Thursday, April 07, 2016

I'm going to be a One Book Wonder. Will you still want me?

What if you really love your book, and you don't have another in you. What if you get that call, and Janet says, "I love this novel, and I've got a gorgeous multi-colored hand-written list of superb editors I think will love it. So, what else are you working on?" and you say, "Nothing. This is it. I've got a great job and a family that keeps me busy. I just had this novel in me I needed to get out."

Is that a microphone drop statement? Does Janet pour all her energy into that one book, perhaps hoping that, in the midst of the excitement over this book, her new client will be inspired to write more--at least a short story or two? Or does she reluctantly turn the writer down, despite the fact she could easily sell the novel, simply because this writer isn't currently working on something else?

You mean like To Kill A Mockingbird?
Or Catcher in the Rye?
Or The Bell Jar?

Sure I want to keep the great novels coming, who wouldn't. But if I love a novel with a passion that borders on the unwholesome, well, I'm signing it and we'll burn that bridge of no second novel when we come to it.

In point of fact I know several novelists who now write "off contract." That is, they write the novel, then sell it and do not allow the agent to sell it as a two book deal. One book, one contract. See ya when I finish the next one.

The first time I heard an author do that was John Dunning. I worked with him on his publicity, not as his agent, and it was many many years ago. He said it made him too anxious to be committed to something he hadn't yet written.

And I think Larry Block said he was doing that now too, it was a form of "retirement" that let him write to his own schedule.

There's a terrific movie about the one-hit Oneders/Wonders (That Thing You Do!)  At the end of the movie (not this clip below)  there are "where are they now" title cards and the most intractable of the band members (Jimmy) actually gets another deal with Play-Tone Records even though he screws the pooch on this one.  I mention this only cause Ya Nevah Know.

So yes, write a great novel and we'll figure out the rest later.


nightsmusic said...

I think, for me anyway, knowing I had only one book in me might make me shelve it and never even query and this is why. From everything I've read about her, Harper Lee was hounded, HOUNDED for years about writing another book. I wouldn't want to have to deal with that. Couldn't deal with that. So if I was absolutely sure I had the one book and nothing more, I'd wallow in my accomplishment of finishing it, but would keep it only for me.

All that said, would I love to see it in print? Absolutely, but not at the expense of my own comfort level.

Anonymous said...

I want to be a one hit wonder over and over again.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I can see why a writer might feel this way. Speaking for myself, all I can think, eat, sleep, dream, breathe about is my current story. Sure, once in a while other story ideas and non-fiction book ideas burst into my brains. I take note of them but I have no enthusiasm to go after them.

I seem to be a one writing project at a time kinda gal. I'm curious what I'll do after I finish this story. Will it enthuse me to write the next story? But, I never say never. You never know what life is going to throw at you.

CynthiaMc said...

Too funny. The book of my heart was born the summer after I was in the eighth grade, read Gone With the Wind and said "I can do that."

I didn't actually start it until years later. We (my then-partner and I) had several agents tell us (well, me actually, he preferred to stay in his tank and blow things up) they liked it but Civil War was not in fashion at the time. Send them something else. I tried several something-elses but couldn't get into any of them enough to even finish them much less send them in.

So the original is somewhere out in the garage or on a floppy disk somewhere (that's how long ago it was). I found my research notebooks this weekend and gave a lot of thought as to what I want to write. I have a ton of stuff that needs to earn its keep. But that Civil War trilogy still calls to me. Well, not that one. It's now a totally different critter with some of the same characters. For me it came down to "if I were on my deathbed, which book would I most regret not finishing?" So whether it sells or not (and I hope it does - it would make a heck of a mini-series) I'm having a blast working on it and it's keeping me out of trouble (or at least keeping trouble on the page where it belongs). I've grown a lot as a writer and that makes me happy and gives me hope. I love this story. I hope someday a lot of someone elses love it too.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I'm with Jason. I will be a one hit wonder 22x over but that is my absolute limit. After that it's sayanora, finit, done, over, and gone. However, there will be a addendum to contract with my beautiful, wonderful, oh so patient agent, that to get book 11, I must be provided with a pet Scotsman. For inspiration and better whisky you understand. That's standard right?

Ok, I need coffee. Oh, and OP, if you write the next To Kill a Mockingbird, I want to know you so hang out here at the Reef.

Colin Smith said...

What? This Opie sounds like a real jerk. A complete dumb-wad. Who would ask such a crazy, stupid question... oh wait... hehe... this is me! I asked this in the comments last week or the week before or whenever the topic came up. What a wonderful, insightful question. Sheer genius. Beautifully worded too. ;)

Thanks for the answer to this, Janet. This isn't my situation, by the way. I have more than one novel idea in me. But there are all kinds of writers out there, and for those who are not of the "I can't breathe unless I'm writing too!" variety, I'm sure this is comforting. It's good to know that those for whom working on THE novel is something they enjoy doing when they have time can at least query Janet and know they'll get a fair shake with no big career expectations.

Donnaeve said...

So much to this post that resonated in some ways with things I've thought about.

The differences - I already know I have more than one book in me - I've written them. But, there's only one heading for the bookshelves at the moment. I've joked about being a "one book wonder." The key word here is "wonder." (I do believe it might be my fave word!) I just joked, "let's hope I'm not a one book wonder," when I visited Quail Ridge Books the other day and spoke to the author event coordinator. The reason "wonder" is the key word? It means success! At least in this context.

The other thing I've concerned myself over is - following the "one book wonder" i.e. the next WIP. I have no idea how well my book will do. I know the publisher has high expectations for it. That is great, but it also means pressure to produce something they think is as good as the which caught the debut deal.

Last. That movie is one of my FAVORITES!!! Hubby and I have watched it more than once. The songs, the story line, etc. All of it, we loved! And especially that song!

Donnaeve said...

I wrote my comment in spurts...which always results in typos!

"...they think is as good as the which caught the debut deal," SHOULD BE...they think is as good as the ONE which caught the debut deal..."

Now to get more coffee!

InkStainedWench said...

"We'll burn that bridge...when we come to it" is a fine and useful aphorism. I've done it many times.

DLM said...

Jason, HEE. Don't we all ... ?

CynthiaMc - aww, floppy disk!

Colin, I was (thisclose) to passing out at how out-of-character it is for you to be rude! It would be so very un-Englishmanly of you! WHEW.

Donna: are you wearing pants? I need to know, for HR reasons. Your pantslessness yesterday was very personally concerning for me.

I have three novels in my wee and paltry brain. One has gone off grumbling, to take a nap. The WIP is, I suspect, a superior property, market-wise. And the final one is the most personal to me, as it is based on the theoretically-historical origin of my family and name. That third one still looks a very long way off. But all three ideas were born within a year or perhaps two, of one another. They may be all I have time for, at my age (and rate of production). But, if not, I expect more ideas will follow.

AJ Blythe said...

Yup, what Jason said. 'Only one book in me' doesn't compute.

Colin, you also had me rereading your comment (so it took me longer to get to the bit where you said you were Opie). See, you have a reputation to uphold even when you are on Carkoon!

Susan said...

Donna touched on something that I think is really important here--it's not so much that these writers don't have other stories in them, but that the pressure of follow-ups is extraordinary. I imagine that was the case with Harper Lee.

In other cases, authors continue on with other writing--maybe just not novels. Salinger wrote Nine Stories (which is a brilliant collection of short stories) and other novellas after Catcher in the Rye, though Catcher is arguably his most famous work. Similarly, if I remember correctly, Sylvia Plath tried publishing her poetry before her novel, but it was the novel that was accepted and her poetry was published posthumously. In this case, you wonder where her career would have gone had she lived. I've been reading her journals (a massive collection), and I tend to think she would have welcomed solitude after a while, much like Salinger.

I don't think writers ever really stop writing. Maybe, for whatever reason, they just stop publishing or committing the words to paper. I think, looking at these examples and the pressures to succeed, I can understand that.

Susan Bonifant said...

Writing a book is an act of love, or it should be.

I think it's perfectly normal to be so in love you can't, nor do you wish to, imagine the next relationship.

DLM said...

Susan, agreed - but the difference between writing and writing for publication may be the difference. Treating work like a product isn't for everybody, and/or treating work like someone else's product (in a world where self-publishing has become as serious a force as it has, there will be new permutations on the one-off traditional-publishee). There is, of course, a long history of authorial hermits, and some who find traditional-publishing success may opt out given the demands.

Susan Bonifant, great metaphor! And there *can* really be one great love ...

CynthiaMc said...

Diane - I know! That was at least 2 dead computers and 1 dead laptop ago.

Donnaeve said...

Exactly Susan...there's pressure and constant comparing. But they liked this about Book 1. How can I replicate what I did there?

And what Susan Bonifant said too! (missed you out here)

Diane, I am committed to going pantsless when I comment out here. Of course this is bringing to mind the guy who showed up on American Idol singing "Pants On The Ground."

Craig F said...

Firstly, I wish that I had the confidence in how my writing would resonate with the public to say something like that. To me it almost takes arrogance to say it. I know that my writing is getting better all the time but how will others perceive it?

Secondly, I understand pressure. I am under a lot of it already and don't really need more. I have a timeline on the books I have started. I have nine books along that timeline and would like someone with their finger in the pie to coddle and cuddle me along that journey. A good long term agent might be able to do that.

Donnaeve said...

"There is, of course, a long history of authorial hermits, and some who find traditional-publishing success may opt out given the demands."

Hello Donna Tartt. (among others)

Now, I'm over the limit - and got a crazy busy day. One on the list of to do's today is to visit USPS and ship off *prizes!* One to Germany and one to our own AJ Blythe in Australia!

BJ Muntain said...

For many (most?) writers, there are so many stories trying to beat their way to the fingers on the keyboard, that it can be hard to imagine someone who could be happy writing only one book. We think that it's the hard work, the fear of success, the pressure that must keep someone from writing another book. And another one.

But as Colin O.P. Smith suggested in his question, a person might just have one story that wants out. They don't have the desire, inspiration, or maybe even the imagination to write another. And that's perfectly valid. There's no law that says, to write a good book, you have to have lots of different ideas for other ones. Unless you are highly successful, you can't make a career on one book, but nothing says you have to, if you already have a career you enjoy.

A person might write a book for closure on an incident that happened, a trauma experienced. Or maybe just to prove they could. And once that's done, why write another?

(That's not me, by the way. I've got a full series planned out that will keep me writing until I'm a supercentenarian. Yes, I'm addicted to stories.)

Colin Smith said...

I was about to respond to Craig's "overconfident" comment, but I think BJ said it. It's not about being so convinced the public will love my novel, I don't need to write anything else. It's simply a matter of "This is it. If this isn't good enough to publish, there isn't another one in the works." Again, this isn't me. But history shows there are such people out there. I was just curious how agents treat them.

Diane, AJ: Awww, thanks. It's nice to know you think well of me. I'm more of the opinion that I am a dumb-wad, but there ya go. :D

Cindy C said...

Susan said, "I don't think writers ever really stop writing. Maybe, for whatever reason, they just stop publishing or committing the words to paper."

I agree, but this has made me wonder (see what I did there?) what it means to be a writer. We can be unpublished writers, but are we still writers if we don't commit words to paper? If you've published one great novel and don't ever write again, then are you still a writer, or are did you "used to be" a writer? How do we distinguish between "writer" as a profession and "writer" as a personality trait or lifestyle? Do we need to make that distinction?

Sorry to get a little off-topic, but Susan's comment really struck home this morning.

Colin Smith said...

SiSi: One of the things Paul McCartney has said about getting back to music and performing after the Beatles broke up is the fact that to be singer, you have to sing. If you're no longer singing, then you're not a singer anymore. And he didn't want that. I would tend to agree with you about writing. I think the point is, though, you don't have to be a novelist, or even published somewhere to be a writer. As long as you're writing regularly in some capacity. Being published just means you're getting paid do to it. Amateur vs. professional is, perhaps, the better distinction?

I have McCartney on the brain at the moment, for some *cough* AtoZChallengeCheckOutMyBlog *cough* reason. I'm terrible at subliminal promotion, btw... ;)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I will be sad for the rest of my life that Harper Lee did not write a trilogy. Having read Mockingbird so many times, and then Watchman, I feel like there was a possible third book in that arc (Scout as a child, Jean Louise as an adult, then Mrs. _________, neƩ Finch as a mother herself). Since Ms. Lee does not appear to have done so (if they find another manuscript, I will eat something untoward), it's just best that it never comes to pass, I suppose.

Recently, one of my writer friends had her sequel rejected, which chills me. I don't think she had the whole thing written, maybe just the proposal, but what if she had? I have not, to date, been a series writer. I have a trilogy in mind, with book 1 written and book 2 worked on, and so far as I'm concerned, the things that have already happened in the book have happened. I'm sure people do it, but it's so hard for me to fathom changing what's "happened" if book 1 passes and book 2 does not (say).

Unknown said...

Hey Everyone, I'm going to go off topic because that never stopped anyone else! :)

So thrilled and happy and excited to say:

I have an agent.

I have accepted an offer of rep from Steven Chudney of The Chudney Agency. He reps exclusively children's books. Mine is YA. One of his authors was a Printz Honor Award Winner last year and I'm honored to be on his team. And so happy. I can't believe it's really true.

So keep going, Friends. Keep sending this queries. Don't give up. Because dreams come true!!!

Unknown said...

The problem I have is that the ideas are exploding in my head way faster than I can write. I cannot imagine being in this boat. If I were, and my novel is a debut hit (i.e. financially successful) that would redouble or triple my efforts to write, polish, and perfect the next one. Even with all the downsides, writing is still way more fulfilling than almost any other life I could image. Except perhaps being a successful musician, another long shot proposition.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Jenny C- congratulations. Well done. It is always fantastic to hear this kind of news at the Reef

Unknown said...

Holy crap!!! Congrats to Jenny C!

Unknown said...

And get write on the next one! Don't be just a one-hit wonder.

BJ Muntain said...

Congratulations, Jenny C! Such good news!

Colin Smith said...

WooHooOoooOOoOoo!!! Congrats, Jenny C!!!! :D :D :D

That's TWO newly-agented Reiders to celebrate, Panda and Jenny C!! :D

french sojourn said...

Congrats Jenny, good things happen in three around here.

Donnaeve, Panda, and Jenny. Wonderful news!

Cheers !

CynthiaMc said...

Woo hoo!

LynnRodz said...

Janet, you probably can't answer this, but then again maybe you can. Do you know other agents who feel the same way you do about a one hit wonder? I know you've stated over and over that you're looking for writers you can build their career with, so I'm a little surprised by your answer.

Susan, I love your metaphor.

LynnRodz said...

Jenny C, congrats on your good news!

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and congratulations to Steven Chudney for snagging Jenny C! This is a big day for him, too. :)

Donnaeve said...

Congratulations Jenny C - you must be over the moon excited! Well done!

nightsmusic said...

Congrats, Jenny C!!! Since it's National Beer Day, I raise my glass to your good fortune :) Then again, I'd raise it to you anyway since I don't need a 'day' designated for beer ;)

Colin Smith said...

NM: It's also World Health Day. Can you recommend a good, healthy beer? :)

Sherry Howard said...

I can't leave today without saying how wonderful it is to share good news and celebrations with the writers here! Congratulations on the successes in this group!

nightsmusic said...

Colin: Health schmealth...give me beer, lots of beer under starry skies above...don't take my beer...


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Please, Colin, beer is healthy- wheat, barley, hops- all natural stuff. When the Mayflower made its historic voyage to America, the people drank beer instead of water because it was healthier. Water tended to carry all manner of pestilence which the alcohol in a good ale killed.

God is great. Beer is good and people are crazy. Cheers.

Colin Smith said...

"Water tended to carry all manner of pestilence which the alcohol in a good ale killed."

I'm convinced! :)

Nine hours later in the Smith household, SixthBorn approaches her mother, concern in her eyes...

"Mom, why's Dad drinking a beer? Your birthday's not 'til next Sunday."

"It's National Beer Day, sweetie. You know how patriotic your Dad is. He always likes to recognize national observances with a cold beer."

"Yes, but... why isn't he wearing pants?"

Wifey pulls SixthBorn close to her side.

"I... I don't know. It might have something to do with that crowd on Janet's blog. We just need to keep praying for him..."


Julie Weathers said...

Jenny!!! Congratulations. You will, of course, let us know when you're published.

Good job.

Lucie Witt said...

First Panda, now Jenny? What a wonderful week!

This is an interesting question, though one I cant relate to at all. I have too many books, too little time.

Somewhat related, when I see debut authors go to auction and get huge advances, I feel a twinge of wishful wouldn't - that -be- nice. But then I think, how terrifying to start your career with those kinds of expectations. I know it's a good problem to have, but I imagine the pressure could be paralyzing for some writers.

Julie Weathers said...

I've been trying to stay on track with my writing this year. I'm determined to finish The Rain Crow and make some significant progress on Cowgirls Wanted. Unfortunately, I can't pour a book out in thirty days, slackard that I am. No Nano for me.

Colin and his A-Z blogging challenge has kind of put me off schedule, but that's all right. I read the comments here daily. He'll make plans to attend some event and I will be there. Then we'll have an A-Z flogging challenge.

I don't know if Rain Crow will find a home, but as I've said before, that's the worm making its way through my brain right now.

My problem, like many writers, is there are lots of stories waiting to be birthed. I'm not sure I would want to write a series that is several books long. It would take a special story for me to wrap up in one book. Praise God for those special authors who can write beautiful books that stand the test of time whether it be one or a series.

That's what makes horse races. Some horses are good at short distances and burst out of the box and others are distance horses. That doesn't make either one better. It just makes them best at what they do.

John Frain said...

Jenny C, tip o' the cap to you. Fantastic news, so excited for you. Keep us filled in as you take your journey. Same for Panda. Sharing great news if fun and giving everyone a peek behind the curtain is equally entertaining.

I've never mentioned it, but I enjoy Donna poking her head in about what's going on in the publishing journey that she's taking. The small tidbits are always fascinating to someone looking to take the same adventure.

And Colin, your adventure to the fridge and back -- all while avoiding sixthborn -- cracks me up. There aren't enough prayers wife & child can utter to help you if you keep hanging your hat at the reef.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...


AND PANDA (I don't know how I missed that....)

I love hearing good news, and Reider good news is particularly awesome ^^

Julie, I'd hardly call you a slacker! Nano isn't for everybody, and it doesn't produce well for everybody who does participate. Write the way you need to, it's what we all hope for, isn't it?

Theresa said...

Great, great news, Jenny. Congratulations!

I loved yesterday's sample query.

I would like to be an any-hit wonder.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: I can claim no responsibility for the A-to-Z Challenge, though as popular as it is, it would be nice to say it was my idea. Your participation is totally your choice and I only coerced you somewhat. Ish. ;) I'm glad you're doing it, though. Your articles are interesting, and I'm enjoying the little excerpts from your novels. :)

John: Yeah, I know... *sigh*... and yet here I am. ;)

Janice Grinyer said...

Late to the party - just checking to make sure everyone has their pants on before I enter...

Congrats Jenny AND Panda - you're on the way!!

And Colin, I remember when you wrote today's question in your comments. At that time, I was thinking of it as a commercial writing scenerio, but Janet also framed it as a literary one. Interesting!

And I think when you are a writer, you write no matter what. It might not be published, but you write. Im out in the middle of nowhere, and am stuck right now in a sample chapter where its almost emotionally crippling to write - well,okay,it IS ...but yet I can work on something else and enjoy. It's bi-polar writing to say the least.

Coming here to Janet's blog reminds me that we are not alone; the act of writing is something you can share, and those who write understand.

Now Im going to put my pants back on and write. Have a great day everyone!

Julie Weathers said...


I didn't say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame you.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: LOL. A subtle but important difference. Okay. :D

Unknown said...

Thanks, Everyone, for the good wishes and for the beer! I live in Mileaukee and we never turn down a brewski! (Yes, that's a word!) You guys are the BEST!

Dena Pawling said...

It's Colin's fault I signed up for AtoZ last year, so I'm with Julie. I blame Colin.

Congrats Panda and Jenny!

My son comes home for leave today!!!! I'm only a "little" excited =)

Karen McCoy said...

Jenny C, that's amazeballs! *Kermit flails*

Most everything that should be said has been said, so I'd like to add to Sir Colin's McCartney analogy. I got stuck in the last year perfectioning edits to the point where I wasn't writing anything new, and I'm certain my creativity suffered because of it.

This brings me around to a question I constantly wrestle with, which is how much time one should spend egg polishing versus egg laying. I've laid five eggs total(first-draft finished novels), and polished two eggs to a near-shine. However, when I'm editing, I feel like I'm not growing as much as a writer. Like Colin said--a singer should sing, a writer should write, and the year I spent polishing egg number two might have been better spent writing more and not dwelling so much on edits.

So? Thoughts? Egg polishers? Egg layers? Lay it on me :)

John Frain said...

That was a classic response. Might as well be up front and tell you now, I'll be stealing it often.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yep, totally Colin's fault. The A-Z thing but glad to be doing it.

And Colin, never leave us. You are my chortle and gafaw god. So funny.

John Frain said...


I'll respectfully disagree. I think when writing your first draft, you get everything out of your head and on to the page. Sure, you use your writing skills while doing it.

But when you hit the editing stage, that's when you really stand out from the crowd and polish. That's when you bring your writer's toolbox out and start strengthening your structure, turning ordinary sentences into spellbinding sentences and making everything sing.

I don't want to imply that writing a complete first draft is easy because it isn't. But editing it into something publishable requires more skill and significantly more effort. IMHO.

So I think you've learned a lot by doing the editing work on your piece over the past year. There's a pretty good chance you've learned a lot more than you realize, and it'll become more apparent when you're working on your next.

Cindy C said...

Congratulations, Jenny C! So much good news lately here at the reef!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I have to agree with John. The art of writing is revision, and first drafts always suck. Even if you are Stephen King.

You must get that first draft done, but it is a malformed block of stone from which you chisel your masterpiece. Do not fret over the time spent editing too much. That is where the real magic happens.

Of course, you must be careful not to develop obsessive, compulsive editing disorder. I suppose one can go too far in the other direction. Like with beer and no pants. Colin's poor family.

Lennon Faris said...

Ah this post sure hits home. I've been escaping into my 'story notebook' for as long as I could write. As a kid I had sketches and snippets of ideas for the same story - mini plots, main characters, scenes, and even conversations - but only five summers ago I honed the idea for the real, over-arching plot. I went out to Caribou Coffee and began pounding out these fresh ideas with a new, focused intensity.

It became my constant source of energy. I work and have 3 young kids, and my husband doesn't understand how I can rush home for lunch, have 30 minutes to myself, and use it all up focused and writing. Or get up with the baby, stay up an extra hour, eyes glassy, and be typing away, re-editing the same scene for the 100th time. He's said he wished he could have that kind of drive and follow-through for his hobbies.

For five years it was something I loved. I hesitate to say it but writing felt like a real addiction. A lovely, heady addiction. Or as Susan Bonifant made the analogy, maybe being in love?

Recently, though, I began querying. Something I'd been looking forward to for years... Yet waiting on things is something I despise with all my heart. And you know what happened? My writing muse went... poof.

I hear people on here talking about all the stories just itching to get out of their heads, and it makes me envious (in the 'I'm happy for them and wish I had that issue' sort of way)... and worried. What if this 'writing' was just a phase? What if this was the only story I had in me, and if I can't get it published, I'll just move on? I don't want that. But I also can't make myself want to write right now. Yes I've tried powering through, but it doesn't feel the same at all.

Has anyone had this happen?? Of course there's the ol' writer's block, but this feels bigger. More like the 'un-writer's block.' Maybe I'm just too inexperienced to know the difference.

So this post is a good one for me. It's nice to be reminded that some great writers have only one real story, too. I've only been in love once (and still am after ten years), so maybe there is hope :P

Jenny C - so many congratulations!! I do love hearing Reider good news.

p.s. I wish I hadn't remembered Colin asking this the other day bc his 1st comment today would have been hilariously out of character.

Lennon Faris said...

E.M. - "obsessive, compulsive editing disorder?" Like you've been iced, but... oced.

"Dr. what's wrong with me? I can't stop typing!"

"Writer, I'm afraid you've been oced."

I wonder if there's a cure for that?? Also, glad to see so many are pantsless today.

Karen McCoy said...

John and E.M.--thank you for your input! That was my inclination also. I recently got some advice in the other direction though, so I'm in a reassessment stage. But I will, in good conscience, print out laid egg number five and start polishing. And perhaps draft some too.

And E.M., yes, I have to be careful--I am definitely in the over-editing, over-thinking, all-beer, no pants camp. I once had a 12-hour editing bender, and the results were a bit frightening.

Kate Larkindale said...

Congratulations Jenny C! Fabulous news!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Wading in, pants on. Is that ok, y'all?

Congrats to Jenny C. That's wonderful news. And I think I've congratulated Panda on, was it Monday, but just in case I didn't, congrats. Everyone enjoy their beer, including Colin and his family! I'll stick with whisky.

Karen, I'm glad you asked that question, and John and E.M. for answering. I worry about over-editing too. I want to polish it but not take away from the freshness.

Panda in Chief said...

Off topic! (And over-long, but it's a good story!)
Congrats to Jenny C!

Okay, now that my contract is signed and speeding along its way, I can spill the beans! My extremely fabulous and incredibly pandarific agent is * ta da* Gordon Warnock of Fuse Literary.. I have been benefiting from his astute feedback and suggestions while we worked together through the SCBWI Nevada Mentor Program.
We took my mere cartoon outline from 47 pages to over 140 pages in the six months of the program.

So now I must confess that all querying rules and proceedures were completely thrown out the window, even though I had been curating a list of agents to query once I had the manuscript ship shape (or panda shaped). The. Final meeting for the mentor program was this past weekend in Virginia City NV, and in our first meeting, we talked about what else I needed to do to get the MS completely ready to start querying, and then Gordon asked, "do you have any questions?" And I did a complete dopeslap move and said, " wanna be my agent?" And he looked a little shocked for a few seconds and said,"Um, yeah."
So now I had to go through the rest of the weekend with thougts of, "shit! Shit! What did I just do? Oh really smooth!" Running through my head.
Each of the 9 mentors gave a presentation througout the weekend, and Gordon's was on Sunday morning. So first he talked about my co-mentee's project and where she needed to go next, and then he talked about my project and how it grew from 47 pages to 140 pages, and then he looked over at me and said, "I'm going to tell a story that is probably going to Embarrass the hell out of Anne," and then proceeded to tell the story of me asking if he wanted to be my agent, and then looked over at me and said, "Yes, I'll be your agent."
And then the whole room of 30+ people burst into applause.
Is that cool or what? So you have it here more or less first!
Um...I realize this is non standard querying proceedure, but take it as a benefit of doing a program like this, where you get to work with someone on a project. Many, many thanks to the Nevada chapter of Scbwi, and all the mentors that give their time for this program. I have found an amazing group of extremely talented friends to help and support us through this crazy business.

Did I mention I have an agent?

Kregger said...

Let me get this straight...there's a national beer day? And nobody told me?

I thought everyday was beer day.

Congrats to Jenny C. The journey of a thousand steps has begun. Don't forget your foot powder and mole-skin.

I'm beginning to wonder if I haven't seen y'all hanging out at the ABNA's Manse with all this pantlessness going on. What's next? Cabana boys, hot tubs and booze spigots? I'm going tell Fluffy to flame the rabble-rousers.


Panda in Chief said...

And BTW as far as I know, everyone was wearing pants, even as we consumed large quantities of beer.

John Frain said...

What a grand story! That's a moment -- a long moment from Gordon saying your name to everyone in the room bursting out in applause -- that will stay with you forever.

I bet you were typing that so fast you made 46 typos and had to keep going back to fix them. Or maybe that's just me?

Great stuff. Enjoy your ride, it'll be magical.

nightsmusic said...

Kregger: I have to admit, I thought about you when I posted that because every time I see your name, I read it Kegger. ;)

And Jason, your graphic is marvelous but you have way too much time on your hands! ;p

Colin Smith said...

Panda: Wonderful story!! Thank you for sharing.

Janet: Far be it from me to tell you what to do O Most Sharp-Toothed and Wise Shark, but maybe you should add this story to the "Be Bold" post. Talk about grabbing the moment by the throat! This is one for the archives.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I miss you guys, I miss writing.
Damn family...did I just say that?
Yes I love them, yes I have obligations, yes they involve a little baby, lots of gifts, a due date/party/40 women coming to my house this weekend.
See ya next week with leftovers.

Brigid said...

Panda, that's magical. But I can't help thinking you're a safe bet: He knows how you work, and he knows you've got gold in you.

Jenny, huzzah!

OK, who brought champagne?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Kregger- I totally thought every day was beer day but a national beer day means we can have even more beer.

Panda- greatest story ever. I love it and once more, congratulations. Seems like a great agency to be with as well.

Oh dear- I think I am going to need a bigger book shelf.

And I think Colin just really misses Carkoon. Perhaps, he is too adapted to the Carkoon dress code which forbids pants altogether. Only kale kilts are allowed.

Panda in Chief said...

Yay! Champagne! And cuppycakes!!
And Brigid, you're absolutely right. I never would have asked if I felt like we didn't already work well together. This is NOTHING like handing your manuscript under the door in a bathroom at a conference. Especially a pants optional conference.

And I would be honored to be in the " Be Bold" section, Colin!

Colin Smith said...

EM: That's only for formal occasions. So I'm told. Exiles are rarely invited to Carkoon Formals. The State Police don't like to see the legs of foreigners. Apparently, it goes back to the Wars of Old Parthusia, when Sarlaac's ancestors fought The Men Without Trousers, and suffered multiple defeats at their hands. It took about 150 years for the Carkoonian military to figure out that the best time to attack the MWT was at night while they slept with legs covered. General Spookqlain was awarded the Golden Kale medal for that piece of strategic genius.

So, for a foreigner to be seen bare-legged is considered a great insult.

But I digress... :)

Anonymous said...

Here it is again!!



BJ Muntain said...

Karen: I think editing is its own learning opportunity. You may not feel you're being as creative, but you're learning more about style, about what works and what doesn't. Yes, there comes a time when you need to stop editing and start querying (and start writing another), but editing is a very important activity - not just for the finished novel, but to help the author develop as a writer.

Lennon: There are many ideas, and they may be percolating in the back of your head. You will be gripped by one of these ideas once the stress of querying dulls. And if not, then not. But if you really enjoyed writing - as you seem to have - you won't be able to stop. Something will come along to snap your muse out of the waiting doldrums.

Great story, Panda!

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: Have you considered taking on something smaller? Flash fiction, short stories, or something like that where you can experiment without having to develop characters, build worlds, and come up with a whole novel-length plot? Just throw ideas on a page and play with words. Maybe nothing will happen. But maybe something will.

Susan said...

Jenny: Great news! Congratulations!!

Panda: That story is amazing! I agree with John--that's one of the moments you'll treasure forever.

A huge congratulations to you both! E.M.'s right--we're all gonna need bigger bookshelves. Oh, darn. ;)

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

What a great question. I've been lurking as much as possible, skimming through the fun in the comments but this question resonates with me. Lennon, this is for you too.

I quit writing, mostly because I don't have the physical time. But there are other reasons. I grew belligerent to writing, not putting words on paper but all that shit that grows around it. Like mushrooms under a beech tree. All the rules, the platform, the dots on the calendar, the query etiquette, (exception: Jeff Somers, but ya gotta write like him to be one.)

I decided I had to write something phenomenal and maybe once in a life time thing to compete with all these great novelists. Then I thought about the generation of fledgling (I hate that word) writers. They're going to appeal to the masses of up and coming readers.

Result? Full stop.

In my bones, I know I'll write more. What pains me is missing the daily exercise, bettering my craft, sharing with others. Meanwhile I pumped out 118 paintings since Jan 1st and I've dusted the house a few more times.

There are lots of artists throughout history who have produced one phenomenal work. Musicians, composers, writers and hairdressers. What's the name of Crumps coiffeur?

Congrats Jenny C and Panda what a fantastic story. Donna too.

Colin, name for healthy beer. Might ask the Belgians, they've got the best breweries or ya might just take a draft.

Amy Schaefer said...

...and another congratulations to Jenny C. Man, is it hard to be in the wrong time zone for this blog. Last for everything!

Panda in C., I love your story. I think it highlights the fact that, while you don't need to follow the standard query->pages->waiting->discussion->agent route, you do need to follow a sensible route to find an agent. Working with a mentor and then proposing: sensible. Throwing glitter-filled MS pages as paper airplanes at an agent on the subway: not sensible.

I'm off to the boat. We had a couple of teeny, tiny leaks on Wednesday, so we're back out of the water to replace or cap those 50-year-old throughhulls. If you think writing needs patience, try prepping a boat sometime.

Karen McCoy said...

Yay, Panda! I was thinking of looking into that mentor I just actually might...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Pandaaaaaaaaaaa, fantabulous, awesomeness !

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

What Amy said: I miss most of the fun, being diametrically opposite from La Sharque and her 7pm posting times.

Congrats Jenny C. Glad you have found an agent.

Thinking upon the concept of One-Hit Wonder, at first I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. How can an author write only one book and not want to go on? Me, I will only stop writing when they pry the keyboard from my cold, stiff fingers.

Then I remembered all the other stuff I've done in my life. I'm not just a Writer. I'm a Creator. I've had lots and lots of interests other than writing, and have excelled at many.

I think about all the non-writing things I've done. I did them, was satisfied, and was able to move on. I'm not driven to keep doing those things. If I never perform the violin in public ever again, it will not kill my soul. If I never make another film, genetically engineer bacteria, or teach blind children, I'll be fine. I enjoyed those things and threw myself into it wholeheartedly.

Somewhere, someone feels the same about that One Novel In Them. They'll indulge completely in writing a book. When they're done, they'll have that lovely sense of satsifaction one gets after a good meal. They won't be a ghrelin/leptin-drenched binger who creeps into the kitchen for a second midnight stack like a few other writers of my intimate acquaintance.

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

I recently read a study that separated a bunch of artists into two groups. One group's goal was to turn out one perfect ceramic pot. The other group's goal was to turn out as many pots as they can, regardless of quality.

In the end, the absolute best ceramic pot was not created by the Perfect Pot group, but by the Many Pot group. It was because they refined their technique as they went along. They learned how to make fewer mistakes and eventually, were able to throw a really good pot first try.

After pot #245, if they went back to pot #1 and re-threw it on the wheel, it would come out much better than the original. Nothing wrong with re-throwing the first pot, once you know how to make it a better pot.

Anonymous said...

LOVE that movie, and the song! Hadn't thought of it in years but now it's stuck in my head. :)

Jenny C, congratulations on the fantastic news! So happy for you.

Panda, I think your how-I-got-my-agent story tops any other I've heard so far. Be Bold, Be Brave. Thank you for sharing it!

Your Grace, I love the pot throwing analogy (since I used to do that and got pretty darn good at it). It's a muscle memory/touch kind of thing. I suspect the writing brain is very similar.

Colin, I remember you asking this question. Turns out I'm grateful you did, not because I only have one book in me, but because of the second part of the answer Janet gave. For a very long time, years and years, I've been totally freaked out by the prospect of selling one book in a two-book deal and getting paid for a second one I hadn't written (yes, of course I stress over things that might never happen). And I mean freaked out to the point that I'm convinced I wouldn't be able to write the second one. Ever. I decided I'd just have to write both books first, before I even submitted anything, just to be on the safe side. And that was a daunting prospect of its own. But now I have a new term in my repertoire: writing off contract. I didn't know that was an option. God, what a huge effing relief.

April is turning out to be a surprising month, on many levels.

Oh, and Colin, add me to the list of people blaming you, you troublemaker.

Donnaeve said...

Panda - two things!

First off, this proves the quirks of querying. We just the "odd" query example from QOTKU yesterday - which we all know was bogus - but STILL, heeelarious and we will now likely wear out that whole pants thing like we did LIma Beans and Kale and Carkoon and what else...? Anyway your query - "wanna be my agent?" beats Jeff Somers pantsless one any day!

Second! I have a writer friend here in NC repped by Mr. Warnock.


Julie Weathers said...

Panda that is wonderful!! Congratulations.

What a contagion of good news today. Now, it's time for someone to announce they're having a baby. Colin, any announcements you want to make? I notice you've been drinking beer sans pants.

Lennon Faris said...

BJ & Colin - really good thoughts. Colin, I may try something smaller. It does seem less daunting.

Angie - thanks for the perspective. I also painted a picture recently, the first in a while :)

Heidi - I loved your pot analogy!

Panda - your agent story ("...wanna be my agent?") made me laugh!

This blog is a phenomenal place for encouragement... also for getting one excited about writing again. Thanks everyone for being so awesome.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Congratulations, Jenny C! That's such fantastic news!!!

Colin, we're all blaming you for the A-Z.

And Dena, that's brilliant your son's coming home. Enjoy!!!

BJ Muntain said...

Yes! I was going to say something to that, and got sidetracked - so wonderful your boy is coming home, Dena!

Julie Weathers said...

I'm not sure if anyone is interested, but Diana Gabaldon did a live chat tonight. It has quite a bit of conversation about writing.

Gabaldon chat

Julie Weathers said...

Dena, what wonderful news. That is the best news of all.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Panda, wonderful story.

And Dena, yes, enjoy your time with your son.

So much lovely activity happening in April here at The Reef.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Funny thing, I follow Gordon Warnock on Twitter, not because he reps what I write (he doesn't), but because he has a Doberman. I'm not sure I can think of another agent who does!

(Feel free to prove me wrong, maybe that one will rep what I write!)

Colin Smith said...

Julie: The only babies I'm having at the moment are these 100 word A-to-Z flash stories. Mind you, I am quite proud of them. :) No other news from me, other than, yes, I know where my pants are. Happy is the man who knows where his pants are.

AJ Blythe said...

What Her Grace said. I hate being on opposite time zones to you guys. I'm always at the very start or end of the conversations here =(

Jenny - that's brilliant! Congratulations!

Panda Anne - that is an awesome call-story. As our Queen says, if you are going to break a rule do it well...

And yes, I won an ARC of Donna's book so I'm going to get to read it before all of you *grin* (thanks, Donna!!).

roadkills-r-us said...

Jason Magnason said...

I want to be a one hit wonder over and over again.

That's subheader material!


Lennon, just write, as others noted. If you don't want to write flash fiction oir whatever, just go back to teh mundane. Grab a notebook and describe the next person you see, or the last cashier you paid, or a coffee mug, or the taste of your favorite drink, or... anything.

I plan to live to at least 120. I doubt that's even close to enough time to write everything that's in my head.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

To reiterate what Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said.

There is this lady born to a noble family in Florence. She's quite old now. When she was twenty-ish she ran off to some African beach and lived in a tent. There she painted portraits of the locals and had two girls. Then moved back to Florence to an amazing apartment with an ancient wisteria growing up to the roof through the court yard. Seven stories up, to her painting atelier one more to the roof top terrace where she invited me to see her wisteria and her paintings. No elevator.

I'd heard about her paintings, I wanted to see them. All kinds of images ran wild in my mind as we slowly climbed the stairs to her 70 year old pace. She told me about her wisteria and her paintings. I was sure there would be hundreds of them. She wouldn't let me turn my head to see the paintings until we were at the far end of her atelier. Then voila, turn now.

There on the wall was a collage of Six or seven canvases thick and cracked with twenty years of paint. Stitch-marked from where she'd removed them from the stretcher bars and rearranged. The canvases looked like sway back cows. The colors had no harmony. I was dumbfounded.

If she'd spent 20 years producing volumes of work I'm sure she would have had some gems, but those canvases left me speechless.

Sam Hawke said...

Gah, way too late for the party, but WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP well done Panda and Jenny C!!!! So happy for you both. What great news! Love seeing success from the Reef. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Yippie Jenny C !

DLM said...

Jenny C. and Panda, fabulous felicitations to you both!!! My apologies for being late to congratulate; I was doing my mom and stepfather's taxes for them. (My good deed for, possibly, the month.)

Cannot wait to see everyone's work!!! Because of *course* you will (are obligated to!) keep us posted. Right?

Julie Weathers said...


Happy is the man who knows where his pants are.


I have a two sort of crazy twin Cajun cowboys in Dancing Horses who are involved in some chaotic missing pants scenes.

BJ Muntain said...

DLM: That's a good deed for a YEAR, if you ask me.

Julie: Because you mentioned Diana - SiWC just got their presenter's list up for this year, and Diana is on it. I'm going to scrimp and save until June (when registration opens) so I can go this year. Maybe this will be the year we meet in person? Assuming you're able to go, of course.