Friday, August 28, 2009

New Blogs

There are a few blogs that I discovered that I think deserve a second look.

Two of the blogs do serve up a healthy dose of snark, so be warned. They are:

Another blog, done by a man by the name of Eric who works in the Sales Department of a major publisher, his blog focuses on what happens after your book is acquired. The blog includes very useful information on the publishing biz. A look inside this mysterious world...

Casey McCormick has been blogging for a while but I only recently discovered her blog, On her blog, Literary Rambles, she includes a feature calledAgent Spotlights. The feature includes interviews the agent has given, buzz about the agent and feedback from writers about the agents.

So check them out!



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm Not the Lorax...But I speak for the trees

One Friday about a month or so ago, I decided to take the day off of work to write. I was pounding away at my keyboard feverishly working on my manuscript when I heard a whomp, whomp, whomp sound. I didn't think much about it as my neighbors tend to be a bit noisy. Well when the noise continued I looked up from my computer and saw the tree in front of my window shaking side to side. I got up from my chair to get a closer look and saw my downstairs neighbor whacking at the tree with a machete. He gave the tree one more whack and then dragged the tree into his apartment.

Intrigued, I took a closer look at the stump he left behind. It was pretty small and wasn't very wide and didn't seem to be diseased in any way. I wondered what would possess my neighbor to cut down a perfectly good tree and why would he drag it into his apartment? Then I did something that I don't normally do. I ratted him out to the management staff of the apartment complex. I figured they owned the tree afterall- my neighbor was really just renting the darn thing, they should know happened to it.

The apartment manager thanked me for calling (like you would thank a stranger you suspect might be a bit of a loon) and said they would talk to my neighbor. I don't know if anything came of my complaint but none of the other trees surrounding our building have been harmed.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
-The Lorax,

Dr. Seuss

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Do Over!

I'm knee deep in revisions for my WIP. I originally started the manuscript back in November for National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) and managed to get about 15,000 words written for the month of November. I kept working on it after that and slowly but surely I finished my rough draft. I'm now going back through killing my darlings as they say. This is my third round of revisions and I'm finally seeing the possibilities of the manuscript.

There's a great website that I find myself referencing time and again- its Cheryl Klein was the continuity editor for the last few Harry Potter books. Her site is a treasure trove of editing and revision techniques. She's posted the transcripts of speeches she's given at various writing conferences. Check it out!



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Devil, the Government and the Internet, oh my!

One of the tasks of my job is to answer emails that people send to the website I administer. Most of the emails are from perfectly sane people who have forgotten their logins or have a question. This week, however, I have seen a surprisingly large number of emails from some interesting people.

There was an email from the gentleman who stated in the first line that due to government restrictions we was not able to communicate on the internet and went on to explain the book project he wanted to pitch regarding the interworkings of the sub agencies within the US government. Every other line he mentioned that he shouldn't sharing this information.

Then there was the nine page email from the gentleman who had already picked out the leads for the book project and who used an astounding number of curse words as adjectives to explain his project. The project he was pitching also included an astounding number of drug references and included a famous rock star in the role as the devil.

Then there was the guy who wanted to know where he could find the super secret list of agents that had clout to find an unpublished writer (like himself), a six or seven figure deal for his book project.

So if these are the type of emails that this site gets, I can only imagine the types of emails that agents and editors receive. So what does this mean to the rest of us? If you can portray a certain amount of sanity and pitch a coherent project, you are most likely ahead of the game...



Monday, August 17, 2009

Time to break out the Middle Grade Novels!

Upcoming Trends in MG and YA
I found this post about trends on the website. I'm hoping it's okay to post here. It was originally on Facebook. Anyway, it looks like Middle Grade novels are still popular, especially ones geared toward boys and bring on the funny!



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Things Overheard at the Bookstore

We use an intercom system to make event announcements, to page a manager for a phone call and to announce that the store is closing for the night. Sometimes employees will use the intercom to ask for back up or assistance on an issue. Earlier in the week when an employee, we will call her employee A was unable to locate a book, she made this announcement to another employee, we will call her, employee B.

"Employee B (name redacted) please call information...(insert very long pause here), You know that Ball Blue Book of preserving, I cannot find it."

We count ourselves lucky that employee A did not transpose the first part of that title. I doubt that would be something anyone would want to preserve...



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Check out this post

Agent Nathan Bransford has updated his Publishing Glossary. Lots of great info all in one place.

Hey Southpaws!

Today is National Lefthanders Day!
Famous Lefthanders Include:

Douglas Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Franz Kafka
Mark Twain
Dave Barry
Peter Benchley
Oprah Winfrey
Barack Obama
Nicole Kidman

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Lucky gives the evil eye at the thought of 275 queries

I work for a midwest-based publisher. I don't really work "in"publishing. I like to think I work "next to" publishing. I handle customer support for a writing website. Most of the calls and emails I get are from subscribers who need help logging in or searching for a market listing, but sometimes the subscribers will ask publishing questions.

There was a guy who sent 275 queries to agents (that is not an exaggeration). He called to ask why no one had responded to these queries which he sent the WEEK before. DON'T ever do this. It's tempting to just send a mass query to every single agent in the Writer's Market. But it's not a phone book and should not be used as such. Also, giving someone only one week to review your work is terribly unrealistic. Following up this soon is just going to annoy the

What should you do?

1. Use the market guides to determine who accepts work in your genre of interest.

2. Use sites like Google to search for interviews the agent has given and to determine what kind of online presence the agent has. You want someone who is updated on the trends, so if the agent has a blog or uses Twitter, they are going to be pretty web savvy. These sites can also give you additional insight into their likes and dislikes.

3. Take a look at the agency's website to look for updates on their submission guidelines. The agent may also list the types of manuscripts they are interested in and may even list their recent sales.

4. Take a field trip to the bookstore, (I recommend Barnes and Noble) and look at the books they've agented. Are the books similar to your manuscript without being too similar? If a trip to the bookstore is unrealistic, search for the books on or and read an excerpt.

5. Take a look on sites like to see what other writers are saying about the agent. Does the agent respond to status queries? Do they send personalized rejections and editorial suggestions when they request a partial or full manuscript- these are definitely a plus.

6. Once you have a narrow list of agents who accept the genre you write and who seem to be a good fit, then you are ready to send your query.

These steps are time consuming. There's no doubt about that, but they can make the difference between a stack of form rejections and requests to read your full manuscript. Keep in mind that once you narrow your search, you still need a kick-ass query letter. That's another post!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Things Overheard at The Bookstore

On the weekends I work at my neighborhood bookstore. It's a pretty fun place to work and the store seems to attract some pretty interesting characters. For lack of another name I give you Scooter Lady

Asst. Store Manager: Ma'am, we don't have that book in stock, but I can order it for you.

Scooter Lady: Well how long will that take?

ASM: Three to eight business days, give or take.

Scooter Lady: Three to eight business days. I could be dead by then.

ASM: Yeah, I'm guessing that's probably not going to happen

Scooter Lady: Really, I was on life support three weeks ago.

ASM: You look pretty good to me.

Scooter Lady: Okay order the book. How much for these? She asks pointing to her stack of books.

ASM: I'll ring those up now.

Scooter Lady: Someone's going to have to take these to my car, 'cause they are not going to get there by themselves.

ASM: I'd be happy to.

So the ASM helps Scooter Lady take the books to her car. He helps her fold up her scooter, which really isn't a scooter more like a chair with wheels. So Scooter Lady goes on her way. She pulls out of the parking lot and pauses for a moment, then drives a few feet, pauses. This continues until she gets to the street. She drives through a red light at about 5 miles per hour across three lanes of traffic, finally turning left.

This does beg the question, should you be running errands if you were on life support earlier in the month? Driving should definitely not be an option.

Anyway, we hope Scooter Lady made it home safely, her book should be in by Saturday.



Monday, August 10, 2009


Bailey and Lucky mulling over another manuscript
One of the most important things a writer can do when they have revised and revised and revised their manuscript is to give their manuscript to a trusted beta reader- that one person or persons who will give the manuscript a good read and give feedback. If you don't have someone like that, you can find online critique groups through professional organizations like SCBWI or through websites like Writer's Digest( ).

There are also some great sites that offer this type of feedback for free. There is a catch. In most cases your work will be posted on the site and critiqued publicly. These sites aren't for the thin skinned or weak hearted, but they can be helpful just the same.

On Ray Ramey's Flogging the Quill site( , he will critique the first 16 lines of a manuscript. He offers some great feedback and even if you don't post your work, his critiques of other people's work are insightful and useful just the same.

Literary agent Janet Reid critiques query letters on her Query Shark blog( . Her critiques are often blunt and always insightful. She posts the query letter and her critique on the site. It's an invaluable tool to use when writing query letters.

Both sites deserve a look, just make sure you read and follow the rules.



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Welcome to my blog

I've been wanting to start a blog for a while. I'm finally getting around to it. As the description states, this blog will be alot about writing, a lot about cats and a little about me.

The picture to the right is my cat Lucky. He was the first runner up in the the Most Adorable Galleycat contest( last summer. He's still a little bitter over the heartbreaking loss. But he's adjusting. He'll be making frequent appearances on the blog along with his feline partner-in-crime, Bailey.