Friday, October 31, 2008

Please feel free to throw me a party

yum yum yum

Have I mentioned Bill Cameron is amazing?

I really like the photo tour he put together for Chasing Smoke. I like it a LOT more than many of the book trailers I've seen out there.

The home town folks are noticing too! Here's a review of Chasing Smoke on the Portland Murder by the Book bookstore blog (hi Jill! hi Carolyn!) It has my favorite line from a review EVER:

If Chasing Smoke were a hard-boiled egg, it would be petrified.

Meet me in St. Louis!

Two sets of neighbors are getting their Masque on tonight.
Too bad they didn't coordinate the DJs. Urban thump and Country rock merge right at our common wall: the wall that is my office.

Not much work happening tonight, time to troll around the websites of people who follow this blog.

I really liked this post about Curtis Sittenfeld. Maybe I shouldn't tell you that Ridley Pearson lives in St. Louis too.

My footwear for the Edgars next year

Can be seen here.

shamelessly lifted from CJRedwine

A real Slice! of happiness

You know that frisson of surprise and delight when someone you thought you knew turns out to have a beautiful singing voice? or knows how to knit really well? or comes back from maternity leave with the cutest little kid you've ever seen?

Well, that was how I felt when I opened the mail tonight.

There was Slice Magazine, a literary endeavor by two pals who've produced one of the most aesthetically delightful magazines I've seen since the first issue of McSweeneys. Without the pretension too.

Here's the link to their site.

Subscriptions are a bargain!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Harriet Klausner done in by new algorithm

Harriet Klausner is a long time Amazon reviewer. Notorious for both the quantity (much) and the quality (not so much) of her reviews, Harriet Klausner has been the #1 reviewer on Amazon for years. As long as I can remember in fact.

If you want a fistfight to break out at any literary gathering, just mention her name. DorothyL actually forbids posts on the subject of Harriet Klausner so rabid do her detractors and defenders get.

Well, it's all over now.

Amazon has a new algorithm for determining the Top Ten book reviewers and it's based on helpfulness not quantity.

Harriet Klausner finds herself at #445, a far cry from the lofty perch of #1.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I think this is utterly hilarious.

Balm for Rejection Letters

Moonrat gives good advice to a querier who got more than a form rejection.
When I read this, I'm not sure I wasn't the agent who sent it. It sounds exactly like what I think, and have sometimes said. I guess now I'll include a link to Moonrat's post with my rejections!

A very perplexing word today

I get the Word A Day mailing. Here's the word for today:


verb tr.:
1. To spread false and malicious charges against someone.
2. To sprinkle with holy water.

From Latin aspergere (to sprinkle), from ad- (toward) + spargere (to strew).

Now, what I want to know is how a word got such two radically different meanings?
Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cornelia Read on Elaine Flinn

Sad news from Eugene, Oregon that mystery writer Elaine Flinn has died of cancer. Lifted straight off the Murderati blog is Cornelia Read's perfect tribute:

The Flinns were the smartest family in Carmel, California, and the coolest. I used to hang out with Elaine's daughter Kelly and her gang of irregulars eating crepes at a little place in town, under the stairs where I. Magnin used to be, on Ocean Avenue. We would snark and laugh for hours.

The very first time Kelly took me to her house to meet Elaine and Joe, everyone was talking about Dave Brubeck.

As a teenage hippie kid raised on Donovan and Hendrix, I had no idea who this was.

"Dave Brubeck? 'Take Five'?" asked Elaine and Joe.

I stood there dumbly.

"Are you fucking serious?" asked Elaine, patting me on the shoulder. "Oh, you poor kid."

"Take Five" has been one of my favorite songs ever since.

And I learned early that it was F-L-I-N-N, never with a "Y," because Flinn was the REAL Irish spelling and Flynn was evidence of the lasting taint of British oppression, which is something you do not fuck around about in the presence of this family.

After that I ended up going east to school, and stayed there a good while. Kelly and I kept in touch sporadically, 3000 miles apart.

When I joined MWA NorCal, about six years ago, I noticed one particular name in the membership list. Elaine Flinn. With an "I."

I emailed immediately: "Kelly's mom, Elaine Flinn?"

She wrote me back about sixty seconds later: "Cornelia, where the hell have you been? Welcome, kid."

I can picture her really clearly right now, sitting at the Great Conference Bar with Tony Hillerman, a glass of Jack Daniels in her hand. She's dressed impeccably, as always, and she just said something smart and funny and wicked that cracked him right the hell up.

There's Brubeck on the jukebox, too.

My heart goes out to Elaine's husband Joe, to Kelly and Sharon and Patrick. Theirs is a great, great loss.

It is ours as well.

Elaine was damn good people. I am so lucky to have known her.

Home again!

boy have I got some people hoodwinked!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Your goal at a writing conference

I've got writing conferences on my mind this morning (also a film deal, a contract, and the location of Mali, but writing conferences right this second) since I'm packing my portmanteau and prepping to teach a class at the Surrey Writing Conference this week.

This post over at Murderati struck a chord.
Pari Noskin Taichert makes the very good point that you don't want to focus exclusively on agents and editors at conferences. You really want to make friends with the people who will be your author colleagues. She's right on the money.

If you're going to Surrey this weekend, you should be as open to meeting other authors and as invested in being collegial with them as you are meeting any of my ilk. Chances are they are nicer anyway. At least this one is.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Definitive example of how a blog can help your career

I dare you to read this blog post about Bouchercon and not want to read more of what this guy writes.

Cause I read the first one, and with paragraphs like this:
...drove down with Alafair Burke; Alafair is, to be frank, certifiably psychotic at the wheel, her need for speed almost carnal in its urgency. The combination of high speed daredevil manoeuvres (at one point, she drove under a semi just so she could slam us up the ramp of an empty car transporter trailer, shooting us up about 20 feet high, hurtling through the air to land squarely 8 inches in front of the black Tahoe that had irritated Alafair by dawdling in front of her for a good two minutes). (Seriously.)

my next move was see if he had representation. It was too much to hope for of course, but writing like this makes me weak at the knees.
Since he updates about as often as I leave NYC, this is why God invented RSS readers!
(Feed)Burn this one!

Writerly tailspins

I know when my clients are on deadline or working madly on revisions: they go slightly bonkers. I get a lot of email pics of snakes eating kittens, octopi attacking sharks, and the Twitter traffic goes WAY up.

Donna Andrews sums it up perfectly here on her post at Femmes Fatales

I learn the most interesting things from my clients

Here's the most recent post on Loretta Ross' blog about Barack Obama in St. Louis.

Hell yes I'd buy one

I love this

I'm a devoted train rider but I'd love to have one of these at the ready for late nights home from the office when the A train is cranky, or late nights home from the opera when the 1 train is cranky or just plain old every single trip to LaGuardia!

I wonder how much they will cost! I guess I better sell some more books!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Favorite new phrase!

From the comment column on neologism of the day:

I think some people don't know better. Nathan Bransford had a post about the dangers of impatience. Some people just aren't able to slog through editing, they have one draft and they want to be done. I doubt any of these authors want to be "the one" that becomes blog fodder, but they haven't invested the time to know better. Maybe the rejections will work. Or maybe we need to break out the clue-by-four.

I love it!

Neologism for the day: clubris

Clubris: clueless hubris. Example:

Thank you for your well worded rejection letter, I feel I understand, it must be difficult to make a decision on a short Query Letter. I have taken the liberty of sending you a few page CONTENTS of title redacted (my manuscript) includes a brief introduction of the 40 chapters.

Response: deleted, unanswered.
What I'm thinking: it's not difficult to reject unskilled, unpolished, error-filled writing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

~*Courtney Summers*~on rejection

I'm enormously glad ~*Courtney Summers*~ got rejected.
After you revive yourself, remember she's now represented by the estimable Miss Amy Tipton, of the fabulous footwear and FinePrint Literary Agency, aka my colleague.

I think Courtney is the cat's pjs.

A Refreshing view of publishing

This was the first ever Bouchercon for "Kaye from Boone" (her DorothyL signature). I adore Kaye.

Her blog about the event is just utterly charming, as she is.

It's easy to forget this kind of sweet, gracious joy when you work in the trenches.
Kaye, thanks for reminding me again that I love love love my job.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Amy Minato's SIESTA LANE gets nod from Kirkus!

In a demonstration of exquisite taste, Kirkus gives Amy Minato's SIESTA LANE a very good review. Here it is:

A restless city poet recounts her experiment with country living.

The idea to swim against the “consumptive current” and move west came to Minato (The Wider Lens, 2004) during a Chicago traffic jam. Increasingly bothered by the global impact her metropolitan existence was having on the environment, the poet packed up and headed to Oregon for graduate school.

But after eight years, even Eugene proved too urban for her, and she moved again, this time to a ten-square-foot cabin that was part of an eight-acre commune on Siesta Lane in the relative wilds of Rainbow Valley, Ore.

Her memoir, a veritable menagerie of thoughts, observations, photos, poems and lovely pen-and-ink drawings by Jan Muir, is the result of Minato’s year or so away, where she discovered as much about herself as the wonders of nature. “

Not so simple—simple living,” she realized early on. Characterizing each of her fellow Siesta Lane residents, the author doesn’t neglect herself, saying she’s a “single woman with ninety-eight part-time jobs trying to figure out how she connects to the greater forces of the universe and to the tiny earwigs that hide in the curled-up seed heads of Queen Anne’s lace.”

Part of this volume’s charm lies in its somewhat fractured composition, which mirrors the author’s state of mind during this transitional period. Short chapters hop from “Incubation” to “Freaks” to “July” to “The Garden,” while loosely conveying the sense of time’s passage as Minato adjusted to her rustic domestic situation.

Living without many modern conveniences—for example, only the commune’s main building had a kitchen and running water—led her to provocative conclusions: “For us it appears to primarily be the mind that evolves, and we then cater our surroundings to our weakening bodies.” She took some radical actions as well, such as getting rid of her cat after he brought home one too many birds.

An evocative record of a year in the woods and an interesting study in enacting one’s beliefs.

You can preorder now from Amazon here; pub date is January 9, 2009

Finally, enough books for even the Octopus!

The octopus helped me unpack my saddlebag from Bouchercon and was glad to finally have one book for every appendage!

What I snagged:

The Lizard's Bite by David Hewson (gift bag book)

The Garden of Evil by David Hewson
(recommended by Jack Reacher)

First Drop by Zoe Sharp
Second Shot by Zoe Sharp
(I thought she was terrific on the panel I saw so I bought her books)

In For the Kill by John Lutz (gift bag book)

It Happened One Knife by Jeffrey Cohen
(my copies keep disappearing so I bought another)

Ashes and Bones by Dana Cameron
(bought it)

Darkness and Light by John Harvey
(gift bag- yahooooo!!!)

Flesh and Blog by John Harvey
(gift bag---double yahoooooo!!!!)

Death in the Kingdom by Andrew Grant
(wait, there's someone ELSE named Andrew Grant, better check it out--bought it)

Fault Line by Barry Eisler
(I would have bought it but it was a gift for volunteering briefly at the registration desk. Best two hours wage I've ever gotten)

Ultimatum by Matthew Glass
(gift bag book)

The Deceived by Brett Battles
(bought this one, had to. I finished The Cleaner and can't pry myself away from the characters. Brett owes me six hours sleep minimim)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Six Things I Never Want to See in a Query Again

1. Theme

I don't care what the theme of your work is. I care what the story is.

2. I love to write

I don't care. I only care about whether you can write well enough to tell a good compelling story.

3. I think my book will make a great movie.

I don't care. I only care whether it will make a good book.

4. It took me x+1 years to write.

I don't care. I only care if it's a good story.

5. Global marketing potential.

What this says to me in screaming bold red letters is:
Unrealistic Expectations

Even if you have a great novel, the idea of dealing with someone who would write it down, and might actually believe it to be true and not understand how ludicrous and pretentious it sounds, is enough to make me stop reading and say no.

6. I am aware of your background.

I'm hoping you don't mean this to sound as creepy as it does.


Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

A very effective way to be ineffective

Social networks can be very powerful tools for buzz marketing. I've extolled the virtues of them here and elsewhere. I'm a member of several networks, and I use Twitter.

Today I got an email blast from a person who's on one of the social networks I'm also on. It was a special "Crime Space Edition" of his newsletter.

How very special.

If I want to be on your mailing list, I'll sign up on your website.
If I want to read your blog I'll put you on my RSS feed.
If I want to hear from you, I'll let you know.

So what did I do?
First of course, I took him off my friend list. That sounds very high school I know, but what it really means was I removed him from the list of people who can email me through the CrimeSpace network.

Then I adjusted my email settings so that only people who are friends can email me.

The reason I didn't just classify the email as junk is that he used his email address and not all email from that address is junk. Just his.

Now, before you get hot under the collar about how petty this is of me (just put it in the trash you old hag, I can hear you say), let's remember that my goal is email management. I don't want to have to read a bunch of blather if I don't have to. If I just throw it away, the next bozo gets to repeat the mistake and once was quite enough thank you.

And remember too, that in doing this kind of email blast, you absolutely undercut any hope of building buzz for your book. I not only won't talk about it in any sort of positive way, I've cut you off from EVER emailing me again in this way.

The first and almost only rule of social networking is do not send generic emails to people. Social networking is about personal connection.

IF this bozo had taken the time to say "Dear Janet, we're friends on CrimeSpace, here's my newsletter, if you want to sign up I'd be glad to have you" I would have deleted it but I wouldn't have gone any farther. The key element here is the "Dear Janet".

Yes it takes longer. Suck it up.
It also means you won't have wasted your time, my time, and any possible chance of me reading your book, your newsletter, your blog, or your note of apology.

Larry Block tribute at Bouchercon

Back from Bouchercon!

I not only survived, I had a great time!
If you love crime fiction, you really want to go to Bouchercon. It's enough fun that even I, curmudgeonly misanthrope who hates to leave NYC, even I have already booked my hotel and registered for the 2009 event in Indianapolis.

Eric Stone had a great time too. Here's his blog post about it with some great pictures of Ben and Alison from Bleak House Books.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Gone to Charm City...

although many of you would probably wish it was Charm School.

The blog will be dark for the duration: Wednesday through Monday, and no promises about my brain being engaged on Monday either.

I'm really looking forward to Bouchercon.
I wrote a post about why over at the DeadGuy blog today.

The godsends are holding down the fort while I'm gone. I fully expect the scotch bottles to be dry, the snake hiding in the rafters and pictures on the blog of the postal carrier dancing nekkid on the board room table by the time I get back.

Either that or a couple deals, an auction and my clients gazing wistfully at harder working pastures!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dan Tomasulo gets some nice press!

Irate emailer?

Gmail is on the job!

They have a new program to keep you from sending out email while you're drunk but in my opinion they need a version that keeps you from sending emails while in high dudgeon over a rejection letter!

My version wouldn't have math problems, it would have grammar and syntax questions:

1. A sentence has an error. What is its problem?

2. Identify one noun in this sentence.

3. Is there a verb in this sentence? If you answered yes, what is it:

4. The passive voice is to be avoided. Correct the sentence.

5. Get over it. Identify the subject.

Extra credit and to turn off the program:
8. Translate: veni, vidi, viagra


I'm working on a long manuscript doing very close editing. (I am not an editor; I just play one from midnight to 4am!)

Periodically my brain requires a pause to reboot.

That's when I wander around the internet. Sometimes I read your blogs (see post below).
Sometimes I read sites I've got bookmarked. I recently discovered (like five hours ago) the benefits of googlereader for getting RSS feeds (thank you Yen Cheong).

I was clicking around which I now have on googlereader and found this lovely tribute to David Foster Wallace.

It's by Verlyn Klinkenborg and that reminded me of a great book he wrote that I read very very slowly because I did not want it to end.

And that is why this post is titled Timothy!

Monday, October 06, 2008

In case you're wondering

See that list of little avatars over on the right? The label say
"people brave enough to publicly confess they read this blog"
It's a list of people who have this blog linked to "blogs I follow" so they get auto updates. The cool thing is I can see their blogs too. And, yes I do click on the blogs and websites of the people who read this blog.
Not a lot.
Not every day.

Mostly middle of the night when I'm working on something and need a brain wave so I look at something other than the manuscript page for a couple minutes.

So, if you're a writer, and you read this blog, and you have an empty blog registered, you're missing your date with serendipity.

And if you're a writer, and you read this blog, and you have a blog registered, you might want to clean up the spelling and grammar, cause yes, I am reading it.

I've already spotted a couple people I've now got on my radar because they have cool blogs. One cause of the amazing paint job she did on her's not just writing that snags my interest.

Fair warning.

Why Janice Erlbaum is indeed "Da Bomb"


Saturday, October 04, 2008

These boots are made for querying!

The ever delightful effervescent Miss Amy Tipton will be on a panel this coming Tuesday, October 7 at the Asian American Writers Association talking about how to secure a literary agent (duct tape is my suggestion).

Here's the announcement:

Tuesday, October 7, 7pm
The Practicing Writer: Monthly Career/Craft Talks
Panel: How To Get An Agent

Amy Tipton (FinePrint Literary Management)
Jin Auh (The Wylie Agency),
Ayesha Pande (Collins Literary Agency)

Where: The Workshop
Address: 16 West 32nd Street, 10th Floor
(btwn Broadway & 5th Avenue)

Cost: $5 suggested donation; open to the public

You'll be able to pick Amy out of any crowd; she's the one with the coolest ensembles. It's worth going to work every day just to see what she is wearing. Here is her footwear on Wednesday:

Friday, October 03, 2008

The bird flipped, but not the way you think

You may recall my earlier mentions of Hank the Flamingo.
Hank has been visiting Suite 500 for some time now, hanging out with my Herpet-American assssssistant.
He's a taciturn kind of guy, not quick with a quip or fast with a phrase.

He does however have an eye for pretty girls and champagne.

He was the only boy allowed to attend today's bridal shower for our dear godsend Joanna who is being snapped up in wedded bliss by one very very lucky man this month. (Hank is a bit jealous in fact, he's kind of flipped over Joanna, as we all have really.)

Finally! Help for all those times you've spewed things on your monitor!

My colleague Gary Heidt is a very helpful, cordial colleague.
He knows I've ruined a keyboard or two, not to mention a monitor or ten.

He was kind enough to show me this wonderful new device to clean monitors!
I'm really happy to pass it along to all my dear devoted blog readers too.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why Your Query Got 1.5 seconds of eyeball time today

1. Your email is in Courier 19 point. Now, the font and the size aren't a problem right up until they make the email window so large that a scroll bar appears at the bottom and I have to scroll left to right (NOT top to bottom) to read a complete sentence.

Well, I tried. And then I stopped. Form rejection.

Solution: EMAIL your query to a friend before you send it to me. Or mail it to yourself and check it on a different computer, perhaps at your local library.

2. You send an email to Janet@fineprintlit and then say "to whom it may concern." To Whom It May Concern is a perfectly acceptable way to address someone if you don't know their name. If you know my name, don't say "to whom it may concern". It makes me wonder about the wattage in your belfry.

3. There is no such thing as "true crime fiction". True crime is a category in non-fiction. Fiction is not a category of non-fiction. You can have fiction based on a real case; you can have fiction that's ripped from the headlines if you want; you can't have "true crime fiction."

4. Sending an email query with no white space at all. Just a big fat wad of black text. The only thing worse is if you'd sent it in Courier 19.

Big blocks of text are physically difficult if not impossible to read. Short of copying and pasting your email into a word doc and reformatting it, I just can't read it. It's 10:32pm. I still need to finish two novels before tomorrow. You got a form rejection.

If you're throwing down your pen in disgust and saying "that dummy sure missed some good stuff tonight for stupid reasons" well, you may be right. Here's what you need to remember: I turn down more good stuff than I take on. There's ALWAYS more good stuff to choose from than I have space on my list. Always. So, if I can't read your email, or you use words in a lazy way, I'm not worried I'm passing up my only chance at something saleable tonight.

And the truth is I want to work with people who obsess about getting this stuff right. I want to work with people who care a LOT about small stuff.

"Wow, those birds move fast!" she said swiftly

On The Wing is a new documentary which tells the story of Portland, Oregon’s Chapman Swifts.

Each fall these birds roost in the chimney of a Portland elementary school and put on an amazing nightly aerial display to the delight of hundreds and thousands of observers.

(One of those observers is "rising crime fiction star Bill Cameron**")

Here's a link to the trailer for the movie. I think it's just cool.

**quoting the Library Journal review of Bill's second novel Chasing Smoke due out from Bleak House Nov. 2008

Bill Cameron's STARRED LJ review-updated!

Bill Cameron's CHASING SMOKE gets a starred review in Library Journal!!

Way to go "rising crime fiction star" Bill!!!

His review is part of a larger article on the lone detective motif here.