Sunday, July 10, 2016

Week in Review 7/10/16

Welcome to the week that was!

In last week's review, this from E.M. Goldsmith just cracked me up:
If there was air conditioning in Hell, peace would break out immediately. I am sure of it because all the demons would just stay home playing video games in climate controlled bliss.

The heat has arrived in NYC just in time for ThrillerFest this week. I got my window unit installed in the nick of time. Once these old converted tenements get hot, it's hot till September, no matter what the weather.

We had talked about the value of library sales earlier and the question of how requesting a book at the library could help authors. Jennifer R. Donohue gave a good example here

So far as library circulation and book orders and all that, as an insider, I can tell you how we do it in my system/at my library specifically. About monthly, somebody at "headquarters" runs a report and sends the member libraries a list of all of the items which have 5 or more holds on them. Based on how many of OUR patrons have those holds, and how many copies we have, my library will purchase more copies. With The Girl on the Train as a for instance, I think at one point the total system holds (that's 42 libraries) were in the hundreds. My boss bought us up to 14 copies at my library, and when things died down, we pulled 10 of those to make a book club kit. I read it before it went nuts, because I'd liked Sharp Objects so much, and then the reviews rolled in, and then the movie fanned the flames. I think we're down to a more typical 2 copies as of this writing (weeded items go to the library booksale)

I'd mentioned earlier that I made other people wear my name tag at events. Lennon Faris asked

I love how Janet has made other people wear her name tag. Janet, did you stand nearby and listen to the conversations? Or join in the conversation? I could see you doing so.

I was standing right there next to Suzy and Meredith. It was a cocktail party of vulture writers who would come up, stare at a name tag then say "can I pitch you my book?"  As you might expect this is terrifying. At the time Suzy and Meredith were my beloved minions so I just smacked my name tag on one of them and said "talk to her!" and then hid under the tablecloth.

It was actually good practice for both of them. As apprentice agents at the time, they were both looking for books (I was not) and needed to practice the deft art of writer interaction. I actually stopped going to that annual party for several years cause it was so terrifying to be swooped upon by writers.

And now that neither of those now-very-accomplished ladies is available for cover, I might take Colin Smith up on his offer:

Terse or not, still a good WiR, Mighty QOTKU. Next conference/convention we meet, I'll have to wear your name tag for a season and put on my very best Brit accent. That might be somewhat entertaining:

Startled Woodland Creature: Uhh, Janet? Nice beard. Uhhh... can you give me some query advice?

Me: Why, certainly dear chap! Be absolutely certain, whenever you query the delightful Ms. Barbara Poelle, to refer often to your fiction novel, and be sure to say very little about your main characters, but say a lot about Ms. Poelle's drinking habits and handbag addiction. It's the personal touch that makes the difference you know, old sport!

This vignette from CynthiaMc sounds like a picture book in the making:

The woodpecker has taken to hanging out while I weed and we chat. One of the squirrels I suspect was once a pet or someone's gardening buddy (I think probably one or more of the elderly couples on our street who are sadly no longer here) and insists on being hand-fed his peanut. We normally don't but the lengths he went to in order to teach me were hilarious. He must think I'm an idiot. When I finally gave in and hand fed him the peanut he acted as though I were a baby taking my first step. I swear he said "Yes! Finally. Now may I borrow the car?"

Jessica Snell picked up the thread on book reviews (and how readers find books) with this:
Although many of the books I read are ones I've heard of via word-of-mouth (mostly from my brother and my mom, honestly; I know and trust their taste), I probably find most of my books via book reviews.

And the thing is, those book reviews don't have to be positive. Sometimes the reviewer doesn't like the book, but if she's a good reviewer, she'll say *why* she doesn't like it, and I'll know whether or not that reason would be a deal-breaker for *me*. Sometimes I know I'd like the book for the very reason the reviewer hated it, and I'll go ahead and pick it up.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: dear authors, don't be too discouraged by bad reviews. Well-written bad reviews might get you just as many readers as the good ones.

Very very true. One of our sayings back in my publicity days was "Get reviews. Good or bad, doesn't matter."

Now it's even more important because any mention of a book increases its discoverability.

Panda in Chief cracked me up with this:
Mehitabel is jealous that other cats get to go and stay with Janet. I would send her, but she would not enjoy the plane ride, and at 20, she is not all that entertaining anymore. (Unless you think a cat yelling in your ear at 3 AM is entertaining. If that's the case, I'll pack her bags.)

You'll all be glad to know that I will be visiting the Duchess of Yowl at the end of July. (When it's a short visit, I go to her since she really does not like to travel.)

BunnyBear had asked about QueryManager (a new way to query offered by QueryTracker) but I didn't understand the question and asked for more info:

I asked if QueryManager creates a thread for requests, and Janet asked for clarification.
When you query by e-mail, the agent replies (hopefully with a request for more material), and then you reply to that reply, creating an e-mail thread. Agents like to keep track of your communications this way.

When you query using QueryManager, I assume the agent replies to you in an e-mail. If she asks for more material, do you then reply to that email with your response or does she give you a secret code to unlock the next tier of awesomeness in QueryManager where you enter your response? If it's the former, you're creating an e-mail thread and QueryManager is used only for initial queries, right?

Does that make sense?

It does make sense. And the answer is I don't know (yet!)  I haven't requested anything from the queries I've seen so far. 

I do know that the QT team is working on refining QueryManager as we speak. I've got an incoming email from him that I haven't had time to read thoroughly yet, and I think it's about this
very topic (replies etc.)

I'll keep you posted!

On Monday we celebrated the 4th and I mentioned I'd missed one question on the quiz giving to people wanting to become citizens.

Julie Weathers was first to ask
Which one did you miss?

What year was the constitution written? I answered 1789, but that was of course the year it went into effect. It was fully ratified in 1788 and written in 1787.

I think all the presidential candidates should be forced to answer these questions before being allowed to run for president:

1. How many articles and amendments are there in the constitution?
2. Name the capitals of the states

3. How does a bill become a law?
4. Name the presidents of the US, not even in order.

5. Name any three provinces in China and locate them on a map
6. Name any ten countries in Africa and locate them on the map.

7. Name the forms of government in any six European countries.

8. Name the countries in NATO.
9 Name all the countries in Central and South America.

I can hear someone saying "look the president doesn't need to know all that, s/he's got advisers for that."  but don't we want a president who at least knows his/her advisers are messing up
when they talk about missiles in Kyrgyzstan?

Speaking of people who want to be citizens, I loved this from J.F. Constantine
My grandfather, of blessed and eternal memory, who came here from Greece, would be so proud. He had to take a test with similar questions to be an American. He carried his papers in his wallet until the day he died - which is where we found them, with heavy creases from all the times he had unfolded and re-folded them. He was so proud to be an American and to live in this great country.

John Davis (manuscript) Frain said:

Colin, that last question you had on your citizenship interview pushed my mind directly to the internment camps of WWII. Internment, of course, being a euphemism for incarceration. More than half of those Japanese Americans were US citizens at the time.

I'm not educated enough on the topic, but it strikes me that the same wasn't done for Italian Americans or German Americans. Now I feel like getting more educated. Again.

Both German and Italian people were interned here in the US, including US citizens. Not on the scale of the Japanese internment, but it did happen.

and this from CynthiaMc is just perfect for the 4th:
We will be at Winter Park, Florida's Olde Fashioned Independence Day Celebration (9 am to 1 pm if you're in the neighborhood). Free hot dogs, water, watermelon, red-white-and-blue necklaces, classic old cars, horse-drawn wagon rides, and vendors selling barbecue, sweet tea, lemonade, cotton candy and just about anything else. The orchestra plays patriotic songs and the anthems of all the services and asks veterans to stand during their anthem. For a few minutes this airman will stand at attention in the scorching heat (albeit in Bermuda shorts, flip flops, and a polo shirt instead of Air Force blues) sing "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder" (not its official name, but what we called it) in my heart and give thanks that we made it to celebrate freedom for another year. We will spot others both older and younger out of the corner of our eye standing during their anthems and afterward we will exchange handshakes and maybe years of service, squadron/platoon/command info with those next to us. We will say thank you to those older than we are, those who held the doors of freedom open long enough for us to slip through and thank the younger ones who picked up where we left off. We will look in each other's eyes, nod, probably swallow hard and we may even blink back tears.

Freedom isn't free, y'all. It comes at a very high price. But it's always worth fighting for.

And we also had the writing contest results on Monday

Dena Pawling said:
There were several this time that I didn't understand, but that's no different from any other contest for me.

Don't feel stupid Dena. There were several I didn't get either. Or, we can both feel stupid together!

On Tuesday we talked about category (an evergreen topic!)

I liked what Celia Reeves said
This reminds me of discussions we have about advising beginning college students. Most of them have only the vaguest idea of what their goals are with regard to their education or their career plans, and scream, "Just let me be myself! Why do I have to fit into your categories of majors and schools!" (Sometimes they scream this internally, but we hear it anyway, because we're awesome like that.) What's amazing is that within a few years almost all of them have found their academic home and their career path, and are moving ahead with conviction. This happens through exploration of lots of alternatives and honest assessment of their own ideals and strengths. I see the book genre/category issue the same way. Write the book you want to write, let it meander across genre lines as it will, honestly assess where it sparkles best, and in the end it will find itself, and its zebra herd.

Karen McCoy added some  valuable perspective to the "librarians know how to categorize books" statement I made:
And, I love me some librarians (I am one) but I must risk possible passage to Carkoon and share with the reef some things I learned as a selector within a 28-library system:

To start, science fiction and fantasy have very different readerships, and as such, cannot be found together in all libraries. Luckily, since most is arranged by author last name, findability isn't usually an issue.

Except when there are librarians who think that anything supernatural-like counts as science fiction.

Yes, this happened.

Yes, the system I worked for had Game of Thrones with alien science fiction stickers on them, and many catalogers decided it was too much work to fix mistakes that happened years ago because they were too busy categorizing new stuff. And no, I don't blame them. Because when there is no fantasy sticker, what do you do?

This also means that science fiction romance stories will have pink romance stickers slapped on them, which may limit readership.

And sometimes categories won't reach all age groups. For example, I couldn't label anything YA as urban fiction, as much as I wanted to, because only adult books could be labeled that way. Etc.

Unfortunately, even the best ninja selectors who choose the best categories have to accept that there is a lot of reverted stuff that cannot be corrected. And, when master decisions are made by catalogers who don't often see the front lines of how readers pick their books, their actions can often affect years of how things are categorized after that.

Please know that I am not criticizing catalogers. They are rock stars as far as I'm concerned. They often have the very difficult job of choosing where all the things go--and the decisions aren't easy, especially when a 28-library system has a diverse audience depending on the needs of each branch. Which is why executive decisions have to be made for the system overall, because otherwise, chaos.

Luckily, most novels in libraries are placed the major umbrella of "fiction," and as such, most of these problems can be avoided. This is true for Patrick Lee's
Runner which also has a subject sub-heading of Suspense Fiction. (Subject headings are a rant for another time, but in this case, the catalogers got it right.)

Okay, phew! Rant over. Sorry gang, and thanks for reading this far. I'm not saying librarians don't know their stuff--but if you're looking for stuff in libraries, chances are some of the categories might get muddled due to some of the issues listed above.

Bottom line: if it's stymieing librarians, it's no wonder it's a perplexing problem for you writers as well!

Lennon Faris asked:
Going to be devil's adv. here - doesn't everything fit into SOME kind of category? Even if it's a mix of a couple? On a basic level, the genre lets the reader (or agent) know what they're getting into. 'Commercial fiction' covers so many things in my head.

It drives me nuts when I research an agent, and this is what they say they represent.

well, sure, everything is either fiction, non-fiction or memoir.
but this is like saying something is either animal, vegetable or mineral.
That's info but sometimes what you really want to know is carnivorous or herbivorous?

When an agent says "commercial fiction" they generally mean "not literary fiction" and "not genre fiction."

Claire asked:
And how would one describe a more-literary-than-commercial novel in a query letter? 'General fiction' seems wrong. Contemporary fiction? Mainstream fiction? In some ways it seems completely unimportant, as the agent will read your pages and draw their own conclusions... yet you still need to put something.

Literary fiction.

Cheryl said:
I'm not sure I understand why the author has to specify the genre or category in the query anyway. Shouldn't it be obvious from the story? And if it isn't, won't the agent who chooses to take the author on be able to guide the author into one or the other if necessary?

I mean, if I'm not clear on whether my novel is women's fiction or non-category romance and the agent represents both, aren't I better off just not specifying in case I'm wrong?

There's a book. It's a very good book: skilfully executed, charming, and engaging all the way through. My husband found it in the SF section of the library. It could have fit equally well as a steampunk romance. It just depended on who published it. In this case, it was an SF house so that's where it ended up.

I agree with you that category is a minefield and leaving it out of the query seems like a good idea. There is a however though.

However. It's helpful to know what kind of book the author intends this to be. I expect different things from a YA novel than an adult thriller. I expect VERY different things in a middle-grade book than I do in a romance.

You'd think it would be obvious. I'm sorry to report from the front lines of the query inbox that it is not.

I had this exact discussion with several writers at ThrillerFest. Because it was ThrillerFest I thought I'd be reading queries for thrillers. Surprisingly quite a few people writing something else turned up.  It was actually pretty interesting, once we both knew that it wasn't a thriller!

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale sums this up very nicely:
It's good to be able to categorize your book one way or another. This is so you can answer the question: "Who will read this book?"

This is probably the most important question of all.

Who will buy this book? Who will read this book? Who will enjoy this book and tell their friends they need to read it?

If you're not able to assign a genre (or know which shelf in the bookstore/library it goes on), at the very least, know who will be reading it.

"For fans of Mary Robinette Kowal and Georgette Heyer."

"Frederica meets The Magician."

Sure, we want our books to land in the hands of readers; it's so important those hands are the right readers.

On Wednesday we talked about rights sales in the UK

Honest to dog we're going to need a whole new blog for the HILARIOUS writing you guyz do here. Latest entry "Spesh is missing" by Julie Weathers.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangoli asked
Dear Queen of the Reef, what exactly are open market rights?

I've wondered all night. Does this apply only to the languages a book is translated in or is it more than that. Like audio formats and other doodads.

Open market rights are the rights to SELL a book in countries that are listed as open market.
Generally North American English means  you have the exclusive right to sell in the territory  of: the United States of America, its territories and possessions, the Philippines, Canada

Generally UK territory starts with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The publisher then includes the OTHER English language countries where they want exclusive selling rights.
If I've already said Australia is on the US publisher's open market list, I can't turn around and license exclusive rights to Australia to the UK publisher.  The UK publisher wants as much territory as he can get. So does the US publisher. Thus the brawling.

The comment trail went haywire with talk of beer, perpetuities, editors, manuscripts and all variety of wonderfully off-topic things.

In other words, just the way we like it.

On Thursday I posted a list of ten queries and why they heard no.

Colin Smith picked up on a comment that the writer had gotten both my title and my agency name wrong:

Just to prove the author isn't paying attention, my agency name and my title are wrong.

How..? Slip of the keyboard (FinePrimt), or complete facepalm (FuzzyPrint)? And your
title?? You mean they called you Ms. instead of Your Most Royal and Majestic Queen of the Known Universe? Seriously, how do you mess that up? Okay, I did accidentally mistype the name of one agent on my last querying bout, but he seemed to be forgiving of that (clearly a common error), but I was mortified when I discovered. If I hadn't been trained in the QOTKU school, I would have emailed him and apologized vociferously. As it is, I let it go. After all, the number of times people have addressed me as "Collin" (yes, even here), if I can be gracious, I had no doubt he could too. So what egregious mistake could this be that would make Our Shark of the Blogisphere bristle?

The agency name wasn't even close. He had Janet Reid Agency. And my title is not "agent"
If you want to be funny, it's Queen of the Known Universe. If you want to be businesslike it's Ms. Reid.  If you want be incorrect it's "Agent Janet"

None of that is important, and had the query been otherwise good I wouldn't have rejected just for that. It just underscored that the writer hadn't done even the slightest bit of research, and that says something about the kind of work you do. 

Rachel Erin asked
#4 brought up a question for me - I clicked on your QueryTracker link out of curiosity (no query yet, alas), and noticed that the list of genres is limited to what I imagine is the same list you have in your submission guidelines. The genre label is also required.

Is that required by the software running QueryTracker? Are you assuming that it's fine to miss the one or two great people who choose not to query you because what they think their book's genre is is not on the list? Can I classify my YA fantasy as an adventure if I use that form =) (even though I know that quests in secondary worlds are not the kind of adventure you mean)?

Just curious how that system works, and if it has constraints that might make it difficult to query as widely as possible.

I'm not sure. Some of the more detailed question about how QueryManager works have yet to be sorted out.  I don't know if that system won't let you query if you list "the wrong" category. That would be a bug for me, since I like to see everything.  It's probably considered a feature by other agents who are less clever forgiving than I about category.

Claudette Hoffmann asked:
Still confused about first line of Query: Dear Ms./Mr. Last Name? Hi First Name? Good morning First Name Last Name, Title?

Best: Dear Ms. Reid
Second best: Good morning Janet Reid

Ok, but will get you in trouble with some agents: Hi Janet

Never under any circumstances: Dear Agent

When you're uncertain of gender: Dear Janet Reid
When you're querying through an all-agency portal: Ladies/Gentlemen of the Agency

When you're talking to me at the bar: Can I buy you a drink Snookums?

Dead Spider Eye said:
Interesting list, it leaves the impression most e-mails get a full read through. I'm kinda curious about the other cases, the ones that prompt the abort switch at whatever particular point: bio, first or second para, salutation, subject line, sender. I'm supposing those don't get a 'no' just that eerie vacuum that begs augur.

I respond to everything, so no eerie vacuum of silence. Well, mostly everything. Here's a list of reasons I wouldn't respond.

Joseph Snoe said
My stomach cramps and my shoulders shrivel every time I read a post about queries.
Well, my work here is done. Tormenting writers isn't the job but it's such a great perk!

On Friday we had a writing contest for ThrillerFest and I'm really looking forward to seeing what y'all come up with.

Since I forgot to change the subheader last week, Julie Weathers' will appear this week.


Susan Bonifant said...

Once again, thank you for the TLC that goes into composing this each week.

You are a gem. I'm sorry, but you are.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

As usual an excellent WiR.

Dear Ms. Reid, Queen of the reef, thank you for answering my question.

I hope the heat in NY and stateside in general cools down soon.

Ashes said...

I have to wonder about Jennifer's example, because Girl on the Train and Sharp Objects were not written by the same author. Sharp Object as written by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) and Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Gone Girl and Girl on the Train are similar stories in tone and execution so perhaps Jennifer mixed them up in her comment.

All three, Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Sharp Object, and also Dark Places (Flynn), are worth picking up if anyone is looking for a solid summer read.

Scott G said...

"When you're talking to me at the bar: Can I buy you a drink Snookums?"

So what you're saying is, if I approach a woman at a bar with a name tag that says "Janet Reid" and I say, "Can I buy you a drink Snookums?" I will get slapped, or a drink thrown in my face, if you have given your name tag to someone else.

Similarly, if I approach a woman at a bar with a name tag that says "Janet Reid" and I say, "Can I pitch you my book?" I will get slapped, or a drink thrown in my face, if you have not given your name tag to someone else.

Therefore, I can only conclude that the only way to approach a woman at a bar with a name tag that says "Janet Reid" and not get slapped or a drink thrown in my face is to say, "Can I pitch you my book, Snookums?"

Again I say, the advice I continue to take away from this blog is immeasurable.

CynthiaMc said...

I used to write stories for my children when they were young. I even sold one to Highlights for Children (though they ended up not using it and gave me back the rights). Great suggestion!

I almost deleted my July 4th comment. But it's how I feel so I left it. Hubby and I stood together for our anthem. We chatted with a Korean War Army vet and met a retired Army service dog and his handler. A nice man from England talked with us about working with the Air Force on some special projects and how much he enjoyed that. It was a good time. And I found out my favorite lemonade vendor uses a recipe from Alabama. No wonder I like it. It tastes like home.

On a sad note, our min-pin had to be put down. She hurt her leg and Hubby took her in for that, but they found an inoperable internal mass on the xray. I still haven't looked at the pictures I took on our last outing together (the afternoon of the 4th). She was running, playing, eating,drinking. We had no idea. I have a magnetic sticker on the back of my car that says "Life is short. Play with your dog." I'm glad I did.

Cindy C said...

The WIR is always a great read, but I really appreciate it these weeks when I don't have time to read all the comments or comment myself. Of course, now I need to go back and read the days when comments veered off into hilarity!

Dena Pawling said...

Another great WiR.

>>Don't feel stupid Dena. There were several I didn't get either. Or, we can both feel stupid together!

I've been stupid with Janet Reid. Is that a writing credit?

>>It was a cocktail party of vulture writers who would come up, stare at a name tag then say "can I pitch you my book?"  As you might expect this is terrifying. At the time Suzy and Meredith were my beloved minions so I just smacked my name tag on one of them and said "talk to her!" and then hid under the tablecloth.

Last Friday I signed up for a “brown bag lunch” with a federal judge [this is government work, no cocktail parties], to be held at the end of July. The agenda is him talking about “all the problems and mistakes attorneys make when filing documents and appearing in his courtroom”. I'm in his courtroom several times each month, and in fact I've been on the receiving end of his rants in the courtroom, to my face, with an audience of my peers also in attendance and waiting their turn for their own personal rant.

I guess he wants to rant at all of us together, off the record.

As you might expect, this is not necessarily terrifying because, as attorneys, we're not human in the first place.

This brown bag lunch is strictly voluntary, but as we're required to RSVP, we know he's keeping a list. And because we have to announce our name every time we appear in his courtroom, switching name tags and/or hiding under a tablecloth won't be all that successful.

The joys of being an attorney........................

Hope you are enjoying ThrillerFest. One of my local RWA members is speaking on a panel there [she writes romantic suspense] and she's been tweeting photos. Haven't seen one of a shark yet tho.

Karen McCoy said...

I loved Jennifer R. Donohue's example! The ratio in my library system was 7:1--1 new copy ordered for every 7 holds. With DVDs, the ratio was 10:1, though I thought it should have been smaller to accommodate demand.

Glad to add perspective, and even more thankful when others find it valuable!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Oh goodness, in the library world, genre cataloging, categorizing, and shelving could take up more time than most people want to spend. My library isn't without its wrinkles, certainly. Our vampire books aren't in Fantasy and Scifi, nor are zombie, paranormal romance, or steampunk. If it's got dragons and is second world, it's got a fantasy sticker on the spine, but the stamp inside says SCIFI as does the "Home location" in the catalog. Our previous book processor did not read genre, I do.

So while, as a for instance, Neuromancer has always been in the Scifi section and cataloged as such, Peripheral was not, until I fixed it. Our urban fantasy isn't hard and fast Scifi/Fantasy so far as our cataloging, so the Patricia Briggs books are in general fiction while Jeff Somers' book and the Dresden Files book are in the Scifi/fantasy section. If it says "thriller" or "suspense", it probably won't get shelved in mystery, so the Patrick Lee books are in general fiction while the Gary Corby books are in mystery. The Patricia Briggs books will probably get moved eventually, when I have the time to change them all in the catalog, and when the shelves have the space to put all those hardcovers there. Because that's another thing: my library is in an old Victorian mansion with little additions having been made to the building in the meantime. Space is always at a premium.

Colin Smith said...

A smashing WiR, Janet. Cheers! :)

When you're querying through an all-agency portal: Ladies/Gentlemen of the Agency

Really? I have never seen this anywhere, and would never have guessed. Am I missing another joke, or are you serious about this, Mighty Snookums?

Oh, and what Scott G said--LOL! You can't win, so yes, go with both and hope they cancel each other out. :)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Ashes: I did mix up Gone Girl and Girl on the Train for the purposes of my comment, darn it. Girl on the Train is one I read early (because of the PW review), and we had 14 copies of it, but Gone Girl is the one with the movie, is by Gillian Flynn, and is the one I read because of Sharp Objects. We topped off at 3 congruent copies of Gone Girl if I remember right (regular print; this isn't counting Large Print or audio copies, and I don't know our ebook/digital audio system stats, though there's typically only one "copy" of those at a time because licenses are EXPENSIVE), but we had to replace a few as well, due to damages/lost/missing items. I'd say summer is hard on books (beach reading library books? Apparently not a problem in most peoples' minds), but it really isn't seasonal, unfortunately.

Karen McCoy said...

Oh, Jennifer, you have my sympathies! We had a lot of these same issues, added with what was termed a "floating" collection--in that, items checked out from one branch but returned to another could remain at the returning branch. Space issues abound!

Brigid said...

I'm sorry, Cynthia. Are you holding up okay?

I missed the contest window by 21 minutes this morning. Could have sworn it closed at 10!

Susan said...

Cynthia: I would love to read that as a children's story. Poor, patient squirrel! And I'm so, so sorry for your unexpected loss.
No words can comfort that pain, but know you have support and friendship here and love in your heart where memories reside.

Janet: I love that you quoted The West Wing. I just finished watching The Newsroom--another incredible show from Aaron Sorkin. It puts the media and events that have affected all of us into a different perspective.

July 4: Ever since my parents introduced me to James Cagney's Yankee Doodle Dandy a few years ago, I've made it a tradition to watch it on the Fourth of July. The end scene where they're marching to "Over There" never fails to make me cry.

Thanks for the WIR. I end up missing a lot, so this is always a great round-up.

Celia Reaves said...

My sympathies, CynthiaMc. I nominate her bumper sticker for a subheader: "Life is short. Play with your dog."

Thanks for another wonderful WiR, Janet. If I'm ever at a conference you're attending, now I know just what to do. Ignore the name tags; look at the teeth. If they are in lots and lots of rows, offer to buy a drink. If not, feel free to practice my pitch, knowing the catcher isn't the QOTKU, so it doesn't really count.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks for another great WiR Janet!

Cynthia: So sorry about the loss of your furbaby. (((hugs)))

Panda in Chief said...

Mehitabel was so thrilled to be mentioned in this week's WIR that she almost woke up. Almost.

And not that anyone asked, but in the case of books that have been made into movies, I try to see the movie first and then read the book. This is because the book is usually far superior to the movie, and if I read the book book first, I spend the whole movie pointing out what they left/ got wrong or otherwise screwed up and it really annoys Mr. Badger when I do this.

Thanks for another great WIR and giving me a chance to catch up on this week's posts.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Kicking myself today. Wrote from 6Pm last night to 4Am thinking I would review my flash fiction that I wrote Friday night before posting it. Fell dead, dead asleep at 4 and slept clean through contest deadline. Thems the breaks I suppose.

At least now I have air conditioning. No money or food but I am nice and cool. Priorities, don't you know?

Hope our queen stays cool through New York heat as well. Love the WIR. More impressed that it got done despite conference. I really do wonder if Janet has a time turner. Great week everyone. Going to read your contest entries now. They are always both amusing and horrifying in such a divine way.

Donnaeve said...

Good gravy what a week it was! I missed a TON - which seems the norm lately. What the hell am I doing? Too much (and too boring) to list here.


It was like coming home to a gift.

My nephew attended Lee Early College - which is taking college level courses while in High School - so when he graduated High School recently, he'll go into college with an Associates Degree. He will be attending NC State this Fall. We're really proud of him. This boy, who's Mom and Dad were told he'd have a learning disability. NOT. Straight A's. SUPER smart. Looking to go into some technical field in Criminology.

John Davis Frain said...

As a writer, one of the most fascinating things for me is observing unintended consequences. Life on the other side of unintended consequences, how people react to them, where the trail leads from there ... all great stuff. Like playing a real-life version of "What If?"

Today, I'm living my own unintended consequences and it's just as fascinating. I've read this week's WIR in serial form because our air conditioner tendered its resignation a week ago. My office upstairs is intolerable. The dining room downstairs is ... less intolerable. So instead of hiding in my office with the "Writer at work" sign on my door and cruising through the WIR, now I'm in the flurry of family and I've been interrupted 18 times. (My Fitbit is counting!)

It's like a paradigm shift. I'm the same person, but now my family is encountering me in a whole different light. My son has just regaled me with a story (some would classify it as horror, my wife would much rather put it in science fiction, I'm choosing to label it adventure) that he ordinarily wouldn't dream of telling me. I haven't figured out what to do with the details yet. Sometimes there's nothing you can do but listen.

But I think I'll have to take this field trip to the dining room on occasion even after the AC gets fixed. Takes a LOT longer to read the WIR, but the unintended consequences can be the stuff of story.

By the way, my favorite example of unintended consequences: Scott Smith's A Simple Plan. Dee-licious.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

John Manuscript Frain Maybe the dead air conditioner during a heat wave is some writer gauntlet we must endure. Mine died last week. After 4 days, I decided to forfeit my paycheck to get it going again. I feel for you. At least it's only me going hungry for a bit. The joys of having a grown, self-supporting child.

I found all sorts of tidbits of inspiration in the heat. Here's hoping you do too despite the discomfort and interruptions. Perhaps build a pillow fort using fans as walls. Nothing makes the suckage that is reality go away like a pillow fort.

S.P. Bowers said...

Oops. Sorry. It's been a crazy week and I didn't get to check comments most days. Apparently I also didn't take the time to proofread. I'm not missing, and I already have the perfect apple pie recipe. Also the perfect peach/blueberry pie recipe. Sorry to get Tilly and Martha into more trouble. Hope the officers recovered. The sentence was supposed to read "the more I learn the more I realize I NEED an AGENT"! Just as true today as when I posted (half) of it.

On the plus side we have tractors and two trenches on our property. Tomorrow and Tuesday we're getting a driveway! In six months maybe we'll have a house to go with it. On the not so good side, our closing was postponed, so this work is sort of not supposed to be happening and we better close soon or we can't pay for it.

All good times.

Julie Weathers said...

Thank you for another wonderful WIR.

I can attest to Janet switching name badges. It's hilarious unless you run into a self-absorbed twit with no sense of humor as previously noted at a Surrey conference years ago. Most people think it's funny because Janet makes it funny.

Dena are you following Justice Willett from Texas? He's been serious lately with the tragedy in Dallas, but usually he's hilarious.

"@JusticeWillett Is it true Texas SC is to hear argument challenging pun control laws, in a case brought by the National ROFL Association?

Justice Don Willett ‏@JusticeWillett Jul 4
Justice Don Willett Retweeted Jeff Ussher
True, but keep in mind— Texas has tortilla reform. You don't pay if it's nacho fault."

Corny, but funny.

He had twitter followers determine whether he would renew his vows in a batman costume or his 1776 founding fathers outfit he wears when he does his Declaration of Independence programs. His wife must be a saint.


I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. It's always heartbreaking, but what a great bumper sticker. I said I'd never get another one after I put my last Aussie, Badger (Pepper San Badger), down.

Now I have poor deaf Gage. We're going to start taking him to the park and work on obedience and sign language. It will be good for child and dog.

I'm determined to write the children's book for sign language, kids, and dogs.

I wrote all those children's books years ago for Will, that's how long ago it was. Now I'm writing for his son. I wanted to write a book with Logan using his fingerprints to make the characters, the Printz family, and we'd write the story together. Apparently stamp pads are hard to find now. I'll keep looking.

For now, the next project is how to make bread in a bag, a lesson in math and science.

Poor Joseph. He's going to go crazy before he gets this book on the shelves.

CynthiaMc said...

Thank you all for your kind words. They mean so much. On a brighter note, Tigger the cat has reclaimed his old spot by my side. I thought he had lost interest but it appears he was displaced by the dog.

Donnaeve - congrats on your nephew's achievement! Woo hoo!

Julie - I am now following Justice Willett. Thank you. I needed that.

Dena Pawling said...


I love Justice Willett. I've been following him for quite a while now. Several months ago, he was good-naturedly dissing Trump on Twitter, and then he discovered he was on Trump's short list of eleven Supreme Court possibilities. His tweets immediately after that were really funny.

But then most of his tweets are either really funny, or appropriately serious for national holidays and national tragedies.

I voted for Batman.

Lennon Faris said...

Thank you for the wonderful WIR, as always, Janet!

Cynthia - very sorry to hear that. I am glad your cat seems to be adjusting OK.

Donnaeve said...

Admittedly, I was skimming comments -

CynthiaMc I missed your comment about your Min-Pin. It was only when I came back and saw everyone sending condolences that I went back and read the last paragraph of yours. I'm SO SORRY! I love your bumper sticker - and YES, I play with Little Dog every day.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Cynthia So sorry about your dog. That is so hard. We only get such a short time with our dogs, and they are such a great comfort when they are with us.

I read a story about a couple with an old Irish Wolfhound they'd had since before they were married that had to be put down. They took their 7 year old son to say good-bye to the dog he had known his whole life. His mother cried as she explained that it was time for their beloved hound to go home To God.

The boy comforted his mother and said that was only fair because God puts us here to learn to love each other. It just takes humans a lot longer to learn than it does a dog so dogs get to go home to God a whole lot sooner.

I suppose that is somewhat true. Dogs do love us humans more readily than we love each other.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

CynthiaMc... I'm so sorry for your loss, and I sure do understand the heartbreak. HUGS to you.

Colin... I've been on a "researching submission guidelines" binge for several months. And yep. There are endless agencies that provide no direction as to who wooodland creatures should address their query to. And I've been wondering how to handle this. Janet's "Ladies/Gentleman of the Agency" is a huge help.

Dear Janet... An excellent WiR. Thank you.

RachelErin said...

Hi Janet - thanks for addressing my question! Such and interesting week. I thought I got everything but missed chunks a few days. Probably because my work computer blocks this site after ten minutes (by my choice - science writing is sugar mama to my fiction writing).

Enough fantasizing about querying - it's time to write!

Craig F said...

Thank you my Queen for the presence of mind and for taking the time to write a WIR this weekend. I hope you have been able to have fun and replenish yourself.

CynthiaMac: I am sorry for the loss off you dog but also glad you were able to let it go.

It is a shame that humans forget the unconditional love we knew as children. Each time we try to relearn it we miss it by a little more.

Oh, by the way, I think I have finally found the query I am looking for. It has taken a long time and I have hope again. Perchance it will show up in the QueryShark inbox soon.

Julie Weathers said...


Yeah, if anyone had bothered to check, Justice Willett would not have been on Trump's list. He's not a fan.

Joseph S. said...

I want to attend ThrillerFest in 2017. I wanted to attend this year. They honored C.J. Box. I wish I could have been there for that. I read and enjoyed two of his novels this past year including his latest (ENDANGERED).

Joseph S. said...


My heart goes out to you.

I come from a dog family. My dad didn’t believe in having a dog if you lived in a suburban neighborhood, but when we moved to a place with a forest preserve across the “street” and the largest county park behind the house he got a beautiful dalmatian we called Spotty. Spotty was a wonderful dog. My dad cried when Spotty died (I only saw my dad cry twice). He swore he’d never have just one dog again. It was too painful when they died. From then on, there were always three to five dogs around.

A few years ago a student barely made it to my office before she collapsed in a chair crying uncontrollably. Her dog of 18 years died that morning. This student had been an intensive care nurse for over a decade before entering law school. She was made of stern stuff. (But she was sweet, too. - She baked me birthday cakes for six or seven years after she graduated). But her dog had seen her family go from babies to high school kids.

I don’t actively seek pets but two cats have wormed their way into my life over the years. Brigada, the miracle kitten, has been with me for two years this month. My first one was Poinciana. I didn’t know it at the time, but Poinciana was my neighbor’s cat who decided she preferred living with me than living with them. She lived with me for eight years. She became the best friend I ever had. I had to hand feed her the last month of her life. The night before she died I was feeding her in the bathtub and she jumped on my chest, laid her head on my chest, and hugged me for a long time. It was such a poignant moment.

AJ Blythe said...

Cynthia, my fur-person is one of the family so I feel your heartbreak. ((hugs))

Panda, I'm the opposite. I prefer to read the book first and then watch the movie. I like to visualise characters/setting etc and once I've seen the movie I can't shake the image the actors. When I watch the movie I fill in the gaps in my head (which drives The Hub nuts whn we discuss it after because I talk about things that didn't actually happen on the screen).

Julie, try craft stores for stamp pads - in Australia you can easily buy them there, especially those that stock card making items. I'd hate to think we (the Reiders) might miss out on a Julie story otherwise.

Miss Janet, didn't think I'd see WiR 'cause you were ThrillerFest-ing. But I forgot when you are Queen of the Known Universe a little thing such as finding more time would be piece of cake. Especially glad you did because I've taken the kids to their grandparents for school holidays and missed heaps this week (including the FF).

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

John MS Frain: Sweltering? Summer getting to you? Here's a trick theatre folk use: strap an ice pack to your chest. Not next to your skin--goodness no! Don't want frostbite. Strap it on over your shirt.

Whenever I had to wear a heavy costume on stage, I had an undershirt with pockets sewn in for those blue ice packs. They were a lifesaver during Summer Stock.

Another alternative is to use an icepack as a footstool. Keep those tootsies cool, and the rest of you should be fine.

Meanwhile, #PitchWars mentor wishlists go up soon and two weeks until I can put forth my deman-- er my applications.

Oh, the things we do to get an agent.

CynthiaMc said...

Hugs, Joe. Li'l Bit was one of several dogs we inherited when my mother-in-law passed. We promised her we would take care of them (3 dogs and a cat). Losing her was almost like losing my MIL again.

Julie Weathers said...


I was at Michael's. All they had were the pens, no pads. Rows of stamps, but no pads. It was very odd. I looked at JoAnn's online and found some there.

Unknown said...

Re: Week in Review - Thank you Ms. Reid for getting my Query started.

Re: Contest Entrants - I may never enter FF again after reading all the excellent writing entries. I bow to each one.

Re: Dallas - I have no words.