Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week in Review 1/17/16

Welcome to the week that was.

In last week's review I made the mistake of mentioning an upcoming rant. I should have known that would send all y'all into a tizzy of epic proportion. I'm not sure what you were worried about but it was clear that you collectively thought you were all in for The Big Scold. Since one of my professional goals is to DECREASE writer anxiety, and increase knowledge, I'll never be announcing rants in advance again! Lesson learned!

In the discussion of Twitter bots, BJ Muntain said:
However, if they botted at me (no, that's not a word, even Twitter slang, but it should be), I'd block them.

I agree! Botted is a great word to describe auto-tweets like that! "I got botted by an author promoing a book, so I blocked them**"

**Them is apparently now an acceptable alternative to s/he construction.

NotJana had a very nice observation:
(And, considering 'wir' means 'us' in German, I think even the abbreviation is rather appropriate for the feel of this blog!)

Thank you! I agree!

Tamlyn asked:
Where does one get asbestos underpants?

For years I used the term asbestos underpants because I thought it was hilarious. Then Fabulous Steve Ulfelder, author of the Conway Sax series, mentioned that he wore flame retardant underwear when he raced cars. Of course, I thought that was even funnier and demanded photos. To my lasting regret, Steve is a gentleman, and did not send selfies. Instead, he linked me to a racing gear site.

Continuing the previous week's discussion of diversity in reading (an offshoot of Thursday's post on ethnic names) Brittany Constable said:

I didn't get a chance to comment on the diversity post before it closed (curse my eternal Feedly backlog), but I wanted to say that I actually took a close look at my reading habits over the last year. I read 100 books by 55 authors (and 11 primary artists, because I had some graphic novels in the mix). 5 writers and 6 artists were people of color. I read more than one book each from 15 authors, and every single one of them was white.

I like to think of myself as being aware of and sensitive to this issue, but looking at what I actually do was quite eye-opening. I've made a commitment this year that at least half the books I read will be from underrepresented authors. If you're curious, I have more numbers and commentary at my blog.

After reading this, I went to my list of books I finished in 2015 on Library Thing and realized I have no clue if some of these writers are not white. I know two are Asian-American. I know one is Mormon.

It's clear that I've never sought out writers outside the mainstream, despite the fact I think it's important to publish writers of diverse backgrounds. Definitely something to work on for 2016.

E. Maree
I don't know what crackerjack intern means (does it mean random?),
It means terrific.

On Monday, the results of the writing contest were announced:

E.M. Goldsmith said
I was asked by three different agents to cut my word count on my WUS, and this contest has been so pivotal in helping me with that. My manuscript is 1000 fold better than it was three months ago. And there are less italics and adverbs :) So it is worth doing even as just an exercise to improve your own craft.
Twitter has helped me realize how to pare down as well.

Sherry Howard said:
And to QOTKU a case of good Kentucky bourbon for reading and commenting on this amount of flash pieces in one day. That's a lot of concentrated reading that only a shark could accomplish.

I'll take the bourbon, of course, but don't forget, this is incredibly useful for me as well. I have to read, intuit, and then WRITE about what works and what doesn't for me. In my line of work, that's what doing scales is for musicians. The basics sure, but don't ever lose sight of how important it is to stay sharp on the basics. Plus, hell, it's FUN to read your stuff. Scary most of the time (you guys are terrifying in so many ways) but great.

On Tuesday I ranted about book reviewers offering up reviews for sale

Lucie Witt
Do these reviews have to indicate they're paid the way bloggers and tweets have to acknowledge sponsored posts and ads? They certainly should. This practice pisses me off as a reader and writer.
I agree. I don't know if the FCC guidelines apply here (bloggers are now required to mention how they got the book/product they're reviewing) but I agree that a disclaimer is certainly in order here.

Donnaeve was the first to mention the confusion about Kirkus:

Amanda - I've thought all along that Kirkus reviews were what authors I wrong? Maybe I'm confusing Kirkus with another review site...?

Kirkus is a trade review magazine. In recent years, as subscriptions fell, Kirkus figured out how to add to the revenue stream: getting authors to pay for consideration. This appealed to a lot of self-published authors who couldn't get trade reviews the old fashioned way (publishers sending books to Kirkus for review).

Kirkus is pretty straightforward about separating out the books they review for money, and the books they review for free. They're in separate sections of the print magazine.

Authors who buy Kirkus reviews don't mention which section of the magazine they're printed in of course, but it's pretty easy to distinguish the pay for play reviews from everyone else.

And if I can do it, so can anyone who uses Kirkus to shape their acquisition list. In other words, I'm not sure if it's worth the money to buy a review there. Maybe an author who's actually done so could provide that information.

Almitra Clay asked:
On the topic of paying for things that ought to be free, I have seen a few people looking for work as paid beta readers. Personally I would prefer the tit-for-tat route of swapping a beta-read for a beta-read with another writer. But this rules out, say, having a non-writer teen as a beta for a YA novel. I know beta-reading is a big job and everyone’s time is precious, and I do like the idea of somehow returning the favor . . .but with money? Is that ethical? Should I stick to beta-readers who will work for gratitude and baked goods?

I hope it's ethical because I do have paid readers. When I've had my eyeballs on a novel for too long, and my objectivity is in shreds at my feet, I have paid someone to read a manuscript just to make sure it's ready to go on submission. And sometimes I've paid to have a second read on something cause I know it's missing something, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. The difference is that I generally pay people who used to be acquiring editors with major publishers. I need that standard of reader. And those folks have a level of expertise that's worth paying for.

I don't pay my interns. They don't yet have a level of expertise that I'm willing to pay for.

If you're going to pay someone as a beta reader, I think you want to be really clear what you're paying for if you're being asked to pay.

Melissa said:
Another way authors are getting reviews that makes me uncomfortable is the quid pro quo system. I recently had my activity book for kids published. I was sending out review copies to various outdoor parenting blogs when an author friend suggested I send it to her review list. I sent out a few books to her list. What I didn't realize at the time was all the reviewers were also authors.

The first one received her book and posted a five-star review on Amazon within only a few hours. She emailed me that she'd posted the review and asked me to review her romance on my blog. I have an outdoor blog so that really wasn't a fit for me and it made me uncomfortable as I felt like I'd just bought a review.

I shied away from sending anymore books to this list as I realized they all just gave each other five-star reviews.

YIKES. I know this happens, and I understand why: more reviews on places like Amazon and Goodreads translates into better placement, more visibility.

I agree though that quid pro quo is something to be avoided. The most valuable reviews are the ones with real passion for your book; the people who will go on Twitter and retweet your reviews, comment when someone else loves your book, and generally boost the book beyond just a five star review.

Like JennyC's promo of Nick Petrie's The Drifter here:
By the way, Nicholas Petrie's thriller THE DRIFTER goes on sale today and it received a starred review from Kirkus. Check it out! (Unpaid promotion of local author)

(I concur with Jenny. I loved this book. But you knew that already!)

Tez Miller asked:
What do you think of Romantic Times Book Reviews' "Review Source" (I think Kirkus and Publishers Weekly have their own similar programs), in which if authors pay a set free, they'll get a guaranteed review in the magazine? (Not a guaranteed "positive" review - just an unbiased review.)
I don't know enough about this to have an informed opinion. I generally read RT Book Reviews only to see if any of the Fabulosity or Fabulous Friends are mentioned. Maybe the blog readers have some experience here?

Mona Zarka asked:
Aren't book reviews the way a reviewer makes a living? How does a well-established reviewer choose which books to review?
Book reviewers are paid not by authors, but by the publication where they appear. Ron Charles is paid by The Washington Post. Michiko Kakutani is paid by The New York Times. A reviewer who reviews on his/her blog isn't paid. A blogger can certainly solicit payment for reviewing books, but that's the kind of reviewer you want to avoid.

And well-established reviewers have their own criteria for which books to review. There's no industry standard although "review every novel by Jonathan Franzen at least three times" does seem to be industry standard at The NYT.

On Wednesday we talked about micro-newsletters. (If you're interested, this is the post that got the most comments this week)

Colin Smith said:
Though I wonder... for as long as we've had email, has no-one come up with an electronic equivalent to mail merging? You know, that thing we used to do back in the day where you could hook Word up to a database and it would automatically personalize your letters and print mailing labels? I believe Word still has that function. But something like that for email, where you could hook, say, Outlook to a database and have it personalize your email text, and send to all the addresses in your database--I'm sure businesses have something like this. I receive plenty of "personalized" emails from companies, so this must be a thing.

I used to be able to mail merge a data base to a word doc (back before the internet!) but I have yet to figure out how to do it with email. If anyone has a way to do this, I'm all ears. You'd still need to massage your data base regularly of course, but it would sure cut down on the cut and paste addressing.

And then sure enough, Brigid said:
Colin, mail merge is definitely still a thing.

I looked up the info, and my Entourage db is too old to use with this but when I'm forced to update as one day I'm sure I will be, this will be very useful.

And then came the

perfect illustration of why I love the comment column on this blog.

Lennon Faris asked:
Can I sheepishly say that twenty sounds like a lot to me? I am curious where most unpublished authors' initial mailing lists come from. I have a couple die-hard fans in my immediate family, including a husband who is whether he wants to be or not, haha :P Otherwise, my daytime job doesn't have anything to do with writing and there are only a few people I know who are avid readers... Maybe writing groups? Blogs fans?

I suppose Janet's post about who should/ shouldn't be on the list has some ideas (events, groups, friends of friends), although a list from those things seems as though it would take years to build. Guess that's why everyone says to start early.

Well, one of the best places to start is here. And by start here I don't mean a comment like "sign up for my mailing list." But, if you're here, and you comment, and you enter the flash fiction contests, you get known. And the blog readers pay attention when you THEN say "I've got a book coming out." We help you celebrate.

I hope Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale got a spike in preorders from her reply to my question about her new book  in last week's review:

6. "Marry Me - A Candy Hearts Romance" by Heidi Wessman Kneale is out from The Wild Rose Press 1 Feb 2016. If you like the thought of a Suffragette being won over by enchanted talking candy hearts in 1905 New York City, you might want to have a look at this wee book. Available for pre-order now from your favourite ebook vendor: TWRP | B&N | Amazon | Kobo ...or wherever all good ebooks are sold.

I know I put in my pre-order. I like to support my blog readers!

Panda In Chief commented on personalizing emails:
When I ran my various Kickstarter campaigns, I found I got a much higher response rate when I personalized the emails (using canned response) and sent them individually, rather than sending out a huge mass email. And every time I advised someone who was contemplating a crowd funding campaign to do this, they always argued with me about how much more time it would take.

How much time are you willing to invest to be effective? That's one of my favorite teaching questions when I'm doing this topic in a workshop. Yes, you can bcc the world if all you want to do is mark "done" next to "announce your book." If you actually want results from "announce your book" it's going to take a little longer.

Persuading people to invest time in something is an art form. I learned this first hand at church some years back when the volunteer organizer stood in front of the congregation and asked "do you have an hour a week for Jesus?"

I think she might have had a record number of volunteers from that moment, including me.

On Thursday we talked about great concepts and great queries that get no traction.

Steve Forti (and BJ Muntain) suggest short stories/flash fiction as a way to build skill with pacing:
I'd like to echo BJ Muntain's comments about writing some short stories. Flash would be my recommendation (thinking 1,000 word range). But make sure you have a hard word count cap to force you to revise to fit it. I've found it has helped me tremendously.

It's the same help that these 100 word contests provide. You learn how to be concise, how to make every word matter. That sentence you thought was great and descriptive? Well, now you need to pare it down by five words, so you trim the excess description, use more powerful verbs. Suddenly your writing is more crisp, there's less filler. You can better see which pieces are essential to move the plot and pace forward, and which are just thoughts you wanted to include but aren't helpful.

I wish I'd said what Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale did:
>Are my ideas bigger than my talent?

No. Your ideas are bigger than your current skill. Skills can change and improve. Keep at it with your ideas until your skills matches them. It happens eventually with persistence.

Kitty said:
I've never read a book that didn't have a least one place that lagged somewhat or even bordered on boring. So when you read that book, decide if that part is relevant to the story, and if so, how you'd rewrite it.

kdjames said something really interesting here:
I find it difficult sometimes to see what works in a really good book. I get too caught up in the story. I've learned far more while reading a truly craptastic book where it's easy to see the mistakes. And then I ask myself: am I making these mistakes? Sometimes it's just as helpful (to my ego, if nothing else) to realize that, no, I'm not. But once I see someone else doing something that doesn't work, it's easier to see when I do it.
I love the idea of the value of craptastic books. Or even books that don't hold your attention. Or books you simply could not read. I had an epiphany when I started the very well-reviewed Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

I simply could not read it. I realized it was too interior for me. Too much inside the mind of the protagonist. It's clear this is a good book but it's not a book for me.

Other books like that tend to be books in which the plot revolves around a family dynamic. Not something I generally read (although I've certainly read and loved Three Junes by Julia Glass, A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.)

And Donnaeve mentioned something I'd never heard of:

I guess I shouldn't sneer given 


let alone the first thing I collected very very seriously!

And this update from Julie M. Weathers made me laugh:

There are a dozen books out there about lady bronc riders. Most of them are so bad the covers tear themselves off.

On Friday the next flash fiction contest was posted.

I chose the words cause I love the phrase "diddy bop." I first saw it in Richard Ben Cramer's wonderful book WHAT IT TAKES but of course failed to note the where in my reader's notebook, and can't seem to find it on Amazon's Look Inside.

Update: Thanks to blog reader Sarah Meral, I realized diddybop is one word, not two, and was able to find it on page 213 of WHAT IT TAKES. Here it is

 What It Takes is 900+ pages so I'm not thumbing through it now to find the correct page number. It's used to describe Mike Dukakis' operatives from Boston arriving in Iowa for the primaries, and it means guys who arrive with attitude that annoys the snot out of everyone who's actually been there in the Iowa snow for weeks.

Anyway, I love the phrase, and then with diddy and bop, you gotta have snap, and then of course you think of Mel Torme, so there's scat, and Mel Torme is nothing but cool, and there are your five words.

I'll be interested to see how many of you use these as musical terms, cause two of the (many) fun things about these contests is finding words that can mean many things and then seeing the new and unusual ways you all come up with to make the word your own.

Contest results on Monday!

There's a new post at QueryShark.

Bloom County is back, in case you hadn't heard.

I have a Loaner Cat this week.

This piece on editing resonated with me.

Have a great week.

Subheader noms:

this community is made up of such fine people, whom I respect immensely and enjoy just as much. Thank you all, especially Janet, for letting me join in. --DLM

You can't look at editing as something you just have to get over with -- you have to look at editing as another form of creating--Matt Adams

When you wake up in the middle of the night and spend half the night tossing because you're suddenly sure you have to rewrite the first 100 pages of your WIP, you know you're a writer.--Timothy Lowe


Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I like the Matt Adams subheader. "Editing as another form of creating" indeed. Because really, editing is never just "is it all spelled right?" It's also about smoothing out the wrinkles that tugging on this corner or that makes. Sometimes patching, and making the patch look as though it's part of the original cloth. Etc.

I didn't know "wir" was "us" in German (granted, most of my German knowledge has to do with dog commands. But my foreign language knowledge in general is kind of selective like that. I know many exclamations in Japanese because that's what stands out in the audio if you're reading subtitles, as a for instance.) So That's a pretty cool thing about the Wir here in Reidtown (Sharqueville?).

I've noticed and been amused by the Loaner Cat posts on Facebook. I'm glad Loaner Cat isn't just a scared kitty hiding under furniture, I've had that manner of Loaner Cat in my time.

So, in addition to having boxes of Nancy Drew in their attic, my grandparents also had The Hardy Boys (which I didn't read) and The Happy Hollisters (which I LOVED). I think my reading of so much fiction from so many different American time periods is why some of my cultural knowledge is what it is (and why I knew "Domingo" was "Sunday" in Spanish. It's what the Hollisters' donkey is named, after one of their mysteries). Granted, you also apparently used to just be able to keep a horse or donkey or whatever in your neighborhood, per The Happy Hollisters and The Black Stallion, to a degree (it was how I perceived it as a child, I get it that there's a "farm" sort of thing happening, but I'm sure Flushing, NY is no longer quite set up like that.)

Lucie Witt said...

I have to say I like Matt Adam's header, too. I'm deep in revisions, so it resonates right now.

It is still funny to see my name pop up in the WIR. I'm glad this week it's because of Kentucky bourbon. I am not so glad that I enjoyed a lot of bourbon Friday night (a rare combination of overnight babysitting for the kids and a dance party involving lot sod Bowie), and am still feeling the impact Sunday morning.

I still have many of my Nancy Drew books. My grandmother gave them to me one at a time, and I devoured them. I also have a lot of our family books that have passed done over the years, such as really old editions of Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder books (I cherish these). Does anyone remember Trixie Belden books? I loved her, too.

nightsmusic said...

Good gravy, your post on Loaner Cat made me laugh. I've had that happen. Alas, after the death of our last cat, husband put his foot down and said no more cats. Can't keep 'em off the counter. Well, of course not when your way of trying is to shoot them with the Super Soaker every time they're up there. That only teaches them not to get on the counter when you're home. Dimwit...

Thanks for the WIR. I was only able to skim a couple posts this week, so this was good catchup for me.

Lucie Witt said...

I have an aside question, if anyone can help.

If you click on Colin's or 2Ns names, you get taken to nifty blogger profile pages. They have photos and general info. The kind of thing Janet says we should have to make it easier for others to find you/your writing.

When I try to go to make a profile page, it just takes to me Google+, and a profile page that looks nothing like theirs. Is this because I don't have my blog through Blogger? Am I missing something painfully obvious? Should I turn back to the bourbon?

Here's why I'm thinking about this and why some of you should maybe be, too. You might not have much of a web presence, but if you comment here actively and make it into WIRs, those might end up top hits that come up when someone googles you. I was really surprised to see that's the case for me, and figured it meant I should make a more detailed profile page. Especially since I finally set up a shiny new website (almost ready to go live)!

The Sleepy One said...

And if I can do it, so can anyone who uses Kirkus to shape their acquisition list. In other words, I'm not sure if it's worth the money to buy a review there. Maybe an author who's actually done so could provide that information.

Janet, if you want to hear from a writer who has used the paid Kirkus review option, I have a friend who went this route. She ended up in best of the year list from Kirkus that--I think--was mainly books that weren't in the pay-to-review section. Her Kirkus review ended up being a great marketing tool for her. It also helps that she's an excellent writer who has self-published well (e.g. edited work, professional covers, etc).

E.Maree said...

Crackerjack meaning terrific is something I'd never have guessed, but now that I know it, I love it! I'll need to find ways to slip that into my day-to-day speech now. :) I thought it would mean random because of the random prize in the box of Cracker Jacks, haha.

Re: paid beta readers, over the years a few of my close beta readers have developed a habit of sending each other small 'thank yous' after receiving feedback. Not all of us do that, because not all of my beta reader friends are economically able to, but I do have a tradition of sending tea to one reader (who also sends me tea when I finish her manuscripts).

If you have the budget, it does feel nice to send a small thank you gift.

A local Scottish writing organisation is actually offering a paid professional reading job, and paying readers £600, which was really shocking to see. I would never have thought of a beta read as worth that much, but thinking of all the hours and effort I spend reading and composing a thoughtful report... yeah, I get it. The long list of what they're looking for in their hires also nicely shows how often 'beta reading' can be a commercial skill -- agents use paid readers, publishers use paid readers, and local art advocacy groups need them too.

It's a big job, and we're incredibly lucky so many writers are willing to give away that time for nothing.

(The linked scheme itself is funded by arts grants and Government sponsorship, so Scottish writers receive the critical reader report for nothing, and the company still manages to pay its readers a fair rate. It's a nice scheme, one of very few still left operation in Scotland due to various cuts to arts funding. Sigh.)

Theresa said...

Yes to Matt Adams's subheader!

Janet's collection of Nancy Drew mysteries looks just like the one my sister and I had. We read some of the Hardy Boys, too, but thought they paled in comparison. I adored Trixie Belden and Cherry Ames.

Lucie, mine is a WordPress blog but I've still been able to set up a profile here. While Bourbon is always a good answer to any question, maybe Colin or some other tech savvy person here can solve your specific blog issue.

I still feel like a relative newbie here and I haven't tried one of the Flash Fiction contests yet (though I love reading the entries), but if any of you are interested in women's history, information about my new book can be found on my blog.

Lucie Witt said...

Theresa: I still feel pretty new here, too. I also only enter roughly one FF contest per month - it is astounding how much time I spend on 100 words.

Will check out your blog. I am extremely interested in women's history!

Lennon Faris said...

Thank you for the week review, Janet. I do love this blog (and its comments). Entertaining AND informative is hard to beat!

Donnaeve said...

THANK YOU, QOTKU for the lovely WIR and clarifying the Kirkus Review situation. I was (sort of) freaking out, b/c do I want a Kirkus Review for my book - well yes! And then I read about the paid thing, and I thought, um, no, I don't. Now, I'm back to yes!

I didn't get back to the comments to "discuss" the ever important SHOPKINS phenomena. The comparison to Beanie Babies, etc., is apropos. When my daughter was younger, she loved My Little Pony, and had several. And Troll dolls. And Weebles. And...yeah. Tiny things are cute. I'd never heard of them either until I went shopping for little next door neighbor, Mary Myres. (8 yrs old)

Great sub-header choices - I just can't choose!

Also, great entries and new names again for FF. Love it! I scribbled down EIGHT that I liked just to see if I am clueless, or if my tastes stream along the same current as the Shark herself!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Another great WIR. At this point, if Janet didn't do this, I wouldn't remember what happened yesterday much less last week. Although, last week held a couple of things I wish I could forget, that I wish would not be. RIP David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Mortality, blah! It's so damn temporary.

I am slowly slipping into madness. Is that usual during revisions? Are there pills for this? Or should I simply start administering high volumes of Kentucky Bourbon? Well, back at it and thank you again Janet and all you wonderful Reiders.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Janet, for answering my questions and for providing such an endlessly fantastic resource.

I also would like to mention that you have become my role model when it comes to how to conduct one's self online. Thank you for that, too.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

It's Sunday, WIR, for sure. Love it.

Hey, Lucie Witt says if you click on Colin and me, we have nifty blogger profile pages. Thanks. Our experience on Carkoon has taught us a few things. When I figure out what they are I'll let you guys know. My last three posts are a bit mysterious too. Weird actually.

I love all this weeks sub headers. Can't decide.

From FB, I'm all for a loaner cat book too.

Mister Furkles said...

Them is apparently now an acceptable alternative to s/he construction.

Has been for several hundred years. If you follow Daily Writing Tips, you will have read this from Mark Nichols:

"However, the singular they is widely accepted in written British English, and it is well documented in the works of many great writers, including Auden, Austen, Byron, Chaucer, Dickens, Eliot, Shakespeare, Shaw, Thackeray, and Trollope."

Aside from that, what if a robot writes a killer novel and wants to comment about querying. How is it to comment on your blog?

You will also find it if you follow Geoffrey K. Pullum's essays.
For example:

Apparently the language lost something with the demise of thee, thine, thy, and thou.

Jerry said...

The use of their/them/they as a singular pronoun has been part of normal English for centuries. It’s just some grammar police have tried until recently (and mostly unsuccessfully, except in some printed works) to strangle it. Few people would blink at “call a friend and ask them to come over” or “I had a friend who visited Either, Oregon. They never did that again” in spoken language.

I recently read “The Origins and Development of the English Language” by John Algeo and Thomas Pyles. Fascinating book, and the authors don’t hide their disdain for those who try to redefine the English language so that the actual spoken language is incorrect. The singular they/them/their is found in “Jane Austen, Thomas DeQuincey, Lord Dunsany, Cardinal Newman, Samuel Butler, and others”.

They then follow with a digression on “British and American Purism”, the unwillingness to accept the English everyone uses as correct English. Fascinating book overall, btw.

BJ Muntain said...

Yay! I made the WiR! Thanks so much for all this work, Janet. There's always good information here - and all week long, of course.

According to's Customer Review Creation Guideliness:

"If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact."

(I was checking this recently, so remembered it was there.)

A friend of mine was told (by her publisher) that an author needs 20 reviews on Amazon... can't remember what for. To be recommended? To be included in lists of some sort?

I love Bloom County. I've been following it on Facebook since it's come back. I think Berkeley Breathed is really enjoying the freedom that comes with Facebook. His latest series on mourning David Bowie has been funny and touching. Masterful.

I like Matt Adams' subheader - but then, I'm an editor at heart.

I used to read both my parents' old books. The first chapter book I read was Lassie and the Forbidden Valley, which was my mum's book. I read my Mom's Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames, Bobbsey Twins, and more. I read my dad's non-series books. Couldn't get through Zane Grey - there was something like three solid pages of description before we ever met the protagonist.

Lucie: It depends how you log in to leave a message. If you log in with your Google+ account, that's where your name will go. If you log in with a Blogger account, same. If you don't have a Blogger account, Google+ is still good. Just go in and fill out the About section with your contact information and website.

Donna: Even if your tastes aren't similar to Janet's, it doesn't mean you're clueless. And I'm sure Janet would be the first to agree.

Mister Furkles' link: regarding language

E.Maree mentioned a local writing organisation offering readers to writers. The Saskatchewan Writers' Guild does that - it does charge writers, but not nearly as much as if you paid an editor to do it. It's something I've looked at doing, but first I need the money.

Lucie Witt said...

Okay, I figured it out if anyone else is having the problem of default to Google+. At the top right you can click and get a drop down menu, and switch to Blogger profile is one of the options.

Sarah Meral said...

Janet when I use the look inside feature on for WHAT IT TAKES and enter "diddybop" (without space) I get 15 results, let me know if you want me to send you screen shots of them :)

Re beta reading:
I've been beta reading for author friends for a couple of years now. I'm not a writer so there is no quid pro quo, but I've never thought of getting paid for it. I love reading works in progress plus there is the benefit of free stories :) And getting finished copies (of the stories that are published already) and seeing my name in the acks is another bonus :)

Jessica Snell said...

Lucie - I remember Trixie Belden! When I was younger, I read a few of the Nancy Drew books, but Trixie Belden? I read them all, and more than once.

I think what made me love those books was the group dynamic. Trixie was the focus, yes, but you couldn't understand Trixie w/o knowing her family and friends. And she wasn't a perfect little saint of a detective: she was a smart girl, but one who messed up a lot and then had to fix it.

Come to think of it, I still love heroines like that.

DLM said...

Matt for subheader - mine's perfectly sincere, but it's bumkissy; no real content there. In any case, I'm too happy to be in the screen grab above to feel I deserve more.

It snowed today. Nice to spend a cozy Sunday with the fuzzles reading the WIR. By the way, it's this good: Gossamer the Editor Cat purred the whole time I was reading it, and now has fallen asleep curled up in a soft blanket. Also a good way to spend a cozy Sunday.

Dena Pawling said...

Great WiR, as usual.

My flash story is definitely NOT related to music. Not even a little bit.

I have an entire box of Agatha Christie paperbacks. Now you make me want to read one again =)

Is anyone else not happy with Twitter going to 10,000 characters?

Anonymous said...

Great week in review as usual. I agree about not forewarning about rants. When I played basketball, I almost always fouled out. So, my coach didn't put me in unless we were losing and toward the end of the game. I got so conditioned to being responsible I automatically held up my hand when a ref tweeted his whistle.

The only good part was playing the Newtown girls. Newtown was on the reservation. Those Indian girls were tough and they played to win. It was so bad the refs finally turned their back so they didn't have to see all the fouls. We were friends with all the Newtown kids until it came to sports, then they were out for blood.

So, naturally, I was already writing my great apology to one and all for all my misdeeds here. I seriously do love you all and if I've ever offended someone, I apologize. Some people I don't care if I offend, I might even go out of my way if the offense is egregious enough (Such as the time I told the woman Odessa had a leash law and she needed to put her beastly child on one.), but you are all my compadres.

Thanks to Janet's prodding about cleaning up your web presence or creating one, I made an author facebook page. I may even put something on it someday. For now, I'm loading pictures. One of my favorites is the one with my youngest in front of a sign that says, "Complacency kills. Is today your day?" It was valuable in Iraq, but it's valuable to writers also. Never get complacent.

The other is a picture with my oldest in it. He's wearing a teeshirt that says, "Scars are just tattoos with better stories." I printed out that picture also as a writerly reminder to do vile things to my characters and give them scars.

"I don't know enough about this to have an informed opinion. I generally read RT Book Reviews only to see if any of the Fabulosity or Fabulous Friends are mentioned. Maybe the blog readers have some experience here?"

That would be a good question to pose to Jo Bourne @jobourne or Darlene Marshal @DarleneMarshall on twitter perhaps. Both are award-winning romance authors. I'll poke them on B&W also.

Regarding beta readers. I'm pretty head shy of reading for people I don't know. On Books and Writers I know most of the writers there have put on their big girl panties and sincerely want to know what they're doing right and what they need to improve. Every now and then you run across someone who gets offended at unbiased critiques and huffs off in a black cloud muttering invectives.

B&W is pretty careful about not flaming authors. The purpose is to build them up, not tear their souls asunder. Even so, sometimes what you've written just doesn't work.

I welcome the comments as it shows me where readers are stumbling. Sometimes I think my writing is pretty close, but it's like those Victorian post mortem photos. You know something's wrong with the picture and finally realize the beautiful young woman is staring past the camera, there's an odd stand behind her and her feet aren't touching the ground.

I think the first thing people need to decide is what they really want and need before the reader starts. It will save everyone some grief.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Dear QOTKU, thank you - again! - for another comprehensive WIR :) I managed to read most this week (although didn't have the time to comment) but there were still some comments that I'd obviously missed. That 'cart-horse-bourbon-napalm' conversation cracked me up when I read it too; thanks for the reminder again this morning!

Well today is back-to-work day for Aussie teachers, which for me means sadly a return to less writing time available, but also the guilty-happiness of lack-of-cherubs underfoot on my non-teaching days. I'm a mess of mixed feelings at the moment.

Re the sub-header noms, although I agree ENTIRELY with DLM (and couldn't have said it better myself! Thanks, everyone!) my vote would be for Matt Adams'. It's a viewpoint on editing that I hadn't thought about before, and it certainly makes a lot of sense. 'Creating' sounds like fun. 'Editing' can be so overwhelming as to be paralysing. So 'fun' wins for me, hands down :)
Have a great week, everyone!

Janet Reid said...

Sarah Meral, thank you! I failed to realize that diddybop was one word! I've found it (as you said) and updated the post. Thanks!

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

As always a wonderful week in review. I must have missed the discussion with botted as a twitter term.

Janet, I think there may be a t missing in promoing. Or that's how it sounded when I first read it. Maybe you do want to write promoing.

I definitely missed Brittany Constable's comment about the 100 books she read and the breakdown on who came from where. After the enlightening discussion on diverse books I decided to actively look for more diverse reads. Last year I listened to close to 30 audio books. I'm already on my 3rd this year and discovered Terry Mc Millan's Disappearing Acts. It was a great find because over the last year I researched graffiti artist (graffer) dialog, because that's part of the setting for my main WIP. McMillan's characters are not graffiti artists but the dialog is completely different than what I'm used to reading. It's so real.

The link to the piece on editing is an eye opener. It resonates with me too, but probably for different reasons that it does The Queen.

Theresa, I still feel new here.

Good luck choosing the subheader.

Janice Grinyer said...

Another great WIR - Did Loaner cat assist? Bet they did - at 2:14 am...Your posts on FB were hilarious!

I fell in love with Timothy's quote that day he posted it, but due to time constraints, couldn't post to say so - Now I get to! I think it's perfect for the sub-header.

Lucie - you brought up an excellent point! I'm going to expand just a small comment on it! Sorry ahead of time!


Yes, you who writes great flash fiction and then has NO LINK on your name, I'm talking to YOU. I have a small jar of cash (and lots of screws & bolts in others, and...nevermind) with a book budget. If I like your writing (even if you don't make it to the mentionables/semis/finalists!) I would be willing to gamble to buy YOUR book. BUT HOW CAN I IF I DONT KNOW WHERE, SNIPER WRITER??? And if you don't have a book, I might want to follow your writing. WHY? Because, WRITING. I like to do it, read it, and enjoy it. We all do. You write good stuff, it's okay to come out and own it! Do we need to get Glinda the good witch out with that wand and have her wave it around a bit, singing the "come out" song? I have my own cat I could dress up; she sings pretty 4 am.

Okay. Can you tell we are on day four of snow here? Yes. Day four. I'm feeding everyone and everything in sight, keeping things from getting frozen and I need at least three days to sleep to catch up. IN the meanwhile, I am now an official member of "Women writing the West", "a nonprofit organization of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women's West." Though I won't be posting comments over there until I get that sleep. Don't want to scare anyone or get kicked out too soon.

Sarah Meral said...

Janet I'm glad you found what you were looking for :)

Timothy Lowe said...

Always a shock to read your name on the blog - a very pleasant one. Another great week of discussions about the devilish little delight that is struggling to produce good work. I sometimes wonder if the 'household name' writers lose something, an edge of some kind, because they don't HAVE to go back and tear apart something they thought was good the first time. Or maybe they do anyway. Interesting post on editing, by the way, Janet. I think the fact that the guy said "Too many words, lose 3 minutes" and doesn't say WHAT words says more about pacing than anything. Sometimes it doesn't really matter which words.

S.P. Bowers said...

Trixie Beldon was my first collection. My parent's had a good stock of Nancy Drew and Hardy boys (and so, so many others) but Trixie Beldon was all mine. And being able to collect a series at such a young age was very powerful stuff. No doubt it's why I'm still collecting books.

S.P. Bowers said...

P.S. Sarah Meral is an amazing Beta reader and I can't afford to pay her what she's worth. I'm glad she'll settle.

Cheryl said...

Jessica Snell, that is exactly how I felt about Trixie Belden versus Nancy Drew. My sister had a lot of NDs, but reading them left me cold. I could relate to Trixie.

I'm still trying to find some of my favourites that I always got from the library.

John Frain said...

The concept of a Loaner Cat cracks me up. I haven't seen the entertainment on FB because, alas, I only have 24 hours in my days and I'm supposed to sleep for some of them. But the concept (I'm probably not even understanding the true concept, but who cares) leads me to wonder about Loaner [Fill in the blanks].

My assumption is that car dealers started this Loaner concept when they give you a loaner car while yours is in for repairs. So my first thought was that one of Janet's cats cashed in one of its nine lives and she had a temporary Loaner Cat while hers reincarnated.

So it could work anywhere, right? I'm ready to march into Subway with an old bologna sandwich and see if I can upgrade to a Loaner Roast Beef. And my shoes need new laces. Could take a while to get to Target, so I've confiscated my son's Loaner Shoes because of course ALL his shoes are better than my best shoes. Imma start calling my dog Loaner, see how he reacts.

Oh, I do love a WiR that gets me thinking of story ideas, and this one does the trick again. Thanks, Ms. Reid. You're awesome. Did I mention I misplaced my agent? I might need a Loaner for a ms I'm working on...

BJ Muntain said...

Dena - I'm not impressed with the idea of Twitter upping the character number. So far, Twitter hasn't actually come out to say they're doing it - at least, not on their blogs. I hope that if we accidentally use a few too many characters, it will still warn us. I wouldn't want to go longer.

As I understand it, the longer tweets will open up into a different window, so that people aren't clicking links off Twitter. There are marketers who are not happy with that, as they're worried that it will mean fewer site visits. I don't blame them. Some are wondering if Twitter will stop allowing links off site altogether. I doubt that will happen, though. Twitter will lose a LOT of people, and they can't afford to do that. They're desperately trying to find some way to monetize the service.

Anonymous said...

>Since one of my professional goals is to DECREASE writer anxiety, and increase knowledge

Increasing knowledge is a good and noble goal; one which, I believe, you often achieve.

But decreasing writer anxiety? Good idea, but I don't know if, at least in my case, that's even possible.

Lucie Witt said...

I'm delighted by how many people also loved Trixie Belden. It was also one of the first series I collected. They were out of print, and I would go around to various Kentucky flea markets and search all the book booths for used copies. I found almost the whole series that way.

Colin Smith said...

Another super summation of the week, Mighty Shark! :)

I'm glad we figured out the Word email mail merge thingy--and thanks to all who contributed to that discussion. If Word does it, surely OpenOffice and other similar products will? It seems a no-brainer this day and age... ouch that makes me sound old. Who am I kidding? I am old. Relatively. According to my kids anyway... :)

Lucie: I too have a WordPress blog. But I do have a Blogger account, so I don't know if that counts? Right now, when I hit "Publish Your Comment" it will do so using my Google Account. I probably set up the Blogger account way back when I first commented on a Blogger blog--heck, for all I know, it could have been THIS ONE! Back in 2011, or sometime. That might be pre-Google+--in fact I'm sure it was, back when GFC existed (remember Google Friend Connect?).

One last thing--and I'll probably mention this again tomorrow, unless Janet beats me to it in the Results post: I noticed a couple of flash entries yesterday had titles, and I think they were from relative newcomers. Reminder: Janet's rules say you don't need a title, and if you add one, it counts against your 100 word count. Just wanted to point that out. :)

Colin Smith said...

... I know I said "one last thing" but... well, it's me, ok? :)

Diane: That's just not fair. We're just a state below you--can't we have snow too? We've got rain, and it's getting cold. The next few days will be cold enough for snow, but I think we're using up our rain quota today, so no moisture. If it's going to be cold, can we at least make it pretty! :(

Jennifer Delozier said...

Lucy and Jessica,
I collected both Trixie and Nancy. Some of my fondest memories are of my mother taking me to the local bookstore (almost 2 hours away!) every other week. I was allowed 2 Nancy Drew books per trip to add to my collection. I kept the entire series until about 2 years ago when I realized, at age 43, I would never have a daughter to pass them along to. I donated them to a friend who had just had a baby girl, and I pray they mean as much to her as they did to me. Seems Trixie Beldon is experiencing a resurgence of sorts - this is the 2nd time this week I've seen her mentioned in a blog!

BJ Muntain said...

Colin, if you like, I'll tell the weather man to send our weather down there. Although, if you get this much cold in such a warm place, you'll probably get steam.

I've stayed indoors most of the weekend, and will for at least one more day. -40 wind chills are not fun, but that's the risk, with snow...

Anonymous said...

Colin, we DID have snow here in NC this morning! And it was so beautiful to watch. Good for the soul. You just need to move further inland. Of course, it's all gone now. Too warm to stick.

Jennifer, your comment reminded me that when my daughter was in kindergarten they learned a song about the days of the week in Spanish. When it got to Sábado, Domingo, she thought it was "some of those flamingos" and that's what she sang. She's now fluent in Spanish, but we still tease her about it.

And that Shopkins video! I'd never heard of them so I watched it. The cat was sitting on my lap and I think she was attracted to the crinkly wrapper noises and got all tense when she saw the cat come on screen. I don't think she's ever "seen" anything on my laptop before. She put her face all up close to the screen and then the cat walked off and she went around to the back of my laptop trying to find it. Gone! And then she ran to the windows looking out at the deck to see whether it was outside. Then she glared at me for a good 20 minutes, unhappy that I was hiding other cats from her. It was pretty funny, so thanks for that.

Sorry, I'm rambling. Great review, as usual. Love all the subheader noms. Looking forward to what next week brings.

nightsmusic said...

kd: you need to find some of those sites that play nothing but cat videos to entertain your cats.

It snowed here all day. Didn't stick much because we had 35mph winds, but it snowed. Tomorrow, our high will be 13. It's 11 out right now. I'd like some warmer weather.

CynthiaMc said...

I loved Trixie Belden. My cousins and I would act them out (I was Honey).

I would often get Nancy Drew books for my birthday. A guy friend of mine would get The Hardy Boys. I liked them better. He liked Nancy better so we'd swap.

Ashes said...

I actually found 'diddy' to be the hardest word I've ever had to incorporate from one of these contests. I'm curious if anyone else remembers a particular prompt word that gave them grief?

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I can't believe I failed to mention my shared Bloom County love! I was so wrapped up recounting the Happy Hollisters

I still have a Billy and the Boingers t-shirt, originally bought and siren by my dad, shrunk in the wash, and then rescued from the "car rag" bin by me.

Timothy Lowe said...

My daughter wanted the shopkins. A friend had them. We got them. Very insidiously evil. A product bent on promoting itself. Funny things going on these days in kid-land. She likes to watch Youtube videos of people playing with toys. Except they're advertisements. "Chloe's American Doll Girl Channel" - try not singing that diddy when it's been playing in your house all day long. Don't get me wrong - TV has always been about advertisement. But to watch a girl watching videos about people playing with toys that sell shopping? Someone somewhere has figured it out...

Colin Smith said...

kd: Out here on the Coastal Plain, we occasionally get enough moisture and cold for a respectable covering of snow. Too often the cold and the wet don't coincide for us, though. :(

Ashes: Not one single word, but five: trail, cob, robo, bark, vet--i.e., the words from the last-but-one contest. Usually if I can get a story out of most of the words, I can find a home for the difficult words. But when I stare at all five and I get NOTHING... That happened to me that week. First time in a long time I was still chewing over the story on the Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Timothy, next thing you know, we'll have people reading stories about other people out doing exciting things and having adventures while they sit passively and safely inside. Wait... (sorry, couldn't resist). I know what you mean and it's disturbing. Kids need to live a little before we hook them up to the Matrix.

Ashes: I have trouble with at least one of the words EVERY SINGLE TIME. Diddy was tough for me too. All of them were tough, this time. In fact, this might be the first contest where I've split a word between two other words, though I'm not going to swear to it. And I did it with four of the five, because why be all cautious about it once you decide to do a thing. :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Snow and cold here too, though not quite as chilled as BJ. We're at -6 tonight.

Congrats Matt on subheader of the week.

Great WiR. And (raises hand) another Bloom County fan here too.

Happy Martin Luther King day tomorrow. We celebrated MLK at church today with another congregation and a wonderful potluck after. Amazingly good turnout considering the below zero temps. I came home and crashed. I love me some Sunday afternoon naps.

Jessica Snell said...

Hurrah! Other Trixie Belden fans!

My little brother (I say "little", but he's got his own wife and home and everything now) says that Trixie was his first crush.

I don't know. *My* first literary crush was Hugh Beringer in the Brother Cadfael books. That combination of courtesy, intelligence, and competence? I swoon!

(Other folks have had literary crushes, yes?)

Kae Ridwyn said...

Hi again! It was a slow work day today - so I get to comment twice in the one day! Yay!

I too loved Trixie Belden. And as for Hugh Beringer in the Brother Cadfael series, Jessica? Yes... But not so much as Olivier, Cadfael's son, from THE VIRGIN IN THE ICE :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for answering my questions, Janet. Of course they get paid by the publication. (>.<)

Thanks also for explaining how you came up with last week's Flash Fiction words. I was wondering.

Part of me can't believe they/them/their is acceptable as singular third person. I wish there was a better alternative. It's an itch I can't scratch. When I think back on my linguistic classes though, I can ignore the itch. It also helps to know that it's not new (thanks to everyone who pointed that out).

After all the recs, I'm eager to discover Trixie Belden! Lucie, ditto on the 100 words. Aaand ditto Kae on the subheaders.

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

Loved reading the comments during the week. You guys crack me up and make me think.

Really loved the prompt words--total Beatnik heaven, daddy-o! Meant to try an entry, but Really Bad Things happened this weekend, which sapped all my energy. Alas, I missed entering one of the most interesting contests.

Then I got mentioned quite spectacularly in the WIR.

That made my day. Thanks.

Tamlyn said...

They started re-releasing the Trixie Belden books. Then they stopped. My sister, who was happily buying the new, matching, not-falling apart covers, was irked. I loved Trixie Belden, but I was always disappointed when it went to ghost writers after the first six (or so... I don't remember exactly) because suddenly it was more like all the other series out there with no aging or series plot movement (as opposed to individual books).

I reread a three-in-one Nancy Drew recently. It started badly, then by the third one I was well into them. I never actually decided whether the ghost writers got better as they went on or if I got more caught up in nostalgia.

I read my Hardy Boys too, which seem less popular in this thread.

I found Trixie much meatier, whereas the other were more just nice, quick reads.

I like editing.

I too have made a website because I am creeping up to querying (and have been for a long while now... >>). It was torturous.

I seem to only comment on the WIR. But then I probably just used my word allotment for the month :p

LynnRodz said...

So glad for the WIR, thanks Janet. I missed just about everything this week.

I did post a FF story about jazz, bebop, and swing. The POV was from the Queen of Scat herself, Ella Fitzgerald. Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone and Dave Brubeck also made an appearance in the story, but I pulled it. I didn't think it was up to par except for the last sentence which I really liked when the Duke says, "Dave, take five."

Okay, I'll shut up now (I hate typing on my phone) but before I do, I vote for Matt Adams for the subheader.

Claire said...

Another big fan of the editing stage here. I'm currently deep in it and really enjoying the process; for me, it's the reward after the hard graft of writing. The first draft is just getting the story down on paper, and that's a bit of a slog. The editing is where you make it beautiful.

(Also delighted to see that the literary powers-that-be have come around to my way of thinking on they/them/their. So much more elegant than he/she.)

Lucie Witt said...

Jessica - I have more literary crushes than crushes on celebrities!

nightsmusic said...

Oh, Jessica, I have such a crush on a character still that I can read his story any time and still cry at the end for his redemption. There are lots of us :)

BJ Muntain said...

Mona - it might help to remember that we also now use the plural second person pronoun as singular. We talked here some time ago about only having 'you' to mean both plural and singular second person. And that's probably why some dialects/regionalisms include words like 'y'all' and 'youse'.

The singular 'they' is the recent change that I have the least amount of trouble with, for some reason. But they'll have to pry the oxford comma from my cold, dead, and lifeless hands. :)

Duchess, I hope everything's better now? Really Bad Things are absolutely awful.

Tamlyn: My parents didn't have Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books, so I didn't read them. We lived in small towns, so I'd never seen a real book store until I went to university in the early 80s. By then I was into science fiction (I spent far too much money at a second-hand book store conveniently located across the street from the university).

But if you ask me, Trixie Belden was far more realistic than the others.

Unknown said...

BJ, totally with you (ahem) on the oxford comma :)

Panda in Chief said...

When my dear Mehitabel goes to the great litter box in the sky (she's almost 20) I am definitely go the loaner cat route for at least a little while. It's hard to imagine my life without a cat, but wanting to be more free to travel. It's become much harder to get a good cat sitter - even my paid sitter is not always available, plus she is making noises about leaving our town.

I really don't want another cat like my former cat, known as "The back-up kitty". she used to steal food off the kitchen counter even when I was right there. I once had to wrestle her for a pork chop. (I would have shared the kale but she didn't want it either.)

Thanks for a great WIR! I haven't been commenting as often lately as I have been staying off the computer in the morning, so I can actually get some work done.