At the end of last week (and the post on speculative fiction) Amy Schaefer (who really should be dead to us living here in the cold frozen island that used to be Manhattan, since she lives in Paradise!) commented
"I also find it funny, Janet, that you think your category post amounted to: "why I don't rep spec fic", whereas all I got out of it was: "send me everything." I'll bet you a wheelbarrow full of nuts that I wasn't alone."
You'll be perplexed to discover that the number of queries neither rose nor fell but held quite steady at about 100 a week. Later in the week I had an opportunity to compare query stats with other agents. Some of my pals are getting upwards of 200/week. Interesting. Unexplained, but interesting.
Also in the WIR, Kitty linked to a good article by Cheryl Strayed on how the money flows in publishing. This prompted me to write a blog post for this coming Monday about money, specifically how advances work.
And it turns out that blog readers AJ Blythe and newcomer Sam Hawke are both in Australia. Sam mentioned the dreaded vegemite. I have a beloved client (Gary Corby) who also lives in Australia and he tried to poison the interns with vegemite on his first visit to FPLM.
Yup that's Joanna Volpe now of New Leaf Literary, the agent for Divergent and The Duff. She's the only one who sort of liked it. Given Joanna's great professional success, maybe we should all be eating more vegemite!
On Monday, the discussion turned to a writer who asked about having gotten a lot of help on her query, only to discover when agents read her pages, she was getting almost universal rejections.
No one picked up on Julie Weathers mentioning she'd entered hog calling contests. I think we need to fund a pool to pay Julie for video of that fine event. I'm in for $100.
There was some question about whether you needed a finished manuscript to send a query to the QueryShark.
Here's a list of the various ways to interact with me, and what you need:
QueryShark: a completed query letter that you think is ready for submission to agents. Whether the novel is done is less important.
Chum Bucket: a query and a finished novel. If you query on Chum Bucket and your novel isn't ready, I will not respond well. ChumBucket is querying for real, and you do NOT query unless your novel is ready to go out the door, that very day.
Query Questions: a question, hopefully succinct, sent to my email address with Query Question in the subject line.
Blog comments: just post away and I'll read.
And Julie also gave us the Mrs. Chicken story. Sometime soon we're going to have a book-length work of Julie Weathers hilarity, and wouldn't it be hilarious if THAT was her first published work?
MeganV told us of her experiences querying as a 12year old writer. Turns out her MamaBear wrote the query. This was very illuminating. I do get mail from writers who tell me they are 12 but the tone and syntax of the letter is very clearly adult. It had actually never crossed my mind that MamaBear was writing the query.
If you're wondering about whether to do that for your kid, DON'T! A kid who sounds like an adult gets a form rejection. A kid who sounds like a kid gets a much much different reply.
S.P. Bowers had the most succinct thought on voice: "Voice is like an accent. You never hear your own. But that doesn't mean you don't have one." I like this a great deal and plan to steal the line shamelessly.
And donnaeverhart mentioned the late, great amazing Larry Brown, with whom I had the great fortune to meet briefly in my days in the publicity trenches. Gone too soon indeed.
On Tuesday, we talked about illustrations in novels, and when to mention that you envision your work including them.
Jenz commented on the cost of a good illustrator (not cheap) and from what little I know of picture books, she's right on the money.
Adib Khorram was the first to mention THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY as an example of a novel that included a graphic novel in it.
Then we heard from the author of FIVE STAGES, Shaun Hutchinson, and what he said was very illuminating and applicable I think to all authors who want to include things other than text in their novels.
The agent I signed with (the amazing Amy Boggs) was totally on board with the graphic novel elements, but we both knew that when we went on submission that the publishers might be less receptive since they'd have to hire and artist and such, and I prepared myself mentally to redo those sections as prose if a publisher made an offer but didn't want the added burden of doing the graphic novel.
Luckily, the editor who acquired my book was enthusiastic about the graphic novel portions of the book, and they did hire an artist to turn my script into a graphic novel.
So it can be done. But I think you need to be very clear as to what you're looking for and you need to be very sure that those graphic elements are absolutely vital to the story. If the book can exist without them, an agent or editor is probably not going to want to do them.
If you want to read my query for the book, my agent did a breakdown of it over here.
Of course I went out and bought a copy of FIVE STAGES immediately, and had a chance to start reading it on the train Friday night. It's fucking amazing. I haven't finished yet (despite letting three trains go by at West 4th cause I didn't want to stop reading--it's impossible to read in a really crowded train) but look for more on this in the coming weeks. Let me just say this now. The first line is "The boy is on fire."
On Wednesday we return to the question of query decorum: is it ok to query another agent at an agency where an agent has said no. (say that fast five times!)
My reply was Be Bold, and in fact I've updated the blog post to make that the latest in the Rules for Writers. [Rules for Writers are on the right hand side of the blog in a separate column.]
I liked how Susan Bonifant phrased it: "err on the side of possible success."
Dena Pawling gave us a hilarious bad query example, but sadly, writes too well for it to give off the true aroma of badBadBAD queries.
KrisM asked if the writer should mention the first agent query whilst querying the second.
Yes you should. Here's why: you don't know the inner workings of the agency. If someone queries me, and said they queried another agent here at FPLM, I'll know if that agent is just behind on queries, or doesn't respond to queries if not interested, or is slacking off in the south of France eating lima beans and looking at kale, thus giving me a chance to scoop this treasure from under his/her nez. The querier won't know any of that, and it's better to let the agent know than run into a problem down the road.
And after that the comments just fell right off topic into a soup pot of lima beans that ended when Colin Smith exiled himself back to Carkoon.
The fact that these comments crack me up again three days later means you all really are hilarious.
Thursday, we're back to correct form in a query. Is it ok to ask questions?
Kelsey Hutton has a nice take on this:
"I read a lot of queries on QueryShark and Evil Editor, and I find questions that boil down to "Will Jane Smith save the day??" get rather tiresome, since, after all, readers usually expect the hero to end up saving the day. There's no tension there; I already know the answer.
"How far will Jane Smith go to save the day?" is a far more interesting question to me."
Susan Bonifant (with an assist from Colin Smith) phrased it best: "One (question) rising naturally from the conflict of the character, rather than one aimed at the agent's personal curiosity seems workable to me."
Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli (a name that I just love to say aloud!) is going into the nostrum business with lima beans and kale. Felix Buttonweaver is involved (cleverly concealing his real name of Felix Buttonweezer!)
And Craig is writing lima bean thrillers, which while not as terrifying as dinosaur porn, is pretty much immediately on my This Will Not Fly list.
Christina Seine riffed on Goldilocks and questions in query which prompted Colin Smith to give us the other side of the story.
Agent Goldie Lox had only been in the program three months and already she was staking out the humble home base of the feared Bear Family. Suspecting they had hijacked the village's much-needed supply of lima beans to sell on the black market, she tears the place apart looking for evidence. However, she is seduced by Mama Bear's intoxicating porridge, and falls unconscious just as The Bears return.
Meanwhile, her hapless companion, Woodman "Woody" Cutter is investigating Lox's disappearance. But his is more than a quest of duty. He gave his heart to Lox when they were in the Academy together, though he hasn't yet revealed the truth of his feelings for her.
Does Cutter have enough courage to take on the Bears and declare his love for Agent Lox, whatever the cost?
LOX AND THE LIMA BEAN CONSPIRACY is a 70,000 word suspense fiction novel. It's truly amazing. Really.
Amazing is one word for it.
And honestly I'm getting pretty spoiled: if the comments trail doesn't have a hilarious story from Julie the world feels a little bleak. No pressure there One L.
Friday we return to query decorum: is it wise to resend after fixing what an agent said was wrong with a requested full?
Colin Smith took the shark by the teeth and wrote:
"It really would help cut down the chattering in the forest if agents would be clear and honest in their feedback to the woodland creatures. "I liked your writing, but in the end I didn't love it enough to feel I could give it the representation it deserves. If I might, let me make a couple of suggestions that I think will help you win over another agent..."
I can tell you that's never going to happen. There are a couple reason. The first and most often is that agent's live in fear of someone quoting their rejection of a novel that went on to sell a million copies. I've been in ballrooms where authors giving keynotes have done EXACTLY that. Let me tell you, it's gawdawful, even if it's not your rejection, or no names are mentioned. It's the flip side of those insanely stupid agent tweets about why a query is rejected. It may not be yours but it still makes you feel icky.
Second, unasked for advice or commentary is very seldom received well. I know this of my own experience, experience learned the hard way. You've never seen true venom and vitriol until you offer unsolicited "help" on a query that desperately needs it.
There's a reason I limit ChumBucket to people who pay attention and know the parameters: they've signed on for feedback. Same with QueryShark. I no longer reply to a regular query with specifics.
Third, what's crap for me is gold for someone else and better to have them query on, than give up because I or another agent didn't like the project. Which is exactly what Colin Smith said better here "Just because an agent rejects your novel, it doesn't mean s/he doesn't love you. Indeed, maybe the kindest thing they'll do is say NO."
Then Bill Negotiator reminded us:
I thought I was ready for rejection when I started querying five months ago. Form responses rolled off my back, and I was proud that the process hadn't gotten to me, as it had so many others. I was all doors and windows, no means yes somewhere else, this is a breeze.
But then the partial requests came in, and the fulls. The stakes felt impossibly high when I remembered where I began, twenty-something me with a whim to write chick-lit. Chick-lit? So I tried not to think about it. I obsessed over Twitter and reassured myself when agents tweeted pitfalls I didn't enter. "No More Unicorn Samurais with Cancers" #checkmywishlist, or the very Breaking Bad pleas for us to remember their names. #I'mNotDearAgent.
It's no surprise that I got a personalized rejection on a full. But what I didn't know, what nobody had told me in this rush to stay positive, was that the compliments, the glimmers of someone almost on board with my writing, would be the hardest part to swallow.
Which was a valuable reminder for me particularly since some of you who comment here have had novels on submission with me. "Almost" is really tough.
DLM's comment was salve:
Yesterday, the light in my living room was unlike I've ever seen it. It was a snow day, and the sky was clearing, and the sun came out in that peculiarly platinum-colored glare it does over a world gone highly reflective white. I saw the paint color in a way it has never appeared, and it was an almost creative experience - the pleasure we as writers can take in seeing something a new way. Literal new light.
I chose that paint color with a lifetime's taste, expectations, some wisdom, and a lot of creative hope. I'd lived in this house and had strong ideas about what would work and what I wanted to see. Yesterday, it told me (as it always has) I made the right choice.
When you are a professional in the business of choosing creativity itself for a catalog of product you can believe in and SELL - as well as you can - it takes that combination of experience, expectation, and creativity.
I'm nothing like any of the rest of you as an author. None of you is like the rest of us. Each of us has demonstrated here - we're not merely good with words, we're good storytellers. But how many of us does Janet rep? Janet, who clearly appreciates our ways with words - she says it, with highly specific examples, over and over again, and not even only in the WIR posts. She sees and supports every one of us.
But she's not the right agent for MOST of us.
I can't wait to find out who the right agent is for me. I've had theories, some of them haven't borne out; some may still come to something. We'll just have to see. Like when the sun comes out after the snow.
On Saturday we discussed when/if a query needed to reveal previous representation. I casually mentioned that I do sniff around your websites etc if I'm interested in your work.
elisabethcrisp contributed this comment to the discussion of what kind of blog content works:
Long term planning has helped me get back up on my blog horse. Four days a week, I write topic-based posts. One day, I post a photo. One day, I post an excerpt. One day, I write a journal-type post for the past week. I keep everything under 350 words. It works for me.
I agree. When I started this blog, it was rather haphazard. Over the months and years I developed a plan and stuck to it. The results is an enormous increase in traffic and comment volume. I'm not sure if this is replicable for authors, but I know it worked for me.
Karen McCoy commented "Mostly, I try to remember that my writing comes first, because without it, my platform accounts for nil." which is an excellent thing for all of us to remember. Even me! (instead of writing, think clients!)
This week I'm reading THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY, and just finished MURDER AT THE BRIGHTWELL, which I loved. It's an old fashioned British seaside, sprawling cast of suspects murder mystery. It's absolutely in the tradition of Agatha Christie, and I was surprised in the end by whodunit.
And just as a reminder that yes, I do crawl around your websites and blogs, here a post from our own Susan Bonifant that is lovely homily this cold winter morning.
My favorite story of the weekis has a terrible clickbait headline, but I love the story, want to lead three cheers for the mum who understands that HOW you tell the story is really important.
Over on my Facebook page, there were two posts with cat pictures, one with a fish movie, and two slice of life scenes from the office.
I love the fish movie so much!
Have a swimmingly great day!
That voice is like an accent analogy got me thinking -- I normally can't hear my accent, true, but that's why it's so jarring for me to listen to recordings of myself speak. Maybe that's why taking breaks from your writing helps with revisions; you get to try read it as a reader instead of the writer.
I can't believe I missed the recommendation on THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY. I checked out the preview on Amazon, was instantly hooked, and bought it a minute later.
It needs to get here yesterday.
Thanks so much for the link to your fave story of the week. I've developed pretty strong antibodies to the what-happened-next trope, but knew if you flagged it, it would be worth the time. It was, too. (SO glad the mum followed through on her promise to report it.)
In the spirit of us woodland creatures trying to analyze every word of an agent's response, here's mine:
Dena Pawling [that's me!!!! She's writing to me!!!!] gave us a hilarious [she thinks I'm funny! She realized it was meant to be funny! No falling down flat, which unfortunately happens sometimes] bad query example [yay! My query was bad! Wait--bad?], but sadly [wait again--sadly?????? Something about my query is sad?], writes too well [I write well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She thinks I write well!!!!!!!! She loves me!!!!!!!] for it to give off the true aroma [wait--aroma? It smells good? It smells at all? Smells show up on computer screens?] of badBadBAD queries [Bad queries smell? And mine smelled? But wait, aroma is usually a positive word. My query had an aroma? Is that good? Should I revise and resend? But she didn't say that. Aaaarrrrgghh! Why don't agents just say what they mean? But she said it did NOT smell like a bad query. A badBadBAD query. Is that good or bad? I'm so confused. When will she be doing Chum Bucket again, so I can ask without fear of rejection? Wait--she'll still reject me. But I can submit her rejection to RWA and get my PRO pin! It'll make me a PRO! So rejection is a good thing. Right? Right?????].
Being a woodland creature does things to a person's sanity [or lack thereof].
I love the links in this WIR.
Shaun, your link to The Three Stages of a Query Letter was extremely helpful. Thank you for posting it.
Susan, your post was beautifully written and a subject close to my heart. The protagonist in my WIP is a homeless man.
Janet, I loved the mother's attitude in your favorite story. Well done.
Dena, your comment had me laughing out loud.
Accents, don't get me started on accents. In English mine is neutral, the strange thing is in all other languages people know where I'm from.
Such a great recap of all the things that struck you this week.
Disclaimer: This it's not a shameless plug for anything but Shaun Hutchinson, who really wrote an outstanding book. Anyone who happened to hop over to my blog will see I just wrote a post called "A Story Worth Telling," which is a bit of wah-wah about my difficulties finding my "story" for this fourth project, and how I want to the story to have heart, and to be "worth telling."
And then I used THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY as the perfect example of a story that does all that. And I ALSO brought up that first line. Which, IMO, is the best opening line I've ever read.
Larry Brown. I've got seven of his books plus the biography written by Jean Cash; LARRY BROWN, A WRITER'S LIFE. I go to Mississippi at least one/twice a year, where my in laws have a farm. I picked the biography up from Square Books in Oxford back in the summer of '12, when my first book was out on submission. Square Books is a famous haunt of Brown's, and honestly, every single time I go, I simply want to sit inside that book store and never leave. It's the sort of place every writer ought to go, b/c it's so steeped in literary history and many successful, well known as well as famous southern writer's have done their readings there.
As a bonus, just down the road is Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's home and we make it a "twofer" stopping there as well just so I can get inspired and soak it all in.
Those are experiences I never get tired of.
Dena, so right. :)
As for my comment above, we all know why Le Sharque quoted me. I was talking about PAINT!
On the point of how we go veering off topic ... I'm guilty of that, and yet it is the stuff I *read* less when I'm on here. I reached critical mass with lima bean jokes kind of a long time ago, honestly. I'm trying to keep in mind not going on too long (comment above obviously giving the lie to my success there) and writing comments worth reading rather than gratifying myself. It's not easy for me to shut up, either! But I do try to keep it in mind. Even when I fail. :)
I am so glad people are finding out about THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY. I started reading it on a plane and was three-quarters finished when the plane landed in Kansas City.
I was tempted to stay where I was and finish, but concerned that if TSA came and hauled me off the plane they would pry the book out of my hands.
Needless to say, I devoured the final chapters as soon as I got home.
I'm such a bum about blogging and am apparently far less busy than everybody else. Like right now, I could be scheduling blog posts through the week on both blogs (dog and writing) but that means getting off the couch to take at least one picture of Elka with this squeaky toy I was sent to review. Oh yeah, and people in the house are sleeping. So that won't do just now.
Middle school teachers will tell you MamaBears can be very prolific writers. They're especially noted for the use of words like heretofore in sixth grade essays:)
Does this mean I owe you a wheelbarrow of nuts? Boy, I don't even want to think about how I am going to get those to NYC. It would probably be cheapest to sail them there myself. I'll blow the airhorn when we make it to Manhattan.
I have a jar of vegemite collecting dust in my pantry, and forever may it remain unopened. I was forced to try some once. It tastes like linoleum. Australians have issues.
Woohoo! WiR time!!! :)
Why didn't Janet see a huge boost in her query stats after throwing the door open to all-comers? I think there's a couple of reasons why Amy's prediction hasn't come to pass yet:
1) Who else but those here know about this? Her bio on FinePrint still reads: "Janet Reid specializes in compelling fiction, particularly crime fiction; and narrative non-fiction." Woodland creatures don't see "compelling fiction" and "particularly..." as two separate things. We read "Janet wants compelling crime fiction and narrative non-fiction."
2) People who don't know any better look at her client list, not at the blog comments. I mean, who thought that was a good idea??
3) Us here in the comments, AKA The Shark Tank or Janet's Chums (chum... gettit? har har), want to keep this information for ourselves because it makes us feel special. :D
Vegemite. In the UK, we have Marmite, which is the same thing, only I'm told the British version came first, and it's stronger than the Aussie equivalent. I like it. It's made from the leftover yeast from beer, so what's not to like? :) It's good on toast. In the UK, though, we always butter our bread, whether it's toast, or a sandwich, or whatever (hence the expression to "know what side your bread buttered" really only works on that side of the pond). My point is that the creamy butter does help counter some of the harshness of the Marmite.
Julie's stories. Yes. Amen to everything said about them. "No pressure One L" indeed. :)
Lima beans. I'm sorry Diane. You're probably right. The lines have been drawn in the sand on that topic. 'Nuff said.
Woo! Janet thought my query was AMAZING!! She almost said it's OSSUM!! Is that, like, an offer of representation? Or does she just want to see pages? Or is that like one of Dena's BadBadBAD queries, which is actually not bad at all, because it's a bad bad-bad query (a bad-bad query is a really bad query, so if it's a bad bad-bad query, it's a good query). Shame I haven't written the novel yet. But that's okay for Chum Bucket isn't it? This is Chum Bucket, isn't it? ;)
Seriously, thank you Janet for responding to my little rant-lette about agent clarity. You've been around the ocean a few times and understand the lay of the reef much better than I, and I value that perspective. While those of us here get some strange pleasure out of your gentle correctives (50 SHADES OF CHUM..?) we're probably not the average querier because, well, we take the time to hang out here and get to know you a bit.
And while I'm at it, can I just say that I don't think the increase in traffic is all just due to you posting more regularly, Janet. You have something to say, and we love the way you say it. If this weren't true, posting every day would make no difference. We love your rants, your tips and advice, your query critiques, and your attitude toward writers and writing. I think I speak for all those who stumble upon your little portion of the interwebs that you make us laugh (v. important) and give us hope and encouragement as we try to fathom the ins and outs of publishing and trying to write that great novel. You also attract interesting, witty, and thoughtful people that are fun to talk to (even if only via comments).
That's why I keep coming back, anyway!
Sorry, DLM... I know I'm verbose. If you just skipped down to this line, don't worry, you didn't miss much. ;)
Colin, I was talking about MY posting - I love reading long posts, but overloquacity is a very real problem for me (ask me about the nearly 170K first draft I thought was a manuscript). Nobody should take my comment as being about them - that was my mindset when I hit the "Leave your comment" blank.
But, yeah, I just don't read anything about beans or kale anymore.
However, as to nuts? Yep, I think that wheelbarrow is owed!
My apologies if my previous comment read as a scold. It really wasn't supposed to be!
Okay, so I may have just spent the last five minutes dancing around, singing, "Janet's reading my book!!!" Thank you so, so much for the shoutout.
Lynn, I'm glad I actually had an applicable experience to talk about and I'm glad it was helpful :)
Shaun, she's not only reading it, she said "It's fucking amazing," and she doesn't use the "f" bomb a lot.
Dance some more. Actually, don't stop. You deserve it.
Diane: Understood. No offense taken. But likewise, I enjoy your comments and blog posts, long or short. :)
Shaun: If I was in your situation, I'd react the same way. :) Heck, I'm overjoyed when Janet reads my comments! Seriously, though, as far as book commendations go, they don't get much better than a positive f-bomb from the Shark. I considered ordering your book, but after reading Janet's "but look for more on this in the coming weeks" and I wondered if maybe a Writing Contest was being hinted at...? Sounds like it would make a great prize. :) One way or another, I'm sure a copy of your novel will be in my possession soon.
When the Shark recommends a book using the "f" bomb and amazing in the same sentence, everyone takes notice. Even me. And I don't eat lima beans or kale. Going to take a trip into town to the bookshop this week to look up Shaun's book. Must also remember to buy some kale to throw at kids who don't read books.
Still lovin' the WIR and not the limas.
don't be a wuss,
Don't Be A Wuss,
DON'T BE A WUSS!
Now, not only is getting a title page a goal, getting a shout-out like Shaun did, from the sleek-skinned-beady-eye is another.
I've been away visiting the college boy (my husband to me on the plane: "Well, at least he never has to worry about slipping on that kitchen floor in his socks") but the first thing I opened once I was one with laptop again, was "The WIR."
Of course I loved the reference to a couple of my comments, but I thank you Janet, for the shout out on the blog. Even I don't understand why I have suddenly became so determined to speak out for the homeless but I can't look away.
The WIR makes me really value the little community we've grown here. I've come to check in just to see what everyone has to say, and now I even know when someone is missing. For example, if the day comes that Colin doesn't show up, I'll fret like a woodland creature and probably email someone.
Appreciate you all, and especially you, Janet.
*"become" so determined, not "became." Sorry, I tried to let it go, I just couldn't.
Susan, perfectionist habits are hard to break, I get it. Hey, I made a typo above too, but my eyes auto-corrected it like they did with your comment.
Kinda funny, how that works.
I enjoyed reading your homeless man story. I felt for the guy, I really did - I think I commented on it earlier this week but as I post this, I can't recall b/c I've done so much blog hopping.
YES, (to Shark's favorite story of the week with terrible clickbait headline) love the Mom's abrasive pushback to the school authority's buckled-inside-the-box coping mechanism.
And it's wonderful to come home to read the news of the week according to the Shark
Yikes, what a great recap.
Y'all don't need to be ganging up on me. The crew at Books and Writers is already yammering about publishing books about Alvin the pig and the Native storyteller stories.
Yes, I need to send my fevered brain spinning off in new directions.
I love hanging out with y'all. No matter how bad the day is, I can' count on you to pick me up. What a great crew.
Julie, shaken, not stirred.
Donna is right about brains skipping over typos, particularly your own typos. That's why it's so important to get someone else to read over a submission before sending, so they can pick up on simple errors.
Your brain is a wonderful thing. It adapts very quickly to what it expects to see, and adjusts as quickly to mistakes, which become invisible to your mind's perception filters.
Hate to post a link to my blog. Forgive me Sharky. I can edit it out if you wish. But this post proves how your mind adapts to mistakes in writing. The more you read of it, the less you notice the blatantly obvious spelling mistakes. http://jvcullan.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/how-brainy-is-your-brain.html
Nope, your posting a link is good. Because I just discovered that apparently I have NOT clicked through to it before - and missed out on this: http://jvcullan.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/jack-and-jill.html.
Hee. Bookmarking you!
Awww, Susan! That's so nice of you to say. :)
My blog's down, and I don't mean depressed. I'm hoping to fix it soon, but just so you know, I'm bummed about it, so I'm glad for y'all and your wit. A bright spot in an otherwise not-very-bright afternoon. :)
I just bookmarked you too, Jed.
I love stuff like that little brain test.
I've been informed today is national pig day, so in honor of that, I'll share the Alvin story. This is what has B&W wanting a book about Alvin. I don't think I've shared this before. If I have, ignore me. I'm getting old.
It started with a comment on B&W that we once had a pig that cured a neighbor of drinking.
Well, I'm sure he did, just not as our bacon. Alvin loved watching tv, especially Green Acres, and knew when we were allowed to have the tv on, so he'd make a beeline to the house to watch with us. A lot of times, he'd sleep with me in the bunkhouse. He followed us around like a dog, but he loved candy and loved to rock more than anything.
Bud knew the entire family would be on a rampage if he killed Alvin, so he hauled him to the sale with his brothers and bought different hogs to butcher.
Bud, my stepdad, would come in and see him sleeping in the rocker next to the door and say, "Oh, poor little porker, he's been working hard." Then he'd take his jacket off the peg and cover him up. Alvin would pull his blanket up around him if it was in the chair, but often it wasn't, hence the need for the jacket.
Now, you have to realize, the ranch was on the other side of the fence from Teddy Roosevelt National Park. It's beautiful country, but it's hard country with hard men who also drink hard. The bars in Grassy Butte had corrals behind them so the ranchers who rode in could put their horses up while they tied one on. If they went to town, most of them would drive home drunk on some terrible dirt roads. How they didn't die, I don't know.
Our neighbor and Bud were so drunk one night David got down in the floorboard and operated the foot petal with his hand while Bud steered.
Dube Trotter was cut from the same cloth and lived about ten miles down the road from us on the river. He always stopped in to get some coffee before he headed home so Carolyn wouldn't know he'd been drinking. She, being a wily woman, could usually figure it out anyway, but that was the ritual.
So, late one night, Dube drove in and staggered up to the door. Mom started making coffee and getting some eggs and bacon going. Then she called Carolyn and told her Dube was there and she'd send him down the road as soon as he ate.
Dube and Bud stood there talking for a while, then Dube collapsed into the rocker on top of Bud's jacket. Unfortunately, Alvin was already there.
Alvin squealed in that high pitched squeal only pigs can manage and tried to squirm out from under Dube. Dube scrambled, fell, and rolled out of the chair. He was sure a demon had him and was screaming something about "God, help me!" He managed to stumble out the door and into his truck.
Mom called Carolyn and let her know Dube was on his way home. Dube got home, surprisingly sober.
Carolyn talked to Mom a few weeks later and asked us what we did to Dube.
"He refuses to go to town. I have to run in for parts and he hasn't had a drop to drink since that night."
Loved the Alvin story, Julie! And I agree with you about this community here--it's fabulous. And, after this week, more of us are bookmarking each other's blogs too.
Thanks so much for the mention. A very swimming day (and week) indeed!
Jeez Louise, of all the days to go AWOL, I had to pick the one with a story involving Alvin the pig, Dube and his wife Carolyn with 1N.
Gee here's some exciting news from the northeast, surprise, it's snowing again, has been all day and is expected to continue until tomorrow. I need Amy's palms and nuts, right here, right now. Ugh !
Crud, it looks like I missed my scant seconds of fame. Maybe next time. In truth it has been a while since the Queen bestowed a star upon my name. Hopefully I can come up with something else that tickles her fancy before I fade into the invisible instigator again.
How about a vegetable a week? My pick for this week is the Rutabaga.
Dena, you had me giggling all the way through your comment.
My oldest son has been in the Navy for two years. He told me today that he's thinking about applying for EOD.
Sometimes getting thru the day requires a sense of humor and a lot of prayer. Glad my comment gave a few of you a giggle :)
I am a lurking Australian who loathes Vegemite. And Marmite is not the same - I'll eat Marmite (I prefer Promite).
I'm home from a tough day at work (Monday night Down Under), have made myself a hot chocolate (2nd day of autumn/fall and the temps are dropping already), kicked off my shoes and am rewarding myself with QOTKU WIR. Thanks to a dodgy computer I missed a lot this week so the catch up is muchly appreciated.
The comments are brilliant (as per the norm). Already my day is a distant memory.
Vegemite is a whole food group for Aussies. Love the stuff personally (Amy Schaefer, your comment cracked me up), but apparently to everyone else (with the exception of Colin) it's our lima bean (sorry Diane).
Amazing to bump into another Aussie on Janet's blog who is in the same town as I am. Chances!
LynnRodz, I missed Shaun's link to the 3 stages of a query letter. Any chance you or Shaun would repost? Thanks.
And a comment to the great lady herself... Damn it, Janet! More books! Meet Your Baker (loved it) and now Murder at the Brightwell (already added to my kindle) - and don't get me started on the dent Gary Corby's books are having on my bank account balance. Reading your blog is becoming expensive (at the moment Amazon won't let me get The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley for my kindle, but I guess that will be an expense for the future).
The comment about accents reminds me of arguing with a Canadian couple in Thailand years ago -- the guy was straight faced insisting that they had no accents (to two Aussies, a NZer, an Irish couple and a German lady). He was dead sincere. Canadian English is 'neutral' and everything else is an accent. Turns out he'd formed this view because once a Vietnamese woman told him his English was so easy to understand because he had no accent. Someone had to explain to him (at high volume, possibly under the influence of a lot of Thai beer) that she had probably just learned English from a Canadian...
It was very exciting to get a welcome to your lovely commenting community - thanks, everyone! Your welcoming natures will drive me out of my long term lurk state yet.
Colin - agreed! Vegemite (and I assume Marmite, though I've never actually had it) needs to be eaten on hot buttery toast and in small quantities. My Dad used to always ask us as kids whether we wanted a 'smidgeon or a smur' on our toast - I never upgraded to the much bitier 'smur'. I also didn't realise my Dad completely made up that word until much later. :)
Ah, Sam, see I will eat vegemite under the banner of 'smur' quite happily (I have been known to eat it off a spoon, lol).
AJ, here's the link to Shaun's post. Three Stages of Query
Sam, are you talkin' to me? (In my best Robert DeNiro voice.) "You talkin' to me?"
I guess I should have been more specific when I said my accent was neutral. What I meant was, I have no regional accent. In other words, I don't have a Yorkshire accent. (Although years ago I shared a flat in Amsterdam with two lads from Yorkshire and I found myself picking up the accent quite easily.) I don't have an Aussie accent, nor an Irish brogue. And neither (pronounced neyether, not kneether) do I have a Texas accent, nor a Southern one, but when I speak, you know what country I'm from, just not which region.
That said, one day I was visiting a friend in San Francisco (we're both from the same hometown, but far from SF) and we were in a boutique shopping when a man came up to us and said, "I know where you two are from." We looked at him and waited. He was right. And it was all because of one word. So, of course, I have an accent from what country I come from, but not what part of the country, unless I use that one word.
Thanks for the shout outs and bookmarking for my blog.
I hate both vegemite and marmite. Horrible evil stuff. Did date someone in my early twenties who always had it on her toast for breakfast, and then expected me to kiss her goodbye when we left for work. Heck, no. Eat jam instead, and then I'll kiss you.
Thanks, LynnRodz, appreciate it!
Great post, Shaun! I want to read the book you're talking about, too.
Lynn, I know what you mean - I have a pretty 'neutral' Australian accent, in the sense that I've never had anyone identify me by region. (I have had a lot of people o/s misidentify me as British though). AJ, I don't know if you have the same experience, but I think there's nothing particularly noteworthy about a Canberran accent.
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