Sunday, November 29, 2015

Week in Review 11/29/15

Welcome to the week that was.

Last week, the WIR went AWOL. I blame the cat.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl

Faced with the choice of petting the cat or doing any kind of work, I picked the cat. I'm sure the cat concierges among us will understand. There was, however, in place of the post, a lovely string of comments introducing us to various fuzzy family members.

I must say though Amy Schaefer's comment was really cool:
And, if I went outside right now, I might be lucky enough to see the pod of dolphins make their daily migration to the next island over. Not pettable, but lovely wildlife all the same.
And nighstmusic's comment just cracked me up:
My dobes would let anyone have whatever someone wanted if they broke into the house. If they have a cookie? The dobes will carry everything to the car!
But it was Kae Ridwyn's comment that surprised me the most:
There's a camel farm across the road from us. Ever so often they decide to graze near the fence, and we can see them clearly from our bedroom windows, just 30 metres away. Being able to watch them on such a regular basis makes me feel pretty special. My German Shepherd and Australian Cattle Dog go nuts though, wanting to herd them! It's kinda funny, really.

Camel farm? I knew there were reindeer farms (I lived next to one for a couple years!) and mink farms (raised for their pelts, not as pets) but I had NO idea such a thing as a camel farm existed.

On Monday, the results of the Duchess of Yowl Flash Fiction contest were announced.

nightsmusic's comment
I decided to do what someone else said, write it, post it, THEN read the other entries. I almost deleted it because everyone's read so much better.
reminds me to tell you to NEVER assume your entry won't catch my attention. Sometimes that one turn of phrase, or a great sentence is enough to do it. Have confidence in yourself!

Poof! had a spelling note:
2) Spell check on paws. (Lallygagging should be lollygagging). Op. cit. Cat.
Now, this is the interesting thing: blogger corrects lollygagging to lallygagging! When I spell czech with Word, it's lollygag. When I checked with online dictionaries: lollygagging.

AJ Blythe missed posting because of time zone confusion:
I tried to do what I said I would - post *then* read. Unfortunately it would seem I messed up my timezones again (somehow calculating 10pm not 10am for closing) because when I went to post it was... closed =(
Would a countdown clock be useful? There are a lot of places I can create a widget that would appear on the contest post site that would tell you the number of hours remaining. Given we have readers all around the world now I was thinking that might be something to add. Let me know, ok?

And in case you were wondering just how self-involved I am, it took me a week, and two reads to figure out that our winner here was also the winner at Flash! Friday.

I couldn't figure out how Colin had missed Marie's win, given he was commenting on the exact post that mentioned it:

PS: I just noticed Marie won this past Friday's Flash! Friday Contest too!! Wow--that's the kind of double-whammy I can only dream of!! Well, done, Marie. What an awesome start to the week for you!! :D

The light dawned when I read this from Michael Seese:
Congratulations to Marie on 2/3 a hat trick: a win here AND Flash! Friday.

Yup, Janet, there are other blogs in the universe. And contests. Get a grip on your ego, SharkForBrains!

On Tuesday I posted a new approach to getting the gist of a query on the page.

This comment from Lucie Witt was interesting:
Before I start on a new WIP, I write a query draft. It essentially reads like back cover copy.

As I draft, I return to my query several times and tweak it. Sometimes this means adjusting to match new plot points that come up as I write. Sometimes it also helps me remember to stay on my main plot when I'm drafting and subplots start tempting me to go a million different directions.

I've found that when I can't make the query work as I draft, it usually means something's wrong with my plotting.

I've often said that if you really can't get the plot into a query, it's possible there's no plot in the book as well. But, I never thought about using a query as the first step in writing the novel.

I wondered if other writers did this, and sure enough, Susan Bonifant said:
Lucie Witt, a while back, I kinda sorta joked about writing the query first. Then I did it with my current WIP. I followed a path like yours, back and forth from query to changing story and back again to keep the query from sprawling.

I thought it would be more organized, and it is. But I very much like the idea that after two years of writing my heart out, the query won't loom (or will loom less) like a big scary pass/fail guard at the end of it all.

For me, and maybe you and others, this kinda sorta really works.

And Lisa Bodenheim too:
Lucie and Susan: yes, that's how I've working at it too for the past year. The query and the WiP inform each other

I find this fascinating.

Julie M. Weathers attended a panel at Surrey about queries:
The panel was split on where they want the housekeeping stuff. Some want it up front so if the word count is off or it's the wrong genre they can stop reading right there. One agent refuses to read anything over 100,000 words regardless of genre.
This is EXACTLY why I advise writers to put the housekeeping stuff at the bottom. At least give your novel a fighting chance to entice an agent before you mention category (which you get wrong a lot) or word count.

This is the ONE time when "follow the directions" is not what you want to do.

On Wednesday I jumped up and down about cleaning up your web presence before you query:

LynnRodz bemoaned her lack of blog fodder:
Pets? Should I rent one, or can I put a photo of my cactus instead?
How about you just post pictures of where you live? I think that would be almost as good as cat and dog pictures!

Jearl Rugh asked:
However, would pictures the free range deer, including lovely photos of the cutest fawns—the ones that keep my lawn moved—be sufficient?

Dena Pawling's comment here:
>>Your physical address
>>But you don't need ALL of them.
>>List ONLY the ones you want an agent to see.

I have to clean my house? I'm doomed. I woke up this morning to find my kitchen floor flooded. The day before Thanksgiving............
helped me figure out that I need to revise the order of the items in the handout!

Also, sorry about the kitchen floor. I always remember my mom saying that if you want to find out if the septic tank needs work, have 24 people invited for Thanksgiving. The tank is sure back up right in the middle of dinner.

Later update from Dena Pawling:
Thanks for all the well wishes. My kitchen floor turned out to be -- the reservoir of my water filter thingy overflowed. I realize that's a highly scientific definition. Sorry. Anyway, messy but not major, thankfully.

John Frain asked:
Okay, after reading a post like this and a link like THAT (!), it's still not proper to send a bottle of top shelf to FinePrint?

No. No gifts. No no no. I appreciate your inclination to say think you in a measurable way but honestly, please no. Even good stuff like liquor and choccies, and cookies are really better off not coming here.

Dave Rudden asked:
I have self-published two shorter books, but I am considering sending out query letters for different novel. Is it going to hurt my chances of finding an agent when they see that I am promoting my self-published books?
Just make sure that your query letter says you've self-published two short novels. The only time it's a problem for me is when I'm stalking a writer that I think is a debut novelist only to find out there is a bunch of work already for sale. Consistent information is best.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, so the blog post was just a selfie with blog readers

Donnaeve said:
(and that pic is seriously freaking me out. WHAT'S BEHIND THE SHARK?)
That's Barbara Poelle, of course!

There were many comments from readers who are thankful for this blog and the community that has grown up around it. I'm absolutely convinced that the value of this blog is indeed the comment trail. I always laugh when I see someone moaning "don't read the comments, don't read the comments" about some site or another. Here, you MUST read the comments…and it's actually safe to do so. That's a huge community accomplishment!

John Frain said:
Gotta give huge thanks to the Queen and the Reiders here. What a joy to look forward to meeting up every day. Remember the book "Third Places" (I hope I have the title right!). This is my Third Place.
I think the book is called Celebrating the Third Place by Ray Oldenburg

Friday we discussed whether agents are less inclined to sign writers of advanced years:

Sherry Howard had a good point in her comment:
So, Janet, I appreciate your words of wisdom and honesty here. I'd never mention those things in a query, but I use my current picture on social media. Honestly, I've considered taking down my white-headed pictures before I query. But, hey, who wants an agent who doesn't want them?

That's an interesting conundrum. I'd vote for taking it down. The reason isn't cause you want to lie or obfuscate. I think a lot of young people don't realize they discriminate against older people. It's something you don't see until it happens to you. I'd vote for letting an agent fall in love with your work before anything else.

And if you are a writer, and you are using your current picture on social media, please for the love of godiva, get a GOOD professional shot or at a least a good FUN shot. The number of really terrible headshots I've seen (on the dust jackets of self-published books a lot!) is staggering.

Joan Kane Nichols has a very good question here:
As others have said, Janet, you've answered the question graciously. But here are my practical concerns.

I've been published, have won awards, teach a writing class, so I'm no old newbie (there's an oxymoron for you). I don't mention my age in queries, but as you've often pointed out, agents google writers whose queries they like. A surf through the web will find enough to figure out my age. So that worries me.

Also--conferences. I've several times seen an agent's expression subtly shift as I approach to make my pitch, making me feel I'm written off before I get a chance to dazzle.

So I wonder--should I slip on my cloak of invisibility, scrub myself from the web (if I can), shun conferences?

It bugs me to think I have to.

It bugs me too. And I don't think you should. But I think we all need to recognize that age IS a barrier. My beloved Richard Gilbert is my ONLY client north of 60. That would seem to indicate that it's harder to get my attention if you're over 40 than I would like to think.

Like anyone facing a barrier, I think the way ahead is simply to keep at it. Write great work.

On Saturday we talked about what are known as grief memoirs and how hard it can be for them to find an audience in general trade publishing

I think all of us paused when we read Susan Bonifant's elegant comment:
Grief is a python that will kill you so slowly you don't know you're dying. A writer who is sharing heartbreak may not know they are really just trying to survive.
I'm pretty sure I'll be quoting that in emails to writers in the future.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli mentioned a book:
Missing by Lindsay Harrison sticks in my mind because her voice is unforgettable. I couldn't finish it because it was very tragic.

I looked it up and realized instantly it was not a book I'd ever be able to read. Which is a really good reminder that if Lindsay Harrison had queried me, I would have passed, and this book is clearly well-written and evocative (Scribner doesn't publish junk, no sirreeebob.) Not all books, even well-written books are for every agent.

Colin Smith mentioned something important here as well:
One last point--when I was researching my Teenage Alien in Victorian London novel, I looked particularly for things written in late Victorian London that would give me a flavor of what daily life was like. Doing that kind of research really gives you an appreciation for the value of memoir. It also makes me wonder if maybe those stories that aren't broadly marketable today may actually increase in value years down the road. People may not be interested in your story of struggle and survival today, but in 100 years, historians and researchers might enjoy reading how people in the early 21st century dealt with personal tragedies and hardships.

The lack of what had been the backbone of archival research -letters- in a hundred years will mean that these self-published books will be VERY important. It will be one of the only ways historians will know what life in our time was like.

The sheer volume of email archives will render them close to useless. I don't even want to think about whether computers in the future will even be able to read the software of today. (Think of how hard it is to find a cassette tape player these days! Or an 8-track!)

Actual printed books will survive software upgrades nicely; and be a much more reasonable amount of information** to look at.

**I took a look through my email archives when I was thinking about this yesterday: I've sent about 11,000 emails so far in 2015. I receive about 1800 emails a month. That's about 2800 emails in and out in the course of one month. And while I like to think of myself as the center of the known universe, I'll bet you one Big Bang Theory cookie that a lot of people with public careers gets ten times that volume. Imagine sorting through that for hidden details. One of the insidious things about historical research is you often don't know what you're looking for till you see it, and worse, you often don't know what you don't have until you see everything you do have.

Too much information can be a problem as serious for a historian as no information!

A.J. Cattapan's comment shows the value of self-publishing for memoirs like these:
This is also why my cousin ended up self-publishing her cancer-survivor memoir. It didn't quite have a broad enough appeal to catch the attention of a traditional press, so she's self-published it. Because she also sells handmade scarves to raise money for cancer research, she is able to sell her memoir and her scarves to her target audience. During her many craft fairs, she meets up with lots of cancer survivors who are interested in how she endured "childhood leukemia" and a stroke as a young mother of three children. So while she may not be raking in the dough, she is reaching her audience and her story is having an impact.

CynthiaMc said:
Sometimes I wonder if there's a place for me in the world the way it is now. I prefer to lift up rather than tear down, to laugh rather than cry, to make something happen rather than play victim. So much of what's out there is angry, depressing, depraved, violent. That's not me.

My style these days is "Yes, the world sometimes sucks but here's what's good about it, too."

Hope there's a market for that.
Oh my god, yes there is! Never doubt that for a second! In the throes of despair, the last thing I'm going to read is something dark! That's when I reach for my favorite cozy mystery writers, and even for my beloved Agatha Christie or Dick Francis. I may rep and sell dark fiction, but I'm the last person who would say there's not a place for light fiction as well. It's saved my life more than once. And as recently as two weeks ago

I think CarolynnWith2Ns hit it right on the head here:
The columns which receive the most mail always, and I mean always, are the ones which allow the reader to dip into their own well. It's about me and yet it never is. It's always about them.

I hope all of you had a refreshing break this week and are ready for the onset of the holiday season.  Start making your list of books that knocked your sox off in 2015! We'll certainly be talking about them in time for Christmas shoppers to benefit!

This week's subheader noms:

(1) It's nice to finally find a place where you feel like you belong--or, at least, where you can set aside your writing woes, learn a little (or a lot), and know you're welcomed with threats of exile and kale juice.--Susan

(2) patience isn't just a virtue when you query, it's a necessary survival skill--Lucie Witt

(3) Any dead weight can tug a heart down, but it takes magic to make it soar.--Julie M. Weathers

(4) My dragon ate my comment--Julie M. Weathers

(5) Grief is a python that will kill you so slowly you don't know you're dying. A writer who is sharing heartbreak may not know they are really just trying to survive.  --Susan Bonifant


Kate Larkindale said...

Whoo hoo! I'm first. Great WIR as always. I love these recaps because I don't always have time to read everything. Thanks, Janet!

Calorie Bombshell said...

You had me at kale juice. No. 1 (Susan)

Donnaeve said...

B Poelle? Nah. She did have a big smile, but not like THAT. It really did give me the creeps. Did I ever mention out here my fear of "things" in the water?


Anywhoooo - thank you for another GREAT WIR! I think I've recovered from Thanksgiving. Now I'm getting ready to start wrapping a few things I've picked up.

All sub-header choices are winners - can't go wrong with any of them.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

The header? Susan Bonifant's comment, hands down. They're all great, of course they're all great, but "Grief is a python..." is one of those phrases which reads as Truth.

Also, how did I miss that nightsmusic had Dobermans? I have a Doberman! She's currently curled up on the couch with me, acting as a rest for my left elbow while I type. Earlier, she was in the kitchen with me, supervising my bread baking for this afternoon's Friendsgiving party. So far as intruders...well, we haven't really had to test her (and we have not protection trained her, she's not "sharp" at all, temperament wise. Smarts though...), so let's just hope we never have to find out? She gets upset when babies are crying, anyway. She even barked at a mom once over it, like "Why aren't you helping that child?"

(but I could tell Elka stories far longer than any WIR needs. I've got a dog blog for that!)

I didn't know camel farms existed either! How fun (though agitating for a herding breed to witness and not partake, I can understand that).

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Great week in review as usual. I feel honored to be mentioned on the Reef.

It's an interesting thought, self publishing memoirs for future historians. Who knows all those emails are readable in the future. Not many of us have tape decks in our cars these days.

I vote for Susan's python.

allierat said...

Oh, more Dobie people! I knew I would find yet another reason to love this blog. I'm up to number 437, or 438, I think.
Another great WIR, another week of insights, interesting ideas, and great community. I count this blog as one of the many, many blessings in my life. Thank you Janet and everybody!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ah, sigh, my Sunday is complete, not because I went to church and got hell-fire and brimstoned saved, not because I got to sleep late, which I did (finally,) and not because the house is still clean from Thanksgiving and I can enjoy the spotless quiet, nope, it's because of the WIR and because I hit a nail on the head.

Graciously, thank you for the mention.

Regarding age and memoir I felt like this week, in part, was written for me. A wonderful feeling for sure.

Oh, love the subheader choices.

Anonymous said...

This is another great week in review. I always enjoy them so much because I miss so many great comments. Bad minion.

"And if you are a writer, and you are using your current picture on social media, please for the love of godiva, get a GOOD professional shot or at a least a good FUN shot. The number of really terrible headshots I've seen (on the dust jackets of self-published books a lot!) is staggering."

That's why I use a picture of Bonnie McCarroll getting bucked off as my twitter avatar. My avatar switches on Books and Writers according to my mood. It's usually one of my horses or if I'm in a mood a picture of horse butts. Right now it's a picture of two soldiers sleeping on the ground in Iraq. Battle fatigue.

I'm not dealing with pictures of me right now.

There used to be a lot of ostrich and emu farms in west Texas matched only by the number of stud farms with world champion race horses. Gardendale, TX, population 800 at the time, was an interesting place to live.

"The lack of what had been the backbone of archival research -letters- in a hundred years will mean that these self-published books will be VERY important. It will be one of the only ways historians will know what life in our time was like."

I have 96, probably more now as I haven't updated my library thing lately, books of letter collections written during the Civil War. The information is invaluable. It not only gives me interesting facts to work with, but also sets the tone, teaches me the language and patterns. I don't see any way future generations will be able to tell much from, "hai r u rdy 2 go? ;)"

"(Think of how hard it is to find a cassette tape player these days! Or an 8-track!)"

Yes, I had to spend $90 for an old vhs tape of a documentary I needed for research and now will have to buy a used player off ebay. I'm going to pay to have it converted to a dvd before something happens to the tape.

Susan Bonifant said...

I was deeply touched by the memoir post this week, and then equally touched to have spoken in an important way to any in this community. Thank you for letting me know.

Lucie Witt's comment could not be truer: if you don't have patience, you really won't survive as a queryist.

That's not a word, but it should be.

Lucie Witt said...

Happy Sunday, everybody.

I vote Susan Bonifant's comment for header as it is beautiful and true. I would also like to vote we use her new word, queryist, as that should really be a thing.

I recently had head shots taken with a photography friend I know. They turned out great and only cost $50 which seems to be standard here. (I know this can be a big expense for a lot of people, especially this time of year, but I thought it was very reasonable.)

Colin Smith said...

Janet, Mighty and Most Beloved QOTKU, if yours were the only blog on the planet, I'd be okay with that--in fact, I'd probably get a lot done without those other places to visit! ;) However, yes, there are other blogs and other flash contests. I will say, though, any measure of success I have with flash contests elsewhere is due to the fact I have been well trained in flash fiction here. :)

I ruminated on my blog last month about the value of paper and ink given technology's ever-changing standards. (It's the October 21st article, if anyone's interested.) I think it's something worth considering. Historians in 100 years may not know what to do with a pdf, but I'm sure they can handle a paperback.

Great WiR again, Janet--thank you! All the potential quotes are wonderful, but congrats to Lucie for getting picked! :D

Lance said...

How did we survive the week before the WIR?


How did we aspire as writers before reading the blog of the Shark?


How do we place the story in our query?


How do we end our query?
Graciously. (Thank you for your time and consideration.)

How do we query?


Tamlyn said...

Growing up, the farm across the road (which was a normal farm with sheep) had a paddock with a camel, an emu, and possibly a kangaroo. Though suddenly I am doubting my memory. I'm sure there was a roo as well. Regardless, I don't know which of them was more evil because they all were. The camel spat and the emu tried to peck your eyes out. (And roos are just roos.)

nightsmusic said...

Thank you for yet another wonderful WIR. This was a busy week and I wasn't always able to read everything so I'm glad you put your time aside to do this. I'm glad I could make you laugh too! My Dobes are clowns, they really are. DD2 didn't pull the front door tight enough one day and the UPS driver came to deliver. The dogs didn't move off the carpet or near the door but he said he could tell they were salivating...for their cookie. He always brought them one. And no, I didn't teach them to do that kind of stay. They're just so smart.

@Jennifer R. Donohue: My red female leaned against the back of my legs all the while I was cooking Wednesday and Thursday and the blue male followed me everywhere. Pretty much par for the course around here. Oh, the stories I could tell...

The header is perfect and yay for all the other mentions.

As to age and head shots since I'm catching up today, we won't mention my age, but I often wonder who that person is looking back at me in the mirror. The head shot I use is one that was taken by a waitress while I was in Chicago for Phantom of the Opera. I met two friends there to see my favorite Phantom (John Cudia) because he wouldn't be in Michigan for a long time. I'd had quite a bit to drink and the shot is great! Yes, I know, but I look very comfortable and relaxed, something I don't usually look like in photos which I hate having taken. So I used it. I think it looks great. :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Long weekend. Fun. Exhausting. Great to come home to a WiR and some bites of (homemade) minty chocolate. Now that I'm caught up in the Reider world, time for a nap and Christmas music.

Congrats Lucie, on subheader. And a difficult virtue to practice.

Theresa said...

An enthusiastic yes to self-published memoirs. And try to get a copy placed in a local or state historical society so future researchers will have an easier time finding it. If you've found your grandmother's or great aunt's letters and/or diaries, consider doing the same.

Grief is a python. Before my father died, he wrote a memoir. It took nearly six years before I could read even the first few pages. Then I set it aside again. I know there is a larger story there, but I don't know how to write it yet. The python still looms.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

My life would be incomplete without this blog and each week's precious WIR. I do hope Susan uses that "grief is a python..." In some wider work of hers. How masterfully stated. Well, see ya'll on the other side of the weekend.

Susan said...

Another great WIR! Thank you for doing these--there's always something interesting that I missed.

Regarding the importance of books as historical documents, I couldn't agree more. When I was little, I read "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" for the first time and was captivated by the detail Betty Smith includes in her writing. The main character describes collecting cans for pennies and preparing meals with the few groceries they have. It's these details that brought the Depression to life and made me appreciate and understand history in a way textbooks never could.

Similarly, memoirs, journals, and letters offer us a peek into others' lives and help us realize they're not unlike our own. The WWII novel I'm working on is less about the war and more about how it affected a small town's every day life. One of the books I've used for research is "We Are At War," a collection of diaries from WWII Britain. Interestingly, an organization was created at the start of the war in which they handed out journals to record the everyday lives of its citizens. Most of the entries are focused on their views regarding the war, not for the war itself but as a current event related to their personal circumstances and struggles. While the details bound the journals to that particular era, giving us more insight into what life was like in the 40s, the emotions that are there are purely human.

That's what's so special about sharing our stories. Fiction and non-fiction both are a recording of human life. Even though technology and overall way of life may have changed across generations, at the core what we experience, what we feel, and who we are still remains the same. It's fascinating to think about.

Susan said...

Wanted to add that Yale recently released a collection of 17,000 photographs taken across the US during the 1930s and 40s. The link is here and includes an interactive map for anyone who is interested.

Pictures tell amazing stories, too.

Anonymous said...


I very much urge you to publish your father's memoir. I wish I had recorded my father's and father-in-laws stories when I had the chance. Bill, my FIL, was born in 1890. He took part in some of the last cattle drives in Texas. Homesteaded in New Mexico. Buried his wife who died of meningitis in a coffin he built himself then his baby a few days later. Then he gathered up his remaining child, got on a horse and rode off, leaving his home and ranch behind. His mother raised a large brood of children on her own running the family farm and walking miles to birth children or tend to illnesses of other people.

Remarkable stories and I'm sure I will use some of them someday. THE RAIN CROW ends with the MCs moving to Texas after the war as my ex's family did on both sides of the family tree.

When I was living in the VA nursing home with my dad, I spend a lot of time talking to the other residents, listening to their stories. It's a shame people aren't recording these stories. They are fascinating and need not to be forgotten.

The average age of the heroic men who stormed Normandy Beach was 21. Think about that. It means a tremendous number of them were barely out of high school.

We all have stories or know stories that should be preserved.

I don't know where I would be with my current works if someone hadn't written these letters, journals, diaries, and memoirs. Someday someone else will need a look at the real life of today. God forbid they look at movies and tv shows and think those are true depictions.

I love the Fox Fire books just because they preserve a way of life that is disappearing.

Cheryl said...

I had NO idea such a thing as a camel farm existed.

Camels are delicious. Feral camels are pests in parts of Australia; I tasted the meat there and I've seen available here in Canada, too.

It wouldn't surprise me to see them farmed for meat.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Lance, awesomely done.

Theresa said...

Julie, the same with me and my work. I couldn't have written any of it if it hadn't been for the women who left behind the documents of their lives. And in many cases, they knew they were living through extraordinary times and wanted a record to survive.

I figure by the time I get through the next couple of projects I have lined up, that python will have morphed into a more manageable magpie.

Anonymous said...

I have dozens of letters one of my great aunts wrote when she was an army nurse during WWII. She was originally stationed in Camp Hale, CO before being deployed to Charleston, SC and San Francisco and then on to the Pacific theater. They're fascinating, sometimes more for what they don't say. Telling about how different it was traveling to PNG on a ship with a big cross on it, in full daylight, such a contrast to her description of leaving California in what you come to realize were very different conditions. I really need to think about publishing them. Not sure how I'd go about prefacing them or adding commentary, or even if I should. Perhaps some research is in my future. Do any of you know of a particularly well-presented collection of such letters that I could refer to?

Thanks for another great recap of the week. Wonderful subheader choices.

Anonymous said...

This excerpt is one of my favourites and I feel compelled to share it. Not sure why, maybe I'm just being weird and moody today. Dated Nov 6, 1943, written from Stark General Hospital in Charleston:

Yesterday was a big day in the history of Stark General. There will no doubt be many more days like it as these ships come in and give us these patients for us to have for a few days – re-classify and then send out to the various hospitals elsewhere. We were all so impressed by the whole thing. This was the first time most of us have seen a group fresh off the boat. It is hard for anybody to explain just how you do feel when you see 790 of them brought in in all shape and conditions. Most of them were speechless – they were so tickled to be back. You never saw more smiling faces anywhere – and many it would seem have very little to smile about. When we finally had them checked in and they knew it wasn’t just a dream their first and foremost concern seemed to be “when do we eat?” “can we really have milk?” “do they have more hamburgers?” etc. etc. No one complained and I don’t suppose they ever will again.

Donnaeve said...

kdjames, thank you for sharing that.

I have a photo of my paternal grandfather in his WWII uniform. One of my uncles on my mom's side was under Patton and I have the newspaper article of that. I have many more tidbits of family "stuff."

These little things (which happens to be part of the sub-header on my own blog; Little Things From The Old North State)are really big things to me.

Touches my heart to read "can we really have milk?" etc. I declare, the suffering was immense, and the bravery and sacrifice? Immeasurable.

It always is. Some out here know it all too well.

CynthiaMc said...

Janet, you made my day. Thank you for that.

This is Hell Week for the new show, Radio TBS. We open Friday. I play a roving reporter who ends up in a heap of trouble. This show is light and fun, a far cry from the tear-jerker I did last month.

I spent yesterday gathering and going through a lot of my writing from over the years - old newspaper columns, an article I had published in Angels on Earth magazine, a short story. I tend to live in the moment (as most actors do) and this made me realize two things : 1) I've done more than I thought and 2) I need to get my act together.

Thank you for the WIR - next to the contests, it's my favorite thing.

Beautiful quotes and insights from all, especially about the python.

nightsmusic said...


One? Two? Three Dobies? You can never have enough, you know? ;)


Thank you for the link to the photos. My mother and dad met at the Willow Run Assembly Plant during WWII. The Army wouldn't take my dad, not for lack of trying, so he got a job there in an effort to be some part of the war and defense of our country. I'm always looking if there are pictures to see if any caught my mom or dad.

I have a very detailed family tree which I love looking at, but no letters or written stories or journals. I've always envied those who do have them.

Lance said...

Thanks 2Ns.

Dena Pawling said...

Hubby and kids are outside hanging Christmas lights. My nose is full of dust from cleaning out two rooms. Cough cough. Need to get the kids to clean more lol

Nice break to sit and read the WiR. So yes, I really did clean my house this weekend. Not that I expect agents to come banging down my door when I query, even though I include my physical address, but I need to clean once a year whether it needs it or not, right?

Nice to know there's still a market for light-hearted fiction. I'll keep on keeping on.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am sooooo NOT looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

Susan said...

KD: I second Donna's thanks. I'm glad you shared that. It's bittersweet to hear those stories.

I hope no one minds me sharing one more:

My grandpa was at Pearl Harbor on December 7. He was a Tech Sgt in the army in the ordinance division and used to sleep on the bombs. The day Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was at church on the other side of the island. It was his 25th birthday. He used to say it was the only reason he survived.

He passed away ten years ago from emphysema. My brothers and I went to visit him while he was in hospice, but he was already drifting in and out of consciousness by then. Every so often, he'd wake up and bark "stand down, soldier!" like he was still in the army, like time didn't exist. It was heartbreaking. When we got ready to leave, we told him we loved him. Maybe he didn't know what he was saying or maybe it was one moment of clarity, but his voice was strong and very much my grandpa when he said he loved us, too.

My grandma, his wife, just turned 95 this week. She's a spitfire and has thousands of stories to tell anyone who wants to hear them. I try to sit with her as often as I can--some of the stories I've heard dozens of times. Some I can stand to hear dozens more. I keep meaning to record our conversations, if only for our family. This conversation is a reminder to do that sooner rather than later.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

@nightsmusic: my Elka (black and rust) is my constant companion, but also has a "get out of the kitchen" cue if she's a little too present while I'm cooking. Once out of the kitchen, she may lay down in the threshold, or go settle somewhere else. She prefers the threshold, because if food hits the floor, I tell her to come get it ^^

@allirat and @nightsmusic: I have "just" the one Doberman. She's like another human in the house! Plus, we're a dogs on furniture household, and wouldn't be able to fit in bed with two Dobermans and two humans, I don't think. Unless we build that addition over the porch....

@Susan : oh, those Yale photographs are amazing! I love poring over collections like that. And recently NASA was like "Oh hey, you wanna see these 14000 Apollo mission photographs?" (those Apollo pictures have been good inspiration for my space novel, belatedly started November 18)

AJ Blythe said...

Sadly I haven't had time to read through all the comments, so not sure if anyone else has stuck their hand up with a yes, please to a time widget, Janet =) My brain hurts everytime I have to try and work out the time in the US. I know that nights are days and days are nights but that's about the best I can do.

CynthiaMc said...

When our Marine was on Okinawa I set the World Clock on my phone to Okinawa time. Wish we had that when we lived in Tokyo. ("What time is it back home? What day is it?")

Yay for time widgets and countdown clocks.

Laura Mary said...

Lovely to catch up on a week I missed - Just wanted to second all the comments on what a lovely community we have here in the comments section:-)

Oh and yes please to a time widget! I generally have the time difference in hand, but my brain quite often has its off days!

Janice Grinyer said...

Ugh. It looks like I missed out on a fantastic week - however, I did get some work done on a proposal that needs to be proposed. When you are in a pickup truck for two days of driving to get to your destination, you'd be amazed how you are influenced by the surrounding sights of the plains. Lots of room for thoughts to be tapped out...

Once again, fantastic WIR - without these, I would be lost. Figuratively and literally :D

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

YES to the countdown timer for contests (says the Western Australian). I can never get the times right, thanks to the Northern Hemisphere's inexplicable addiction to Daylight Savings shifts twice a year. For the sake of the Great Pumpkin, pick a time and stick with it!

Escape. That's exactly why I write what I write. I write fiction so readers can escape real life, if only for a little while.

Brittany said...

I finished my first archive dive of Query Shark shortly before NaNoWriMo 2013. Naturally I started thinking about how to apply it to the novel I was planning, and since I had done just about all I could do with a few days to spare, I started working on a proto version of the query. There were a few story elements that I included mainly because they sounded snappy in the query; my heroine's love of video games ended up being a huge part of her character, and it came from a joke about her being a first-person shooter kind of girl.

It wasn't a great query, and at that point the villain's plan was still "something something fate of the world," but it definitely helped me distill the story down to the most important bits and keep those in mind. When I sallied forth several months later with a polished manuscript, the version of the query I used wasn't that far from what I started with.

It's a writing exercise I highly recommend. I do it with all my projects now.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Oh to have the time to read your WIR's more promptly! Alas, work interfered, thus I missed the comments that my 'camel farm' comment generated. Sorry; I could have clarified earlier. But - on the off-chance that anyone besides me is still following this thread several days later - the camel farm across the road is for camel milk, not meat. It sells at an abominable price, $30 a litre or some such, but has been linked to improved quality of life for autistic children (my 6yo is autistic, but I can't afford the milk to try this theory) and also for the elderly - memory retention, I think? Anyway, it's a very specialised industry. No matter; I really quite like being able to look across the road and watch them from time to time :)

And thank you Janet, for such a comprehensive WIR, as always. I too was intrigued by the idea of writing the query first, so as to help the progress of the novel. I might try that for the next...