Sunday, May 01, 2016

WIR 5/1/16

Welcome to the week that was

Dena Pawling hearkened back to the post on payment, and the comments on 1099s and said:

>>And yes, some contracts do spell out IN DETAIL that you are not an employee, and on and on. I see it most particularly in contracts my authors sign when they are providing content to a website.

The definition of employee vs independent contractor is currently a VERY HOT ISSUE in employment law. The recent UBER case being one such very visible reminder.

Authors aren't employees OR independent contractors with the literary agency. The tax form we provide clearly specifies the money received is for royalties. Royalties are licensing fees for the books the author writes. That's not a wage, or money exchanged for labor.

Where authors see the independent contractor vs employee contract language is when they are doing work for hire. For example: providing content to a website. Generally they are paid for their work by word or project, and more important: they don't own the work, and get no royalties.

I think this is why it just galls me (beyond what it should) when I hear people talk about "hiring a literary agent." You actually can't hire me. You can agree to be a client, but you're not paying a salary, and if you were, I'd really like to discuss benefits too.

Joseph Snoe offered up the reason for his word choice in a comment (a word choice I struck out with probably more fervor than was deserved.)
I used Creator because I was on a committee developing an Intellectual Property policy for the school. We have writers, software and program developers, scientific researchers, artistic designers, photographers, artists, movie makers, etc. The word we used to cover them all was Creator. Even with books there may be wordsmiths and there may be illustrators. After working on the policy for over a year it seemed secondhand at this point to use Creator.
Which of course makes perfect sense in the context of trying to write a policy covering all sorts of work. You could use Artist right up until you have scientific researchers. I guess I'd have offered up Student or Teacher if the policy is for the school: The Student or Teacher owns the work s/he makes. From research to art to code.

Which just underscores that the very simplest things are hardest to write about clearly. Just try writing directions for tying your shoes.

Christina Seine (flying under the radar as Unknown here) picked up our conversation about bees, and their transport:

Ooh Janet, you're brave! I bet that was a helluva drive. 10,000 bees is not a lot to look at actually. Just two boxes each about the size of a toaster. They arrive at the distribution point all boarded together. A guy with a chainsaw cuts apart the individual nucs, or boxes. This makes the bees very excited (bees love chainsaws).
It's a hoot to watch the collective muscle-tightening of the group of waiting beekeepers with every cut.|
Once we get them into the hives and they're all settled into their wee happy housekeeping, they're calm as doves though. And they're super cute close up. The bees, not the keepers.

Now, if this scene were in a book I was editing, there would be a BIG purple slash between "with every cut." and "Once we get them into the hives" cause really, how the hell do you get them IN TO THE HIVES?? This is known in editing lingo as "getting it on the page."

This reminds me of a story my dear grandmama told me once: she and her bevy of sisters loved to go to the movies, the more unsuitable for youngsters the better. The Perils of Pauline, westerns! Great Grandmama would have been shocked to her marrow to learn her supposedly refined children were B-movie hooligans.

Anyway, one Saturday afternoon down at the Bijou,  Our Hero is captured by The Villain. He's tied up so tight he might as well be mummified in rope. He's then dropped into an deserted mine shaft. No light, no ladder, no hope of escape. And then the villain drops a burlap sack of annoyed rattle snakes into the mine shaft, aiming right for our Hero's ten gallon chapeau. Cackling with the Snidely Whiplashiest of Evil, the Villain adds insult to injury by capturing our Hero's trusty steed, and riding off into the sunset.

How will Our Hero escape?

Come again next week for the continuing saga!

My grandmama and her bevy of sisters discussed this dilemma  all week. They drew escape plans instead of doing their homework. They whispered ideas back and forth after they'd gone to bed. They mounted full scale models of prospective rescue plans using knives, forks and glassware as they washed the dishes after supper.

All the while, they are scrounging up the nickels required for admission to next week's thrilling episode. Some fast talking and sleight of hand may have been employed, but this was too important to leave one of the sisters behind due to lack of funds.

Saturday dawns. Chores are completed. The children are shooed off after lunch, told to make themselves scarce till suppertime. The sisters run to the Bijou, pay out their scraped together admission fees, huddle in their seats, and wait for the show to start.

Cue theme music.
Cue voice over
Cue scenes from last week's thrilling episode. Hero captured! Hero tied! Hero dropped! Snakes!
No one in the entire theatre drew a breath as they waited.

Voice over: "Once our hero had escaped the mine shaft he found.."


How did he get out??

Grandmama was six when she saw that movie. She told me the story when she was 106. She was STILL MAD!

So yea, get it on the page.

I really liked the idea in Lilac Shoshoni's comment
I asked a good friend of mine to read my MS aloud with me-- we took turns. We did the reading over Skype since he is an American who resides in Canada nowadays. It was a great way to detect typos and questionable grammar. But it was also an amazing experience to hear him laugh at the funny parts. (Sometimes he laughed at the serious parts as well, but that's beside the point;-).)

Getting a crit partner to read it out loud sounds like a terrific tool for finding typos (and other assorted problems)!

Lisa Bodenheim picked up on a comment I made:
The one point that the Shark made that clouted me over the head-- 'Keeping an author published: that's the hard part. It's one of those new challenges we're all having Lots of Fun with.' What are the "new challenges" in keeping an author published?

There's just more competition now. A writer has to increase sales, or at least be on an upward trajectory to stay published. Steady sales just don't cut it much, at least below the 100,000 copies benchmark.

I can remember saying "we should publish fewer books" 15 years ago. The idea was to focus book buyers on fewer titles. If you have 100 readers and 100 books, figure 80% of those books will find a reader. If you have 50 readers and 10,000 books, a lot more books will go unread/unbought.

On Monday we talked about what happens when you find yourself with multiple manuscripts requested independently within an agency (things that happen much more often now with #Twitter manuscript pitch fests)

Robert Ceres asked the question many of you were thinking:
Ack, how does the initial offer fall through? That has to be frustrating!
I've only been on the other side of that, but it's just awful. You read a manuscript, love it, then things go south in ways you didn't see coming. Author can't revise; author won't revise; author demonstrates herself to be an asshat. All those have happened and more.

It's not common, at least it isn't with me, but I see it happening in the YA world more and more.
I've seen authors get offers on manuscripts that aren't finished; and then, problems arise.

And if you think I haven't had a deal or two go pear shaped, well, I could tell you some stories. (For those, you'll have to ply me with liquor and take a vow of silence foreverafter.)

I liked Wanderlustywriter's comment
It always astounds me the number of times I see agents advising writers they need to be nice and polite! I can't imagine being any other way ever, but especially towards the people I need to help me with my career!

I think it's actually something AGENTS should remember! It gets very easy here in Agentville to think authors should just suck it up and make our lives easy. We need to remind ourselves pretty regularly that the ENTIREFUCKINGINDUSTRY including our income relies on the work of the writer. So maybe, we should be nice to them. I think some of my ilk forget that. There are a lot more good books out there than there are slots on all the agents lists, but still: you are my income source, I am not yours.

On Tuesday I jumped up and down screeching about the woeful error of having someone (particularly an idiot) pitch your manuscript to an agent. I doubled down on my rage if said pitcher was actually being paid for this disservice. The lollygagging rant from Bull Durham was a visual aid.

Intercostal Clavicle** (which has to be one of my favorite screen names EVER**) said:
Maybe I'm extra cynical, but my first thought was that this was actually the author speaking, but posing as a third party in order to show off an "unbiased" opinion on how superduper their manuscript was.

I edited out some of the more identifying description but the original was clearly the work of someone Not The Author. And yes, what you suggest has happened.

and so I googled Intercostal Clavicle

Sam Hawke said
I'm assuming that you changed the name in the email Janet (otherwise, I think this might be a spoof - Dewey Cheatham? From Dewey Cheatham and Howe, reputable law firm?). I never know whether to feel sorry for people who sign up to these things or not, since a bit of basic googling should tell them how to query, and this ain't it...

I did indeed change the name. And yes, I stole it from Click and Clack the CarTalk gods.

One of the most difficult things I'm still trying to come to terms with is how many people write seriously bad queries (or do the kind of querying by proxy that was the subject of the post) when so much information is out there on how to do it right.

Then I remember some (ok MANY) years ago, standing off set of a local live morning talk show. One of the evening news guys was going to be on the show that day, and he was standing next to me. In the way of all good reporters (and he was that) he was friendly and expressed interest in why I was there. I explained my job (book publicity, author on show) and he asked some questions to keep the conversation rolling.

Then a lovely young woman came through the swinging doors that led to the newsroom. She had something for the reporter (I don't remember what) and they had a brief conversation. When she left, task completed, he said to me, just very offhand "she's the only person I know who actually did the things I'd recommended about getting a job in local TV." As an on-air reporter, he's face familiar to about half the media market. Thus he gets approached to talk to students about "how to get a job in TV" a lot. He'd probably done a hundred or so. And ONE person actually followed through well enough to get a job.

I'm lucky I guess. Only half my queries are completely clueless.

Donnaeve said:
I'm back. Still stumped by the tactics here, and all I gotta say's my career. I want to manage it. I mean, honestly, you gotta wonder...would this person also let someone else go do their job interview?

I've heard of some young kids bringing their mom or dad to a job interview. I literally did not believe it when I heard it.

Diane said:
Long time lurker here, but had to pop in and comment, as I am still boggling over someone who thinks "you're part of a limited group of agents to whom I'm sending it" is a GOOD thing.

I still get queries offering exclusives on reading the manuscript, or WORSE, telling me I'm the only agent they are querying.

CED cracked me up with this:
I think we're all taking the wrong lesson from this post.

The right lesson: there's a thriving business for writing consultants out there!

Anybody want me to send out their query (for a small fee)? I know some people.

Jason Magnason said:
 This is what I want for my Birthday: a Reider's Reef Badge.
A lot of you chimed in on this, including some very generous offers to design them etc. I can't stop anyone from doing this but let me say this: let's think about this for a second.

Is this what you want to be investing your time in? Prioritizing things, balancing demands of work and home life plus trying to get in writing time, let alone reading and thinking time, all those are hard enough without getting distracted by something that sounds fun. And yes, it does, but ask yourself: does this get you closer to being pubished? Does this get you closer to where you want to be?

It's so easy to lose focus doing things that are fun, but not actually helpful to your career.

A former beau of mine came to my apartment one Friday afternoon and asked what I'd done that day. In fact, I'd organized my filing and was pretty proud of how nice it looked. He got a funny look on his face, and said "no, what did you do today that is going to earn you money."

Oh, right. That.
Will it get you closer to your goal?

On Wednesday we discussed the stock phrase in query letter form rejections "not right for my list"

I really liked Sam Hawke's insight here:
And though you might learn something about the agent's personality from their form, you won't learn anything about your own work.

JSF nailed it here:
One thing that keeps me going lately is a layman's understanding of relativity (I think.) I formulate it as there is no central authority controlling right or not-right, which is a borrowing from conversations I've had and books I've read. I sometimes browse the book store by strolling down an aisle and reading titles that catch my eye. No specific section. I think there are probably as many tastes as there are people, and those tastes change on a whim.  It seems to me there is a place for all books, it's just a matter of finding that place, and finding that place at the right time.

Robert Ceres said:
I also think agent workload for reading queries would go way down if all agents put a real one liner about why they are rejecting.

I found four typos in your query.
Your writing too choppy for my taste.
I couldn't get into your MC's head.
Too much backstory.
It seemed like your opening scene was too improbable...

All might send a writer back to the drawing board. Of course that's never going to happen. But for the agents who do provide this kind of pithy feedback, you've really earned my goodwill.

This actually elicited a reply in the comment section of the post, but let me elaborate.

The reason at least 80% of the queries are Not Right For Me isn't anything you list. It's bad writing. Just plain bad writing. Am I ever going to tell someone that? No. Why not? Because it's not really my job to crush hopes and dreams. It's not my job to be discouraging. And one thing I know with ironclad certainty: good writing is learned.

The second reason most queries are rejected is they are writing a book I don't want to read. And that's not something a writer has control over.

In other words: a personalized rejection isn't going to help them fix the problem. The only thing that fixes their problem in the first case is to keep trying. And the second: query widely.

And you know what? My form rejection says both those things.

Given my job is to find work, not help writers who have work I'm not interested in, I'm ok with responding as I do.

And if you think writing back to anyone takes LESS time than a form rejection, well, come work for me for a week. You'll see. I hope you like sushi!

I think the best thing I've ever read about rejection was a comment on this blog post by Terri Lynn Coop
A couple of years ago I subbed a story to a highly competitive anthology.

When they announced the list and 99.1% of us were not on the list, a flaming sour grapes war erupted on their message board.

The editors were cool enough to break down the stats and discuss the process a bit. It went something like this:

2200 subs for 20 slots.

10% totally ignored the sub guidelines.

30% were not of publishing quality, even with extensive editing.

That left 60% or 1320 for 20 slots.

They cut that number in half by eliminating stories by editing priority. The more editing it needed, the farther down the stack it went. Then they cut it at the halfway mark.

Down to 660 for 20 slots.

Next, they sorted by duplicate tropes. The anthology had a definite theme, so naturally many had similar storylines. They did a cage match between competing stories and kept the ones they liked best.

This brought it down to about 400 for 20 slots. The field has been reduced by about 80% and is still unmanageable.

Next up they did sort of a jury-selection thing. Each member of the editorial team got a certain number of vetoes. They could eliminate a story that just did not appeal to them, even if another editor loved it like fire. At this point it was, "This one has a cat named Fred, my ex had a cat named Fred, reject."

300 for 20 slots.

After all this, 90+ percent were still going to be rejected. 280 stories that had passed several rounds of selection. From these 300 they chose stories for length, variety, and gut-feel for adherence to their vision to the theme.

The same cry went up, "Where's my feedback? Why do you hate me?"

2200 is probably a typical month for most agencies. And they don't have 20 slots a month.

I have no clue where I ended up in this continuum. It doesn't matter. I revised the story away from the proprietary theme and it was short-listed for another anthology, so I would like to think I made it to the final rounds.

Some days it is quality. Some days it is theme. Some days it is a cat named Fred.

Adib Khorram provided an interesting benefit of form rejections:
So far in 2016, four of the agents I follow on Twitter have done "query feedback" windows, wherein queries sent within a certain timeframe would get a brief personalized response.

I got four different responses. What one agent loved, another didn't respond to.

I think, if EVERY agent did that ALL the time, it would drive writers even crazier than we already are.

I actually like form responses. That way I'm no longer in limbo, but I don't have to take any more out of it than "not for me."

John "ol chumbucket' Baur said
I heard "not right for our list" a lot when my agent was shopping a book I co-wrote. One editor said it was "laugh-out-loud funny, but it's not right for our list." I eventually figured out that when a publisher says it, it means, "It's not like what we're already selling, and we don't know how to sell things we don't already sell." Sound cynical? Yeah, I thought so. But that doesn't mean it's not true.

Judy Moore asked:
My questions can you BUILD a platform? And, Twitter followers, the people who like their stories delivered in 140 words or less? Do they even buy books?

I still have pages out with one agent and am hopeful. But I'm not ruling out the possibility of changing my last name to Kardashian.

Two good resources are Christina Katz book on platform, and Susan Rabiner's book on editing. You should have both in your personal writing reference library

Sherry Howard said:
Chum Bucket? Did I hear Chum Bucket? I look at Gossamer every day hoping for a sign of life. It seems like it's been a long, long time.

Oh how I miss the Chum Bucket! But I had more than 30!!! unread requested fulls when I put Chum Bucket on hiatus in 2014. I had to make headway there, and the first step seemed to be NOT requesting more. Chum Bucket tends to produce requests at a MUCH higher rate than the general incoming query pool (I don't know why) plus of course I started doing these Week in Review posts and I work on those on Friday night when I was doing Chum Bucket.

In terms of prioritizing what I do for non-clients, the best use of my time is this blog: it's got the broadest array of subject matter of use to the most eyeballs. Second is QueryShark: specific topic, of use to querying writers. Third is ChumBucket: specific advice, useful only to the one writer.

I love ChumBucket, I do, but I have to prioritize.

On Thursday we discussed the perils of having a duplicate name

Lucie Witt makes a good point here:
This is also why it's handy to keep a uniform avi photo on different platforms. Makes it easy to know you've got the right Janet Reid when it's a picture of a shark in the profile/about section.

Be my chum!

Dena Pawling said
I have the opposite problem. If you google my legal name [not this one], you will find LOTS of sites where people complain about me. And yes, my legal name is sufficiently unusual that it really is me they are complaining about. This is because I am an attorney who evicts people for a living, and well, some people don't like that. Apparently, if you take some of these sites and complaints at face value, it was MY fault they stopped paying their rent or mortgage. I'm hoping an agent won't use that against me, but it is definitely a subject I'll have to discuss with any agent brave enough to offer to represent me.

I'm trying to think of a job or profession that would make me think twice about taking a writer on as a client. Flim flam man? Drug dealer? Mime? Not enticing, but not a deal breaker. I think the only job that would be an auto-reject is 2016 Republican candidate for president.

While eviction is certainly an unpleasant topic, remember, I'm a Republican by choice, and I actually have some sympathy for small business owners.

DeadSpiderEye said cracked me up completely with this:
This is fun, the first notable Google returns for my name, is a suspected drug dealer who's on the run. After that I'm a priest, an attorney, a judge, a grocery store employee in Virginia who's won the lottery, east Lancashire's most wanted man, on the run in South Africa (I suspect the drug dealer again), a chronic stammer sufferer (actually, I did have a terrible stammer as a kid), an artist and a head coach. Meanwhile, the incredibly talented individual, envied by his peers and adored by women, seems to be missing from the list.

Who knew that SpiderEye was such a common surname!

And this from BJ Muntain and Cheryl just made my day:
>we're from Bukovina, which straddles Ukraine and Romania

Holy crap, BJ, that's where my grandfather's from. I'm not sure I've ever encountered anyone else with history there.
And of course, I always like to look up places on the map, so here's a map of showing location of Bukovina

And I think the last word on this topic has to be this from roadkills-r-us
I wouldn't want an agent who couldn't tell the Balinese stripper with a wooden nose and bionic butt cheeks doing poetry slams calling dragons "Satan's fluffy minions" wasn't me.
 "Satan's fluffy minions"

And while it's true this wasn't exactly on topic it was still great to know, from kdjames
This is completely off topic, but I'm too groggy and exhausted to care.

I DID IT. I just posted the last entry and finished the stupid A to Z thing with all 26 (stops to count letters), yes, 26 posts and a grand total of 40,196 words of story. Where else could I share that and have people understand?

What an epic feat of sheer something-or-other this has been. It's like the writerly version of a bunch of guys sitting around drinking too much beer and suddenly one of them gets up, staggering, and says, "Hey, y'all, watch this!" And ends up in the ER. Only I can't even blame alcohol, I was completely sober when I decided this was a good idea.

I expect one of you all to stop me next time. If there is a next time. Which there won't be. *falls over dead*

I've been on a reading tear this week:
The Defense by Steve Cavangh.

One of the great lines in the book: "It was like a slow motion riot, but with catering" describing a scene in a diner.

Dark Money by Jane Mayer
The most cogent explanation I've seen so far of what the hell happened to the Republican party in the last 20 years. I think it should be required reading for anyone voting this year.

The Invitation Only Zone by Robert S. Boynton
Fascinating topic, but the book suffers from the fact that the author spoke neither Korean nor Japanese, and most of the people involved in these events were unwilling to speak candidly. Still, it was worth the read.

and of course, the Duchess of Yowl is making a state visit and it's been interesting. Very Interesting.

The Duchess of Yowl reaches new heights

The Duchess of Yowl slays her foes

The Duchess of Yowl discovers Macmillan Library Cats

The Duchess of Yowl discovers books

The Duchess of Yowl discover iTunes

The Duchess of Yowl lodges a complaint

The Duchess of Yowl on the evening's entertainment

Which brings us to the end of the week, and the writing contest.
Results on Monday (I hope!)
Tuesday. I'm pretty sure.

And how the hell did it get to be May already??

The brand new newsletter went out to the mailing list just this morning. If you signed up, but didn't get it, check your spam folder first of course, then let me know.

Not on the mailing list? Sign up here

Subheader noms this week:

With this site we have the opportunity not only to learn from our mistakes, but from the mistakes of others. --Celia Reaves

Aren't we an amazing bunch of word-whores.--CarolynnWith2Ns

Some Lents are just there to give us striking things to write about.--Brigid

"Your job is to write well, and not be an asshat." (nominated by Celia Reaves, written by The Shark)

Some days it is quality. Some days it is theme. Some days it is a cat named Fred. --Terri Lynn Coop


BJ Muntain said...

Terrific WiR, Janet. Thanks!

Editor me wants to tell you: I think your grandmama told you the story 'once', not 'one'.

Got the newsletter! Thanks!

BJ Muntain said...

Oh, and I'm glad you enjoyed learning a bit about Bukovina. :) I've been working on Bukovinan genealogy for a couple decades now, and I'm still learning more about this varied and interesting area!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I love the Terri Lynn Coop quote. But adore the sub-header selected. I love your story about your grandmother and the cliff hanger Nickelodeons. I do have questions.

Janet, when the Hell do you sleep? Do you have clones? How do you do all this? I am in awe. I need more coffee or whiskey. I can't decide.

french sojourn said...

Wow, great WIR.

Nice header 2N's (oh my!)

Breaks over, back to tickling the ivories. (Or keyboards in this writing instance)

Cheers hank!

CynthiaMc said...

What a crazy, insane week. KD, I am with you on the A-Z Challenge. Lord have mercy. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad it's over.

So sorry I missed the fiction contest. If ever there was a week could have used a pause button, this is it. Migraine season is here, we has our NAMI walk yesterday (mental health awareness), and my sister escaped Colorado snow for Florida sunshine. I am grateful for good weather, friends and family, all of you, and good drugs. And now the pups and I are off for a river walk down a new trail because it is too gorgeous to be indoors and I have a couple of hours of unscheduled freedom - wahoo!

Just finished A Wrinkle in Time and about to start the next one. Also reading The Affair by Lee Child. This is one of my favorite Jack Reacher books so far.

Happy Sunday, y'all!

CynthiaMc said...

Please forgive all typos. I'm blaming the drugs.

Donnaeve said...

It's funny how a sub-header will jump out at me when I read the comments now. All of these were great - you had the TLC one up a while back and it's ALWAYS been a fave. But, I love what 2N's said too - so, win/win!

Thank you so much for the WIR. Like others, I too wonder how? You have to be the most efficient Shark we ever knew, or - maybe you have a doppleganger? Or a parasitic twin, meaning an extra pair of hands growing...oh never mind. DULY impressed at your the work you produce!

And so, you said this, and it struck home. "...good writing is learned."

I'd like to offer up a big resounding YES to that. It's the truth. For my own personal journey, there were no writing courses, no writer's conferences, no degree, no MFA, just me, my keyboard and books. Glorious, wonderful books. Reading to study an author is, IMO, like having a blueprint for how to build a car.

No matter how you choose to develop your writing, the key takeaway is..."good writing is learned."

John Frain said...


What a great WIR. Always enjoyable, but this was worth the time for grandmama's story alone. A super story to illustrate a lesson. It's already etched in my mind. Now I have to make sure any cliffhangers at the end of chapters receive solutions that I GET DOWN ON THE PAGE!

Lesson learned.

And count me among those who had no idea how exhausting the A to Z Challenge would become. How did May get here already? I have no idea, but I'm SO grateful.

Lennon Faris said...

Hmm... I was wondering how they got the bees in the hive, too.

I didn't enter the FF this time but read through several and am really looking forward to the results. Love seeing the talent here!

Thanks for the WIR, Janet.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Raise the flags, set off the fireworks, call the press, let the masters of our nuclear arsenal, STAND DOWN, I made the sub-header.
Truthfully, if at this very moment I were to expire, it would be with a smile on my face.
My life is complete.
Well...actually, if my house sold, if I changed jobs, if my mattress and gravy didn't have lumps, if I could only find the energy to finish my novel, my life would be complete.
Thanks Janet.
I pale in the presence of my own greatness. How's that for word whore-ism?

Theresa said...

Thanks for the WIR, Janet. It always goes perfectly with Sunday lunch.

2Ns gets my vote this week. Absolutely.

And now I have a hankering to go watch "Bringing Up Baby" again.

Celia Reaves said...

Thanks again for a terrific summation of the week. The reminder about making sure the story is there on the page is an all-important one. In my critique group last week we reviewed a chapter in which the protagonist was feeling all kinds of angst and turmoil about a difficult relationship, building to a climax where he HAD to talk it over with the love interest. We screamed when the story said, and I quote, "It all poured out of us, every bit, until we were exhausted and fell asleep. The next day..." There was no way we would let the author skip over that conversation!

Like kdjames, CynthiaMc, and John Frain I'm glad to see the A to Z challenge end. I had fun with it, though, and will do it again. What I really loved was seeing what everyone else did with their themes and challenges. Kudos to all who did it and survived!

Again, Janet, thank you for the many, many ways in which you help us through this blog. I hope you know how much we appreciate it.

french sojourn said...

I also wanted to pass on congratulations to our own Writerofwrongs for being awarded the 2015:

The Daphne du Maurier Award – for excellence in Mystery and Suspence 2015, for her debut novel ADRIFT.

Due out fall of this year. Way to go!

Joseph S. said...

Looking at the map, I see Bukovina borders Galicia. Both sides of my family can be traced to Galicia.

I’m Polish on my father‘s side. My father’s grandparents or great–grandparents came to Texas from Galicia to work the cotton fields after the slaves were freed.

I’m Italian on my mother’s side. My grandmother on my mother’s side of her family moved from Galicia to Austria, which later became part of Italy (and which is now part of Slovenia – wars change boundaries).

My Polish father from Texas served in the U.S. Army in Italy to finish off WWII and spent enough time dancing and roller skating with my Italian mother after she and her parents returned to Opicina (Trieste) (after being forced laborers in Germany) to get married - and that’s why I’m a Texan who happens to live in Alabama.

P.S. - Cheryl, my cousin’s name is Cheryl. Maybe you’re related.

Donnaeve said...

Wow for WriterofWrongs! Congrats! And did I miss something? Have you mentioned your book ADRIFT? Due out this fall???

Have I been that out of it? (likely)

Megan V said...

Thanks for the great WIR and a wonderful debut newsletter!

I understand your position with the reef badges QOTKU. (I missed the whole conversation on that one!) And yet, the thought of it made me smile. It DOES sound like fun.

It's so easy to lose focus doing things that are fun, but not actually helpful to your career.

True. Very true.

And yet...

Sometimes you just need fun. That's a balance too.

Skydiving sounds fun and it may or may not be helpful to ones' career. I can't decide whether I'd have the guts to jump out of a perfectly good plane. But there are some things that are fun that don't relate to or benefit the day job, home life, or writing life that you just want to do to keep your own sanity. Something like the badges could fall into that category if those creating them don't get too carried away! :)

Meanwhile, you'll find me prancing about my home-office with a wand from Ollivanders. Perhaps if I try "accio agent" enough, it just might work...
For some reason the tankards of butterbeer and firewhiskey haven't been successful.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Came home from church with a headache (not a usual occurrence). But a quesadilla, a cappuccino, and a WiR later, headache be all-gone.

Thank you, Janet, for all of this. I have to admit I've been fascinated with the Duchess of Yowl visit and her antics. What wonderful snippets of stories. Find a good illustrator and there'd be a book of light-n-fun reading. NO. I'm not suggesting anything a minion can't do.

Congrats 2Ns on the subheader this week.

Now it's time for me to dig in the dirt!

Dena Pawling said...

>>The children are shooed off after lunch, told to make themselves scarce till suppertime.

Ah, the good ole days. I remember walking for miles and hours with my dog. No phone. No worries. Times sure did change.

>>In terms of prioritizing what I do for non-clients, the best use of my time is this blog: it's got the broadest array of subject matter of use to the most eyeballs. Second is QueryShark: specific topic, of use to querying writers. Third is ChumBucket: specific advice, useful only to the one writer.
I love ChumBucket, I do, but I have to prioritize.

I understand prioritizing, but remember the boy who threw the starfish back into the ocean. He made a difference to the one.

>>I think the only job that would be an auto-reject is 2016 Republican candidate for president.

Then it's not an auto-reject to represent an author whose google presence isn't squeaky clean? I'm definitely not running for president, so I'm glad to know this.

I'm also glad it's May and the AtoZ challenge is finished. Now, back to the WiP!

Congrats Writerofwrongs!

Great sub-header. Have a great week.

Beth H. said...

Bringing parents to an interview? I have yet to encounter it, but I am not completely surprised.

I am currently serving as a member of a selection committee. We have been seeing a number of applications from candidates who have none of the required training or experience. I was horrified when one of their letters informed us that she would call within a week to set up her interview. This disturbed me enough that I decided to poke around the Internet and see if this is a common problem. Imagine my dismay when I read a number of websites telling job applicants to include this phrase, and to actually do it! According to them, it increases odds of landing an interview by 25%.

It bothers me that so much bad advice abounds. This candidate will never get an interview, as she is unqualified. Making herself a pain will not help this.

I can only imagine the level of success I'd have if I started closing my query letters with an offer to call within a week to arrange representation, and then actually doing it. Sheesh.

Julie Weathers said...

Great week in review as always. I started this post some time ago, but former editor, forever friend called and the discussion went to Trump whereupon I lost my religion for forty minutes. The raven statue sitting on my bookshelf is blushing at some of the things it heard as there is nothing more inventive than irritated writers. The next time I need to write a torture scene I will include the image of a certain businessman in my mind. It will be yuge.

And thus did Julie Weathers become a best-selling horror author.

Anyway, great week and wrap up. I always miss so much.

Congratulations to Carolynn on the subheader. I knew it would make the cut when I read it.

Elise: "Janet, when the Hell do you sleep? Do you have clones?"

Apparently I need more coffee. I first read that as you asking Janet if she has clothes. Even sharks need clothes. Style is important.

Congratulations to all who made it through the A-Z challenge. I missed a lot of posts from Reiders I want to go back and hunt down. I need to find the list with participants.

It was an interesting and fun exercise. I probably won't do it next year as I apparently don't have it in me to write a short blog post, a short novel, a short short. If I were a fashion designer, there would have been no mini skirts. It's unfair to expect people to read my rambling posts when there is such a frenzy of writing going on. In spite of that, whoa. There were some seriously good stories out there. Hat tip to Colin for mentioning the challenge. There may still be a Colin flogging one day, but it won't be an A-Z Flogging. Well, it might be. He hangs around writers after all.

There are some tremendously talented writers in the reef, but we already knew that.

"It's so easy to lose focus doing things that are fun, but not actually helpful to your career."--QOTKU

Agreed, though I disagree that Miss Janet getting her files in order doesn't help the work.

My living room bookcases are in an order unusual for me, but I had to micro organize to find things quicker.

Megan: Sometimes you just need fun. That's a balance too.

My son invited me down for barbecue last night. It was awesome. While he was grilling he reached in the open window and grasped the top of my head with his fingertips then started kneading. He asked the two-year-old who was standing on the couch next to me watching Dad, "Gavin, what is this?"

"Brain sucker!"

"Right. And what's it doing?"

I groaned. Not the brain sucker joke.

"Gavin! It's starving."

"Not funny, Will"

Some things never get old, I guess. He used to do that to me when he was in grade school. Now it's time to teach the next generation stupid jokes.

Julie Weathers said...

Re bringing parents to an interview, youngest son enlisted in the National Guard when he was a junior in high school at 17. He had planned on getting two years in the guard and then transferring to the Marines when his enlistment was up.

In order to enlist at that age, the recruiting office had to speak to the parents as well. Husband was busy, but the recruiter met with me and son at the house and we had a very long and involved discussion where he was very honest about everything, including the chances of deploying. 100%

So, I guess in a way, a parent was at the job interview.

Anonymous said...

Look at me - WIR. I'm liking myself right now. And figuring out how to do it on Facebook. There is a step up to the layman's understanding of Relativity. It's a layman's understanding of Game Theory: Believe it or not, if you fight to win for yourself you are actually doing more good for everyone than you would if you dumbed yourself down to please everyone, or dumbly try to include everyone. What a wonderful and strange world we live in. I couldn't have planned it better myself.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Wow! As always, a brilliant WIR - thank you!
And I've just realised that I completely missed Cynthia out of my blog-visiting in April, and hence from my FF entry. Sorry, Cynthia! I'd double checked that I'd bookmarked all Reiders blogs who were doing the A toZ, but I must have missed you somehow :(
So... off to read some more.
Congrats on the subheader, 2Ns, and congrats to the AtoZers (it's over, yay!) and thank you for the newsletter, Janet!
And happy writing, everybody :)

Anonymous said...

HA! I half expected my late night rambling OT comment would simply get deleted, and here it is in the WIR. That challenge was exhausting, but it had the result I'd hoped it would. Sometimes when you think you can't do a thing, the best solution is to just do it anyway. But I honestly had no time or energy to read the work of other participants. Sorry about that. :(

I've been enjoying the Duchess of Yowl entries over on FB too. Silly cat.

Carolynn, congrats on the subheader! You make it sound like this is your first time for that, which I find really difficult to believe given your talent for wise words.

Thanks for another great wrap up, Janet. Always so much to learn over here.

Lilac Shoshani said...

It was such a lovely surprise to see my name mentioned, I had to rub my eyes (smearing the mascara and eyeliner which I had completely forgotten about). I was sure the matzo that I have been eating for more than a week now (a special Passover bread–dreadful for digestion) had gone to my head and made me see things…Thank you so much for the mention, Janet. :-)

I LOVE your writing. The loner cat, the Duchess of Yowl and now the story about your grandmother, it's all DELICIOUS. I always look forward to reading more of what you write. And I'm so glad that FB added the <3 button! The world is definitely missing out on an amazing writer.

Thank you so much for the wonderful WIR and for everything that you do for us. And congrats on the debut newsletter!

Carolynn, it's so cool that you made the sub-header! :D

LynnRodz said...

One of the reasons I love Sundays is the WIR, thanks Janet.

I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but once again you've shown us what a great storyteller and writer you are! We know you're a wonderful agent, but I think you would be an even more wonderful writer. I love the story about Grandmama! 106 years old and still telling stories about her! And I love how you don't call her granny or grandma, no she's Grandmama, pronounced with a French accent, of course.

And speaking of fine ladies, I hope the Duchess has no intentions of leaving any time soon. Her antics, and yours, are such a treat.

Writerofwrongs, congratulations! How fantastic for the awards you've received. Love the Florida Keys. I took friends deep sea diving there. No, I didn't dive, I just took them (Lol) but I look forward to reading ADRIFT.

Btw, great newsletter. Tata, off to bed.

Craig F said...

Thank you My Queen. I thank you not just for your time, consideration and generosity but for putting so much of yourself into this one.

On Bees:
I had an Uncle who farmed corn outside of Sioux City. If you spit on the ground there and walked through it you feet would grow to twice their size within three steps because of the loam they have. At the time they brought in bee trucks to pollinate the corn. Then came the colony collapse. There might soon not be enough bees to keep America in food.

On Creator:
Are Joseph Snoe trying to change the rules? As it stands now, if you use a university's resources for anything the university owns it. Gatorade was created in a UF lab so UF owns it. If Creator is a project using the resources of anyone else it belongs to the owner of those resources and not those creating it.

Julie Weathers said...

I've read that story about Janet's Grandmama three times now and love it so much. Because I agree with Grandmama, I'm impressed she still remembers it at 106, and she's absolutely right. What a crappy way to cheat the audience.

Will, my soul son who is a literary critic, was talking about a fantasy where there is a great battle and the author has the MC get knocked out. He wakes up after the battle and sums it up briefly. What a cop out. You don't have to give all the gory details, but that is just wimping out.

Janet: Probably just me, but "he's face familiar to about half the media market." reads a bit awkwardly.

I just read the newsletter and it was awesome. Now to order more books. It's almost as if that were a marketing strategy. Hmmm.

Congratulations Writerofwrongs!

Colin Smith said...

Late to the party, but here nevertheless. Thank you so much for taking the time out to do the WiR, Janet. I try to read all the comments every day, but by the end of the week, I've forgotten what Monday's topic was, let alone what everyone said! And invariably I miss the significance of some of the comments. You always manage to catch the gems, though. :)

I agree, the Grandmama story is priceless. :)

Huge congrats, WriterOfWrongs. Please share deets!! :D

And I will gladly take all the punishment people want to dish out on me for mentioning the A-to-Z Challenge. Every lashing will be worth it for the wonderful stories people produced over the past month. You all are awesome. :D

BJ Muntain said...

Congrats to WriterofWrongs!

Joseph: My father's father's family came from Bukovina. My father's mother's father came from Galicia. He married a Pole from the Lviv (Lwow) area.

Western Canada is full of eastern Europeans. I can give a history lesson about it, but I'm sure it's not as interesting to anyone else, so I'll rein myself in.

Kate Larkindale said...

Great WIR as always! I'm never aware how much I miss until I read this.

And congrats to everyone who finished the A-Z Challenge. I, for one, am seriously glad it's May now. Not only did I manage the A-Z, I also wrote 40K on a new book (thanks CampNaNo for keeping me on track). Only about 40K more to go… And a metric crap ton of revising.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

What a fabulous Week in Review.

Though I've given up the idea of getting published, I'm lurking because I love Janet's writing and the information that is shared here. I want to know who is publishing, finding agents, blogging A-Z. This is also the best place to find good titles for my TBR list.

I love QOTKU's frankness, her job is to look when she reads queries. Well hell. It's crystal clear.

And now I know why my house is a wreck: beau said "no, what did you do today that is going to earn you money."

Panda in Chief said...

Always love reading the WIR, even though this week was able to keep up with posts, because. Vacation. Tomorrow it is back to discipline and no internet till the workday is done...well, at least half done, but best to take myself firmly in paw after all this lollygagging and panda-ing about. (On that front, I saw the 8 month old baby panda in DC and he was actually awake! Yay!)

Loved 2NNs subheader, was cheering for that to be picked.

And on the subject of drawing a Reider badge, that is the sort of thing I do to relax and/or get my right brain working: drawing something unrelated to WIP. I'm pretty good about not letting myself getting distracted from the work at hand. is watching panda videos, but I can even claim that is research. :-)
Enjoyed the first edition of the newsletter.

Thanks again!
Panda out.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is Janet one of the most interesting, fun, quick witted, family focused, cat loving agent's we know?

Thanks for the WIR Janet. About those badges... It's to late to turn back now I have already started :-), well I shouldn't say 'I', I should say my wife, she is glad to have a new project to do. She is very crafty :-).

Thanks Again. Oh and Grandma's rock!

Joseph S. said...

Yes, Craig, The school "changed" the rules. Actually, we clarified the rules to insure the creator, inventor, etc retained certain amount of control and rights to profits. In some cases, complete rights, sometimes sharing with the school; and also when the school had an irrevocable license to use certain creations. We begin with the creator owned the copyright or patent and then listed exceptions.

A major concern of the university was the use of material used in On-line (Distance learning )courses and patentable inventions or discoveries. The university claims no rights to books and other writings, except those used in university magazines, reports, promotional materials, videos, etc AND distance learning courses.

Joseph S. said...

B.J. Muntain
How are you doing, cousin?

Joseph S. said...

My Grandfather's father was a Sniegorski before the name change to Snoe (For a while three children of the same parents were Sniegorski, Snow, and Snoe).

My grandmother was a Paluka.

Joseph S. said...

One more, BJ (and Cheryl)

There's an excellent documentary video called "Three Stories of Galicia" I heartedly recommend you watch.

P.S. BJ - My mother's was a Godnic. I can't remember her mother's maiden name at the moment(the mother was from Galicia). There was a revolutionary writer of minor significance with my grandmother's surname in northern Italy/ Yugoslavia.

Finally, My main character in Obrigada Pumpkin is E.J. Sniegorski. If I had known better, he would be B.J. Sniegorski.

Janice Grinyer said...

Great WIR - the information is so valuable to have- Thank you Janet :)

roadkills-r-us said...

Response mashup:

That theater is lucky there wasn't a riot, even back then. Are your grandmama and great aunts still around? I'd be happy to masquerade as the scriptwriter and send them letters apologizing and filling in the blanks. I may write that short story, anyway, just because.

That is the best "get it on the page" explanation I've seen, BTW.

The trend toward more books predates the huge rise in self-publishing. My sole experience with a book publisher was in the tech sector. The publisher's strategy was "first to market and dominate the shelf space, then move on". In a fast changing market, that meant no revisions when the next release of the software came out. We had a lot of irritated readers buying a book that was irrelevant six months after publishing, with no hope of a second edition.

Dewey, Cheatham and Howe predates CarTalk, although I think they mainstreamed it!

roadkills-r-us said...

While I have had thoughts similar to those in Robert Ceres' lament on query responses, I now see this as asking an agent to play both editor and signed agent for the shaggy hordes of unsigned authors that run through her inbox like so many bison.

A query letter should be thoroughly edited, just as a manuscript needs to be. Like the first few chapters of the manuscript, it needs extra attention.

If I were an agent, how would I see query letters?

The query is effectively the book cover at this point. The book cover has to give me a reason to pick it up, and then it has to seduce me into reading a bit. A bland book cover, or one with a poorly written blurb, isn't going to entice me to open the book.

Megan V said...

Julie: Those jokes never get old. What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing :D