Pub Rants

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What Made Me Burn The Midnight Oil

STATUS: I’m fully recovered from jet lag! Today I offered representation to a new client (very exciting). I worked on a contract, and I handled some outstanding issues. All in a good day’s work.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BEGIN THE BEGIN by R. E. M.

Do you remember when I was posting all those late night blogs about a week or so before I went on vacation? I mentioned that a lot of exciting things were happening at the agency but I couldn’t really talk about them.

Well, I can finally talk about the two auctions that happened back to back in the first weeks of August. Both were several day auctions as well and so during the work day, I did nothing but handle the bidding etc. Then I would work on everything else that should have been done (especially since vacation was approaching) until about 11 o’clock at night. Then I blogged—hence some late night entries and that midnight oil.

So here are my two exciting deals in Publishers Marketplace Deal Lunch terms.

FICTION: DEBUT
Jamie Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, a story set in Seattle and told in alternating time periods, when a Chinese boy falls in love with a Japanese girl during the Japanese internment in 1942, and later in 1986 when the belongings of Japanese families are discovered in the basement of a condemned hotel and he must confront the memories and choices he made years ago, to Jane von Mehren at Ballantine, in a good deal, at auction.

CHILDREN’S: YOUNG ADULT
Sarah Rees Brennan’s debut urban fantasy trilogy starting with THE DEMON’S LEXICON, about two brothers hunted throughout England by a powerful magician’s circle after their mother steals a charm and when the eldest is marked by a demon, the younger uses swords and dark arts in an effort to save him but unwittingly uncovers the darkest of secrets, to Karen Wojtyla at Margaret K. McElderry, in a major deal, at auction.

More like Rivendell than the Land of Sauron

STATUS: Still off having a lovely time on the South Island of New Zealand. Every vista is jaw-dropping and breathtaking beautiful. I can say this for Colorado as well but here it’s just different. More rugged, jagged and fierce—along the lines of what I remember when I visited Alaska. Back in the office and back to regular blogging starting on Aug. 30th.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Not listening at the moment.

Thought my blog readers would get a kick out of this photo. Here is Brian and I right outside our hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand. [Wow. Even I think that’s a terrible sentence. My Bridget Jones moment! Have English degrees. Must remember to use them.]

This mountain range behind us is aptly named The Remarkables.

However, if you are a LOTR movie fan, you might recognize them as the mountains of Mordor.

Enjoy!

Day of Tramping

STATUS: I’m taking your advice about being on vacation so here’s a picture just to show you that I”m having fun. It was a bit chillier today but still lovely. Here in New Zealand, they call it “tramping” instead of hiking.

On Friday, it is back to work as the Auckland Writer’s Conference starts then. Maybe I’ll be back in the blogging mood.

Pub Rants Recognized By Preditors & Editors

STATUS: I’m a mad woman! Cleaning contracts off my desk left and right. Right and left. I LOVE when final contracts come and they are ready for client signatures.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COME AS YOU ARE by Nirvana


How cool is this? I just had to share because I’m so tickled. Now I have to figure out how to get it to display on the side bar. He sent me the html code but knowing me, I’d goof that up.

Dear Kristin,

Congratulations! Your site was nominated and later selected as the latest recipient of the Preditors & Editors’ Truly Useful Site Award.

Your site will be honored on a Preditors & Editors’ Sites of Distinction page along with a link to your site. As well, you are entitled to display our award on your site. An individualized GIF file of the award is attached for display purposes.

Again, our congratulations go out to you on your success in creating such an outstanding site.

In admiration of your efforts,

Dave Kuzminski, Editor
Preditors & Editors

We Interrupt This Program For A Great Story

STATUS: Finally, after two weeks, things are easing up and soon I will be able to share all kinds of good news…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? RAINY NIGHT IN GEORGIA by Brook Benton

I think it’s good to take a few breaks from the agency agreement blogs and mainly because I just had to share this story.

My author Jennifer O’Connell was doing an event to promote the Judy Blume Antho this past weekend. She thought it a bit odd that there was a person dressed in a baseball cap and sunglasses in the back row but didn’t dwell too much on it.

She had a great time talking about Judy Blume moments and about the essays. At the end of her author talk, the ball-capped person approached her and whipped off the cap and sunglasses to reveal, and I’m sure you could see it coming from a mile away, that she was none other than Judy Blume herself.

She jokingly commented that she thought she’d have to be dead first before getting a tribute like this.

But this story isn’t even the coolest part. Judy is so delighted with Jennifer and the anthology that she has joined in the chat at the B&N bookclub site. It’s going on right now and if you ever wanted a chance to talk with Judy Blume, then click here.

I’m only jealous that I didn’t get to meet the legend in person myself! I’m off to join the chat…

Chutney Irresistible

STATUS: It’s late at night. That should pretty much sum it up. I’m back in Denver though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MIDDLE OF THE ROAD by Pretenders

If you are going to have a brush with the famous, it helps to know who they are.

This is a completely non-publishing blog entry so feel free to skip it. I just thought you folks would get a kick out of this story. I’ll be back to talking about agency agreements tomorrow.

On my trip to St. Louis this week, I brought Chutney on the plane with me. She rides in the cabin with me and she’s a great traveler so it’s fun and easy. On my return trip to Denver, I arrive at my gate only to discover that the plane is delayed. Never a good thing when traveling with a dog but I notice a gentlemen softly strumming a guitar. Chutney loves music so I decide to sit near the guitar player for the mellow, calming effect. Worked like a charm. Chutney curled up and went to sleep but not before a gregarious fellow came over to chat. He had to meet her because he had just adopted two rat terrier brothers. I got to see the family pictures on his Mac and everything.

What can I say, Chutney is such a guy magnet.

So he goes back to strum on another guitar and it starts to dawn on me that several guys in this traveling party are quite musically gifted. But hey, I’m working on my computer and Chutney is certainly benefitting from the music (and the attention) so although unusual, I don’t think much about it. Then several young people approached the guitar strummers to ask for autographs.

Yes, I’m a little slow on the uptake. These guys I’d been casually chatting with are famous musicians and even if I had no clue as to who they were, others obviously did.

So here are the fellows I let pet Chutney while waiting for our plane at gate A18 in St. Louis.

I’m off to download some of their tunes onto the iPod so that I won’t be accused of living under a rock or something.

Crucial Component

STATUS: Just my luck that a huge thunderstorm rolls through Denver right as I’m finishing up for the day and the broadband goes out. I’m typing this from home. If it’s not up by tomorrow, I’m going to have to call Comcast so as not to lose Monday as a work day. Just what I need during this busy time.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT by the Indigo Girls

I really do want to revisit the idea of analyzing bestsellers and really encourage readers to simply note what elements make them tick—what caught hold of the reader’s imagination. Even if you only use it as something that’s at the back of your mind.

I mention this because so many writers seem to write in a vacuum—that they simply write the story “of their heart” without necessarily thinking through the elements that could make the project universal or cross genre or age boundaries.

What happens then, as an agent, is that I end up reading stories where I think, “it’s just not big enough” or “there doesn’t seem to be a strong enough idea to carry the whole story” or “this is solid but it seems to be lacking that extra oomph.” It’s about the writing and this indefinable but crucial element that makes the difference between a pass and a yes.

And it’s also about timing. (You’ve heard that about relationships too, I know. It’s true for that as well.) And writers hate to hear it but timing is often the crucial component for a sale happening. I can’t count the number of sales where the project just happened to land on the editor’s desk at exactly the right time. Maybe an author on their list couldn’t make a deadline and a slot has opened up. The editor is scrambling to find that special manuscript and boom, it lands on his/her desk.

It happens. In fact, it has happened for me and one of my clients this year.

Maybe an editor is thinking “wow, I’d really love to see an XYZ project and the next day I just happen to call about a novel that’s going out on submission, and it’s suddenly like a gift has dropped into the editor’s lap. They read it overnight or whatever.

The crucial component.

The Tipping Point?

STATUS: All good stuff happening but I don’t think it could get any crazier at the office if I tried. I’ll be able to talk more about why in a couple of weeks…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SOUL MAN by Sam & Dave

I’m going to try and have this all make sense by the end of this blog entry. I’ve been reading THE TIPPING POINT for my book club, and I’m just fascinated by the whole concept he explores about what makes things tip in terms of a trend catching on like wildfire or a book becoming a huge bestseller seemingly out of nowhere.

Powerful stuff.

So I’m reading this nonfiction book right after I finished reading TWILIGHT over the weekend (because I couldn’t put the darn thing down). This is a good agent friend of mine’s book so I’m just over the moon for her that the book is doing so well. And I have to say I wanted to read it because this book has sold over a million copies world-wide (so it has tipped) and why is that.

I’m not sure I have any answers to that last question but I can tell you what drew me to the story and why I couldn’t put it down.

First off, Stephenie Meyer is the master of atmosphere. I FELT tense while reading the novel (and tense in a good way in terms of not being able to turn the pages fast enough). Her story is set in the rainiest town in Washington and let me tell you, the relentless rain becomes almost a character in itself.

Then there is Edward.

If you’ve read the book, you know exactly what I mean. The story itself is told in first person from Bella’s perspective but Edward is the character who is unforgettable. Their love is impossible, forbidden, and absolutely inevitable.

Timeless. Is that what made it tip? The tortured Edward (who has fans in his own right)? Is that what made it tip? Is it Bella’s voice?

My guess is that it’s a combination of all these things along with masterful writing that got readers talking to each other about how they must read this book.

But I think it’s worth analyzing (even if there is no clear answer) because whatever IT is, you want to capture it in you work whether you write young adult or adult fiction.

Call Me Crazy

STATUS: Another phone day at the office. I have a submission that is causing some excitement but hey, that’s good.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DON’T LET IT BRING YOU DOWN by Annie Lennox

How does this happen? I find myself going to yet another conference next week. I’ve done something like 5 or 6 already this year. I’m actually planning a conference hiatus for next year (except for Backspace, I still plan to be there).

This is all so spontaneous; I haven’t even had a chance to update the Nelson Agency website yet. So where am I off to? St. Louis. Yep, my hometown (and Laurel K. Hamilton’s as well). I couldn’t resist going and seeing the family.

Worldcon (the big science fiction convention) is going to be in Japan this year which means they also schedule a North American smaller version as well. This year it’s in Collinsville (just outside of St. Louis).

Besides, all of you know that I’m looking to build my list in SF&F.

Click here for the info on Archon. Click here for the program schedule. Yours truly is on three panels. Yikes. I need to prepare.

Feeling A Little Warm Fuzzy

STATUS: I almost cracked the cover last night but refrained. It’s going to be a long week. Good thing there are exciting things happening at the office to distract me.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MACK THE KNIFE by Louis Armstrong

I think I’m allowed to pat myself on the back every once in a great while. Today I passed on to several agent friends a manuscript that I liked but wasn’t right for me. I thought they would be a better fit.

Then I got this email. I’m a former English professor and corporate trainer so I’ve always enjoyed teaching. Last April, I did a query workshop at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and Aaron was one of my victims—I mean volunteers. I really enjoyed his writing (and yes I looked at sample pages) but I knew the project wasn’t right for me. Armed with a great query letter, he obviously found the right person.

Yea Aaron! Yea Kristin for giving a query workshop where a participant actually learned something! (I always wonder if I’m being helpful…)

Hi Kristin,

I’m not sure if you remember me, but you gave me a tremendous amount of help drafting a query letter at this year’s PPWC–I was lucky enough to be one of the “projects” in your stellar workshop on query writing. In addition, I read and reread all the blog entries I could find of yours about how to write a great query. I wanted to let you know that I just found representation for my novel and I couldn’t be happier. My new agent is at Levine Greenberg in New York.

I made it to my agent thanks, almost entirely, to you. Not only did I use your advice to write (and edit and edit and edit…) my query letter, but I also used your list of agents that accept email queries as my sole source for submissions. After submitting to every agent on your list, I had three requests for partials, which quickly turned into two requests for fulls, which turned into two agents for me to choose between.

In addition to being my query guide, you have often inspired me and made me laugh with your blog. I really don’t know how to thank you for how much you’ve helped me and, I’m sure, countless other writers eager to enter this business–so I’ll just say: Thank you, thank you, thank you for your incredible generosity, wisdom and good humor. I hope the karma bank keeps paying you dividends for years and years to come.

All the best,
Aaron Brown

By the way, that list can be found online here. (Reminds me, I need to update that darn thing…)