Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week in Review 3/20/16

Last week ended not with a review but a whimper: boy oh boy do we hate loathe and abominate Daylight Saving Time.

A lot.

Except Donnaeve
I love me some DST. More porch time!

But the comment from Lisa Bodenheim on Monday was just epic:
Speaking of which...somewhere along the line, I missed what DST means and it's not in the glossary. And it's the Monday after .....ok, got it. Daylight Savings Time. jeeesh.

-wanders off for more caffeine-
Dena Pawling has the best suggestion EVER for all winners of all contests here on the blog:
Because the contest entries have become more and more difficult to judge, and your time this week is already full, I propose you choose all the entries as winning entries, and then send all of us a copy of John Frain's manuscript.

Which Mark Thurber agreed with
I second Dena's brilliant idea! (John, this has been an inspired viral campaign for your book -- your marketing people are truly top-notch.
As does Steve Forti 
For the record, I'd read the hell out of John Frain's manuscript, too. 

Along with BJ Muntain
Now I'm sad I didn't enter. I want to read John Frain's manuscript too :(
And CarolynnWith2Ns 
It's after 1am, can't sleep. I'll read Frain. Please let it be boring so I can konk out.
And Karen McCoy 
I'll definitely read Frain! His flash fiction inspires, and I'm sure his novel does too.

Which means the next time someone is debating whether to sign with me I'll just point out that we buzz your book before it's even finished, signed or sold.

Too bad this is too long to be the subheader of the week, cause this is priceless from Kregger
To borrow from the vernacular,
Sisters before misters
Bros before (?)
now it's
Dollars before hollars!
You got that right, QOTKU

Celia Reaves cracked me up with this:
Just this week in my critique group we got to arguing over whether it should be "the place where they had laid Frank" or "the place where they had lain Frank." We decided on "the place where that had put Frank."

The struggle is real.

On Monday the topic was whether a film not based on your book could build buzz, a la a rising tide lifts all boats
Sadly, no.

Of course, I worked on that post up to the last minute so some spelling did not get czeched. And when you were kind enough to call it to my attention (which I DO appreciate) my reply was of course ironic in its typo as well:

Maybe if I WAS a robot, my spelling improve.

I really loved what the Duchess of Kneale had to say here:
Every novel has a beginning. Every novel has an ending, whether it's being abandoned after chapter three, finished but doomed forever to the trunk, self-published or published by some Random Penguin to great acclaim.

Regardless of its fate, eventually you hit the end of the novel. Then what?

Unless you're willing to quit your writing career forever, you write another novel.

We write bad novels. We write practice novels. We write good novels and we write great novels. I've written novels that will never see the light of day. I've written novels I've apologised to the world for having written, they're so bad. But I've written (IMHO) good novels and I believe I've even written great novels.

When I initially queried my first novel, the query process took so long, by the time I realised no agent was going to pick it up, I had written another novel and was halfway through yet another.

A truly thorough query process takes a long time. It does our career and our mental health no good not to be writing a novel while we wait. A career novelist, even an apprentice one, will not stop at just one book.

And I'm growing in my love for the WIR for one very pragmatic reason: It allow me to catch the godawful spam that creeps in just under the moderated comment deadline. That magic husband restoring one is like fucking kudzu, bless its heart.

On Tuesday we discussed how to query if you're going to be unavailable for a while

I suggested a dedicated email and a trusted person to monitor it

Mark Thurber's comment is spot on
I can't seem to keep from checking my email compulsively for quite some length of time after I have queried, and so far, my most positive responses have come after I have completely given up and moved on to the next thing. So maybe being inaccessible would actually enhance one's positive response rate, like carrying an umbrella to ward off rain.

And this from RachelErin was eye-opening:
Right around Hurricane Sandy, when I was living in Pisa, we had a few days of fog that shut down our internet. No, that is not a typo. Fog. It has cyber-stealth powers that rainstorms and hurricanes can only rage about.

It took them two weeks to get internet back to the entire city. TWO WEEKS. In a city with a famous university. DH went to the internet service store daily, and they shrugged. It happens every couple of years. Meanwhile we saw news reports of areas hit by Sandy having internet restored in 3-4 days.

I wasn't querying, but I had design submissions out to magazines and was rebuilding a website with an Aussie. Email was not recreation. The web designer did not believe me when I told her a height-phobic cloud had flattened our service. I can only imagine what an agent would have thought. Is it a metaphor for going on a bender? Evidence of taking hallucinogens?
Better to be prepared. Stealth fog could strike anywhere.

I had no idea fog could shut down the internet!

Amy Schaeffer Schaefer(soon to head out on an amazing sea voyage herself) said
As a final point, I wouldn't mention your connective difficulties in your query letter. Unless you are riding a unicycle across Mongolia and really will be out of touch, you should be able to check email often enough to keep up with requests. Bring it up once someone has asked for a query or full, and then only if the issue is still relevant. Good luck!

To which Megan V replied:
Amy, as a unicyclist, my knees buckled at the thought of riding across Mongolia. Uff da. That would be one arduous trip.

A unicyclist! I think we should all demand photos.

And speaking of things I want photos of Jenny C said:
I am happy to send my manuscript in whatever form the agent wants to see it. Hell, I'll write my synopsis on the side of a pumpkin and mail the pumpkin if that's what he/she likes. (Yes, you can mail a pumpkin.)

Adib Khorram asked:
Jenny C: I confess I'm quite surprised there are agents still doing snail mail! I wonder how common this is.

I get snail mail queries. Not many, but some. I always answer the ones from people in prison. That rebel Matthew with his "naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me" {25:36} might not have meant answering queries but I don't want to find out the hard way that he actually …did.

The topic turned, as I'm sure it will again in coming months, to the attraction of living in Canada.

Celia Reeve said

Remember when thousands upon thousands of airplane passengers were dumped on small cities in Canada on 9/11/01 because the US closed its borders to air travel?


In fact, we'll never forget it.

On Wednesday, I posted some things I read in queries that actually mean something else as far as I'm concerned.

Colin Smith had a question about "there are no books on this topic"
Okay, so Ms. Majestic QOTKU Ma'am Sharkiness, this whole "Look till you find a book in your category..." thing--you seem to imply here that you're looking for comp titles on a query. Are you saying we need comp titles, or does this only apply if we decide to list comp titles? It seems to me, if you honestly can't think of a comp title, you shouldn't list comps at all. Better to say nothing and let the agent think, "Oh, cool--this sounds like The Exorcist meets Romeo and Juliet!" than to risk an instant form rejection, is it not? Yes, comps can be helpful. But so can nailing the correct genre, and you've told us that calling our Speculative Fiction "Sci-Fi" isn't a deal-breaker. What gives? Ma'am. :)

I don't think you need comps in a query. I think ya'll screw up comps more than you get them right, and who needs that?

However, if you think a comp is a good idea, or some other agent wants comps (and lots do) this advice is to keep you from shooting yourself in the foot.

In other words, you don't need to be armed to enter the QueryForest, but if you are, make sure you aim your blunderbuss in the correct direction.

Lisa Bodenheim asked:
But, Miz Sharque, if I write that I am a published author, name a non-fiction book and my publisher, can't the agent I'm querying just assume that my non-fiction publisher does not do fiction?


I'm not sure where that fits in here…but remember I also couldn't find one of the prompt words in this week's contest either.

If you say you're a published author and you name the publisher, I assume you had an agent for the deal. I do not assume the agent only handles non-fiction. Was that what you meant?

Celia Reaves asked:
Like Lisa, I'm wondering about a previous nonfiction publication. I wrote a college textbook 24 years ago, published by Wiley (a highly respected publisher in the field). There was no agent involved, as is typical for that sort of deal. When I query my novel, I would assume no need to explain what happened with my nonfiction agent, since there was no such person, or why I'm not trying to place my novel with a textbook publisher. I still think it would be worthwhile to mention that earlier publication since it shows that I can write coherent sentences, finish a project on time, work with an editor and copy editor, and so on. But maybe not? Is an old nonfiction publication completely irrelevant and not worth wasting precious query words on?

If you're light on more current pub credits, listing a textbook is fine. You'd say "I published The Carkoon Guide to Kale (Wiley: 1792) without an agent"

I really really like what Kae Bell said on the subject of comps

On the issue of subjects, for what I say, what you hear -- what taxonomic level can writers assume the agent is operating at? So, taxonomy, the classification from specific to general. Bio refresh: genus, species, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom...Take the common house cat:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Felis

As it relates to queries, I'll use a personal example. I said in OP from earlier this week that there was almost no current fiction about Cambodia. Janet replied that there were six books. We had two different understandings of the subject. I was at the species level, i.e. "books set in 2016 Cambodia in which the Khmer Rouge try to return", while I think Janet replied more at the more general Phylum level, i.e. "books about Cambodia".

Without understanding people's taxonomic assumption about a subject, seems like confusion/lack of understanding could arise.

You should assume that an agent is looking at the Class level: fiction about Cambodia. Or non-fiction about Cambodia.  No one is going to have your exact book (we hope!) but when the marketing and publicity folks need to talk about your book, they'll also be at the Class level.

Scott G cracked me up with this

What you say: Can't get to contest results til Wednesday. Wait, make that Thursday.
What I hear: Somebody had a liiiiiiiittle too much scotch while "editing" over the weekend and the hangover lasted longer than expected.
What you should take away: Janet, it's ok. You don't have to spend 24/7 on this blog helping writers not your own. You're entitled to "edit" once in a while.

And Donnaeve did too:
What you wrote (condensed version): Make a bold statement and I'm going to fact check until Google/Amazon/even the Library of Congress beg for mercy.

What I read: I can't believe I have put every single stinkin' thing I know out on Query Shark and STILL. This.

InkStainedWench (yes, I had to correct this from InkStainedWretch!) said

Oh, dear. I had no idea my query was saying so much about me. I am a published author of non-fiction, and said so. It never occurred to me that the agent would think I self-published. A Google search would reveal several top-drawer publishers; it never occurred to me that an agent would think I got in a bar fight with my agent.

I had no agent; my books were works-for-hire. I was asked to write them by a book packager who placed them with big houses. Should I have explained all this in my 250-word query? Or say nothing at all about my publishing history?

In you query you say just that "I am the author of Green Eggs and Kale (SnugglebunnyPress: 2001) that was a work for hire through a book packager."

Jason Magnason (who had not yet been exiled to Carkoon) asked
So just to be clear Janet, this is in context of your agent site not QueryShark, correct?

Just want to make sure that I was not in the: "Your not getting better" zone and that's why I haven't seen a response in a month or two.

This is about querying me, not about entries on QueryShark. QueryShark entries must keep sending queries till they drop dead, quit, or get to win. There is no fourth choice.

kdjames asked

Do you really have a rejection key? Because that would be so cool. Can we see a pic? Does it only work on queries or could it be used on all of life's irritations? (asking for a friend)

It's a graduation gift from Agent School.

It only works on queries. To reject other things, you'll need this

On Thursday we (finally!) got the writing contest results.

To celebrate Jason Magnason decided he wanted to spend some time on Carkoon

Janet, could this be something in the future? A sort of, Contest of Champions, the Wordsmiths Flash Fiction Annual.

For those of you who are perplexed about cause and effect here: a reminder that suggesting I do more work is generally met with banishment.

Dena Pawling said
Congrats to all, especially Cheryl! But I'm sorry you didn't get a copy of John Frain's manuscript. She must be holding that for the "best story of 2016 prize"
Exactly so.

Mark Thurber said

I was grateful for the delay in results this week, as I didn't get a chance to read them all until yesterday. I like what DLM said about inhabiting so many worlds in quick succession. It's a great exercise. I wonder if this is at all how agents feel when they read (good) queries and have to immerse themselves in one story after another?


When I read queries, I often respond first to the ones I know are not a good fit for me. I flag the remainder to read at a later time, usually when I'm not in a hurry to do anything and can read at a more measured pace.

For example, yesterday (Friday 3/18/16) I read ten flagged queries. I ended up requesting five manuscripts (that's a HUGE percentage of requests, definitely not the norm.) They were all enticing pages so I went from outer space (yes, I requested an SF novel, don't die of shock) to a historical mystery.

After that the blog comments just went wildly, merrily off topic almost completely. In other words, good times.

On Friday we talked about book covers, and when a querying writer should mention their importance

Robert Ceres

This post does beg the question what the heck makes for a good cover? I can make a good list (if not follow) rules for a good query. I have a pretty good idea of what I think makes for a good book, and maybe some idea of what agents might like. I now know at least something about contracts. But covers? Nada. Not sure I can even look at a good cover that I like, say twilight, and say what it is I like. Yikes.

A good book cover is one that makes someone pick up (or in electronic parlance "look inside") or just proceed directly to buy.

As Kitty illustrated here:
The book cover on Steve Hamilton’s A Cold Day In Paradise was the only reason I picked it up in B&N. I didn’t even notice the Edgar Award-winning Novel gold seal on its cover. It was the cold snowy night that got my attention. I read the first page and immediately bought the book, and I’ve read every book in Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series since then. Some of the book covers in that series were boring, forgettable even. But I was hooked on the characters, so I didn’t care what those covers depicted. Had I not spied that first cover, I might have missed the whole wonderful series.

That means it was a good cover. It did it's job. There is no template. What works as a cover on one book may be a disaster on another.

For example:

Would simply not work with anyone who wasn't very famous, and very handsome.

The power of a good book cover is perfectly illustrated (get it!) by Mister Furkles comment

Alice Smith, my mother's college roommate, produced book jacket art, magazine covers, and book illustrations for years. She graduated from Parsons and the Paris School of Fine Art (École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.)

We visited her in New York once. Alice's art would haunt your mind for years afterward. There was an implicit suspense about them. I still remember two book covers she'd just finished. The cover for a book with a title like “The Day the Money Ran Out” was of a fine bookcase with leather bound books. There was an empty whiskey glass and an overturned, nearly empty bottle next to it. Several of the books had fallen over. You wanted to know what happened.

I liked S.P. Bowers comment here
Mostly I just want my book to have a cover.

I love Jenz' insight here
I used to design CD covers, and I bet working with authors on book cover design would be the same kind of special hell that working with musicians was.

Don't get me wrong, they're wonderful people. :) But clients with deep emotional investment get fixated on the parts they love most instead of what a broader audience will fast connect to.

And Joseph Snoe cracked me up with this
I'm with Colin. I don't want my picture on my book's back cover (I don't want his picture on my book's back cover, either.).

But I'll demand they put my name on the front cover.

B.J. Muntain
Well *I* want Colin's picture on my book. *note to self - hire Colin as stunt double*
Craig said
Six or eight careers ago I designed signs. Nothing can make or break a company more than the sign they put in front of their building. Before I got bored with the miracle on demand business of sign design I designed six signs that became classics. We ended up having to keep a stock of those signs because people would steal them within a week of a new one going up.

One of those signs we planted in the middle of a pond. Since it was in Sarasota that pond was full of gators. None of those signs lasted more than a week before it was stolen.

The old saying is imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Larceny can't be far behind!

Kate Higgins said
In my "real" life as a graphic designer, I've done my share of book cover designs mostly for non-fiction. I would never do one without reading the book or at least examining it for tone and researching its target audience.

I am amazed at the variety of covers that are poorly done, generic images or pulled off some template page. Once computer programs came out that allowed anyone to "design" and offered 100's of fonts; some tried using all of those fonts at once because they were there. The consequences were bad designs the general public became immune to.

When a book cover design shows up with some panache they, become irresistible to a vanilla world. So if you think your book is worthy, talk to your publisher about using an experienced designer. If you are a DYI self-publisher find a real designer with experience (no nephew art, please). I can't really attached pictures to comments but use your imagination; which would you rather pick up and read if you were say, a CFO, looking for book about your job of balancing company assents with a cover picturing:
A) A pencil and a calculator on it (really obvious)
B) An Inuksuk (if you don't know what it is, look it up on Google images. :)

A good book cover needs to tantalize the mind regardless of the content.
The content is left to the writer to do the tantalizing further... even if it is with numbers.
I did a cover like the one above, is was a best seller for that niche publishing company.

Are those my only choices? Until I looked at the inuksuk photo twice, I'd have said the obvious one. I understand your point that evocative art is better than obvious, but I also think book covers be instantly understandable, and I had to think about the inuksuk meaning for a second or two.

And this, dear readers, is why we have endless cover discussions!  The artist has vision, and the agent is a worrywort!

DLM asked
Janet, I understand that there is also the possibility that an author's chosen title may be changed. This is one of those warnings I used to hear earlier in my authorial education, but haven't run across in recent years; is it an urban legend - "Don't get too attached to your title, they'll KILL IT FOR MARKETING!" - or a genuine issue?

Titles are also the purview of the publisher, although most contracts have "mutually agreed upon" clauses for that. In other words your novel "Stalking Jack Reacher" can't be changed to "Celery Stalking Reaches Jack" without your consent.

We have monkey knife fights about titles all the time. All The Time.

On Saturday we talked about where to start your novel when you have conflicting advice.

I suggested there is no hard and fast rule. What works for one reader may not work for another.

BJ Muntain made a good point here

I believe that if you're getting conflicting advice - especially from industry professionals, as these the workshop leader and editor were - then it's possible you're at the point where it's a matter of taste, more than skill. While you can do something about skill, you can't please every reader's taste. If your beginning reaches this point, then it might be time to stop worrying as much (you'll never stop) about the beginning, until you get an agent or editor willing to work with you to get it published.

And just a reminder, you can subscribe to my mailing list here:
The newsletters are going to be mostly about client books and goings on.

See you next week!

Subheader noms:
I learn and laugh on a daily basis here. --Kae Bell

I learned to eat Kale in the Oregon State Penitentiary and loved it. --Brian M. Biggs
(I love this on from Brian, but without context, it might lead to the idea that he'd had been a guest of the government so, it was dq'ed from further consideration)

Honestly, Carolynn, I look forward to your comments almost as much as I look forward to Janet's posts. :)--Bethany Elizabeth

First pages are the devil that flicks flames at our feet throughout the months of writing and querying.--Sherry Howard

I'm with Colin. I don't want my picture on my book's back cover (I don't want his picture on my book's back cover, either.) --Joseph Snoe

But honestly I'm in such despair about the election stuff, I'm going to leave the subheader from last week.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Years ago, early '60's I think, they had a show called "That Was The Week That Was." TWTWTW or TW3. For obvious reasons I like The TW3 better.

So now we have, "That Was The Week That WIR".
Sounds right to me.

Coming up, This is the week that will be?

Jenny C said...

Here is the link to a Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel article from a few years ago about a woman who mails pumpkins to her kids at Halloween every year, first at college and then later at their jobs. I remember reading it and thinking what a unique and wonderful idea she had.

Now that Janet has posted on WIR that I'm willing to write my synopsis on a pumpkin and mail it off to agents I expect to get inundated with requests tomorrow morning! So I'm off to buy a package of Sharpies and a bunch of pie pumpkins, which my local grocery store sells year-round. If no one requests? Well, I can always make pie.

Have a great Sunday, Everyone!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Sunday: WIR
Monday: TITWTWB, This is the week that will be.
Tuesday: TITWWW, This is the week we want.
Wednesday: TITWWG, This the week we get.
Thursday: TITWTA, This is the week that am.
Friday: TGIFA, Thank God it’s Friday asshat.
Saturday: TIJDTP, This is Janet’s day to paint.

nightsmusic said...

2Ns, I LOVED TWTWTW! My mother let me stay up to watch it and it was one of the highlights of my week.

Janet, thank you for the WIR. I have not had a very good week so this was like coming home to a solid friend :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Oooh, I like Sherry Howard's subheader nomination the best, I think.

So far as mailing pumpkins go, I've heard (and seen photos of) mailing a potato, so I guess I'm not too surprised!

On the "class" of "fiction in Cambodia", we got a new book like that in at the library just this week. Thursday, maybe? I held it in my hands and thought "wasn't this sort of thing just a topic on Janet's blog?"

Mark Thurber said...

As the shih-tzu-headed madness continues to spread and infect new states (no offense to actual shih tzus), I cling to this blog as a model of civility for us all.

Thanks for the WIR, Janet.

BunnyBear said...

Love the Rejection Key! Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of them out there in Agent Land.

Donnaeve said...

I tried to stay caught up with comments this past week, but honestly, like nightsmusic, this has not been such a great week, and it ain't over yet. Each day I seem to awaken to a new "symptom."

And now, dear hubby has "it." No more taking care of sick babies.

Thank you for the WIR, and I'm happy if I gave you a chuckle. (I did actually think, with all that QS has, she still gets this kind of stuff? Unbelievable.)

John Frain said...

YOU PEOPLE! Oh my, I take a vacation in the mountains where phones fear to tread, and I get my best response ever to my manuscript. Forget for a moment that said response is from people who have never seen it!

If I send my manuscript to everyone who writes a killer flash fiction entry, and assuming some folks like to read the traditional way, I need to immediately purchase more toner and paper for my printer. Because upon returning from the mountains, I rushed to this blog and read through the entries last night and during the wee hours of the morning and there was MORE incredible writing. Seriously. I read Alan Furst and Karin Slaughter in the mountains and y'all are in the same class. Or phylum, I'm still doing a Venn diagram of KaeBell's bio class.

And please, does it get any better than kdjames asking (for a friend, of course, wink wink) about Janet's rejection key and then -- PHOTO! This place is like coming home.

My warning to all: Leave for a week at your own peril. Just make sure you maintain access to this blog. Also, thank you because you guys know better than anyone the pains of this writing life.

jojoroony said...

I love how the rejection key is lime green. What a subversively positive shade! It's like if stop signs were pastel pink or exit signs were baby blue.

Lennon Faris said...

Love the rejection key. It's like the 'edit, undo' that I've always want for my life, mostly for awkward conversations.

And monkey knife fights! who are the monkeys? editors? agents? both? Is there screeching, or stuff thrown around the room? It's something I'd like to see.

Celia Reaves said...

Ah, the WIR - the perfect ending to whatever week I've had. (Sending good vibes to Nightmusic and Donnaeve, hoping next week is better for you both.) I especially loved the rejection key! Dear Queen, I hope your editing project has been put to bed and the demands on your time have ratcheted back down from astronomical to their normal level: superhuman.

Colin Smith said...

Janet!! Great WiR again--and thanks for answering my question. This will actually be week three for the Shih Tzu quote. While highly honored, I'm a little concerned that I might be visited by angry protesters. My FirstBorn will be making birthday cake for me this week. Anyone who has seen pictures of her culinary feats (I've posted a few on my blog) can anticipate that it'll be amazing. Maybe I can share it with any angry Shih Tzu fans that come calling. Cake is always good for calming the nerves. :)

John: Think about it this way: You just got yourself about 100 beta readers! ;)

jojorooney: I think the color is actually kale green... ;)

Dena Pawling said...

Great WiR! I find it rather amusing that the summary of the discussion on book covers is positioned directly opposite the Sean Ferrell cover for Numb there on the left side of the blog. Good example!

Welcome back, John Frain! The moral of this story is NOT that writers shouldn't take a week off, but that we should do it more often =)

Today is Palm Sunday. I hope everyone has a great day, even with DST.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks, Janet. There's so much in every WiR!

Hmm. I suppose I'd better start baking. Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, right? Hope you don't mind if they don't have gluten.

And I'll be sure to have my Shih Tzu-cross dog shaved down to a sleek look so there will be no horrible flashbacks for asylum-seekers.

Brian M. Biggs said...

Colin: Remember "You can't have your cake and eat it too." OEP So you may as well share the aforementioned cake with all of us, virtually. Then we can all thank your first born. And Happy Birthday 2 U! And Thank you Janet for the WIR.

Joseph Snoe said...

If not this week, Sherry's entry ought to be the subheader soon:

First pages are the devil that flicks flames at our feet throughout the months of writing and querying.--Sherry Howard

It's brilliant.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh Lord Colin, you mean you're celebrating another birthday? We have been around here too long my friend.
I wonder if you look as old as the father of a first born who is able to bake amazing cakes should look.
You youngster, she uses an Easy Bake Oven right?

Lance said...

Ms. Janet, you have produced another action-packed, educational WiR. They just keep on rolling in. We, among all writers out there, are supremely blessed. Thank you.

In my part-time job in college, we shipped watermelons through UPS to our out-of-town customers. No box. Just a label and that UPS ink stamp with a little box where you wrote in the weight. Yes, this was in the late '70s. And, yes, it was in Louisiana.

John Frain's debut novel could be the first such with over 100 blurbs. How do we pre-order?

Colin Smith said...

Brian: Thanks!

2Ns: I know--can't believe it's been a year since the last one! And no, unfortunately my oldest graduated from the EasyBake many years ago. She's now dead set on trying out her cake and pastry experiments on us, which no-one objects to since they always seem to turn out significantly better than any of my culinary experiments ever did. :)

Anonymous said...


Um, sorry. I got side-tracked there.

But I love cake. :)

Craig said...

Thank you for the WIR my Queen.

I always thought the rejection key was red, like an easy button.

I am sure my queen is bemused by the choice of that REK song. I guess it makes for a good time to suck up.:

If I find an algorithm that even leans close to the sharkly wit and wisdom used to pick the WIR posts I believe I shall have the key to the universe in hand.

Colin Smith said...

Since we're a bit light on the comments today, and we're talking about food, if you get the chance to try Nabisco Good Thins, you ought to. We got a box of the Spinach & Garlic, and they are addictive. Light and very flavorful. Just thought I'd throw that out there. :)

Anonymous said...

I love the Reject key! Thank you for posting that. But now I'm torn between wanting a Hello Kitty flame thrower or flaming bagpipes. Hmmm.

Happy Birthday, a few days early, Colin!

Welcome back, John, you were missed.

PS- I actually have read John Frain's ms and it's really really good.

PPS- Janet, I'm loath to point this out, but I think the word you intended in the opening line is loathe, with an e.

Amy Schaefer said...

Ahh, I made it online just in time for the WIR. Carolynn, getting to Australia this time was definitely a case of TITWWG. Which I should mention I initially read as "tit wig", which is funny all over again. (Sorry - unsophisticated sense of humor at work today.)

Minor quibble for the shark: my particular version of Schaefer only has one 'f'. I know, I know - it's one of those names.

Lance, I'd like to order an unboxed watermelon, please. Those things must have been made of steel to make it to their destination unscathed. Or were those really gentler times?

And finally, thank you to everyone who has wished us well on our continued journey. I was humbled to be this week's excuse for a contest. :) We're still in the throes of refitting the boat, but we're getting there. My advice to you: don't ever let a perfectionist operate alone on your vessel for any length of time. Stated more clearly, I shouldn't have sent my husband back to do "a little work" six weeks before arriving myself. In addition to rejigging our entire navigation system, he has rewired the entire vessel, and is currently replacing all of the plumbing. Every smelly hose. Let me tell you, stagnant sink drains smell even better at 40 C.

It's my job aboard to say: enough is enough - you can't tweak this any more. Gosh, that sounds just like what I tell myself at the end of the writing day...

Janet Reid said...

Another one I'm going to have to check Every Single Time!
(affect/effect, hoard/horde are two/four others)

Thanks kd!

Janet Reid said...

Sorry Amy!
Ffixed! I mean Fixed!

AJ Blythe said...

I get to start my week with the WIR. Where else but here makes you look forward to Mondays?

Happy Birthday, Colin. Enjoy your cake =)

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Dang. I love these WIR's, but not when you reveal that I missed A LOT.

How does one get a John Frain manuscript now? Writing well. As it always is. Have to work on that.

Heidi always has wise words to say.

Our internet here can be knocked out by cows, by pocket gophers, or an assinine hunter who doesn't realize that shooting at phone posts also means the rancher can't call 911 if he beats the hell out of you...

And I was out of town for a week, came home to no hot water. Day four, still no hot water. I want to be in hot water. My husband who bought the wrong part after a 4 hour round trip to Wyoming is IN hot water...

Amy Schaefer said...

Janice, I feel your pain. The house we are renting suddenly has no running water. And my children are covered in mud. Sigh.

John Frain said...

Ah, but Schaefer with one F, the most memorable days end with the muddiest clothes. You're gonna remember this trip before it even starts!

Alternatively, you could tell all the kids to run by Janice's place where everybody seems to be drowning in hot water. But that might be going out of your way a tad.

Amy, you can't blame your kids when they're naughty-cal, you're raising 'em that way. (Sorry, I wasn't sure if Colin was still up since it's getting late on the East Coast and I didn't want to let the opportunity for a bad pun slip by.)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Great WiR. I look forward to reading this during lunch time and it just was not in the cards today. Long day but good. And a busy week.

Sorry to be unclear in my question on Wednesday.

"If you say you're a published author and you name the publisher, I assume you had an agent for the deal. I do not assume the agent only handles non-fiction. Was that what you meant?"

My publisher only publishes non-fiction and I had no agent. So in other words, I'll need to be clear about that in my query. Similar to the example you gave to Celia Reaves. Thank you.

Janice and Amy-I hope you sort your water problems soon.

And, BJ has cookies and Colin has birthday cake. Are we all invited?

Craig said...

Damn, cake did it again. Maybe DST has kicked everyone's ass. Maybe it was the excess os porch partying. Maybe it was snow on the first day of spring or us in Florida having to wear long pants for two days after spring had sprung.

Whatever it was I was expecting one of you to say that the red rejection key is on the Mac(or the PC) depending on your preference.

You are letting me down. Maybe I am letting you down by not talking about cake.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Oh Amy; it sounds like a spa mud mask day gone wrong! Hope you can find the source of trouble with your running water. You made me feel better about having only cold water right now, if that helps!

Actually, when I work in the woods, I camp there also, going for approx. 6 days without a shower. But then I am also paid for doing so. This time it's on me, literally.

BJ Muntain said...

John, I have a story about mud. When I was a wee child, with two even weer siblings, we went to my mum's relative's place. My mum's people were farmers, so we got to go out and play on the farm... where we found 'a new kind of mud'. Yes, that's what we called it. A new kind of mud - at least, to children from town who hadn't been around cows much... Hot water? You'd be surprised how fast water can be heated up when the adults REALLY want you to have a bath, even without a water heater...

Lisa: The cookies are for the hordes of Americans who are threatening to move up to Canada.

AJ Blythe said...

I love getting muddy (just as well, most jobs I've had wouldn't be called clean!). As a kid my brothers and I would go 'mud bashing'. We lived on the Mary River in Queensland and would spend hours in the water. We'd play hide and seek at low tide by burying into the mud in the mangroves and using a piece of reed as a breathing straw, having mudball fights (I imagine snow is better though) and using it to cool off in summer. There were times when we had to be careful because of croc and shark sightings - not that it usually bothered us. Kid can't be told, even when we caught sharks on out fishing lines we didn't see a problem with swimming with them. Guess that's why this shark pool feels like home *grin*.

AJ Blythe said...

on OUR fishing lines... must proof before hitting send!

Amy Schaefer said...

BJ, your "new kind of mud" story killed me. I am dead.

And for the record, I infinitely prefer muddy kids to the alternative. Any child that wants to get outside and play is fine in my books. I just like having the option of hosing them off before they come back inside.

The water came back on while we were out for a walk, so all is right in my universe. Well, okay, the kids are dirty again, but c'est la vie.

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

As much as I'd enjoy receiving one, should anyone attempt to mail me a pumpkin, it would be confiscated by Australia Quarantine. Alas.

I once mailed a pan of really good brownies to someone in Tasmania.

Janice, you say the sweetest things.

Jason Magnason said...

It's 3:30 am and on carkoon the sun never sets. I have been up trying to fix my query and realized that the typewriter that Colin left here in his office is in need of a good oiling.

Thanks againJanet for answering my question. Your response on QueryShark, to my query, actually ignited the fuel in my writing engines. I finished editing my book like you suggested. I have a confidence in my writing that did not exist until Janet posted my query on Queryshark.

Now I am just about ready to query agents, just as soon as I can get my Query right on Queryshark that is.

Anonymous said...

Trying to catch up at least on blog posts (I'm doomed to not read comments for a while, still), but I couldn't resist upon seeing the mention of unicycles.

One of the most surprising things I discovered upon moving to Japan is that Japanese elementary schools keep racks of unicycles for the students' use. The kids ride unicycles during recess. Bigger kids help little kids learn. I've had a few schools do synchronized unicycle dances for big, sporty presentations.

And at least once, I've fallen off a unicycle constantly while eight year olds balanced on them in place and told me I could do it. I won't say how many times. I think they're encouraging, sweet little liars.