Sunday, May 03, 2015

Week in review 5/3/15

The week got off to a lovely start last Sunday. After four days of lolling around at the beach reading manuscripts we headed back to the city.  Y'all were busy reading the Week in Review.
One of the things I really love about the round up: your writing. All of you are writers of course, but sometimes there's a turn of phrase, or sentence (or like with Julie Weathers an entire post!) where I think "oh boy, there's talent!)

Here's one from Jennifer R. Donohue like that:
Does anybody else's dog like Spam? Elka went high obedience ballistic for it last night when it was cooking. Like "I am sitting. I would like that meat in my mouth. Oh, come on. I'll testify as hard as I can. spamspamspam"

LynnRodz asked:
I wonder if Barbara Poelle ever pops by here and sees all the praise you bestows upon her?
I think Barbara is too busy juggling auctions to do much blog reading. Either that or taste testing the new vodka crop.

Dena Pawling has a good idea:
I figured out that OP meant the person who had submitted the question, without really knowing what the acronym actually meant. It would take quite a bit more mental energy plus the search feature, to figure out the possible meanings of Carkoon and Buttonweezer. Therefore, not knowing what those two meant would possibly make more timid folks (1) feel like an outsider, (2) be embarrassed to ask, and (3) not feel comfortable posting their own comments. Therefore, because I've been on the excluded side of blogs and groups many times in the past [I vacillate between not wanting to join a group that would actually want me as a member, and not wanting to participate in a group that doesn't want me], and the knowledge that Ms. Reid loves her blog community and wants it all-inclusive even for the likes of me, I'll offer up my definitions. Maybe Colin, the compiler of the acronyms [Compiler Of Links creating Inclusion for Newbies], can provide that aforementioned list, complete with links if they can be found. Hopefully, having such a list would make new folks feel welcome [because they are], rather than even MORE hesitant to post a comment.

You'll notice there's now a link to terms used on the blog on the right hand side of the blog roll.  If any of you think others should be added let me know in the comments section here.

S.D. King's eagle eye caught something:
"learn the category (I have a middle grade novel on submission now.)"

Janet, You thought you could slip that in there and I wouldn't notice?

Now I really need to send my query to the shark to prepare it to send to the shark!

Here's the bad news: I don't take on middle grade. Yes, I have one on submission right now but it was written by a CLIENT that I signed for another project in a category I do take on. This was how Brooks Sherman ended up selling a picture book written by my client Sean Ferrell.  Now that Brooks is Bent, I can't force him to do my bidding.
But, to the point, middle grade queries are still going to get a redirection to a more suitable agent. (sorry!)

Lance's comment (As a serial, part-time lurker, I thank Dena for the glossary) reminded me that glossary was the word I was looking for to describe terms used on the blog. And it's such a lovely word! Glossary!

I thin Amy Schaefer summed up my intent on acronyms and now the glossary much better than I did (which is what happens when you have writers hanging about!)

I am glad to have support in my anti-acronym battle (notice how I didn't shorten that), and I think Janet's point about including one and all in our commenting nonsense here is critical. I've avoided many an internet community (and even a few real life ones) because the members seemed too clannish, too caught up in their inside jokes and common history to allow a newbie in. I'd hate for that to happen here.

Lurkers, you're just like those of us who can't keep out hands off the keyboard. Don't let our nonsense hold you back if and when you have something to say. And, if it suits you, come be nonsensical with us!

Lance also asked
 I don't understand the relationship of woodland creatures to The Shark unless it is a metaphor for how we writers yet to be published (WYTBP) exist separate from the publishing world. That is to say, we have to form pyramids of 'possums and heave our queries over the seawall into the lagoon wherein lies The Reef. Once agented, a writer is magically transformed into a creature of the reef, interacting more directly with The Shark.
Pharosian reminded us of where that term came from:
On several (okay, many) occasions, unpublished authors have posed questions to Janet that indicate a certain amount of over-thinking, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, timidity, uncertainty, and a general fear of Big Bad Agents. In her response to the questioner that day she said, "Writers are woodland creatures who worry about every single thing they can think of and when that isn't enough, they look for newly discovered things to worry about."
Julie suggested the titmouse as a typical example. I tend to think of wide-eyed, innocent Bambi types, or twitchy-nosed bunnies. Regardless, the term stuck. One thing this group has demonstrated an aptitude for par excellence is taking an idea and running with it!

and didn't this just make you want a dinner invitation to John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur's house?
My rule is, if I can smell you across the table, you're wearing too much. If I can smell you before you come in the door you're wearing WAY too much and need to be tranqued with a dart gun.

On Monday, the we talked about novels on submission that might be too similar to what an agent represents.

brianrschwarz got his wifi on Carkoon working long enough to say this:
To the topic at hand - I want to say it was either Tolkien or Lewis who were once quoted as saying "great writers don't rip one person off... they rip EVERYONE off"

Their point was just that you can't write in a vacuum. It's just not possible. So no matter what you do, you're borrowing from somewhere or someone or something. The line between taking a usual device, name, location or trope versus copying entire segments of a story or a blueprint of a character of course are different things.

Which is exactly what I meant, but better.

And I like what Shaun Hutchinson said too:
Coincidences happen. Even really weird ones. You think you've written a wholly unique book that no one could have possibly ever come up with, but you're probably wrong. What sets books apart is how you write them. Your ideas may not be unique, but your execution is. That's how you set yourself apart from similar plots.

bjmuntain made another good point with this:
It's so, so important to understand the difference between ideas and tropes. I don't think anyone here would have that problem, but a writing group I used to belong to fell apart because a beginning writer claimed her 'ideas' were being stolen, because another writer just happened to be using the same old fantasy tropes that Terry Brooks used long before then.

brianrschwarz asked:
Question for Janet - How do intellectual rights work in writing? What is being copyrighted? The main themes? Character names and generic profiles? Is the court the ultimate decider?

I mean, if fan-fic isn't considered a copyright infringement than I think the questioner is probably quite safe. But where is the line?

Copyright protects the work you create. Another person can not copy your book or portions of your book without your permission.

Titles do not have copyright protection.
Names do not have copyright protection.
Themes do no have copyright protection.
You don't need to worry about court here. You need to worry about the warranties clause of your publishing contract where you warrant that the work is your own and indemnify the publisher against claims that it isn't. 

Fan fic is very murky in terms of copyright, but the general idea is that if you're doing it for fun, and not trying to hoodwink anyone that you actually created Jack Reacher, it's all good.

What you can NOT do is lift parts of books wholesale, and pass them off as your own.

On Tuesday, the topic was BEA and why writers should NOT plan to attend.

AJ Blythe asked:
Just googled BEA to find out what it was. Interesting they have author signings when the conference is really aimed at industry professionals. Is there something for readers besides the signing? Or are readers happy to attend just for the signing?

Jenny C provided a great answer:
BEA is not the place to be as a writer unless your book is already published or going to be published and you are there to meet booksellers and librarians. I used to attend when I worked as a buyer for a bookstore and I have to say, I always had a fabulous time. I heard authors speak at breakfasts, met them, got signed ARC's and came home with lots of tote bags to share with the staff at the store. (Publishers give out tote bags and booksellers love to collect them.) I also went to fun parties and once in Miami I met Oprah! All the people who work the booths want to meet booksellers and its nice to feel appreciated! And the stacks of ARC! Absolutely the best part! Quite honestly, I never even knew agents attended. You would have to search hard to find one in the sea of booksellers, sales reps and marketing people.

And she added this:
I've been nostalgic this morning, thinking back over all the BEA's I attended. My favorite one was not the time I met Oprah, who ended up canceling her autobiography, but the time I heard a relatively unknown writer named Terri Macmillan speak about her forthcoming book WAITING TO EXHALE. She blew away a room fill of bookseller who just about trampled each other like teenagers at a rock concert to get to the signing line and get a copy. I read it on the plane on the way home, and I still have it. WAITING ended up being a major bestseller for a lot of reasons, but I like to think bookseller enthusiasm generated that day was one of them.

And JEN Garrett took my breath away with this one:

I recently heard advice from a former agent to go to BEA and "give chocolates" or "stuffed animals" to the publishers and agents there. The idea is to make a good impression. But I didn't like the advice at all. I didn't think publishers were there to be schmoozed by "UN" writers. I thought they were there to sell books.

Holy smokestacks that was bad advice. Maybe that explains the "former" part of agent.  At the risk of repeating myself endlessly: the ONLY thing that is going to make a good impression on me is your writing. You can be nicest person in this world or the next but if your writing isn't what I'm looking for, no amount of chocolate or stuff woodland creatures will change that.  Also, those kind of geegaws are expensive and you should save your money for a publicist for when you are published.

On Wednesday the talk turned to online crits.
I like this point, made by Susan Bonifant with a hat tip to DeadSpiderEye, a lot
Dead Spider Eye (shudder) made an EXCELLENT point:

"To generalize, the problem with on-line communities is ...communal behaviour. What that means is, your standing within the community is likely to prejudice how your work is considered."

Some sites are like polite neighborhoods - welcoming, and nice enough but not useful because the polite culture suppresses honest critique.

And some are Lord of the Flies.

I liked what kregger said here:
Writing is a craft and within any craft there are beginners, journeymen and masters. I was a beginner once, and I had no idea how ineffectual my writing skills were to readers until I joined a critique forum.
I think it is important for the discussion in this forum to differentiate between getting help at the skill of writing and help about a plotline or story arc.
I agree with the majority of the pro and con about critique forums as listed above and have probably participated unwittingly in the good, bad and ugly of the forums. It's part of the learning process.
The hard part for a writer is either knowing (or not) the amount of help they need.

And Megan V made a good case for online crits:
I'm a proponent of using random people from online forums as critics. My reasoning: In the music world, some people have perfect pitch and can't sing worth a damn. Likewise, in the writing world, some people can't write worth a damn, but when they read another writer's work, suddenly they are gifted surgeons who know when their incisions should be accompanied by anesthesia.

Of course, you find out rather quickly who has the pitch and the gifted hands and who is just cutting for the sake of drawing blood.

On Thursday we talked about whether a publisher can force a writer to change the ending of a book:

Lisa Bodenheim asked:
I suppose this is NOT something to put in a query letter because we don't tell the ending in the query letter. But it would be a good question to ask an agent when The Call is received, just to be sure an agent is fully enthusiastic about our book with the ending we've chosen.

You don't put that in a query letter for a different reason. A query is not the place to be listing what you will or will not accept from a publisher. That kind of list makes you seem hard to deal with and/or uninformed.  While I can and do sign authors who are uninformed about how publishing works I don't want to deal with people who are intractable. Publishing is a team sport and authors who don't understand that generally get picked last, if at all.

I think Matt Adams has a nice summation on this topic:
I think the questioner is about ten steps early to worry about this, but I'll relate my story. After a bunch of querying, my agent offered rep. One thing though, she asked, what would you think about changing the ending (she thought it would be better a bit more ambiguous than the happy one I'd written). I thought about, asked a few people who'd read.

Then i changed the ending. Either you trust the people you work with or you don't.

And I would guess the questioner would, too, if given the actual choice between publication and non-publication. I think an editor would tell s/he that before offering to buy the book, but if they didn't, you'd have to understand they are BUYING the book. Not agreeing to print your masterpiece, but buying the print versions of it. If the questioner is uncomfortable with that idea, s/he should self publish and save everyone involved a lot of hassle.

It's like Dave Berry said after he sold the rights to his life/books/columns to a TV show (It starred Harry Anderson, the guy from Night Court). He insisted he retain complete creative control over how he spent the money. I think that's the way to look at it.

Shaun Hutchinson added to that:

Matt, you make a good point. When we were shopping my first book, a publisher was interested but only if I was willing to rewrite the last third of my book. I was initially against the idea, but when no other publishers bit, I talked it over with the editor and submitted a revised outline. She bought the book, and I rewrote the last third. As I started doing the rewrites, I was still skeptical, but by the time I'd finished them, I realized that my editor had been correct all along, and that the rewrites improved the book significantly.

That said, I think if an editor did request a significant change to the ending, I'd do the rewrite before signing the contract to make sure both the editor and I were happy with the new changes before committing to them.

Bonnie Shaljean asked:
Assuming that an author adamantly does NOT want major surgery done on her book:

Can the creator of the work require that she be given final refusal on proposed major changes, and legally ensure that the publisher cannot force them on her, without her having to actually withdraw the book and face punitive financial consequences (never mind lost time)?

After all, the publishers do know what story they're getting before they sign on: they've read it. Whereas the writer can't foresee all the changes she might be told to make, so she can't always forearm the agent. Has she any power other than bailing out and going back to the trenches?

Of course, in the real world, the editor and the agent are discussing the book, and the editor's ideas long before anything drastic like "your editorial suggestions are like capcha cupcake choices: one dimensional, tasteless and serve only to block me from expressing myself fully"
I do have a deal pending in which the editor has said there will be some substantial changes requested. The author and I agreed to the deal and signed the contract, but we're both waiting to see what the editor wants before  doing anything bold like cashing the check and announcing the deal.

and then there was just this glorious little nugget of great writing from REJourneys that made me life and reminded me how amazing y'all are:

Of course, the author should stay up with the trends of the market, but when you are being flung across the globe, signing children and kissing pictures, do they really have time for that? (The answer is you have to make time, but no one has made time yet. If they had, they'd have to invent a new number for how rich that person would be. Either that or they are keeping the knowledge of how to actually make time to themselves).

On Friday, I might have gone a bit ballistic on the topic of wasting an agent's time, but the overall blog post was about querying an unfinished novel when you have a backlist of published books.

bjmuntain summed up my point very nicely:
The reason an unpublished author needs to have a completed manuscript before pitching it is because they don't have a track record of finishing publication-ready manuscripts. But I've often heard this is different for previously published authors simply because they've proven they can finish a manuscript that's appropriate for publication.

It's like the tendering process for projects. If you've never managed a project, you're not going to win a tender no matter how much you undercut the opposition. However, if you have a good background in completing projects with very good quality results, you can probably bid higher and be more likely to get the contract than someone with a less stellar background.

Mary Feliz just cracked me up with this:
I'm so torn. While I aim to be bold, brave, and brilliant in my writing career, that woodland creature cake "hand" delivered by a shark on a broomstick seems really too tempting to pass up!

Christina Seine asked:
Also, another question for QOTKU: any other traveler tips for someone who's never been to NYC before?

1. Ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's free, and it's the best way to see New York's glorious skyline at night.
2. Don't be afraid to ride the subway. It's very safe, it's the cheapest way to get around town, and there are people who will help you if you get turned around. Just ask.
3. Don't go to any chain restaurants.
4. The most beautiful view of the Chrysler Building can be had walking north on Lexington Ave on the left side of the street between 5 and 6am starting at 21st Street.
5. The best view of the Empire State building is from Sixth Avenue and 29th Street.
6. The best time to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Saturday night after 6pm.
7. There is no good time to visit MoMA. It's too crowded for any kind of sane experience.
8. Bryant Park is a lovely reading spot (42nd Street at Sixth Avenue)
9. The best way to see all of what makes New York glorious is to start at Broadway and 72nd street and walk south on Broadway till you hit the Staten Island Ferry (see #1)
10. If you see a lithe blonde woman on rollerblades, zooming south on the Hudson bike path, barking "I don't get out of bed for less than fifty thousand!" that's Barbara Poelle and you should get OUT of her way with alacrity.

and just PS: Happy Birthday dear Gossamer!

On Saturday we talked about Chum Bucket and junior agents.

MB Owen asked a very good question:
I'm not sure how a person could: "make triple dog sure that she isn't heading for the exit anytime soon," unless maybe a little work history.

It's really hard to ascertain that, I agree. I think it's a question of listening closely to how a new agent talks about her job and her life. Someone who hates New York isn't a good candidate for lasting a long time here. Someone who really wants to be something else either (a writer, an actor, a lawyer.)
Mostly though I'd want to make sure that the junior agent is with an agency that's been around awhile and can step in if the junior agent gets recruited for the circus.

S.D.King mentioned my former companion in query shenanigans, the erstwhile Brooks Sherman:
I queried Brooks and heard nothing back. His website says if you don't hear, resubmit the query because they respond. I resubmitted and still crickets. I suppose I could re-resubmit but I don't think he's looking for a long-term non-relationship.

Last time I asked, Brooks had 700 unanswered queries. Behind? He was so behind I threatened to lock the liquor cabinet.  I think he probably still is, but I also think he does respond to everything…eventually.

This was an incredibly busy week here at the Reef. The Edgar festivities commenced on Monday, culminating in the Awards banquet on Wednesday night. It was great fun to see everyone  and catch up on projects, new ideas, great stories, and what everyone is excited about reading.

On Thursday, after thinking my traveling was done, and I was now chained to my desk, I decided to hit Malice Domestic instead. I got on the train at 7am on Friday morning and was in Bethesda by 11, ensconced in "my" spot in the bar. More on that on tomorrow's blog post.

Spring seems to be fully here, thank all deities foreign and domestic. It's not warm really but it's not raining and it's not freezing. I'll take it!


Anonymous said...

Will I be first? We'll have to see...

Sometimes when I read the Week in Review, I see things by other people I don't remember. This week, I saw something by me that I don't remember. Either I'm going nuts or I'm spending too much time here.

Probably nuts.

As a non-NYCer, I have to second the Statin Island Ferry. Such a lovely view!

This time, steaks. And again, there was only one obvious steak. The other had some sort of covering that looked... unsteaklike. But got it right this time!

Anonymous said...

And I just have to say that when it comes to turns of phrase, this little goodie made me chuckle:

"Now that Brooks is Bent"

Sorry. I can't think of anything else for the glossary.

Steak again. Only this time, I'm sure those were pork chops, not steak.

LynnRodz said...

What am I doing here? In less than two hours, I have dinner guests coming, I haven't finished half the things I need to do, I'm not even dressed, and here I am reading the WIR (thank goodness for the glossary!) Thanks, Janet, for all the work you put in to give us this summary and now I better go or else I'll be greeting my friends with my slippers on! It'd be all right if I had glass or golden slippers, but mine are the fuzzy kind.

Dena Pawling said...

Wow, I disagreed with the Shark and I'm apparently not [yet] exiled to Carkoon. And my disagreement was mentioned as a “good idea”.

Pick me up off the floor.

And I'm in the WiR again. And a few of my definitions are in the glossary.

Life's good.

Happy Spring [except to Aus where it's Happy Fall].

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Take the ferry over and back, it is the best of the best. I remember when it cost a nickel and if we hid we didn't have to pay for the round trip.

Great WIR, great week.

LynnRodz, I have people coming too. Priorities: WIR first, bathrooms second. The rest? They can help. Oh, I am already dressed, I did it myself.

Captcha, pasta, love it.

Megan V said...

Another great week in review! :)

I do have one concern though. It's about the Fan Fic statement—"Fan fic is very murky in terms of copyright, but the general idea is that if you're doing it for fun, and not trying to hoodwink anyone that you actually created Jack Reacher, it's all good."

***please not that the following is not legal advice, just my personal opinions and understanding of the matter discussed***

Generally, Fan Fiction (particularly fan fiction that is for sale!) IS a copyright violation. It falls under what's known as derivative works. A derivative work is a new work that includes aspects of a preexisting, already copyrighted work.

There are two typical exceptions:
1. Consent
2. Fair use

Fan fiction works that are not for sale might have a good case for fair use. But if fan fiction doesn't fall under these exceptions, then it's probably in violation the original author's copyright.

If you want more details- check out some great scholarly articles on the the topic. I recommend Michelle Chatelain's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Copyright Law: Fan Fiction, Derivative Works, and
the Fair Use Doctrine, 15 Tul. J. Tech. & Intell. Prop. 199, 202 (2012). (She argues that even Fan-Fiction that is sold falls under fair use -stating that fan-fic is unlikely to commandeer the market of the original)

That said, authors tend to turn a blind eye to fan fiction or even encourage it when the fan-fic author isn't trying to hoodwink the world- hence the muddling. It's just up to the author to enforce the copyright.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I just checked out the glossary and I'M IN IT.
I feel like I won an award or something. This is even better than Funk and Wagnell.

BTW (by the way), ha ha, In the definition Carolynn only has 1 N, where'd my extra N go?.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, bj! You were first! :)

Wow, did we really talk about all that this week? Well, maybe everyone else did. I don't think I had much useful to contribute which means I learned stuff--and I really think I did. For example, if you're published already, it's okay to query an incomplete novel. That caught me by surprise. That was part of this week's discussion, wasn't it?

Great WiR again, Janet. Thanks for the reminder! :D

S.D.King said...

The WIR posted a little late today and I found myself terribly worried about Janet. Then I remembered all those shark attacks in Hawaii and decided she is probably OK, just on vacation.

Colin Smith said...

Megan: It does seem most authors turn a blind eye or encourage fan fiction, even if they can't read it--or so they say (I presume to avoid any charge of plagiarizing fan fiction for one's original work?).

Dena: I noticed that!! What?? Not fair!! Well, I've still got a cave reserved for you. It's just a matter of time. Although I'm beginning to wonder if Ms. Shark's giving you a pass because you're a lawyer. Somehow it seems fitting that sharks and lawyers would look out for one another... ;)

Carolynn: I noticed that too. I'm surprised you mentioned it. If you don't want to spend time in Carkooman, maybe consider changing your name... ;)

Colin Smith said...

Carkooman? What's that? A new Jamaican resort here on the exile planet?!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin my dear surely you forgot I was banished to Carkoon ages ago. I am the chief latrinetrician. I am the one who is never offended that when entering the room you guys get to remain seated.

They don't call me brush and flush for nothing.

2Ns it is, and 2Ns it stays. If I changed it my mother would come back and haunt my a**.

DLM said...

Hi all, this is Gossie, borrowing mom's account to say thank you. It's a sunny day and the dog is outside, which is a setup pleasing to my sensibilities (except for all the birds being out of reach even as they twitter at me maddeningly). You guys are so cool, and I barely ever have the urge to edit any of you!

Time for a nap. (It's ALWAYS time for a nap!)


--Gossamer the Editor Cat
Three Years Old, WOO!

Colin Smith said...

2Ns! How could I have forgotten!!

What many fail to realize is that the position of Chief Latrinetrician is a much coveted job here on Carkoon. It's a well-known fact that all the best ideas happen while seated upon the Great White Throne. In the silence of the chamber, with nothing else to contemplate but the movement of bowels and the passing of... time, great people have given birth to some of mankind's greatest inventions. After all, what is the wheel but a modified toilet seat? Not to mention the submarine, laxatives, and the synopsis.

I'm sure dear 2Ns that you fully appreciate the honor that is yours as you walk into these hallowed rooms of discovery, dense with the aroma of inspiration, and you prepare them for the next great mind coming to take a seat.

It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it. *sigh*

Megan V said...

Colin—you have the right of it. It's very much a game of "if I don't see it, it's not there." That way no one can claim that the author is giving up their right to pursue charges and it gives the author leeway to pick and choose where they'll enforce the copyright. Rowling is a perfect example of this. She has "ignored" the James Potter fan fiction series but regularly enforces her copyright where more smutty fanfics are involved.

Julie said...

Just glad not to be hemorrhaging. Truly.

Karen McCoy said...

Really bummed I missed the BEA conversation *hastily hides already bought BEA tickets beneath woodland possum pouch*

I didn't really expect anything writer-wise by going--and I'm still in the throes of revisions anyway. My hopes were to get an insight into the publishing profession, and find new authors to feature on my blog. Plus, books. All the books.

Dena Pawling said...

Yes Colin, sharks and lawyers, professional courtesy.

And DLM, happy bday to Gossamer! My youngest is 16 tomorrow and she wanted her ears pierced for her bday, so that's where we went yesterday. She's ecstatically happy. I'm sure Gossamer would not be as happy with a similar gift lol. Hope y'all had a great day.

Julie said...

About the FanFic - Sorry, but I have to disagree with Megan V (no offense intended, honestly), but as Paranoia Incarnate, (and as a Former Fan Fic... um... drat, there really is no good "F" author synonym, so I'll just settle for "Fish," as that is my "go-to" noun for The Reef), I've investigated this fairly extensively. (I've also pulled all of my FanFic stuff, so it's not out there for public consumption any more. George RR Martin made some very good points on the subject that ate at me until I had to pull it.)

But what I meant to say was this: each author has a tendency to have a personal "policy" on FanFic - at least the ones I've looked into.

i.e. - Gabaldon? Very Against
GRRM (George RR Martin)? - Very Against, but not on copyright grounds - he considers it creatively weak. I can't stand the idea that anything I write might be considered "creatively weak" on any grounds - so I pulled it all.
Anne Rice? - Was initially Very Against, but now considers it to be a means by which her stories are perpetuated, and while she doesn't actively encourage it, neither does she discourage it.
Writers of BBC's Sherlock? - Very Pro

It really depends, but one thing I've noticed is this: it is NOT ignored anymore. And this is not from a "looking for good authors" standpoint, but from a "volume of fans" standpoint (and there are other issues as well, but that's an entirely different thread).

And then there's one other thing which may or may not relate. I started writing FanFic in the hopes that it would translate to an actual, useful, readership platform for my "real" stuff. Now, one can argue about whether that is actually happening or not - but I'll say this: it is FAR more encouraging than most writers' circles that are primarily aimed at writers whose goal is publication, not practice or writing for free entertainment (or whatever). And this *can* be good - but it can also be very misleading, and for me personally, the break is a good thing. Starting in FF helped me learn to pound out stories for people who wanted to reading them - but quitting has helped me focus on the stories *I* want to write.

Regardless, thirty thousand Archive of Our Own readers in a month does not translate to much - at least in terms of platform.

Sorry - tangent.

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

Amy Schaefer said...

To dive immediately off topic, shark attacks aren't nearly as common as people fear. For my part, I am far more frightened of salt water crocodiles. Brrrr. Thankfully, they don't hang around in our corner of Paradise, or I wouldn't set one dainty toe on the beach.

However. If you do want to see a great white shark attack, up close and personal, I highly recommend the video that Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has posted of their REMUS SharkCam. They used the underwater vehicle to take footage of great whites in Mexico, and, man, did it deliver. (To clarify: the sharks attacked the camera. This is a blood-free attack video - the best kind.)

Colin Smith said...

Julia: An interesting aspect of fan fiction is the fact that some of the writers of the current Doctor Who TV series got their start writing Doctor Who fan fiction for fan-produced magazines. Take Paul Cornell, for example. He was a Who fan in the 70s who wrote some fan fic for a magazine. When Doctor Who went off the air and Virgin books were looking for authors to write original Doctor Who, Paul was one of their first choices based on the quality of his fan work. He was then employed by BBC Books to write for their range of Doctor Who novels when they re-claimed the license from Virgin. Then, when the show came back to television, Paul was among the first to be asked to write for the the re-boot. Indeed, he turned one of his Virgin novels into a two-part story for the TV series. Paul has also gone on to write his own original fiction.

That's a testimony of what fan fiction writing can lead to. HOWEVER, Paul Cornell didn't set out to become a published writer via fan fiction. He wrote fan fiction because he loved writing and loved Doctor Who. It turned out his writing was good enough to get noticed. We might be tempted to use stories like this as a blue-print for our own careers, but that would not be wise. There's nothing wrong with fan fiction, and writing fan fiction can lead to good things. It's certainly an excellent way to hone your craft, and discover what works and what doesn't in terms of story-telling. But don't think it's an easy way to build a devoted fan-base for your original fiction. It rarely works that way.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about fan fiction. An author should be flattered that fans want to write characters from their world. On the other hand, I have seen too much stuff where the characters and worlds are used as foundations for some really disgusting stuff.

Diana Gabaldon makes no bones about not wanting people to use her writing for fan fiction. Some people rant about it, but it's her right.

World of Warcraft encourages fan art and fiction, but there's a little clause in the EULA that says everything belongs to them. I imagine most online games have the same clause.

So, write to your heart's content, but be aware of the rules regarding someone else's characters.

I have too much stuff rattling around in my fevered brain to do much fan fiction.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Beautifully written Week in Reveiw. The WIR is my Sunday elixir. After trying to concetrate for ten un-interrupted minutes on a Sunday I save it 'till things calm down and I relish.

The last few weeks here have spinned my head. More than ever I realize finding a good agent is utterly important, because what Janet says "Publishing is a team sport."

When I returned to QOTKU's blog after a year's hiatus I was a bit put off by the acronyms but hung in there to wait until I understood. Many of the terms and acronyms came out as I read the comments by the regular commenters (or vommenters) who dwell here. I've laughed more here and learned so much. Feeling a bit maudlin today. (yes I do adhere to the word of the day: Dictionary dot com)

I remember wondering, how can I ask Janet a question. How does one get a question answered by the Queen of the Reef? Finally I wrote her an email, to her FinePrint Lit email. My heart jumped when she wrote back. I did say in the email heading: Question for your blog.

Megan V said...


No offense taken :) You are absolutely correct in that most authors have a personal policy towards fan fiction! I want to make a clarification though. In my response to Colin earlier I was referring more to authors who approve of or at least are indifferent to fan-fiction. This seems to be the majority of authors. Nevertheless, there are, as you mentioned, authors who discourage and disapprove of fan fiction. These authors refuse to ignore the existence of such fan-fiction, even though they don't generally read it. They also make their personal policy plain, telling their readership "do not write fan-fic." Nevertheless, authors from both categories- the "yes" and "no" camps—typically do not seek legal recourse or send out slews of cease and desist letters (though it is well within their rights). There are exceptions, of course, Anne Rice among them.

Julie said...

Colin - Don't get me wrong; I loved writing it and I tried to write quality stuff. I also think there is some good material out there.

But Martin's point was this, and there's no getting around it - he's right.

FanFic is fiction built upon a framework that someone else has created, utilizing a world that someone else envisioned. And say what else you will, at a certain level, it's lazy.

Now, that's a harsh word, and it's Martin's - but he's right. If one really wants to create, then one needs to create. If one wants to practice writing quickly or one is simply a fan taking a pre-existing story in a different direction, then, fine; but one can't simultaneously pretend that they're doing completely creative stuff.

And it was for this reason precisely that I - well - moved on, though I got a few irritated emails when I did. I wanted my writing time to be spent on things that came (bearing in mind the "all stories come from all stories in the aether" conversation of last week) as much as possible from my own mind.

Granted, there are 50 Shades of Fanfic that do emerge and do well, and now that Sherlock is public domain, I'm certain that some of that will come forth - indeed, it's already showing up on the shelves. But I don't want anyone reading ANGYLAIDD and thinking, "Good grief, this reads an awful lot like a certain vampire series in the Pacific Northwest," which is one reason, I suspect, that Her Toothiness suggests (encourages, urges, begs) us to KNOW what's out there in our genres before putting our babies forth.

There's my two pounds' worth.


KariV said...

Ah New York!!! I went once, then went back, and yet it still remains on my bucket list: Entry 27 - Go back to New York.

Missed some posts and most of the comments this week due to "life happens," so I loved catching up with the WIR.

Happy Birthday, Pretty Kitty! (@Gossamer, not Kitty, because that could be considered weird and stalker-ish)

Late to jump on the bandwagon, but I'm also miffed my reCAPTCHA only requires me to check a box to prove I'm not a robot. Maybe I have to try a different platform.

Anonymous said...


Honestly, I would be pissed if I saw someone touting their anime with my MC as a child dominatrix in their S&M dungeon fanfic. I can see why some people don't like it.

I play WoW or did when I had time, and people talked about different fanfic based on various well known books that is truly vile.

I realize some of it is good and is meant as a compliment, but where does it end?

Colin Smith said...

While we're on the topic of not any particular topic...

Julia--do you want to be added to Carkoon's Most Wanted (AKA, the List of blog readers and their blogs)? I was going to just add you, but I thought I'd be polite and ask first. :) I don't think you're on there... I could be wrong.

Megan V said...

Julie M. Weathers,

Even authors who do approve of fan-fic have their limits. And that's why they tend to play that pick and choose game. Fortunately for all of us with a tangible expression of our ideas, Fan-Fic is generally viewed copyright infringement (as I mentioned earlier) and so, as an author, you'd have every right to tell them to back away from your characters, slowly, and you won't send the lawyer-sharks after them. *again this is not to be taken as legal advice, just sheer dumb vommentary*

Unknown said...

I must have missed the comment about going to BEA and giving publishers and agents chocolate and stuffed animals! Yikes! Publishers haul all sorts of tote bags and ARCs and other promotional stuff to BEA and they do not want to haul any stuff home with them, except orders for books.

Booksellers and librarians, on the other hand, do not mind hauling stuffed animals home.

The Cliff's Notes booth used to give away a different animal every year with yellow and black stripes. I have posted a picture of my collection of them on my blog:

Julie said...

Colin - As Rick Moranis said in Ghostbusters, "Yes, have some." ( - To wit, "I don't know, do I want to have my name and info there? Probably. So, yes. I'll 'have some'."

Pinterest - which now has a simply luscious 4 pins, probably not worth bothering - is Angylaidd. Shocking, I know, but it is the title of the series, so there you go. I'll have to get an entirely new handle if I actually put the Kennedy mysteries out there, but that's not today's issue.

To keep you from having to weed, it's:
Julia Hoover
Twitter: @Angylaidd1


Angel Fish

DLM said...

Dena, sitting here picturing Goss with a nice pair of CLIP earrings. :)

This is another one of those times I'm glad I write in a boring old genre little known to inspire fanfic. Then again, the complete one isn't sellable, so perhaps smugness is misplaced ...

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

The Post of Blog Linking™ for some reason wouldn't actually let me do so successfully; I tried a couple times (which I"m sure didn't help) and then gave up. It's the only time I've had trouble.

My "writing blog" (I'm talking about D&D all this month) is Authorized Musings (

additionally, I do blog about Elka (far more sporadically of late) at

I'll tell Elka she was discussed here, I'm sure she'll be mighty impressed (well, she'll stare at me and try to glean meaning from the words she knows); she is very food motivated, which has coupled with her intelligence to make training her very fun indeed. "Testify" a trick which came from the poor formation of another one, she throws left paw up in the air like people testifyin' to the Lord at a tent revival (so I mean no offense, I assure you). She does it on cue (typically I ask if she loves Jesus), and will also offer it if she really wants the food you have.

Sam Hawke said...

I'm bookmarking this WIR for reference for when I one day make it to New York! Thanks for the tips QOTKU!

Anonymous said...

I must say, the wifi in my new cave accommodations is spotty at best... Colin, when will that lifelong mansion you commissioned to be built be done? Will there be room for a cat? Or is this truly a microhome?

I agree with 2n's! I'm honored to be mentioned in the glossary of terms (if only for my own arrogance in questioning the great QOTKU!) I'm nothing if not bold. ;)

Thank you Janet for answering my question about rights! Copyright law is such a beast, and your clarification helps a great deal!

In regards to fan-fiction - Building a platform always wins, so long as the platform is open to new ideas. Therein lies the general problem with fan fiction. You use a platform someone else created (and their ravenous readership) to establish a name for yourself, only you hope that those readers will somehow carry over as fans... only in many cases they don't. Sort of like selling knock-off Nike's and then developing your own shoes.

In Colin's reference, it worked because Paul Cornell became a producer of work not considered fan fiction, but a part of the actual series. In E.L. James, it worked because her work was just barely different enough to sell billions of copies and essentially create a readership. But again our friend Colin brilliantly identifies the one thing we woodland creatures occasionally miss -

"HOWEVER, Paul Cornell didn't set out to become a published writer via fan fiction. He wrote fan fiction because he loved writing and loved Doctor Who."

Therein lies the true brilliance. Somehow, our culture really thrives on things that aren't some bait and switch, but are generally honest expressions by passionate humans. John Green is another one we've mentioned before. His video series with his brother wasn't a marketing tool. It was just him. He wanted to do it. He did it. People liked it.

We should write things we want to write. Because we think they're cool and interesting and because we enjoy them. And if we're honest enough and open enough and if that bleeds through the writing and into the brain of the reader, they notice. They fall in love with it too.

Money, power, getting an agent (even the Queen Shark) isn't a good enough reason to write a book.

Wow. Sorry for the vomment. Rant over. ;)

Happy Sunday everyone! Great WIR Janet!

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Your name is now forever engraved on the list of commenters!

Jennifer R. Donohue: I've added you, too. Sorry I didn't ask--I was sure you were already on the list! Thanks for providing the info.

Anyone else need to be included? Lurkers are welcome too, though once we know where you live, you may find yourself being called out and, well, you may have to comment!! ;)

Colin Smith said...

I notice the word "vomment" isn't in the glossary, and should probably be included.

How do we want to define the term? It originated as Diane's wonderful typo, on a day she also happened to be sick! However, how are people using the word? Is it just another word for a comment, or, as brian just used it, does it refer to a particularly long comment, or a ranty-type comment?

What's the verdict of the lexicographers in the Shark Tank?

Gingermollymarilyn said...

Great topics discussed this week. Thanks, Janet. Also grateful for your virtual tour of New York (hope I can find this list when I hopefully one day need it). And speaking of woodland creatures, the other night four bears walked by my outside patio, one after the other, not 20 feet from where I was in my living room!

Colin Smith said...

Ginger: Papa Bear, Momma Bear, Baby Bear, and Goldilocks in disguise. :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

No need to apologize, Colin! It's a cool opportunity to have, to be on a blog roll here, but I wasn't gonna cry if it didn't work out.

Fan fiction of those things. I mean, people are inspired and writing, so that's great and never something I want to denigrate.'s not really yours, is it? I mean, depending. There is that "allowable fan fiction" stuff that Amazon has nowadays, and I guess you could always in edits and rewrites change enough of it that it's entirely new.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

@ Colin - With my curly hair (this week) I'm probably the Goldilocks, and the three bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Teenager Bear. Even bears have to deal with teenagers, God help us all!

Julie said...

@Jennifer - yeah, re: FanFic, you're right, but it's a bit like this, isn't it - if I build a house over the one in which I currently live, and then pull down the original structure, and then have some of those house movers come and pick up the new structure and plop it down someplace entirely different... in the end, can I take credit for designing the house? I definitely put work into it; I can definitely enjoy living in it; and it can definitely fit harmoniously and aesthetically within its environment. But the fact remains that it was built over the scaffolding of someone else's original work, and *for ME* (a point which I will, probably rather annoyingly for a lot of people, but I emphasize because I work within my own skin and dysfunctions and try not to impose them on others), that's not okay - at least, not for my writing.

Now, two years ago, FanFic was precisely what I needed - it met a need. And, honestly, if it brings creative people into writing, then grand. We need good stories well told in unique and interesting ways. But I found Martin's arguments compelling, and they spelled the ending of my time on FF & AO3. That, and I could no longer tolerate the smut I was spinning in the name of pleasing the masses. (Woodland Reef Grin)

Tetrodotox In A Fish

Christina Seine said...

Wow, what a great WIR! And Janet, thank you so much for the bitingly awesome Sharke's Guide to NYC! I can't wait! As soon as I can get on our computer (read: tomorrow, when hubby is back at work) I am going to cut and paste those to Pinterest.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin @2:45, your poetic license astounds me. Woo-poopdey-do.

Donnaeve said...

I will admit, I've not read most of the comments. Colin - you didn't bring me up, unless my one beer quota has blurred my vision temporarily.

I will say, if there's a vote for a word to be added to the glossary Ms. Janet has kindly intro'ed to her blog page, I vote for "vomment," to be added too.

GREAT WIR! Oh. We should add that to the gloss. Week In Review. WIR. Or is that being paranoid?

Twitch, twitch, goes the little woodland creature. Sheesh. I got the soups.

Lance said...

Fun-filled Week In Review, but getting mentioned in it seriously endangers my lurker status, so I'm off to that 'possum den in the old beech tree.

Julie said...

Typical. I can't even be concise on the blog listing.

Karenia brevis

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Also, imagine my mortification when, upon coming back to read comments, I realize Janet paid me a very nice compliment which I blithely brushed aside to babble more about my dog. Sigh.

Thank you, Janet. I'd like to think have better manners than that!

AJ Blythe said...

Well, y'all say how wonderful it is to have WiR to read on Sunday. Not wanting to rub your noses in it, but I get to read it to kick start my Monday! Nothing better to make me happy about the working week than to switch on my machine and read this =)

I thought I'd read everything this week, but JR proved me wrong as I don't remember half the comments in her post. I do, however, remember my post (made the WiR again, feeling special).

Question for Janet... I'm writing cozies so when I saw the announcement of Best First Novel (Agatha Awards) I bought it. I figure it must be a good example of where to set the bar for a debut, yes/no? In your exalted position as QOTKU would you recommend this as a strategy? Or is just reading widely in genre enough?

I have heard horror stories about authors who've published 'too early' (and it's been discussed here recently). Surely an agent would help decide that?

Although I've read debut novels all pub'd with same publisher and with scarily large differences in quality. I'm not buying the second book of those that weren't as good, but have noted when the next will be released by the others - so it does affect my buying choices.

Okay, have revealed enough of my paranoia. Will quietly slink back to my query letter writing (the stuff nightmares are made of).

AJ Blythe said...

Confirmed my lack of robotic parts with a tick. Then published comment. Error message on screen said recaptcha failed. Comment screen blank. "Nooooooo, my comment has been eaten by recaptcha. It must be how it is getting all that weird sushi, right?"

No. It published my comment anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Janet. That's a very nice compliment.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I vote for vomment as well.

It's a hard word to define.

Like someone said here not long ago, there's a fine line between funny and stupid.

Vomment: that which balances on the fine line between literary expression and OMG-did-I-really-just-say-that? Yup.

Vomment: A spit it out and hit enter comment.

Vomment: A projectile comment, once expressed, makes you feel better momentarily but leaves behind the lingering air of nincompoop.

These definitions are fine examples of vomments.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Finally, internet access and it's not too late at night so I should be somewhat intelligible yet.

Thank you for the mention Janet. A team sport, eh. What kind of team sport happens with a shark?

Yes, I vote for vomment. I like 2Ns take on it, all 3 of them.

Colin Smith said...

I also vote for 2Ns definition(s) of vomment. Couldn't have put it any better.

And have we really passed the 50 comment point without any LynnRodz mention of Donnaeve? Wow... I must be slipping. ;)

Unknown said...

Thrilled to be mentioned in WIR! Great start to the new week.

Susan Bonifant said...

Well, thank you for the mention here and for making it so comfortable to speak up.

And, I really appreciate seeing the highlighted posts that can be missed in the busy threads, but I REALLY like the way Janet circles back to the questions that are asked along the way.

Much appreciated, always.

E.Maree said...

This woodland creature isn't usually a fan of New York (London's too much for my country heart, and I hear New York is even!! bigger!!!), but wow, the way you describe it makes me want to go there.