Wednesday, September 07, 2016

So, there I was

There I was, in front of a group of writers, giving my Effective Query Letters presentation. Except I had no notes. And the writers seemed to think the workshop was about effective marketing, not effective query letters. And two guys were standing in the back, talking rather loudly, and it turned out one of them was Jeff Herman who was supposed to be on the panel with me; this wasn't just my talk even though I'd started the whole presentation five minutes earlier with nary a word about anyone else.

Then I woke up.

And holy moly I treated myself to a cookie after that anxiety dream cause it was a doozy.

Nice to know we all have anxiety dreams isn't it?

Which leads me to today's topic.

My anxiety dream (upon reflection) meant I was worried about not being prepared (for what I don't know, but it's the start of the fall selling season and I've just started a new job so take your pick.)

I'm sure a lot of you have anxiety dreams about writing or publishing as well. It would be hard not to if it's on your mind.

Then it dawned on me that writers new to these shores, who haven't been here and commenting for months if not years, might feel anxious about launching themselves into the Comment Sea.

Might? WILL most likely. Being the new kid on the block is always hard.
And unlike Jack Reacher you don't want to establish your place in the school yard by taking on the biggest meanest shark and socking her in the eye.

So, here's how to join in the fun that is this Commentariat.

1. Comment.
Generally we'll recognize you're new and welcome you. A couple blog readers may direct you to places to list yourself or your blog so you can tells us about yourself.

2. Join in the flash fiction contests.
Enter them. COMMENT on them, if only to point out the entries you liked (or didn't understand).

3. Be more than a name.
Make sure your website comes up when we click on your blogger posting name.  Most people here like to be friends with real people not bots. Make yourself real.

4. Ask me a question to answer on the blog.
You do that by emailing me with the question. My email address is jreid at newleaflit dot com

5. Ask questions of other commenters.
We maintain civility here so "does your mother wear Army boots?" is not the right question but "Why was Colin exiled to Carkoon?" certainly could be. If someone mentions conferences, ask about that. This is a community, you're part of it.

6. Answer questions posed by other commenters.
 Don't be afraid. You'll be nervous, but do it anyway. You probably know more than you think you do, and if the commenter is asking for opinions, well, you surely have one of those!

7. Bring grist to the mill!
Generally hyperlinks to interesting articles are welcome. Hyperlinks to porn or promo sites for your book, not at all.

8. Keep your knickers unwadded.
Civility is enforced here. You don't have to agree with everyone, but you must express your opinions calmly and with lack of vitriol.  Some opinions will not be greeted with much love, but that's ok. As long as fisticuffs (verbal or otherwise) are avoided, there's room in this bar for everyone.

The community that has grown up around this blog is amazing. I value it highly. I want to make sure that if you want to be a part of it you  know how to get started. The rest is up to you!


nightsmusic said...

My anxiety dream (upon reflection) meant I was worried about not being prepared (for what I don't know, but it's the start of the fall selling season and I've just started a new job so take your pick.)

I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you, that our confident, sharkly Janet would ever have anxiety about anything!


I was very nervous the first time I posted here. Some days, I still am. Sometimes, my comments are okay, sometimes they generate less than welcomed responses, but so far, no one has died here from commenting, so it's all good in the long run :)

Susan said...

I just passed the one-year anniversary of swimming in Shark waters. I can't remember when I first started commenting, exactly, but I know it was toward the end of summer. I just kind of plunged in, as I'm prone to do when I'm really passionate about something. To be honest, sometimes the waters felt chilly--I have a lot of different opinions based on my own experiences and likes/dislikes, and that didn't always feel welcomed here (literary fiction debate, I'm looking at you). But I remember being assured by several people, Janet included, that differing opinions makes for interesting and lively conversation. More than that, it was a lesson in criticism, subjectivity, and reception that this sensitive soul needed to learn--and I have. And I'm glad for it because having that thicker skin has been beneficial to so many other facets of my life, and it's taught me to speak my truth, to recognize that my opinions and experiences are valid because they're my opinions and experiences.

I'm so grateful for this community--and to Janet for opening her blog home to us. Sometimes I still don't feel like I belong here, but I feel like I'm a part of something really special, and that outweighs all those other doubts. It's a special place, full of talented, generous people who make you laugh (and sometimes cry--but in a good way, a way that moves you) and strive to be better.

Thank you, Janet, for creating this space and to the community for cultivating it. And to the newbies--dive right in. The water really is fine.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

It's easy to be a Reider and a lurker, without commenting. Far less intimidating. But jumping into those comments can be so darned fun! (and I feel just jumping in is the best way to acclimate oneself to the water)

I do have anxiety dreams, but frequently they're the "nameless dread at the edge of a yawning darkness" sort which makes Lovecraftian literature so freaking popular. Also, the occasional library dream wherein it's long after 4 (closing time) on a Saturday and nobody will leave.

At some point during migraine sleep yesterday, I actually had the most wonderful of dreams, wherein one of the Big Markets™ currently in possession of one of my stories sent me an acceptance and it Changed My Life™. And then I woke up...

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So I could have had an anxiety dream last night if sleep was involved. I got home from day job about 5 yesterday, walked the dog, ordered dinner (no desire to cook), took a shower and began to write. About 8:15 the dog roused me for our twilight walk which is a great time for me to hash out plot points and argue with my more hard headed characters.

Had revelation, slipped into pjs, and thought I would finish evening's writing about 11. At 5 Am, the dog began to snore. I forgot to go to bed so deeply absorbed was I in my WIP. Now I am here at my day job, no sleep.

I am wondering if I will survive my WIP. Never have I been this obsessed by anything. So yes, stop lurking and start commenting because some of us may need to be replaced. After all, these are shark infested waters we swim in,

Sam Hawke said...

I read for a long, long time before I dared comment. Even now, I still feel anxious about commenting sometimes, and assume that I don't have anything worth saying. The truth is, though, people are incredibly friendly and welcoming here, and happy to engage in (always pleasant) conversation, which is something you just don't see in many comment sections. So jump in!

Colin Smith said...

Yes!! Yes yes yes!! One of the things I love about the writing contests is seeing names I don't recognize from the comment box. I know this blog has way more readers than commenters, and it's lovely to see those "new" names (who knows how long they've been lurking!). So PLEASE come join in the fun!! I might even comment less if more people join in. :D

To amplify a couple of Janet's points:

1. To join The List of Blog Readers and their Blogs, email me (see my Blogger profile).

5. Is "does your mother wear Army boots" rude? For the record, no. As far as I know, she never tried on my boots all the time I was in cadets. But as for why I was exiled to Carkoon (LOVE that past tense), ahhh... now I'll tell ye a story... (*sucks on pipe* *coughs* *throws pipe away because he sucks at pipes*)

6. Answering questions others have posted... yeah, I do that too often probably. But what the heck. The worst people will do is ignore you, and that's no worse than querying a NORMAN... ;)

7. Yes! Interesting links. Pictures of kittens and bunnies. But nothing that increases someone's bank account or naughty bits. Unless it's a link to one of the commenter's forthcoming novels. Like THIS ONE. :D

8. I get the sense that we have a pretty wide range of viewpoints represented here: conservative, liberal, self-pubbers, trad pubbers, Christian, Jewish, Atheist, None (i.e., no stated identification with any particular faith group), Other... This is not a safe haven for people who don't ever want to have their ideas challenged. But hopefully it's a place where you can have your ideas challenged (and challenge people's ideas) with gentleness and respect. :)

I think this group is totally OSSUM (to quote our beloved DLM). So do as Janet says--say hi!!

If you do, maybe I'll shut up. :D

E.M. Goldsmith said...

One last thought from my sleep deprived mind. This community is a godsend for writers. I rather think it saved my soul- it is actually hard to put into words how amazing of a community this is. Beyond saving writers from the myriad of pitfalls and bad turns that is the publishing industry, your fellows at the Reef will make you laugh, cry, hope, pray, exalt. And it will blow up your TBR list to the point, you will need a library the size of the Smithsonian to house it. Welcome all lurkers and new comers.

Kitty said...

QUESTION: Talk about NEWBIES! A few days ago a relative, who knows I like to write, asked me to help his grown daughter get published. She's written a novel and some children's books.

I told him I could send her some info. But she should be prepared that it will take time and work. I recommended she find an agent as opposed to self-publishing.

I don't think she's at all familiar with the business. I don’t want to get so involved that I’m guiding her step by step; I just want to point the way for her. However, she’s a total newbie and I'm not sure where to start. Got any ideas? Specific Janet Reid posts?

Thank you in advance :~)

Ovidia Yu said...

Thank you for this post! I've been chicken-lurking for some time but have learned so much! What I like more than any of your literary business tips is your honesty and attitude--shark scary yes! But the glimpses you offer show up my even more ridiculous fears for the nonsense they are. (eg if I write a bad query letter to an agent and get turned down because I used the wrong colour paper, every other agent present and future will Know and all future queries will be laughed at...) I meant to leave a 'thank you' comment when I got an agent and a book deal (!!!) but wanted to wait till I set up my website. Which I'm still stuck at. But I'm working on it!

Colin Smith said...

Kitty: Is there anything in the Treasure Chest that would help your writing wrelative? If not, we should fix that. Perhaps if we find good articles in the archive, I could put together a composite "cheat sheet" on getting published for the Chest.

Ovidia!! Hello!!! :D Now, are you saying you HAVE an agent and a book deal, or is that something still in your (very near) future?

Reminder to all: Share your publishing news with us (e.g., you got an agent, or you have a novel coming out--even if it's not your debut, but especially if it's your debut). We want to celebrate with you. I believe links to your "How I got my agent" and "Forthcoming novel" articles are acceptable--even welcome! :)

Scott G said...

For those lurking and for those who have gone so far as having typed a comment, poised their finger above the mouse to click submit, hesitated, shook their head and hit the delete button instead, think of this as a checklist to not only becoming a better writer, but a better person.

Ovidia Yu said...

Hi Colin, YES! I have an agent! There was a piece here over a year ago on all the thing we should Not put in query letters (so I rewrote mine) and believe it or not the 3rd agent I asked said yes!!!

Kitty said...

Colin, thanks for the tip. I'll send her the link and direct her to "Questions to Ask a Prospective Agent" and "25 Queries, and Why Janet Said "No" to Them All."

You're a treasure, Colin ;~)

Colin Smith said...

Oh... and by "forthcoming novel" articles, I don't mean promo site for your book. I mean, a blog page that tells us about your upcoming novel. Not your book's web site. Not the web site of your favorite books. Unless they're Gary Corby's books. You know, this is one of those rules that I think everyone knows how to respect. There's a line between telling us about your fab new novel, and taking advantage of a large audience to peddle your wares. Like porn, we know it when we see it.

Janet: Am I right? What do you consider the difference between posting a link to a promo site for your book, and posting a link to Donna's Upcoming Novel Available to Pre-Order HERE?

MA Hudson said...

I started commenting relatively recently and I've gotta say, I usually feel like I'm talking gobbledegook into a loud hailer. And then there's the overwhelming fear of making a spelling mistake or grammatical error that results in Janet striking my name from a secret (literary) agents' list of potentially publishable people.
Still, I'm persevering in the hope that practice makes acceptable, and because I'm hugely grateful for all the knowledge I've gleaned from Janet's blogs and from other commenters.

Colin Smith said...

Ovidia: CONGRATS!!! :D And congrats to your agent, too. :) I hope everything's working out wonderfully for you. Now you need to become a regular commenter so you can help those of us who are still looking. ;) I look forward to news of the book deal... :D

DLM said...

Welcome, Ovidia - and WOW! Way to go!

It seems I am an anomaly, or perhaps only I'll admit to the unspeakable, which is that I will speak pretty much any time, anywhere. I know, this shocks you all. Take a moment, compose yourselves.

It may be my nature, it is *probably* learned from my mom, and I know it's a part of my job; I can't be the person who's afraid to knock on the boss's door. I see grown men standing outside office doors, afraid to interrupt, *when they have a meeting* - and I'm the one who has to peek in. I will pipe up to anybody, it's my job. I have even (*gasp!*) sat and spoken with the CEO through an entire holiday lunch.

Likewise, at Conferences and online, I am incapable of understanding any prohibition on speaking to anyone, and so if I think I have anything to say or ask or hope for, durn tootin' I will speak, or Tweet, or comment (and then I'll blog about it; seriously, I can get insufferable when Janet uses a Gossamer pic).

It occurs to me - a significant portion of my romantic relationships (every significant one) started with MY making an approach.

There's so much to be afraid of in this world. Being afraid of agents - or most anyone - is more energy than I have to spare ...

Donnaeve said...

I love, love, love this post. I would be willing to bet $ the lurkers already know a lot of what The Shark said.

What's fun is to go back to the archives and look at how the names have changed. (my mind wants to automatically fill in "to protect the innocent...")

I don't know why this particular group came when it did. There are three instances I can think of that stand out with regard to commenting.

1) The time Colin wanted a FF contest. (imagine!) QOTKU didn't announce one that Friday, so he declared we'd have one anyway, decided on five prompt words, and some played along. I was one who did, but at the time I thought Colin was was brave or foolish, not sure which. Of course, Colin's the very first commenter to inhabit Carkoon. :)

2)Julie Weathers popped in and it was the first time a lot of us had seen her name. I think there was a debate going on, and Julie will definitely tell it like it is. QOTKU swam by to let us all know she'd known Julie a long time, and I know I was like "phew! okay, she's cool, we're cool, all's well."

3)QOTKU had to set things straight with regard to commenting and being appropriately pithy. Hence her rules above the comment box.

I think I started commenting in 2011. Wow. I do like to talk.

MA Hudson said...

Ovidia - congrats, that's so inspiring.

Colin Smith said...

Kitty: Are you saying I should be locked up in the Chest? Hmm??! Probably right. ;) Seriously, thanks--you're very kind. :)

MA: It's lovely to have you with us. Comment rules forbid anyone poyting owt speling misstaiks in thu comentts, so don't sweat it. Though, I would encourage us all to comment like writers. And don't over-think that. Just do the kinds of things you do when you write your stories. Think about the words you use, proof read before you post, cry, drink lots of alcohol, look at pictures of kitties, watch "Stranger Things"... you know how to do this! ;)

Donnaeve said...

Oh, and Colin! is the best b/c I don't have to say a word about The Book. Which is great, 'cause I really do not want to vomment about it.

Donnaeve said...

Ovidia! I snort laughed at your "chicken-lurking." Too funny - and congratulations!

DLM said...

Aww, Donna. "Vomment" - I haven't seen that in so long. It's sad (but typically writerly) I consider that coinage kind of my baby.

I honestly have no clue how long I've been a vommenter. At least three years, I would say, but not as long as some of the True Believers here.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: What Book is that? ;)

OH... and don't forget TWITTER! A number of us commenters also have Twitter accounts. If you also Twitter, Twit, Tweet, Twaddle, Twhatever, then let us know your Twitter name. I don't generally auto-follow anyone who follows me, but if you follow me (@colin_d_smith) and mention you're a blog reader, you'll get my follow back. Pinky Promise! And if you've been following me for a while but I haven't followed back, let me know. Probably just an oversight on my part. A gentle "Hey Bozo, it's me from Janet's blog!" will do the trick. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

I've read here for years and I still get nervous commenting. It seems everyone knows so much more than I do and can articulate it so much better. Without being able to go through a dozen drafts and several rounds of edits I just might sound like a dork. I know, hard to believe.

Wow E.M. I fall asleep at the computer at 9pm. I don't think I've ever stayed up till 5 for anything. Good luck at work.

Ovidia: Congrats!

MA Hudson said...

Haha! Lots of great suggestions, especially the alcohol one. I'll get right onto it! :)

(It's night time here btw)

Ovidia Yu said...

Thank You Thank You Thank You All & Colin! (oh the first comment Wasn't so bad after all!)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Crazy! I was recently thinking about the time I finally got the nerve to jump in, and how grateful I am that I did. While I spent/spend a lot of my limited computer time on QueryShark, I actually rarely checked this blog. But that was in the past... and the more I popped in here, the more I couldn't stay away. The support and kindness is remarkable. The wit and humor is in a class of its own. And the talented writing is brilliant and inspiring. Thank you, Janet, for hosting this terrific community.

Peggy said...

I'm not sure if I should be grateful that I don't have writing anxiety dreams--that probably means I'm not very focused on writing! All of my anxiety dreams are about teaching (high school, in my 11th year, so they're rare).

Maybe I'm not having writing anxiety dreams because I'm too tired to dream? I do have a toddler.

At any rate, commenters here have always been delightful. I'm overjoyed that the blog is back! I have to cosign many others, above, saying that I really appreciate and value this community.

If anybody wants to be friends on Twitter too, I'm @larkinplarkin (you know, like the nerdier version of "Bond. James Bond.").

Hmm, the question is, do I email Colin Smith about my website before or after I figure out how I managed to mess it up? I was going for a static frontpage (success!) but the blog posts now only show up on the editing side and not the real interweb (that just shows a blank page that says "blog" on it... even less interesting that my actual blog!).

RachelErin said...

I started commenting a little over a year ago - maybe? I don't comment on every post, only when I have something no one else has said yet, that is mostly on-topic (although my perception of 'on-topic' tends to be broader than most), and something that has helped me or another writer I know.

I can attest there is no secret qualification to join in =). I am unagented, unpublished, and have never written a FF entry worth noticing. Honestly, I only started writing fiction about two and a half years ago and there have been months of little to no writing (moving, babies, and new jobs do that to you). Yet, fellow commentators have discoursed (and joked) with me, Janet has answered my questions on the blog, and I've even been in the WIR.

Aside from the joy of the writerly community, feeling like a contributor helps me call myself a Writer. I can directly attribute my progress on my WIPs, patchy as it is, to participating here. It seems like a small thing, but that's part of the power. It led to me finding writer friends IRL, joining an excellent critique group, beta reading for soon-to-be-published authors, and having a writing goal through all the waves of change rapidly pounding the shore of my life.

With that, I need to go edit my first chapter (for what feels like the millionth time), as I'm getting critiqued for the first time this evening.

Colin Smith said...

S.P.: Don't forget, I'm British. That means I have a genetic predisposition to sounding authoritative on subjects about which I am completely ignorant. :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Janet! Ovidia, welcome, and congratulations! I still consider myself more of a lurker than a commenter, though that's not exclusive to this blog. At a recent conference another writer described me as "the quiet person in a room full of loud people." I'm much more comfortable listening to and learning from others, and if I do have something to add to the conversation here, usually someone else has already said it. (And said it better than I could.)
As for the flash fiction contests -- yes, do them! I challenged myself to enter every one in 2016, and nine months in I'm still nervous whenever I post an entry. But I've grown so much as a writer from them. And so many people have floored me with what they can do in 100 words.
In short, this community is awesome. Thanks for letting me (and the other lurkers) be the quiet person in a room full of loud people. (And I mean that in the best way. I adore my loquacious friends!)

JulieWeathers said...


First off, thanks for delurking. Second, congratulations on the agent!

This is such a welcoming place I wish everyone would realize it's not an exclusive club. It's more like that comfortable watering hole that might have stalls out back for the cowboys who ride their horses into town and don't want to get arrested for drunk driving. All the bars in Grassy Butte, ND have hitching posts and at least one still had stalls out back the last time I was home.

Our neighbor in Odessa, TX used to raise fighting chickens. Yeah, it's a against the law, but that doesn't slow some people down. Every now and then they'd escape and hightail it for our place where they were happy little campers and raised little peepers. Every now and then someone would recognize the chickens for what they were and offer to buy some. My ex would say, "Sure, if you can catch them."

Then we'd watch people chasing chickens for a while and chickens flying up into trees and looking down at them from on high. Before long, the whole flock was up in the trees, chicken lurking. No one ever caught one, which was why it was safe to agree to sell them, but it made for some amusing watching if you don't mind the language. There is a secret to catching lurker chickens. Fortunately, here you just have to send out an invitation to delurk it appears.

C. L. McCollum said...

I am a terrible horrible lurker with this blog - no idea why, but that just tends to be how it goes.

Hell, I somehow missed that we even HAD a master post of readers & their blogs (Colin - you'll be getting an email momentarily!).

But this has been a fantastic place to learn, even from the sidelines. I've only managed to enter one of the contests due to my odd weekend schedules, but I definitely want to do more. I didn't win, but I got compliments which made my day so why the hell not, ya know?

Definitely hoping to get to share publishing awesome news at some point in the future. We'll see when it finally happens! LOL

Theresa said...

What a great welcome for newbies, Janet.

Congratulations Ovidia!

Keep your knickers unwadded--this may be my new mantra.

Brigid said...

I think I just lost a very long meandering comment to the bowels of the interwebs. Shortened version (so I can get back to work):

Ovidia and C.L. McCollum, welcome! Ovidia, please tell us about your book. We won't just Know, I promise.

Julie, I think your chickens are a classic Julie Story. Hysterical, specific, probably involved some mud in real life, and oddly applicable to the situation at hand. I kept giggling while reading Reckless in Texas, because I

Elise, I can't wait to see what this WIP turns into. Sounds like a doozy, in the best way.

Lucie Witt said...

Hello lurkers, fowl and friends - welcome!

I think I do pretty well with all the above tips, except regular flash fiction participation. I only enter a few times a year. I'm pretty bad at it BUT it's always fun, and no one points and laughs.

I have no clue when I started commenting. Maybe a year ago?

Colin Smith said...

For the record, I entered my first writing contest in August of 2011. I probably read the QueryShark archive around that time, since I was about to query my first queryable novel. I probably made my first comment sometime after that. I didn't comment much for the first few years. Clearly, I've been making up that lost ground ever since... :)

Dena Pawling said...

My first comment was a flash fiction entry, for which I received a mention. Not bad =)

One thing I will add - if you don't know how to post links here in the comments, or if you do but the blog won't post it and gives you an error message that says something like "you are not authorized to perform that function" [which it does for me], you can always just copy the link into your comment and someone [usually Colin] will linkify it for you. Like when you browsed around for school supplies for your kid and came across something that made you think of this blog --

Congrats Ovidia!

Colin Smith said...

Dena's link:

Colin Smith said...

And if you want to know how I did that, check out my handy-dandy article on the topic:

How to Hyperlink

CynthiaMc said...

Colin - when our daughter was born I was on active duty in the Air Force. One of my favorite baby gifts received was a T-shirt for my daughter that said "My mother wears combat boots" - and so I did.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I remember being pretty nervous when I started commenting on this blog - but boy, is this a great crowd. I came to this blog for the excellent guidance, and I stayed for the side-splitting hilarity. (Also - hi everyone! It's been a while!)

KariV said...

Ah, vitriol and fisticuffs! Such beautiful words.

Colin Smith said...

Cynthia: Ha! That's so cool! :D

Donna: It seems Bouchercon 2016 is getting ready to start in a few weeks. You know what that means? It's nearly a year since Bouchercon 2015!! I have to say, that was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. The panels were pretty good, too! ;)

JulieWeathers said...

I seem to be paralyzed by anxiety or something right now. I think it's a mix between a critique I got from an editor that shouldn't bother me, but does, the time of year, and some recurring comments about whether I really think a Civil War book written from the "wrong" perspective will have any appeal. "You do know the south lost the war, don't you?"

Well, yes, I think I read that somewhere. I'm sure if I were writing about a female Union spy everything would be hunky dorey. Unfortunately, that's not the story I was given.

If the editor had told me I couldn't write, I don't think it would have bothered me. But, "If you can't do basic research on this period, write something else." hit me between the eyes. I've been pretty meticulous about my research and the whole thing boils down to fact is stranger than fiction.

On the plus side, I finally got my blog lined out. I think.

Maybe I need to start out the day with different mood music.

Ovidia Yu said...

JulieWeathers I Love your chicken story--and they feel like kin. I like the idea of being a Fighting Chicken who occasionally lays a book egg. That might even hatch!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Congratulations, Ovidia. Welcome to the Reef.

I have been here just over a year now. I came across Janet at WDC 2015- best thing that ever happened to me as a writer. If nothing else, I gained a new appreciation for the horror of the Carkoonian kale fields. Nothing will boost your career than desire to avoid that place.

I am still awake. I think. Maybe I am dream commenting.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Welcome to the newbies, Ovidia, and to our infrequent commenters!

I found this blog either in 2013 or 2014. Or maybe that was QueryShark, because I came over here from there.

As others have stated, I'm grateful for this community. I've learned so much from Janet's posts and the comments here. The flash fiction contests? I've become more thicker-skinned about rejections as I'm not often in the mentioned lists let alone the top list. But the stories created from Janet's 5 words are amazing. I keep hoping the skills here will rub off on me!

And off-topic, has anyone else ever scrolled back through their website, reread a static page, and eeped at your bad grammar/spelling? So there I was, in my zen zone, updating and then somehow the last 30 minutes of work were not saved. Argh.

RosannaM said...

Janet--thank you so much for this post. As a lurker for about the past year, it felt like I was peeking in the window at a big family party, everyone knew each other, and knew so much history from the blog, that I couldn't possibly barge right in the front door, so I tiptoed in the side door by entering a flash fiction contest.

And it was fun! And yes, the positive feedback was encouraging. Thanks, again, you all!

For those of you who may have read my latest entry, I apologize if it turned a stomach or two. (I had a hotel maid wash a glass in the toilet) But you must understand my mind set at the time.

I had recently spent a couple of nights in a hotel and overheard two maids talking (disappointed, not vengefully) about not getting tips from their 'stay-overs.' Who else eavesdrops and jots those bits down for future use?

Then not long after, some tenants vacated a house we own, and I faced a huge mess (still in the midst) involving every surface needing to be scrubbed (not washed-scrubbed) and about 15 man-hours of yard work to make the house not look like the scariest Halloween house ever! And a wee bit of revenge danced around the edges of my mind as I fought blackberry bushes and two years worth of kitchen grease until it could not be contained any longer and so it spilled out into my writing.

And isn't that one of the reasons we write? To exorcise our inner demons safely?

But seriously, people, please don't drink from hotel glasses.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Julie Weathers; I forgot to say earlier thank you for that great chicken-lurking story. And that editor's comment...ohouch especially after the comments you've shared here about your research. And yes, Stories are not always about the victors. Chin up.

Colin Smith said...

Julie! First off, I can't believe an editor would be that rude. I mean, it's one thing to be honest, but what happened to "speaking the truth in love"? At the risk of suggesting something you've probably already done, or at least thought of, here's my thought:

I know you know your Civil War (or "War of Northern Aggression" as some folk down here like to call it) stuff because I read your posts during the A-to-Z Challenge. Had that editor done the same, s/he may not have made such a danged fool comment ('scuse my French)!

Maybe you could consider using your blog to establish platform. Post regularly on your research, like you did during A-to-Z. Market your blog among Civil War/WoNA enthusiasts. Post pictures and stories from sites you've visited. Show you know your stuff. I can see one of two things resulting: a) you demonstrate your credibility, silence the dumb-wads, find an agent, and get published; b) you still can't attract an agent, but you build a decent crowd of people who would buy your book should you self-publish.

Just a thought. Probably not a good one. But I thought I'd give it a shot because I want to see this book published!! :)

JulieWeathers said...


I have always loved Banty chickens. I confess I like to think of myself as a little Banty rooster most of the time, all crow and confidence. I'm probably more Silkie without a clue where I'm going.

I'm sure your book eggs will hatch!


I collect everything for future use. At a dance at the ranch we had beer kegs set out for guests. We also had some half grown roosters who were just learning to crow. The kegs had puddles of beer under the spigots where beer had overflowed and the chickens were drinking beer.

Before long, the young roosters were flying up on top of the kegs and throwing their heads back to crow. It was a squawky eerrr errrr errr and then they'd keel over backwards before they got to the erroooo. It's hard to crow when you're drunk.

The drunk chickens made it into a book.

It's all grist for the mill.

Steve Forti said...

Welcome all newbies. But not new bees. Well, I guess bees are okay, actually. Just not new hornets or wasps. Stupid makers of hives under my deck who... ok, back on track...

As others have said, don't be shy! (Ironic coming from me in real life, but still.) Sure, some of us have been here for years, others for days. But you're all part of the community. I tend not to comment too much, but I'm here reading every day. It's great support, and you all help motivate me when I see your successes and sticktoitiveness.

While it can seem overwhelming that a handful of names are omnipresent, it doesn't take long for new names to become familiar ones, too. Especially when they catch the eye with great contest entries.

Colin Smith said...

Rosanna: That's the danger of building a community like this--new-comers feel like intruders. Well, we were all new-comers at one point. Just be like Diane: walk right in and join a conversation. Act like you belong. Because you do. :)

Joseph S. said...


Your question about advice brought back bad memories. Slightly different situation but close enough.

A very close relative asked me to give advice to her adult daughter (late 20’s early 30's) who wanted to write children’s books (as though I know anything about writing children’s books). (NOTE: it was the mother not the writer who asked – Let me stop right here. BIG ADVICE: Contact the grown up daughter first and ask her what kind of information she wants before you put yourself out).

Back to my story. I spent the day - 8 to 10 hours writing a memo explaining the harshness and struggles and competition she should expect. I included links to agents who represented children’s books, and to special programs aimed at writers of children’s books and links to everything I thought she should know including groups and organizations that every writer should know about. I easily saved her a year’s worth of stumbling around (that I had to do) - or rather would have saved her if she read the email at all.

It’s been three years and I have not received a thank you or acknowledgment she ever received the email. I think she’s fluttered off to other grand schemes.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey everyone. I jumped on just a little after 7 EST and figured I'm going to wait to comment, wanna see if any new folks show up for the clambake.
Holy mackenoly. There's a lot of seagulls lurking in the sea grass. Who woulda' thought?

As a former member of the Carkoon welcoming committee I just want to warn new commenters that keys for the latrine are hanging next to Colin's desk in the garden shed. Colin used to carry the keys with him but after the chili fest he opted out.

To borrow a term from our esteemed creator of Dixie Dupree, welcome y'all. (I think I spelled y'all wrong.)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Julie, please don't let one editor discourage you. There is an extreme prejudice against anything that might celebrate the South. In a recent poll, it was reported a percentage of South Carolina wished to keep slavary. If you looked deep into poll, you would fail to find a question that asked anything about slavary.

There was one question that asked "Would you have liked the South to win the Civil War?" Many forget or were never taught or will never understand that to Southerners, the Civil War was more about State's rights than slavary. No, the South does not want slavary at all. But the poll worded the results so as to spur further hatred of the South. Sadly, few bother looking at the bowels of such polls and simply accept the narrative.

Editors are people. They have prejudices like everyone else. Don't let one spoil your efforts. In a perfect world, folks guarding the gates of the publishing industry would all be open-minded and unafraid of literature that challenges their worldview. Instead, most only want propaganda. They even ask for it. I wonder if they are even aware of it.

Julie, your research is well beyond what your typical writer might do it seems to me. I am in constant awe of your stories and obscure gems of historical knowledge. Please keep writing. I can't wait to read your work. I so enjoy your tales here at the Reef.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Joe Snoe, maybe grown up daughter never got your email or it was deleted by mistake. I deleted a very important email from my editor once. Maybe she received it as spam. Did you ever follow up? I hate when I try to be a helper and the helpee (is that even a word) yawns or never replies.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

What'd I miss?
An editor gave something other than accolades to our Julie. Dumb editor. Regarding writing Julie's got "it".

Anonymous said...

Hello all!

This is my second comment. My first was a story for the last flash fiction contest. I have been deep in the QueryShark archives as of late! I'm excited to dive in the water and learn along side all of you!

Colin Smith said...

Rose: HELLO!! Welcome! :D You are clearly a person who knows what's what if you've been studying the QS archive. I'm happy to tell you that, as a sentient person who enjoys books and writing, you are abundantly qualified to join in the fun. Like I said before, act like you belong, because you do. :)

Adele said...

Just in case a lurker has the same problem I did:

For a long time I would post a comment, the little comment note would say something like "your comment has been saved and will be published after moderator approval" and guess what - the comment didn't ever show up. So I knew Janet had me in her sights. Janet didn't like me. Sniff. Janet was making sure even the mildest comment was thrown straight into the ethereal garbage can. Janet was really spending a lot of energy on muzzling me. I had no idea what I had done.

I thought that maybe there might have possibly been times when I had expressed an opinion that might not have been totally acceptable by every member of the community - gosh, that's a lot of hedging - but every day I read lots of other people saying things straight out, and they got their posts up.

I wondered what their secret was. Was the blog restricted to Janet's personal friends? Perhaps restricted to her clients? Why didn't she just say so? I wanted to ask but how could I since none of my comments got onto the blog. Sigh.

Then I got a Google ID and all of a sudden my problems went away. Turns out it wasn't Janet at all. I just wasn't acceptable in the mists of cyberspace, and cyberspace, as usual, wasn't letting me know.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone! This page is the first thing I read as soon as I turn my computer on in the morning. I so admire the community that Janet and you all have created here. I've commented a few times but never entered any of the contests; I'm way too chicken. But I loved Janet's post today and wanted to say hi!

Joseph S. said...

Julie W.

First off, the world is glad that editor of yours didn’t critique Margaret Mitchell.

Second, there’s a barrel of folks down here Dixie way thinking you‘re writing from the “Right” perspective.

Third, I know some guys who crow more the drunker they get, and they crow enough when sober.

Fourth, your fighting rooster story reminded me of the first time I visited a man’s home who raised fighting cocks in his back yard. There must have been fifty of them. Each was chained to an iron stake and each had its own little A-frame hut. They were spaced to keep from reaching each other. Threw me off my kilter (darn- now I must see if kilter is a real word - I’ll do it later).

A few years later, at a party overheard one woman tell another about cockfights. All I remember her saying was, “Don’t wear white. It shows the blood.”

I keep thinking in my fourth E.J. Sniegorski novel (if I get that far), there will be a cockfighting episode.

Joseph S. said...


It's possible she didn't get it, but not probable. I'm fairly certain she got it.

Karen McCoy said...

Wow, look at all these lovely commenters! Nice to see people coming out of the woodwork.

Ah, anxiety dreams. I have a recurring one--the theme is always different but the objective is the same--I'm always trying to get somewhere I can never get to.

And last night I had a dream that I interviewed at a company that just made a bunch of arbitrary charts based on statistics that I had to come up with through my "research." Fear of quantification, perhaps.

Colin Smith said...

Hey there, va116! Can we call you va for short? Thanks for reminding us that you're here. :)

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Hey all. I have been a Silent Reider for exactly one year and three days.

I just want to say Hi.

(that's it for now, baby steps...)

Steve Forti said...

Cecelia - baby steps are good! Plus, we rent out those baby walker supporter thingies at the concierge desk. Welcome to everyone!

Steve Forti said...

We're even more welcoming when we spell your name correctly. Sorry, Cecilia!

DLM said...

Apropos of nothing at all, I swear ...

Vitriol and fisticuffs you say? I smell flash fiction, y'all.

Also, I would caution against taking Colin's advice to be like me (I am Diane). It'll all end in tears.

So fun seeing new IDs, and 2Ns, indeed you spelled it fine as frog hair.

I used to have anxiety dreams that I was wrestling a large cat - lions or panthers recurred. Last night, I had an anxiety dream that the contractors weren't going to show up to do the basement waterproofing job. And when I awoke: indeed, they did not. But my electrician did, so at least I'm getting under-cabinet lighting. Sometimes, dreams change.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Thanks Steven!

Adib Khorram said...

I dare say there are few better ways to get the Commentariat going than a post ABOUT the Commentariat. Or should that be Vommentariat?

Do we get lanyards? I hope we get lanyards.

Greetings to all the shy folks who are commenting for the first time! I hope you come to the blog with an appetite, because Google has been known to torment commenters with pictures of food to "prove" you are not a robot.

If I WAS a robot, I'm pretty sure I would still want cake.

Colin Smith said...

DLM/Diane: Of course, who wouldn't want to be like you? You're one of the cool kids. You blog eloquently about your life, and writing, and things of interest on the web. And you write about obscure Franks. And I'm not talking about Frank the Obscure (Jude's second cousin twice removed, thrice denied), or those Oustide-of-the-Ballpark Franks.

What kind of Franks am I talking about? Check out her blog and dig around a bit to find out... ;)

Joseph S. said...

Long ago I had dream that recurred for years. In it I dreamed I killed somebody but blocked it out of my conscious thoughts, and could remember I did it only in my dreams.

When I was awake in real life I started wondering if maybe I really did kill someone and couldn't remember doing it. I half expected the police to show up at my door. I'm sure someone must have written a novel with that premise. I need to find it and see how my dream would turn out.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

I take it as a very good sign that it was Steve Forti, Chief of Carkoon's Department of Diabolical Wordsmithery who welcomed me to the realm.

Mark Ellis said...

My company is painting a large home out in the country, and it seems to be going well when the homeowner comes out the back door in a frenzy. He screams and yells, trips and falls, gets back up--it's all about our horrible workmanship. He goes back in the house, and my crew says, "the guy's crazy, we're out of here." We jump in our work vehicles and take off, but look back and see that a car from the house is speeding after us. I think he's going to kill us. But when the car catches up, I see that it's his son who has followed us, and who asks our forgiveness. He doesn't come right out and say it, but my dream-sense tells me that his father has Alzheimer's Disease. The son hands me a check for the job.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

A great post to welcome new souls.

What va116 said. I read then reload throughout the day.

I miss participating in the discussions. But work gobbled my writing time. And I'm going low profile on social media because of ...

Thank you Janet for continuing the blog. It's my favorite place on the web.

The Sleepy One said...

Things I learned today: that "your mother wears army boots" is an insult.

Brigid said...

RosannaM, that's a horror story right there.

Welcome to you and va116 and Cecilia and Rose! Very glad to see you all.

Just in case any other lurkers are still hesitating, secretly thinking you're the only doofus among us, I'll go ahead and point out that earlier today I published a comment that was missing half a sentence.

(The other half was something like "loved its tone and all the big Texas stories, and kept expecting to find you spinning yarns around the corner.")

JulieWeathers said...


Now that I at last have the fight over with Hostgator, never again though I am stuck with them for three years now, I'll be posting on the blog regularly again.

I had thought about what you said and for the reasons you mentioned. We've discussed this a bit on Books and Writers and most people think I should include a bibliography of sorts. Diana (Gabaldon) keeps a list of the books she uses for research on Librarything and refers people to that when they ask what she uses for research. I've started loading my library onto the Librarything site, but it may take a while. sigh

Yesterday the blog post was about platform and how as fiction writers we really don't need one. It's true, we don't, but a well-written and researched blog may add some weight to the book or at least quell the cries, "Women didn't do that!"

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.


That poll you cited is what drives me bonkers about "news" organizations with agendas. I think anyone would be insane to think there is a person alive who still wants slavery. It wasn't right 4,000 years ago, 300 years ago, or today and there are more slaves today than at any point in history.

Robert E. Lee was an abolitionist at heart. He wrote letters to the editors against slavery before the war broke out. No one thinks about that in their rush to tear down Confederate statues. Nor do they think about the fact he's one of the main reasons we won the Mexican War. Engineers won the war and he and P.G.T. Beauregard were two of the best.

Stonewall Jackson owned slaves, but mainly because they asked him to buy them. He and his wife always set up a church and Sunday school for blacks free and slave wherever he was stationed and he once got hauled into court for teaching blacks to read.

A Union soldier asked one Confederate prisoner who was obviously not well to do why he was fighting. He said it was plain he didn't have money. He probably didn't even own slaves. The prisoner answered he didn't. "I'm fighting because you're down here."

Lincoln was nominated and elected not because of slavery, but because of tariffs. He said nothing about invading the south over slavery, but did promise in his first inaugural address to invade militarily if southern states didn't collect the tariff as they had in 1828 with the "Tariff of Abominations."

At the time, the import dependent south was paying about 80% of the tariffs passed by Congress. Morill raised the tax rate on goods from 15% to 37.5%, but most of the revenues were spent in the north. A second tariff increased it to 47.6% soon after.

Anyway, it was a complicated time in history with a lot of layers to the story.

Steve Forti said...

Ooh, a long title! A couple more and I can compete for the Iron Throne.

Joseph - recurring dreams can mess with your waking mind. At least for a few minutes trying to figure out what's what. When I was a wee lad, I repeatedly had this dream where a monster came from my bedroom closet, and the only way to be safe was to climb up to the top bunk with my brother, while holding a pack of Smarties. Except every time I reached the top, I'd immediately drop the Smarties to the floor and have to go back for them. I feel like that might have been some kind of foreshadowing. No real point to telling that other than now I want some Smarties.

Beth Carpenter said...

I started lurking a few months ago. Thanks to Query Shark, I have an agent (although not yet a first sale) but I made my way here and I find the posts as well as the comments so helpful and entertaining it’s now my first stop of the day. A flash fiction contest came along. I decided to enter, and the kind comments on that gave me the courage to start commenting. Now y’all will never be rid of me.

I have anxiety dreams too, but more often I have frustration dreams. You know, the ones where you need to get to X to do Y, but stuff keeps happening to slow you down. Yeah, just like life.

Anyway, I want to thank Janet and everyone who hangs out here. You bring smiles to my day, and that’s a wonderful thing. Julie, I started Reckless in Texas last night, and that’s making me smile, too. And Ovidia, welcome!

BJ Muntain said...

I can't remember when I started here. It was somewhere around 2010, I think. No wait, it had to be earlier, because I already knew Julie from the blog, and both Julie and Janet were at the Surrey International Writer's Conference in 2007 or 2008. But maybe I was only lurking then... See how things change?

I did take my own hiatus from the blog for a few years - with a busy job and a sick dog, things got complicated. I came back a bit over a year ago, I think.

I haven't been having a great year, but this blog gives some writing structure to my life now. Mornings wouldn't be mornings without coffee and this group.

But I would like to welcome all the lurkers and new commenters. If sometimes it seems like we're speaking a different language, check the blog glossary at the top right of Janet's blog page. If what we said isn't there, please ask. We love showing off our knowledge - it makes us feel good about ourselves and about you for giving us a chance to spout off. :)

When I have anxiety dreams, they tend to be the 'mute' kind. That is, I can't talk. I either want to scream or shout or just explain something, but my throat tightens up and nothing comes out. That doesn't happen as much anymore, though. At least, I don't remember if they do.

Don't let your dreams silence push your mute button! Do join in the fun here!

So welcome to Ovidia Yu, CL McCollum, RosannaM, Cecelia and to our semi-lurkers Lisosisek, Rose Quinn, and va116! And any others I missed. And nice to see you back, Bethany Elizabeth!

Julie: That editor wears Army boots. Don't let them stomp on your soul. Honestly, I've learned far more about the Civil War from your comments than anywhere else. And 'wrong perspective'? Seriously? As far as I know, the South is still in the United States of America. That means it's a purely American story. I'm afraid I can't help about the time of year, though. But I hope things turn around for you soon. (((hugs)))

Barbara Etlin said...

Hi, Cecilia and other new readers and ex-lurkers! The water's fine as long as you bring along your shark repellent.

Kitty, it's good advice to talk to the person in person (heh) to find out what she needs.

To learn about children's publishing, she could look at the SCBWI/Verla Kay Blueboards forums,

where she can read archives and ask questions. She might want to join SCBWI and/or attend a conference. If the relative is ready to query agents, send her here to find out the dos and don'ts of querying. And tell her about Agent Query.

BJ Muntain said...

And, sigh, even after proofreading... That sentence should be "Don't let your dreams push your mute button!" Or "...silence you!" One or the other. Not both.

JulieWeathers said...


I didn't expect accolades. I was just shocked to be told I hadn't even done basic research and if I couldn't be bothered to do that then I needed to write something else. Now, in her defense, I'm apparently going to have to figure out a way to not only entertain people, but also educate them. Yes, this really happened regardless of what the etiquette books say.


Your comments made me laugh. Thank you.

Our neighbor had 55-gallon drums for his chickens with the stakes and chains. A world champion bucking bull is named Chicken On A Chain. In his case, a neighbor had fighting chickens. One got loose and got in Chicken's pen when he was a calf. The chicken got his chain wrapped around the bull's leg so he had a chicken on a chain the owners had to get loose.

I don't know how people can stand to watch chicken fighting. Ugh.

To all the new people! My gosh, welcome. It's like someone unstealthed a whole forest of ghillie-suited rangers. Whoa, I didn't even see them there.

Which reminds me of the last Julie story for the day. When Will was in Iraq, he became the base armorer and even wound up doing weapon repairs for the SEAL team on base. So, one day, this guy walks in and says, "I need to order some paint for my weapon."

"What for?"

"I want to paint a Captain America shield on it."

"Painting a target on your weapon kind of negates the whole idea of camouflage don't you think? No, go away."

Barbara Etlin said...

Okay, my link above didn't work.

SCBWI/Verla Kay Blueboards

french sojourn said...

Loved your dream / nightmare tale. Today I just finished taking the French Drivers license tests...F-ing ground hogs day...40 questions, with anywhere from one to three possible correct answers. Not only is it in French, but the logic was mind numbing. 8th times was a charm for me. I can now look forward to getting the Scarlett Letter for my ancient Land Rover...The letter A...meaning Adolescent Driver. (Or Adulterer or Alcoho...well anyway...welcome to my nightmare thats finally over. Merde'

And to all new commentators...I guarantee, you will meet some of the nicest people here. I met a charming Southern Belle, soon to be famous. A scuba diver with her soon to be released novel...she DRIFTS to mind. The second in command, a witty ex-patriot living in Carkoon. A wonderful writer from Fort Scott, Kansas. A Parisian lady with killer pen skills.And a myriad of other characters.

Sante' Hank

Colin Smith said...

Barbara's link: SCBWI/Verla Kay Blueboards

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Julie, you must keep writing before these complexities are scrubbed away by the thought police of our time. We have reached that time Orwell warned us was coming-

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act - George Orwell, 1984

And sometimes the best place for truth is fiction. Few will trouble themselves with historical volumes, but fiction, that can live on. Jonathan Swift was not talking about Giants and tiny people. A fiction illustrated the subtleties of politics in his time. And future students who read his work, well some may have learned to look at the world in a different light.

Perhaps, Claire Beacham's journey through time is a fiction, but the history which she falls is pretty damn accurate as to the attitudes of the Scots, the English, and the French of that time. And suddenly, there are minds seeking knowledge of a Scotland they were unaware of because of a work of fiction. These readers might otherwise have seen no value in past events. So I pray,Julie, you don't lose your voice to one narrow minded editor or the rest of the storms life hits you with. You got this. And I love drunken chickens.

Oh, and welcome even more newbies and constant lurkers. Make yourself at home. The bar is open and if you're especially good, Colin might be persuaded to enthrall you with a Carkoonian Fable. Just make sure you lock away the children first.

JulieWeathers said...

Wow, I am way over on posting today. Yikes. I may be off to parts unknown soon. I am so glad people are enjoying Reckless in Texas. Kari Lynn Dell is the real deal and such a talented writer. I was privileged enough to room with her in Denver at the conference, which was awesome.

One morning I ran my bath before workshops, but my mother called. So, I left the bath water in the tub and figured I'd come back during a break and just add hot water. Kari came in between classes, saw the tub of water and thought she was home with young son who never drains the tub and let my water out.

I saw her spill a bottle of water on her bed so I requested a sheet change for dry bedding. She was perplexed by the change so I told her I ordered it. She thought they would dry out enough by night.

We spent the conference taking care of each other whether we needed it or not.

BJ, the conference was 2008. I remember because it was an election year and one of the keynote speakers made a point to tell us Americans we hadn't elected a decent president since Kennedy and he hoped we'd do the right thing for a change, then told us who we should vote for. Then I got to share a table with some wonderful Canadian authors who spent the meal complaining about stupid American voters. I asked to change the conversation a couple of times and finally told them if I wanted to listen to yapping about American politics I would have stayed home. It was a lovely, if quiet, lunch after that.

I had so hoped to meet you at Surrey this year, but I just canceled. Next year for sure. You'll have to hook up with the Books and Writers group. There's going to be a bunch there this year and you should meet them.

Re the editor, it's all me. I've gutted and rewritten stuff repeatedly. I've had people totally trash my writing, which you would think would be the sore spot. I've been around long enough not to let comments affect me. Everything is subjective and she had some points that were valid.

Anyway, thanks for your kind words. I haven't been to sleep yet as I thought about things all night long. It's showing in my rambling.

Now, I need to go research haunted San Francisco.

Unknown said...

As a 'semi-lurker' I loved this post. Hard to believe the mighty QoTKU has anxiety dreams!

Last night I dreamt I met Barack Obama -- he was staying at a friend's house and had just come in from the pool. I got to say "Hello" and shake his hand. But Michelle Obama was surrounded by admirers, so I only got to wave at her. Then I realized I had made the coffee with fruit juice instead of water and decided I'd better leave before anyone had a drink... :D

Lennon Faris said...

Yeah, commenting isn't too scary. I feel bad when I can't read all the comments because there are always great things in here. I am amazed at how civil this community always is (even when there are obvious disagreements).

BJ Muntain said...

Julie: Aww, I'm sad you can't make it to Surrey - but after I had to skip last year, I so totally understand. Missing last year hit me really hard, so I'm hoping to never do that again, so I will probably be there the next time you go.

I so totally understand not wanting to listen to politics at a writers conference. After all, don't we get enough of that at home? And I'm not even American. Although I did spend 2004 in New York at the time of the election, and I feel bad for you folks. Political rambling is even worse down there than it is up here, and I get sick of our politics after a month or so.

And I can't think of a better cure for the writing blahs than researching haunted San Francisco. Have fun!

AAGreene said...

Thank you for this post! So timely, as always. I've been reading the blog for years and you are all so entertaining! As someone else said, this blog has become my first stop of the day. I have learned so much from all of you. Thank you!

Steve Stubbs said...

I had an anxiety dream last night in which my mind was muddled (even more than it is when I am awake.) I was talking to a gorgeous and intimidating raven-haired literary agent and unable to complete my sentence. I dunno why I was saying this, but dreams are illogical. I told her, “I’m turning over a new-“ Impossible to complete the sentence. What the hell was I turning over that was new? So I said it again, “I’m turning over a-“ Couldn’t complete that one, either. Turning iver what? Soimething new? Something old? Finally, I said, “I’m turning over a ... new-“ And then woke up.

Instead of a cookle I reached for an anxiety dream bottle of Moon Mountain Vodka. Highly recommended. Beats the hell out of Oreos. Apologies to the people who make Oreos. I could use them for dunking, but I prefer my Moon Mountain Vodka straight up.

I still can’t figure out what I was turning over. I was turning over a new ... what?

Anyway, very best wishes to Ms. Reid on her new job. I hope they realize what a resource they have taken on and that she achieves every success.

Lucie Witt said...

Being married to a PhD in trans atlantic slave history I cannot help but chime in. The recent push to highlight the horrors of slavery is because for so long they were minimized or outright lied about. It is an inextricable part of the Civil War but post Civil War the country put a lot of effort into minimizing things (this is when we get one of our country's first marketing icons, the racist caricature mammy, the happy slave). History books up through the 1960s in Kentucky referred to it as a "benign" institution. Most still don't know the modern practice of gynecology exists because of experiments on enslaved women. Most today still don't write honestly about the rape enslaved men experienced. Most Americans really know very little about the time in general and slavery especially (Julie W sure isn't one of them though and I can't believe an editor said that) and how that institution still haunts us today.

See what I did there? Just highlighting that around these parts you can see things differently. And if any newbie thinks that means we don't get along and support each other, you can check out my blog and see EM and Julie were some of the first to congratulate me when I landed my agent.

Lucie Witt said...

How I should have ended my comment: moral of the story is don't be afraid to be your self around here.

Marie McKay said...

This is such a great post. I read the blog regularly and take part in the contests, but rarely feel I have enough experience/knowledge to comment on other areas. Thanks, Janet, for the advice. I might manage to pluck up the courage more often.

Susan said...

Holy cow! Woke up from a nap and it's 100 comments later! Hi everyone!

I used to have a recurring dream about stairs. When I was younger, I had a phobia of open-backed stairs to the point where I would scream bloody murder if I had to go up or down a set--particularly at the clothing store where my dad used to get his shirts. It was a grand, wooden staircase, but I could see through to the first floor, and I had this irrational fear that I would fall through. I'm not sure when the dreams started, but ever since I could remember, there would be one in particular where I couldn't climb the stairs, even though I desperately wanted to. At school, at home, at shopping malls--I made it three steps before my feet felt like molasses. Everyone around me climbed with ease while I clung to bannisters, trying to pull myself up, but I never got anywhere. I never made it to the top before I awoke.

I haven't had that dream in years, so I feel like there must have been some kind of breakthrough in my subconscious, though hell if I know what that was. But that was my anxiety dream. Freud would have a field day with that one, I'm sure.

Lucie Witt said...

I feel compelled to add I graduated law school in 2009 and still have dreams that it's the end of the semester and I signed up for a class I never attended. It's my longest reoccurring stress dream.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

y'know, Colin, I've always wondered: why are combat boots an insult? I want combat boots. I like combat boots.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

OMG, Lucie, I have that same recurring dream, and have been out of school since 1994. Have had that dream for years and years. Yes, I'm old.

Also, in that WIP that is stealing my sleep, I have an MC named Lucie because it's a great name and our Lucie here at the Reef is an amazing gal.

JulieWeathers said...

My recurring dream, and I said I wasn't going to post anymore, is that I wake up in the middle of the night and I haven't taken care of something for days. I haven't fed the horses for days, the dogs for days, the chickens, calves, whatever. I'll wake up crying in the middle of the night and slam some clothes on to race out to feed and water. Once I get outside and the fat horses look at me like, what are you doing waking us up in the middle of the night, I realize it was the same stupid nightmare.

Kate Larkindale said...

Welcome to all our new commenters! I don't comment that often, but I'm here every day. I'm all too familiar with anxiety dreams. I hate them because they make me think about work when I'm not at work.

And what is the problem with army boots? I'm a mom and I wear army boots. They're comfortable, bad-ass and last forever. Am I inadvertently making a statement I don't want to be making with my fashion choices?

April Mack said...

I've posted a comment a handful of times, but honestly, it's hard to break in here not because I'm afraid, but rather because there are just SO MANY comments. It's hard to see if someone else commented already what you were thinking, or if someone answered a question, etc.

Have you considered switching the comments to Disqus? ( That way the comments get ranked by up-votes (most-helpful ones or most-agreed-with ones go to the top; all comments still show) and commenters would get a notification if someone replies. It also uses threaded comments, so a conversation would be all in one place and indented (and collapsible if you're not interested in it), rather than spread in chronological order with other unrelated comments.

There's another Web site I follow that has A LOT of comments too, but it's much easier to navigate and participate because they use Disqus for their comment section.

Colin Smith said...

April: I'll leave Janet to address her choice of comment box, but I hear you, and I apologize for often being guilty of over-commenting. WAAAY over-commenting. Today being a case in point.

To address the very concern you raise, I started the practice of putting the names of people I'm addressing in BOLD so if they are skimming through the comments, they'll (hopefully) notice their name, read the comment, and (hopefully) respond.

Shutting up now. :)

Andrea said...

As someone who doesn't comment much but has read this blog for quite a while, I must say that this is one of the best places on the internet for a writer to be. Informative, funny, friendly... pretty amazing actually for such a sharky place. I must apologise though, I don't always read all the comments before responding because if I do that I won't have any time left for writing.

Oh, and regarding

3. Be more than a name

If you click my name you won't see anything because my blogger profile is set to private. It's connected to my real name, not my pen name, and it's not so easy to change that because Blogger is part of Google, and I don't really want to log in and out of Google all the time. One day I will sort myself out. Until then, and I've already mentioned this here, but for those who'd like to connect: you can find me on Twitter as @andrea_udarach. I use a pen name because I'm a teacher and like to keep that identity separate from my online identity as a writer.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Julie, you deserve accolades.
F*** 'em.

It's good to be back on the reef after a month or so moving. It's good to meet all these new victims (brave souls). Just plain good today. Thanks Janet for breaking the doors down for all, that were at one time, the rest of us.

Lucie Witt said...

EM, Im honored my name makes it in your (undoubtedly wonderful) WIP. Bring on the era of "ie" instead of "y"!

I remember bemoaning unusual names/spellings over here one day and Julie W threatening to put a Lucie Larkingdale in her book. I love that so much I almost wish I didn't already have my pen name.

Whew. Been awhile since I broke the three comment rule.

Celia Reaves said...

It's only the second day of my semester (all my anxiety dreams are about being late to class and unprepared for the class/test I'm supposed to give that day), so I'm getting to this discussion late, but had to offer my welcome to any newbies who've shown up here. This is one of the best spots on the Internet for support and mutual respect. The Sharque runs a great place. Pull up a chair, have some wine/beer/cider/scotch/warm cookies, and enjoy.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Lucie, it's been so long since I could comment on a regular basis I'm using some unused comments. Today I'm up to half a dozen I think. Okay kids I'm done. Have at it.

Stacy said...

For some reason I cannot comment on Disqus. It hates my email address, or something.

Sherry Howard said...

I tuned in late today. I was shocked by the sheer number of comments until I saw JR nearly dared people to comment. The rhythm feels normal again!

Donnaeve said...

Welcome to all newcomers who jumped into the water after 10:00 a.m. Some of you have scrambled back up onto the beach and are hiding out in the dunes, but that's okay.

I had to tend to a slight/almost/freaked me out/mishap relative to my travel for SIBA16 next week.

And we're well over 115 comments in, but I just wanted ya'll (or y'all) to know, I'm glad you've decided to wade in...even if it was just to dip your toes in - at first.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to all the newly de-lurked lurkers! I've been clicking on all your names in an effort to find out a bit about you, and some are more forthcoming than others.

I read this blog for several years before I even clicked on the comment section, and even then it was a while before I commented. I told myself I didn't have time. Well, now I make time, because it really is a rare and valuable thing to find a place where you can talk to other writers. Especially a diverse group such as this one, full of people who are intelligent and funny and generous, and who can disagree without being disagreeable.

Carolynn, I've missed hearing your voice over here. Hope you're getting settled in the new place.

Nightsmusic, you've been a bit absent too and I hope all is well with you.

Julie, your name is practically synonymous with research. To hell with dismissive people who don't understand or appreciate that effort. Some people are Just Not Your Reader and some people are Just Wrong. Some are both. Sorry to hear they've been getting you down, even temporarily.

Did anyone else wonder who the heck Jeff Herman is and google him? And am I the only one surprised to learn there is a thing called the "fall selling season"? Are there times of year when books generally are not sold? What else don't I know that I didn't know I should know?

I feel an anxiety dream coming on . . .

(I'm kidding. All my considerable anxiety is focussed on writing; I have no energy left over for anxiety about agenting/publishing issues. Just curiosity.)

Anonymous said...

OK, I had to scroll back to remember who said this . . .

Adele, I'm so sorry you had that experience of your comments not getting posted and feeling unwelcome and thinking, even for a moment, that it was because of something you said. I'm glad you persevered and figured it out.

Kelli Mahan said...

Commenting very late in the day, but finally - actually - commenting. I've been a silent goldfish hiding in the Reef for about five years now, and have lurked even longer on QueryShark. I did work up the nerve to enter a FF contest earlier this summer, but have pretty much maintained radio silence otherwise. ;)

I think it's possible to start out lurking in order to be polite and learn what the community is all about, then remain in the background so long that it becomes progressively more difficult to actually jump in and wet one's feet. Today, I'm splashing! Now I'll probably need a bigger fin ...

BJ Muntain said...

Welcome Kelli! Come on in - the water's fine!

(Also: Welcome to anyone I missed!)

Laura Martin said...

I've contributed a comment here or there, but I'm also a silent lurker. Comments here are on a whole other they should be since the average commenter is also a writer! But, that does lend some nerves to jumping into the comment waters! I loved this post though, and its a new goal of my to dip a toe in a little more often! I will say that I have really enjoyed reading the comments. It's like a whole other blog post unto itself! Everyone seems to know so much about the industry. Really fabulous.

BJ Muntain said...

Laura: Glad you're planning on posting more often! Nice to see you. :)

T.C. Galvin said...

I've been lurking here for months now - I found the blog after working my way through the Query Shark archives - but haven't really worked up the nerve to jump into the comment pool more than once. Everyone seems really friendly - I just tend to overthink potential comments to the point where I'm driving myself crazy and it's easier to just keep lurking for another day...

Absolutely love the blog - thank you so much Janet for all the amazing help and advice you give!

AJ Blythe said...

As I read Miss Janet's post I thought, "Brilliant idea!"... and then I saw there were 125 comments. Eeps. I don't have time to read them at the moment, so sorry for not being able to welcome those who have de-lurked by name. Instead, here is a generic ~Welcome to the pond~ to you all.

It took me about 5 years before I was brave enough to comment, but a couple of years later I'm so glad I pulled on my big girl pants and leapt into the waters here.

BJ Muntain said...

Welcome TC Galvin!

AJ: A lot of posts are simply welcomes. I hope you're able to zip through those and see the important comments. :)

Kaphri said...

Thank you so much for this post. This blog is the first thing I open when I check my email. It's like a tiny gift, full of information, fun and humor. I'm a habitual lurker, though there are times when I want to stick my toe in the water. I did dare to enter a flash fiction contest a few weeks ago--and I still have all my toes! Considering the number of posts from fellow lurkers, I do believe Her Sharkliness' bait ball is expanding considerably! (Waves, pinches nose and jumps into the water)

BJ Muntain said...

Welcome Bobbie! The water around here is friendly and warm.

Kaphri said...

thank you!

John Davis Frain said...

I'm happy to report that I haven't remembered a dream since 2004. So if I'm anxious in my sleep, at least I don't know about it.

So happy to finally have my computer back from the shop and I can visit this blog again. Yessssssssssss.

Huge (belated) congratulations to Lennon Faris for an outstanding flash entry. Several others were incredible, but I wasn't able to comment until now.

I should have been nervous before I started commenting here, but fortunately my self-awareness is such that I didn't know what I didn't know.

If you're making a list of the things in life to be thankful for, make sure you save a spot for Janet's blog or your list will not be complete. Thank you, Janet. Times a million.

The Noise In Space said...

How inconvenient. I've been a Reider for countless months now, but commenting in shark-infested waters seemed a bit too much of a jump. I've been hiding behind a pile of Extremely Important Reasons and several Very Good Justifications Indeed as to why I couldn't possibly comment yet, but now that our QOTKU has commanded it, I suppose I have no choice.

So hello, all *waves.* I'm not yet linking a blog or using my real name, just to keep some shred of anonymity in case I make an utter fool of myself. I've commented once or twice on QueryShark, but under my real name, so even that will stand apart for a while.

And given the current state of my cold-medicine-addled brain, I think it's probably best to leave it at that for the moment. Pleasure to have met you all!

BJ Muntain said...

And welcome to The Noise in Space! A very interesting code name, by the way. I hope you'll trust us with your real name at some point.

Don't worry about making a fool of yourself. Some of us do it here on a daily basis. :)

LynnRodz said...

Wow, Janet, I thought this post was going to be about not starting your story with a dream. Instead, you opened the floodgates and I'm happy to see a few lurkers came tumbling out.

I think I had the good fortune of finding your blog in 2012, but, like our friend Angie, I have less time to comment. I still read your post every day though.

Hank, 8th time a charm! Not easy getting that pink paper or did you get the new smaller card? Anyway, congratulations!

Kae Ridwyn said...

WOW!!! What a comment trail!!!
Welcome to all the newly de-lurked, and congratulations on taking that huge step! My first few 'comments' were Flash Fiction entries - just over a year ago, I think. But it didn't take long to realise how lovely these waters are. I'm glad you've joined us!
Thank you also to @larkinplarkin for including your Twitter handle for those of us who tweet. I've followed you. I'm @KRidwyn, by the way. In case other Reiders want to connect :)

Claire Bobrow said...

One Eternity Later, as Spongebob said, I join this thread.

I meant to reply when it was posted, but I started a class on illustration and got swept away trying to keep up with that. However, this post was so helpful and encouraging that I wanted to comment.

I learned about Janet and QueryShark at the first writer's conference I ever attended (last January). I started entering the flash fiction contests without knowing what I was doing AT ALL and found it both exhilarating and extremely intimidating. You guys are smart and witty and it's a challenge to swim with you, but it's a thrill, even if I'm dog paddling in your wake :-) A big thank you to all, for being kind and welcoming, and to Janet for writing this darned thing and snapping at our fins to help us become better writers. Oh, and better pet photographers :-)