Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yes, I live to torment writers!

Here are some fun new ways I've found to torment writers this year:

1. One of my clients works retail. At Walmart. At Christmas. So of course, her book deadline is January 1. That wasn't so bad when she was done in October and we were just making sure the i's were crossed and the t's were dotted in December. Now that she's actually still writing? Not quite as much fun. And yes, I agreed to that deadline during contract negotiations. I'm still surprised my client hasn't sent me a lump of coal.

2. A good prospect sent me a revised ms. I sent it back with notes. She hasn't replied at all. I can't call her to make sure she got it because I know her first fluttery thought at hearing "Hi this is Janet Reid" would be "oh my god, she wants to rep my book!" and even I, cold sharkly beast that I am, I cannot do that to a writer at Christmas. Can I?

3. After closing a long-awaited book deal for a client, she asked me if she could start talking about it on social media. I had to tell her to sit on her hands. It's MUCH better to announce a book deal when there's a place for people to actually pre-order, or sign up for more news or some sort of positive action. So, there she is, with great news...and she can't talk about it.

I'm looking forward to finding new and unusual ways to torment writers, both clients and queriers, in 2017.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Bring it on babe. We can take it.
I think.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

We live to be tormented by you, my queen. Off to slip into the madness that is my writing.

For the group, is it madness to be working on more than one book at a time? I have a couple of ideas for new books beyond the main one I am working on and don't want to lose the inspiration so started a couple of new side projects. And then there is the bundle of short stories I am sending out. Too much?

Kitty said...

Janet, your shark picture takes on new meaning for me because I just finished reading Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" this morning. It was a Christmas present from a friend.

E. M. asked: is it madness to be working on more than one book at a time? ... There was a time when I would have said yes. But I find myself slowly, at a glacial pace, working on several ideas. Mind you, I have no idea where they'll take me, but I am working on them, and much to my surprise, I am not going mad.

Amy Schaefer said...

Honestly, these sound like the sort of torments we would all like to have - book deals and positive feedback from an agent. I'd put this in the category of "champagne problems". In other words, don't fret.

S.P. Bowers said...

I agree with 2Ns, bring it on.

E.M. No. I know authors (Diana Gabaldon included) who prefer to work on multiple projects. It allows them a break from one project, to get inspiration, work through snags, clear the mind, whatever, while still being able to write. So write on. Do what you need to do. As long as you're not starting a string of never finished projects.

Kregger said...

Here's an idea.

Beyond those who get a form rejection and not those that get an immediate "Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee"

You know, those select few that deserve a second look.

Email them to say you will call in a week...maybe six, you're not sure.

Happy New Year everyone.

Colin Smith said...

Ah! Notice, Janet says she's looking to torment clients and queriers--she said nothing about commenters! So, I guess if I don't query her in 2017, there's no chance I'll become her client, and no chance she'll torment me! Sound like a plan? ;)

Amy!! Good to see you! How are things going?

Elise: Do whatever works for you and gets the job done. If that's working on multiple books at once, then go for it! There are no rules about how to write a novel, just guidelines and suggestions. What matters is that at the end of the process, you have a great novel. Or two. Or three... :)

Susan said...

How often do deadlines get extended (particularly for new authors)? January 1 seems tortuous even without other life pressures.

E.M.: I would go where your inspiration is leading you (but don't forget about your original MS). Sometimes it's good to switch gears and focus on another piece of writing so your original writing can marinate for a while. Also, when you start something new, you know what to work on next without breaking the rhythm, which is always good. Just make sure you don't get so caught up in your new manuscripts that you don't finish the first. I have my next three books planned out with notes because ideas kept popping up, but now I have to discipline myself to go back to the first and finish writing. Finishing is always the hardest part.

Unknown said...

Janet, I think the ms with notes issues calls for an email, not a call, with subject line, "Did you receive my notes?"

E.M. Years ago, my yoga instructor said something in passing that I've found useful in almost every aspect of life. I was struggling with a pose, and proudly reported in class that I'd worked on it all week. "Oh no," she corrected me, "to keep working on something you're struggling with will only frustrate you. Move on to the next pose. It will teach you something to continue perfecting the pose that troubles you." It was great advice for yoga and even better advice for writing. I find that several projects at once works well for me, especially if I keep thinking about what I can learn from one to inform the others.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Thanks guys. (Kitty, S.P., Susan, Colin) - you guys rock. I keep breaking that proverbial rodent wheel second guessing myself.

I finished a 1st draft of my main WIP. And you know what they say about 1st drafts. Parts of mine redefine hot mess. Parts are truly awful with a few darlings that must be executed in favor of story.

I thought it better to step away before hitting the revision so I can do it with a clear head. I am a little worried that I am starting some far off genre pieces. One alternate history and one that might be sort of hist fic. I normally write SFF.

And one of these I am working on with my 15 year old nephew. Which is super cool. He's brilliant- speaks several languages including Mandarin and is obsessed with history. He makes me feel not remotely smart. Still, the kid has amazing ideas and I hope he will take up writing on his own eventually.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

OH you are a cruel mistress, Ms. Shark, though its only in the interest of quality. We understand!

(I can say this quite blithely, lacking representation or deadlines of any sort. Would that I were so lucky! Perhaps I'll be one of your 2017 queriers)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

None of those three scenarios would torment me ... Now, not winning the "Week-At-A-Glance" has festered just a bit. But being in some stage of working with you? Bring it.

E.M. Not madness. I have three WIP going at once. Women's fiction, a coming of age, and one nonfiction (the fourth collection of stories from the sanctuary.) Each one inspires me in different ways. And sometimes I'm in the right frame of mind to explore a deeper story line and sometimes I need something lighter.

It's sorta like the two tractors we have here at the farm: each one has a purpose. There's the open cab Kubota. It's bright orange, it's freewheeling and fun to drive, the levers are simple to operate, it zooms up and down hills, and it fits in tight spots. The other is a closed cab New Holland. It's a dark blue massive beast with complicated levers. It lumbers along, has a higher center of gravity and you really have to keep your wits about you when maneuvering uneven terrain.

Sometimes you're not up to the challenge of the beast... Sometimes you just want the freewheeling fun of the Kubby.

BJ Muntain said...

Janet: You couldn't possibly torment me any more than I already torment myself. Especially when you're not my agent. Of course, if that should change, then the challenge may be on...

EM: Taking a break from a work once the first draft is finished is good. Take at least a month. You need to remove yourself from it (and it from your heart) so you can look at it objectively in your first revision. You may go back to find that it's not as bad as you thought. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ammmmmyyyyyyy...I was thinking about you just yesterday. How are you doing? Do you miss the boat? Do you still feel like you're floating. Are you freezing and on and on. Great to see you back.

Julie Weathers said...

I was raised two rough stock riders and thought I escaped worry and torment when the third decided he didn't want to ride bulls or broncs. He, of course, joined the army and went to Iraq shortly after graduation.

At this point I am fairly immune to most stuff that would drive people crazy.

Elise As was mentioned, Diana Gabaldon always has more than one project going. If she hits a snag on one, she works on another while the boys in the back work out the plot knot.

This isn't uncommon.

Well, it might be if you're one of those writers who cranks out a novel in eight days.

Right now I'm fairly focused on Rain Crow because I want to get it done and it just requires so much research, but I'm also researching Cowgirls. My main source for the interviews is dealing with a family tragedy now, so I'm not bothering him.

The danger, and I've seen this happen with a woman on a forum I hang out on is flitting from one project to another and never finishing anything before the next shiny draws you off in another direction. It's all well and good to have brilliant ideas, but they need to culminate in a finished product.

Kathy Yes, and no for me.

When you're training an animal you always stop on a high note. If they start getting frustrated, you go back to the last place they felt good and stop there, so they feel comfortable and want to learn.

By the same token, a person sometimes has to press through until they get things right. Rodeo cowboys walk on top of fence rails to develop balance. Multiple world champion Ty Murray's father was a race horse trainer. His mother said Ty walked miles and miles on the track rails developing balance, falling off, getting back up and trying again.

Sometimes, when the words aren't coming easy, I just push on and write anyway instead of moving to a different project. I may come back the next day and toss them. I may find a sentence or two to salvage or I may see it isn't as bad as I thought it was.

Hemingway said for every page he kept he threw away 99 so don't be afraid to make mistakes or put down less than stellar words.

Craig F said...

Any of these wimpy torments would seem like a happy new year to me.

Sorry my Queen but there are much worse torments in the writing world"

NORMAN can be a big torment

Waiting a year for your manuscript to be read when you were told it would be 90 days

Being castigated on social media by an agent

Having you genre sink in an ocean of not even similar stuff as yours that gets tossed in because of that genre

Those are real torments in my book

RosannaM said...

I live to be tormented by a shark.

Beth Carpenter said...

Here's to another year of successful torment.

Janice Grinyer said...

Go ahead and torment, JR. There are much worse things in life.

I'm finishing a sabbatical right now. I realized back in September that within five years I have been

- diagnosed with a rare disease, had debulking surgery, refused radiation, ended up with a permanent DVT in one leg, on blood thinners for the rest of my life - but did not give up working in the woods. It's what pays the bills.

-lost my last parent, my father, and couldn't go to his funeral in another state due to the above DVT. Still haven't visited his grave. It is on my bucket list.

-lost a brother to alcoholism, where they found him dead in a parking lot of a motel last November, and our family decided not to have a funeral. We never made it right between us, but I'm okay with that. I have to be.

-went through a major wildfire with no fire support nor aid before, during and afterward. Repair, clean, or toss. Even to this day.

-killed many burned animals due to the fire, including pets. Nursed many animals, due to the wildfire, including pets. Still nursing.

And I never took any time off to process all of this; just kept handling things as we went along, and burdening ourselves with other issues because we didn't give ourselves permission to use the word "no". I wouldn't recommend this. Now I know better.

Now I have a better mindset towards the future. And towards myself.

My writing is now a priority, not something to be "fit" in.

And I have been using the word "no". But with the words "Thank you". Baby steps. I was taught by nuns you know.

So torment has many identities, and some are worse than others. I'll take your version any day, JR.

Lennon Faris said...

I'd take these problems :)

I am also of the mindset of the commenters here today that writing a couple WIP's is fine. I do that with reading books, too - sometimes I am just in a fantasy mindset for a few weeks. Sometimes not.

Janice reading your comment makes me completely in awe (again) of how much the human heart can take on and still persevere. I hope you get some time to process. That is really a lot.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

Janice is definitely putting my issues into perspective.

Right now, all of the writer torments sounds like problems I'd love to have. But I can completely understand the stress related on both sides of the agent/writer wall [or is it an ocean].

Sherry Howard said...

Better to be tormented than never to have written at all. Words for my tombstone!

John Davis Frain said...


I wish you strength in 2017. That's a tremendous amount of burden to bear. Peace to you. May your writing be therapeutic in addition to everything else you want for your writing.

Theresa said...

I like Amy's "champagne problems."

As we head into a new year, may everyone's problems be champagne problems.

Steve Stubbs said...

It is always heartwarming to read about someone tormenting writers. Thank you for your service and keep up the good work.

Colin Smith said...

My goodness, Janice! All the best to you dealing with what you have on your plate. It certainly does put any troubles I have into perspective.

And seriously, Janet's tormenting is usually for our good, so I agree with my fellow commenters: bring it on! :)

Kae Ridwyn said...

I'm confused. Were your i's meant to be crossed and your t's dotted (torment #1) or should it be the other way around?

Also, I'm with those who opine an email preferable to a phonecall in torment #2. As for torment #3? oh, I await the day!

Finally, Amy it's lovely to hear from you; and Janice I'm hoping you're now at the beginning of a season of plentiful blessings. Your comment reminded me of the Biblical story: Joseph interpreting Pharoah's dream, of the 7 good years followed by 7 lean years; but yours were the other way around. May peace and strength guard your steps, today and into the future.

Donnaeve said...

I was going to comment and make a funny, but Janice has stopped me cold in my tracks.

I am sad about all of that. Your health. Your father. Your brother. (had a similar situation with my brother-in law - Valentine's Day, 2009. No funeral there either.) The animals and what they experienced and those tough hard decisions that had to be made while I'm sure it caused you tremendous emotional pain.

I wish for you a better 2017. You have surely been through hell in 2016.


MA Hudson said...

Good point about the January 1 deadline. That really would leave me dead in the water. Over here Christmas is at the start of our summer holidays so not only do we have to prepare for the festivities but also battle our way through end-of-year concerts, graduations, school disco's, farewell parties, as well as winding up all the enormous loose ends at work. It does my head in every year. So, note to self; in the unimaginable jubilation of signing a book deal, check the deadline isn't anywhere around Christmas/New Year!

Janice - Whoa. Got my fingers crossed that 2017 is the beginning of a new calm in your life. Best wishes.

RosannaM said...

Just checking back in here this evening and am stopped in my tracks about Janice's post.

Janice my total and heartfelt sympathy for the burdens you have had to bear. May 2017 give you peace, joy and respite. May your writing give you sustenance and expression.

Kathryn said...

As someone who can hardly stand a taunting pile of presents for 25 days without tearing into them day 1, I understand the torment that comes with #3. That being said, as with the Christmas presents, it's a wonderful torment to be burdened with.

Julie Weathers said...


I am so sorry to hear about all this.

I hope 2017 is a better year. No one realizes how devastating these fires are. Even in West tExas where people think it's nothing but sand dunes, the brush fires sweep across pastures so fast ranchers can't get cattle and horses out. It's horrific.

Add on that the personal losses of family and health problems.

My thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, Janice. I knew you were a strong person, just from reading your occasional stories over here in the comments, but I didn't realize the extent of what you've been through. I'm a big fan of saying "no" in order to protect yourself (and your writing). Wishing you less troubling times and much happiness in the years ahead.

EM, I agree that writing more than one thing at a time can be creatively beneficial. Just depends on what works for you. What's not a good idea is being spread so thin you never finishing anything, but it doesn't sound like that's an issue with you. Good luck!

It's sort of funny, reading the "torments" in the post and realizing probably they torment Janet as much as, if not more than, the writers involved. Because she cares. And she's nice. Don't tell her I said that.

As others have said, I'd love to have a firm deadline and revision notes and a wonderful secret to keep. May the coming year bring that type of torment to all of us.

Amy Schaefer said...

Thanks for the "welcome back", guys. It is good to be here, snow and all. I should say: I am focusing on all the positives of being home. There are things I will miss about being away and things I won't. Mostly I just feel like the luckiest person alive to have had a six-year adventure with my husband and kids. We spent so much time together and had so many laughs. I tend to push the bad times into deep archive memory storage or discard them altogether, so ask me again in six months - I'll tell you that the whole thing was all great all the time. :)

Janice, add my hugs to the pile. Really, that sucks.

Janice Grinyer said...

I just want to thank everyone here for their wishes of strength, and better days. I really do appreciate it, esp. coming from you Reiders. JR has given us such a fantastic opportunity to have a healthy community here. You all have struggles too, ones you have shared and not shared, and when JR offers torment in the form of Hope, it doesn't seem that bad compared to other things. I know I am not alone when I am here, as a human being, and esp. as a writer.

The torment of writing when you haven't worked through issues became apparent to me when I was perplexed on where all this anger/angst was coming from every time I sat down to write about the fire. It came through in writing; either I had to change my topic to "write through it" or I had to stop completely. I'm sure many of you know what I'm referring to. I finally recognized it for what it was and have allowed myself to take the time to process, to grieve, what should have been taken care of much earlier.

Attending Surrey this fall, my first Writer's Conference, was part of the healing too; I met so many people at so many different stages and all types of writing. It was a remarkable revelation; there really is enough room for everyone in the literary world. What a gift to experience that. And I came home to have serious conversations with the appropriate persons; to write, I must say no to good things and to not so good things. Writing needs to be a priority because it is a privilege; it must be cared for to exist. I care.

Thank you, JR for allowing comments, and to everyone reading this, thank you for reading. It feels good to share what has been heavy on my heart for too long.

May 2017 be the year for all of us to be stronger than we realize, and give ourselves permission to just "be" whatever we need, to be able to write, to be able to see the world with writer's eyes. (Thank you, John, for the wish of "strength," so appropriate!)

And hopefully we all will be "tormented" in a good way by JR in one form or another :D

BJ Muntain said...

Janice: (((hugs)))

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

Nothing wrong with starting many projects or having several on the go at the same time as long as something gets finished.