Thursday, December 29, 2011


The asterisk is there for the benefit of followers who have me on their blog rolls but maintain PG sites.

Don't recall why, but yesterday I looked up the etymology of "tits" and discovered that its modern usage, referring to breasts, has only been around since 1928, even though Old English had the word "titt," a variant of "teat." The modern usage as a somewhat naughty or derogatory term for a woman's breast "seems to be a recent reinvention from teat, used without awareness that it is a throwback to the original form," according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

But the question for me is, what word served this purpose before 1928? When men stood around the campfire during the Civil War or in the trenches in World War I and reminisced about the great set of -- what? -- on a girl back home, what word did they use? At Valley Forge, when they commented on the buxom lass with "a face that could stop a clock but ---s to die for," what word was being articulated?

Just out of further curiosity, I tried to come up with some made-up synonym, settled on "gazumpa," and ran it through Google images. Sure enough, there were pictures of God's best invention, which just goes to prove, I suppose, that if you stumble on any made-up word with enough vowels and cheek, someone somewhere has likely used it to refer to a woman's...ta-tas.  Maybe even around a Civil War campfire.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why I HATE Christmas

Why do I hate Christmas? Why would Bill O'Reilly single me out as a solider in the "War on Christmas"?

Actually, I don't, and O'Reilly wouldn't. I love Christmas. I just wanted to suck you all in with a misleading headline so I could wish the best of the season to you.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another "Hard Christmas"

David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, was on TV the other day and he noted that we were coming up on what would be the "fifth hard Christmas since 2007."

And I thought to myself, you know, he's right. Nothing outside our parents' (or grandparents') experience of the Great Depression compares. Things have been lean around Travener's household so long that it's hard to recall flusher times, when there were lots of presents under the tree for the kids, and we didn't much care what the tree or Christmas turkey cost.

Last year was so gloomy that we didn't even buy a tree.

Despite a situation that's basically unchanged this year, I decided "no more austerity Christmas." We're going to celebrate like it's the '90s. We'll buy a tree -- a big damn tree. I'm going to get the kids decent presents this year and figure out how to pay for them later.

I hope you all have a good holiday season. Even if you're feeling an economic pinch, try to take part in the celebratory feel of the season. Get a new ornament for the tree or some fancy candles for the menorah. Spike the egg nog with a better class of rum. if you can't afford to do even that, do something special that's cost-free: walk around the neighborhood and look at the lights or take in a concert at the local school.

Let's make the holidays a time of cheer again this year, regardless of the gloom around us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lesbian Lumberjacks!

I was thinking last night of great book titles -- or rather, great titles for books.  How about Lesbian Lumberjacks on the March? Or, Pastry Chef Vampires?  Or, Lesbian Lumberjacks vs. Pastry Chef Vampires?

Heaven only knows what those books would be about.  The title might refer to nothing more than a TV show set in a futuristic world or a rock band or something.

What are some great titles you can think of?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Multi-Book Deal for Plagiarist

Here's a cute story for all of us having trouble finding a home for our original work, the multi-book deal this guy got for a bunch of spy novels...upended when it was discovered the first one was heavily plagiarized.

It reminds me, in a roundabout way, of the time some fellow sent Jerzy Kosinski's bestselling Being There out to agents as if it were his own manuscript and got turned down multiple times, occasionally with extreme prejudice. (Kosinski himself was accused of plagiarizing Being There and also of falsely claiming that much of The Painted Bird was autobiographical.)

I'm sure there's some kind of lesson in all of this. Tell me, what do you think it is?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Get a Grip!

All my life -- long, currently dreary -- I've corrected "ahold" to "a hold," as in, "to get a hold of" someone, convinced that writers who spelled it as one word were, in a word, morons, like those folks who improperly apostrophize, as in "I sent you some photo's of our trip to Yosemite."

So I'm rereading The Naked and the Dead and here's Norman Mailer, no moron -- well, in most ways; let's not discuss his views of women which, as is quite clear from TNATD, are, let's say, a catalogue of Madonna-whore complexes without much of the Madonna part -- here, as I said, is Norman Mailer using the word "ahold" a lot (not "alot").

So I look it up and it turns out that several dictionaries allow this execrescence, so I guess I can no longer automatically consign those who use it to morondom. I suppose it's no crazier than "awhile" -- and I'd never write "come and sit a while" -- so I suppose I can't complain.  Even though I still don't like it.

Just in case you were wondering what I thought on the subject.

P.S. Spellcheck does not approve of "ahold."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Battlestar Agentica: The Final Score

A form rejection for a partial sent in July trickled in yesterday, pretty much putting the final nail in the coffin of my quest for literary representation. Technically, the search isn't over because there's one more partial out there, but being realistic, I've already closed that out as "Closed/No Response" on my QueryTracker account.

So, the final score is as follows:

Agents queried - 285
Partials/fulls requested - 26 (about 9 percent)
Rejections/no response - 259

Of the fulls that got read, the responses were:

-- I loved it but then six months later after I led your around by the nose my bosses told me we don't know the right kind of editors -- Nice Agent Lady who broke my heart

-- I started out really liking it ("You're a fine writer!") but then decided it got worse as it went along ("I'm pretty sure everyone will agree with me [that it's not publishable"]) -- Long-established agent who really made me feel bad

-- I thought it was great, entertaining and ingeniously plotted, but in this market we have to be 150 percent enthusiastic and we're not, so... -- L.A.-area agent

-- Feh.  It just didn't do anything for me. -- A couple of agents.

The rest were just form rejections or close enough to that to be just as anodyne.

That's precious little for more than two years' worth of agent-searching.

I hope your search for an agent is going a lot better.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Smashwords -- Good, Bad or Ugly?

Since I'm getting closer to giving up on the tradtional route to publishing and tossing my book out there in e-book form, I was wondering if any of you folks had experience with Smashwords and how that worked out for you.

Anyone? Bueller?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A WTF Moment

A literary agent who recently rejected my partial sent me an e-mail asking me to friend her on Facebook.

WTF? Do some people never clean out their address book?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

WIP Summary

This is all i have so far. What do you think?

Robert Patterson is in the midst of a midlife crisis. He hates his job, his wife is an alcoholic shrew, his mistress has cut him off, and his bulimic slut of a daughter won't move out of the house.  One day he decides he's had it and disappears in the dead of night. The only problem is, he's the president of the United States and soon every government gumshoe is on his trail. While Patterson goes cross-country on his journey to discover where it all went wrong, his staff try to fend off his scheming, born-again vice president, who wants to take over and plunge the country into a holy war against the South Asian nation of Zeberkistan.

Somewhere along the way he holes up with a young woman who's got piercings and tattoos, but that's about all I have so far.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two Frakking Years of Querying

Well, kids, it's been two years now since I sent that first batch of 20-25 queries off into cyberspace.

And what a couple of years it's been.  Adding our family's personal financial crisis into the mix made the preceding 24 months just all that much more special...

Well, what have I learned from all this?

Mostly, that if you like being frustrated, try getting your book published.

I offer no real advice -- and why would you take advice from me, anyway? -- other than that the two most useful websites I found for queryers are Querytracker, where you can find agents for your genre, etc., and keep track of all your querying, and the AbsoluteWrite water cooler, where writers discuss their experiences with agents, good and bad.

Those of you who've followed my semi-irregular postings lately know that I've queryed to the max now, hitting up just about every decent mystery-genre agent there is. I have, I think, two fulls and a partial out there but let's not kid ourselves: they'll say the same thing as everyone else, either (a) sorry this isn't for me or (b) hey, this is pretty good, but in today's lousy market...

Unless they follow the lead of Agent X, who first led me to the mountaintop and then kicked me over the cliff. Or they might do me in with protestations of how much they love my book, a la the Nice Agent Lady, before they stick the shiv in.

In one way or another, 2011 is going to be decisive.  Absent a miracle, I'll give up on agents for good at the end of next month and query-bomb the ten or so publishers I've identified who take mysteries over the transom. And then when I'm done with them, it's off to e-book land.

I'd be happier about that if it weren't for the fact that every clod with a laptop is "publishing" his/her "book" these days via Kindle and Nook.  I don't like being associated so closely with crap.

More important, I think I finally have the kernel of an idea for another novel, at long last, and can begin roughing it out.  I'm going to find the time somehow, financial pressures or no.

So things are looking up, sort of.

Good luck with your querying to all my fellow lunatics who've chosen to write.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Sales R Up!

Forget the stock market. Sales of adult fiction climbed 8.8 percent last year. E-book sales also climbed dramatically and juvenile books also had a strong showing.

Yay. Could this mean the long publishing nightmare is over? Do we poor writers now stand a better chance of getting our books published?

Does this news make you more hopeful?

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Decline and Fall of Publishing

If you're like me and cringe whenever you see a typo in a published book, you'll enjoy this article by Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times. Particularly interesting to me was the revelation -- which seems obvious in hindsight, though I hadn't thought of it -- that manuscripts are obese as well as full of spelling errors these days, thanks to computers.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Liberation of the Long-Distance Queryer - Part II

Yes, querying is a lot like dating, isn't it? You're full of expectation, hoping to make the perfect match. And, if you're a sensitive soul -- and what writer isn't? -- you're full of dread, fearing rejection.

I always admired those men for whom being rejected by a woman was of no more consequence than water washing over the back of a duck -- something to shake off and instantly forget.  These were the guys who always said, "Women are like buses. Another one will be along in a minute."

Guys like me lived in fear of rejection. However logical and analytical you might be about it -- after all, a woman declining a date, whether a first, second or third one -- was probably no more commenting on your lack of worth as a human being as your lack of suitability as a romantic partner -- just as you yourself did when you declined to ask out other women because they weren't your type or their interests/politics/religious views didn't mesh with yours.

So I told the story in Part I to illustrate what had been a particularly liberating experience for me (and one that never repeated itself).  After awhile, I became totally indifferent to whether or not she had any interest in going out with me.  I didn't care what she thought of me.  I was in control because I had no expectations -- and it was amusing to call her, chat, hear the same obviously insincere line about getting together.  It made me laugh.

I told the story to illustrate the attitude I've adopted in a final round of querying. (Perhaps final. I keep saying I'm through with it.) As promised, I'd decided to give up on agents and query solely publishers. After looking into it, I discovered there are only five or six publishers of mysteries taking unsolicited subs.  Even some of the smaller independents are now insisting that your novel come through an agent. (There are a couple of others that take mss. over the transom, but they're publishers of "hard-boiled crime" fiction, which is not my turf.)  I could send out those five queries and be done with it.

But...then I'd be done with it. Over. Finished. Finito. On to e-booking.

Too soon, too soon to give up on the hardcover.  So I went over to QueryTracker to see if there were any new agents that handled mysteries.  Agents come and go with regularity; some new ones arrive, moving up from editorial assistant, while others switch outfits.  WTF, I said, I'll query 'em all.  I did this without even bothering to research them (other than checking a couple of agencies I'd never heard of).  I didn't bother to see if the "mysteries" they handled were really romance novels with a mystery twist, or so-called "cozy" mysteries. 

It's like calling that woman and not caring what she's really thinking.  I'm just in it for the laughs.

I've had one laugh already. I queried one agency I'd hit up before, sending the e-mail to a different agent.  That agent forwarded my e-mail to another agent, who has asked to see a partial. The only thing is, she's already seen a partial of my book -- and rejected it!  (You can tell it must have made a great impression on her, since she didn't even remember the title.)  That was almost a year and a half ago.  So I'll send it and see if the new summer intern rejects it.

I feel so liberated.  I was kind of down after the rejection by Poisoned Pen Press, though I knew going in that my nontraditional mystery was probably not a good fit for them.  Unless you're a water-off-a-duck's-back kind of person, the rejections -- and I've had plenty -- do start to take a toll. (Please. No more J.K. Rowling stories.) But tossing out a new batch of queries to some new names in previously hit-upon agencies after already deciding to move on to publishers is like having one of those casino tokens good for one shot at the slots.

Costs you nothing to play but you still get to watch the wheels spin.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Liberation of the Long-Distance Queryer

Many years ago, I asked a woman out on a date. She was quite beautiful, while I, in sum, was not. Always shy and lacking in self-confidence, I hated dating anyway, but I was more aware than normally on our date how this particular woman could have her pick of men.

The date seemed to go OK -- I could never tell about these things -- but when it came time to drop her off at home, I was even more uncertain than I would have been normally. What to say, do? Should I just thank her and tell her I had a good time? Should I suggest going out again some time or leave that for later?

Much to my surprise and delight, she relieved me of this burden by saying, as we neared her house, "The next time we go out, we should see a movie" (or something like that). Wow. That was great, I thought as I drove away. Here this beautiful woman has made it clear she wants to go out a second time! So when I call her for another date, the heavy lifting has already been done.

So I waited several days and asked her if she wanted to see that movie. She couldn't that weekend, she said -- she was going camping, or something, with her family -- but she ended the conversation with, "But we should definitely get together again soon" or words to that effect. When I called the following week to ask her out, still feeling confident that this beauty was interested in being with me -- me! -- she was again unavailable, but again ended the conversation with, "But we should definitely get together again soon." Or words to that effect.

The next time I called, I didn't actually ask her out. I can't recall whether it was because by this time my confidence was already shattered or if she was in a rush and I never got the chance. But again, without prompting, she ended the conversation with the same sign-off.

By this time, I concluded that she didn't really want to go out again. So why did she continue to suggest it at the end of each conversation? Why had she suggested it at the end of our first date? Was she just trying to be "nice"? How could she not see that she was torturing me instead? What was she up to?

After that, I still called her occasionally. She never seemed to be in a big rush to get me off the phone. I never again suggested we get together. But she continued to end the conversation the same way, saying we should get together soon. At the end of our first (and only) date, this had filled me with happiness. Later, it was confusion and then a touch of anger -- C'mon, what's the point of this? -- and later, mirth. After our conversation, her suggestion still ringing in my ears, I would just shake my head, laughing to myself, wondering what she was thinking.

What has all this got to do with querying, you ask? You will have to wait for Part II to find out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Drop Dead Notice from Poisoned Pen

New experience: being turned down directly by a publisher (Poisoned Pen Press) instead of an agent.

Doesn't feel any better.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bristol Palin: What's Wrong With America

No, I'm not slamming the Palins, Bristol or that other one, for their politics. Though the sham politics of Sarah Palin, which chiefly serves to make her millions, is not my cup of tea.  No, I'm talking about Bristol Palin's memoirs.

What is she, like 21, 22?  How can she possibly have memoirs? She's hardly had a life. Evidently the book's full of earth-shattering stuff like high-school dramas and trailer-park soap opera moments like how she agreed to get back together with Levi Johnston if he promised to get a job, get a GED and "stop calling her 'bitch.'"

What a catch.

Anyway, one looks at the state of the literary establishment here in the 21st century with a shudder.  Ah, you object, it's always been like this.  America's always been a sucker for the latest huckster to come along, you say, recalling P.T. Barnum's dictum that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

But I seem to recall something else.  Reading about the Algonquin Roundtable.  How Hemingway's editor at Scribner's, Maxwell Perkins, collaborated closely with him, literary excellence taking precedence over sales.  Even as I was reading all these things, in the '60s and '70s, the glow of an earlier era was already fading with the continual march towards corporatization of book publishing until today we have the oligopoly of the Big Six.  But remnants of a serious commitment to literature were still there to be found.

Now, the "memoirs" of a woman who may not be old enough to buy a beer.

Says something about our culture. I don't know what, precisely, but something not so good.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Publishers: Let the Rejection Begin

Well, my query to Poisoned Pen Press prompted a request to see the manuscript, so we've advanced the ball one level, can cut out the agent rejection and go straight to the publisher rejection.  I'll hear within a month, they say, so stay tuned....

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Dreams Come True...for Someone Else

When I retired from the Very Important Organization four and a half years ago, the idea was that I would finally have the time to write a novel, get myself published and thus become in life as in dreams, a writer.  At the class that the VIO gives its about-to-be-retirees, I became friends with this woman:
Her name is Pat McArdle and she was retiring so she could go build straw bale houses.  Instead, she sat down and wrote a book called Farishta which won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in  2010 and has just been released by Riverhead, home to The Kite Runner, among others.

So, please take a look at Pat's book.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about building a house out of straw.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What to Do When No One's Reading Your Blog Anymore

This is a question it appears I need to face.  The drama, such as it is, has gone out of this blog, as my long march toward getting an agent fizzled out at trail's end.  I wonder how many of my followers are even following me.  I don't blame you.  I post irregularly and eclectically and...well, uninterestingly?  Maybe I should just give it up.

In the meantime, I'm stealing this link on formatting your manuscript in the age of e-readers from Sierra Godfrey's deservedly well-read blog just in case a couple of you stop by here who aren't regular readers of Sierra.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Persistence Pays Off

No, not for me -- not yet, anyway -- but for this guy who claimed (erroneously, I'm sure) to be the most-rejected writer ever on the way to publication of his book after a quarter century of trying.

So I suppose there's hope for old Trav yet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ready, Set...Stop!

Well, kids, I was all set to send my ms. off to Poisoned Pen Press this morning, since they'd told everyone to hold off on submissions until May 15.  Went to the website for a last check and discovered they're now telling everyone to hold off until June 1.

It's a wonder anyone anywhere actually gets published in less than 10 years.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Give Up

I give up, everyone.
That is, I have given up looking for a literary agent.  I really don't have much choice in the matter -- I've basically run through every agent in the book who handles mysteries, suspense and thrillers -- at least, every decent one.
So now I turn my eye to independent publishers. There aren't so many of them that publish mysteries, so it probably won't take quite as long to run through them all, but we'll see how it goes.
This really is a sad sort of coda to an adventure that began over a year and a half ago, when I sent out that first batch of queries, full of hope, sure that I was on my way to publication, though perhaps not riches.
What a comedown.
Well, what can you do?
Keep on truckin'.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Death by a Thousand Cuts

For the third time in three years, the spousal unit has banged up the Highlander.  I just paid off the car last week, for cripe's sake.  Last night she smashed up the same part of the car she smashed up two years ago, in the same way -- by backing into a wall.  I can barely afford to put food on the table and now this.  Again.

Kill me.  Kill me now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Am a Big, Fat Liar

I lied when I said in a recent post that I'd sent my last partial.  Picking over my QueryTracker-picked list of agents, I came up with another 13 decent prospects -- so I dropped QueryBomb IV today, the 13th.  Thirteen on the 13th.  That ought to count for something.

But this last batch is, seriously, the final bunch of queries.  Nothing more to scrape up.  This is the last round-up, the final roll of the dice, the end of the road.

So, I've put off the search for independent publishers for just a bit longer.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Problem With My WIP

The biggest problem with my work in progress is that I have none.  This is mostly due to the fact that I don't have an idea for one.  Needless to say, this makes writing a novel difficult.

It's not that I don't have ideas.  I don't have ideas that are (a) good and/or (b) are something I want to write about.  I had one fairly decent idea for a political novel, but it was very time-critical and is now, as we used to say at the Very Important Organization, "OBE" -- meaning, "overtaken by events."

It's bad enough that I have trouble coming up with the plot for an idea; if I don't have an idea to start with, I've got nowhere to go.

Where do all you smartypants writers who are always working on your WIPs come up with your ideas?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Last Partial

Ultima partialus, as the Romans might have said.  Or maybe ultimus partialius.  It's been a long time since I took Latin.  Whatever. Quidquid.

Anyway, I just sent off the last requested partial I'm going to be sending any agents.  No more querying.  I've done run out.  So that leaves me three partials out and one full.  Checked in with the agent who has the full this morning since it's been six months.  Doing that usually prompts a rejection, so we'll be able to write her off soon.  And the agent who three weeks ago promised to get back to me "in three days" hasn't contacted me, lying SOB.  And the other partial I have out there has been gathering dust for about four months, I believe.

So pretty soon I guess I'll be changing the subhead of this blog from "One Writer's Search for a Literary Agent" to "One Writer's Search for a Publisher."  And after that...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dang Peculiar

Back in September, when I sent out QueryBomb(TM) I, I included an agent I had previously queried but hadn't heard from.  This led to an immediate request for a full, followed a few months later by a rejection (the "no urgency" one).  So here's the weird part.  Yesterday a rejection notice arrived in the mail from the same agency.  This is in response to my original, snail-mail query sent to her in January 2010 -- 14 months ago!

Heavens, am I still going to be receiving rejections on this ms. years from now?  Will this hell never end?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Ho Hum, Another Partial Request

Technically, the agent asked for the first three chapters "if no other agent has your material."  I decided to interpret that liberally as "if no agent has offered you representation" and sent the stuff.  (I explained it to him and owned up to the full and partial I had out there.) He said I'd hear from him in a few days, so watch this space on Friday for news of another rejection...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Sting of Rejection

You develop a pretty thick skin doing this query-your-novel thing.  You have to. I've had rejections that have been particularly disappointing, but never one that devastated me.  This last one, though, has left me feeling battered.

For one thing, I let my guard down.  Here was an agent who, reading the first 100 pages, said I was a "fine writer" and that he was "really enjoying" my book.  Not just that.  After I'd sent him the rest, we got into a little colloquy -- had I sent the book to anyone else, any publishers, was this my first novel?  And more.  He was going to finish over the weekend.  All of which lent the impression that he was not just enjoying the ms., but enthusiastic about it.

I kept the cynical me locked in the closet.  I allowed myself to think that this time, just maybe, I had found someone who got it.  I read the book over the weekend, too, wanting to refresh myself on why he might have liked those first 100 pages.  I came away, again, thinking, This is a pretty good book.  Not great.  Not Pulitzer material.  But pretty darn good.

Then, the reply.  He liked my writing style a great deal.  My characters are sympathetic and interesting.  But he thought the story's narrative lost pace and power as the book progressed.  (Odd, because everyone else, myself included, thinks it starts off slow, picks up steam as it goes along, then rockets to the end.)  Maybe I could have survived that.

Then came this.  He might be wrong, but he was fairly sure others will feel similarly.

I have never had an agent say that to me.  They've said they liked it but didn't think they could sell it in today's market.  They've said it just didn't do it for them.  And all manner of other things.

But no one has ever said, in essence, that I shouldn't bother with anyone else, that my novel is a failure.

It felt like a sledgehammer to the sternum.  What do I make of this?  It's not like the guy is some fly-by-night nobody: one of the reasons I allowed myself to get excited was because he's someone who's been around a long time, has an estimable track record, knows his stuff.  Is he the only one who has dared to tell me the truth?  Have all my friends who've told me how much they liked it, despite my entreaties to be brutally honest, been lying to me?  (Not all of them were uncritical.  One of my friends said he thought my protagonist was "stupid.")  Have those agents who read the full, said they liked it but didn't feel it was saleable, just been feeding me a line?  Why didn't they just give me a pro-forma "not for me" rejection?


I haven't been this depressed since a certain woman, the [very bad word], broke my heart in 1983.  Before many of you were born.  And that's part of it.  I can't just devote another 10 or 15 years to honing my craft.  It won't be all that long before I can start claiming senior discounts at the movies.

Not that this changes my plans.  I'm just going to run out the string: one full, two partials out.  Then send the thing off to independent publishers.  Then Kindle it, I suppose.  Try to write another book, if I can ever find the time, which I can't, because I have to spend every waking moment trying to earn enough to pay the bills.

But really: fairly sure others will feel similarly.


Monday, February 21, 2011

The Answer Is No

I don't want to go into it, but the answer is no.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

OMG: 100-Page Partial Leads to Full Request!

It was such a short e-mail I was sure it was going to say, "Thanks, but in today's market..."

Instead, it said, "I'm really enjoying [the book]... You're a fine writer... So please send the rest."

OMG.  I try not to get too excited about these things.  But, you know, the bad news has been so frequent, and the good news so...non-existent.  And this is a real agent with a reputation in the mystery/thriller genres.

Of course, the cynic in me thinks, the only other time a partial led to a full request was from the Nice Agent Lady, and we all know what happened there.

Still...  "I'm really enjoying...  You're a fine writer..."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Five Months Later...a Partial Request

Wow, 2011 is just taking a crazy road.  First, a partial from a snail mail query.  Now, a partial request from QBI, released on an unsuspecting AgentWorld back in September!  From the Grasping-at-Straws Department, this must mean 2011 will bring something really unsuspected -- like an offer of representation.  Right?  Right?  Anyone?

Oh, and regarding Miss Nudge-or-Not, from comments on Absolute Write, it's clear she's backed up, 'cause she's not getting back to anyone.  So we'll just wait her out.

What other weird stuff will 2011 bring?

Friday, February 11, 2011

First-Ever Partial Request From Snail Mail Query

Well, new ground was broken today with a request for a partial from a snail-mail query.  That's never happened before. I don't get too excited about this stuff anymore, but it's the first positive reaction to QBIII.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Nudge or Not to Nudge

That is the question.  One agent's had my full since mid-September, so not quite five months.  Should I bother to check in with her or just let it ride?  Seems to me the few times I've ever nudged all I did was prompt a reject, but I'm sort of anxious to clear the decks on this thing.

Monday, January 31, 2011

QueryBomb III -- The Final Showdown

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine complains, "I'm running out of men in this city, Jerry!"  That's about where I am in terms of agents, at least those who profess some kinship with the mystery/suspense/thriller world and appear to have been in business more than two or three months.  So, this latest and last QueryBomb(TM) is aimed at them.  All but five of these queries are snail mail -- I reserved them for the end for the most part out of sheer laziness.

So, kids, this is the last ride of the day in the agent round-up rodeo.  If nothing comes of this, I suppose I'll send the ms. to those few independent publishers who take mss. over the transom, but without much hope.  I'm setting up a WIP writing sked starting tomorrow (the first of the month always works for me) but how much progress I'll actually make remains to be seen.  For one thing, I can't seem to shake this flu I've had since December. Hope it's not pneumonia!

Monday, January 24, 2011

One More Dead Full

Well, 2011's off to a bang-up start, with another full ms. being given the old heave-ho.  That leaves one full out there -- in the agent's hands since mid-September -- along with one partial.  This dodo's about dead.

I know, I know: start another one. Show me where I can slack off on earning money and I'll get started on it.

It's a bummer, dudes.

At least I cajoled Janet Reid into reading my blog! (See comment number 10 in preceding post.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Janet Reid Earns $0.12 With a Ludicrous Premise

I was at the supermarket the other day and in need of something to read, so I checked the paperbacks and picked up one called Ghost Country by Patrick Lee.  The liner notes were semi-intriguing but also sci-fi-ish and I usually don't go there, but as I flipped to the inside I noticed that Lee had dedicated the book to Janet Reid.  He also put her in the acknowledgments on the very next page.  I don't know why, but that decided it and I bought the book.  I figure Janet's cut of Lee's royalty from this purchase comes to something like 12 cents.

Here's the thing.  It's actually pretty good, as thrillers go.  It does well what thrillers are supposed to do well -- keeps you turning the page.  However, the premise is ludicrous (I won't go into it here) -- actually doubly ludicrous, since there's this whole wormhole thing in the Nevada Wyoming desert through which alien gizmos keep arriving, which is also central to the plot.  And there are things that are just wrong, the kind of impossible/mistaken things that I find really annoying in books.  Even in sci-fi, be accurate.  So, for example, even in dry Yuma bodies out in the open wouldn't mummify, Mr. Lee -- they have flies and maggots in Arizona, too.  And boreal forests do not grow at the latitude of New York City.

But the interesting part for me is how some writer can take a ludicrous, even stupid, premise and make it work.  Somehow you keep reading it.  I read a Dean Koontz book once.  It had just an awful premise about some genetic experiment gone wrong (I think -- can't even remember) and people turning into various kinds of demon-like monsters at night.  I mean, it was stupid.  But Koontz just kept plowing ahead with it, and it worked.

So, if you care for thrillers at all, Ghost Country might fit your bill.  Don't expect any literary flair to it.  Indeed, the writing is soul-suckingly without any literary merit whatsoever.  But you will keep turning the page.

And of course we still love Janet Reid, even if she turned down our query a long, long time ago (version 1.0, which was kind of sucky).  She's still funny as hell.  I just hope she doesn't spend that 12 cents of mine all at once.