Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Query pitfall: I know what that means, thanks

Recently, I've  received several queries that "helpfully" define words for me.

This is a bad tactic.

Don't employ it.

If you use a word I don't understand, I'll look it up.  I like meeting new words. I particularly like meeting new words that light up a sentence.

Two recent examples:

Lexan: bulletproof glass

bycatch: what's caught in a fishing net that's not being fished for

Some of my clients are so deft with words that even when I think they've made a mistake, I look it up before slashing with my red pen.

And I love made up words too.  If I look a word up, and it's not there, I go back to the sentence to see if I can make sense of it from context.

Telling me what a word means (particularly a plain old ordinary word that's already in my word hoard) does two things:

1. it annoys me because it insults my intelligence.  You think I don't know that word? Here let me bop you on the head with my annotated edition of Ulysses.

2. it takes up valuable real estate in your query letter. You have 250 words max. You spend 10 of them telling me something obvious, and you're wasting resources.

Other things that waste query space:
1. Telling me your title is a "working title" and listing other choices. I don't care. Call it anything up to and including "My next bestseller" and if it sounds enticing, I'll read it.

2. Telling me your elaborate plans to promote the novel. I assume anyone will be willing to promote their book, but we'll have that conversation at a later date.

3. Telling me your critique group/beta readers/paid editor love the book. That's all well and good, but I don't care. My opinion is the only one that matters.  If I don't like it, God Herself could have a different opinion and I still wouldn't take it on.

A good query is very simple. That means it's Very Hard to Write. Part of getting to simple is learning what to leave out. Definitions are on the list. Know what I mean?


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Up, because her body is accustomed to rising early, showered, dressed, her finger poised above the enter key. It is her aim, on this middle of the week day off, to be first.
Clever girl, the poster. Old time subverted, new time leaving commenter as first averted.
So she soldiers on until this unimportant momentous duty, this award among the syllables, this first of many mundane tasks of her day, is accomplished. But is it mundane? No it is not.
This mission to be first is not meant to snub OP or lessen the significance of the question. It is as important as being first picked for dodgeball, first to dance at the prom, first to be kissed and loved. Is it really that important? No, it is not but...
It is fun, to play the game. Fun to step forward, fun to rise early and attain some form of first on any other day than January 1st.
First or not to be first. First is the question. Tis it be nobler to be - wait a minute wait a minute. Oh, that’s what she’s been doing. Waiting for the new time, the new minute, the new instant to hit,
Was she or was she not first?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

She was.

Sam Hawke said...

I am finding it hard even picturing how you'd put a definition into a query! Like, in parentheses after you use the word? In a footnote? Who would do this and how can it possibly be common enough to be a trend?

french sojourn said...

2Ns; your didactic use of "first" had an implied duality to it. Nicely done, however comma, it's herculieanability and intent was laudible in its pronunciation.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Years ago I was a stained glass window designer and builder. I have cut, ground, copper foiled or leaded and soldered a bazillion pieces of glass. Band-Aids were my friend. The big windows, the ones above the alter and the smaller, like those on doors, we always protected with Lexan.
Great stuff Lexan.
Saves a stained glass window from bullets and confused birds looking to perch on a tree branch unknowingly flat and made of glass.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

2Ns, how'd you do that? I thought I was going to be first, but figured I better refresh after I finished reading. And there you were.

Getting to simple. And don't insult the Shark's intelligence. Or the reader's intelligence. It is amazing how wonderful something sounds in my head and then when I put it down on paper/computer screen, it looks and sounds off. So I have to work and re-work it, vise and re-vise it.

Should I assume that annotated edition of Ulysses is the almost 700 pages of the Gabler edition?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Frenchy, smartass. Is that didactic enough for ya :)

Love it.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

And there's Sam already too before I finish writing.

Lexan-also good not just for bullet-proofing but shatter proofing, such as a shower glass door when a 3-year-old child falls through that didn't have it and ended up in the emergency room with a huge cut on her arm. Thankfully, her Momma is a nurse.

french sojourn said...


Unknown said...

My sister's aim in life is to ensure I am properly educated. She corrects every word in every email I've ever written. My spelling, punctuation, grammar, pronunciation when we speak on the phone, I'm always wrong about something. I can't fart without her telling me I'm doing it incorrectly. No, that's not true. I don't believe she permits herself to fart.


Sorry. Had to get that off my chest.

Laura Mary said...

This reminds me of when my mum first learnt to text - she'd end messages with 'Lol (lol stands for lots of love by the way) Mum'

Just write lots of love then!!!!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Amanda, you mean you fart from your chest? hahahaha
Face to face conversation with you must be very olfactorious.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I never know what people do and don't know. I default to "they probably know", trotting out my most obscure esoteria with nary a thought. Then my coworker's face will twist and she'll say "Why do you know that?" or "What is wrong with you (as two examples). So then I get paranoid that nobody knows what I'm talking about ever and sometimes tip into condescension while simply trying to be accomodating. It's a tough life.

I also occasionally must be reminded that jokes are for other people. Last night's example I don't remember (because there was a "last night's example"), or is unrepeatable in this space.....but the previous guys know who "Candu" was, right? (Kandu, apparently. Because for once I'm not talking about nuclear reactors). I can't possibly be the only one left (I also sometimes get "no, Jen, nobody knows that.")

In this crowd, though, I definitely assume people Know Things™. Especially the individual I'm querying, geeze.

Kitty said...

15 obsolete words we should still be using

I think crapulous is my favorite, but slugabed runs a close second.

S.P. Bowers said...

My mom used to correct the grammar and spelling of notes sent home from the school and teacher. These were printed notes that someone had obviously taken time to do, rather than a teacher dashing something off. She would use red pen, then make us take it back to our teacher. She always said if they were teaching us they needed to know what they were doing. She may have been right but as a third grader it was mortifying.

Colin Smith said...

Jennifer: Candu? Isn't that the right kind of attitude for writing? :) Or the write kind of attitude for righting--which is something Amanda's sister appears to enjoy.

I don't know that I've given this much thought. I assume literary agents are well-read and, therefore, have quite expansive vocabularies. This is another advantage to agents having blogs where they can demonstrate their voluminous verbal range. On the other hand, I've known people who read a lot, but don't have a wide vocabulary. Perhaps they skip those words, or tend not to read books that use them? Anyway, I prefer to assume people are smart until they demonstrate otherwise. :)

Janet's main point here, though, is golden, and one I took to heart a long time ago: You only have 250 words to sell your book to the agent. Make each one count!

LynnRodz said...

Lisa, where you went wrong is you actually read what Janet wrote before commenting. 2Ns sent a pre-written comment as soon as the post went up.

Seriously 2Ns, your comment made me laugh, but you definitely need to get a life. LOL! (Laura, I believe 'Lol' stands for laugh out loud.)

"A good query is very simple. That means it's Very Hard to Write." Tell me about it. Mine was so simple and very hard to write it became a bad query because of its simplicity. *sigh*

No revising, no query writing, and no editing for me this afternoon. I'm off on my scooter to go meet friends at a sidewalk café for drinks, laughter, and good conversation. That too is part of writing: observing people, listening to snippets of conversations, and just plain clearing your head.

Colin Smith said...

And I just want to note: there were already 15 comments posted before I posted mine--and it's not even 9 am Eastern! :)

Anonymous said...

I have two bits that have thrown readers off:

Callahan had settled into war easily. It was as if something he had waited for all his life had finally arrived, wide-eyed and faunching at the bit to be off on the grand adventure.


Jim had choused me to the house many times over the years when I had slipped out during the night.

I wouldn't use the words in a query because if someone stops at the first definition they find they may not find the definition I am using. I'm not sure I'm going to change them in the book, though.

An agent doing ten queries a couple of says ago said one person had used to many big words it looked like they'd looked up every word in the thesaurus in an effort to look intelligent. Some people just like to give fifty cent answers to a nickel question and it doesn't make them look as smart as they think it does.

Anonymous said...

2NNs you nearly owed me a new laptop; and yes, that is tea-splatter on my screen. It happens when I snort-laugh while drinking tea and spurt said tea from my nose. Twice.

I also love made-up words- it's something one of my beta readers always pulls me up on and the other delights in.

I'm currently delighting in 'olfactorious' so thanks for that as well, 2NNs! :D

DeadSpiderEye said...

Is it OK to admit, that occasionally I include in-line definitions to remind myself what the word means?

Anonymous said...

Julie- I knew the second and could arrive at the meaning of the first by the context. Haven't come across someone else using 'choused' in ages! I've used it and haven't yet confused my beta readers, so maybe it gets used more in Australia/England? Not sure about America.

Donnaeve said...

How many cups of coffee have ya'll had? I would have had two by now except I just snorted half of cup two out of my nose reading Amanda's comment.

2N's - what's IN your coffee? :)

As to the post, yeah. This is another thing that also crawls up my craw. Having something pointed out to me when I already know it, and the assumption that I don't. I don't know why I get so annoyed, but I do. On another blog, I channeled Matthew McConaughey and typed in my comment as, "alright, alright, alright." I happen to know the spelling is all right. Some jackleg came along and replied, "All right."

It seems like a small thing, but it's rude. Can you imagine having a f2f conversation with someone and (like Amanda's sister) they correct every single thing you say? Another thing (while I'm on my soapbox) is when someone's talking, and they pause to find the right word, and someone else suggests words, or finishes the sentence "for them."

What appears to be helpful can actually shut down communication - OR - get you a form rejection. Ouch.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

LynnRodz, I gave up having a life in the summer of 1987.

With an infant and a toddler napping at the same time, for a little over an hour, I wrote while they slept. August '87 my first op-ed was published and I've been balancing on the see-saw of family vs. writing for decades. I love it, have fun with it and have cried more tears over writer's rejection than over being dateless on a Saturday night, way back when.
Now, with the chicks scattered from the straw-pile in the crook of the tree, I wait for moments like this morning, when I can shine for a millisecond. I figure I'm up and writing anyway, why not try. (That's what a no-lifers life is like).
Hey, I've posted way too much already, (where's Colin to pick up the slack)?
But fellow writers, today I am submitting a big, huge, gigantically important query, to a dream editor at a dream publication. Not a book, I don't do books - yet. Say a prayer to the word-Gods that I got this one "write".
Lynn, maybe I can find a life afterall :)

Anonymous said...


When we were younger, we lived with my aunt and grandparents quite a bit, but not nearly enough. My aunt would have me sit down and write letters to Mom and Dad who were divorced. I was about seven. Dad kept every letter, card, and drawing I ever sent him. When I cleaned out his house, I found them all in a lock box. Mother would correct every little mistake with her little red pen and mail it back to me. I'm sure she thought she was helping, but all I thought was, "Why doesn't Mom love me enough to keep my letters?"

The lessons didn't do much good because I just took them to the wood burning stove and tossed them in. To this day I detest edit with a red pen.

Donnaeve said...

Lynn..., hmmm, IDK. 2N's didn't comment until 7:30 and the post is usually up by 7:00. Somehow, I also think Laura knows LOL is laugh out loud, and her point was more about explaining what her mom thinks it is...which is adorable. I think Lots Of Love is a better use of LOL anyway.

Anonymous said...

I edit with bright green and bright pink pen, and thus avoid the dreaded red pen. It's hard to feel dismayed by edits that are so obnoxiously cheerful :D

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: This is my third post this morning! Waddaya mean, "Where's Colin"?? Clearly my posts are the verbal equivalent of the blood-stained lintel. :)

Anonymous said...


High Five! I was astounded when I got called out by an editor about faunched. It's just one of those words I assumed everyone knew and lo and behold everyone doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but that's half the FUN of new books! New words! What's the use of just sticking to the same old ones all the time??

It's flamin' boring, that's what.

People don't give other people enough credit for brains, I think.

Elissa M said...

I always assumed the language of a query is supposed to reflect the language of the book. Unless one is writing a dictionary, why would a query include definitions? My mind is boggled.

I also can't imagine editing a personal letter and sending it back, especially if the letter was from my child. Julie M., you have my sympathy (not that I think you need it).

Anonymous said...

Wow I'm with Donna. Just about lost my coffee at work, which made for a strange little save-the-computer-save-the-world dance that got everyone's attention in my office.

My lexicon is not particularly advanced and I tend to assume, even in my YA, that my readers are intelligent enough to figure my meaning without further exposition.

But assuming someone who reads as their job doesn't know a word? That's like telling a studio musician how to play a C#. You might as well insult their mother while you're busy questioning their intelligence.

In other news, I learned how to field dress a trout yesterday. My dad and I took the nephews out fishing at some trout farms, and my dad grew up like Daniel Boone, so it's always a pleasure to learn a new "skill" from him. Sort of like when you accidentally learn something from Bear Grylls when you flip past the nature channel and linger just long enough to absorb.

Donnaeve said...

Judder -a word I'd not heard of until I read it in ALICE CLOSE YOUR EYES by Averil Dean. I've seen it several times since. Funny how that happens.

Dena Pawling said...

My alarm wakes me up at 5am on weekdays. For those of you time-challenged folks out there who aren't on the left coast, that's 8am in NYC. If I am EVER the first comment here, you have my permission to shoot me.

Regarding today's topic, I think I'm a product of my “Plain English for Lawyers” class

Yes I had to read that book, several previous-editions ago.

Probably to the amusement and/or consternation of my CPs, I note every word in their ms that I have to look up. I do this for two reasons – (1) so I can learn new words, and (2) so they know if they might be throwing their reader out of the story.

Bycatch synonym - oopscatch

Half the books I read nowadays are audio and I'm in the car. I am NOT looking up a word I don't know, so if the author is trying to impress me, it didn't work. If I can't figure out what it means by context, then I ignore that sentence. If I can still understand the story, that's wonderful. If I can't, I stop reading.

There are already more than 30 comments here, so I've dodged another bullet and my life is safe for another day.

Donnaeve said...

Actually - geez, another comment I must make - faunch makes me want to use it in a way not intended. Why am I thinking faunch you? Get the faunch outta here? That's faunched up.

I like it.

My work here is done.

Anonymous said...

As to the LOL comment, I witnessed a version of this interesting exchange on Texts from Last Night -

Mom: I've got some bad news, honey.
Me: What is it???
Mom: Grandma just died. Lol.
Me: ...
Me: Mom, that's not funny at all. And what do you think lol means?
Mom: Lots of love?
Me: It means laugh out loud.
Mom: ...oh no... I've gotta make some calls...

Unknown said...

2N's, LOL (you can take that with either meaning), and yes, yes, I kind of do. All of me is noisy.

Donnaeve, you are SO right! And you're going to start me on another rant. What is wrong with silence? Why do people feel the need to fill a quiet moment with banalities? If I'm searching for a word, give me a minute, I'll get to it. Sometimes it's not the time I said self-defecating instead of self-deprecating, but it was close...and the other person knew what I meant.

Julie, your mother, I would hazard to guess, probably loved you to bits, but like my sister, the need to be right, even superior, was paramount to their self-confidence. I adore my sister, she has many wonderful qualities. Somewhere buried under that perfect facade.

Sure hope she doesn't read this blog.

Laura Mary said...

After being the one that brought it up, I have to say I'm not a fan of the 'lol'. Half the time it's used to soften a nasty remark, the rest of the time I just think are you? Are you really laughing out loud at this or is it just mildly amusing?
I prefer to hear details on how much tea has been snorted, that's a pretty good indicator of how funny things are!

Anonymous said...

I don't particularly like $50 words, but I like "defenestrate" and I have always wanted to find a place to use it gracefully. I'm more partial to words like "limn".

Two thoughts on language. I don't mind using less common words, but I am more in the Hemingway camp. My chore is not to educate the masses, it is to tell a good story. It's danged sure not to impress anyone with how intelligent I am. The reader should not even sense the author's presence.

William Faulkner, speaking of Ernest Hemingway: "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

And Hemingway’s response: "Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Donna, posts are coming up at 7:30 now, last two days anyway.
Colin, poor boy, I am sorry I missed you previous comments, I must have skimmed, I am unworthy.

Just one last thought about words.(Yeah right)

I have often found myself using words that sound correct and seem to fit perfectly with what I am trying to express. When I reread, as in edit out the crap and keep going, I will come across these words and not know what they mean. So I will look them up and wah-la, I have used them correctly.
Go figure.
How does my mind do that? It's almost like my mind remembers, records and recalls the word even though my brain doesn't have a clue what the dickens it means. Sort of like a horse's "muscle memory".
Julie you can correct me on this, but when my daughter rode she would talk about a horse's muscle memory as something the body knew without the mind having to consciously process it. Which means I basically have the brain power of a horse's ass.
Y'all have a nice day. I'm off to a wishin' and hopin'.

Donnaeve said...

Amanda - well. You did it again. (wipes coffee off counter.) Self-defecating/self-deprecating. SNORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laura - yes! I too find LOL inserted when someone is really wanting to be a smart*ss or sarcastic as a way of saying what they want and trying to soften it/or make their rudeness more palatable. I had a co-worker who used a lot of passive-aggressive techniques like that, except his LOL was actually a laugh - after he'd just insulted someone's input/work.

I will add, "we" also do this :)... and I'm just as guilty as the next by adding it.

Only I think "out here" we honestly DO NOT mean to be rude. We have to use these little self-made tools of social media to stand in for the actual facial expressions/mannerisms of real live f2f talking. A lot is lost in translation. And I know this when I've had to, at some point, come back and clarify/apologize for comments that struck a nerve or seemed "off" in some way.

Donnaeve said...

2N's - I guess Lynn was right then, you DO need to get a life! LOL! (see how that happened?)

Maybe you WILL find it with this next project. Good luck!

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Like I said, my comments are the blood-stained lintels. How you people ever thought I drove the comments here, I don't know. :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Lots of coffee snorts and tea snorts here this morning. And I'm making verbal comments and laughing all along as I read the comments then I get into this here little box to type my responses and snap. They're all gone.

But just know, I appreciate everybody's quick-wittedness here. You make my day.

french sojourn said...

Julie; I echo your thoughts on Autobiographies. I thought "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolfe" was a comedy compared to my Mother and stepfathers communication skills.

There by the grace of God, go I. But she was a good dancer and funny sometimes. (Talking about God.)

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and yes, I agree. Silence is not a bad thing. Pausing to find the right word and not feeling as if you have to fill the void with "um" or "well" or "right" or "so" or some second-best word that doesn't really fit the bill but somehow miscommunication is better than a moment's discomfort? I'll take pausing to find the right word.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, because you're smart and when you take an off ramp we follow you, because you know where the best pit-stops are.
I swear I'm outta here, Really.

Colin Smith said...

And speaking of "filler words"--you know? Talk about meaningless fillers! "You know" you know? If I'm telling you, then you DON'T know, so why am I saying "you know"? Perhaps I'm hoping my half-hearted attempt to communicate meaning will be forgiven, and I will credit you with some supernatural ability to discern what I'm trying to say without me having to actually use the correct words by just saying "You know"? "It was like, well, you know, big, you know? And, you know, it was like super scary you know?"

Whenever (and I mean WHENever, not IF ever) I use "you know" like that, something inside me dies.

Laura Mary said...

2Ns - If you'd like a more flattering comparison, dancers have very good muscle memory. I swear my feet know more than my brain half the time!

Craig F said...

Damn, I thought overpressure adit would be too much for a query. So I am in the process of changing RESCUING FROST from Amanda's parents dying in a car wreck and an attempted kidnapping attempt at her work. Her work is at CERN by the way.

Now it will be a picnic murder scene. That gives more options for the seventeen year old girl to have run though.

Donnaeve said...

Colin, I call those (not that I should receive original credit) verbal tics. There seem to be a LOT of them nowadays scattered about in our speech. I read somewhere they stem from the brain searching for the right word, and because everyone's so impatient nowadays, we feel the need to "fill" in with "you know," and "like" so we can find the right word, and not have someone else butt in. And yet, they do.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

You've embiggened us all with this perfectly cromulent blog post, Ms. Reid.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: I fear you are correct. This is one of the reasons I prefer text and email over the telephone. When I write, I can take the time to compose my words and use the ones I really mean to use. On the phone, I feel compelled to say *something* or it'll be:

ME: It was an amazing experience. It was like--[Pause while I search for an appropriate simile]

PERSON: Wow. Cool. OK, well, I'll see you later. Things to do, you know. [Hangs up]

Theresa said...

When I saw Donna's comment about the word judder, it made me wonder if there is some kind of cycle for fashionable words. Judder is one that I come across quite often. A few years ago, it seemed like every story had a hasp in it. Or maybe it is that some words just stick in our minds.

In terms of book titles, there are an awful lot of Empires out there lately.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: And what you said about using filler words to hold the conversation and not let others butt in--yes! It's like a rugby match, with one person holding on to the ball and doing whatever he can to maintain his grip, while everyone else is jumping, punching, and grabbing to gain possession. But that's when conversation is less about listening and learning and more about me trying to get you to hear my point and if I give you a moment to talk it's only so I can have a moment to think of what to say next. I stand guilty of treating conversations like that, and I hate it. HATE IT with an undying passion. Such an abuse of people's time, and a disrespect for their opinions and perspectives.

Megan V said...


When I was a kid, I regularly inserted 'you know' into the conversations I was having. 'You know what I'm saying" was even more prolific. It was the only way I could get a word in edgewise and keep it! That said, my mother corrected me every single time the dreaded 'you know' appeared. She'd cut me off with a jocular, "no Megan, I don't know what you're going to say, but if you keep on saying 'you know' I'll ground you from speaking for a week."

Back to the OP though. It's hard to believe that someone would define words in the query. I vote bopping them on the head with a copy of the combined LOTR trilogy with appendices.

Anonymous said...

One thing I've learned is, if you don't think the listener or reader will know the word, use another word. There's always another word. If the word is something very specific, use something more general. This is English. We've stolen words from many languages so we've got lots and lots of synonyms to choose from.

I know that literary agents have extensive vocabularies. But in any kind of writing (except possibly academic, technical, or how-to) if you feel you need to explain a word, don't. Just use a plainer one. Or simply assume your reader will understand.

Because unless you're teaching someone something, when you define a word without being asked to, you come off sounding as though you think you're smarter than the other person. And that other person is going to feel insulted.

You don't want to insult an agent. Or anyone, really. Definitely not anyone you want to work with.

I try to save my corrections for detailed critiques and editing. As for suggesting words when someone is pausing... sometimes I appreciate that. When I'm stressed, my vocabulary fails. I know what word I'm trying to say, and I can usually remember what it starts with, but sometimes my mind balks. Wrong suggestions are frustrating - more because I still can't remember the right word - but I do appreciate the right suggestion.

My Dad had a stroke a few years ago, and sometimes he has the worst time trying to find the right word. I usually wait a few moments, but if he seems like he's about to give up, I'll try to help.

Colin: Candu is a Canadian company specializing in nuclear energy. I did a quick search for 'kandu', but found so many things, I didn't know what Jennifer meant. (Sorry, Jennifer)

Dena: I took a 'plain language' course through work a few decades ago. All regular employees had to take it, but managers could opt out. Too bad it was the managers who needed the class the most.

Laura: I'm not a fan of LOL, either, but if I use it, you know I'm laughing out loud. And I probably just scared the dog out from under my chair.

2NNs: 'muscle memory', or kinetic memory, is as human as it is animal. It's how we can touch-type without thinking about where to put our fingers. It's how a musician can play an instrument without thinking 'okay, that note is this fingering, and that cord is that fingering'.

Donna: My virtual keyboard on my tablet has a :-) key right beside the colon key. I use it like punctuation, I'm afraid. But honestly. I really do smile a lot. And I only use it when I really am smiling.

Laura Mary said...

My 5 yr old has just started doing that! Starting every conversation with 'You know...' I tell her 'no I don't know, Molly, because you haven't told me yet.'
I then feel bad as she frowns at me in confusion for a moment, before starting again 'You know...'

Anonymous said...

Holy cow. Did I miss a lot of comments when I was posting that last message.

But I have to get going. I somehow got myself into volunteering to host a public reading outdoors today, and I just know I'm going to fall flat on my face. Here's hoping they don't expect a lot of entertaining! (I thought I only had to read from something into a microphone. That I can do. I sure hope I thought right.)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Man, we are SLAMMED at the library today. Dunno what that's about.

But. I thinking about specific vocabulary, be it esoteric or antiquated or industry specific, I started thinking about voice. And when I started thinking about voice, I started thinking about dialect. And slang. And jargon (and emojis)

If I were to write a query letter that was voicey per my second most recent Shadowrun character (who I do feel I could write a book about, if only the Shadowrun people would have me [I think that publisher is owned by Topp now, which I thought sold baseball cards? The times they've been a-changin]). But, that gaming group meets once a week for an in-person game session, and in between games used Facebook and Google Hangouts for in character communication, transmission of world information, etc. etc. There was more than one time I'd reply, and my runner compatriots (chummers, in the lingo), would be like "....I have no idea what you just said." ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Also, found an interesting link as pertains to our Watt Pad discussion last week. Apparently Harlequin is having some kind of "write your romance masterpiece on Watt Pad and maybe you'll get a 2 book deal" thing: Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write Contest

Kandu was a killer whale in one of the Sea Worlds (not sure if Florida or California) who died in 1989.

Colin Smith said...

I knew someone who referred to Sea World as "Whale Jail." I don't think he was a fan... :)

Laura Mary said...

I feel I should leave a comment somewhat on topic – bjmuntain nailed it: if you don't think the listener or reader will know the word, use another word.
Alternatively, channel you inner Lemony Snicket…
“Composer” is a word which here means “a person who sits in a room, muttering and humming and figuring out what notes the orchestra is going to play.” This is called composing. But last night, the Composer was not muttering. He was not humming. He was not moving, or even breathing.
This is called decomposing.”

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, I am so the person who jumps into the conversation when the other person pauses, to take a breath, think of a word, sip, burp or check their pulse. I do this because what I have to say is more important. I hog all the conversations because I am smarter, more interesting and funnier than anybody else. I'm better looking and more humble too. I just love my "all about me" life.

Oh wait, why am I alone here on Carkoon, with my soured Pina Colada straight up. I am the one and only on this atoll with the A-bomb debris rusting in the shallows of the test ground. Surrounded by the plastic waste of the world my work is cut out for me.

Picks up rake, shovel and sifter. I am off to change the world.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Ah, but there's the rub: you ARE smarter, more interesting and funnier--than me, anyway. You can hog all my conversations. :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Nowadays, I'm certainly not a Sea World fan. It makes me very, very sad (especially since most of what I actually implement my psychology degree for is animal learning [read: training my dog]). In 1989, though, I don't think the phrase "animal welfare" was in my vocabulary.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ah Colin, if you were only single and I not old enough to be your children's grandmother.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, as of this comment, out of 66, you and I have commented 20 times. I don't know if I should be proud or embarrassed.
If Janet doesn't yell at us Donna will and if Donna doesn't then BJ will, or Julie, Frenchy or Dena or...oh the heck with it. I'm on pause. It's lunch time.

Christina Seine said...

I had a feeling the comments on this one were gonna be good, but you guys blew it out of the park today! Fortunately, I’d preemptively moved my Diet Mountain Dew away from the computer screen.

Carolynn – your first comment was so brilliant, I read it twice. GOOD LUCK with your dream query today!! Crossing fingers for you!

Laura Mary – I wish I had an inner Lemony Snicket. I think mine is more of a Jiminy Cricket. At least I did notice that Netflix is going to run a series of “Unfortunate Events” (see what I did there?), and the trailer looks awesome.

JulieW: “Good thing defenestrate, otherwise dem ponies might get out.” You’re welcome.

Anyone with military folks in their family knows they adore an overabundance of acronyms in their vocabulary. Some of them have even found their way into the common vernacular. Apparently not as much as I’d thought, though. Case in point: FUBAR construction company in my town. Yep, that’s their real name. I hope they don’t live up to it.

And don’t even get me started on filler words. Now, I grew up in SoCal in the 1980s, so it was LIKE everything. Like, totally. There’s a 12 step program for that now. Strangely, I know lots of young girls who grew up in the back woods of Alaska, Washington and other states who all somehow inherited the Valley Girl accent. I swear, it wasn’t from me. But everything is like, totally, ohmigawd. WTH?

And literally. Everything is *literally* now. NO IT IS NOT. It is literally not. Literally means … like, literally. That’s a definition I’d like to see plastered on billboards everywhere. Y’know?

Colin Smith said...

Christina: I believe the "official" dictionaries (Oxford, Websters...) now include "figuratively" as a definition of "literally." I pity people trying to learn English! :)

Donnaeve said...

Just when I thought I was done.

I said I'd be commenting my pants off this week and today is apparently the day. Don't worry. I am NOT commenting SANS pants.

Sea World - Free Willy! (couldn't resist) I am not a big fan of that whole set up and I'm also not a fan of circuses with performing elephants, tigers, etc. These wild animals are not here for our entertainment people! Educational purposes? Pfffft! Save up and go to Africa/India or wherever and see them in their natural habitat if you must see them.

*I can see Ms. Janet stating "how in the hell did we get off onto Sea World" in the WIR.

2N's - shoot, I never yell. Only when panicked. Like I did with Little Dog a few weeks ago. Shudder. Or should I use judder. Thinking. Thinking.

(now I have to stop b/c someone else is "talking" over me)

Dena Pawling said...

Don't worry Carolynn, Colin, whoever else. I will NOT be a person mentioning ANYTHING about number of comments. Go for it. This will be my #2 today. I get hives if I contemplate more than 2. I've occasionally done 3 and I distinctly remember hives. So if anyone posts several, it makes my number look benign. Voila! Hives reduced =)

Colin Smith said...

That's okay, Dena. It's not about being the 71st or 72nd comment of the day. It's the quality of the comment that counts... :)

Colin Smith said...

Speaking of words (this is a favorite topic of mine--can you tell?), my oldest just received a new USB adapter to improve her internet connection. Such devices are known as dongles. When I informed her of this, she said "that sounds rude." My wife is of the same opinion. I don't see what's wrong about telling my daughter her dongle's in the mail, or instructing her where to stick her dongle...?

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Colin, I think what you and your wife say/do about dongles is between you.....

In today's Esoteria Challenge™, I was asked if American Police still carry night sticks (the answer seems to be "depends", which was more or less my guess) and I was asked where Blackbeard ended up (Ocracoke, NC) with the bonus question of where his treasure was thought to be (the same island, at the eponymous Teach's Hole).

The night stick question at least came about because this year's Summer Reading Program theme is "Every Hero Has a Story" and we've got police officers and firemen coming to the library tomorrow. The Blackbeard question was from a patron and came out of left field. Though J. Gregory Keyes wrote a neat series of books (I think it starts with Newton's Canon?) wherein Edward Teach is a character (for a time, anyway).

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, "stick her dongle".............haaaaaaaaaaa !!
Afternoon coffee on keyboard.

Is that anything like your participle dangling? Nope. I didn't think so.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Nothing like lunch and caffeine to get rid of the fuzzymind.

LynnRodz: Don't think I'll compete with 2Ns when she's aiming for 1st.

Christine: we have the California Valleygirl "Like, Totally." accents here in Minnesota too.

Colin: A new word and it does sound rude.

bjmuntain and 2ns: Yes, muscle memory. Practicing a piano piece so often that the fingers play from memory. And if I look at my hands, that messes up my playing. My vision screws up my muscle memory.

And 2ns: hope that gigantic query brings something positive.

Colin Smith said...

Lisa: Really? So, if you see something jutting out from one of the USB ports on a friend's laptop, it would be inappropriate to say, "Oh my, your dongle's showing!"? :)

french sojourn said...

Colin; keep your dongling participle to yourself.

Colin Smith said...

Hank: I think you're referring to my dongling peripheral... :)

french sojourn said...

Well played Colin, well played.

Now leave it alone!

Colin Smith said...

Hank: At least it isn't sentient. :)

french sojourn said...

Colin: Better than a floppy disc...I would imagine. Gotta go poke two sharp pencils into my eyes now. See if I can't get rid of that imagery. Thanks Man!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

ha Colin! I ain't going to be sayin' anything about that memory stick being in their port. We have a new rude word here.

Colin Smith said...

I'll have those pencils when you're done with them, Hank. Fluffy bunnies... fluffy bunnies...

french sojourn said...

Colin: Damn it Colin, now I've got fluffy bunnies with dongling peripherals everywhere. No wonder there are so many f-ing bunnies. Give me those two pencils when you're done. And have the courtesy to at least sharpen them upon their return.

french sojourn said...

Lisa: Maybe it would help if you retracted that memory stick, at least that way I could have a clear conscious and be spared the imagery Colin is foisting off on us all.

Colin Smith said...

And we wonder why people prefer to lurk... :)

french sojourn said...

wise beyond their years they are.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Hank: as in abracadabra memorybegone?

Hey. Where is everybody else?

french sojourn said...

Lisa: It's nothing but an eye full of prestidigitation. (And I blame, well... not to mention any names.)


Colin Smith said...

OK, well... if Janet should encounter the word "dongle" in a query now, she should be prepared. And I'd like to see that query myself! :)

John Frain said...

Next week's subhead will be a simple warning: NSFW

french sojourn said...

Gotta say goodnight Gracie! Catch you all tomorrow. Thanks Colin, Lisa. and goodnight Mrs. Calabash...where ever you are.

Craig F said...

Is this the turnoff for the Itchy & Scratchy Show?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Will you guys stooooooooop !

The floppy disk got me going.

I have expectorants dongling from my itchy scratchy because I'm laughing so damn much.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

You know, Colin and Hank, they have pills for your problem.

I said "you know" am I going to be yelled at?

Who is going to make it a 100 comments.

Anonymous said...

From twitter per an agent on #tenqueries. "It's cool to have a hook and creatively use curse words. However, you cannot start a query with "hey, bitch". This is probably not a good way to get the agent's attention.

Some people have common sense and some just have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. I suppose they'll figure it out sooner or later.

Christina Seine said...

This blog is becoming Not Safe For Lurk! Now I have to explain to my kids why I am giggling all morning and muttering, "dongle!"

I don't know why I didn't remember this earlier. But Colin's naughty dongle (stops to giggle) reminded me:

OK so I don't admit this often, but yes I am a Sunday School teacher. And like every other group, some of the little boys at our church have attained the highest levels in the art of Driving Teacher Nuts. There's this one kid in particular that pushes all my buttons. I happen to know he likes to hang out behind the church during coffee hour to do all the typical little boy things like throw rocks at little girls and so on. Well a few months ago this kid finally got to me. I threatened (in front of everybody) to tell his parents that I saw him masticating behind the church. (He was! He had a whole plate of food back there!) The poor kid turned beet red and yelled, "I was not!" I leveled my coolest raised eyebrow at him and said, "We both know what I saw."

I did finally explain to the class that masticating meant chewing. Eventually, lol.

Colin Smith said...

"Some people have common sense and some just have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. I suppose they'll figure it out sooner or later."

OK, Julie, why don't you just agree to write all Janet's subheads. That's a classic. Love it! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Cooooooolin you made it a 100.

Colin Smith said...

Wow--so I did! I wasn't even counting... :)

Ardenwolfe said...

Hopefuls actually did this in a query letter? Wow.

Karen McCoy said...

Yes, Colin! Dongles are indeed a thing. Something I learned the hard way when the "dongles" were stolen from one of the libraries I worked at.

I can see the headline now: "Stolen Dongles! Beware!"

Colin Smith said...

Karen: I don't recall this being mentioned in our library discussion the other day...? PSA: Keep your dongles hidden when you go to the library, folks!

CynthiaMc said...

Kandu is one of the show names of the SeaWorld whales at all the parks (I think Florida and San Diego are the only ones left). They all have real names as well, but as far as the public's concerned, they're Shamu, Namu, and Kandu.

I worked in the Entertainment Department at SeaWorld Orlando for 10 years. They do a lot of rescue and rehab work, which sadly is rarely mentioned. My office was near the Clydesdale barn (when Anheuser-Busch owned the park) and I'd go visit with horses during lunch. It was a nice break.

If any of you ever saw the Hotel Clyde and Seamore Show (which I gather from the disparaging SW comments, probably not) I did the voiceovers for the show.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...


Donnaeve said...

I know what a dongle is. So there.

Donnaeve said...

Wait. I also know about dangling participles and memory sticks in ports. Does that make me E.L. James? Holy crap.

Donnaeve said...

Awww, Cynthia, there we have it. Who knew? Someone reading QOTKU's blog who WORKED at Sea World.

No offense, and appreciate that rehab/rescue is done. Still, IMO, rehab/rescue - then release. I'd be a happy camper then. And if not able to release, why not just let them go to a HUGE aquarium (does one exist? IDK) where they are allowed, as best as possible, a natural habitat.

Now I'm flummoxed b/c seriously, no offense meant to anyone working there.

Christina Seine said...

There once was a dongle from Colin
that kept us all LOL-in' and LOL-in'
(That means laugh out loud
for the not-so-hip crowd)
about (ahem) hard drive installin'

Anonymous said...


I realize they do a lot of rehab and rescue and appreciate their efforts. No one talks about this, it's all about free the whales. I'll happily be in the minority. I don't own any free the whale tee shirts and PETA is a PITA.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Christina, "hard drive installin"

I just wrote ROFLOL and it auto corrected to gridlock, which, when I retyped it, it came up as gridlick.

Karen McCoy said...

Colin: Yep, I was bummed to miss the library discussion. Ironically, the reason I've been away a lot is due to, of all things, an upcoming new job as a library selector for youth and teen materials. I look forward to paying retail price for books very soon!

CynthiaMc said...

Donnaeve, the objective is to release the ones who can go back into the wild, and most are able to go back. Sadly, some are too injured to fend for themselves. They do fine in protected pools, but would be easy meat for predators and ripped to pieces in the wild. One of my favorite manatees had to wear a life jacket due to boat propeller or net damage (I forget which, it's been a while) but was very friendly and loved the school kids on the behind the scenes tours.

No offense taken, y'all. I'm used to it. Just wanted to provide an insider's view.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

One of my fave obsolete words is: ultracrepedarian - a person who acts like he knows everything but really knows nothing. (Damn, there I go just handing over the definition, but this is NOT a query, and I like to think of it as a kind gesture!) Unfortunately, too many of those in this world. My ex brother-in-law for one!

@ Janet - "God herself" - love it! And btw Happy Shark Week to my favourite sharkie! Chomp!

@ Laura Mary - You're doing the right thing correcting your daughter's "You knows." I had a friend who said that at the end of every statement. Every one! Drove me nuts!

Anonymous said...

*wipes away tears of laughter*

Thanks, guys. I needed that today.

LynnRodz said...

Like yesterday, I'm commenting after hours. Drinks turned into dinner at a great new restaurant in le Marais and here I am at 4 in the morning commenting instead of going to bed.

Carolynn, I wouldn't have dreamed of telling you, you need to get a life if you hadn't mentioned it a few times yourself when you were on your winning streak commenting first.

If there are two people here who have proven just through their comments they can write, it's you and Julie MW. I'm sending up a prayer that your dream editor realizes there's no one better for the job than you. Good luck!

Donna, I read Laura's comment twice and it was confusing to me. I couldn't tell if it was Laura or her mum who thought LOL was lots of love and not laugh out loud. More than likely, I'm the only one confused.

Now I'm off to bed where I belong!

Anonymous said...

Jennifer: Ahh. THAT Kandu. I went to Sea World in Florida (between Christmas and New Year's, 1975), but I only remember Shamu.

I was 11. The family drove down to Disney World and Sea World in a rented RV for the Christmas holidays - with the dog. Coming home (we lived in Manitoba at the time) we had to stop at a small motel near the US/Canadian border because of a blizzard. They were kind enough to let us bring Topsy (the dog <-- see what I did there?) inside.

And with that little exchange between Colin and Hank, I nearly choked on my supper. Which would suck, because I don't think Little Girl Dog knows the Heimlich maneuvre...

And I stand by my comment of the other day. We *definitely* get more comments when Colin is commenting. Mine makes 118.

CynthiaMc: I honestly can't tell you if I saw it. I was 11. In 1975. The only reason I can remember what I ate for supper last night is because I almost always eat some sort of rice.

Christina, you are a poet. And I know poets. I got to listen to (and introduce) two very talented local poets today. One read Robert Service - a poem I'd actually never heard, but which, I understand, was rarely printed - and it was hilarious. It's called The Three Bares. Yes, 'bares'.

I found it online:

The Three Bares by Robert W Service

NSFM (means, not suitable for masticating - swallow and put down your beverage before reading)

Since we're sharing words: supercentenarian. A centenarian is a person who lives to 100 years. A supercentenarian is from Krypton... oh wait, no. But might as well be. A supercentenarian lives to 110 and beyond.

My great-great aunt was a supercentenarian. Her oldest son died just months before she did. He was 92. She turned 113 two weeks after he died. (He died of a heart attack. While shoveling snow. Off the roof. Says a lot about that family, I think.)

John Frain said...

It's tough keeping up around here. It's already tomorrow in my part of the world, and I'm finally finishing up yesterday's comments, which brings me to one visual:

Colin, I think if your family dresses up as clowns, you'll have no problem fitting into the PT Cruiser.

Whew, glad I got that out of my keyboard and I can continue outlining now...

Laura Mary said...

Wow. We went from dongles to clown cars via sea world whilst England was sleeping!
I thought I'd make this an even 120, and say thanks for making a long time lurker feel welcome joining in the insanity that is the comments!! It's been a wild ride ;-)

LynnRodz said...

Darn, I just read the words for the FF contest and now I have to come back here and read all the comments. By the time I got home from a wonderful night out with friends, there were way too many to even skim.