they write. I submit they're in the minority. The rest of us want to give back to our culture, to society. To make a difference. Even if it's just to help one person under a cloud, who for a few minutes gets lost in a tale about a blue bottle and comes away with a "f***ohmolie." :D

kathy joyce said...

Colin! Loved it. The characters were terrific, and the ending is haunting. Loved it!

Timothy Lowe said...

I figured out EM's trigger warning:

Warning. Contents of this book might cause lunacy in certain readers.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks, kathy!! :D

I guess I need to add myself to the list of published blog readers... *claps like a child*. Sorry. I'm being insufferable. I'll get over it. Eventually. Perhaps... ;)

Oh, I also wanted to say, I read WAR AND PEACE, and I think there's a good story there but it wasn't an easy read. I'd like to read it again in a more modern translation. I'm hoping that will make a difference.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin I agree. I want people to read my stuff and get something out of it. Your story made me cry a little, made me gasp in surprise, touched me deeply - such lovely characters. It's why we read. It carries us away.

Kathy Careful - I might have to take you up on that. I do need a good set of editorial eyes on this lest I get shark devoured and spit out. Much worse than being damned to Carkoon or other unseemly dimensions.

Julie Weathers said...

I never ceased to be amazed that writers somehow think there is a way around querying or that querying is some evil plot. I once asked a bunch of people in a twitter conversation what their solution was to get an agent's attention if they actually did away with queries. Not surprising, most thought agents should read the whole book before passing judgment. Then I tossed some numbers at them of how many queries agents read and put some numbers up of how long it would take to read unsolicited manuscripts.

Hopeful Author: "Well, yeah, but that's the only fair way to really judge the book. I suck at writing queries."

Me: "Ah, so it's not that the query system is bad, it's that you're bad at writing queries and don't want to remedy it."

Hopeful Author: "I'm not talking to you."

It's odd how these conversations go. No one likes the query system, but neither can they come up with a better one.

Elise I've made the mistake of letting people beta read who don't understand fantasy. Sometimes you get some good feedback, but often it's such a different can of worms they can't wrap their head around it.

Now, I'm having some of the same issues with the historical. "This sounds old-fashioned. Could you change it to____"

Nope, it's supposed to sound old-fashioned. That's the way they spoke and wrote letters.

Write your book. Don't worry about the naysayer. She has some issues to deal with that go far beyond what you wrote.

kathy joyce said...

Happy to read anyone's work. I'd like to give back for all the ways this group has helped me. (Plus, I get the bragging rights to say, "Oh yeah, I'm tight with that famous bestselling author, read that book before it was published.) Email me: kathyjoyce (dot) writer (at) gmail (dot) com. Just don't expect overnight turnaround. It is publishing after all!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

COLIN!!!!!! Congratulations! I'm so glad you found a home for that story!

Werewolf Anna Karenina could be fun to play with.....and turn around, as one might imagine? That was an odd novel for me; in the copy I read, the title character didn't show up until like, page 30, and exited stage train loooooong before the end, when it then became about...farming?

Casey Karp said...

Congratulations, Colin! Good story, and I'm jealous--hope I can write something so moving one day.

Tolstoy and crew: I did the great Russian novelists in college. Glad I did, not in a hurry to re-read. Just not my cup of fish.

Beta readers: I, for one, can't imagine not getting fresh eyes on a book. They always find something significant I missed. But I always make sure they have some idea what they're getting into, give them guidance, and if they don't have any useful* feedback, I never, ever ask them again.

* Feedback can be useful, even if I disagree with it. "This is awesome" is no more useful than "You're going to Hell".

EM: I have a sneaking suspicion that the easiest book to sell is one that sends the author to Hell. The ad copy practically writes itself! Hang in there and query the hell out of that book! (sorry)

kathy joyce said...

Last comment. On today's topic. (So much happening here today!) Janet's analogy to a date made me remember a story from when hubby worked at a community mental health center years ago. A client came in with a goal. He wanted a girlfriend. Hubby said, "Okay, let's start with the basics. When's the last time you had a shower?" I laughed. This sounded ridiculous. Until the heard the rest. The guy said, "I dunno, about month." So they started with the basics. If you want a girlfriend, you have to shower at least once a week, brush teeth twice a day, etc. Basic hygiene seems obvious, but this guy needed coaching.

Imagine agents and authors now. Author:"I want to publish a book."
Agent: "Okay, lets start with the basics. What's the genre? How long is it? Who is the main character? What is her personality (voice)? What is her goal? Who or what gets in the way of her goal? What conflict does this cause? How does she overcome the conflict? What does she learn in the process?"

In a book, these things are as basic as showering and brushing teeth in real life. If we can't write this into two or three paragraphs, there's a problem. That's how agents know when they're not ready to "date" us. If the query stinks, the book probably needs a good cleaning too.

Trust me, I know it's easier said than done. (I know!!!) But, every scene in the book should show character, voice, conflict, progress toward or away from goal, result. If we can't show we can do this for the book overall, the agent gets a pretty good indication that we won't be doing it scene by scene.

Showers aren't to much to ask for in a boyfriend. Queries aren't too much to ask for in a publishable book.

Jen said...

Yay Colin! Congrats!!!

E.M. -- So sorry that happened to you. Go google "Snarky Tea," buy her the container that fits her personality, leave it on her desk when she's out, and tiptoe away. ;-)

kathy joyce said...

*too* much to ask for

Craig F said...

If you can understand the sentiment of "You had me at hello", you understand the sentiment of a query. You only have a few seconds for that hello moment because there are tens of thousands of others doing the same thing, trying to get an agent to blink before moving on.

Again, the simplest eyeopener for query writing I have found is this:

https://johnmcusick.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/a-pretty-much-foolproof-never-fail-silver-bullet-query-opening/

Colin: congratulations again

Elise: Quit kicking yourself. The quest to find beta readers worth their salt is an epic quest. Everyone has made a mistake in picking at least one. Sometimes a response such as you got is simply jealousy.

I would prefer a response like that over Whoa, or cool. It is important to find those who can read critically and who has some interest in the genre you are writing in. They don't need to be aficionados of that genre because a story is a story. Only the bells and whistles are different.

I have never had any luck with Academics as beta readers. I have had some luck with people who teach but not with those who call themselves Academics.

CynthiaMc said...

Congratulations, Colin!

Sarah Jensen said...

OP: Good luck! You have a community of readers cheering you on.

EM: You successfully pulled me out of lurker status and got me to admit that I'm the OP from the post "Nothing Can Save You." Thank you for your comments. If you need a beta reader, feel free to email me at sejensenwriting at gmail.com.

To everyone who read and commented in May, thank you! I never imagined I would get so much support as I did here in the reef.

Colin: Amazing story!

Colin Smith said...

Sarah! Thank you so much. :D Just for that, here's the post to which you refer:

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2017/05/nothing-can-save-you.html

Seriously, there's a long comment thread there about beta readers, how to select, the good and the bad--mostly on-topic. Sort of. :)

Inktruffle said...

Fear not, OP.

Also, fear not, EM.

So far, I've had greater, more passionate compliments on my query and opening pages from agents than I've ever had from any person who was a beta reader.

I've also had rejection letters that came MINUTES after hitting send.

Agents might be the gatekeepers, but they're not your competition, and they're also not random beta readers who aren't the target audience for your book. They want good work they can sell, but if they can't bare to read your full manuscript, they're not going to do a good job selling it anyway. It's not them. It's not you. It may not even be the book. It's just not a great match up. There are books I've started reading that I should have loved, but just didn't.

I've got four fulls and two partials out. The more I queried, the more daring I got with the query itself. The more relaxed I felt querying the particular agent, the better my response from them was. The agents I felt best about sending sort of quirky, hopefully-not-over-the-top queries to were the ones that asked for more material.

Of course, it only really occurred to me last week that a lot of my queries are time stamped as having been sent at 3 am on a weeknight, which is obviously when my thoughts on how to professionally present myself are at their most... unique.

Dena Pawling said...


EM – I'm not much of a fantasy reader, but if you want, I'll read the first 1-2 chapters of your ms and let you know my thoughts. I guarantee I won't say that YOU are evil or damned to hell. However, if I get that impression about one of the characters, that is information I WILL tell you. And, if you think my feedback is worthless drivel, you can ignore it and I won't feel slighted. [But if I love the story, I'll demand to read all of it!]

I know how you feel about your daughter being sick and so far away. My #1 Navy son [in MS] called me at 2:50am Thursday morning to tell me he was in the hospital with appendicitis. He had surgery later on Thursday, and was sent home Friday with heavy pain meds. His Navy friends helped him get home, park his car in a higher section of the parking lot, and lay in non-perishable supplies for hurricane Nate. Later tonight, the eye wall is projected to pass right over where he lives. He called me an hour ago and said it just started pouring rain there, but the local news is all about New Orleans. FEMA is authorized for New Orleans. Never mind landfall will be centered in MS.

Count my vote for enjoying all the hilarity this week. Drove by a fire on my way home from work last week. Fortunately it burned away from my neighborhood. Then I had to euthanize my dog. Not unexpected but still sad. I received a sympathy card from my vet in the mail today. Made me cry all over again. Plus this week my refrigerator died and we've been living out of ice chests this week. New fridge delivery is Monday. So I've been enjoying the comments these past two weeks. Nice diversion from life.

Congrats Colin! Awesome story! I loved it.

Janet - If you sold War and Peace today, would you rename it Killing War and Peace? [I'll pack for Carkoon now.......]


Panda in Chief said...

Dena. Sorry to hear about your pooch. It's never easy losing the furry family members. Also good wishes to your son, that he recovers from surgery and withstands the storm.

EM: I'd take it as a high compliment if someone called me evil. I would have to admit that I am already going to hell, so I don't think I can be damned twice. Good times!

Congrats again to Colin for your excellent story and publication.

Kate Larkindale said...

Congrats, Colin! Wonderful story. I had shivers up my spine....

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Colin: Congrats! How wonderful to be spreading your wings as a published short story author!

EM: What an extreme reaction to your story. That says much about your writing skills and about her personal issues.

Dena: I'm so sorry you had to euthanize your dog. What hard times. And prayers for your son as he weathers recovery from surgery and being in the path of Nate.

Susan said...

Popping back in to offer my sympathies, Dena, on all fronts. But especially for your beloved fur child. Praying for your son's safety, too, and for anyone in the path of this hurricane.

Sometimes it feels like everything is too much. That's why I remain so grateful for this community, that we have each other to laugh and commiserate. You're all good humans.

CynthiaMc said...

Dena - hugs. So sorry about your dog and the fridge. We just had to replace our fridge and washer not long ago.

We're watching Nate closely too. I have family all along the Gulf Coast from Panama City through Mobile, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, New Orleans. Sending prayers for your son's healing and safety.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

EM: Haters gonna hate! Sounds like you're over it by now, but you can't let people put a dent in your dream. Believe in yourself and believe in your writing. One mantra I like: Mediocrity attacks Excellence. Her ill-conceived remarks are CLEARLY a reflection of her.

COLIN: Awesome story, beautiful writing. Congratulations! Wow, that must feel so fulfilling. Oh yeah, a paid writer - Woohoo!

JULIE: Congratulations on the Covens video game being a finalist in the Google Indie Contest. Wonderful to see your hard work get noticed. I hope it wins!

DENA: So sorry about your dog. My heart goes out to you. And best wishes to your son for a speedy recovery, and that he makes it through the storm unscathed.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

DENA- so sorry about your dog. It's so sad when our fur babies leave us. And I hope your son is well on the mend and that he returns home soon. What a brave young man you have raised.

JULIE W - congratulations on Coven - how cool is that! I hope your writing is going well. I am looking forward to any book you push across the finish line.

SARAH - I remember that post. And hello. I know several of us have had unpleasant feedback now and again which is why I shared.
Several others have talked about getting off putting responses to their work. It is more startling than one might think. Anyhow, so glad you came out of lurkdom,

And once more, the Reef rocks. You guys are the greatest. I spent whole day writing with my mind much more at ease. I finished a short story which I will try to publish, after a bit of revision naturally. Anyhow, thank you guys. Cake for everyone.

french sojourn said...


Dena: So sorry for your loss. Be strong, and stay positive, it effects us all losing one of the nobler creatures.

Colin, again congrats. (You had me at Rio.)

E.M. surreal beta reader, more like a hate-ah reader.

cheers Hank

BJ Muntain said...

Wow. I missed a lot yesterday. Congrats to Julie and Colin! My condolences to Dena - I'm so sorry for your lost.

EM: You let an academic writer read your fantasy novel? You poor girl. I'm thinking you somehow stepped on her religion. I wonder which layer of hell is reserved for people who try to discourage talented writers. I'm sure she'll miss air conditioning.

BJ Muntain said...

As for OP's question: Is it really true that the quality of the query AND the book is entirely irrelevant? And the only thing that matters is whether or not it can be sold?

If it's worth reading, it can be sold. If there isn't a big audience for whatever it's about, it may need to be published by a small publisher or even self-published... But never think that the market for literary fiction is small. It's not my cup of tea, but literary fiction often makes it to bestseller lists, which means there must be a lot of people who will buy it.

Julie Weathers said...

Dena I'm so sorry to hear about your pup. It's always so hard. I said after the last one I'd never get another dog, but here I have Gage the Wonder Dog and I say again he will be the last. We'll see. It's just hard when they go. Hugs.

I'm glad your son had some help getting prepared, but what a bad time to be laid up. FWIW FEMA was authorized for Miss ahead of landfall also as well as Alabama and Florida again I believe. I know Miss is and they said all affected areas.

Ah, Colin what a wonderful story. Such an unexpected twist.

Dena Pawling said...


Thanks everyone. I still walk in the door after work and expect to see her face looking at me and tail wagging. You're right Julie, hubby and I said we won't get another dog, but just yesterday [after we received the sympathy card] he said we shouldn't decide until after Christmas.

My son took heavy pain meds and slept thru most of the hurricane. This morning he said he never lost power and everything in his little portion of the world is fine. So I'm happy.

New fridge comes tomorrow. Then I can get rid of the three ice chests in my kitchen =)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Read your story this morningColin. Loved it and left a comment.

CynthiaMc said...

Dena - was just going to let you know I heard from one of my coastal Mississippi cousins who live near the landfall. They had minimal damage. Glad your son's okay.

We have a theory at our house. We blame St. Francis and our heavenly pets. We think they send us new ones. We won't see a stray for years, then all of a sudden after a pet passes a new one arrives. They always work out.


Watched the Weather Channel dude broadcast from the flooded causeway a few miles from home. I wish broadcasters would learn how to pronounce Mobile. It isn't MO-bile. It isn't MO-beel. It's Mo-BEEL. It's French, y'all.

Julie Weathers said...

Cynthia

I know. You'd think some of these people could find out how to pronounce these names. I remember interviewing someone one time who was talking about going to Thibodaux and they butchered the name so badly I had to keep asking where they were going. No, it's not Thigh-bow-ducks. Even poor little Helena, Montana gets butchered and how can you screw up that name? If I ever get another dog, I'm going to name it Phideaux just because I'm old and cantakerous.

CynthiaMc said...

Julie - one of our Cajun cousins actually had a Phideaux. Congrats! I'm still catching up after a busy week.