Pub Rants

Category: general rants

Critique Me In St. Louis?

STATUS: This has been a crazy day. I really needed to finish an edit for a client but it’s already 4 in the afternoon and I haven’t touched it. Guess I’ll be up late tonight.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SHOOT THE MOON by Norah Jones

Okay, I’m embarrassed to admit that my Mom & Dad read my blog (and boy did I get in trouble when I didn’t call to tell them about Chutney’s trip to the emergency room.) I got a cold blast when my Mom called to tell me she had read about it ON MY BLOG. Sniff.

Won’t make that mistake again!

But she did send me a tidbit to share with writers because she noticed that commenters often asked about how they can find people to critique their work.

So, if you happen to live in St. Louis, Missouri and are looking for a critique group, this post is for you (and you can give a warm thank you to my mother and the article she found).

You might start with the St. Louis Writers Guild. This association has many different affiliate chapters such as the Chesterfield Writers Guild (which is a township within St. Louis). According to my Mom (and the article she was reading), they each have a mission of providing for and promoting a community of writers of all genres and levels of experience within the area. They offer workshops, peer reviews, groups, speakers etc.

If St. Louis has this, I bet other communities to do. Just do a Google search for [YOUR CITY NAME] Writers Guild and see what pops up. Get connected.

Writing is solitary business but it doesn’t have to be.

Multiple Voices (Or Are They Just In Your Head)?

STATUS: I’m dragging today. I stayed up super late last night but this time it wasn’t because I had an exciting full manuscript to read. Nope. It was excitement of a different kind. I had to run Chutney to the emergency room. Her face swelled up like a hippopotamus out of nowhere last night. Don’t worry, she’s not perky today but doing well. I guess a swollen face is a sign of an allergic reaction. She had a big welt on her leg so we think she was bitten by a spider. She has got to stop playing with those 8-legged friends.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PERSONAL JESUS by Depeche Mode

I did a phone teleclass today and one of the attendees asked me an interesting question. She asked, “can writers have different voices for different genre projects.”

The question stumped me because I had never really thought about it before. I rather assumed that a writer’s voice is his or her voice regardless of what the person is writing. That your writing voice is essential and unique to you and even though you might bend it to different genres, it will ultimately still “sound” like you or have your unique feel.

And that’s what I said but maybe I was just pushing air. Can writers have different voices for different genres?

Another Pearl of Wisdom?

STATUS: Had a terrific day snowshoeing in fresh powder since it snowed some last night.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? No music sadly.

I tend to think deep thoughts when snowshoeing–or maybe not so deep and I’ll let you be the judge.

Obviously there are a lot of people who want to be published authors and statistically, not all will become so.

Chances are good that a good portion of those people who would love to embrace this dream will not have the perseverance or the talent to make it.

Statistically we know this is true but when writing, you have to be in touch with your heart–not the logic of your brain that wants to weigh you down with statistical fact.

You may never be published but you need to live your life with the thought that you will. And ultimately, you have to write for the personal joy of it (not because you have to be published) because the sacrifice you make (the price you pay if you will) would not be worth it.

Gotta love the peace and quiet of Winter Park for getting one to a place of good thinking.

A Pearl Of Wisdom?

STATUS: Great because I’m taking a little ski break in Winter Park for the “long” weekend.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Well the local bar has some Reggae music going. I’m sitting in the lobby to get the wireless connection.

Since I’m supposed to be on vaca, I’m going with blog light for the next 2 days.

As I was hiking through one of the beautiful National Forests of Colorado with Chuts and my hubby, I was thinking about one piece of advice I would give to writers if I could only give one.

Ultimately I decided that the most valuable asset a new writer can have is a mentor–preferably an already published author.

Having such a valuable resource can make a world of difference in how the publishing world unfolds for an aspiring author.

A published mentor can share the hard times, be a real critique for current work, and really give an inside perspective that only a previously published writer (who has been through the process) can offer.

In any profession, a good mentor is worth her or his weight in gold–this is especially true in publishing.

Will Critique For Charity

STATUS: I got to the office early just so I could tackle business details this morning and ack. It’s almost 11 a.m. and I’m still reviewing the books.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? EDGE OF SEVENTEEN by Stevie Nicks

I’m constantly trying to drive home the fact that most agents don’t have time to critique—either sample pages or queries. Sometimes we’ll give feedback on full manuscripts but that’s about it.

Except… I always find the time to do a critique if it’s for charity. So, if you’ve always dreamed of an Agent critique, here’s your chance.

Last year I did two charity critiques—spending an hour to two hours reading the winner’s first 50 pages carefully. I made detailed notes on the pages, and I wrote up an extensive revision letter. All positive and encouraging but also honest on why I would have passed if I had requested these sample pages. (And maybe this year I’ll get some exciting pages from an auction winner and I’ll request the full. It can happen!)

If this sounds like your cup of tea, it’s time to check out best-selling author Brenda Novak’s diabetes auction. For me, it’s also very personal. One of my best friends in the world and my brother-in-law suffer from diabetes so I’m particularly eager to participate in this charity function every year.

My donated critique isn’t up on the site quite yet since I just sent in my materials but check back in the next two weeks or so and it will be there.

Auction happens May 1-31st, 2007.

And if you are an author/editor/agent and have something to contribute, please join me.

What’s In A Word?

STATUS: Iffy. Today I managed to knock a whole glass of water on my keyboard. I ended up leaving the office early so as to work on my laptop and let it dry out. Guess who might be buying a new cordless keyboard tomorrow? We’ll see. Sometimes they dry out and work fine.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME by Jewel

Obviously a lot if you’ve been following the news lately regarding the controversy surrounding an anatomy vocabulary word in Susan Patron’s Newbery Medal winner THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY.

Never mind the bollocks! We have librarians!

Librarians who obviously think young minds cannot handle the term scrotum. Not a slang term or a crude reference, mind you, but the medically correct term for the pouch of skin that contains the testes.

Oops. Shouldn’t use a word like “testes” on this blog! That might sound too similar to testicle. Thank goodness I didn’t accidentally use the word nutsack instead.

Seriously, it’s this kind of ruckus that makes me shake my head in wonder.

(And don’t you love that word ruckus? I think I need to see more fun words like that in the sample pages I’m reading and use them in everyday situations. Today, despite Chutney’s loud protestations, I told her she couldn’t join the dog fracas at the park. Invariably she goes Napoleon on a big dog and it turns out silly. Fracas! What a lovely word.)

But I’m distracted. Tomorrow I plan to go out and support Susan in the best way possible. I’m going to buy her book. In fact, it sounds so good, I think I might buy several copies and send them to all the young people in my life because I have no problem with them knowing the vocabulary word of scrotum (and that it’s an unhappy moment if a snake bites a male puppy dog there.)

No Agent Answers Hotline

STATUS: Everything is in chaos because my agency is moving to larger office space starting this weekend. I’m carefully marking boxes that have the “must open immediately” important stuff like my contracts that are currently in process. Now half the boxes have the urgent pink label on it. Hum…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHITE FLAG by Dido

Just recently I’ve been receiving a rash of phone calls from writers who are calling because they want free advice about their publishing career. I don’t know why but this always surprises me. Do they think I’m going to actually return these calls? I’m nice but…

Now I realize that by writing my blog, I’m putting myself out there and that writers will often feel like they “know” me but I want to gently remind all readers that I’m not a personal consultant that a writer can just ring up and get a question answered. This isn’t the agent answers hotline (but heck, that’s a brilliant concept for an enterprising individual!).

I’m certainly committed to helping writers. Just know that the extent of my free advice is what I give via my blog and my eNewsletter.

Book Snob Kryptonite

STATUS: It feels like it should be Friday already. The five day work week is so overrated.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I’LL BE AROUND by Joan Osborne

I have an interesting book in my collection. An editor friend sent me CONFESSIONS OF AN HEIRESS by Paris Hilton last year or it might have been the year before last. I can’t remember.

I gobbled it up in one sitting. I found it hilarious and highly entertaining. And I’m no book snob, so I stuck it on my coffee table to share with the world.

Then an interesting thing started to occur. Friends would come over and instantly be horrified that I was so proudly displaying such a crass book.

But what I noticed is that these book snobs couldn’t keep their hands off of it. They just had to pick it up and start reading. Inevitably they would become engrossed in the book (as the evening continued around them).

Paris Hilton’s confessions was a book snob’s kryptonite!

Interestingly enough, I hear these same similar remarks about romance novels (“how can you read that stuff” etc.) and imagine the horror if any of those folks found out that a book they actually read and enjoyed would be considered romance (happens more than you think!).

What’s my point? None really, except maybe book snobbery is silly. Read what you enjoy and be proud of it.

These Are A Few of My Favorite (And Not So Favorite) Things

STATUS: TGIF. One deal finally concluded. Another deal heating up. Makes me cheerful for Thanksgiving.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? KISS THE GIRL from the Little Mermaid Soundtrack

My Favorite Things

1. When an editor listens when we say the cover is awful and becomes a huge advocate on our behalf and the new cover rocks!

2. When an offer exceeds expectation and the author and agent are both excited and pleased.

3. When an editor calls to say how much she loves the book and then cites all the same scenes that made me fall in love with it as an agent.

4. When an editor calls to say that your author’s book has hit the list: NYT, USA Today, B&N. I like all the lists.

5. When an editor calls to say the first print run has sold out and the house is going back to reprint.

And Not So Favorite

1. When I hold a best bids auction and the publishers involved don’t come with their best bids and I have to admonish them and refuse to present the offer to the client (translation: and your mother smells of elderberries now go away and give me a real best bid before I taunt you a second time).

2. Publishers that demand an upon publication payment as part of the advance (what’s the definition of advance again?)

3. Cover art that begs the question why.

4. When you ask for a standard reversion clause for rights granted and the editor makes it sound like she is doing you a huge favor.

Technology Woes

STATUS: Network nightmares. You don’t want to talk to me right now. Despite being nice, I might actually snap at you.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Ray Charles piped in over the speaker. Can’t tell you the title of the song though. He’s awesome regardless of which song.

Sorry folks. It’s not going to be a real blog today. My office computer network went down this morning and it’s still not fixed. Of course that drives me insane since everything happens by email. Almost everything. I did actually pick up the phone today. Gasp. How old-fashioned.

Just kidding.

So you’re probably wondering how I’m making this entry happen? Via my happy local Starbucks. I actually wanted to use the free wifi on the 16th street mall in downtown Denver but my computer was being ornery and wouldn’t connect to that network.

As to what happens to editors over the age of 35? Lots of things.

Publishing is tough. Long hours. Low pay. Tons of reading, which can strain the eyes. Editors really have to be passionate to stick with it.

Lots leave after a couple of years in the trenches. Many are promoted to positions where acquiring still happens (such as an Editorial Director) but mostly the job entails management.

Some editors leave to flip over to the dark side known as agenting.

Big smile here.

Some become editors-at-large so they can take more control over their projects and their lives.

Some move into other aspects of publishing.

Some actually retire after many fab years in the business.

Don’t worry. We don’t put them down after 35.