Sunday, October 18, 2015

Week in Review 10/18/15

Welcome to the week that was.

Last Sunday I planned to work on the week in review while I was on the train from Raleigh to New York. After a two hour delay, I got on the train, only to discover NO WI FI! Aieee! Not only no WIR, no way to post that it wasn't coming.

I got home late that night and was able to post at 11pm! Not surprisingly, a few of you were right there to say hello.

AJ Blythe asked if I read my stack of books and looked out the window. What I actually did was read a client manuscript.

Lisa Bodenheim wondered:

Whew! I thought Colin and Donnaeve had enjoyed your company so much they kidnapped you.

I would have been a willing victim to that! Meeting Colin and Donna was the highlight of the convention.

Retaliation for the delay in posting came from Poof!
Train puns. Now you've got me started! My fav ...

Q. If you weigh a train on a railway, where do you weigh a pie?

A. Somewhere, over the rainbow.
And Bouchercon was terrific. Client Jim Ringel and I were on the train together and saw several other Bouchercon-bound friends as they passed by on the way to the café car. The small child sitting in front of us had a video game of some sort that played a song about marching dinosaurs. Yes, we listened to that for about nine of the ten hours we were on the train. I can still hear it in my sleep.

But soon we were in Raleigh and picking up our registration bags for Bouchercon. The kind volunteer gave me very clear instructions on name badge, voting procedures etc. Jim was standing right next to me. She said the exact same thing to him after handing him his bag. Clearly this lady took her duties VERY seriously.

Next morning we hit the speed dating event (yesterday's post) and then handed out copies of the 2014 Bouchercon Anthology to the people attending Bouchercon 101. I had about 50 extra copies of the antho and this seemed like a good way to help them find better homes than my book shelf in NYC.

After that we sat at a small table in the hallway and the world walked by. That's one of my favorite things about Bouchercon: hang out and the world comes to you.

Colin and Donna are doing a much better job of Bouchercon reporting than I am:

Donna Part one
Donna Part two
Donna Part three

Colin Day One
Colin Day Two
Colin Day Three

Colin's exchange with Mrs. Colin cracked me up:
the conversation I had with my wife after I explained what Bouchercon is:

WIFE: Will Janet Reid be there?
ME: Yes.
WIFE: Will there be alcohol?
ME: I just answered that.
WIFE: And your strange blog comment friends?
ME: Some of them.
WIFE: I suppose you have to go, then...

On Monday, thankfully a holiday, the topic was how to deal with a group critique at a conference.

John Frain's comment just cracked me up:

You know, it's not often you actually LOL when you type LOL. But this did it: "oh god this sounds like hell."

OMG, and now that I hit cut and paste, I realize I did a reado, the reading equivalent to a typo. I thought Janet said "Oh GOOD, this sounds like hell," reveling once again in making writers squirm. Okay, never mind, back to the answer. (No wonder I'm getting confused so often.)

Racherin has a great metaphor for group crits:
Getting critiqued by a bunch of people is a bit like getting directions from a bunch of locals in a city with no reliable map. Everyone has their opinion on which restaurant you should go to, and how to get there, and sometimes they forget that everyone has to get lost a few times to really know their way around.

And then offered up one of the best tools I've ever seen for prepping for a group crit:
This sounds weird, but when I'm scared of putting myself out there, I'll sit with a good friend and we'll come up with all the meanest things someone could say about what I did - tactless, possibly even malicious. Then we translate them to useful-speak, or, how your bff writer pal would say it. It can be good practice at finding the value on the fly, like in a workshop situation. If you role-play it a few times, it will be easier to stay poised.

On Tuesday, the topic was unreliable narrators, and when to reveal that device in the query. My position is you don't.

AJ Blythe reminded us that not everyone would know the term unreliable narrator:

I'm glad you used an example of a book I am familiar with, QOTKU, because I couldn't even fathom what an unreliable narrator was. All I could envisage was a narrator getting bored with telling the story and just wandering off the page mid-book, leaving the reader to muddle there way through the rest of the story.
I stole this definition from these guys

A narrator that is not trustworthy, whose rendition of events must be taken with a grain of salt. We tend to see such narrators especially in first-person narration, since that form of narration tends to underline the motives behind the transmission of a given story. There are numerous famous examples in literature (James' "Turn of a Screw" is a superb example) and a few notable examples in film (Citizen Kane perhaps most famously among them).

BJ Muntain
asked a good question

I do have a question - for anyone here - about unreliable narrators. Someone once told me my point-of-view character was an unreliable narrator simply because he had a snarky rebel living at the back of his mind. I disagreed. I have no wish to make this character unreliable.

Don't we all have that snarky rebel, who says the things we would say if we weren't so polite, gracious, and prudent? Who would make a snide remark about our boss's misfortunate spelling of 'public' while we politely, privately point out the missing L to our boss?

I understand that one of the things that makes for an unreliable narrator is insanity, but is having an inner rebel a type of insanity? Or is it a coping behaviour to help one keep one's sanity in a highly critical world?

There's a difference between the narrator offering snarky commentary and withholding information. For example:

Colin Smith is a handsome devil, but I'm certainly never going to tell my readers that!  = snarky narrator

Colin Smith doesn't look like his blog avatar = unreliable narrator

Dead Spider Eye gave us a lovely example here:

You know, I was pondering exactly this question while out driving my Astin Martin this morning. It was playing so much on my mind that I posed the question to Sandrine and Mai Ling when I got back to the flat in Mayfair, then I woke up...
including the great subtle joke clue: there is only one I in my Aston Martin

On Wednesday we returned to one of the evergreen topics: agent communication. The question was whether the client had been fired and just didn't know it.

asked the question we were all wondering:

What I truly don't get is why the agent didn't handle this in a more professional way? Why did she acknowledge receipt of OP's work politely? Why does someone do that knowing they have no intentions of offering editing points, no intentions of promoting the work. I mean, honestly, what is going on here?

I have clients now who were once in that situation. Manuscripts sent, receipt acknowledged, crickets. You'll notice I now rep them.

I'm not sure what is going on in the agent's mind. It's true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease (mostly) and a follow up email after a month or so, just to check status is always in order. (I get a lot of these as you might imagine)

A year with no reply is a long time to wait, but if you don't nudge….

BJ Muntain pulls out the rose-colored glasses for this one (that nice Canadian side is showing!):
It's *possible* the agent is actually continuing to work in good faith, but is not being very successful. It's also possible the agent doesn't want to pass this information on to the author because of the 'falling out'. (Again, not professional, but not as bad as not even trying).

Entirely possible. I have often been lax in sending emails to clients while I've been busy trying to sell their stuff, but at some point, I had to let them in on the news. "Hey I've got an offer, but it's crap and we're not going to take it" kinds of things.

John Frain
asked a technical question:
Just want to confirm something: In the pharma world, scrips is short for prescriptions. So, in our world, is scripts short for manuscripts? I always thought ms was acceptable for manuscript. But I thought script was something written for Hollywood. No?

OP: "I've sent her several scripts..."

QOTKU: "if you sell another book..."
Scripts are generally considered the stuff of which movies are made, whereas manuscripts the starting point of books. However, this blog is read by book writers, so I assumed the question was about books.

I know little if anything about script agents. They are an alien bunch.

S.D. King asked:
Also, Janet, I get confused about a point in the agent/writer agreement. When you coach us in querying, it seems that we are not selling ourselves as writers as much as selling an individual book. So does the contract make the writer an indentured servant for ALL work or does the contract cover the one book which was queried? Can't Opie send all future stuff to a different agent w/o legally breaking with original agent/enemy? (However, I think I would get so much satisfaction in the termination- after all, yesterday I fired my parents' lawyer and it felt GREAT!)

It depends on the specific author/agency agreement. HOWEVER. Nothing brings out rapscallion greedy tentacles like money and the last thing you want if you have a Fifty Shades of Gray type hit is an agent waving a contract that says she reps you for all your work unless you send her notice.

It's better to cover your bases, dot your t's and cross your eyes at the time you wish to sever than scramble later.

And Panda In Chief had a very good point about how the author let the situation slide for so long:
I know exactly how you did it, because I've done it too. Not with an agent, but with one of the galleries that used to show my work. It's called the "if I don't make the phone call I won't hear anything bad" syndrome. Kind of like as long as you don't check your lottery ticket, you could be a millionaire. And then one day becomes a week, which becomes a month which becomes, "oh hell it's been too long. Maybe she'll call tomorrow."

On Thursday we returned to the topic that will not die: published versus unpublished.

S.D. King asked:
I worry about these things, too, since I like to enter contests. If I have submitted to the Writer's Digest contest and they ignored it, can I enter it in another contest since it is unpublished? I never know.

Yes. If a contest does not select your entry for publication, it's not published and thus you can send it elsewhere. When I submit short stories for clients, if I get a rejection, I send the same story out to the next magazine on my list that very day.

And then we went happily, gloriously off topic with this news posted by Christina Seine about our own Donnaeve:

Donna Everhart's THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, focusing on the shared
secrets existing between an eleven-year-old and her mother, and who when confronted by cruelty from those closest to her, exhibits a prevailing spirit and resilience beyond her years, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington by John Talbot at Talbot Fortune Agency

Donnaeve said:
Ha - what can I say? I'm still cross-eyed with excitement after ALL these months. The offer came April 1st - how's that for the day of a book deal? April Fools??? Ask me if I care. Nope, nope nope.

I'll share on my blog tomorrow. So much has already happened.

Christina Seine
Which leads me to a question for the QOTKU. Why is such lovely news embargoed? I mean, I understand waiting until the ink is dry and all, and I'm sure there is a very good reason. But six months is forever. =o

PM announcements are often delayed for a variety of reasons. I like to wait till the contract is done and signed at the very least. For projects that I've retained  translation rights, I like to wait till the manuscript is finished so when the announcement hits and the co-agents come a'calling, I have something to show them.

Each agent has their own way of doing things, but it's not uncommon for a deal not to get announced for months, even years.

And yes, it's HORRIBLE for sharks who know to keep their jaws shut.

Many of you raised a glass to Donna and Lynn Rodz offered a toast;

Donna, so, so happy for you! I swear, it’s close to 3 am here in Paris and I’m about to go to bed. We opened a bottle of champagne earlier this evening to celebrate your good news.

Hubby: “What are we celebrating?”
Me: “Donna’s good news.”
(Hubby with a quizzical look on his face. He doesn’t know a Donna.)
Hubby: “Is she part of Janet’s clicque?”
Me: “You got it. Her book deal was announced.”
Hubby: “It’d be nicer if you had a book deal, but hey, here’s to Donna.”
Me: “ Cin cin!”

Donna, there are two versions of “cin cin.” The Italian one is similar to saying “cheers.” The Japanese version...well I’ll let you look it up. (I was going for the Italian one. Lol.)
I looked it up

On Friday we talked about typos in a query letter. Of course, I managed to have typos in the blog post itself.

The best one was pointed out by Sam Hawke
I tell you I've always had a terrible time distinguishing between discrete and discrete. Even now, it's eluding me. ;)

(just a reminder that I do appreciate you eagle eyed readers letting me know about these pesky fuckers)
(ummm…by pesky fuckers I mean typos, not commenters like Sam Hawke)

and this comment by nightmusic is why:
All that said, I read a lot of blogs and it amazes me how many people use the wrong words, their/they're/there is a good example. I'm not sure if it's just being lazy or our education system or the fact that the younger generation texts so much that they no longer care because, hey! Text!

It kills me to think of people reading this a month or a year down the road and seeing mistakes.

Colin Smith said:
Funnily enough, it seems today is Noah Webster's birthday. Did you plan this, Janet? :)

sure ya did

Andrea van der Wilt asked about one of the examples:

As a non-native English speaker I'd love to know when it's o.k. to use "try and do" instead of "try to do". Or is "try and do" colloquial and not used in writing? (I'm guessing that might be the case because "try and do" sounds completely illogical to me and reminds me of Yoda - do or do not; there is no try. Something like that anyway)
Dialogue only. People say "try and do" but the correct construction is try to do. Narrative is try to do. Dialogue can be wrong and still be correct.

Lisa Bodenheim said

umm...Janet? I've never heard of postard! Here in the Midwest we say petard. Omigoodness, I double checked on google. What a fun history petard has.

And Colin Smith hit the nail on the head
Lisa: I could be wrong but I think Janet was being funny. Her post is about spelling mistakes, and she made a spelling mistake in the post, hence postard, not petard. I could be wrong. But I like to think the best of people. Especially sharks... ;)

Dena Pawling had a book recc for us:
For all you language junkies, I'm reading a book right now [the audio version] called Between You and Me - Confessions of a Comma Queen, by Mary Norris.
As did A.J. Blythe

I've been recommended a newly published book: Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation by John Seely, revised second edition, with the recommendation I think it’s the most clearly explained guide to grammar I’ve ever seen.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale has a software recommendation for us:

Our brains have this notorious habit of being able to auto-correct. Taht's how erevenoe cna raed tihs snetnence. (my spell czech had a tizzy here) In our works, our brains will catch a typo, correct it so the brain knows what we meant, and then we go on. Unless we specifically train our brains to pause at that moment and not autocorrect without notifying the rest of us, typos will slip through.

I recently discovered this free tool, which points out several of the most common grammar and style issues in an analysed text, plus highlight homophones.

Might this be helpful?

I ran a ms through it--a ms I thought was clean and tidy. Boy, did my brain miss some doozies! I don't use as many cliches as I thought I did, but I am terrible when it comes to dangling participles. Who'd a thunk?

Granted, I also have a professional editor going through the ms as I've had too many rejected fulls. Am learning a lot from her notes.

On Saturday I posted about Bouchercon swag. I thought some of the swag items were pretty useless, but bookmarks were tried and true.

Lance said:
Some one could really cash in by giving you a big bag with their book cover, etc. on the side to carry all the other swag.

The conference itself does that. And the good book bags are EXPENSIVE! The crappy cheap ones aren't something you'd want to use either. Every person in publishing fancies themselves a connoisseur of tote bags (I am not the exception to the rule.)

Getting "the good bags" at BEA is something of a priority.

Cynthia Mc had this to say about the fact we toss anything homemade:

Interesting perspective on home-baked vs. store-bought. In the South homemade=made with love for someone you care enough about to take the time and store-bought means you picked up whatever in about a second on the way to wherever you forgot you were supposed to be until the last minute. I understand the reasoning, it makes perfect sense. It also makes me sad.

This is only from people we don't know. Home made cookies or chocolates from someone we do know is definitely on the "get your hand off my chocolate, mine mine mine" list.

But a round robin of authors…not so much. I'm sure they were fine, but we live in a scary world these days, and one way to cope with that is being cautious about which risks to take.

Kara Ringenbach asked a good question:
I'm curious if most skilled writers are as effective at oral story telling? It seems like such a different skill set to me?
I agree. A MUCH different skill set. A lot of the writers had clearly practiced. Some had a prepared shtick. Some just mumbled. The ones with a more prepared presentation were better. Hands down. It didn't have to be slick or glib. Just organized.

S.P. Bowers asked:
What about pens as swag? I'm interested in knowing what people think. I'm a little bit of a pen snob and generally throw away free pens because they're not as nice as the pens I like to use. But if they have a special meaning to me I keep them. If the pen is a nice pen (one writers, who I think are probably all pen snobs, would use) would you keep or chuck?
I'm a LOT of a bit of a pen snob. Giveaway pens usually get tossed in my bin of unwanted pens (so sad, I know.) I don't throw them away but they don't get used like bookmarks.

Julia said:
What about small pads of paper with the book info at the top?
Everyone writes on stuff.
I like that idea a lot, particularly at a conference where I can never find something to write on when I need to pass notes under the table to Barbara Poelle reminding her that she had a vodka delivery at the front door.

And these were some of the best takeaways from the author speed dating:

"We obviously have a failure to communicate. You don't understand how great I am."

"I did crime on the weekends"-author Cate Holahan about her reporting job

"Ethics as a last resort" Robert Lopresti

"Needs an Excel spread sheet to track her sex life" Craig Faustus Buck about one of his characters.

Great title: I'll Sleep When You're Dead by EA Aymer

and this, from Susan Bonifant on Monday, made my entire week:
I visit this site mostly because of a time when I thought I would quit. I believed I should, hated that I wanted to, and worse than anything, didn't know what would stop me. My bravery wasn't enough anymore.

Janet Reid stopped me. At the right bad moment, for only the moment it took, with that piece.
Thank you, Janet Reid. And thank you for today's post, which I promise you, will be tacked to more than one person's wall for a long time to come.


nightsmusic said...

I read and spellcheck and grammar check and have used editminion and I still make mistakes. Most times, we read what we want to see, not what is actually printed. Our minds fill in the blanks. It's like that paragraph that has no vowels in it and yet, most of us can read it easily.

Thanks for the week in review. I now have a much better idea of what an unreliable narrator is. :)

BJ Muntain said...

Wonderful WiR, as usual. Thank you!

And thank you for answering my question on unreliable narrators, Janet. I'm glad that my character wouldn't be considered unreliable, just because he has that snarky mental voice.

I think those rose-colored glasses are ingrained... but they're good. I find, as a writer, I'm really good at finding all sorts of answers for situations (some are fun, some are evil), and bringing out the Canadian nice-ness helps to even that out. :)

The correction about the 'pesky fuckers' was even funnier than the speculation that they could be Sam Hawke...

Yay EM for subheader of the week!

BJ Muntain said...

And a couple typos - sorry.

"Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale has a software reccomendation for us:"

recommendation. You also use 'recc' above, but I think you'd want that 'rec'.

"And the good book backs are EXPENSIVE!"

Book bags, right? Although it sounds like one would need a very good back in order to carry such a bag...

I'm certainly not perfect, when it comes to typos. I do like to help folks if they want to be helped. Feel free to delete this comment once fixed. :)

Dena Pawling said...

Hey BJ! Here's why I don't mention typos. I found these [without benefit of spell check, just by reading], which are only the egregious ones. The ones that are subject to interpretation, like “wait till” which really should be “wait 'til” but has wormed its way into the vernacular, I don't include here.

Commentery - Commentary

Fifty Shades of Gray - Grey

Each agent has their own way of doing things, - if you want to use their instead of his/her, you need to change the antecedent noun to “All agents have” This is addressed in the book I recommended, Between You and Me – Confessions of a Comma Queen, by Mary Norris.

Dialogoue - Dialogue

reccomendation - recommendation

connissuer – connoisseur

In a previous life, I was a proofreader for aerospace technical manuals. I see EVERY SINGLE TYPO, including an extra space between words.

Now, back to my regularly-scheduled programming of ignoring typos, for the purpose of maintaining my sanity and just enjoying the blog posts =)

And when I just enjoy it, it's a GREAT WiR!

Unknown said...

How the hell did I miss the news about Donna? I signed up for her blog...but I sometimes get busy...wrapped up in my own world...RATS

HUGE Congratulations, Donna, so freaking happy for you. Let me know when I can buy it. I promise NEVER to pass by your blog again.

Great links in this WIR. Sundays are now to be spent on writing news, instead of writing/editing/rewriting/drinking.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Oh, pens! I tend to work best with Sharpies and felt tipped pens, not because I'm necessarily a pen snob (though I kind of am) but because my handwriting's readability does much better with a bolder medium. And so gas station pens, hotel pens, etc. indeed do not get used by me, though we can always use pens at the library front desk! My coworkers, handwriting notwithstanding, will use anything that comes to hand.

At my writing group yesterday, somebody was actively fighting with her spell czech during writing prompts. I told her that I'd turned mine off and was happier for it (and run it manually at the end of things....I don't worry about my gorram spelling if I'm doing a ten minute writing exercise).

I also, of course, shilled both of QOTKU's blogs. Some of my writers are book writers, and asked how I "would go about" finding an agent. I was like "well, the way I AM going about finding an agent...." and then directed them both to here and to Query Shark. And Absolute Write. But most of my best advice is cribbed from Janet's pages.

Janet Reid said...

argh. I failed to run spell czech on this post. I finished at 6 this morning and just plain forgot.

The WIR always has more typos and word problems than the other posts in a given week. Those other posts get a lot more scrutiny cause I'm not writing them just before posting them.

[Which just goes to show that letting a novel sit for a month is a REALLY good idea!]

I think I've got most of them fixed now.

BJ Muntain said...

Ah, but Dena! I hope you don't mind if I devolve this into a style discussion. I love discussing style.

"Each agent has their own way of doing things," - 'their' is becoming more and more accepted as a gender neutral singular pronoun. So if this is the case, then 'their' is singular here, and thus correct.

I used to be of the mind that using they/their in place of a gendered pronoun was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. But three things have changed my mind:

1) it's the only elegant way to use a gender neutral pronoun in this case
2) it's been used that way for a very long time - it's only fairly recently that it's been restricted as much as it is now
3) English has no gender neutral pronoun when referring to a person. Using 'it' can cause more confusion than they/their.

Grammar Girl explains it nicely here: Generic singular pronouns

Style guides say, "Rewrite your sentence so you don't have to use this sort of construct", but that's not really worthwhile in an informal blog post.

Again, I hope you don't mind. I love these topics and this sort of discussion.

BJ Muntain said...

Jennifer: I used to use felt-tipped pens all the time. I loved the feel of them, and the rich darkness.

But since I write my first drafts longhand on both sides of loose leaf paper, I found that the thicker pens took up lots of space and the ink often bled through.

I started using pencil - I could fit more on a page, and I get a different sort of creativity flowing through me when I use a pencil. I think it's because it's similar to drawing, so I tap into a different part of my creative mind. I like how that works for me.

But every once in awhile, I start wondering about those lovely felt-tipped pens again...

Dena Pawling said...

BJ, the book I recommended has a rather hilarious discussion of just this topic. Mary Norris talks about several gender-neutral third person singular pronouns that have previously circulated, without much widespread acknowledgment, never mind acceptance. One of the proffered selections was “heesh”. LOL I laughed when she discussed that one.

It still jumps out at me, whether or not it has made its way into our vernacular. In my previous life it would have bounced me right out of the story, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on the perspective of the author.

I'm a “recovering grammar nazi.” I notice problems/mistakes/oddities, and forcibly ignore them.

This is one of the reasons I tend to ignore all typos in blog posts, whether WiR or during the week, on this blog and others [except mine, where I tend to be rabid/fanatical, altho I still miss things sometimes, being marginally human]. Some of them could be stylistic, others are just downright wrong. I see them and acknowledge them, then mentally bleep over them. Makes my life MUCH easier and less stressful. Plus you've probably read that saying - I used to love correcting people's grammar until I realized what I loved more was having friends.

I'm an attorney. Friends are generally hard to come by.............

But I always enjoy the discussion =)

Colin Smith said...

A great WiR, Janet--and not just because you said nice things about me. I hope anyone reading my Bouchercon Debrief (thanks for the links) appreciates what an honor, privilege, and utter delight it was for me to spend time in your company, not to mention getting to hang with Donna, Jim, Loretta, Patrick (nytba), and everyone else that gravitated to our table at Jimmy V's. And I mean that. I'd do it again, even if, after a long drawn out battle, Barbara Poelle had beaten you to take me on as a client. :)

Now I'm really miffed about being late for Bouchercon 101--I didn't get an anthology! Oh well. Maybe next time... :)

Anonymous said...

What a great week in review.

I have been absent because I am trying to be a good little author and polishing the stink out of my pieces I'm taking to Surrey. Though I had about come to grips with the idea I wouldn't be going, it's always best to be prepared for all contingencies. Rodeo teaches you this. If it can happen, it does.

I'm giving a mini talk on rodeo at Surrey. My first bit of advice I'd love to give would be, "For the love of all that is holy, don't take a rodeo cowboy home with you. He might decide to stay, then whatcha gonna do with a cowboy?"

Anyway, I've been hit and miss here and missed a great week by the week in review. I can't wait to go read the blogs.

Strangers don't normally bother me, though I can be very reclusive, but I am getting a case of nerves about the pitches. I wrote "Dragons can kill you. Agents aren't dragons. Unless they're M'Eiryn, then they might be dragons also." at the top of my notebook to remind myself to loosen up.

So, off I go to town for the umpteenth time to get stuff I discovered I need.

Good job to all.

Congratulations to Donna! What wonderful news! I am beyond thrilled.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Great to have the WiR back. It's been....2 weeks? Yes, I am counting, and it's highly possible I've miscounted (because I'm in a rush to get out and garden now that it's warmed up to 50F). Just as my dull-wittedness misunderstood the postard comment.

And Congrats to our new sub-headee, E.M. Goldsmith.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

oh, and Julie: have a great time!

Donnaeve said...

Congrats E.M. on the sub-header!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wish Word would come up with a punctuation check. I drop commas like germs from a virus.

And I agree with Ms. Janet - meeting her and Colin was simple THE BEST part of my experience. Loretta Sue, Barbara Poelle, Patrick Lee, Susan Spann, and the rest? Bonus!!!

Thank you Amanda!!! It's okay if you missed it. You'd think I missed it too. Actually I'm still reeling from the effects of letting THE BIG SECRET out. I've held it, and nurtured it for so long, it was like letting go of a beloved pet.

And, many, many THANKS to Ms. Janet for being so generous with her blog space!

I've missed the WIR - although, I can't help but look at it and think of the work you put into it! Which makes it SMACK of awesomeness!

Thank you for all you do...

There. I think I've used up my quota of ! for the next year.


John Frain said...

Oh my, great WiR. What do you have to type into Google Search to get the photo of that caught-in-the-act dog!

Dead Spider Eye, well done. I know how to spell Aston Martin, but your subtlety slipped right past me. Always makes me wonder what else I'm missing. Darned Skimming Eye!

Pay better attention. Pay better...

Anonymous said...

"The kind volunteer gave me very clear instructions on name badge, voting procedures etc. Jim was standing right next to me."

I read this again and if not for the lady giving Jim the exact same instructions I envisioned her saying, "Thou shalt not swap badges with another agent tho it be hilarious."

Donnaeve said...

Oh, and thank you Julie!!! Just talk to those folks like you do us here, and you'll have them charmed out of their britches.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

E.M. Congrats on the sub-header.

Love the WIR. (Especially the, "stake to my heart," typo post).
Janet when do you sleep?

Speaking of sleep, time for a Sunday afternoon nap.

BJ Muntain said...

Dena, I sympathize with everything you've said. I, too, have been a grammar curmudgeon. I, too, try to ignore oopsies in people's talk and informal writing.

One thing that actually pushed me out of orbit around some of the old restrictions was a job I had for a fair length of time. I wrote marketing and other communications, and I followed their corporate style guide, as every corporate writer must learn to do.

Now, most Canadian businesses I've been employed by use Canadian Press (CP) Style, which is similar to AP style, but with Canadian spellings. I know CP style very well by now.

Canadian businesses will also have their own private style guides, where they pick and choose stylistic ideas for their own corporate styles.

This business I worked for included their/they as gender neutral pronouns, and so I had to accept them. It also chose to follow the British style of not putting periods after such abbreviations as Dr and Mr - which was a rather weird change for me, but you do what you have to, right?

I also had to learn - frighteningly enough - to type with single spaces after the period. And yes, I can now, too, pick out extra spaces that don't belong.

And one thing they changed after I'd been there awhile was removing the hyphen in e-mail. That still hurts my soul to do. That dash makes the e- prefix livable.

I know your pain, but I've learned various style guides - including corporate style guides - and doing so has made me more sensitive to the areas that are more flexible, and it has made it easier to accept some of the new style decisions.

So yes, I still see that 'they' instead of 'he/she' as a tic... but I've come to accept that. It's slow going, but I'm getting to the point where it doesn't bother me as much as it used to.

But darn it, I still think you have to use 'til if you're not spelling it 'until'. Using 'till' still hurts my grammar nazi soul. No matter what changes style guides bring in. And you will have to wrench my oxford comma from my cold, dead, and bloodless hand.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Great week in review and a week that has sent me spiraling back into edit mode :) I learn so much every week from the content and comments on this blog. It really does help me keep going through all the ebbs and flows of writing, editing, querying, editing again, more querying, and publishing. Another big congratulations to Donna - a big inspiration for us all. Thank you, Janet and all her Reiders. I can't believe I got the sub-header. Cool. That makes my whole week.

BJ Muntain said...

Donna: Word has a grammar check, which can include punctuation. It can be a bit... what's the best word here... umm... wrong. So, while it can pick up some punctuation problems, it won't pick up all. And some of the 'problems' it picks up aren't really problems, at all. But if you're worried about using too many commas, it *might* be useful. Or you could do a find for a comma, then choose to highlight all, just so you can see them all on the page. If that's what you're looking for.

Here's Julie's video: Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Julie, have fun!

BJ: I know what you mean about the bleed through, but I do not like pencils. Typically. Soft leaded ones, I guess, since they write more easily and boldly. But wouldn't you know the pencils we have around the house for gaming (have to write in pencil on character sheets, natch; a lot changes quickly) are all mechanical, which I particularly hate. The novel I wrote in longhand on looseleaf paper(my Very Bad fantasy novel, that I started in 8th grade or so and wrote up through high school) was written using those Pilot V point pens, with the liquid ink inside? I had a constant blue smear on the middle finger of my right hand. Nowadays, if I'm using a notebook, it tends to be one of those "journals" well-meaning people have bought for me over the years, which I didn't used to write in, because I mysteriously feared leaving story fragments all over the place. I've managed to get over that fear, though, and I'm fine with starting a story in a notebook, transcribing it to the computer, and then writing to "the end" on screen.

Laura said...

Another one for the (slightly belated) chorus of YAY FOR DONNA!

YAY! Can't wait to read it!

Colin Smith said...

Oh, I forgot to say CONGRATS to EM for the subheader. You beat out some tough competition for that... ;)

allierat said...

The "best typo I ever begged to have corrected" story:

Back before photoshop, we were making 100 copies of an overhead projection presentation on 8x10 Ektachrome sheet film. The product was a dual headed carpet cleaner gizmo. One head expelled water and was the "water hating, or hydro-phobic" head. The other head sucked up the water and dirt, and was the "water loving, or hydro-phallic" head.

Thank goodness someone contacted the customer. I don't know if seeing that image in a sales presentation would have made me want to buy the product or just laugh.

CynthiaMc said...

Hurrah for EM and Donna! Well done!

Dena Pawling said...

BJ – I was an aerospace technical manual proofreader back BA, before attorney, and pretty much everyone who would be reading the manuals was male, so we used “he” because “she” was nonsensical at the time, and gender-neutral was non-existent then also.

I still double-space after periods and then do global find/replace at the end. Single space is a new trick, and I'm an old dog.

I did have to google the “till” because it raised the hairs on the back of my neck. As per the gospel according to Google, NONE of the links on the first page said till instead of 'til was wrong, so I assumed it was “modernized”. You did notice, however, that I felt strongly-enough about it being an error to at least mention it in my comment LOL

Mary Norris has a long section in her book about the SERIAL comma. “Why is it called Oxford comma? Why isn't it Stanford? Or Yale? What's so important about Oxford? Is being accurate only assigned to the British?” Hilarious. She prefers serial comma, but did mention that Webster's Dictionary was able to eliminate 84 PAGES by removing commas. And yes, I'm with you, serial comma is the only way to go. My parents are NOT Ayn Rand and God.

Also, she has an entire section devoted to whether the term motherf*cker should be two words, one word, or hyphenated. I was listening to this section while driving back to the office from San Diego [a 3 hour trip at that time of day]. I was laughing so hard I would have had difficulty driving if I'd been moving at the speed limit. This didn't happen but I can just imagine my conversation with a cop:

Cop: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: Um... I was driving erratically because I was laughing too hard?
Cop: What's so funny?
Me: I'm listening to a scholarly dissertation on whether the term motherf*cker should be hyphenated.

Mary Norris is the reader on the audiobook, as well as the writer. She's been with The New Yorker for more than three decades, so she sounds, um, cough, like an older woman. And she's discussing this topic in all seriousness, which made it even more funny.

You really need to read this book. I got it at my library.

BJ Muntain said...

Dena: You're right. I really need that book. I really, really, really need that book.

*hikes over to Amazon and puts in on my 2015 Christmas list, that I send to everyone*

Amy Schaefer said...

Congratulations, Donnaeve! I missed the news the first time around - I'm so glad Janet highlighted it in the WIR. Keeping quiet must have been ulcer-inducing - good on you.

S.P. Bowers said...

Jennifer R. Donohue, I don't use felt tip pens but I do like a thick liquid line. The kind I have to dry off before folding or stacking.

Donnaeve said...

Uhkay. I've recovered from reading about hydro-phallic heads vs hydro-phobia. And if there should be a hyphen in motherf****er.

These things are important. No?

Anyway, thanks Amy! Not ulcer-inducing...more like what I call Flower Child Syndrome. Meaning I love everybody and everything. Even that son of a gun I used to date, maybe not HIM.

Thanks Laura and Cynthia!

Julie said...

1. Great WiR.
2. Donna rocks.
3. That train joke? Had me rolling.
4. QOKTU: stop fixing your typos. They make me giggle. Giggling extends life.
5. I made the WiR???

Janet Reid said...

Speaking of proper punctuation, this is one of my favorite stories. It involves Ben Bradlee, the one of a kind editor at the Washington Post.

The second paragraph about house grammarian Tom Lippman is the story.

And just to make this all really fun: Tom Lippman is one of my clients now.

CynthiaMc said...

Good books to have with all of the editing notes today - Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and my personal favorite Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

Sometimes the baking thing can backfire. I baked an Italian cream cake and figured it would be enough for 2 shifts at work (since several other people were bringing desserts to our monthly potluck.) The thing was gone within minutes and the mid and late shifts let me know they wanted one each for their shifts next time. Live and learn.

Donnaeve said...

Aha, so, I see they worried over the importance of d*ckhead being two words or not, like we did motherf*cker. Tom Lippman kept some stellar company back in the day.

CynthiaMc - I baked an Italian Creme Cake over the summer, I think I even mentioned it on here for some reason, but let me tell you, the non-cake eaters were devouring it, and between the cake lovers, and the one's who are usually "meh," that sucker was gone in 30 mins.

I might make one for Thanksgiving. And Christmas. They are so good!

Panda in Chief said...

Gee, I always get a warm schmoopy sort of glow when I get quoted in the WIR. (Okay, well for the two times it's happened, I do.)
I loved reading Colin's accounts of Badgercon, and so now I guess I need to read Donna's accounts. Something to save for AFTER I've done my days work. It is almost as good as being there. Well, if I pour myself a drink it will be.
And no one mentioned my favorite (panda-centric) book on punctuation, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves." The author, Lynne Truss also is a columnist who writes essays that make me laugh out loud as I listen to the audio book version of them when I paint. Any little pieces of food stuck in one of my paintings are either her fault or that of Jasper Fforde, one of my other studio time favorites.

Donnaeve said...

But wait...b/c every time I comment I mean to say something about the last part of the post today...

If you didn't go out and read "that piece" that Ms. Janet linked under Susan Bonifant's comment this week, then you should. If it doesn't stab you in the heart, you aren't a writer.

And the thing I noticed aside from the eloquence of that post WAY BACK THEN, are the names of the people who commented. Where are they now, I wonder? Did they keep on? Did they find agents, did they get published, did they give up? It's almost eerie to look back eight years ago and see a whole other passel of people commenting. They seem like ghosts to me.

Are they lurking?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

What Donna said.
I clicked on some of the WAY BACK WHEN names. Many have been abandoned like old gas stations and seedy motels along Route 1, on the east coast, and along old Route 66 cross country. It's sad actually, from gas pumps to clean beds, short stories to novels, all those dreams left to weather and wither by time.

Terri Lynn Coop said...



The roundtable lunches with Loretta, Colin, Patrick, and whoever else wandered by were worth the price of admission alone.

And that lemony shot thing . . .

This conference is a must for all - Terri

BJ Muntain said...

Dickhead. One word. But, of course, that's what Mr. Lippman told her.

Wow. Grammarian at the Washington Post.

I have a new dream job.

Donna: I remember the Princess of Pixies. I checked her blog - she's still keeping it current. I remember her little stories about goats - Bill Goat, in particular, I believe. I think he was trying to get published...

Anonymous said...

Loved that article about Bradlee. It reminded me of the only change the editor ever suggested, over the course of four years, when I was writing oped columns for a small local paper in FL. I'd written a piece critical of the school board (one of many) and suggested members must have been sipping vodka drinks in the tropics rather than paying attention to local issues. He called and said in the tropics it was more likely to be drinks with rum and asked whether I wanted him to change it. I laughed. Yes, of course, I said. I'd never been to the tropics. And then he ended the call by saying it was a damn good thing he knew for a fact that none of the current school board members had a drinking problem, so it wasn't likely any of them would sue me. Sometimes I really miss writing for that paper.

Unknown said...

Finally made it to this WIR, something that gives every Sunday a little extra sparkle. But this week was especially rewarding with the recognition of Donna's book deal. Wow, I say. Wow.

Donna: I am incredibly proud of you. SO happy for you and the way you must STILL be feeling. Really, truly. Congratulations.

And, of course, nothing is better than learning you made Janet Reid's week. It's the least I could do, after all she's done for everyone here.

Thank you, Janet.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Wonderful week in review.

The last few weeks have flown by and I'm reading diagonally. I missed Donna's good news. Congratulations Donna!

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Yay Donna!

(have no idea how i missed the initial announcement.)

John Frain said...

So, okay, Mr. Lippman obviously told her dickhead is one word since it's written that way in the piece. Yeah yeah.

But what I'm dying to know is his initial reaction. In my mind, he doesn't even look up, nothing close to an incredulous gasp, just holds up a finger in her direction and keeps on going with whatever he's doing. She nods, mutters thought so under her breath as she turns around and it's another day in BradleeWorld.

I love moments. I love this blog. God, I feel good right now. This is why it's so hard to go to sleep. What if you miss something?

John Frain said...

Oh, Donna, yes yes yes. I wonder that exactly. Where are they now? And then, of course, where will I be soon?

Ah, but you already know your answer to that one! Have I congratulated you enough yet? Absolutely not. Congrats!

Tamlyn said...

I always miss comments these days. So a belated congrats to Donnaeve!

Sam Hawke said...

I am officially changing my twitter/blog bio to read: "Certified not a pesky fucker - Janet Reid, QOTKU" :)

Kae Ridwyn said...

Thank you Janet for a great WiR, as always.
And @SamHawke, you so should! :)

Donnaeve said...

Thanks Tamlyn, John, Her Grace, Angie, and Susan!!! The support here is wonderful. My heart goes pitter-patter!

LynnRodz said...

Another great WIR, Janet, and as always I'm amazed at how much work you put into it. I read your post last night as I was going to bed, but I didn't want to comment while sleepy. (It's a new policy of mine.)

You never cease to amaze us and speaking of sleep, if anyone doubts you are a shark, they should no longer. You do not sleep! Otherwise where would you find the time to do everything you do? Another astonishing constatation, you don't copy and paste. I realized that when I read "clicque" instead of clique or click. Or maybe you do and you just changed the one word. Regardless, I'm impressed!

Another interesting and informative week here at the reef. Thank you.

AJ Blythe said...

Coming late to the party (again). I''m on study residential this week and am up to my eyeballs in it.

Awesome WiR as always, JR, although I notice on a day when you talk about the importance of spell check you copy and paste my typo as is (there/their).