Sunday, July 19, 2015

Week in Review July 18

Welcome to the week that was!

Last week had two posts for the week in review. The first was that it would be late because I had a really gawdawful headache.
I loved John Frain's comment:

(yes, it was blank)
Very evocatove of John Cage's 4'33"

I got some meds and do feel better, thank you all.

The actual review of the week came a couple hours later:
Adib Khorram revealed he collects conference ribbons. I used to have one that said "certified" Sadly, long gone after one of the massive cleaning binges that over take me periodically.

Turns out that if your comment is selected as the blog subheader of the week, you want to be exiled to Carkoon. Amy Schaefer, here's your ticket:
Hey, a subheader! Just a moment while I press PrtSc. I'll even overlook the fact it is attributed to boring old "blog reader Amy Schaefer," rather than "Paradise dweller Amy Schaefer" or "the massively talented Amy Schaefer" or anything else of a more descriptive nature. (Blog readers - don't give them an inch.)

The conversation drifted off into lies and lays which bewilder and bother most of us. I have to pause every time I use the damn word to make sure I have it right. It's and its too. And don't get me started on how to spell things like necessary and guartuntee. (those are uncorrected versions) Spell Czech is the only thing that saves me on those.

turns out I spelled necessary correctly. That's the ONLY time that has happened in living memory.

On Monday the question was whether requested fulls go withan agent who moves agencies.
My answer was true but not helpful: it depends.
Kitty asked:
How would the writer know the agent has moved unless the agent notified the writer about the change of address? And if the agent did that, why not include the info about the requested manuscripts?
Most trade publications carry news of agents changing agencies, and writers see that. It's often tweeted, and updated on places like QueryTracker and Agent Query.

LynnRodz asked:
Okay, back to the OP, so what happens if let's say you query Agent A and Agent B at the same time because they're both at different agencies and both requested fulls, then Agent A moves to Agent B's agency and now they both have your manuscript and want it? And let's say, you weren't even aware that Agent A decided to move so this was definitely not your fault.

Talk about bad luck if both say, "Okay, never mind you can have it." and then neither one takes it. I think I read that scenario somewhere or maybe it was just a bad dream.
You email the agent who moved and tell her the other agent also has a full. They'll sort it out on their end. Most of us don't talk about requested fulls with our colleagues until we're ready for beta reads or to make an offer. That's NOT the time to find out someone else has it too.

Terri Lynn Coop asked:
Addendum to question. An agent moves to a new agency and takes their fulls. A bunch of the fulls, and maybe even the clients, are just not what this agency wants to be known for. Does everything (and possibly everyone) just get the heave-ho or does the agent try to place them?

I've never heard of that happening but of course, you guyz think of all sorts of things that could maybe possibly might go wrong in months starting with Q and twice when the blue moon is full.

Here's WHY that doesn't happen: when an agent moves it's not in a vacuum. The new agency has looked at the agent's client list, deals, and prospects. An agent that is strong in urban fantasy isn't going to land at an agency that only wants to do non-fiction unless the agency is purposefully branching out.

Agents aren't valuable for their own sweet selves; their value is in their clients and ability to find and sign good writers. In other words: I'm nothing without you.

When my colleague Brooks Sherman got Bent, we announced to the trade after he'd told clients and other writers who had fulls with him.

Our FPLM website was actually the last place to look for the updates, since those happen irregularly.

Then, the discussion meandered off (as it often does), this time to a Twitter brawl the ensued when a person calling herself an agent told writers they should expect to say yes to an offer of representation without dallying around to let other agents finish reading.

This is bad advice of epic proportion.

For starters, it's incredibly rude to the other agents who have requested your manuscript. If I request a manuscript I don't generally read it as soon as I wish I could. I tell writers that when they send the ms. If they get an offer, I hope they'll email me and inform me of their timetable.

For example: Dear Snookums, You've got Carkoon for Lovers and Other Strangers on your list of requested fulls from 2009. I've received an offer from another agent. I've told her I will respond within a week. Thanks for your time (all six years of it, you slacker) and consideration.

That gives me the heads up to read now, or forever hold my peace. Often I will ask the writer who the agent making the offer is. I do this because if it's a good agent and I know the writer will be in good hands I can say so to the writer even if I pass.

On the other hand if the offer is from someone like this person on Twitter I can offer some comments like "here's a link to questions to ask a prospective agent."

More important though is that "answer me now" demonstrates that the person calling herself an agent is NOT acting in the writer's best interests. I would think you'd want an agent who lets you know what your options are, and gives you advice on how to make a decision that's right for you, not for her.

Someone who wants you to act quickly rather than carefully raises a red flag for me.

And of course, when you look at this person's bio, there's no agent experience at all, no sales, no support structure, and no background in book publishing of any kind. This is a textbook example of why you want to be cautious about who you listen to for advice.

And I've also blogged about that more than once.

In the second blog post I said agents won't actively give you bad advice. I'll stand on that opinion, but I'm not going to call that person who tweeted an actual agent either.
and it turns out Dena Pawling has her own Janet!
This week started with Janet-the-agent felled by a nasty sinus headache, and Janet-my-daughter felled [literally] down the stairs at our church. X-rays today reveal only a bad sprain of the ankle, not broken thankfully.

On Tuesday the topic was the winner of the writing contest:
In addition to the kudos, Colin Smith rallied the troops to encourage more of our lurkers to enter.
There are a lot of us who regularly participate in these contests, but there are also some who don't. Maybe they feel intimidated by the quality of the winning entries. Or maybe they don't think they can tell a story in 100 words. Perhaps they're afraid to post their work, knowing hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people will read it.

What words of encouragement would you give to these people? What do you find most fun about writing drabbles?

There were a lot of terrific answers to that question. Bottom line is: just try it once.

CynthiaMc said:
I didn't know the "don't use the words as names" rule

It's not really a rule, in that using prompts as names doesn't get you disqualified or even prevent you from being a finalist. I just prefer that the prompts be used as words not names. I think it's a bigger challenge. I'd rather pick an entry that tries too much and doesn't quite get there, than something safe.
I mean, please, I represent guys like Sean Ferrell and Jeff Somers. They take all sorts of interesting risks in their fiction.

LynnRodz asked:
I wonder if there are other things we lose points on. I need all the help I can get.
Not really. I'm not much keen on the referential stuff (bringing me in to the story in either blog or shark form) but it's not like I hate it.

I was VERY glad to see that people are using the contests to try new things, and to get over shyness about sharing work. I encourage both those things. I'd rather see you try but splat than stay safe and boring. Interesting failure is better than boring success.

On Wednesday, we heard from a writer who was in the bleakest of places, wondering if agents were actually reading her queries.

I told her we were, in no uncertain terms, and also to quit fretting over something she had no control over. That is a recurring theme here with all you woodland creatures.

Kitty said:
there was a time when I did send out some of my stories. Some of the rejections came back so quickly I swore they passed my stories in the mail.
I actually stopped replying to queries on the day they arrived because writers were skeptical I'd read them. I do reply to paper queries the day they arrive and I'm sure people have wondered. Sometimes the post office likes to be speedy with bad news.

kaitlyn sage brought us a new word "lurky" to describe what she's trying to be less of. I intend to use it often.

Terri Lynn Coop reminded us of a great comment she wrote about how an anthology selected stories:
The comment was made here on this blog post was this one

A couple of years ago I subbed a story to a highly competitive anthology.

When they announced the list and 99.1% of us were not on the list, a flaming sour grapes war erupted on their message board.

The editors were cool enough to break down the stats and discuss the process a bit. It went something like this:

2200 subs for 20 slots.

10% totally ignored the sub guidelines.

30% were not of publishing quality, even with extensive editing.

That left 60% or 1320 for 20 slots.

They cut that number in half by eliminating stories by editing priority. The more editing it needed, the farther down the stack it went. Then they cut it at the halfway mark.

Down to 660 for 20 slots.

Next, they sorted by duplicate tropes. The anthology had a definite theme, so naturally many had similar storylines. They did a cage match between competing stories and kept the ones they liked best.

This brought it down to about 400 for 20 slots. The field has been reduced by about 80% and is still unmanageable.

Next up they did sort of a jury-selection thing. Each member of the editorial team got a certain number of vetoes. They could eliminate a story that just did not appeal to them, even if another editor loved it like fire. At this point it was, "This one has a cat named Fred, my ex had a cat named Fred, reject."

300 for 20 slots.

After all this, 90+ percent were still going to be rejected. 280 stories that had passed several rounds of selection. From these 300 they chose stories for length, variety, and gut-feel for adherence to their vision to the theme.

The same cry went up, "Where's my feedback? Why do you hate me?"

2200 is probably a typical month for most agencies. And they don't have 20 slots a month.

I have no clue where I ended up in this continuum. It doesn't matter. I revised the story away from the proprietary theme and it was short-listed for another anthology, so I would like to think I made it to the final rounds.

Some days it is quality. Some days it is theme. Some days it is a cat named Fred.

bjmuntain reminded us of one of the earliest forms of agent stalking on the internet.
Julie: I remember that guy, too. He would post everything he could about an agent who rejected him - phone numbers, everything. These days, I believe that would be called doxing. He used to get requests from agents to please take down their information (like their own phone number at work, instead of the office number), and he would gleefully post those requests, as well. *passes on the R O C Cola, takes a sweet tea instead* Didn't remember his name until reading Janet's link.

Julie was actually talking about a different guy, the writer who queried a novel about a woman composer. That guy didn't do the agent list. The agent list was from another writer whose novel was originally titled something about Oprah and mayonnaise. He only queried each agent once or twice, but posted agent contact info LONG before such things were the norm.

He's actually a pretty nice guy. I had a couple of conversations with him over the course of the years. And as it turned out, now our contact info is everywhere on the net so all that sturm und drang seems pretty funny.

Keeping that much data current is more than a full time job. Since I do exactly that with editors (but my data base isn't public of course) I have sympathy for him. It was particularly interesting to find out he sorted names by whether he like you, not by alphabetizing.

Stephanie had a reasonable complaint here:
My one complaint is when the agent uses an assistant to read queries. How the hell does a green college kid know what an experienced lit agent is looking for?

It's not so much that someone reading my queries knows what I am looking for, as knows what I'm NOT looking for and can cull those out for me. I don't actually have anyone doing that right now, but I do know agents who do, and that kind of culling can often cut the queries by half or more.

A lot of the queries I get are from writers who simply are not publishable right now. Even if they have a great idea, good plot, interesting characters, the writing is not good. And before anyone tells me that Dan Brown is a bad writer, let's all remember that he may not be literary but he's a pretty darn compelling commercial fiction writer.

The closest we can come to bad writing that did well is E.L. James and that was an anomaly. And no one found EL James in the incoming queries either.

And if you really want to make sure you wake up in the middle of the night wondering if you know how to write, here's our own Duchess of Kneale's link to wikipedia page on Illusory Superiority.

I remember when these studies first came out. It scared the crap outta me then cause I really thought I knew what I was doing. Yea, well, all these years later, when I really think I know what I'm doing, it scares me worse.

On Thursday I posted a list of ten things that are a redflag in any query.
This post got more comments than any other post in the history of this blog.

Laura Mary, who is apparently much much nicer than I said,
On the one hand it does seem a little harsh to be so hard on people for their naiveté, however, there is so much information out there, that there is little excuse for not knowing the basics at least!

I'm not saying I toss the query when I see this stuff. I am saying it tells me the writer is going to be a work in progress. I've taken on several clients who didn't know much about the ins and outs of publishing, but at least knew that a business letter format meant you referred to yourself in the first, not third, person.

Sam Hawke said:
When you hang out in places like this, where you assume most people know their stuff, it's sometimes handy to remember that a big chunk of your competition for agents' attention do stuff like this...
All those examples were drawn from queries I've received in the last three weeks.

Yes, sometimes I want to shriek at people. It's not like there isn't something called QueryShark to help you out.

Colin Smith asked about #4
4. The bio section refers to a recent retirement that now allows time to write.

On Topic: The point on the list that made me pause was #4. Is it a bad thing that one waits until retirement before taking up writing, or is it a bad thing to mention the fact in a query bio? I'm hoping just the latter since I'm sure some very good published authors have taken the opportunity of retirement to indulge that life-long dream.

Generally when I hear the underlying sentiment that the author just didn't have time to do this writing thing till now. Sort of like, ok, now I'll do this instead of that.

Most of the writers I represent have been writing since they were sprouts; writing through day jobs, small children, illness; adversity, famine and flood. Sure there have been breaks, sometimes for a couple years, but they didn't wait till they had time: they made time. And they made time because writing was something important to them. Something more important than other activities. More important than television. More important than a clean house. More important than golf.

I really dislike the idea that someone thinks all it takes to get this writing thing going is time. If it did, the best writers in the world would be guys in prison.

Irene troy asked about #6
6. The words "beta readers" are present.
Beta-readers? I thought using beta-readers was a good idea and one welcomed by agents. Or, am I being a bit dense and you mean don't include something such as: My beta readers loved this fiction novel?

Beta readers are terrific and every writer should have a bevy of them. What I object to is hearing about them. I don't want to know the sordid details of the novel's conception or development, much like I don't want to hear that about your kid's conception and development either. (no, really I Do Not!)

Since you wouldn't tell me if your beta readers hated it, you shouldn't tell me they loved it. In other words, we'll assume they did.

You also don't have to tell me it's written in English, uses standard spelling and punctuation, and you'd be glad to hand deliver it to my office via liveried footman in a horse drawn carriage if I so desired.
Susan Bonifant made me laugh with this one:
Please check again, maybe in a folder called "LOL" or "WTF" or something like that, for letters that have:

1. Suggested who should star in the movie
2. Included pictures of themselves dressed as character (my personal favorite)
3. Asked who else they should contact if you turn them down
4. Explained that it's your lucky day, now that they've queried you
5. Opened with a question like: "ever wondered who you'd be if you were the person you wanted to be before you were you and wanted to be someone else?"

I know they're there somewhere.

I'm sure they are. I created that list from recent queries. I just haven't seen these others in a while. But yes, they are red flags as well.

Jenny C confessed she's committed #9
9. Love for the written word is professed.
I am guilty of having professed my love for the written word, however it was done so in conjunction with mentioning my 17 years as a bookseller so does that make it ok? No? Ok. Nevermind.
If you mention you've been a bookseller ever, let alone for 17 years, I know you love writing and books. And doing inventory.

Irene Troy made me laugh with this:
Someone in my local writers group became very angry when an agent rejected her query. Note I said AN agent, as in singular. She turned around and wrote the agent back saying the agent knew nothing because her beta-readers loved the book. She also told the agent she would be sorry when the book was published, turned into a movie and then made her and another agent millions. Okay, one foot shot to hell.

DLM's reply made me laugh even more:
Irene, it looks like that querier had better get one HELL of an offer on their very second query ever, because otherwise there'll be a distressing lack of feet to shoot thereafter ...

I do get letters like that sometime. And I keep track of the people who send them. Here's one such entry from my address book

On Friday I announced a flash fiction contest for Go Set A Watchman. I read the book this week (it was a necessity since so many people were talking about it) I was not one of those die hard Mockingbird fans. I've read it, and I think it's a terrific book, but I knew that lightning doesn't often strike twice. My expectations were reasonable to low.

Even then, I was underwhelmed. I can see very clearly how an editor reading this suggested the revisions that became Mockingbird.

And if gossip is true, Truman Capote had a big hand in shaping Mockingbird (he and Harper Lee were friends both in Alabama and New York) Since Capote is long gone, this book did not benefit from his editorial eye.

Mostly though I think someone thought "hey we can make a boatload of money here" and didn't give a single thought to whether it was something that should, rather than could, be done.

I think the folks at Vulture made a good point about this book being much more suitable for an academic press:
The appropriate publication of Watchman would have been a scholarly edition issued a few years after its author’s death. The only person who comes out of this affair looking good is Tay Hohoff, the Lippincott editor who told Lee to start over.

Had Go Set a Watchman arrived as a scholarly curiosity, however, rather than as a preposterously overhyped publishing “event,” it would have taken its logical place in the ongoing debate about the racial politics of To Kill a Mockingbird

I don't think it's an accident that this novel came to light only after the death of Miss Alice, Harper Lee's sister, and after the author herself was clearly disabled by age and infirmity.

Honest to god, this is as clear a lesson in why you don't publish trunk novel as I've ever seen. AND the value of a literary executor who knows your wishes. Maybe Harper Lee did want this book published; who knows.

As I write this the flash fiction contest is in full swing, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you've done.

There were some totally off any sort of topic questions this week:

Janet - is QueryShark dead? There have been only two posts this year, the last in February.

I, for one, always found it educational, and I know there is a LOT of archived content still there. But I would miss it if it fades away. And I doubt I'm alone in that.

I've had a hard time finding queries with anything wrong that's new or interesting. I love QueryShark but there are only so many times one can give the same advice. The blog isn't dead but I've focused more on answering questions here for a while. With 265+ entries at QS, I'm hoping it's a pretty complete education about revising!

For those of you watching for an update, QueryShark as a Twitter account: @QueryShark. When a new post goes up, I tweet it. When a revision goes up, I tweet that too.

And there were some asides that I just loved:

Colin Smith mentioned his love of archaic languages. I had to look up Conversational Ugaritic.  I really love that alphabet. Maybe I'll get my name tattooed in Ugaritic:

kdjames has a portmanteau for us that I love:
Given all the twitter-frothing I've witnessed from agents about rhetorical questions, I'm surprised not to find that in the Top Ten.

Blog reader Jenz is published this week! Congratulations!

ok, youze guyz, none of this "I was gone, and you didn't notice" stuff. If someone cares to comment on the absence of another, that's fine, but you can't try to glean it for yourself. The woodland creatures who enrich this blog with their amazing knowledge and humor don't need anyone telling them they're doing something wrong. Well, unless it's ME of course.

Got it?

Subheader choices:
"We don't hide crazy in the south. We parade it around on the porch and give it sweet tea, but seriously, are agents trying to drive writers nuts? Do they think it plumbs a new level of their soul?" --Julie M. Weathers

"Around here staying on the topic is sort of like turning ferrets loose in a pool of packing peanuts. Everyone now and then someone pops up momentarily and says, "Oh yes, topic." --Julie M. Weathers

"Janet's blog however is a spewing geyser of stuff nobody else touches. No wonder we lurk around here wondering what will come flying out next." S. D. King

"there's simply no reason to try and drive authors crazy, aside from the amusing aspect."--Julie M. Weathers

"'allo. My name is Mark Anthony Songer. You read my query. Prepare to sign." --Inigo Montoya

"I'm starting to believe success in the writing word is 50% good writing, 50% studying the industry, 50% perseverance and maybe a pinch of good luck. --Christina Seine

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."--Scott Sloan

I'm going to be away from the computer when this blog post goes live, so I will not have changed the sub-header.  If you have a favorite, let me know. NO promise that the most popular one wins, but I can't quite decide so help me out.

Next week is the Midwest Writers Conference in Muncie, Indiana.  I'm in touch with some of the writers who are attending, and looking forward to meeting some of you blog readers who will be there.



Christina Seine said...

Great balls of fire, am I FIRST?????

Christina Seine said...

Holy bat waffles, Batman. I was.

Has there been a zombie apocalypse I don't know about?

Oh well, if there was, it'll get to Alaska in five years, just like everything else.

Another awesome WIR. Can't wait to luxuriate over this later with a cuppa hot chocolate.

french sojourn said...

I found it incredible that Go set a Watchman possibly could be the rough draft for To kill a Mockingbird. I thought that a half dozen or so times as I read it. In terms of Harper Lee's wishes, it was unfortunate it was published...however.

I think it's an unbelievable opportunity to study it and then see the transition to Mockingbird. The fundamental change in message and tone even.

Thanks again for all the work that you put into this blog. We wee woodland creatures are better for it, and don't have to ask for more porridge at the banquet of...well you get my drift.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Geeze, I can't choose between blog headers! I wouldn't even be able to choose who won yesterday's writing contest ^^

I bought and read Go Set a Watchman on Friday, because library patrons who were checking out have loose lips and don't realize spoilers sink ships, and I'm mixing my metaphors but it's my funny way to say "don't give away plot points to people who haven't read the Goddamn book yet." I was far too low on the holds list to get it before somebody spoiled me, be it on the Internet (which already somewhat happened because people put stuff like that IN THEIR POST TITLES) or in person.

I do like Mockingbird, quite a lot. I first read it in 8th grade, and it was, I think, my very last Scholastic Books purchase of my school career. They stopped giving us the catalogs after that, and I was the only one in my class who did order something. I've read Mockingbird several times since, only seen the movie once, and have a short story (still) making the rounds which at the outset was fairly Mockingbird influenced (original title was "Atticus", in fact) and has gone through many edits over the years.

So, did Watchman shock me? Not really. Would it have, if people kept their mouths shut? Probably not even then. Did it need editing? Sure. Everybody said "honey" too much. There were pages long conversations I could've dealt without, happy though I was to be able to catch myriad literary and cultural references Lee was making. It just needed tightening, some of the edges smoothed, and perhaps because of the nature of Mockingbird's arrival into the world, I expected Watchman to be far more of a trip home and I frequently found myself wondering who the hell a lot of these people were.

I liked it, more or less. And I really want to know what the third book would have been, since wasn't there supposed to be a trilogy originally? Maybe Scout, sorry Jean Louise, with young'uns of her own, to make it a full cycle.

But. HUGE congratulations to Jenz, and off to read her story!

Kitty said...

Here's my subhead choice:

"there's simply no reason to try and drive authors crazy, aside from the amusing aspect."--Julie M. Weathers

DLM said...

As much as I love Julie's way with words, and Princess Bride references, I have to vote for S. D. King's blog geyser contribution. Though Christina's percentage plan ... I like those numbers!

All these waffle references - and I am just polishing off a beautiful plate of delicious, hot, BUTTERY pancakes.

Ahhh, almost 1:00 on Sunday. It's such a good hour - and yet Monday's already looming.

Dena Pawling said...

Yep, my daughter's name is Janet. She's my baby, age 16, and yesterday was her first day driving my car on a learner's permit. I still have most of my hair, altho it is decidedly more gray than it was on Friday. Occasionally she posts flash fiction here under a pseudonym. One time she was actually a finalist, a feat I've never personally managed to accomplish.

My choice for blog header – "Around here staying on the topic is sort of like turning ferrets loose in a pool of packing peanuts. Everyone now and then someone pops up momentarily and says, "Oh yes, topic." --Julie M. Weathers

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I'm leaning toward Julie's ferrets and peanuts as a sub-header.

Great WIR and glad you are feeling better.

JJ, loved your writing.

As the comment numbers climbed on Thursday I wondered which post, over the years, has had the highest comment numbers. And, were the numbers a result of posting an interesting topic or flying off the rails because that's what we often do here?

Anonymous said...

Another terrific WiR - thanks Janet!

As I was reading this post, when Janet said 'necessary' was the 'uncorrected spelling', I was staring and staring at it, trying to see what was wrong. Have I been spelling it incorrectly all these years? My poor brain, not even through my first coffee yet... Then I saw that it was spelled correctly.

I think I'm going to need more coffee, or I'm going to start spelling it incorrectly.

Regarding Terri Lynn Coop's blog post on how the anthology editors told stories... I think just the 2200 subs for 20 slots answered the 99.1% failure rate... but the way they came to those 20 slots was pretty cool to read.

As for the agent stalker: I'm sorry. I was actually going to mention him before Julie's comment (I hadn't read the link at that point), but when I saw Julie's comment, I thought it was the same guy. Particularly the part about 'rejecting the rejections' and It was kind of an, "Hey Earl, get your R O C Cola and come watch this." kind of disaster. I think I figured out later in the conversation that I had the wrong guy, but the conversation had gone waaaay beyond him by then.

I'm glad he was actually a nice guy, because all I could think of reading what he was doing was, "Wow. How could anyone think that's the right thing to do?" The information might be freely available now, but rejecting others' requests to take down their information just didn't feel right to me. I'm amazed to see he's still keeping up that page; not as amazed to see that he's self-published.

For the subheaders, my choice is divided between the ferrets and the geyser. The ferrets describe us; the geyzer describes the blog. Both are equally good in their description.

Since the DIAGNOSIS (I always intone this with a deep, melodramatic voice) of celiac disease, I have not found a good waffle. I see pictures of warm, soft, buttery waffles, and want to cry. I used to love waffles. I would order them for supper whenever I could. I can't seem to find gluten-free ones in restaurants, and the frozen ones are often very much like cardboard. (I'm a terrible cook, so I don't make my own.) I might be luckier on my trip this weekend - here's hoping Kent, Washington, has some great g-f waffles!

All in all, a very pleasant week. Thanks, everyone, for making this blog so informational and fun!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. Stupid morning brain. I said "how the anthology editors told stories" when I meant "how the anthology editors CHOSE stories". Why can't I catch these things before I hit 'publish'?

Janice Grinyer said...

"writing through day jobs, small children, illness; adversity, famine and flood. Sure there have been breaks, sometimes for a couple years, but they didn't wait till they had time: they made time. And they made time because writing was something important to them."

This comment really hit home with me. Heres my selfish comment - I am a Forestry Technician for the last 16 years; before that, Law enforcement, and before that, a union president and lobbyist for a non-profit. Ive have been a single mom of two wonderful daughters, a good wife, and a fine horseman. Ive lived through a running crown fire in Montana that destroyed everything around me, and I have had illnesses and surgeries that didnt stop me physically from doing what I want to do. Its not the "why" but the "how". Its always the how for the determined.

And through it all, I still write. I may never be published,and no one may ever care to read my words, but damn, I am writer, and will always be one. I will write until my last breath here on earth.

...and read The Shark's advice of course ;p

CynthiaMc said...

I just downloaded The Mockingbird Next Door from the library about Harper Lee. I can take or leave To Kill a Mockingbird (love Gregory Peck). Harper Lee received an honorary degree from my college so I did get to see her from a distance. By all accounts from those who did get to interact with her, she is a lovely though shy person.

One of my mother's friends was from Monroeville and used to tell stories about Nelle and Truman Capote as children and how proud she was of both of them.

I'm still coming down from Shark Week - one of the multiple shark attack beaches they covered was Cape San Blas - we used to swim there - yikes! Never saw a shark there, thankfully.

Unknown said...

My choice for sub-header;

Interesting failure is better than boring success. - J. Reid

And no, I'm not brown-nosing. I really like this.

Scrambled3ggs said...

My choice for the sub header is ...

"Around here staying on the topic is sort of like turning ferrets loose in a pool of packing peanuts. Everyone now and then someone pops up momentarily and says, "Oh yes, topic." --Julie M. Weathers

I can identify. Shiny things (Squirrel!) distract me.

Anonymous said...

Great WIR and I agree with Amanda.

Interesting failure is better than boring success. - J. Reid

Donnaeve said...

Perfect week in review!

I'm in the same boat as Amanda on her choice for sub-header, but from the list of choices, I like:
"Around here staying on the topic is sort of like turning ferrets loose in a pool of packing peanuts. Everyone now and then someone pops up momentarily and says, "Oh yes, topic." --Julie M. Weathers

FOR LYNNRODZ - backing up into comments this past week, I realized later (MUCH later) you were asking Julie about DE-WORMING a horse - not the fishing phrase she used. Oops. This means I will be keeping mouth shut on future "translations."

Janice Grinyer said...

Interesting failure is better than boring success. - J. Reid

Agreed. This would make a fantastic sub-header...and a great motivator for those who read it.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Interesting failure is better than boring success. - J. Reid

Tee shirts? Tee shirts.

(am I the only one who cycles through what's correct with "t-shirt" "tshirt" and "tee shirt"? That one bothers me more than "lie" and "lay")

Donnaeve said...

"(am I the only one who cycles through what's correct with "t-shirt" "tshirt" and "tee shirt..."?

Nope. I do, if writing a 100 ff entry. :)

Karen McCoy said...

My vote for subhead:

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."--Scott Sloan

The choice will be difficult--they're all good.

Karen McCoy said...

Would also like to third this: "Interesting failure is better than boring success. - J. Reid

Made me feel oodles better.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer: Most style guides I've read use T-shirts.

Is it bad that I would accept boring success at this point? Not so much in the flash fiction - those are always fun to try new things with. But in life, I think boring success might not be so bad.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree:

Interesting failure is better than boring success. - J. Reid

Jennifer, I actually know that answer to that. Well, I know the answer as stated long ago on twitter by Benjamin Dreyer, who is copy chief at RH. If my memory is not faulty, it's "T-shirt" with a capital T. And it comes from the fact that a T-shirt makes the shape of a letter T when spread out flat. This name should not be applied to other similar shirts that are sleeveless (such as those known as "wife-beaters") lest one wishes to incur the wrath of certain copy editors. Apparently.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I like ferrets and packing peanuts . . .

Thank you for the callback to that poor cat Fred, the feline that has killed a legion of anthology submissions.

I have to confess, I threw together the most convoluted "what if" that I could based on fevered forum threads and QueryTracker posts about why an agent hasn't scooped them up after being SO nice at the con. Although I was curious about if an agent who had repped graphic horror wanted to break into YA, if her cadre of blood-soaked clients would put off a hearts-and-flowers type agency.

Have fun at MWW and Waffle House! I will be seeing you at WPA in August!


Jennifer R. Donohue said...

kdjames: thanks! (and thank goodness for "find and replace", amiright?)

a T-shirt and a "wife-beater" are two distinctly different garments; a wife-beater (wife beater, wifebeater.....) is a colloquial term for a male's white undershirt, of the Marlon Brando yelling STELLLAAAAAA while wearing it sort.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, you're welcome!

It occurs to me that my comment might be construed as being a bit snide and that was NOT my intent. I like Dreyer. He's smart and funny (very dry wit) and quite approachable on twitter. Seems like a really decent guy. Well, for someone who's a bit overly concerned about that whole series comma thing, anyway. ;-)

Oh, and thanks for the mention in the WIR. I'll just run along now and put a few thousand more words together in a random fashion and call it fiction.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Around here, any sleeveless shirt is called a wife-beater. It doesn't have to be a white undershirt.

I did a quick search for the term, and guess what? It's supposedly got roots all the way back to the Middle Ages:

Words for your enjoyment: Wife beaters

(Yes, I admit I am a compulsive researcher. But I can't afford the 12-step program to stop.)

DeadSpiderEye said...

I confess, I found the fact that the term, wife beater is applied to the garment, used to evoke the stereotype, a surprise. Maybe it's because I associate shirts and their ineptly ironed sleeves with domestic strife instead. I abhor physical admonishment though, I just lock her under the stairs with the ironing board till she gets it right.

Steph said...

Thanks to everyone who encouraged us lurkers to try the flash fiction writing contest - you were right, it was a great exercise! :)

CynthiaMc, I hope you enjoy The Mockingbird Next Door; I really loved the book. Marja Mills does a wonderful job letting readers get to know herself, Harper Lee, and her world. Having read that book, I was really surprised to see news of the publication of "Go Set a Watchman" - I thought it was pretty clear that Ms. Lee wasn't interested in publishing a second book.

Anonymous said...


I missed this, sorry.

"I was getting ready to worm the kids' ponies one day when Will, who was four, decided to try the dewormer paste. Brandon, who was fiercely protective of his little brother ten years his junior, despised me for feeding the child raw eggs and warm salt water. Up came the wormer and everything else and Brandon rocked his baby brother and glared at me."

Horse wormer comes in a paste in a plunge tube. You put the end back in the horse's mouth, depress the plunger and it deposits whatever dosage you've selected on the back of the horse's tongue. I had the tubes laid out on the kitchen table getting ready to go worm horses and Will got one of them and sucked some of the wormer out. MMMM apple flavor!

Of course, it's toxic, so I was feeding him raw eggs and warm salt water to make him throw up. Brandon was not happy about me making his little brother deathly sick.

DLM said...

BJ, interesting! I'm an etymology geek, so I looked up the noted murderer and he's pretty heavily associated with the term. Amazing how one generation's sensational news is the next generation's head-scratching idiom ...

Dead, YOWZA! She'll get those sleeves yet. Just don't forget to feed her nothing but gin and potatoes to keep her small and docile while she's confined to that wee space.

Cindy C said...

I do love the WIR, especially when I had a busy-yet-fun week and couldn't keep up with all the comments.

And I'm one of the lucky blog readers going to MWW--I can't wait!

DeadSpiderEye said...


I'm taking notes, meanwhile back in the real world, that gin and spuds crack isn't that far from something I've witnessed personally and that would be far from the worst of divergences from the domestic ideal I've seen.

Calorie Bombshell said...

"there's simply no reason to try and drive authors crazy, aside from the amusing aspect."--Julie M. Weathers

Slam dunk.

John Frain said...

One word for the WiR: Wow!

Sometimes I wonder if Janet is a real person or if, like Santa Claus, there are scores of Janet Reids running amok in the world getting all these things done. The productivity!

Amanda Capper beat me to the punch, and now I can't even second the nomination, but I loved "Interesting failure is better than boring success." Would that a couple of my clients might understand its meaning. Instead, they generally pay me to suck the life out of anything clever I've written.

I have to mention one other thing, only because Janet seems like such a good sport that she'll see the humor here. This reminded me of those "Let's eat grandma" warnings (versus "Let's eat, grandma") and the importance of the comma.

When I read:
Laura Mary, who is apparently much much nicer than I said,

I thought to myself, did Janet say something mean about Laura Mary? until I realized she likely meant to put the comma before -- not after -- "said."

I know, I know, you're thinking I better be wearing a T-shirt that says "Is there a hyphen in anal-retentive?" If this gets me a 3-day exile to Carkoon, at least I'm away from my knucklehead clients for a few days. (And I sure hope they aren't reading this!)

CynthiaMc said...

Steph - I'm glad you liked it. Audio books make my commutes bearable and get me through things like cleaning the bathroom. I especially love them when they're read by the author - it's like having a friend tell me their story.

DLM said...

Dead, yeah - sick as it is, I was dipping into some Industrial Revolution history there.

DLM said...

CynthiaMc, you make me want to ask - when I read aloud during the writing process, I wonder whether I'll ever have an audio book (and whether I'll get to read it!). Who else does this?

Colin Smith said...

Another wonderful WiR!

John: I read that the same way... in fact, right up until I read your comment I wondered what Janet said about Laura Mary--I didn't recall her saying anything mean...? Commas are important! :)

My Subheader Vote:

"Interesting failure is better than boring success."

But if you don't want to quote yourself, Mighty QOTKU, I'd go with:

"there's simply no reason to try and drive authors crazy, aside from the amusing aspect."

And give Julie an award for most quotable vommenter. :)

I have been summoned for Jury Duty next week, so my contributions to the comments will be less than usual. But I'm sure you'll all get along just fine without me. Play nice, though!

Of course, some call it Jury Duty, some Jury Service. To a writer, it's called Research... :)

Anonymous said...

Have fun, Colin!

I've always wanted to be called for jury duty. I was, once. My boss said, "I'll write them a letter saying you can't do it - we need you here." I said, "No! Don't do that. I *want* to do it."

But the case never went to trial. I was so disappointed. It's been over 20 years since then, and I haven't had another call.

I *want* to see how the court system works. I *want* to be involved. But they don't seem to want me.

My mum was called not too long ago. She told them that she was diabetic (which she is) so she needed to eat at regular intervals. They excused her. She was proud of getting out of it. I honestly don't understand that.

Dena Pawling said...

Despite the fact that says it is 83 degrees here and 0 chance of rain, it is actually 92 degrees on my patio, VERY windy, and pouring buckets. My cell phone just emitted an obnoxious alert of flash flood warning in our area.

My boys are outside in their swimsuits LOL

At least it's helping with the fires, one of which was big enough to be reported on CNN yesterday.

And today is NOT a day when we are allowed to water our lawns. I think it's God's way of saying neener neener neener to our state government =)

LynnRodz said...

Great WIR and thanks Janet for answering my questions, but did you have to go there and say writing is more important than a clean house? I wouldn't be able to concentrate if mine were dirty.

And thank you for the link to everyonewhosanyone. I remember that guy from years ago. Some of his responses to people who wanted their info taken off were pretty funny. People in the business realized at some point he wasn't going anywhere and their information was there to stay, so they started giving him updates.

I like all the subheaders, especially Christina Seine's comment and Julie's about the ferrets. But I think, like many others, the best one is yours: "Interesting failure is better than boring success.

JOHN, I'm amazed by everything Janet does as well. I think the more things you have to do, the more time you find to do them, and the less you do, the less time you find to do things. Oh yeah, pack a big suitcase, John, because your stay in Carkoon will be longer than 3 days.

DIANE, I think about audio books too when I read my work out loud.

DONNA, LOL! I thought to myself, wow how in the heck did she get fishing from Julie's paragraph? Thank you for clearing that up.

JULIE, thank you for clearing up your part of this saga as well. That must have been so scary. When you told Donna she could be your translator, I told myself I must be in some sort of parallel universe where I don't speak the language. LOL!

Both of you gave me a good laugh this evening AND a sigh of relief. Thanks.

DLM said...

Dena, the image of kids in swimsuits in summer rain is enough to make my day. Thank you!

Ahh, memories.

I've sat on a jury and had a root canal. Each of these things is *wildly* overrated in terms of awfulness; and, yes, jury duty was incredibly interesting and instructive, and emotionally peculiar as well.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Funny, all this talk of jury duty. I just got my summons in the mail yesterday. Really, I'm so bullheadedly and harshly opinionated on the topics I have opinions on, I'm not sure how any human who lives in the world as an adult could be considered "impartial". We'll see how it goes.

Anonymous said...


Sorry about the confusion. Yes, it was another adventure in the Weathers household.

CynthiaMc said...

DLM and Lynn - I plan on having audio books of my books for poor schlubs like me to listen to while driving, doing manual labor, gardening, or just chilling on the hammock :)

Colin Smith said...

Oh, one last thing before I sign off for the day: If Amy gets sent to Carkoon, doesn't that leave a vacancy in Paradise?

Where does one apply? :)

John Frain said...

Colin & Jennifer, I envy you jury duty. Some people bring books to read to pass the time before they are called, but I'd suggest a notepad instead. So many stories there, and that's before you even walk to a courtroom.

And Ms. Reid, thank you for the introduction to John Cage. I was unaware. Doing the most remote bit of research, I stumbled upon a wonderful thought from Mr. Cage in discussing 4'33. It gave me the clearest impression he was trying to qualify for your subheader of the week.

"I had no idea this was going to happen. I did have an idea something else would happen. Ideas are one thing and what happens another."
(Note: The bold is my addition.) How many writers here haven't had THAT happen in a story?!

Amy Schaefer said...

Aww, man. I just got home and now I have to go to Carkoon? Well, it isn't like I wasn't asking for it.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

Oh, Christina, you just had to mention bats, didn't you! I thought that it was creepy when two weeks ago I found out that, while at my friend's mother's house I had been sleeping five feet away from a small live hornet's nest, tucked away inspicuously in the corner of the bedroom alcove. No, not creepy enough. Yesterday, by the lake, amidst the shrubbery and tall cedars, soaking up the rays, absorbing the heavenly vibes, a bat flew and got stuck in my curly hair! Right in the middle of the day. Then he crawled around on the ground with his legs AND his rubbery wings. At least he had a cute little face!

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Wonderful Week in Review. It's great to see new names comenting here. I remember returning here after disappearing and then sweating bullets while composing a comment.

Every WIR I see shifts in Janet's voice and wonder what she's reading.

Thank you for elaborating on the agent moving house, what they take with them.

As for subheaders, good luck choosing. I like an agent is not a vacuum just as well.

John Frain, I did notice what you mentioned and wondered about it.

When I was a bartender the owner of the Tavern had a dress code. No muscle t-shirts and not hats. There was a biker bar a few doors down with some serious riff-raff wearing those t-shirts. Always white and often ribbed fabric. That's when men didn't wax their chests and we were barmaids.

I wish I could go to the midwest writer's conference and see QOTKU's Power Point presentation.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

@ Janice - YES, you are a writer!

Fred, the cat...hasn't he been mentioned before? I had a wonderful cat named Fred, oh the wonderful stories I could tell, but all I will say is R.I.P. my beloved Fred. He's been gone for almost 15 years now, but I still tear up when I think of him.

@Julie W - Regarding driving authors crazy. We do it ourselves just writing and editing, and re-writing and editing and...I'm going crazy editing the first few pages of my novel. I thought I had reached the "Utmost, final" editing stage, and hadn't looked at if for a few months. Now, it's "change that, change this, redundant, same word used too often." Loony-bin time!

Re; Sub-header: "Interesting failure is better than boring success."
I like this cuz it's very inspirational; reminds me I'm on the right path, I'm a risk-taker. Reminds me of "The Sin is not in failing, the sin is not trying at all."

Sam Hawke said...

I would also love to serve on a jury but alas, I'm ineligible. I'm always envious of people who get the notices and can't understand it when they complain! [On a slightly related tangent, is anyone else here (still) obsessed with Serial/Undisclosed/the Adnan Syed case in general? It makes me frightened of the police and court system but it's so fascinating I can't stay away.]

I know it's been the header before but I liked it so much then and still so much now that I'm putting in a vote for: 'Some days it is quality. Some days it is theme. Some days it is a cat named Fred.'

Tamlyn said...

I decided to be less lurky last time I commented. I think that was two weeks or so ago.

I was called for jury duty, but I'm ineligible. My sister was irked when I told her because she wants to be called. If you want to just watch, you can always attend a public hearing. Sure, you're not taking part, but it's still getting an idea of what happens.

*tries to think of something intelligent to say... and goes to watch Tangled instead*

Jenz said...

Thanks for reposting my story link, Janet!