Pub Rants

Category: general rants

Story & Lyrics

STATUS: Whimsical.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HERE’S WHERE THE STORY ENDS by The Sundays

This is a completely esoteric blog entry. I personally think that music can be great inspiration for writing. Many of my clients have playlists associated with their work. Here is the soundtrack for the Gallagher Girls.

Linnea Sinclair has a blues song that frames her novel The Down Home Zombie Blues.

Jamie Ford wrote a whole novel where a missing vinyl record is pivotal.

Do you think a lyric can jumpstart a whole novel? I was listening to The Sundays and this line just strikes me as full of possibilities:

“Oh, I never should have said that the books that you read were all I loved you for.”

I’m intrigued with the possible story that would lead up to someone saying that bit of dialogue.

Shameless Plug for The People vs. George Lucas

STATUS: Jumping into my work day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? RED RAIN by Peter Gabriel

Okay, this isn’t about publishing but Alexandre Philippe is a long time friend and filmmaker and I just love this documentary he’s currently working on.

And it is definitely a topic that is rant worthy.

In his own words:
“Are you passionate about Star Wars? Did the new trilogy leave a sour taste in your mouth? What’s your stance on the Special Editions? Are you ready to stand up for George, or to stand up to him? In short, if the words Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or even Howard The Duck make you want to speak up, we want to hear from you!

Based on the overwhelming worldwide response to our efforts this past year, we believe we are on the right track. Truly, it has been an amazing journey; and we intend to capture many more voices from every corner of the globe for the rest of the year. And yes, you can still submit footage to us through our September 30, 2009 deadline. Indeed, this groundbreaking, 100% independent and first-ever digitally democratic documentary gives experts and the audience a voice to express their opinions about the single most powerful and influential filmmaker and mogul in movie history. And we promise to deliver a dynamic and impassioned debate for the ages!”

So if you have a blog or a fan site, please take a moment to write about us today. Mention us in forums, on YouTube, MySpace, Facebook. Subscribe to and comment on our YouTube channel. Contact your local newspaper, film blogger or film critic. Email your local Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Howard the Duck (!) fan site. Tell them we exist, and refer them to the YouTube link below and to our website.

Just doing my part. If so inspired, feel free to join in on this fun.

I was nine years old when I went with my family to see Star Wars in 1977. In fact, I have a vivid memory of this because I was kicking and screaming the whole way to the theater. I vehemently did not want to go. My dad said, “you’re too young to stay at home alone and the whole family is going so no more tantrum.”

So why the impassioned negative response? The year prior my Dad had taken my 8-year old self and my older sister to see 2001 A Space Odyssey.

I wasn’t doing that again.

I know! What was he thinking? He didn’t inflict this pain on my older brother!

But of course just 10 minutes into the film Star Wars, I was enthralled. There were no apes throwing bones in front of a monolith! No long segments filled with imagery, music, but no plot or dialogue! Later, when I was in my twenties, I got a chance to watch 2001 again. It was definitely a better experience then.

So which side do I belong on this debate? Not saying.

Where Have All The Young’uns Gone?

STATUS: It’s a little hectic lately. I guess we consider ourselves as hitting full swing in this new year.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TRUE by Spandau Ballet
(Jake Ryan anyone?)

This weekend I attended an event called Writers Respond To Readers at the Tattered Cover. And who said agents never attend publishing events.

The program lasted all day (although I had to duck out for about 75 minutes in the morning) but I had the pleasure of listening to Molly Glass, Laura Groff, and David Wroblewski. (I missed John Burnham Schwartz.)

Writers Respond To Readers is a yearly event that TC puts on. It costs $50.00 for the all-day fest. Coffee is free in the morning and each participant gets a lovely bag with three or four ARCs (this event was sponsored by HaperCollins so the variety of titles came from them).

Okay, an all-day event that is for no small pocket change. Tickets can only be purchased by phone and tradition has it that the event sells out in about 30 minutes every year.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s some book love! There’s hope yet for our industry. But here is what I found interesting and this is by no means a scientific survey.

Over 95% of the attendees were women.
In my early forties, I was a young’un in this crowd.

And that made me a little sad as I have to say that this might possibly be the future of this industry. Where are the younger people? And I think it’s too easy to say that the entry fee was keeping them away as young people will spend $50 without blinking an eye—but maybe not on a book event.

One That Got Away

STATUS: One of my clients sent us holiday cupcakes today. Yummy in my tummy.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHITE CHRISTMAS by Perry Como

Pretty soon we’ll be compiling our year-end statistics. For good or for bad! And tonight I was reading a review for a novel that I had wanted to represent but alas, the author went with a different agent. I’m sensing a theme in my blog entries here…

So I’m reading the review and I have to say, it’s brilliant. It outlined pretty much all the reasons why I had loved that manuscript. Ack. What a bummer to not be representing that author. But hey, at least I had been in the game. I’m not always going to win when up against several other agents. That’s just the way of the agenting biz. I’m glad to see the world agrees with me regarding the novel but of course I’m reading the review with regret.

Can’t be helped but still…

One of my clients is with the editor who was the underbidder for Harry Potter. That puts it into perspective I think!

And just a couple of weeks ago, I met with an editor who was the underbidder for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

Okay, I’m feeling slightly better because hey, it happens. Only slightly though.

Bigger Is Better

STATUS: Tomorrow will be as pleasant as a root canal.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? GOD ONLY KNOWS by The Beach Boys

And I’m not saying that just because I went to the dentist this morning. Luckily I got the clean bill of health so no root canal in my future—except for the metaphorical one that’s happening tomorrow. Yep, you guessed it. Computer upgrades.

That means all brand spanking new software needs to be loaded up and all files transferred. I’m sure I’ll love it when the transition is complete but let me tell you, I’m not even doing the upgrade work and it’s nerve-wracking. (And no, I’m not doing Windows Vista as my tech person advises against it. Too many bugs).

I have to say Lynnelle is the calmest person I know. She’d have to be. Just the thought of wrestling with a computer makes me cranky but she actually enjoys it.

But here’s what I’m most excited about. My new 22-inch monitor. Bigger is better baby. I actually thought about doing the dual monitors but with publishers sending contracts electronically, I really want to see the draft and the final side-by-side.

Not to mention, if the final contract is in locked Word, you can scroll both documents simultaneously. Let me tell you, this makes verifying all changes so much easier. And since I have three contracts currently in the review process, I’ll take that new monitor for a test run on Friday.

And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten. I’m digging out my NYC notes tomorrow…. Have laptop. Will blog.

Early Voting—Finally!

STATUS: So very happy because finally, I’ve got a ballot.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BEAUTIFUL DAY by U2

This is unabashed non-publishing-related blog entry. For the past month, I’ve been in mail-in ballot hell—as in I never received my ballot and since I’m on the permanent mail-in ballot list, I was starting to worry as the election loomed ever closer.

Five calls (yep, count ‘em) five calls to the Denver Elections Commission yielded very little helpful information as they had in their records that the ballot had been mailed.

I didn’t believe it could take 12 days to come when it was being mailed in the same city. In fact, I was getting ready to call up a news channel myself when this story hit the wires. I wasn’t alone in my mail-in ballot frustration. There were 18,000 missing ballots because of a glitch in the mailing and the company responsible, Sequoia, didn’t bother telling anyone.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

And today of glorious days, after much hassle, numerous calls and a contingency plan to get my replacement ballot, I opened my mailbox and there it was.

I can’t wait to rush home from work tomorrow and vote!

P&W’s Interview With Editor Chuck Adams, Algonquin

STATUS: TGIF and I’m off to take my nieces birthday shopping. Can’t wait to see what the hottest things are for the under-15 set.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHY CAN’T I BE YOU? by The Cure

Links are fixed! Sorry about that.

I have to say that the interview series done by Jofie Ferrari-Adler for Poets & Writers is just hands down the best I’ve ever seen. Jofie just has a way of pulling the great stories out of long-time publishing folks that as a reader, you feel like you are absolutely getting the most inside look at the industry that you can.

And his interview with Chuck Adams does not disappoint.

Here is a venerated editor who has edited nearly 100 books that have gone on to become bestsellers and yet, as Jofie mentions, “like many editors of a certain age (and pay grade), Adams was rewarded for his years of service with a pink slip.”

Hard to believe, isn’t it? But Mr. Adams gives wonderful insight as to why that had happened and how much he enjoys being at Algonquin. Chuck Adams is also the editor behind the mega-successful WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and he tells the story behind that acquisition. That, in and of itself, is a good education about this biz.

Other Highlights:

Jofie: Let’s talk about agents. There are a lot of them, and I’m curious about the factors that you would look at if you were a writer, knowing what you know, and had your pick of a few.

Chuck: I would want them to ask certain questions. (click here to read on). He also highlights two young agents that should be on everyone’s radar (and one is a friend—waves to Dan).

But here’s my favorite quote from the interview. You’re preaching to my choir, Chuck, as so many people like to turn up their literary noses at commercial fiction.

“There’s a tendency of publishers to pooh-pooh books that are really commercial. You get this at writers’ conferences sometimes. “Oh, how can you edit Mary Higgins Clark?” People just shiver because they think she’s not a great writer. I’m sorry, she’s a great storyteller, and she satisfies millions of readers. I’m all for that. Again, Harlequin romances—give me more of them. A lot of good writers have come out of Harlequin romances: Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Barbara Delinsky, to name three right there. I think literary fiction is great, and the ideal book is one that is beautifully written and tells a great story, but if it’s just a great story that’s written well enough to be readable, that’s good too.”

Is It Cold Outside In The World of Publishing?

STATUS: I’m finishing up for the day and blogging fairly early.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IN THE MOOD by Glen Miller

Maybe it’s me but I read this article in the New York Observer today and I pretty much wondered why the points raised in the article were considered news. Dire predictions might be interesting to include in an article as a side note relating to a publishing news story but seemed a little lacking in substance to be the focus of this entire news bit. Maybe this is an Op Ed piece? I’m not a regular NYO reader but it didn’t look to be presented so on the website.

With quotes such as “the ecosystem to which our book makers are accustomed is about to be unmistakably disrupted” and “Soon, though, people [editors] may find themselves compelled to be more wary,” I was really expecting some cold, hard facts to back up the pronouncement that books are going to become significantly harder to sell in the next year.

Yes, I certainly can agree that the economy is in the tank and a lot of industries, including publishing, will be tightening their belts. Even with this I’m not sure I’m worried that I won’t be able to sell a new author in the next coming months. I’ve had an enormous success with a lot of debut writers.

I quirked an eyebrow at this quote: “Only the most established agents will be able to convince publishers to take a chance on an unknown novelist or a historian whose chosen topic does not have the backing of a news peg.”

Perhaps they are not referring to genre fiction? There did seem to be a bit more focus on literary fiction and I certainly have to agree that literary tends to be a much harder sell–with or without a bad economy.

Well, since I don’t include myself in the realm of “only the most established agents,” I guess I’m duly put on notice. What do you blog readers think?

As for debut sales getting harder, I’ll let you guys know as the year unfolds. Meanwhile, let me get back to my auction…

When A Movie Heads South

STATUS: Out of the office and it’s busy! All good stuff though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I WILL POSSESS YOUR HEART by Death Cab For Cutie

Or in other words, you know a movie has jumped the shark when your two nieces under the age of 15 start heckling the movie screen.

Yesterday I took my lovely nieces (one age 10, the other age 14) to see the movie CITY OF EMBER. Both of them had read and loved, loved, loved the book so they were pretty stoked to go see the movie adaptation.

And the movie certainly started very strong. Good world building. Good characters (my 14-year old niece assures me that Doon, played by the young actor Harry Treadaway, is quite hot). Good strong plot points.

We were all very happy with it.

Then about 35 minutes before the movie’s end, something happened and let me tell you, my two nieces noticed it right off. Suddenly the movie lost its plot and turned into a Disney-like theme park ride where the events that happened in the ending minutes didn’t really tie up the plot. In fact, the movie became kind of silly.

It was the after-school showing and there was no one else in the theater (so fun to have a private screening!) so my nieces started heckling the movie (a la Mystery Science theater style).

Call them cynical but I call them real. Even I could tell the movie had started to miss and my nieces had no compunction against saying so. It seems to me that this is simply an instance of adult writers (and movie makers) completely underestimating the audience and doing some sappy, simplified ending rather than something that would really conclude the story.

Because I see this so often in children’s submissions—where it’s obvious that the adult writers have also underestimated the audience—it seemed worth mentioning here.

However, CITY OF EMBER is a brilliant book and it’s not Jeanne DuPrau’s fault they mucked it so get thee a copy.

The Power Of Books

STATUS: I don’t know why but regardless of how much I accomplish on Friday, Monday morning is about catching up on emails and what’s happening for the rest of the week.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WINDSWEPT by Bryan Ferry

My author Shanna Swendson got the coolest email from a social worker last week. Apparently, Shanna’s ENCHANTED INC. series helped a stroke victim. The social worker had gotten a call from a woman who had been caring for her elderly mother. This caller’s mom had recently suffered a stroke that had caused the mother to lose her sight and the ability to use the left-hand side of her body. The daughter was really worried because after the stroke, her mother had become depressed and unresponsive.

Then one day the daughter picked up the first book in Shanna’s series, Enchanted, Inc., and begun reading it aloud to her mom. Part way through the story, her mother starting perking up, paying attention, and became animated enough to ask about what happened next. The daughter reported to the social worker that her mom’s outlook since has totally brightened.

How cool is that? As Shanna says, “it’s not exactly a miracle cure, but it’s still touching to realize you’ve had that kind of impact on someone.”

I imagine it’s emails like this that inspire writers to write.