Wednesday, November 24, 2010

He said, She said . . .

So I'm at my first conference and I see an editor with several books on his table. These are the books that he'd personally worked on. I start thumbing through the books to see if this editor is someone I'd want to schedule a meeting with when I spot a book I'd recently read.

This book is one that caused me some consternation. It was replete with one of the great blights on publishing: synonyms for said. i.e. he joked, he retorted, he exclaimed, etc. etc. etc. Of course we've been told, lectured, advised, commanded, informed, and warned not to do this.

Now personally, I don't like these either. They bother me. I worked hard on using action beats instead of dialogue tags and using only said when necessary. Besides, not only don't I like them, it's universally agreed upon within the publishing industry that this practice is universally frowned upon and better left on the ash heap of history.

But here it sits. A published novel whose word count owes a substantial debt to this plague.

I decided to take this opportunity and ask this professional's advice. After all, he's an editor of a major publishing house. So I open the book, point out a few examples, and asked him for a definitive answer to this puzzle. He looked me straight in the eye and said "We don't really care about all that."

Wow. Tell that to the agents and the how-to books. (yes I know you really can't tell that to a book, but that's how I wanted to write the sentence, so get over yourself. : )

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ummm . . . what?

So I'm at a conference. I'm done with my three editor meetings and I'm looking for lunch tables of possible editors I want to pitch to. For those of you who don't know, at some conferences, tables are "hosted" by an editor or agent. This gives you a chance to possibly pitch to someone who you didn't have an appointment with. I personally don't like pitching at these tables. There's usually 8-10 people who are pushing themselves on these poor souls who are trying to eat.

So my strategy is I don't pitch unless they ask and they usually will. If they don't then that means they didn't want me to and I'm fine with that. At one of these tables, hosted by an editor, who said he was representing both fiction and non, asked me about my script and what kind of response I've gotten at my meetings. I told him (gender neutral) and he then asked me to send it to him. (Can't remember if it was a partial or full)

The response was pretty quick and he gave me a few paragraphs of advice which I thought were pretty thoughtful and I did appreciate his time. He did write that he wanted to encourage me because my writing was almost there. That's great to hear.

However, he told me I should write stories unique to my neck of the woods, that would grow organically from the area, and gave me examples. Now this would have been good advice if I were writing that To Kill a Mockingbird "great American novel". But I write suspense with a supernatural element. He said that my story should be set ANYWHERE but south Louisiana. As though, my story couldn't happen where I set it. Ummm. . . . What?

He then finished with and I'll slightly paraphrase: "I'm not even a fiction editor so take these thoughts with a grain of salt."

Ummm . . . consider it done.

So I my script got rejected by a publisher's non-fiction editor. What if the fiction editor would have liked it?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Instance 2

Confused? See the last post.

This one's pretty tame and similar to the last one. This time I'll use gender neutral "she" to refer to this editor.

At my first conference, I had 3 editor meetings. All three asked for a submission. Two fulls and a "3 chapter" request. All three meetings went well. In fact, they went great. The one that I thought went best was led to the "3 chapter" request. Of the two fulls, one publisher decided shortly later to drop their adult fiction line thus my submission was no longer appropriate. Tough break. The other led to pretty good experience. The publisher gave some great feedback, asked me to rewrite, I did, they considered for a while, and eventually passed. Really good experience. Because although they did passed, their interest and feedback provided me with some great affirmation that I was on the right track. Now about the 3 chapter request . . .

Still haven't heard. (And, no I don't expect to.) Don't worry. This doesn't bother me. But I do find the following curious. I ran into this editor at another conference several months later. I attended a class by this editor. Really good class, great info. I stayed after class to ask a follow up question to one of the topics brought up during the class. She answered and I then asked her about the submission. I politely asked if, as is quite common, a "no response" equals a "no" response. She assured me that it didn't and that she always responds. Always. Still haven't heard from her.

This is not a criticism of this editor. I really like her. These things happen. She also told me that if I didn't hear from her for a while to resubmit. I didn't resubmit because I had a couple of agents interested and decided it would be better if I let the agent submit to this editor. By the time interested agent after interested agent showed interest and passed, a couple of years had passed and I decided that too much time had gone by to take up the resubmit offer.

I know. Pretty tame, huh. I promise the next one is more interesting.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I am not a coward . . .

As is probably obvious, I resist the urge to criticize the CBA. (publishers, editors, agents) The fact is the CBA is people. People take criticism personally even when it's the institution not the individual being criticized. I feel it is not practical to destroy possible future relationships by publicly calling someone out. Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying those who do are wrong. That's a personal decision and about half the time, they're right.

With that said, I have had a few instances that have left me scratching my head. I have long avoided writing about them here, because I don't want it to be obvious who I'm talking about. I've said all that to say that I'm gonna start posting these instances in such a way that doesn't sound like I'm beating up on someone or being a whiny baby. Let me know if I don't succeed.

Instance #1 (gender neutral "he" used throughout)

An agent who asked for a full and who has publicly boasted how he always responds within 3 months to a full, encourages people to send follow up emails after so many months (6 if memory serves) without worrying about upsetting him. Well after 10 months I sent a follow up email. I was grateful to be considered and took him at his word. In fact, I waited longer than he said. My email was simple. I just stated the dates of submission, request for full, submission of full, time elapsed, and my appreciation for their time. The response was a little snarky: I'll paraphrase -- if you don't want to be considered any longer, just say so. Because of his continuing boastful dedication to responding timely and being considerate of us unpub's time and dedication, I expected him to say something like: Oh, sorry about that, I do try to respond but some slip through the cracks . . . blah blah blah, I pass or blah, blah, blah, give me some time look at it . . .

Well, it's been 2 years --- No response. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind that the agent has apparently passed. It does strike me that this person brags that he doesn't do this.

What do you think? Should I post things like this or keep my keyboard shut?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

random political thoughts. . .

. . . from an introspective Conservative.

I like Sarah Palin but I don't think she'll ever be president. I personally can't take her accent. (I know that may sound crazy coming from someone with a Cajun accent.) She just doesn't sound Presidential enough. It is possible to sound like a regular American and a President. Reagan proved that. I'm not saying she should become robotic and monotone, but she should back off the Palinisms a little.

Before the election I predicted that if the Repubs win control of congress, President Obama would be guaranteed re-election. My reasoning was that it would follow the same model as the Clinton years. The 94-96 Republican congress balanced the budget and turned the economy around and Clinton got the credit and won re-election. But now I'm not sure. Dems still have the presidency and the senate. The house won't be able to control spending like they want to so unless the economy turns around despite what the government does, the President will not be re-elected.

Note to Shawn Hannity: Romney cannot win. He may be the most qualified candidate who ran last time, but a mormon cannot win. Evangelicals don't delineate between casual mormons and devout mormons. To most Christians, if you're a mormon, it means you believe in some crazy things. This is an insurmountable barrier. Unless . . . well if you want to know, ask in the comments.

Note about Hannity: He makes conservatives look bad. I really wish I could replace him. He does to the dems all the things he accused them of doing to the reps. He is not fair in the slightest. Completely blinded by his ideology. His only "talent" appears to be repeating what he hears Rush say without being entertaining. There are enough legitimate things to criticize the pres and dems for without castigating them for every innocuous thing they do.

I truly believe that if the President, while jogging by a burning house, ran inside, saved a puppy, and helped put out the fire, Hannity's narrative would be:

President caught at the seen of a fire molesting an animal and destroying public property with a water hose. The President is also a known smoker who carries a lighter. Authorities have not ruled out arson in the matter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010