Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week in Review 5/15/16

Welcome to the week that was.

First, thanks for all the help on the redesigned website. I did figure out how to make the text darker.

I've not yet figured out how to optimize it for mobile devices.

I can't seem to fix the white space at the bottom either.

Some of these are just a matter of tinkering which is actually kind of fun and gives me sympathy for all those writers I've told "get a website, it's easy!" 

Colin mentioned the pictures of NYC on the new website made him want to visit:
The pictures of NYC are cool, and make me want to visit properly. Of course, I would love a guided tour. In fact, that might have to be part of the contract should I land a NY-based agent:

"Must give author guided tour of NYC at least once in the life of this agreement." Perhaps if the advance is good, I'll bring the whole family! :D

Oddly enough, I'm the world's worst tour guide for NYC. Unless you want to see the L-train, my local bodega (turkey and cheddar on a roll), the local bakery (coffee and a muffin) or any of six zillion watering holes, I'm kind of useless. Well, I can take you to the Met, or MoMA of course. Mostly though, I just live here, I don't go see "sights" In fact, I actively avoid the places big crowds of people are. One of my favorite websites is this one: Quiet City Maps.

And Donnaeve comes clean about why she didn't want her dear mother hanging about with us hooligans at Bouchercon
Having said that, HA! Ms. Janet, I thought I was so subtle. NOT. The thing with Mom...ya know I tell stories right? Yeah. So, Mom tends to tell stories too, and she EMBELLISHES them. And they're about ME. Running around the back yard in my underwear. Um. No. If I can't keep my eyeballs and ears tuned in to Mom? She will have you thinking I swung from the power line attached to the house playing Mighty Mouse with my brother. Oh wait. We did that.

Colin, you and I are going to need a plan to wrest Donna's mum away from her get the dirt on Our Donna! I love hearing those stories! And my sisters have EXACTLY the look that was on Donna's face at Bouchercon when my nieces and I get together cause they love love love stories of when my sister/their mom was little. And I have no qualms about telling those stories. Payback baby!!!

On Monday, the results of the May We Have (a writing contest) were posted.

nightsmusic picked up on the common refrain about not getting some of the entries:
*disclaimer: I still don't get some of them, but what do I know?

you know a lot. I didn't get some of them either. When I don't get an entry, I do read it more than once, and look carefully for clues. But if I still don't get it after looking at it twice, I pass on it.

Claire scramble to clarify her comment from last week on the writing contest judging
Gadzooks! I'll stop labouring this point now, but I feel the need to make absolutely clear I was not looking for critiques of anyone's flash fiction entries! Perish the thought. Was simply interested in the process by which you go about whittling down so many entries to a final few - i.e. is it simply a gut feel, or does it start with scanning every entry for the prompt words, then eliminating ones with errors of grammar/vocabulary, etc. As applied to the contests in general, not a specific one.

Completely understand you don't have time for this, but didn't want to let a heinous misconception stand!

(Packs bags for Carkoon...)
I read for stories first. If a line or lines, or a phrase stands out, I flag those too. Once I've culled for story, I read them all again. The ones that are too oblique get a pass. That's a real tightrope with flash fiction as someone pointed out recently: the difference between not enough, too much, and just right. I think that line moves depending on the reader and what she brings to the story. I'm not going to understand any oblique Dr. Who references. I mostly get the math and science references. Any kind of high faulting' poetry form, not so much.

A good example of this is the Kae Ridwyn entry
Daddy, quick - watch me slide! Whee!
Sally, four. All giggles, sloppy ice-cream kisses.

Daddy, please may I have Jaimee over to play?
My daughter, nine. Nudges and whispered secrets.

Daddy, I love you. Father’s Day, thirteen. No more under-the-table cubbyhouses…

My own car? Thank you, Daddy! Squeals; hugs of gratitude.

An aisle; a walk; a bride on my arm. Tears, threatening, choked back. My heart too big for my chest.

These memories should be treasured forever.

But they’re ones I’ll never have.

The tiny limp body in my arms? My Sally?

I curse the day brie was created.

Kae had to decide whether to explain brie or not. Her choice (not explaining) worked out because I'd watched The West Wing and knew brie isn't good for pregnant women. She'd probably have been ok if the judge was a person who'd had children and been warned away from brie during pregnancy. That's most likely a large swath of the population.

This is a perfect example of the knowledge wars about what should be in "the canon." In other words, what must a person know to be considered educated. As one wag put it "how much do you have to know to get the jokes."

There's no one right answer to this, as these contests show. The more contests we have, the better your sense of what I know (and don't!)

And once you know something (Dr. Who trivia, the names of the Star Wars planets; the rules of bridge) the more likely you are to think everyone knows it. A lesson I relearn often when what I know about querying isn't the same as what the QueryShark readers do.

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) said
I'll admit there were a few I had to read more than once to understand.

Yup, me too.

And I needed help to find "whee" in Christina Seine's entry which Solidus and Kitty provided:
Re Christina Seine - "whee" is in there, split across three words: "how he even". Subtle! :-)
When I can't find a prompt, I use spell check and look for "wh" or other parts of the word. That little trick didn't even help on this clever entry!

Craig's entry got attention for burying a great line:
Even more amazing it seems like my Queen was insinuating that I might have been a contender if I had formatted differently. Maybe more like this:

At the bottom of the picnic basket I found a gun instead of dessert. Her face was a plea.

Consider this: At the bottom of the picnic basket I found a gun.

You don't need "instead of dessert" and it undercuts the power of the sentence. I think this is one of the places where reading something aloud would help. You get all the power in "At the bottom of the picnic basket I found a gun" and then you would hear the drop off with "instead of dessert."

Do you guyz read your entries aloud?

This from CynthiaMc just cracked me up:
I hadn't intended to kill anyone off (I'm usually a sunshine and lollipop kind of person. I finished writing and went "Whoa! What just happened?"

It was fun, though. I might do it again.

And in honor of her great entry, Christina Seine decided to burn down her house:
That I still have a home to sneeze in is nothing short of a miracle in my book. We all decided to celebrate by getting the flu.

I am very grateful that life is never boring.

On Tuesday we discussed what to do between getting an offer and accepting the offer.

kittykat asked:
but do you email only the agents who have fulls to tell them about your offer, or all the agents, including the ones who only have queries?

It depends where you are in the process. If you've sent queries within 30 days of the initial offer coming in, I'd let those agents know because they may not have had time to read the query yet.

If the offer comes in and you queried (and didn't hear back) six months ago, no you don't alert them.

General guideline to offer alerts: everyone who asked for a partial or full AND those agents you queried initially within 30 days of the offer.

Lennon Faris asked:
Couple questions - on Day 1 - So you actually *say* to your agent that you are taking a little time to notify other agents? I thought that was something you just skirted around ("I need time to... consider"), and it was assumed by the agent, but would be rude to actually say out loud.

Also, when you contact the other agents, you politely give them say 4-5 days to get back to you, I'm assuming?

Yes you say exactly that. Being oblique does not help at all here. You want to be very clear in your communications.

So: Dear AgentGood Taste,

Thankyou! (insert joyous remarks about offer/excitement etc)

I have a full manuscript out with XNumber of agents. I'd like to give them a heads up on your offer and some time to get back to me. Will a week work for you on that?

While I wait for those slackers may I get a copy of the author agency agreement from you? And of course, I have some questions. Can we set up a time to talk, or do you prefer answering by email. And it's ok to talk to your clients?

Again, I'm thrilled beyond measure at your offer and look forward to talking with you further.

Yours truly, madly, deeply

Woodland creature on a roll

nightsmusic asked:
kay, I'll up the ante for a trip to Carkoon...when you offer, do you send the paperwork at the same time to give the client an opportunity to look things over? Or do you send it on day two - four? And is it a terrible thing to ask for that up front during the offer? The reason I'm asking is because it seems to me, when I got in trouble for what I was thinking on the last post regarding this, that OP there had not either had the paperwork up front or didn't ask all the questions (of which you have a great list here!) prior to informing the other agents she'd had a bite from. I had a huge red flag that went off when I read that initial post as well, but I'll shut my mouth now..

I try to remember to offer to send it but I forget a lot (a lot!) If however the potential client is savvy, s/he asks for it and of course I send it right away. It's TOTALLY OK, in fact it's smart to ask to see the agreement as early as you can. I'd rather have more time to answer your questions and give you time to think than have you rush into a decision you later regret.

Having a client become unhappy isn't any picnic for us either.

Robert Ceres asked:
You initially had us giving the agent a week to decide, but you don't notify her of your decision until day ten??

A week is ballpark. If you have ten agents in the scrum it takes longer to sort things out than if you have two.

If you have ten agents reading fulls and nine drop out, you need less time than if all ten make an offer.

None of these guidelines are legal requirements or sell-by dates on perishable produce. They're more like guidelines: useful most of the time, but will also help you sort out what's really out of bounds (like asking for a month to decide, or an agent who says "say yes now or the offer is rescinded")

LynnRodz asked:
But! I think you did mention before we could have two weeks before accepting an offer. Or was that wishful thinking? I need that extra time. Day One would be spent jumping up and down. Day Two would be hubby picking me up off the floor because of Day One and then Day Three would be convincing myself I wasn't dreaming on Day One. So is two weeks too long to ask an agent to wait, especially if there are other agents that also have the full ms?

This is really agent-dependent. At this point in the conversation with my potential source of income, I'd hope s/he'd say something like "I need three days to calm down" or (worse) "Hey, there are ten agents with fulls, and one is LaSlitherina Herself so I need some time here."

In other words, this time line does not happen in a vacuum. Tell the agents what's going on. We get it. We've been the ones juggling 12-editor auctions (oh wait, that wasn't me, that was Brooks Sherman.)

E.M.Goldsmth asked:
I reread this post with my brain turned back on (more or less). On step 6- schedule a phone call- I had the impression that an offer usually came with a phone call and that was how this whole week to 10 days started. Is that not so? Can offers come with just an email?
I've taken on clients who've only had email conversations with me. Several in fact. If a potential client wants to talk on the phone, of course I call them but I LOVE email: it's permanent for starters. I can remember what I said, they asked, and I can revise and spell check before sending.

Amelia Creed asked:
I'm a bit confused about No. 4, though. Maybe y'all can help me out. I always thought you asked the agent questions during the call. I didn't know it was kosher to send an entire list of Qs to a probably very busy agent. Maybe I misunderstood. Or maybe my entire paradigm has shifted.

It's faster to write answers than talk them. And wouldn't you rather have the questions and answers in writing and not have to depend on your notes? And I'd MUCH prefer to answer in writing because I can, again, revise and clarify before sending.

Lisa Bodenheim asked:
The one question I had, I think you answered in the next sentence. Under #4 you mentioned an editorial letter. Your description sounds the same as some of the commenters here who have referred to an R&R, a revise and resubmit. But just to make sure creeping charlie and quackgrass haven't overcrowded my an editorial letter and an R&R the same thing?

Not really but often the terms are used interchangeably.

An R&R is shorthand for Revise and Resubmit. It's used almost exclusively by authors to describe where they are in the querying process. In fact, someone had to explain what R&R meant when I first saw the term crop up.

An editorial letter is the actual letter describing what changes are being suggested. It can be written by an editor to an author with a book under contract. It can be written by an agent to a client with a book being prepared for submission. It can be written by an agent to an author with a book being considered for representation.

An editorial letter is what is sent to an author who is being asked to revise and resubmit.

Nancy Adams asked:
I was surprised to see that you’re not supposed to discuss the particulars of revising the ms., because for me what I most want to know is whether the agent’s vision of the novel matches mine. (For example: A writer at a conference once told me that her agent had actually asked her to change the MC’s gender and she complied! For me, that would be a deal breaker.) I never realized that asking for that would be a problem, and though I can now appreciate this from the agent’s point of view, is there some way of at least getting an idea of what she might want to change without being too presumptuous?

Let's distinguish between broad stroke revisions and a detailed editorial letter too.

Changing a character's gender isn't an editorial letter, it's a huge revision. DEF something you'd want to know about first. On the other hand, if I wanted such a major revision, I'd ask to see it before I offered representation. I'd assume some risk in this: the potential client might query the revised ms all over town.

A more detailed letter with specific suggestions on how to fix things like ramping up the tension, etc. Those you don't get till you've signed on the dotted line. I assume some risk in that as well: if you can't deliver, I've got a ms I can't sell, and a really Unhappy new client.

There's no one right answer here. Each agent handles this his/her own way, and it may depend on the potential client too.

If you've got ten agents wanting to rep you, this is def something you'd ask about: Do you envision revisions? Can you tell me what they are in general.

Julie Weathers
weighed in on revisions with this:

When a friend made a choice between two agents who had offered, the suggested changes to the ms did come up. Super agent one loved the manuscript so far, but wanted some significant changes that would have meant writing three different books instead of one. Second super agent had some different ideas how to deal with big ass novel.

Their different views did weigh her decision.

OK, so when you say: "The most important question you'll ask is whether the agent wants you to revise before sending the manuscript on submission."

And then go on to say there are agents who won't give a prospective client an editorial letter, does that mean you should expect an agent will at least discuss it with you in general terms but specific enough that you can tell if the vision you each have for the work is similar or wildly different? I hope that's what you mean. That's sort of a big deal.

An agent should be willing to tell you how much more work s/he thinks you need to do before the ms is ready to send.

Generally I'm not going to be discussing representation with anyone until the manuscript is what I believe to be publishable.

That means any kind of revision is generally limited to fixing typos, answering questions (did the ancient Greeks have apples?) and making sure all the character's names are spelled right (you'd be surprised how often Katharine becomes Katherine in a manuscript!)

Often the major revisions come in a second novel with already signed client. Those are the ones with things like: ditch the entire middle section; the tension isn't tense enough; what were you thinking here?; have you ever read a book before?

And there's no way to foresee that, so don't even worry about it.

Okay, I'll bite, what's a three year agency commitment? I'm assuming that it's a contract for three years, rather than the life of the author or until either party wants to separate. And at the end of three years they would once again be discussing whether the agent is the right one for representation. I'm off to google and see if I'm right.

It's a requirement that you stay with the agency for three years, OR (worse) that if you leave, you still have to pay the agent if you sell the work s/he represented within three years. That is an undue burden on a writer and you should NOT agree to it.

A good representation agreement allows you to leave within a reasonable amount of time with notice. Mine says you can leave anytime with 30 days notice. It also allows me to collect the FULL commission on any work I represented if sold within six months of my submitting it to the publisher.

If you decamp from The Reef with your submission list in hand, turn around and sell the ms I pitched to BigAssMoneyBags Publishing LLC, you owe me 15% of not just the advance but all the royalties too. Just like I'd sold it directly. And if another agent sold it? You get to pay them too.

Clearly this is designed to prevent both clients behaving badly AND client poaching. Generally, if this is happening, there are many MANY other problems in play as well.

Craig asked:
I would personally like to call the client you didn't hear about from the agent.

Generally I direct prospective clients to my client list on the right hand side of the blog. That's the list of clients for whom I have sold work. There are others, yes indeed, but I haven't sold their work. If you asked, I'd probably give you a list, but don't you really want to talk with the guys who've had a complete publishing cycle experience? Lemme tell ya, the ones who've just signed and are out on submission are a whole lot less likely to tell you something valuable than the ones who've had multiple books published, are now out of contract, and finding out just exactly how hard an agent works when you need to reinvent yourself. You want to talk to the clients who've been through hell. Not the ones who are just now entering the fray.

If you really mean you want to talk to former clients, you're out of luck. I don't give out that info. I'm sure you can find it if you cross reference enough, but I won't make it easy. Except for Kari Dell of course.

Julie Weathers said:

I've tried offering my first born to agents. I've even penciled it into the contract. Unfortunately, they cross it out with extreme prejudice. It seems no one wants a cowboy.

*note to self when making offer on Cowgirls Wanted; addendum one: firstborn*

Colin Smith said
I don't plan to offer my Firstborn to agents, but I will offer her tasty cakes and pastries. That shouldn't be construed as a bribe, BTW. ;)

*note to self when seeing Colin's query: ask for R&R--revisions and refreshments*

On Wednesday I urged you to celebrate the milestones along the way, not just keep looking toward the end.

It generated the most comments of any blog post in weeks!

Donnaeve said:
Congratulations to QOTKU and her new client!

aha! You guyz assume this was a new client. Nope. No indeed. I signed her for a novel that didn't sell. We put our heads together and came up with the idea of non-fiction essays. She shopped those and had some nice successes. Then we came up with the idea of the non-fiction book. 19 revisions later it's on submission. We've been together for eight YEARS now. When I sell this book it will be a HUGE milestone for both of us, but along the way, we gotta celebrate the smaller stuff too.

I really loved what Susan Bonifant said here:
First of all, Colin, not for nothing, I've been reading and thinking about your advice since long before you became a platinum level commenter.

Second, I am celebrating a different kind of milestone. Last week, for reasons that had to do with good timing and miles traveled thus far, and maybe an assist from my God, I decided to let my book go.

It didn't happen because of stats, I wasn't depressed, and it didn't fail. It just happened that one day, I woke to a head full of the next book and there was no longer room for the other.

It was so clear and brilliant and natural, it seemed to be writing itself. Characters, conversations, personalities, conflict - all there.

I guess I'm the type who doesn't leave until there's somewhere else to go. And so, book 3 and I have parted friends. And now that I'm sure I wasn't just remembering a movie I once saw, book 4 and I are now in a relationship.

and what Brian Schwarz said:
This might be of some service to someone!

2 months ago I started a draft of a new book. I spent 4 months plotting it (something I’d never done), and all that was left was the execution of the words. I figured on writing a chapter a day for a month or two and I’d be completed with a better-than-rough draft. This is my third book, so I wasn’t under any delusions, but after a week of writing a chapter a day, I stalled. And stalled. And then stalled some more. 45 days of no words. None.

Until finally I decided I needed to go backwards to go forwards. My problem wasn’t the goal. The goal was achievable. My problem was what I did when I didn’t hit the goal. I felt bad, and I wanted 2 chapters in a day. And then when that didn’t happen I just got more frustrated. And it snowballed from there.

So I went backwards. Forget 1 chapter. How about 100 words. Just 100 words. You can’t screw up 100 words, right? At that rate, I’d be done with the book in a year. But perhaps some days I’d do more than 100 words? Maybe it’d be quicker. But 100 words is forgivable. I could miss a whole week and sit down and write 700 words to make up for what I’d missed.

The first 100 words took 6 hours at a coffee shop. The next 100 took 2 hours. And then it steamrolled. Now I’m averaging a half a chapter to a full chapter a day, but if I ever miss a day, I only missed 100 words. So I do 200 instead.

Maybe I finish. Maybe I don’t. But I found something that works, something with enough built in grace to keep me moving, and something that I shoot higher than but gives me a soft landing when I fail.

and Panda in Chief corrected a typo for me:
Forgive me for correcting the QOTKU, but I believe the proper term for "woo-woo" is "woo-woo". Wu-Wu is the junior panda living in San Diego (Xiao Liwu, Mr. Wu or Wu-Wu to his friends)

Cheryl said:
I'm celebrating that I'm not imagining things and I did see this post on my Feedly feed last night -- but when I came to comment it was gone. I searched every other writing blog I read and nope, not there. And then I was wondering why Janet didn't post this morning.
Ah, the case of the disappearing post! What happens is that I revise a post and have it slated for a future date (like this one) and the "scheduled date" gets lost somehow. I usually catch it within seconds, but that can be enough for a couple people to "see it"… except of course, it's now gone cause I corrected the date.

Just another way the universe has provided me with tools to torment writers! Ah, it's a good life!

Julie M. Weathers
I've been going down to my son's house to bake cookies when the munchkin gets out of school. Warm cookies when you get home from school isn't a big milestone, but it's a comforting memory and maybe those are just as important.

Warm cookies were often the difference between a bad day and a really nice day when I was a kid. I was not a successful child. I hated being told what to do. I hated not being able to do stuff well. I really wanted a horse. Or alternatively, to go visit Misty on Chincoteague Island. It actually never occurred to me until today that when I read those books Misty would have been my grandma's age when I planned to visit her. So, now I need MORE warm cookies.

And let's all welcome Emily Kate to the fray
Today is the first time I've commented after being a lurker for 2.5 years.

On Thursday we talked about what happens when you're doing a revision for a small press editor and still want an agent

nightsmusic asked for some clarifications:
OP subbed to a small publisher?
yes, many small publishers take direct queries and submissions.

No querying involved?
Yes, querying was involved. The writer queried, and got a bite, and the editor liked the project but is suggesting revisions.

The publisher's editor, one of them anyway, did all that work to make it more appealing for publishing but OP still has no idea if that publishing house would want it?
That's actually the norm.

So query an agent and...what? Would the agent just rep OP to the publishing house?
That's largely dependent on the client. If I liked a project and thought it would sell to a large house for oodles of cash, I'd advise the author of that. The author decides though.

Or does agent then have the right to rep OP to others to see if there are any bites?
Not without the writer's ok s/he doesn't.

And what if OP can't find an agent?
Then she gets in touch with me, and I refer her to a contract review specialist to help her.

As did CarolynnWith2Ns:
Do publishes really devote that kind of effort without the author being on their list?

Sometimes, sure. We do it here a lot too. I have one author revising madly on a proposal and she's not a client. I hope it will get to that stage of course, but she's free to look around and see who else is out there.

I actually prefer to sign a client who has actively queried and has options. That way I know s/he chose to work with me rather than got me as a default.  Writers who've been through the query trenches understand that getting an agent isn't just a matter of picking a name off a list and saying "hey there."

Kate Larkindale is the voice of experience here:
This OP is in almost exactly the same situation I found myself in a couple of years back. A publisher opened for submissions for a brief period, and I submitted a book. A LOOOONG time later (I'm talking really long here; I think I'd written two more books in the time) they came back with an offer. I was querying a different book at the time and had several fulls and partials out. So I quickly emailed all the agents who had those, telling them I had an offer from this publisher, not for the book they'd requested, but for an earlier story.

I spent a week having some very intense conversations with three or four of these agents, but ultimately, none of them were interested n representing the book for this particular deal. Not necessarily because it was a smaller press (although I'm sure that was a part of it), but because they hadn't chosen the publisher, and weren't sure it was the best fit for me or my work.

I ended up taking it anyway because the book was an older one I wasn't so in love with anymore and wanted to go through the publication process so I knew how it all worked, but that's an entirely different story… But that offer wasn't how I got my agent. That happened about six months later and is another entirely different story, although once again, there was a publisher offer tangled into the mix.

kdjames said:
Back when I first joined RWA (long ago), it was generally accepted that you not only didn't *need* an agent to get published with certain publishers (primarily Harlequin), it was a waste of time since some of those contracts were non-negotiable. I know, everything is supposedly negotiable. But at the time, word was that either you signed or you didn't-- those were the only choices.

I'm not as versed on this as agents who work with Harlequin, but I believe they have a boilerplate contract, one size fits all for certain types of books. As a businessperson, I think this makes a lot of sense. As an agent, I think it's often not in the best interest of the writer.

As for the cat in the jar. The Duchess of Yowl has wriggled into places that were previously listed as much too small (including my very cold heart) so I thought this picture was pretty funny.

Unfortunately there are people in the world who abuse animals in ways that I will not go into because no one needs that in their mind ever. It was mentioned to me privately that this kind of picture might encourage some witless fool to actually DO this. I am pretty sure no witless fools read this blog but still…I'm not prepared to answer to God for anything that involves animal abuse if I can help it. So I changed the picture.

Celia Reaves has a cat who also likes small places:
Of course, my last and biggest thought as about that crazy cat in the jar. Some cats REALLY love tiny spaces, and they generally have no trouble getting out of things they can get into. I had a cat once that spent most of her time in places you'd have sworn she couldn't get into. She climbed inside the machinery in a fold out sofa bed, discovered when someone sat on the sofa and leaned back, eliciting a yowl. She crawled up the swell pedal on a small electronic organ into the guts inside; fortunately she was spotted coming out before someone switched it on (and we had to put a wire cage around the inside of that pedal to keep her out). She once got taped into a box we were packing for shipping, and we figured it out before we shipped it when we heard her scratching around in there. So while others here are all worried about the cat in the jar, I'm thinking, "Serves you right."

And then all of you just went completely hilariously off the rails and opened some sort of musical theatre blog in the comments column. It was great!

Then it was time for the writing contest, inspired by the Duchess of Yowl, who also thinks for herself as musical. The neighbors think of her as Florence Foster Jenkins.

The Duchess of Yowl generated a question from nightsmusic
I have to ask; Janet! Did the NYPD really show at your door in the middle of the night last night???

When don't they?

Hopefully the writing contest results will go up on Monday.

Here are the subheader noms:

And some weeks there's Fred, who is opposed to subheaders on some principle.--John Frain

Never expect the rainbow to carry you to a pot of gold. Expect something to get in the way.--Craig

This site is like: writers 101, a guide on what not to do.--Jason Vierra

expect the unexpected, and when the unexpected happens, act accordingly.-Donnaeve (author of the forthcoming Education of Dixie Dupree)

"Cowboy logic: Ride bulls, meet nurses."--Julie M. Weathers

Some days after reading this blog I feel so prepared to be a good client. If only I could convince an agent this is so.--Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale

I've been dating Debbie Downer, and just the other day she let me complain about something--Mark Ellis


BJ Muntain said...

Yay! First! Great WiR!

In your plans for Donna's mum, you left out the 's' after the apostrophe...

And I think you have an extra 'explained' leading to Celia Reaves' quote about her cat.

I like Heidi's subheader, though Donnaeve's is cool, too.

Thanks for all the time you put into this, Janet!

BJ Muntain said...

Oh, I was going to mention: I'm with you, Janet, when it comes to big, busy places. I usually try to avoid those. I went to Coney Island once, eleven years ago, in the off-season. There was nothing there, really, but a miniature golf course and a hotdog stand. We had hotdogs, played miniature golf, and sat on the fairly quiet beach. It was great!

Although, when it comes to 'watering holes', I tend more to look for restaurants. I'm not a foodie, but that's what I enjoy most about vacationing - eating out. I've become quite adept at finding places that serve the yummiest gluten-free food. For my 50th birthday, we found this wonderful small restaurant in the East Village called the Risotorio, or something like that. WONDERFUL risotto, and they even had gluten-free birthday cake! I wanted to kiss them all.

Donnaeve said...

*BOO! Typos! I have to re-post with a corrected version. Because. Editing.*

Yep. I'm a heathen and not in church like most everyone else apparently!

You! You're totally cracking me up on the Mom thing. No need to finagle a plan with Colin. Should you swim south again, it is a MUST you both meet Mom. I've already told her she's going to meet The Shark someday. She said, "Wonderful! Why is she called The Shark?"

And then I spotted this: "Woodland creature on a roll" (Lennon Feris Comment) and a rather disgusting image of a sandwich came to mind. I can't explain why.

A BIG THANK YOU for the WIR! Someone asked last week if anyone else repeatedly checked the site to see if it posted. Guilty! I love the WIR. It's tremendously helpful b/c I'm in the throes of editing and miss a lot of fun/great comments. And I also love your new site and keep forgetting to mention it! Very slick.

I'm considering switching mine over...but I'm waiting to see if Kensington would like to dabble in the design. They like consistency (even bookmarks need to match their promo efforts) so we're working to get all those things looking...similar.

Whee on the subheader! (thank you)

Any of them are great, but I'm always partial to the ones more in line with writing/suggestive of writing.

**this is long. Making up for lost time. Back to editing!*

BJ Muntain said...

(Unlike Donna, I am not a heathen. I went to church last night. Being first takes scheming.)

John Frain said...

That dog on Thursday is filarious! How'd you get her to pose like that?!

Terrific WIR. I had Donna's same reaction with woodland creature on a roll. You always say, Janet, so much depends on what the reader brings. Guess I was bringing hunger.

Here's to a great writing week!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Definitely awesome writing wisdom from Brian Schwarz. We are our own worst critics and detractors, and setting goals that you then feel guilty about and have to play the makeup game for....I think we've all done it. And I think we've all occasionally crashed and burned on it. 100 words in a day is perfectly reasonable. An amazing goal!

My general goal this year has been to write one first draft a month. A couple of months, I've written more than one story, so I'm technically "ahead", numbers wise. So even if I "fail" at any of these, I'll probably still have 12 short stories (or first drafts thereof) by the end of the year. Some of which I've already done second passes/polishing on, and three of which I've submitted already. And for May, it took me this long to really get going on a story, but today has been very productive indeed (with Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" on repeat and the blanketed Doberman sleeping under my left elbow). 'bout them Nebula awards?

DLM said...

Donna, I'm not in church either. That might actually be a post; there are peculiar forces in my churchgoing behavior.

Heathen or no, though, I vote for Donna's subheader.

So who's up for Sunday brunch here at Janet Reid's kitty preserve (hey, if she's pickling them, it's a fair term!) and yummy goodies emporium?

*Slices coffee cake and breaks out the champagne for mimosas*

Lucie Witt said...

This is a great WIR.

I like Donnaeve's for header. I also like the addition to her name. It's fun to think about how many people at the Reef will be reading her book at the same time when it comes out.

Add me to the list of people who avoid the crowded places. I've lived in Louisville my whole life and never been to Derby.

After reading this I want to make some chocolate chip cookies ....

Theresa said...

I vote for Donna's entry for subheader.

Another great WIR, Janet. Thanks.

I hope everyone's week gets off to a roaring start. I think I finally had a good idea about how to approach my next book. Must have been all that clear mountain air in Colorado.

Lucas Darr said...

Hi Janet,

Responsive design is the feature that visually scales your website. My google foo may be off, but I couldn't find your template in the list of responsive design templates for Blogspot.

Colin Smith said...

Thanks for the reminder of the great posts and comments from this past week, Janet.

If it's okay with Jason, I'll have to update the pdf of his I put in the Treasure Chest based on Tuesday's article. All these clarifying questions and answers need to be added.

As for the tour or NYC, Janet, sure, I'd like to do all the touristy things. But I'd also love to visit your favorite haunts, too. If you go to England and only visit London, you can't really say you've been to England. There's so much more to the place. Likewise, NYC, I think. I'd like to get a native's perspective.

*note to self when seeing Colin's query: ask for R&R--revisions and refreshments*
You bet! Hopefully the revisions will be as good as the refreshments. FirstBorn is quite the baker. :)

As for meeting up with Donna's mother (and Donna, of course), I'm up for that. Perhaps at the book launch? Where will that be, Donna? Raleigh? Even if Janet can't be there, I'd love to be there. And bring Mom! :)

UPDATE: I've written the short story, though it needs a little more crafting before it's ready for my First Reader (my wife). If I can get that done by Tuesday, I can reward myself with THE SINGER FROM MEMPHIS, which should arrive by then.

Oh, and one more thing... I've got all-day meetings most of next week, so I won't be vommenting as much (let me hear you all say, "awwwww!"). Just in case anyone wonders where I am. :)

Lennon Faris said...

Thanks for answering my questions, and thank you for the wonderful WIR, Janet!

A year and a half ago, when I started lurking, I thought 'R&R' was rest and relaxation. I thought it was weird how people said they were going to go do that several times. Thank goodness for google.

Also - Woodland creature on a roll? Didn't 'see' that the first time... Ew Donna. And John. :P

Janet Reid said...

Anthony, the optimization problem is on my website: jetreidliterary (dot) com, not here. Blogspot doesn't let me tinker with much, and I'm ok with that.

nightsmusic said...

Thank you, thank you for a wonderful WIR again. And, three mentions and I didn't get yelled at once! I'm making headway ;) And by headway, I mean learning. I might be old, but never too old to learn. And I'm glad you liked the Veggie Tales :) I still hear some of those songs in my head at the most...inopportune times. They make me laugh when I shouldn't be. Oh well ;)

I hate crowded places with one exception. I love NYC. I know, I said it when I commented on the pictures on Janet's site. But only really one place in NYC. My aunt and uncle were a block or so from Lincoln Center. I watched the Macy's parade because they were on the Central Park side of their building. It was a wonderful, exhilarating, exciting place to live. Arts, entertainment, for an impressionable kid whose life revolved around music and art, I loved spending summers there. That crowd, I would gladly wander through. Other areas, not so much.

Kate Larkindale said...

Another wonderful week in review! Because it's Monday here by the time it gets posted, it's always the best way to start my week.

Steve Stubbs said...

You wrote: “Changing a character's gender isn't an editorial letter, it's a huge revision.”

It is also a great idea. It got me to thinking about not only changing character genders but character roles in the story. We have already heard in the news how “Adam and Eve” became “Adam and Steve.” (Man, how I wish they had used a different name. I hate that. I have to explain to everybody that they are not talking about me.) But consider these possibilities:

“Little Red Riding Hood” becomes “Little Red Riding

Leatherface from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre becomes Snow White and Her Electric Toothbrush.

G.I. Jane gets turned into G.I. Joe again, starring Demi Moore in combat drag..

Count Dracula becomes Countess Draculette, star of an afternoon baking show.

And finally Jodi Arias becomes Jody Hairyass, Dating Guru Extraordinaire, explaining to women how to politely brush off their steady companion of six months so they can go out later that same day with somebody they don’t even know. No guns, knives, or razors required.

roadkills-r-us said...

'When I can't find a prompt, I use spell check and look for "wh" or other parts of the word. That little trick didn't even help on this clever entry!'

Change all the spaces to nothing, then search for the word!

roadkills-r-us said...

"Woodland creature on a roll"

As in kaiser roll?

I love that you really get email, Janet. Too many people. don't. I always say, "If it's not written down, it may not exist." This is as true of conversations as my calendar. If I have conversations about such things, I try to0 take notes and send them to all involved, with a question at the end: "Did I miss anything?"

If you ever get to Austin, we will se5rve you some DELICIOUS warm cookies.

Panda in Chief said...

Thanks for the great WIT, not to mention pictures of the very Mr. Wu as a child. (He is now a very handsome young sub-adult panda guy) I saw him when he was about this age, but mostly he just slept in a tree. It's a baby panda thing.

I am going to post the link for this post in the group that my fellow SCBWI Nevada mentor group has. Some of my fellow mentees are in the query trenches even as we speak, and this question of "what do I do if I get an offer when I have all these fulls out?" And I was able to direct her to this recent post and say,"here! Here's what you do!" One of them has already gotten 7+ requests for fulls for her MG novel. Woot woot!

For all of you who might be headed for Carkoon in the near future, a map is in progress, and I'll send it to Colin soon to put in the treasure chest. And never fear that I am being distracted by frivolous side projects. Doing random arty things that have no standing in my wotking life is how I relax, and coincidentally, how I started drawing pandas in the first place, and look where that has gotten me!

Have a good week everyone.

Craig F said...

Thank you my Queen for the WIR.

I must admit that the first time I read it through all I could think was a big Scooby Ruh-Roh. The only reason you would again bring up my wonderful ability to bury good lines is because I've done it again.

Maybe it is a teaching moment like when my fourth grade teacher made me stand up to explain why I did things the way I did.

On that story I actually liked "Even with the tangled weave of her thoughts she hadn't lost that thread" better.

On a final note I will put money on Donna getting interviewed by Oprah within the year. Any takers?

CynthiaMc said...

Not a heathen, just busy. The kids loved Zootopia and insisted Hubby and I go see it so we did. Lots of fun. Since the we've been texting each other quotes from it and laughing all over again. Highly recommend it. Sloths at the DMV alone is worth the price of admission.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

CynthiaMc said...

Then, not the. Where is the almighty autocorrect when it might actually do some good?

nightsmusic said...

CynthiaMc, I fully intend to see Zootopia! I loved all the trailers. And I am convinced that in order to get the DMV sloths exactly right, they came to Michigan and visited several offices. It's the only explanation.

Typos are getting corrected, but I'm trying to type around to lap-Dobermans so please forgive if I miss one. Or two...

Brigid said...

My favorite subheader is Craig's. It just speaks to me.

Here's a fun question for you'uns. When I fleshed out the skeleton of an old WIP, I got a different beast than I'd expected. Magic is no longer integral, and I have to decide whether to build it up or take it out. My sorcerer became an herbalist, my curse is now a plague, and magic could be sorcery or alchemy (early chemistry) or left out entirely.

Obviously I'll go with what the novel needs. But from a business standpoint, is there an advantage to being more commercial than speculative?

Ellipsis Flood said...

Feels good to regularly read the blog (and its top notch comment section) again. And just in time to chime in with some webdev knowledge.

While he focused on the wrong website, Anthony's right. You'll need a responsive design and I'm not sure the GoDaddy Website Builder and/or the design you picked can do this easily.

CynthiaMc said...

With me it's a chihuahua, min pin, and Japanese Chin all vying for limited lap space. I'm going to teach them to type.

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

Am sorry I missed entering the writing contest. I meant to, really. But I had a major project due and after I'd turned it in, I was burnt out. Besides, I planned on having much fun watching Australia show Europe how Eurovision was supposed to be won.

BJ Muntain said...

Brigid - If you're writing fantasy, then the fantasy part - the magic, usually - needs to be inseparable form the story. It does sound like you can separate it... but I honestly don't think historic fiction (which is what it sounds like you'll have left) is all that easy to sell. But I'll let others ring in on both these thoughts.

Cynthia - I keep telling my friend she needs to get her cat its own computer. It wants to type so badly, I figure it's got a story that needs to come out. Perhaps your dogs will collaborate...

Timothy Lowe said...

Particularly good biz-related stuff in this edition. I really must say I enjoy following some of the comment banter that you all are able to lay down, so I enjoy the review. BTW, I wonder how many of the rest of you looked at the words for this week's contest and said "Ffffuck..."

Thanks for sponsoring this community, Janet.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Timothy, so much great clarification and whatnot in this one. Thanks, Janet.

Terrific wisdom in the subhead, Donna, congrats! (And I love the parenthetical promo.)

Although, got to say, Julie's subhead makes me want to consider a career in nursing...

Oh, and welcome, Emily Kate! That's a very long time to sit on your hands and resist this wonderful community. :) Hope to hear more from you.

Julie Weathers said...

Great WIR as always.

I've been trying to get some writing in, slackard that I am.

I also like Donna's subheader. I also agree with Donna's reason for not bringing mum out. Mine is convinced I am terribly uncoordinated and insists on telling everyone how clumsy I am. "Oh, Punky. I worry so much about you having a power tool. You know how clumsy you are."

"Mom, I've completely remodeled three houses by myself."

"Yes, but remember that time you got your hair caught in the wringer washer?"

Fortunately, if I ever come to NYC, I have a friend who lives on Long Island who will show me the sights, not that I'm much of a sight seer in big cities. Miss Janet is off the hook.

I think I should clarify about the friend's decision between the two agents. Super Agent One was a referral from best-selling author, so obviously, you don't sneeze at that. SAO wanted friend to split out three characters from novel and completely rewrite three new books using the basis of the story. Super Agent Two wanted to keep the novel as it was and find ways to split the novel down the line.

They would have been powerful stories either way, but the suggested revisions helped her make her final decision.

Welcome to Emily Kate. I missed it!

When I was looking for the youtube of the Russian kitty I found a disturbing one and was going to say something, but decided not to in public. Needless to say, some people are stupid.

Now, back to spies, lies, and buttermilk pies.

Brigid said...

BJ, that's my worry. I love worldbuilding and playing with what's possible, so straight historical isn't my game, and in general I'm more of a fairy tale and fantasy type in the vein of Goblin Emperor, Queen's Thief, or Castle Behind Thorns. I can reintegrate magic, but it was startling how unnecessary it is. It'd be a mighty convenient way to add texture and utility, but it's no longer structural.

Then I remembered Janet saying once that she had sold a speculative novel as commercial, and it got me thinking about the business side.

AJ Blythe said...

So last week I spent immobile thanks to a dodgy back. Didn't have much time to spend here so extra grateful for the awesome WiR. Thanks, JR =)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Almost nine on a Sunday night and I just got home from work. Read the WIR but no time to read all the comments. I'm exhausted. Congrats to Donna for the sub header. Love it !
I'm hitting the hay early. Nighty night.
Great WIR BTW.
Janet, how the hell do you do what you do? Must be the paint fumes.

Kae Ridwyn said...

You'd think, after reading these WiR's for several months now, that I'd have become used to HOW incredibly informative, thorough, and concise they are.

Nup. I shake my head every week. How on earth do you *do* this? And then I remind myself that that's why you're the QOTKU. Thank you, again, for another stupendous WiR. (And what a surprise and delight to re-read my story! Thank you!!!)

I'm with Kate. It's Monday morning and I can't think of a better way to start my working week.

I love Donna's subheader. May we all expect the unexpected!

And welcome, Emily Kate :D

Happy writing this week, everyone!

John Frain said...

I think JR was the model Lawrence Block used when he wrote "The Thief who Couldn't Sleep." Fun book, read it a long time ago, and this thief got almost as much done in 24 hours as the Queen does. Almost.

Note, I'm only talking about the "Couldn't Sleep" part. I'm not sure who Block modeled the "Thief" part of his story after. Maybe that's why Janet avoids crowds. Doesn't want to get identified.

The Lieutenant in my WIP would have a hard time buying her story.

Lt: New York is the more populous city in America.
JR: A regular melting pot.
Lt: And you chose to live here? Nobody with a gun to your head?
JR: That's right.
Lt: But you don't like crowds?
JR: Correct again, Lieutenant. You're on a roll.
Lt: I don't like neckties.
JR: You're not wearing one.
Lt: You see how this works? Why'nt you explain again how it is you don't like crowds. Then we'll get to that sleep issue.

S.P. Bowers said...

Thanks for answering my question. I started to google it but then the kids decided they wanted breakfast. After that I took the two oldest to school (My idea not theirs). Then the real work started. Dishes, bills, reserving hotel for Surrey this fall, painting a dresser, laundry, kindergartner to the dentist, first grader to guitar, preschooler, well, he just has his own set of issues, homework, dinner, more dishes and cleaning. By the time I got back to the computer the thought had been lost in the detritus of the day.

LynnRodz said...

Today was a really long day, too long it's already tomorrow. Thanks, Janet, for another WIR that will go into my folder. Off to bed, where I should've been hours ago, but not before I read the WIR.

Christina Seine said...

What an awesome week, and what an awesome WIR!

Donna, I was cracking up at your story about your mom! In my case, it's my second-oldest daughter who used to do the same to me. When she was around 6 years old, we tended to refer to her as "spunky."

Once, in the middle of a very serious and important Saturday evening church service, the Bishop, who was elderly (and looked exactly like Gandalf) had to leave because he had a bad back and was in horrible pain. I had to step out for a second myself told the kids to stay put. Well my daughter followed the Bishop to the parking lot and chewed him out (adorably, apparently) for leaving in the middle of the service. She then went back inside and slid back into our spot just before I returned. I was oblivious. The next morning, the Bishop and his retinue passed us and he said, "Oh, there's my little conscience!" I said, "Wha???" but he just smiled and let it go. Later, at coffee hour, the Bishop came and sat at our table (!) and again said, "How's my little conscience doing?"

I said, (gulp) "What do you mean?"

He then informed me what my oh-so-adorable child had said to him the night before. I could have died. I apologized profusely, but he waved me off. He then asked an aide to bring him coffee and asked if I'd like some.

"Oh no," Adorable Kid (A.K.) said. "My mommy only drinks Diet Coke. She drinks like four a day. AND THEY'RE HALF FILLED WITH VODKA."

You know the thing about the earth is that it never opens up and swallows you when you need it to. The diet coke part was true. The vodka part? I'd muttered a few days before that I should get a shot of vodka every day for each child I'm home with 24/7 (we homeschool). At the time, that was four kids. A.K. overheard, and I remember explaining to her that vodka was grown-up juice that in small amounts makes people happy.

Four half vodka diet cokes would probably kill Mommy, which I pointed out 12 or 13 times after she said that. "Your cheeks are red, Mommy," she said, eating a doughnut. Of course, everyone believed the kid.

Can't wait till she brings home her first boyfriend. Revenge, man. Revenge. =)

BJ Muntain said...

Brigid: Is there some way to make the magic integral to the story? It doesn't have to be integral to the world. And it doesn't have to be blatant, or strong. Even the alchemy might be enough to make it fantasy. Just enough speculativeness (I'm sure that's a word... speculativity?) to move the story out of our world.

SP: "reserving a hotel for Surrey this fall"... as in, the Surrey International Writers Conference? Or is this the British Surrey, which would be just as (if not more) exciting...

Janet Reid said...

I laughed so hard at the vodka story Christina, that I woke up the Duchess of Yowl, who would now like to have a word with you.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Wonderful Week in Review.

I love the Reef. I can't stay away.

Great subheader, Donna. Wonderful vodka story by Christina. And Panda, the map for Carkoon, can't wait to see it.

Brigid, I'm on a Christopher Moore reading streak. Right now I'm reading Fluke. It starts out plain daily life then suddenly gets weird and other worldly. The abrupt change disturbed me but I've read other of Moore's books so will finish it. Also because his writing is a joy to read.

From a readers standpoint, if the writing is good, the turn of phrase entertaining to the heart or the intellect, then go for it.

Susan Bonifant said...

Late here with the thanks for this great, and, oh my God, comprehensive WIR. This is not a little work you do for us. Truly.

And okay, it kind of made my day to make the rundown. Okay, more than kind of.

Stacy said...

I'm always late to these discusstions, but I just saw something that reminded me of a conversation from a while back about grammar. Have trouble remembering the difference between "desert" and "dessert"? Eagle lyrics can help.

On a dark dessert highway
Cool Whip in my hair...

S.P. Bowers said...

BJ, I don't know if you'll come back to look at this but Surrey international writers conference.