Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Et in arcaedia, ego. posted in April about etiquette during submissions that may have been overlooked. Good advice about turnarounds, exclusives and resubmitting.
My favorite though, was the disclaimer:
But, first, a disclaimer -- do not query me for submission on this blog. Like Miss Snark, I find this approach rude. (In her case it's particularly amusing as the person sending the query doesn't know her identity. It's like applying for a job at a company with no name, no address, and no verifiable track-record.) Thinly veiled questions that lack the paragraph of summary about the book still count, too. Just take your chances with the rest, and submit an actual query. Make no mistake. This blog (and others like it -- see sidebar of agents who blog) are a service above and beyond. It's not in my job description. It's neither authorized nor forbidden by the company I work with. Very few agents are out there making this kind of information available. Treat the agents who generously spend their time on such things like the valuable resource they are. (While I'm at it, ditto for agents at writers conferences -- those that attend them are actually a fairly small percentage of agent-kind.)
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/30/2006
Friday, May 26, 2006
Writer Beware is generous with their time and provides information about Barbara Bauer and her infamous peers.
Barbara Bauer phoned the woman who runs the web hosting for Absolute Write wherein Barbara Bauer was listed as one of the 20 Worst Agents (a list I was happy to publish as well) and sounded scary enough that the site host panicked and pulled the plug.
Ever one to rise to the challenge, Miss Snark goes on to explain why Barbara Bauer is a scam artist.
In fact, I'm listing the twenty worst agents here and linking to good information, so that, as Jim C Hines has noticed...
...that Google page ranking depends a lot on the number of links which use that particular text.
So, for example, if I were to link Barbara Bauer to the SFWA posting of the Writer Beware Top 20 list, that would cause a slight increase in the SFWA page's rank as a search result for Ms. Bauer.
Better still, the more people who include:
[a href="http://www.sfwa.org/beware/twentyworst.html"]Barbara Bauer[/a] (ed. replace square brackets for the actual link configuration)
on their journals and web pages, the higher that page will move in the results, until theoretically, that might become the very first Google result.
So, without further ado, the twenty worst scam agents, from Writer's Beware, including Barbara Bauer
- The Abacus Group Literary Agency
- Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
- Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
- Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
- Benedict & Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
- Sherwood Broome, Inc.
- Desert Rose Literary Agency
- Arthur Fleming Associates
- Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
- Brock Gannon Literary Agency
- Harris Literary Agency
- The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
- Children's Literary Agency
- Christian Literary Agency
- New York Literary Agency
- Poets Literary Agency
- The Screenplay Agency
- Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency)
- Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
- Martin-McLean Literary Associates
- Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
- B.K. Nelson, Inc.
- The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
- Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency and Simply Nonfiction)
- Southeast Literary Agency
- Mark Sullivan Associates
- West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)
Barbara Bauer is going to find out that she isn't the only one with the power to pull the plug.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/26/2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Beyond Dusk blogger, Kayla, shares her thoughts about giving critiques.
Two or three weeks ago, a friend and I were ranting over the phone about critiques. Specifically, about giving critiques.
People can't handle them.
It's any medium, not just writing. Writing, sculpting, photography--whatever. Someone asks for a critique, but when they get it, they rebound by either, 1) attempting to explain away what the critiquer pointed out as a potential problem, or 2) refusing to acknowledge that there's a problem at all. The first one is frustrating for the critiquer, especially if it's a repeat offense for every little thing. Try to consider that the critiquer might be speaking from a different perspective.
The second one is plain annoying, and can blend closely with the first. The writer needs to remember that, when they asked the critiquer for their opinion, they were making a silent promise to respect that opinion. Simply put: don't dismiss a critique until you've given it due thought, and even then, you don't need to tell your critique partner your every reason why.
Personally, I've adopted the habit of not saying anything during a critique unless I need clarification, or I've missed my mark so completely, that I need to tell them what I was trying to accomplish.
Kayla has some really good advice in her post and is so on the money. Then I think, "God, she's only in high school." I wish I had been that put together 15 years ago.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/25/2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Balancing back story with need to know is a terrible thing for most writers. Either's it's great or it's less than stellar. As a reader, sometimes I notice it. Others I don't.
I am reading two books right now, one vampire romance, one highly successful urban fantasy book one to a series, and both have nailed me right in the first chapter with what I know in my heart is an "info dump." Pages of information to help bring the reader up to speed with the background, the characters and what they need to know to accept the story that is about to be told. I have a problem with info dumps because through all my reading about writing it was drummed into me that they are a Bad Thing. So I typically leave them out altogether, perhaps to a fault, thus making my writing non-specific, or hard to get a grasp on what the hell is going on. This is ironed out during editorial rewrites, of course (I think).
Michelle goes on to say in a second post (Stuff and Nonsense):
My last post about being specific is a good example of the difference between a blog entry and an article.
It's led me to a theory: all of the books on the shelf that are crap... that unpubbed writers wonder how they got published because the writing is terrible, the characters boring? I have a theory that they're published because they were specific in what they are about. That they don't wander. That their characters are specific types, even stereotypes, and sometimes that works. It doesn't work in a way that makes it a good solid read. But it works on paper. This is what the story is about. This is what happens. And this is the outcome.
I found this blog through Beyond Dusk and the posts about Michelle's writing group, the Write-Ons. Since then, I've found Michelle's blog to be funny, informative, and motivating. It also means that I'm going to be checking out someone of her books soon.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/24/2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Title: The Saxon Shore
Author: Jack Whyte
Summary: Merlyn develops grand plans for the infant Arthur with the assistance of his trusted friends. In addition to raising the child, Merlyn must also restore the peace that Camulod has not known since the war between Arthur's father and Lot.
The Take-Away: This title more than the first three has me thinking about free will and how youth is influenced by their elders. Since I know the arch of events to come, I'm forced to wonder how much would have been different if Merlyn had decided that unification of the tribes was too lofty a goal, especially when working for someone who is only an infant.
Whyte does address Merlyn's unwavering conviction, but only in his view of "Saxons" as invaders. Merlyn's ideals truly leave no room for self doubt.
Recommendation: Picking up this title is the closest to starting at the "begining" of the traditional Arthur legends. You'll miss out on the history and development of Camulod by starting here, however.
The Camulod Series Series Titles
Title: The Eagles Brood
Author: Jack Whyte
Summary: The story of Camulod is told by Caius Merlyn Britannicus. He learns the history of the Colony through the writings of Varrus, the previous narrator. The destiny of the Colony is in the hands of Uther Pendragon and Merlyn.
The Take-Away: I always label this as fantasy, because, it's Arthurian Legend. Why wouldn't it be fantasy? This is the first title, thought, that hints at the fantastical elements. The others have truly been historical fiction.
Merlyn begins his life as a soldier in training and works his way through the ranks until he is the commander of the Colony. He has an idealistic view of the world, often irritating Uther, who sees the world in shades of gray instead of Merlyn's black and white view.
The developing Roman Church and the Colony's views of Christianity clash in the title. I enjoyed reading the application of the historical conflict that I studied in a previous life. It made me wish I could talk to one of my college professors about the books.
Merlyn didn't seems anything like the other legends I've read. Granted, it hasn't been many, and mostly by Rosalind Miles but I kept thinking, he's a wizard, a magician, not a soldier.
Thankfully, Whyte had the foresight to provide clues to dispeal those doubts. I didn't totally buy into his transformation, but the rest of it is so elegantly crafted that I'll overlook it.
Recommendation: Start at the beginning and read the series. Whyte really brings something new to the Arthur legends.
Bonus Review: Word Nerd
The Camulod Series Series Titles
Monday, May 22, 2006
Marriage is a series of compromises. Oh, you already knew that?
Well, sure, when it comes to weddings, friends, and sex, compromise is a given. Those things are major. After all, you don't want his drunk friends hanging out until 4 or 5 am playing video games at a decibel level that the teenage boy next door envies. Nor do you want him (your husband, not the teenage boy next door) showing up at the wedding hungover. Those sorts of things are expected.
I mean the compromises that aren't expected. Let's talk about peanut butter.
Simple substance until he declares that this is a Smooth house and won't tolerate a bottle of Chunky unless there's some sort of nuclear holocaust on its way. Even then, you should have checked another store.
And of course, the correct construction of a PBJ is to put the peanut butter on first. That way, if a little extra is carried over to the second jar, it's peanut butter in the jelly jar. No devastating side effects. As long as you don't mind peanut butter in the jelly. If it was performed the other way, well, you get jelly in the peanut butter jar and that just doesn't work. Unless you kept your peanut butter in the fridge. But we keep ours in the cupboard. Not where I want my jelly, even if it's only a tiny speck.
He declared that if I were making the sandwich the correct way, jelly first, then peanut butter, carry over of the jelly wouldn't be a problem. Jelly wipes off the knife cleanly.
I stick out my tongue and tell him when it's his turn to cook, he can make it anyway he wants.
I love compromise.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/22/2006
Friday, May 19, 2006
That's how my 2yo sings it. Obviously the important part of the birthday is the cake.
Regardless, though, May 19th marks the first day of the third year of Raspberry-Latte. Or, Raspberry-Latte turns two today. This was my first post. This was my post marking the end of the first year.
Once I had that audience, I tried to figure out why they were reading my words. I wasn't funny like Heather or good at finding interesting things like J-Walk. But reading me they were. Now I have a slightly larger following, and I'm pretty sure that email quizzes and book reviews are the reason for the initial visit. Some even decide to book mark me.
Now, I know a decent amount of HTML. At least, enough to get myself into trouble and realize, yes, a back-up template is a good thing. I've even influenced a few others to start blogs. (Hi, Ruth, Bethany, Tom, Kelli, and Jaimie!) I've made some great friends who I've never met in person. And some that I have or will soon.
I'm crazy enough each November to participate in NaNoWriMo and post my results here. I have short stories posted at Fictional Musings. I submitted my synopsis to Miss Snark and learned that it wasn't ready for the big leagues yet. I've gotten some great advice from Jory Des Jardin and her mother.
Every day I read posts about people's lives and I feel like I know them. Or the pieces that they share. Really, I could devote hundreds of words about them, but all you need to do is take a side trip through my blogroll. If they're in there, I'm reading 'em.
Honestly, I'm amazed and surprised that I've been doing this for two years. My baby is the same age, yet every day I can look at him and see the changes. Same with my 6yo stepson. This is something I pour myself into, hoping that they will someday realize I'm more than their housekeeper, finder of all things lost, and errand girl extraordinary. And to remind myself too.
Thanks for celebrating with me.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/19/2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I used to write tons of poetry. Usually inbetween classes at college. I had about five minutes to crank something out or revise something from the period before.
Writing on a 15 minute break as an adult seems like heaven. Plus I can accomplish three times as much.
I usually wrote free-verse, but I was particular as to how it appeared on the paper and sounded. Meters scared me, but I could handle themes, alliteration and imagery just fine.
It's a perfect combination of Math, Science, and Literature.
via Collision Detection because all my best ideas come from someone else
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/18/2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Title: Devil's Due
Author: Rachel Caine
Summary: Lucia Garza finds Jazz's acceptance of the hokey explanation behind the red envelope jobs out of character. Until she starts receiving searching for her own answers.
The Take-Away: I read the two titles in this series back to back and was amazed how Caine was able to have two distinct characters dealing with the same problem. Everything about them is different, including their tastes and reactions.
Recommendation: Again, because it was published by Sihouette Bombshell, this title is no longer available to buy, but check your local library to see if they can find it for you.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Fictional Musings is devoted to flash fiction (750 words or less) and features several new stories every month. I've read some really brilliant pieces there. Fellow local writers include, Word Nerd and Thomas Cannon as well.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/16/2006
Title: Devil's Bargain
Author: Rachel Caine
Summary: Jazz Callender receives an offer that would establish her own private dectective agency. The only catch is she needs to give any job that arrives in a red envelope priority.
The Take-Away: Jazz is a real hard ass in addition to being an ex-cop. She's fierce, protective of her friends and willing to take risks. When the red letter job seem hokey, she diggs deeper. With the assistance of her partner, ex-military with an unbelievable resume, Jazz is forced to accept -- or at least consider -- that her choices are not her own.
The only dissappointing thing about this book and its sequel Devil's Due is their publisher -- Silhouette Bombshell. Four new titles are published every month and the previous titles are pulled. If you're looking for it, hope your local library purchased it.
Recommendation: Search far and wide for it.
Monday, May 15, 2006
The Genny's are out and I didn't know about them. Didn't know I was nominated or that I had won. I'm completely astounded, as you very well can imagine.
First, I must thank JA Konrath for making it all possible. I'm completely thrilled at the time and effort he took to get the word out about blogs like mine. Seriously, for an aspiring author, this is truly amazing.
From now on, I'll be proud to mention it among my credits.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/15/2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Salary.com on Wednesday released its annual market valuation of a mother's work. After talking with 400 stay-at-home and working mothers, it determined the 10 major jobs a mother performs at home and the number of hours she typically devotes to each of those jobs.
Researchers then tried to determine the competitive market value that an employer would pay for one person to do a blend of those 10 jobs seven days a week.
If only you could cash in the check calculated for you.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/14/2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
Miss Snark recently fielded a question that I quite enjoyed.
Several members of my writing group have been debating the merits of gerunds.
Examples include the following
"You startled me," he said, regaining his balance.
Erin admired the curve of his jeans, taking in the worn fabric.
Pausing at the intersection, Ned realized he was lost.
Some are under the impression that this is an acceptable way to describe something. Others think that is a weak method.
What is your opinion? Or Killer Yap's?
The answer was the basic recommendation to write well. At least she doesn't cringe and toss the manuscript in the rubish pile immediately.
More interesting to me, however, were several of the comments. I have my favorites narrowed to the following:
This one from Janny
As a writer who wears an editorial hat regularly as well (brings to mind a pile of hats in the corner of my office, any one of which I select depending on the manuscript and my mood), I find one of the few things that never fails to set the editorial bicuspids on edge is the seemingly constant misuse of the "ing" phrase. Such as:
Rising over the valley, she was in awe of the mountains.
Struggling for breath, her heart broke.
Now when I see a character rising over a valley, of course, I amend my red pen marks. Ditto for when I actually see a physical heart both breaking and struggling for breath at the same time (that is not a pretty picture). But I see so much of this--and so much of it ends up unintentionally comical--that I'm thinking very few English teachers teach the modifying-phrase idea anymore. And it becomes the curse of one who reads too much, as it were...it stops me dead in the narrative every single time.
...which is not what you want to do for a reader.
Yes, I agree, good storytelling trumps all. But here's the "secret handshake": using the language properly is part of good storytelling. It's one of those oxymorons: if the language is used correctly, it's invisible. If it's visible in some way, the storytelling is weaker for that. Not irreparably weaker, and not fatally weaker in most cases...but just enough that I will take out my red pen and say, "Fix this."
Or it might the response to the one
Thank you Miss Snark for confirming that it boils down to the writing, not your technical expertise of it! I don't know a gerund from a mixed metaphor, and I've heard the term split infinitive, but, like, who cares? If a writing group is worried about the specific techniques as opposed to the writing, then they are focusing on the wrong aspects of the book. I suggest that they close their eyes, listen to it being read, and determine if it makes them want to know what happens next, or if it puts them to sleep. If the latter, it ain't the gerunds that makes the writing weak. It would be the writing.
which was this
Sorry, RB, but the writing group--if she be hale and hearty--*should* yap about the ing thing and any other hole in the boat they spot. That's their purpose--if a writing group actually has a purpose.
I do happen to know that the writing group in question is a critique group with goal of improving writing. The context of the discussion was if "ing" type descriptives were viewed as weak writing. My new opinion is that they are effective, if used properly. (Just like "ly" words.)
And I don't care what the correct term is. I got out of the diagramming business for a reason. :)
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/12/2006
Last night a few members of the Oshkosh Area Writers Club got together to write biographies for the back cover or dust jacket of their books. Some were clever, some tied nicely into the theme of the book, some were matter of fact.
The following was mine. And while I quite like it, I'm not as confident that everyone would.
Stacie Penney resides in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with her husband, two sons, two dogs and possbily a pair of ducks, should they decide to return this year. In between dishes, laundry and researching Oshkosh's night life, she's stealing time to finish her next novel. You can catch-up with the recent event at Raspberry-Latte.blogspot.com
I like setting my books in Oshkosh. To me, it's relevant and needs to be mentioned that I do know the town. Most authors refer to their pets. I decided to also because we have a pair of wild ducks that use our tree for their nest; if there hadn't been any ducks, I probably would have skipped it. I'm a mom so I do steal time that some think should be spent in other areas. Cleaning house just isn't a priority.
One other member has a blog also and I do hope that she decides to post hers as I thought it was quite clever.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/12/2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Title: Size 12 Is Not Fat
Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: Chick Lit
Summary: After her pop star career turns sour, Heather Wells takes a job as a dorm (I mean residental hall) assistant supervisor. Two of her charges die after elevator surfing, only Heather doesn't believe that they were the type of girls who would elevator surf.
The Take-Away: Cute, sweet, and a little naive. I love the premsis of what happens after the rock star career is over. To keep it interesting, Heather has none of the money that she made since her mother cleaned out the bank accounts and disappearred with her boyfriend. The pay at her new job isn't great, but her ex-boyfriend (think Justin Timberlake) has a black sheep brother who lets her rent the upstairs of his townhouse.
Heather's attempts as an amateur detective are funny. She gets it wrong in so many ways, but her gut instinct is right. She was a sweet herione, if a little over the top.
Recommendation: Safe for readers of all ages. None of the descriptions would keep me from recommending it to the teenager next door.
Bonus Review: Edie Ramer, Magical Musings
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Author: Rachel Caine
Summary: Life is bad enough when you aren't a djinn. It's even worse when Joanne is forced to take a job that completely undermines everything she knows about the weather.
The Take-Away: The character cast expands in this title to include several non-Wardens. Seeing Joanne manage is great, especially when she has to break the news to a former co-worker in an extraordinary way.
Recommendation: Buy it, buy it, buy it. Or at the very least, read it. Then you'll understand why it should be on your shelf.
The Weather Warden Series Titles
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Or Plagiarism 101.
Word Nerd did my homework for me and reviewed both Sloppy Firsts and How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life. Thanks for that bit of investigative journalism.
Respectfully submitted and properly cited.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/09/2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
Title: Chill Factor
Author: Rachel Caine
Summary: A powerful young warden holds the bottle for the most powerful djinn in Las Vegas and won't let anyone inside the wards he's established.
The Take-Away: Kevin was really screwed up at the end of Heat Stroke. I loved seeing him adjust to a normal life. At least, normal for a Warden. Even though the story ends, Caine lays the foundation for the next title in the series. It left me both satisfied and looking for me.
Just like a good piece of chocolate does. Only without the calories.
Recommendation: I now own a copy of this book, thanks to Rachel Caine answering my plea to my fellow library user who had borrowed it and wasn't returning it when I wanted. Books 1, 2 and 4 are on my list to buy. I recommend them for your library also.
Bonus Review: Word Nerd
The Weather Warden Series Titles
Friday, May 05, 2006
If I need a character who's religion is a part of their life, I generally pick Catholicism because it's every where.
Not any more.
Religious Maps breaks down major religions and show the percentage of believers based on population for countys across the US.
Even general categories like "Lutheran" are broken out by ELCA, WELS, LC-MS
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/05/2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Title: Prior Bad Acts
Author: Tami Hoag
Summary: The upcoming trial of a sexual offender turned killer places the judge's life and family in danger.
The Take-Away: Tami Hoag fills this book with layers of conflict and suspense. The details of the case are carefully built until the reader is convinced that they have the killer figured out. Only the detective who solved the case seeks justice faster than the judicial system moves.
The family of the victims slowly falls apart and the teenage son becomes the prime suspect in the attack on the judge. Multiple plot lines and a fantastic setting make this a book that shouldn't be read with the lights out.
Recommendation: Tami Hoag's writing scares me, but it's a good thing, if you like scary writing.
Thanks, Apple Blossom Books for making ARCs available!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Your last moments were a worthwhile struggle. Starting up took everything out of you, but you never let me know. It wasn't until I start MS Word 97, that you failed. Opening the program simply overwhelmed you.
I appreciate the time we spent together more than you'll ever know. The late nights discovering interesting things on the web, chatting, exchanging photos. You remembered every story I ever told you. Even when I changed my mind and the wording.
When I think of the abuse you suffered in recent months, mostly inflicted by my 2yo, I'm sorry. More sorry than I ever realized at the time. If I had know the damage he was causing, I would have done more to keep him from stepping on you. Truly, I didn't know.
My favorite time, though, had to be when we worked through the challenges presented by my college professors. I will always treasure the time we spent together at the Klatsch.
Even though your death was sudden, I'm going to start looking for someone new. I just can't get along by myself. Having you for eight years has made me dependent on someone other than myself. I need another laptop. Even last night, the withdraw effects were extreme. I didn't write a single word. Not one of the 1,500 I thought I would produce.
I know that you're in a better place. I will learn to work with another. But, you'll always be my first.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/03/2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
From Miss Snark
The average book buyer in the United States buys fewer than ten books a year. Most people READ fewer than ten books a year. You can see from my link to library thing I've read 30 books this year alone, and that doesn't count the slush pile, the novels I read from my submission list, the novels from my clients or doghelpus the Writing Contest Novella y'all produced for me.
Umm, I've read 42 as of April 20, 2006. I haven't bought most of them, but it's 4x as many as most will read. That terrifies me.
Posted by Stacie Penney at 5/02/2006
Monday, May 01, 2006
The rainy weather seriously has to go. I need to ride bike. Have you seen the price of gas lately? (Of course, duh.) On a side note, the reading decreased because the writing increase. I wrote 15,000 words last month and brought my total to just over 42,000.
I read too much, I know.
- Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
- Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag
- The Eagles Brood by Jack Whyte
- Chill Factor by Rachel Caine
- Windfall by Rachel Caine
- Devil's Bargain by Rachel Caine
- Devil's Due by Rachel Caine
- The Saxon Shore by Jack Whyte
For the year, I've read 45 books, or 14,668 pages, which averages to 11 books a month, or 3,667 pages per month, and an average book length of 326 pages.
I've been reading more non-fiction, like I told myself I would. But I find that it's more thoughtful and slower than my fiction reading. I'm in the middle of four different non-fiction books and believe that one of them will be finished this month.