You thought SASEs engendered discussion?
Try asking a writer or agent or editor about the perfect PEN!
I recently spent more money than I care to admit just for the perfect pen HOLDERS!
Yes, those are *decorative use only!!* mint julep cups.
Yes, it took me weeks to find them.
Yes, that is what I do when I'm letting my brain whir in the background on a problem.
And yes, I have tried at least a dozen kinds of pens in the last few years to find the PERFECT pen which is the Sharpie in the foreground, although I'm also very VERY fond of these (which do not get their own holder cause they are in my reticule)
Thus, when Alec Breton sent me this, I laughed out loud!
Ruth Jordan needs a DeathStar (well, really, who doesn't??) and you all stepped up very nicely to help her get one!
Here are the results from the writing contest:
Special recognition for a great punch line-made me laugh out loud
Kregger 11:58am (allowed because I opened comments 5minutes early)
Kelly Johnson 12:14pm "Villains get results" should be a t-shirt!
Recognition for double definition that is HILARIOUS in context:
Papillon crew "capuchin" is both (1) a friar belonging to a strict order of Franciscans and (2) a monkey
Recognition for a great line:
Patrick DiOrio 12:19pm "Grab the MAC and cheese it out the door"
Anna Roberts Moore 12:29pm
I have a soft spot for entries that are poems!
And here are the finalists!
John Arkwright 11:58pm
From his porch, Curtis saw nothing special about Jennafay—pageboy haircut and stocky. She sang in a whisper, but Starseeker’s judges worshipped her. She’d soon leave for the finals. He’d be crunching pretzels before the TV, razoring her magazine pictures.
She’d win. They’d sculpt her face and body. Fake beauty. She’d return, not recognizing him. It would eat at him.
Fireworks burst behind his eyelids. His fingers remembered squishing ma’s cat’s throat Tuesday after Jennafay advanced.
Curt chose a hammer from his tools and crossed the street. They’d all know him. The cat was just the start of the spree.
They were holding a picture in front of her. There was so much blood. The hand under her chin was gentle. A bright light flashed in her eyes. They were talking about her.
“There’s no cognitive response, the pupils aren’t dilating, it’s like she’s estranged from her body.”
“Do you think she was responsible for the killing spree?”
He turned away.
An insidious smile etched across her detached face, exposing dried blood on her teeth. She pulled a broken glass Christmas star from under the scrunched magazine on her lap and lunged for the nearest throat.
Sandra Cormier 8:49am
I looked up from my magazine to see Carl staring at me from the break room doorway, crunching on a cereal bar.
"We're just two cog
Jon Jordan announced if 30 people subscribe to CrimeSpree by Monday at noon, he'll spend his hoard of hard-saved cash on a gift of epic proportion for his wife Ruth.
The gift of epic proportion:
Yes, that is the DeathStar in Legos.
Now, I adore Ruth, and Jon is aces in my book, but I already subscribe to CrimeSpree and I don't need TWO issues. So, what to do.
The steam was coming out of my ears.
A writing contest! And the prize is a subscription to CrimeSpree for a year! International entries will be ok, cause CrimeSpree has an international rate.
So, usual rules apply. Write a story using 100 words or fewer. Post in the comment section of this blog post.
Contest opens at NOON Friday (6/21) and closes at NOON on Saturday (6/22) (all Eastern Shark Time) so we can have time to pick the winner and get the subscription entered by the deadline.
Use the following words in the story:
The actual word must appear but can be part of a word and still qualify: cog/cogitate. It helps if you bold or underline the word prompt in your entry.
The way to underline or bold is:
Put < b > (no spaces) in front of the word and < /b > (no spaces) at the end of the word you want bold
Put < u > (no spaces) in front of the word and < /u > (no spaces) at the end of the word you want underlined
Questions? Tweet to me @janet_reid
Want to subscribe to CrimeSpree without writing a story? Click here
NOT YET! (Comments are closed till the contest opens Friday 6/21 at noon)
Our foreign rights team was in action at BEA. It was very cool to hear what other countries are interested in reading, and what they are NOT interested in at all!
A few years ago I wrote a book that got picked up by a very good agent but didn't sell. After leaving the agent, I went on to write other unrelated books, but lately I decided to write a sequel to that first book. This is a true love book, and I have no desire to make it anything but a sequel. Is it possible to query this book, knowing it can't stand alone? Should I shelve it and keep querying other things? Self-publish?
The real question is whether to write it, and the answer is yes. Always write your heart first. You never know what you're going to learn, or what opportunities will present themselves. This way you have two books instead of one ready to go for when some smart editor sees them.
Writing is first a creative act, then a business.
I'm just back from a writing conference that produced a lot of interesting lessons. Not all of them were for the writers!
Before the conference started I got the names and addresses of all the writers who would be meeting with me for one on one sessions. I wrote to them, introduced myself, gave my blogs addresses and invited them to send their queries ahead of time so we could get a head start on revisions.
Within minutes of sending these emails, I received a harrumphing reply from one: "Please take me off your mailing list!"
Whoa! What?? I was so surprised I tweeted about it.
Of course, I got in touch with the conference director at once; this was really an off-putting reply!
The conference director replied almost at once: turns out we'd missed a middle initial in the writer's email address which was also his name. It wasn't Felix Buttonweazer at gmail. It was Felix M. Buttonweazer!
I emailed the correct Felix and all was well. When I met him at the conference we had a good laugh about it.
But, I also emailed the wrong Felix to thank him for being miffed enough to write back. Without that "get me off this list" harrumph reply, we'd have never known. And might have made some pretty wrong assumptions about the Felix who wasn't.
I was reminded of that when I got an odd email tonight: "Dear Janet, here's a book you might want for your holiday list."
Ohhh...hold on. I bet this writer wants ANOTHER Janet. Like maybe Janet Rudolph who runs Mystery Readers Journal, or Janet Hutchings the editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
I wrote back "I think you want a different Janet" and sure enough she did.
Sometimes I've wondered if responding to emails obviously sent in error was a good idea.
After these two things within a week of each other, I think it is.
The sender doesn't know if email goes astray without that reply. Of course, that leaves all those people who hit "send to all" when they announce the publication of their book (the one they queried me for and I passed on two years ago.) I'll still hit delete on those.
Effective, not so much.
|text of email "query" received recently|
Best First Novel …
• Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown)
• Nazareth Child by Darrell James (Midnight Ink)
• All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen (The Permanent Press)
• Who Do, Voodoo? by Rochelle Staab (Berkley Prime Crime)
• The Informationist by Taylor Stevens (Crown)
• Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder (Minotaur Books)
• Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson (HarperCollins)
Yowza! That's one amazing list!
Some background: this is the image that turned up in an email blast from Publishers Weekly advertising "Get free Fall titles from Atria Books Galley Alley"
Of course I was interested, I like the books that Atria publishes including the ones I've sold them. So I opened the email and clicked download images.
And this is what I got.
Can you tell what's wrong?
Hint: I was careful to make sure this is the EXACT size of the image in the email (using gmail's actual screen, not my mail management program)
|I'm pretty sure Janelle is #DAUNTLESS!|
I'm a devoted fan of Unbridled Books. They are a small elegant publisher of authors like Emily St. John Mandel and Timothy Schaffert, writers I adore.
And I'm not the only one! The entire state of Kentucky appears to be a fan!
Last night Unbridled Books was the guest of Greenlight Bookstore
and we did not miss the chance to see four of their authors in person.
Our posse included Brooks Sherman (seen at the far end of the row, madly finishing a book he picked up at BEA so he could give it to me for my subway ride home); FPLM author and fellow Emily St. John Mandel fan Sean Ferrell; Soho marketing goddess Meredith Barnes; Erika and Laura. If you met me at the Backspace conference you also met Erika and Laura. They're the latest volunteer minions! So far, they seem to like us!
The Unbridled lineup was stellar! We had to buy all the books of course and order the one that wasn't available.
From left to right:
Edward Falco, author of most recently THE FAMILY CORLEONE (not an Unbridled title) and also ST. JOHN OF THE FIVE BOROUGHS (the book he read from at this event.)
Richard Kramer, author of THESE THINGS HAPPEN
Greg Michaelson, Unbridled publisher and editor
Janyce Stefan-Cole, author of HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD
Emily St. John Mandel, author of most recently THE LOLA QUARTET.
Each author read just an enticing snippet from their work then dove into the Q&A. I have such mixed feelings about Q&A: it can be great to see authors talk about different things, but I usually just want to run home and start reading their books!
Case in point from THE LOLA QUARTET:
"Anna had fallen into a routine, or as much of a routine as a seventeen-year-old can reasonably fall into when she's transient and living in hiding with an infant. ... There was a plastic shopping bag duct-taped to the underside of the stroller. It held a little under one hundred eighteen thousand dollars in cash."
I bravely stayed through the Q&A, and the trip to Habana Outpost after the event for cubano sandwiches and mojitos. I even stalwartly conversed with Mer-Bear on the train home. But let me tell you this: I dove into THE LOLA QUARTET so fast when I got home that the font spun.
And all I have to say is this: Emily St. John Mandel, please write me a note for the office cause I'm going to be late today and it's ALL YOUR FAULT.
I was very delighted to discover that Emily's agent is Katherine Fausset, whom I met at Muse in the Marketplace recently and gave me some great ideas about short stories.
And if you want to join us for our next round of
Of course you do.
You'd even want Satan to buy your book and probably give him a discount if he bought enough copies for everyone in Hell while he's at it.
So, how you do it?
There are lots of good ways. Get short listed for an Edgar or Anthony. Get a nice review from Chief Temptress at Shelf Awareness Marilyn Dahl. Be published by Concord Free Press. Those are just for starters.
Sadly, those options are not available to all authors, so you have to find other ways.
It's those other ways that can trip you up.
Here's a recent email blast from an author:
TITLE is now available through every outlet you can think of. Sorry for the shameless promotion, but if I don’t tell you I have a new book out, who will? I encourage everyone who wants to buy the book to go to their independent bookstore, but if that’s not an option, here you go:
Here's the first thing you don't see:
(1) Dear Janet.
If you're sending a promo email to "everyone you know" you'd be wise to send them individually with a salutation. For starters, that will help you weed out the people you shouldn't be sending this to.
Here's the second thing you don't see:
(2) We met at X Conference and you liked (something).
Personalize that email if at all possible. It reminds me that we've met, and that I like you. It reminds me that I liked something about your first book. Or liked something. In other words, find the something that we have in common. (Clue: what we do NOT have in common is that you want me to buy your book)
Here's the third thing you don't see:
(3) TITLE is the (what the book is about)
Honest to godiva when you send a promo and don't tell me what I'm asked to buy it makes hitting the delete button automatic.
When you promote your book you MUST tell me what it's about. At the very least let me know if it's the next book in a series or the start of a new series. Even your mum needs to know that basic info.
Here's the fourth thing you don't see:
(4) Title (Publisher) (price) (format)
Now, admittedly this might be just because I work in publishing but I think it's helpful to let people know if your book is trade paper or mass market or digital. And the price.
And here's the last thing you don't see:
(5) Full URL
A tiny url is valuable in many places, and email can be one of them but I don't know what the link is to. Even "here's the link to Amazon (tiny url)" would be better than nothing.
Is this a lot of work? You betcha. It takes DAYS to do this, not seconds.
The reason you invest that extra time: I would have probably clicked and bought the book if it had been a personal email. I buy books by friends and acquaintances ALL THE TIME to support them. I know and like this author, but this email annoyed me so much, I didn't.
There is NO INCENTIVE to click and buy when you treat me like a stranger on the street. The first rule of marketing is people buy from people they know and like. Your pr strategy MUST include a reminder of how people know and like you to have maximum effectiveness.
Here I am in Houston, Texas and they didn't even need the crowbar!
Yes, I am here to help Stephanie Jaye Evans celebrate the publication of FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH and I couldn't be happier!
In addition to the festivities around the book launch we also got to see Murder by the Book, one of my favorite stores in the world.
Can you add to the list? Send me your contribution and I'll add it here! (jpg attachment in an email is groovy!)
From Sarah McGuire: As you know, Bob highlights dialog info-dumps. For instance: "As you know, Bob, my life went down the crapper when the shark ate Marsha six years ago. I haven't been able to stay sober since."
From Catherine Misener
: I call it the 'don't quit your day job' symbol (one an agent might use when sifting through her inbox???)
Back in 2008 I posted about a delightful unpublished writer named Sophie Littlefield. [To refresh your memory the post is here. ]
I was reminded of that post's prediction when this arrived in the mail:
|We love this cover ALOT!|
This is the fourth!! Stella novel following A BAD DAY FOR (1) SORRY (2) PRETTY and (3) SCANDAL.
Since one of my mum's sayings is "My favorite interior decorating tool is the hammer" the cover appeals to me on several levels!
Congratulations Sophie Littlefield! And yes, your slithery agent Barbara Poelle can have 15% of the adoration!
I'm a member of the Center for Fiction at the Mercantile Library (and you should be too.)
Tonight was another of the Center's amazing programs about authors and editors, this time with Jess Walter and his editor Cal Morgan.
I've been a fan of Jess Walter
since his very first book and I was heartbroken when I couldn't attend the reading he gave with Sean Ferrell at RiverRun Bookstore in NH
way back when.
But tonight I scooped up a posse of interns and colleagues sufficient to fill an entire row at the CfF to hear Jess talk.
And we were not disappointed. Here are some of my notes from the presentation:
OVER TUMBLED GRAVES was intended as an homage to The Wasteland: it starts in April; the character names are from the poem; and there are five parts. When he mentioned this to his editor Cal Morgan, Cal is said to have replied "you might not want to tell people that." (I was not the only one laughing out loud at that!) (The book was being positioned as a crime novel not literary fiction.)
Jess always wanted to write literary fiction but writing crime novels (his first two books are considered to be that genre) gave him "the scaffolding to finish the book."
He keeps a writing journal for working out both large and small things. With this new book (one he has worked on for 15 years off and on) he wrote 17 pages in his journal that helped him see where he was going. He uses the journal for figuring out character names and plot points. (I wanted to ask him to elaborate on the uses of the journal--and most important does he write with a pen or a pencil and is it Moleskine!) but time ran out (perhaps not such a bad thing!)
He loves the editorial letters Cal writes him because he "can't wait to find out what I was writing about."
Cal chimed in that each editing job is different (not just for Jess but for every book he works on.) He brings the editorial tools he has to each job but each book requires something new, and perhaps something he won't use again, but needs this time.
For THE ZERO, Cal had to map the structure of the two narrative timelines, and then make sure that each timeline worked independently and dependently. (Jess said the reader could have probably used that map too
You need to make friends and influence people!
Here's the perfect place to start:
Awesome sauce publicist Dana Kaye (about whom not enough good things can be said) hosts the Chicago Literati Networking Event. You should go. I would, but the crowbar needed to pry me out of NYC is broken.
When you register use this promotion code for $5 off: TheShark
(You can see just from that why I adore Dana!)
Take pictures to show me what a good time I'm missing!
1. Tell us what Faithful Unto Death is about
Faithful Unto Death is about how we all hold darkness inside us—how we can, with the best of intentions, do terribly ruthless things to protect what we love.
2. How long did it take to write?
If you condense the down time, a year—the first 30,000 words were written before I started my Masters, the next thirty to complete the novel so that it could serve as my capstone, another 10,000 for the Shark, another 25,000 for my editor at Berkley Prime Crime.
3. Do you outline, or just write by the seat of your britches?
People who outline are clearly psycho-geniuses. I am not a psycho genius. But the seat of my britches is too hard to write with and I’ve been using three fingers on each hand with the occasional thumb making contributions.
4. What did you learn when you wrote it?
Okay, this is going to sound so bad, but I learned I can write what I love. I love my book. It’s funny and snarky and tender and sad but not too sad.
5. When you're stuck while writing, what do you do?
Laundry. Not because it’s inspiring, but because I like to wear clean underwear.
6. What did the copy editor catch that made you groan?
Oh, my gosh—my editor, Shannon Jamieson Vazquez, caught a time-line error. I hadn’t caught it, nor my psycho-genius husband, nor two Rice University professors—not even the Shark caught it—but Shannon did and I thank her from the seat of my britches (while not good for writing, britches are good for thanking).
7. Do you have a favorite book about the craft of writing?
I don’t have a favorite but there are many, many I love. Anything by Lynne Truss is great fun to read and I keep a Strunk and White to hand. I also love the author in
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