Sunday, January 19, 2020

Readers, a reader needs your help!

O Toothy Queen of the Known Universe, 

I have a request for the Reiders, actually. I know that your Esteemed, Salty Majesty is not a fantasy reader, but I am a fantasy writer. And what I'm writing, I'm rather ashamed to say, I can't find other books to read that match it. 

I'm probably not the most well-read writer that ever was. But I definitely do read my genre, including debuts and new releases when I can. This isn't only my integrity for reading on the line, though. I've asked my reading friends; I've asked fantasy readers who work in bookstores; I've asked librarians. No one has a good answer. 

The book I'm writing, and thus the type I want to read, is fantasy of course. Set in modern day, so you might think urban fantasy, but in my book, the existence of magic is not a secret. It's so in the open, in fact, that laws and government organizations revolve around regulating its use. Nor is it post-apocalyptic. Magic didn't bash its way in and wreck society. Magic is, and has always been, a known part of society, but it's not the most practical thing to use, and it doesn't do a lot of things that technology does, so technology also evolved. It's not magic realism because it's definitely MAGIC, not ambiguity. 

It's today, but with magic, and everyone knows magic is a thing. There's no magical creatures, like vampires or fairies. 

And I swear, may I be trapped forever on my hamster wheel, I haven't read a book like this not from any lack of trying. I had resigned myself to leaving off comps and just not telling any agent I query that I've never read a book like the one I've written before, but then I thought maybe the Reiders knew of books that had slipped through all my efforts.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Answers to the quiz

Yesterday's post asked you to identify what is wrong with each of three statements I've seen in queries.

1. My work is copy written.
Linda Schantz
1. My work is copy written.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
― William Goldman, The Princess Bride
Fearless Reider
#1 is so multi-level wrong it makes me sad. It's the kind of over-correction people do when they're desperate to sound educated or professional and therefore legitimate, but instead marks them as outsiders. 
My dear sisters-in-law must have a had a teacher who tried to educate the farm girl out of them by teaching them that "well" is correct and "good" is not. The first time one of them announced she had made a new dish and it "didn't taste well" I wanted to weep for all the destruction that has been wrought over the ages by self-appointed grammar guardians, well-meaning (or should that be good-meaning?) and otherwise.

As almost all of you pointed out, this is the wrong way to say "I registered the copyright for my book", and furthermore, you don't need to register copyright. It's a real pain in the ass if you do before publication, as I know from experience.

The larger problem here is that the writer wants to sound knowledgeable and professional, as Fearless Reider pointed out. Unfortunately, as many of you also pointed out, when you start querying, you don't know a lot.

And here's the takeaway: it's ok to not know stuff.
No one expects you to know the ins and outs of publishing.
Don't pretend to know more than you do, or guess at how things are done.

Write a good book.
Tell me about it.
That's ALL your job is.

2. My novel has been professionally edited and ready for publication.
Adele has a very clear concise answer here.
#2: "ready for publication" isn't for them to say and it's not for the editor they hired to say; it's for the editor who paid them money for the right to publish it to say
It doesn't help your query to say how the sausage gets made.

3. This is a retelling of Beowulf/Iliad/A Night at the Opera. 
What's wrong with that statement?
What's wrong with that QUESTION!

This question was poorly written I'm sorry to say. And since I'm the one who wrote it, I have no one to blame but Barbara Poelle myself.

What I did not make clear was that the retelling is one of the three not a mashup of all three.

Lisa Bodenheim
3. An Old English poem, an ancient Greek epic, and a Marx Brothers/Queen Album walked into a bar...
Not that I have any skin in the game, but I have seen multiple agents recently say that they would really like to see a modern retelling of a classic fairy tale (or am I hallucinating?) maybe with an #ownvoices twist.

Additionally, quite a few novels that do exceptionally well are, at heart, retellings of myths, the Orpheus one being most popular from what I can tell.

So is the problem that the querier is retelling ALL of those in one novel, or attempting any retelling at all?

Fearless Reider
#3 One of my favorite YA novels of recent years is GRENDEL'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND WAR by Ariel (then A.E.) Kaplan, a brilliant spin on the Beowulf yarn. WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys forever changed the way I read JANE EYRE, which is still my favorite novel of all time. They aren't "retelllings" but imaginative responses to previous work, and are stories in their own right. If you can't figure out a more enticing way to communicate your inspiration in your query, it doesn't bode well for your MS.

What I was trying to convey, and did not, although some of you saw through my sloppy sentence to suss out what I meant was that a simple retelling isn't interesting.

You need to put a fresh spin on it, or change something in a way that builds on the originating work. Fearless Reider hit the nail on the head with "imaginative responses to previous work, and are stories in their own right."

Fresh take on Beowulf, now set in space,
Fresh look at the themes of The Iliad with all the gender roles reversed.

A Night at the Opera set in the world of publishing.

Dena Pawling is the first to get them all right
1. If you meant copyrighted - yes it is, from the minute you wrote it. If you meant a copywriter - you need to hire a new one who can actually spell it correctly.

2. Professionally edited - not necessarily required, but not a bad business decision. Ready for publication - glad you think so, as there's nothing worse than submitting a manuscript that even the author knows isn't ready for publication.

3. Retellings are fine, but how is your story different from the original? Please do tell.

Steve Forti, as usual, is hilarious
The problem is clearly that the author did not split "Beowulf", "Iliad", and "Opera" across multiple words to hide them as prompt words. Tsk tsk.

Unknown saw the real problem:
What's wrong is they were all clearly lifted from my certified query letter, which I did not give permission to do.

Kudos to you all for some darn good assessments!

Friday, January 17, 2020

A quiz!

Do you know what's wrong with these statements that I've found in queries?

1. My work is copy written.

2. My novel has been professionally edited and ready for publication.

3. This is a retelling of Beowulf/Iliad/A Night at the Opera.

Answers tomorrow from me.
Answers today from you in the comment column!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

slave labor in the manuscript mines

Longtime reader, infrequent commenter, but a twitter thread from an agent sparked a conversation with several writing friends of mine and I knew we needed your expertise.

A literary agent recently said that agents will often only get a small percentage of the 15% the agency gets paid. She gave conflicting figures, anywhere from 2/3rds to a meager 5% (which I'm assuming is for agents who are salaried). That seems like agents who aren't salaried are basically working for free, even when they do make sales. Does that seem accurate? 

I'm not fully informed on the various ways agencies pay staff, or affiliated agents.
I do know it's common for an agency to take a percentage of any earnings to cover overhead.

When you say "meagre 5%" my guess is they meant not 5% of the 15% but 1/3 of the 15%. That is the agency takes 10% and the agent takes 5%

$1000 x 15% is $150.
5% of that is $7.50
The accounting alone would require more time than it's worth.

But this is something a writer need NOT be concerned with.
The agent isn't an indentured servant.
If the agreement on splits is onerous, or the job description requires more work than is being fairly compensated, the agent is at liberty to decline the offer, or change jobs.

Yes there are stories circulating on the internet about agents being exploited but honestly, if you can't figure out how to get out of a bad job, or negotiate a better deal you shouldn't be guiding people's careers.

And if you choose to stay in a less than ideal situation, don't bitch about it. That's just bad form.

As to your comment about agents working for free: All of us who are non-salaried work for free until you get paid.

That's the biggest reason I carefully consider the saleability of projects I take on. I need to sell them. Yes, there are projects of my heart, but by and large I need to not just love your work, I need to believe I can sell it.

Any questions?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

paying to revert rights

My twelve-year old small press sent a certified letter to its authors stating it was working through putting its backlist on audio. As part of this process, it offered a rights-reversion opportunity of $500 per title to “avoid the angst of trying to get out of a contract as well as potential lawyer fees.” This is a good deal, the press says, because in the past, “negotiations have been anywhere from $800 - $3000." After the deadline, they will “no longer be able to consider or negotiate with authors for return of rights.” If the author stays, audio production will commence.

My questions:
1.) Is this common or does it strike you as strange?
2.) Is it generally a good idea for an un-agented author with poor sales to cut her losses (and cough up, in my instance $1500.00,) regain all rights, and let the books go out of print in hopes that future success with another book will make her backlist desirable OR is it more appealing to potential agents/publishers to see an Amazon author page with a row of shiny covers and reviews?

Oh man, don't let anyone see this great idea!
Charging authors to revert their rights is pretty clever. Gougingly clever!

First things first: does your contract include licensing audio to the publisher?
If it did, and they put out an audio edition, they have to pay you a portion of the proceeds. The split can vary, but you should see some of it.

If the contract doesn't include audio rights, they can't publish an audio edition. No matter what.

And to the larger question:
Reverting rights doesn't require a lawyer.
It's a simple amendment to the contract signed by both parties.

I do them routinely. I have a boilerplate that fills in the rights being reverted, the title and author and when the reversion takes effect. There are some other details as well, but my point is this is a simple thing to do.

If the publisher wants you to pay $500 for this, you're working with people who have taken gouge to whole new level. Or who have mistaken themselves for a company with customers. You're NOT a customer. You entered into a contract with them and they don't get to charge you a fee for amending it.

After you forward this to Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware, you might just send your publisher a letter confirming they have offered to revert all rights as of X date, and this letter confirms you're in agreement.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Posting reviews when you're a writer

I'm an aspiring crime writer, and I recently had the idea of reviewing crime novels. I figure that I'm reading them anyway, and I usually think critically about them, so why not write reviews for a blog or Youtube channel? It could be a way to build an online audience, and at the very least, it's forcing me to really analyse the books I'm reading.

So I wrote my first review. I wasn't particularly fond of the book, and I think the review captured my feelings. But my wife raised a red flag. Is it a good idea for an aspiring author to put their name against a negative review for a book? (I should be clear that the review style is totally professional. I've got no interest in tearing down authors or being mean. Or is one writer's "professional" another agent's "unprofessional?").

If an agent googled me and saw my name against a negative (albeit professional) review for one of their clients, would that be a bad thing? I like the idea of reviewing books, but not as much as getting an agent.

What do you think? Safer to keep my opinions to myself?

If you post a negative review about any of my clients, you're toast.
It's not fair, and it's probably going to get me some sniping on the Twitters, but honestly, it's the damn truth.

I'm less forgiving about bad reviews than my clients are.
(as in never)

And my clients know each other, and if they're crime novelists, they often are at the same event like Bouchercon, and eating breakfast at the same table with me.

So, there you are with that objective assessment of Felix Buttonweezer's book that you didn't like.
Awkward doesn't begin to cover it.

So, what to do?
Well the easiest thing to do is only post reviews of books you like.

But let's think about this a bit more deeply.
What's your goal here?
If it's building platform, you don't need to review books. Instead, you can talk about how a particular book taught you something as a writer.

And lessons on what not to do are often more helpful than what to do.

When you talk about a book in relation to your own work, it's not a negative review. It's more of an essay.  It's entirely subjective, not the purported objective kind of review that will earn my undying enmity even beyond the grave (I'm entirely convinced I'm part Sicilian.)

And as an aspiring writer (versus an established one) your opinion is just some guy flapping his gums. Why does your opinion matter?

But as an aspiring writer talking about what a book did for your own writing, you're not flapping your gums, you're actually contributing to the community.

In other words, being more vulnerable about your own work is the path to non-enmity.

Let me give you an example:

Felix Buttonweezeer's memoir Wrenching Tales from the Hardware Store is repetitive drivel, like the jackhammer he sold to kindergarten teacher.

I learned to watch for repeated uses of a buzz phrase after reading Wrenching Tales from the Hardware Store that had sixteen instances of "Juicy Fruit Fiasco" on six pages.  I re-read one of my chapters and realized I'd over used the phrase "flipping jelly jars". Six times on six pages!

Bottom line: by having skin in the game, you're less likely to fall afoul of even the fiercest shark.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Still down for the count

at some point I have to get out of bed,
but this is not that day.

Thank god for Fresh Direct!

(I'm pretty sure I'm going to be back among the living tomorrow, but I don't have enough brains to write a post yet)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Her Grace and Sleekness the DoY would like to register a complaint

Her Grace and Sleekness is not at all happy with the dinner menu.

Furthermore, the wait staff appear to be enchanted with their phone, rather than paying the proper amount of attention to their duties.

So hard to get good help these days!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

A brief lesson in humility

Last weekend I attended the annual meeting of the American Historian's Association.
It  was a terrific event and I'm glad I rose to the challenge of going to a new, unknown event.

It's been 10+ years since I've attended an event where I would not know a single soul. At writing conferences, I'm usually invited to attend and even people I don't know are mostly glad to see me.

At cons like Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, or Left Coast Crime chances are that I'll know more than  two dozen people, and again, because of my job, even strangers are often eager to say hello.

Being a lit agent is an instant entree at a conference or con.

But this past weekend, I was doing what many of you do/did at your first writing conference. Walking in to foreign territory, hoping to avoid doing something stupid. Not sure of the unspoken decorum; not sure if I'd be eyed warily. Feeling very alone and unsure.

It turned out I was the least knowledgeable person in the room. Every room. Every day. I was able to ask one good question in one panel, and offer an added perspective to another panelist after the talk.

I managed to introduce myself to a three people and have an extended conversation with one.

All in all, I not only survived, I liked it enough (hard as it was) to plan to hit the Seattle meeting in 2021.

Well, ok then, I'm the cat's pjs, Yay me!

When I got home I found a copy of Barbara Poelle's wonderful new book waiting for me.

Of course, ego maniac that I am, I turned to the index to see where *me me me* was cited in the book.

And wow! There I am!
I was so pleased I'd been quoted so often. Yay me!
Puff puff puff up the ego after three days of feeling quite small.

So I checked the listed pages.
And I'm not there.
Not at all. Not on the first three citations.

Only when I looked at the index again did I realize it's a layout error.
Rejections should be directly underneath Reid, not indented.

Oh boy.
I haven't laughed that hard at myself in WEEKS.

Talk about an ego check!

Of course, I immediately wrote to Barb to complain, cause that's what you do when you find errors in printed books, right?

Narrator:  it is not.

We did have a good laugh, and honestly this will make better fodder to torment Barb than if the layout was correct.

This week was my first time at AHA and my first time in an index!
2020 is off to an Interesting, if slightly Humbling, start.

Are you trying something for the first time in 2020?
Do tell!

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

more on getting stakes in your query (and novel)

I received an email recently that I thought was a question for the blog.

It was a pretty useful question, one I'd addressed previously but worth an encore. And I was short on questions that week, so easy-peasy.

I wrote the blog post, and then, as I try to do, I emailed the asker with the date the blog post would be up.

Back came the reply:
I hope this does Not have my name! I did not give permission for this to appear on a blog. I also have no idea where your blog is or how to reach it.

I just put a question in and your name came up.

Can you please email the answer now?


Yikes stripes!
I realized he must have googled his question, what to do when you screw up a query, and my name popped up.

Well, probably stuff about me popped up:

When I realized he did not intend the question to be answered on the blog, I deleted the post. I didn't save to Drafts because that's where I save posts I'm working on, and I might have forgotten this wasn't something I could post.

So, some work went to waste, but no harm, no foul right?


Writer came back three times increasingly frustrated about why I just wouldn't answer his question.

 On 12/9/19 1:36 PM, WRITER  wrote:
 Thanks for deleting the post.

 Can you possibly  simply answer the question though? Your email came up with the remark I could send you a question  - not for public listing- just to be responded to.

 On Dec 9, 2019, at 1:40 PM, Janet Reid

 Questions are only answered on the blog, sorry.
 As I'm sure you understand, answering the same questions once for fifty
 writers isn't efficient. Posting an answer that fifty writers can read is.

 On 12/9/19 4:50 PM, WRITER  wrote:
 But you already wrote the answer you said.

 On Dec 9, 2019, at 4:59 PM, Janet Reid
 oh I deleted that immediately when I realized you didn't intend
 it to be on the blog.

 On 12/9/19 5:27 PM, WRITER  wrote:
Still you must remember your thought in one sentence!

What he didn't see was what was at stake for me: the only exception is never anything but the first, and I didn't want to word to get out that if you beg hard enough or look beseeching enough, I'll do what you want rather than what I want.

Why won't you give the cookie in your hand? It's right there!

What I didn't care about was what was at stake for him: his query.
I didn't care because it was clear he couldn't see past what he wanted to actually read why I didn't want to provide it. Essentially saying what he needs is more important than what I want is not a good negotiating tactic. But it's also not the point I want to make here.

This is:
I yammer a LOT about getting stakes on the page.

But beyond stakes, creating conflict for characters is often as simple as having one character think what he wants is more important than what the other character wants.

What's at stake for X, and why Y doesn't care might be very helpful to think about when you're trying to build conflict in your novel.

There were a lot of ways this unfortunate writer could have saved himself from being a really great illustration of stakes (among other things) but that's a whole 'nother blog post.

Any questions?

Monday, January 06, 2020

Where I am

I attended the American Historical Association annual meeting this past weekend and my plan was to stay in town for at least two, probably three nights. Staying at the event site makes it a lot easier to network, and it's a whole lot less tiring.

This time, I thought I'd save a few bucks by staying at an adjacent hotel (Mistake #1)

The place was certainly ok, and the fact there was construction outside, and scaffolding all over the building didn't bother me. This is midtown. If you aren't hearing jackhammers you aren't actually here.

So in I checked.

Only to find out that my paid-in-advance hotel room (no refunds) was in a wing of nine floors served by two elevators.

One of which wasn't working.

Waits of 15-20 minutes were the norm. I was lucky to be on the ninth floor, I almost always got a spot in the elevator going down.

But dear god it was a pain.

And their in-hotel market was staffed by people who hated their job. I feel for them, I really do. But when you can't get a breakfast sandwich heated up, it's not a good start to the day.

(Fortunately I quickly found a good cafe nearby)

I wasn't sure about staying over for the Monday sessions, so I'd only reserved two nights, not three.

Saturday afternoon I checked the bulletin for Monday sessions and there were six I wanted to attend in the two available slots.

Well clearly I needed the third night.

And being a lazy sot, I figured I'd keep this room, even though the elevators were miserable.
So I went on and found the hotel. The rate was surprisingly low. And honest to god, I thought it was cause people didn't want to deal with the elevator and had checked out ahead of schedule. (Mistake #2/Delusion #1)

I didn't realize I'd booked myself into a similarly named hotel at 111th and Central Park West until I actually read the confirming email. And yes, of course I'd prepaid. That's how you save money (Delusion #2.)

I dithered most of Sunday about whether to just go home and take the loss or tough it out.

By the end of the day, Saturday I was tired, I just wanted a shower, to sleep and hit the conference the next day. I knew I'd be dragging my suitcase around but oh well. (Mistake #3)

I flagged a cab and up CPW we went. Found the hotel, doorman was nice, $5 for hauling my suitcase in, and here we are. Lobby is clean enough.

Desk clerk tells me there will be an incidentals hold on my card in case I break something. I wondered what the hell he thought I'd be breaking in a hotel room that would run $75.

I wasn't planning on sitting on the ironing board or hanging on the chandelier.

Narrator: she's done both of those things in the past

And then when I get my room key there are instructions on how to use the shower. Now, I know you might be thinking they were just being kind -- after all, I DID need a shower at that point -- but no. These instructions are included as part of the check-in process for everyone.

So I go to the room. And friends, this is the room that inspired Catskills comedians to write the joke "the room was so small I had to step out to change my mind."

My dorm room at college was bigger. And not by inches.

But ok, small is ok.
Except I soon realize it could double as a sauna. And not cause it's small, it's the steam.
From the radiator.
The only window has an AC unit so of course it can't be opened.

I turn on the AC.
The radiator now thinks the room is a bit nippy and redoubles its steam output.

I turn the AC to high.
The radiator considers this a challenge.

I'm not sure which of us is going to run out of steam first.

As I mop my brow,  I realize there is no desk, no chair. Literally no place to set up my laptop, or sit, to work unless it's on the bed.

Which doesn't have a mattress.
It has what I think is foam padding.
Or maybe a futon.
But NOT a mattress.

I sit on the bed. I mull my options. I sweat.

And then I realize, the freestanding closet, something Grandmama might call a chifforobe, has a GIANT mirror, easily six feet tall and two feet wide on the exterior side of the door.

Facing the "bed"
And me.

I open the door to the beast, and note the ironing board is so small you can only do collars and cuffs on it. And that's if you have a place to set it.

And when I step back, the door slooowly swings closed. There's no way to prop it open (no chair, remember?)

I realize this creates what will seem like a selfie movie. No escape. Watching myself sleep. Watching myself getting out of bed. Watching myself do anything before coffee or that (still much needed) shower.

And that friends, was too much.

I get on my laptop, throw financial prudence to the wind, book a room at the Midtown Hilton, where the conference is being held, and prepay for a room for one night (since I had not yet learned my lesson.)

Back to the lobby, check out.
Total stay: 17 minutes
No refund of course.
The desk clerk went to the room to make sure I hadn't broken anything, or maybe stolen that doll house ironing board. Or the chifforobe!

Another $5 to the doorman for hailing a cab.

And here I am now, at the midtown Hilton, where they promptly billed me AGAIN for the room cause the payment I made to hadn't yet processed.

At least they didn't hand me directions on how to shower.

And of course, when I tote up the cost of this adventure I would have saved money by just booking the damn Hilton in the first place. 

Have the travel gods had fun with you recently?
Do tell!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

holy shinola!

Australia update:

We're home from holidays. Out of interest, here's a comparison of the view we came home to compared to the photo you posted on the blog recently. The smoke is thick and nasty and the colour makes it really eery. Canberra has been smoky for 4 or 5 weeks (although only this bad more recently). Everything smells like smoke - even the air inside the house is hazy from it. At least we aren't burning!!

--AJ Blythe

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Hiatus 18

My sister was caring for five strays from two different litters at a former milk barn near her hobby farm. She nursed a runt back to life and sent cat videos to me and my adult daughter. We cat-proofed the live-in basement (you know, pack away delicate objects, poisonous-to-cat plants) 

I drove the 1-1/2 hours with my daughter (who uses wrist bands for motion sickness) along the winding river road and over the bluffs to the next valley. We chose the runt Miss Fluffypants and the distractable Mr. Tuxedo.
Miss Fluffypants

On the drive home, Mr. Tuxedo tried to escape his crate. My daughter threw a blanket over it to calm him. Miss Fluffypants, though quite vocal, did fine until we got on the winding river road. She threw up and she pooped. We opened our windows (mind you it's cold in Minnesota) and my daughter was nauseous. I pulled into the next scenic overlook alongside the highway. Fortunately, I had wet wipes and a clean towel. Miss Fluffypants insisted on getting out so I could thoroughly clean her crate. Fortunately, my daughter and I had worn old winter coats.

Rex (nee Mr. Tuxedo)

Mr. Tuxedo is now Rex, who dawdles over his food, is restless and easily distracted. He loves playing soccer with the bouncy ball, jumping high to chase it. Miss Fluffypants became Leonie. Until we noticed her huge paws. Her genitals looked like Rex's too. At the vets, we named her Leo. Leo gulps his wet food then rushes for Rex's dish, so I now stand guard. Leo also rumbles up the steps when we open the door because that's where the delicious wet food comes from. Otherwise, anything Rex does, Leo has to do. 
Rex and Leo!

Rex is 7 months and Leo 5 months. Once they're done with meds, the Christmas decor put away, and the upstairs poisonous-to-cats plants hidden, they'll be allowed the adventures of the rest of the house! 

--Lisa Bodenheim

Friday, January 03, 2020

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

For those of you grieving, the new year talk of resolutions and excitement can feel overwhelming, or just plain wrong.

If you feel out of step with everyone else, don't beat yourself up, ok?

People who know serious grief know there is no getting over it.

You never get over the loss of a child.
You never get over the loss of a spouse.
You never get over the loss of a brother or sister.

But you can learn to live in a new reality.
You can make peace with loss.
But you do that on your own time, in your own way.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed is a collection of replies to letters sent to Dear Sugar, and a book that has brought great comfort to a lot of people. I keep copies on hand to give out as needed.

Maybe it will be helpful for you too.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Writing Resolutions for 2020

Are you  making resolutions for the coming year?
I'd like to suggest the resolutions be for things YOU control.

For example: have two stories published sounds great!

But you have zero control over what a magazine decides to publish.
What you do have control of is how often you send a story out.

Jeff Somers has written a story every month, in every year since he was 19.
He sends them out on submission on the same kind of schedule.

Some get published, more do not.
BUT he's achieved his goal if he's done the work.
Achieving his goal doesn't depend on someone else.

He'd probably laugh to hear I offer him as  role model
for goal setting. And it's true: it's not a goal if it's already
a habit.

Another example: Land an agent in 2020.

Well, aside from the idea of thinking of me as something you're going to throw in to a smelly boat and hit with a fish bat, I'm all in favor.

BUT you have no control over how fast I read, what I'm looking for, or whether your book is a good fit for me.

What you do have control over is querying. Querying well, and querying widely.

So instead of resolving to land an agent, resolve to make sure your query and querypages are in tiptop shape. Work to make yourself attractive to prospective agents: robust mailing list, polished website, presence in the writing community.

In other words, make your resolution about the work, not the results.

What are my resolutions for 2020?
Read all my requested fulls is one of them.

What's NOT on my resolution list?
Thwart Steve Forti!

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy New Year from Intern Ty and his pet shark

Intern Ty steps up to help me at my away-office.

He pounces on the mousie!

He finds a homonym, and practices his Mr Picklepuss face!

The Claw Of Doom is applied to the incoming queries.

Finally, a great ms absorbs his full attention!

Intern Ty!

Intern Ty and I both hope 2020 is the cat's pajamas for you!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

NYE Hiatus

I once mentioned my friend bought a Bernese/Pyrenees mix. Well, apparently they're like potato chips because she just got another. Never not 300lbs of dog. Note that Ludo, the older one, kept his absurd ear poofs; his ears are floppy and flat against his head in this photo.\
Next, I keep getting robocalls from a New York area code, and while wasting their time long ago ceased to amuse me. I have a full manuscript in line for a read from a New York agent so I answer....

With that in mind, once I go full Jack Reacher and hunt down whoever is responsible for this telephonic pestilence, is it still acceptable to drop them into a plain old gasoline powered wood chipper, or should I use something greener like a tank of starving piranha? Or perhaps army ants? I know publishing as a community is very environmentally aware, and I wouldn't want to commit a faux-pas.

Also, lest you worry, I won't use sharks. Sharks are too good for them. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Hiatus #17

We haven’t had a white Christmas in years, but we are visiting our daughter and fam at the edge of the beaten path in of Alaska, and this happened.

--Miles O'Neal

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Hiatus 16

I'd like you to meet Gracie, aka The Princess. 

The Princess pointed out to me that 1200-pound pets are greatly under-represented on the blog, and suggested I do something about that. 

I welcomed Gracie into the world on Valentine's Day 2008 on behalf of her owners/breeders. She was a tiny newborn, and from day one was in your pocket – I always said she thought she should live in the house. Now she's 16-3 hands (67 inches at the base of her neck, for those who don't know horse speak).

Due to various setbacks, by the time she was three, her owners decided not to pursue a racing career with her. I adopted her for the grand sum of one dollar (Canadian). She does let me ride her, but mostly I just wait on her. 

She can make friends with anyone, loves peppermints and licorice (red and black), and if you scratch her withers, she'll reciprocate with a back rub. And no, I've never actually brought her in the house!

--Linda S             

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Hiatus 15

This is the view my neighbors across the street have. My apartment building is on the wrong other side of the street. I can't complain, it's the view I also have when I go to the market and the bakery to buy bread everyday.


Friday, December 27, 2019

Hiatus 14

I have lived in this area for over forty years. It is beautiful and has been a wonderful place to have raised our children.

This old lighthouse (ten minutes from our home) is called the Outer Light. The one way off in the distance on the land side of the jetty is called the Inner Light.

Hint: A few houses to the left of the Inner Light is the long time residence of one of Americas most iconic actresses until she passed at the age of 96.

Another hint: She wore pants when other women would not.

Hint number three: One of her last films was made 'On Squam Lake' in New Hampshire.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Hiatus 13

We are about to go chop down a Christmas tree because I have insisted to my husband that we go all out for baby's first Christmas even though she won't remember it.

Merry Christmas from Northern Michigan.

Note: I meant to post this on Christmas Eve, but it got mis-numbered.
Clearly this vacation is needed!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

A pet project, not a pet!

Whatever form your celebration takes, I hope it is full of love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hiatus 12

This is Maxwell - his pregnant mom was rescued off death row at the shelter and he was born on the 4th of July. His original name was Freedom, but I had some reservations about becoming the William Wallace of the dog park, so he’s now Maxwell.

Then after a month he decided to foster his sister, Liberty, who was also in need of a home after she had a hard time being adopted because of a deformed foot. She snowed my husband ...

And that is how we became a four dog household.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Tucker with an F-update (hiatus)

Tucker with an F

I am thoroughly enjoying the photos of everyone's four-legged companions during your blog hiatus, and I do hope your requested fulls are going well. I also wanted to give you an update on Tucker-with-an-F, who has again proven himself to be lacking in the most basic of survival instincts normally required to see one through to adulthood. 

TWAF decided, in all his feline wisdom, that climbing to the highest point on our house would be a grand way to survey his kingdom. He somehow got on the roof, clawed his way up the steep pitch and perched himself 2.5 stories up. He was pretty satisfied with himself. That is, he was pretty satisfied with himself until he looked down. Then he freaked out and started caterwauling and yowling from the edge of the precipice as if his life was ending. See attached photo.

I climbed to a lower portion of the roof and shook his treat jar in an effort to get him to come to me (this is also where I took the photo). Nope, TWAF would have none of that. He stayed put and let the entire neighbourhood know how displeased he was with my suggestion that he traverse death's canyon over to me. 

My husband stood on the deck, and looked up at me and the cat. He finally helped me off the roof and reassured me TWAF would be fine. When I asked him how he could possibly know that, he replied, "Well, you've never seen a cat skeleton stuck up in a tree or on top of a telephone pole, have you?"

He had a point. 

And two hours later, with one final wail, TWAF dropped to the deck and sauntered inside as if nothing had happened. 

Then the little bugger had the audacity to meow for his treat jar.

Oh for cat's sake. 

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


It says nothing good about me that I am still laughing after reading this last night!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Hiatus 11

This is Roxy. She spends half the year in Alaska, defending the house from free-range moose, and the other half soaking up Arizona sun puddles and chasing lizards. Squeaky-toy-in-a-blanket is her favorite training exercise. She also provides encouragement, affection, and foot-warming services to her author companion, and although she's twelve years old, Roxy has no plans for retirement anytime soon.