Tuesday, September 13, 2016

More on comp titles, because honestly you Live to Torment Yourselves

You've posted several times on the subject of comparable titles, and while I am totally receptive to your points -- might do more harm than good and be sure to actually read them first -- it seems that many agents insist on them. It's like they (or their summer interns) have a check list. No comp? Delete email. Some tell me it's the first part of their pitch to editors. So here's my question:

Subquestion One: Should we be matching up our story with other stories? Or should we be matching our hooks or proposed blurbs? (Mindful that the author may not be the savviest in the blurb department -- we're too close to the story.)

Subquestion Two: Is it the kiss of death to comp to an NYT Bestseller?

Subquestion Three: If the best match is NOT an NYT Bestseller, but was written by someone with an established brand, how do I handle that? Should I say "I recognize these writers are franchises, but it's a good point of departure?" Or...

First, agents don't read queries with a checklist in mind. I'm not sure why anyone thinks that. We read a query letter like it's a letter. If you intrigue me with the story, I keep reading (ie read pages.)

Yes there are some things that can trip you up: word count that's terrifying (20K novels; 300K novels), or such bad writing that even if the concept is stellar, there's just no way to keep going (pages full of homonyms, spelling errors, confused and befuddled sentence structure.)

You're making yourself crazy here, and while I'm generally in favor of tormenting writers, I prefer to do it myself, not have you do it for me.

So, if you really think the agent you're querying wants comparable titles here's how to do it:

1. What books, published in the last two years, appealed to the readers who will like your book?

Here's how you phrase that: Lessons From the Kale Factory by Colin Smith will appeal to the readers who loved Lettuce Now Praise Famous Men by Bea Green; Peas and Quinona by Herb O'Licious; and, Meat for Murder by Agatha Crispie.

2. What books, published in the last two years, are similar in plot or tone to yours.

Here's how you phrase that: Lessons from the Kale Factory by Colin Smith evokes the story of Big Green Munching Machine by Pease N. Cues; and the atmospherics of Gunfight at the OK Bordello by Miss Kitty and Marshall Matt Dillon.

1 or 2 but NOT both in your query.

Generally you don't want to compare your book to anything that's a franchise or a multiple-book series since you're not any of those things.

But honest to godiva, you can shoot yourself in the foot so easily here I wish you'd believe me when I tell you that you do not need comps if your query is compelling enough.


DLM said...

Ugh, comps. There was a time I believed I needed those, and I was dumb and comped like Conn Iggulden or something. Then I realized - the more people talked about comps, the more they were explaining that comps are an explanation of what your book is, a shorthand for concept or content. And I realized, further - I write historical fiction. It really doesn't need explaining a'la "Barbarian king meets Catholicism" or "Crumbling dynasty meets the Dark Ages."

Yet another time I am glad I write in the genre I do. I'm not Iggulden, or Mantel, or anyone else. But it isn't hard to identify or conceptualize my stories.

Lucie Witt said...

I really hate the (self-imposed) pressure comps cause. I think most queriers feel your pain, OP!

One of my previously queried manuscripts had no comps in the query. I still had a decently high full request rate. That book didn't go anywhere because of it's flaws, not for lack of comps!

The query that landed me my agent did sort of have comps in the pitch (a modern Forever featuring a feminist teenage Lorelei Gilmore). I almost didn't use that comp because Forever is by the iconic Judy Blume. I actually offhand threw the pitch out as a joke in the comments of a post on here about comping to bestsellers. I was shocked when Janet put it in the WIR as a solid comp because it made her want to read more (and did I screenshot that and save it in my file Read When Having a Bad Day? Yes. Yes I did).

The only time I gave any extra energy to comps is if when researching an agent they mentioned comps as very important or something they want in the query. But this has also back fired on me when I really nailed the comps for a particular agent but my manuscript didn't live up to the comparison.

nightsmusic said...

I, me, just me maybe, mememe, don't see the need for comps, especially if you don't really have anything to comp it to. I don't. Not that I've found or would want to mention anyway. So for me, I'd just as soon let the query and pages stand on their own but again, that's just me. If it rings a bell with the agent as being 'comparable' to something else, more power to my work, but I want them to love MY story first.

Lucie Witt said...

*its flaws.

Need. More. Coffee.

Anonymous said...

Sidenote: I'm alive! And still reading the blog, just lurking because man, moving to the other side of the globe is a lot of work. >.< I almost entered the last flash contest, but got caught up in work stuff after writing the first draft, then suddenly the contest was over. :(

Anyway, I long ago decided I had a 10% chance of being helped by comp titles, a 20% chance of them being neither a help nor hindrance, and a 70% chance of "wow, this writer has NO idea what they're doing."

I'm not even good at comp titles for other people's work, and I'm allowed to pick from anything on the third rock from the sun when pitching my favorites to a friend.

"TRUST me, if you like The Odyssey, you'll LOVE Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagan. I mean, they're both epics and involve journeys and delve into human nature. Anime and old Greek epic poetry aren't THAT different."

I'm not good at this, guys.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Coffee. Just more coffee. *Sigh*

Susan said...

And here I thought I would have an unpopular opinion! Glad to see other people aren't in favor of comps! I feel like they're great and complimentary if a reader or editorial review compares your book to others, but it puts me off when the description of the book starts with "xyz meets abc," which I've seen in online venues. I feel like this is what Janet hammers home in queries: just get to the pitch already; tell me what the story is about.

I feel like comps set the reader up for unfair expectations, anyway. Lucie, you have a good example of this--where your comps were great but didn't live up to your manuscript, as you say. But that's the thing--your manuscript is your manuscript and not those other books. I feel like comps try to fit a square peg into a circle, when the peg can stand alone.

Janet--love the titles and authors (Agatha Crispie had my rolling!). I needed that laugh this morning.

Sherry Howard said...

Love to get my morning chuckle when QOTKU has her word twists in high gear! Comps make no sense to me as a writer with the narrow window for getting it correct. It's like saying: tell me what the sky looked like in Antarctica at 3:13AM, looking east while doing the down dog.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

This hits me on the nose today. I just read a couple of days ago about using comps in the query and that site recommended it. I can't remember where (it's still early morn yet) in the blogosphere that was but I spent a little time thinking about it and came up with a couple of non-satisfactory ideas.

Like the others stated above, I'd rather just query my story and not worry about comps which may be inaccurately reflect on my novel. And see...I would have gone about it all wrong because while I looked at recent books, one was not in the 2 year range.

Thank you, Janet, for taking this particular form of torture away from us!

T.C. Galvin said...

I definitely avoid comps unless the agent absolutely insists on them in the query guidelines. Why add something extra to stress over? I need all my energy for fretting over potential spelling/grammar/formatting errors.

Though on the bright side, comps are a great excuse to go out and buy more books to read. You know, for research...

Colin Smith said...

Thank you so much, Janet! I've been trying to think of some good comps for LESSONS FROM THE KALE FACTORY. Those are amazing. Better than LETTUCE, TURNIP, AND PEA: A GUIDE TO CARKOON'S PUBLIC REST ROOMS, and HAS BEAN: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE LIMA. :)

Seriously, count me among the grateful that comps don't matter, even if some agents seem to swear by them. I understand they can be useful to give an agent an idea of the kind of story it is, and can even entice an agent to read more if the comps happen to be her favorite novels. (Of course, that also raises the bar for your novel!) But unless comp titles spring to mind easily, I'm not going to worry.

But heck, I just emailed our realtor to say we'd like to make an offer on a house. I have plenty of other things to spin my woodland creature wheels about!

Kitty said...

Lettuce Now Praise Famous Men by Bea Green; Peas and Quinona by Herb O'Licious; and, Meat for Murder by Agatha Crispie.

HA HA HA !!! Thank GOD I wasn't drinking coffee when I read them. Janet, you really are a breath of fresh air.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

While Query Shark and Ms. Janet are the "go to" places for my ongoing education in navigating the waters of query hell, it is still imperative to read and adhere to the guidelines of individual agents and/or publishers (who accept unagented manuscripts). I've spent many months reading the submissions guidelines of dozens and dozens of agents. My notes on the ones I wish to query include their specific requirements. Very few ask for comps.

I also spent much of my pre-teen youth traumatized by Miss Kitty's crestfallen face every time Marshall Dillon rode away. I recall asking my big brother, 2 years my senior, "Why doesn't he just marry her?" To which he replied, "It's not in the script." This became a family joke when something didn't go well... "It wasn't in the script." Anyhoo! I'm glad to see that confirmed bachelor Matt at least got together with Miss Kitty long enough to pen their story.

DLM said...

Yay, Colin! An offer on a house - exciting times. Here's hoping you have found the forever-home for your books. :)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I may be way off the mark here, but I look at comps as just another kind of book description. Well, duh, I know, but hear me out. I used to approach comps like my mom approached the stock market: an educated guessing game that everyone who's 'serious about their business' gets into.

Now I think of comps as just one more tool to sell the story, not to crystal-ball the audience. Lucie's comp (which definitely makes me want to read that story!) sells her protagonist. She doesn't predict who will buy her book.

I doubt most books perfectly hit the 'target' audience the author dreamed up. Instead of using comps as an opportunity to show off our finest delusions of grandeur, we should use them to bring a broader context to our story.

This is all for everyone else, of course. My fantasy novel will only be enjoyed by the folks who read Flaubert, Robbe-Grillet, and Dostoyevsky. *snort*

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Excellent, Colin - I hope new house has lots of bathrooms for unconsumed copies of Lessons from the Kale Factory. As of course, as Carkoonians are not like traditional publishers, before one can read a book from their hallowed libraries of kale, they must first eat it and the expel it from their bowels in whatever method seems best. The literature is rank but you get used to the stench after a time.

Brigid said...

Lucia, that made me laugh.

I think y'all have convinced me to go make coffee. I've been drinking so much tea lately the french press is clean. My favorite blend is called Cast Iron, because it hits you over the head like a skillet.

Colin, details! How many bookshelves can you fit in this place? Do Mrs & First-through-Sixth approve? How long is the to-do list the house comes with?

Also, do y'all know there's a giveaway for The Education of Dixie Dupree on Goodreads?

Megan V said...

I am not a fan of comps, but I'll use them if I think I have some that work. I figure if you get too caught up in what comps to use, then you're going to lose the heart of your story, and the heart is the thing that matters.

Colin Congrats on making an offer on a house!

Unknown said...

I suppose stating your genre would indicate some level of awareness of books, but I'm curious:

Janet, does not posting comps ever give you pause? Just thinking about those writers who may be struggling to find a book that was published in the last two years because they haven't read any books since before the Backstreet Boys were producing hits... How do you identify these types and waive bye bye bye? Perhaps the query itself leaves other indications in conjunction with a lack of comps. Interesting.

RachelErin said...

I found comps very useful when my friends asked me what horrible illness I had. Felt like sinus infection meets strep throat.

I actually said that to someone at a party, and her eyes got big, "my husband got that too!"

For my WIP, I could see myself using the tone version if agents like that sort of short hand. It's definitely more Uprooted than Red Queen. But I haven't found many books with an anti-Chosen One plot (finished one last night that comes close), so it would be easy for me to misrepresent the overall story arc with comps.

I can also be a good personal exercise to think about audience. And a reminder that no matter how original our story appears to us, someone else could always describe it as a mashup of things that have come before.

Unknown said...

I CAN'T SPEAK FOR SUMMER INTERNS OR AGENTS, but I have been an intern for about a year. When reading queries, I sort them into queries Agent might be interested in, and queries Agent probably won't be interested in. Agent makes all final decisions. I note the comp titles, but I can't remember ever putting a query in one folder or another based solely on the comp titles. Not. Ever. And I probably wouldn't even notice if there weren't any comp titles. I'm more interested in the writing and the story. That said, I did have comp titles in my own query saying my book might appeal to readers of two other YA thrillers, neither bestsellers, though one did get nominated for an Edgar Award. :)

MA Hudson said...

And there I was feeling like the only one at the party not in fancy dress. Ha - looks like there's a few of us in the same situation. Try as I might, I've never been able to find an adequate comp for my WIP, but no more shall I fret. Thank you Janet!

Colin - good luck with the offer on the house. I hope there's a place for the punch bag and enough shelves for your books and as well as the cat.

Unknown said...

In summary, IN MY OPINION, don't stress about comp titles. Stress about writing a query that shows your book is a compelling must-read!

Cheryl said...

Ugh. Every time I think about comps (which is rarely, just to entertain myself) I get confused. See, when I love a book it's because I love the writing style and so that's what I want to compare and that rarely maps well to plot or even genre. And anyway, who is ever good at analyzing their own style?

I tend to think more about influences: I read a lot of X author while writing this. I admire Y and Z authors.

And believe me, I would never mention that in a query, because someone who simultaneously wants to write like Guy Gavriel Kay and David Wong is probably someone you should think twice about signing.

Craig F said...

Two years? I have two problems with that. First the adventurous thrillers for the past two years have been heading in a direction that I am not. The second is that for searches like that I hit the library. The branches near me don't even have three year old books on their new release table yet.

It is moot for me though. Relating a story arc from my plots will take at least all of the 250 word target for a query. I gave up on finding a place for comp titles a long time ago.

katz said...

Bad comp titles are worse than nothing, but good comp titles really can sell your book. I got so many requests when I described my book as "Code Name Verity in Soviet Russia."

Dena Pawling said...

I read something once that indicated the movie Alien was “Jaws in space.” So if you find comps that work, I would definitely recommend using them. But it's nice to know they're not required.

And in honor of Colin making an offer on a house [congrats Colin! I hope you get it], here's my Public Service Announcement for today:

Last Friday morning, the lady across the street from me [I'll call her Mom] discovered her oven was on fire. She shouted at her girls [ages 5 and 10] to grab the dog and go stand by the mailbox.

PSA#1 – have a plan and be sure everyone knows what it is.

In the heat [pun not intended] of the moment, Mom forgot about the fire extinguisher in the kitchen, so she ran to the garage to retrieve that one.

PSA#2 – know where your extinguishers are.

She returned to the house less than 60 seconds later, to discover the fire had run across the ceiling and was now in the living room. She abandoned the fire extinguisher and ran outside [in her pajamas] to join her girls.

PSA#3 – it's not recommended to sleep naked.

The fire department showed up in less than 5 minutes, with no less than 4 trucks.

PSA#4 – sometimes it's beneficial to live in an area known for fires.

The fire was knocked down within 10 minutes.

PSA#5 – Firefighters are awesome.

The house is now red-tagged and surrounded by yellow “keep out” tape. The neighbors have donated money, clothes, toys, school supplies, storage boxes, and labor. The family is now staying with relatives.

Dad was at the house over the weekend, seeing what else he could salvage. With a major effort at keeping his composure, he told me that the one major nice thing that happened last Friday, was he always knew his neighbors were “neighborly”, but now he learned just how wonderful his neighbors were.

PSA#6 – be a good neighbor. You might make someone's entire day/month/year.

The insurance adjuster came out yesterday [one business day later. State Farm is quick] and indicated that even tho in the front, all that's noticeable is a black smoke stain around the front door, the house might be a tear-down.

PSA#7 – fires move FAST, even a “simple kitchen fire”, plus don't forget the smoke and water damage.

Mom and Dad rented that house from Mom's parents. The girls' bedrooms were on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen, so altho they lost much of their possessions, some were salvageable. Mom and Dad lost ALL of their furniture, clothes, and other possessions.

PSA#8 – buy renter's insurance.

Stay safe!

abnormalalien said...

I think the thing that scares me the most about comps is that if I can't come up with any, I must not be well read in my genre.

*Buys all recent YA novels* Still nothing? I should give up on the day job and buy a bookstore...

RosannaM said...

Two things I learned.

1. I will not be tempted to comp. Really.
2. And I will respectfully ask Janet to write the title.

Especially if I write comedy. Maybe I'll be tempted to start writing comedy just so she can write my title. She's that good!

Anonymous said...

I have a hard enough time trying to decide what my own book is about. Trying to figure out comps just makes my brain hurt. *runs to get more coffee*

Anonymous said...

luciakaku That 70% chance is where I feel I would end up.

Beth Carpenter said...

Colin – Congratulations. Hope there are lots of bookshelves and catshelves.

Jamie – When you buy the bookstore, let me know. I’ll be camping out at the corner of Romance and Mystery.

Rosnna – Agreed. Janet’s titles are delicious.

Dena – Thanks for the PSA. Your neighbors are in my prayers.

Craig – I agree about the two-year limit. Not to mention at the glacial pace querying often seems to go, they may be out of date before you’re done.

Andrea said...

- Brian "Just thinking about those writers who may be struggling to find a book that was published in the last two years because they haven't read any books since before the Backstreet Boys were producing hits... How do you identify these types and waive bye bye bye?"

I'm not trying to answer for Janet here (I prefer not to have my limbs bitten off by shark teeth), but I was a member of a forum once where another member proudly claimed they never read fiction because they didn't want it to influence their own writing. It was either that or his misogyny (probably both) that made him come across as extremely and stubbornly ignorant. I have a feeling agents can tell from someone's writing if that author hasn't read anything in their own genre for years.

Oh, and I've never understood why people would object to their writing being influenced by other writers. I've been reading quite a lot of Ursula Le Guin, Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, etc, but I still haven't magically transformed into the next literary genius. Literary influence, yes please!

Janice Grinyer said...

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias)- You brought up a good topic!

Not in the query, but in a non-fiction proposal, you need to have comps. If you look at the positives of searching for comp titles, the best part is that YOU GET to READ.

I spent a good amount of time reading this spring/early summer to get an idea of what the latest is out there concerning wildfire from different POV's. I love to read...! So there is that benefit! But only if the book is good.

Still no sign of the packrat. So right now the little chinchilla wannabe is riding to town- my husband is going to the ranch store so he can buy a new hose to replace the chewed one under the hood. Maybe when my husband is installing it in the parking lot, mr. packrat will decide town is a better place to be.

We can only hope so.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin good luck on the offer. If they accept you've got to move babe. As one who is barely beyond the effort, (I'm still living with a few boxes of extra Limas), good luck.

Regarding todays topic, I got nothin'.

My WIP is so far away from comp-dumb, it's comp-dumb. I did submit a piece to Salon today, does that count. Nah! I didn't think so.

Lennon Faris said...

This post makes me feel relieved. I know Janet's said it before, but it's hard not to get caught up in things that is all over the internet. Keep it simple.

Colin - that's awesome! Hope it all goes well for you & your family.

Dena - yikes. I hope your neighbors continue to receive a lot of help. That is so frightening to think how fast that can happen.

Unknown said...

The query that got me my agent did so in spite of the comps I included. Fortunately for me, the agent was interested enough to follow up and asked why had I included one particular author. In my mind, I was comping my ms to that author's early work, but that wasn't on the page. And, since the author's later work grew much, much darker, all I'd done was muddy the waters.

abnormalalien said...

Beth , I am only pseudo-joking. I once missed a wonderful opportunity to buy (an already furnished) bookstore merely because I was barely old enough to drive and didn't have $75,000 laying around. Sometimes, I wonder...

Janice, I love to read. I definitely use the "I need to be well-read in my genre" excuse a lot. The hubby and I have an understanding: I don't complain when he buys video games; he doesn't complain when I gobble up a YA section such that bookstore employees mistake us for teenagers on summer break.

Susan said...

OT: I went to a book sale sponsored by one of the local libraries today at the roller skating rink. It was huge. Tables and tables and tables of books for $.50 to $2, everything from fiction to biographies to children's--you name it. I already had a bag full (seriously, book buying is an illness) when my mom came hurrying over.

"See that man there?" she nodded in the direction of an eighty-year-old man and his wife on the far side of the table.


"I just heard him say, 'what am I supposed to find here, I haven't read a book since college,' like he was bragging." Mom paused. "I wanted to slap him."

My mom's a good woman. =P

Also, be careful what you say in the company of readers. I'm pretty sure she wasn't the only one with that thought.

roadkills-r-us said...

Every time Janet throws out book titles, the following thoughts go through my head:
1) I need to read that!
2) Wait, is that real? Oh.
3) Maybe someone here will write that.
4) If n one else writes it by the time I get to the end of this series, I should.

Especially "Gunfight at the OK Bordello".

But there are so many things on my list to write already...

Susan, I bet there's an intervention group to help that old man.

Dena, thanks for the PSA. All good points.

Donnaeve said...

On today's topic - I too, got nothing QOTKU and others haven't already pointed out.

All I'll say is it's a toss up on anxiety created by comps and the synopsis.

Brigid Thank you! (yep, a giveaway set up by Kensington - 25 copies!)

Colin Congrats! 2N's has moving tips.

All Dixie Dupree was selected by American Booksellers Association (ABA) as a November 2016 Indie Next Pick. I got the news last night. I've only just recovered enough to comment. :)

John Davis Frain said...

Judging from Colin's continued efforts to land a spot back on Carkoon, my guess is Lessons from the Kale Factory will be a thin book. So a good comp might be What Men Understand about Women, which might actually be a collection of flash fiction stories.

Agatha Crispie. Not gonna forget that one anytime soon. And Then There was Bacon.

Janice Grinyer said...

DONNAEVE!!!!! Congrats- that is FANTASTIC news!! Pop them corks everyone; this is a cause for a celebration!

Kate Larkindale said...

I think some books lend themselves more to comps than others. I've written queries with comps and I've written queries without them and I think my request rate was the same for both.

Sometimes comps can be useful shorthand for explaining the tone or style of a book, even when the comps used are movies, not recent books. I describe one of my books as 'American Pie meets The Sessions' just because those two films perfectly capture the tone and subject matter of the story (about a 16-year-old amputee desperately trying to lose his virginity).

Donnaeve said...

Janice Thank you - am I dribbling champagne? Whoops! Sorry. :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Donna Wow! Amazing. You really are a stbnytbs.

DLM said...

Donna, it could NOT happen to a more gracious soul - CONGRATULATIONS! Another beautiful step on your way toward success. "We knew you when."

Lennon Faris said...

Wow, that's awesome, Donna!!! congratulations!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Corks are flying in Ct for Donna.

JulieWeathers said...

Janice, put some pine boughs or moth balls in the engine compartment. Rats hate the smell of moth balls. Alternatively, you can mix cornmeal and baking soda and sprinkle it around where the rat is. It's non toxic, but it will kill them.

Theresa said...

Congratulations, Donna!

JulieWeathers said...

Some agents ask for comps. I tend to move those agents down the list.

Cowgirls Wanted, I would simply say is a western League Of Their Own. But let's get real, if Janet hates it, what are the chances anyone else would want it? I mean nothing is set in stone and she could say, "Honest to Godiva, Julie. What were you thinking?", but other agents probably would also.

Anyway, someone asked me about comps for Rain Crow. How do you describe a southern belle spy? Scarlett goes James Bond? Yeah, except I really don't care for Scarlett. I know, blasphemy.

I'm not doing comps unless I have to.

Colin Smith said...

DONNA (stbnytba)!!!! That's so cool and brilliant and OSSUM!!!! And, of course, totally not surprising. :D I'm so excited for you! And now I REALLY can't wait to read Dixie Dupree. :D

All: Thanks for the well-wishes about the house. Wifey and I have just got to digital sign the document that makes our offer official, then we'll just be waiting for a reply from the seller. Kind of like waiting for a query response... :-\

We are first-timers at this house-buying thing, and I have to say, since we are not independently wealthy, it's pretty scary. Are we sure there are no hidden fees? Are we sure we've thought of everything? I pummeled our dear mortgage person at the bank with a bunch of questions today. How can we have homeowner's insurance before we own a home? What's this fee? How much is it? When's it due? When do we have to pay this? Do you want these documents digitally? In paper? In person? in triplicate? in blood?

I'm sure most of it is me spinning on my woodland creature wheels. Thankfully, we're working with people who are nearly as generous with their time and assistance as our own dear Shark. :)

Donnaeve said...

Thank you all!

Sort a crazy right now - might have to have a low presence here till late weekend, but I so appreciate all the good wishes!

Many thanks...

(((((hugs for all))))

Adib Khorram said...

Donna: Congrats!!! That is awesome news!

As far as comps: I would rather come up with 100 than a single synopsis. I think am
okay at coming up with comparable authors or stories.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, which Gene Roddenberry sold with a comp: Wagon Train to the Stars.

But Star Trek would not have endured without great writing and enduring characters. Maybe more the latter than the former sometimes, but you get my point.

I am stuck in PHL on my way to Cyprus, typing this on my iPhone, so I hope it makes sense.

MA Hudson said...

Adib - 'Wagon Train to the Stars' is awesome! Can't wait to tell my Trekkie buddies. I used to be a hard core fan but then life got in the way and I fell off the interstellar wagon!

Donnaeve - such good news! Can't wait for my copy to arrive.

JulieWeathers said...

Colin we need details and pictures. I agree, how many bookcases? That's the most important detail. I know your kids think bedrooms are important, but bookcases are actually the prime issue.

JulieWeathers said...


Your poor neighbors. Thank God no one was hurt.

For those needing a pick me up today, here is Mike Rowe reading a letter from his mother. It's well worth listening to. I want to know his mother.

I love Janet's names for books. I sort of want to read the Gunfight at the OK Bordello...or write it.

I'm fairly well-read in fantasy, but I don't as a rule read it while I'm writing it. I don't want to take a chance that something another author uses will influence me even subconsciously.

Obviously, I'm inhaling historical stuff now, but most of it is non-fiction. I don't really mind if that influences me because I want to pick up the speech and writing patterns. You can only get this from historical documents. I would trust another fiction writer to make my tea, and no offense to them, but the source documents and then cross referencing them is the only way.

I read Abner Doubleday's book about the fall of Sumter (no he didn't invent baseball, but he was a captain in the Union army at Sumter.) He was very biased, but it gave some excellent details I couldn't have gotten elsewhere. Between the other diaries, memoirs, and documents, I could piece together what I think is a fairly accurate picture of what actually happened and put my character in the middle of it. It's like homing in on a target from different angles or a sniper and his spotter.

Janice Grinyer said...

Colin- But the question remains; did you check for packrats?

Seriously. We cannot find ours anymore, but know he is in there, somewhere, slightly misshapen (don't ask. never ask.) He now has to go to Colorado with us in one of the best smelling Ford truck engines ever (thanks Julie for the tips- we heard peppermint oil works too!).

So I am just gonna uncork another Roederer round on behalf of DONNAEVE - Seriously, that really is the cat's meow, congratulations again!

JulieWeathers said...


What crazy good news. Congratulations. I am so pleased for you.

Colin Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

Julie: Since we're just making an offer, and the internet's a big and searchable place, I'm going to hold off on the pictures until it's a signed-and-sealed done deal. There are plenty of places for bookcases, and the kids are making plans for their rooms.

As for packrats, Janice, the only packrat I'm aware of is me. I've already thrown away stuff I've not cared about in 20 years that my wife would have chucked 19 years ago. It was hard. :)

Craig F said...

Donna: HOT DIGGETITY DAMN, BY GUM. Congratulations.

So is the Oprah interview this week too?

Beth Carpenter said...

Donna, so exciting! Congrats!