Monday, June 30, 2008

What's Happening?

What's Jack up to? He's being such a finicky eater lately. I've come to find out that during his big city weekend he developed a taste for crunchy Cheetos which my 2 1/2 year old niece, M fed him one by one and he happily lapped up. Now his dry Eukanuba just ain't doing it. Jack has to learn I'm no short order cook. You eat what I give you or you lose out. Cheetos are not good for you Jack.

Yesterday afternoon I went with the DH to see The Happening. Leave it to M. Night Shyamalan to freak me out thoroughly. I left the theater feeling all off and woozy and disturbed which I'm sure is just what he was going for. Now I'm just a mess. Smart huh?

I've been a huge fan of M. Night since The Sixth Sense and loved The Village, Signs and even liked The Lady In The Water. Now I know The Happening has been panned by just about every critic out there but I thought it was pretty good. Totally effective at giving me the creeps and making me think. The funny thing is I agree with Richard Roeper on this one. He's about one of the only reviewers that didn't pan the movie. I do think M. Night was giving that Twilight Zone and The Birds vibe. You can check out his review here.

I say see for yourself. Give it a try if you dare.

What are some of your favorite creepy movies? Please post in the comments section.
In reality TV news. Elizabeth The Lady Novelist over at Got It Goin' on found this great interview with Graham from The Bachelorette. Looks like DeAnna made a very wise choice. Thanks Elizabeth! Hop on over to her blog and check it out.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hell Week Part Deux is ov-ah!

What's Jack up to? He's happy it's Saturday and officially Summer! Hooray. Not that that makes any difference for Jack. Everyday is Summer for him.

Well, I can hardly believe it, but Hell Week Part Deux is over. Heck, hell School year is over. My Dear Twins, better yet the DH and I survived the first year of High School. It was not easy. There were some VERY tense moments there. More than I care to recall. But it's done. Summer is here and the DD and I celebrated by getting our nails done. French tips with a sparkle silver accent for her. Yep, I caved.
And for me? I got a pedi for myself and a pomegranate martini.




P.S. Scroll down for Ask the Agent

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ask the Agent

Sorry for the delay but here it is your Ask The Agent for this week.

If a manuscript is queried as belonging to one genre, but after reading the partial, you feel it belongs to another, what would you do?

This is something that actually happens more often than one would think. One big piece of advice I give to writers who ask me about query letters is to make sure they are familiar with what they are writing. This also ties directly into being familiar with the market that you are writing in.

The short answer to this question is if it is a good story and the writing is strong and sellable I don’t care if it was “mislabeled” – “I’ll say to the writer, hey you may think you have that, but in fact you have this, now here’s what we can do with it to get it sold!”

Now that I’ve said that, I’m going to mention several of the ways authors shoot themselves in the foot by not knowing what they write. They have a great story but they send it to an agent that doesn’t represent the genre that the story falls in. They pitch it to an editor who falls in love with it but isn’t able to acquire a manuscript that is outside of their line. In both instances not only is the author wasting valuable time, but they are perhaps ruining their chances with someone else in an agency/house that may be the perfect candidate to acquire the project.

Also, if one doesn’t know the real genre that their story fits in how can they be aware of the market demands for that genre? Yes, it is true that everyday someone says “bring us something fresh and different”, however, it has to fit within certain parameters to be able to market the title correctly to an interested audience. ::And here I will insert my weekly disclaimer, yes, there are exceptions to everything I’m saying. Please don’t tell me “well I know so and so who sold Title X and it didn’t follow any of the rules”:: It is invaluable for an author to be informed about genre rules: word counts, POV standards, plot structure, primary characters, secondary characters, plots, secondary plots, conflict, etc etc.

Every genre is a little bit different and what works clearly in one does not always work in another. I don’t care how good your paranormal world is, if it takes you 200k words to build there is little I can do to sell it. You may have the best romantic suspense in the world, but if I don’t meet the hero until page 200 its not going to be what the romantic suspense editors are wanting to see.

In light of all these things if I see an author who is blatantly pitching their work as something that its not I will usually point out their error and explain the reasons that I feel it is something else. Then if it is something that I am interested in, I will work with them to get the novel up to the standards of its true market. I will spend time educating and referring the author to sources that will help them understand wherein lies their error and how to correct the problem or avoid it in the future.

As a final thought, and this ties to several of the other questions that I’ve seem posted on the thread and I may go into deeper in a future question. Don’t try to be sneaky. Lets use Chick-lit as an example – If you have a story that is no-questions-asked chick-lit, call it what it is. I know it’s a tough market, but trying to disguise the story as something else isn’t going to make it sell any quicker. If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it is a duck – you aren’t going to be fooling anyone. Editors and agents read all day, every day in the genres they represent – they are going to know within pages if someone is trying to “trick” them into reading, and they aren’t going to be impressed. As a professional in the industry you are to present your project honestly and accurately.

So take the time to know your stuff, educate yourself on the market, and familiarize yourself with your competition. IF you think you are writing women’s fiction, take some time and read the most praised best women’s fiction writers, read the bestsellers, read what people are saying. Then sit down and honestly look at your work and see if it fits the pattern of all the other examples you are seeing on the shelves

Thanks so much Elaine. Please be sure to post your new questions in the comments section. See ya next week!


PS- Scroll down for more fun.

Ask The Agent ... Coming Soon

What's Jack Up Too? He's being his wild self, practically taking down the entire porch when a stray cat came wandering around to taunt him and he was leashed to the railing.

See it's ok for our neighbor's cat, Marvin, to come wandering around our yard. Jack will take that with a little bark or two, but he's not taking any mess from Bum Cat, as our other neighbor , N, affectionately named the stray cat yesterday.

I have a feeling, Bum cat is not a Bum Cat at all but lives on another street. He's too clean and too well fed to be a true bum cat. He's actually quite beautiful, all black with white feet and a bit of white on his ears and tail. Kristian you'd love him. I'll try and snap and pic of him one day.

Ask the Agent will be coming soon. Sorry for the delay. Fab agent is busy making major deals. But in the meantime please enjoy this clip which I just saw recently courtesy of youtube and one of my fab agency sistahs. Thanks Leigh! Let's all hope to never have an agent like this one.

Too funny!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shear Fun

What's Jack up to? He's back to playing big time guard dog, barking like crazy at all the big dogs that walk by. He doesn't seem to notice that they don't even spare little 'ole Jack a glance.

Hell week continues, but I'm smiling through it because last night was the premier of Shear Genius, the hairdressing reality show on Bravo with my all time favorite angel Jaclyn Smith. Who still looks great but I have to say it. Have she and Kim Vo both been to the same plastic surgeon for just a bit of work. Just a tiny bit. Enough to make me say stop. No more please.

So who am I loving? Oshun. Because he’s so deep or at least he thinks he is. And Charlie from, um, hell? What’s up with that? Attitude already. I love it!

The first challenge is a blindfold challenge. I could not imagine having my hair cut by a blindfolded stylist. No way! Poor Oshun came in last. Boo hoo.

For the elimination Challenge that had to do hair based on cartoon characters. Too fun!
When Charlie started to compare the blue hair piece he was working on to pubic hair mentor, Rene Fris’, jaw dropped and mine did too. Ewww.

I loved the Betty Boop Hair the best. This is going to be a fun show!

And don’t worry if you missed the first episode, it’s Bravo which means repeats all week.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The more things change...

What's Jack up to? He's just back to being Jack. I guess you can't take the suburbs out of the dog huh?

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the July issue of Italian Vogue. It's sure to be a collectors issue. Featuring all Black models photographed by Steven Meisel in an attempt to speak to the racial prejudice that has so long been prevalent in the fashion industry. The New York Times wrote about it here. Being a Black girl that got her first subscription to Vogue at age twelve the article said nothing that I didn't already know and feel about the Black Out in the fashion industry.

I have to say. I applaud Italian Vogue for doing this but am so sad that it had to be done and am really sad that it was not done my own own American Vogue. Yeah they were nice enough to do a little piece on the subject in the July issue and feature a couple of "new" ethnic faces for that piece but that was it. Not another brown skinned girl in the editorial section. And did we need another star on the cover? Nicole Kidman, as fine as actress as she is, did not need that cover. Let's give fashion back to the fasionistas.

It almost makes me long for the days of the Fashion Cafe. At least then we had some distinct faces in fashion.

That said beauty is beauty and it comes in all shapes sizes and colors and it's time for the world, especially the fashion world to get on board with that before it starts to hit then where they live. In their wallets.

photos thanks to Italian Vogue and NYT
I don't want my daughter growing up like I did, constantly searching for a face that looks like hers and then being pleasantly surprised when she gets a little glimpse. That's just not right. Not in today's world. Fashion has to get with it and soon.



PS- Bravo is back tonight with Shear Genius. Yay!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Strong and Silent

What's Jack up to? Well he's back home from his big city weekend. I guess he's happy. It's hard to tell. He's only slightly uppity, turning his nose up at his food and all. Was he having leftovers from Perilla? But he does seem thrilled to frolic in the grass again.

I missed a bit of The Bachelorette last night doing baseball duty since the DH is away on business during Hell Week part Deux and missing all the joy. Lucky man eh?
Man, I knew for sure that it would be Jesse flying away on his hair wings. Boy, was I wrong. Dear Nana had it so right.

It was moody Graham getting the boot. Nana sure called it. Comparing Graham's moods to my late grandfather. I had to crack up at that one. She was right he was a moody man.

What is it about those brooding men that we like so much? They are bound to break our hearts. Did DeAnna make a good call by saving herself some definite heartache from a man that clearly did not know how to show his emotions or should she have stuck it out for the passion that was sure to come?

What you think and while we're at it, who are some of your favorite brooding heroes? Here is one of mine from North and South. Le Sigh.



PS- scroll down for more hot messery. I'm chatty. sorry.

Time to Just Say No

How saddened was I by the story that Amy Winehouse has emphysema and will lose her voice or even die if she does not give up smoking drugs.

Amy give up the drugs already!

I think I've said it here before but her Back to Black album has been my favorite so far this year. I listen to it constantly. But from the very beginning I could hear the genius and the tragedy in her voice. She totally reminds me of Billie Holiday and that scares me.

Here is the video clip on my favorite song from Back to Black. Tears Dry On Their Own. I bet you can guess my fav line. Oh, because of said line it's not for the kiddies. Sorry.

Sidebar: Don't you just love the look of this directed by David LaChapelle?


Monday, June 23, 2008

Hell Week Part Deux

What's Jack up to? The sweetie is still in the NYC as I write this. I'm on my way to get him in a bit so we'll see how he is once he returns home. Will he be a Harlem dog when he gets back?

So the DH and I had a lovely weekend filled with good friends, cocktails and lots of food. I'm suffering from a lobster hangover after attending a lobster fest this weekend where I tried to eat my weight in lobster. Ouch! The weekend started lovely and I actually dressed up and and went to a cocktail party at a good friends house. She's an artist and friend to this blog and super chic and her cocktail party was a lovely summer night event held on her back stone patio.

Everyone said it felt like we were in Europe somewhere. Since I've never attended a chic cocktail party in Europe I took their word for it and agreed.

Then it was on to the weekend lobster fest where on the first night I proudly held my own at poker with some of my DH's buddies and represented for the ladies and on the next day and held my own with the lobster. Whew. I'm tired.

Now onto Hell week part 2 with the Dear Twins. Maybe I should start to call them the Wonder Twins. Anybody remember them from the Super Friends? Sorry, side thought.

Anyhoo... I'm reading Janet Evanovich's Full House . It's Fun and a change of pace from last week's historical, but I must admit I have Philippa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover and I may have to crack that open this week too. It's calling my name.

What are you up to this week?


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Talking Historicals

What's Jack up to? Hold only your hats. Jack is a city dog for the weekend. He's gone off with Nana for a couple of days to be spoiled and seduced by the bright lights of the big city. I hope he does well with real heights and doesn't come home with too much of an attitude.

I thought we'd talk historical romances this weekend and literary escapes. Although I write contemporary I have a big time love of historical romances. BIG TIME!

And during Hell Week this past week one one the things that help me get though was Lisa Kleypas' DREAMING OF YOU. I loved it! I think I got the recommendation from Kristie and Katie at Ramblings on Romance you can check them out here. It's a great blog and a wonderful resource.

Now I hear from PIC Megan, a wonderful historical writer herself, that it's a book that brings out strong opinions. You either love it or hate it. I really loved it. It gave me just the escape I needed for Hell Week. Now I need something for Hell Week Part Deux because it still ain't over yet. Can you believe that? Sigh.

What are your favorite Literary escapes? Come on and share. Don't be shy. We're all friends here. I hope.


PS- Scroll down for Ask The Agent. It's a goody!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ask The Agent- Why don't cha?

What's Jack up to? He's happy it's Friday and he's not a stinky dog anymore since he's bath yesterday. Yay!

Welcome to another Ask The Agent with fab agent Elaine Spencer form The Knight Agency. This week' s question is a great. Props to Elaine for taking it on. Let's just get right into it.
I'm wondering when an author should start looking for a new agent. Is two months too long to wait for a read-through of minor rewrites?

I think that you probably know in your heart what the answer to this question is, and really this is something that only *you* can have the definite answer on because you are the only one that really knows all the important info. If you really don’t know what you should be considering the best I can do is offer some pointers that might show you the light. And here’s my disclaimer, I’m an agent, I’m going to automatically give yours the benefit of the doubt, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I would love to say be super-agent and jump in and say “Its taken them TWO WHOLE MONTHS??!?! That’s ridiculous, you deserve a read within the week, that’s what I promise all of my clients!!!”. However, and Kwana can vouch for me, that would be a total lie. When I receive client material what I do try to do is immediately give them an estimate of how long it might take me to take a look at their work. Sometimes I’m able to stick to that deadline, and sometimes life happens and what once seemed very possible becomes utterly impossible.

Two months does seem a little bit lengthy but in the defense of the agent here are the things that I would consider “get out of jail” tickets that you should cut them a break. Is this your spotlight project or is it just something minor you’ve been stewing up in the back of your mind, a “pet project”, which is in addition to other work you have submitted. How many times has the agent seen this material? Is this your first set of rewrites or your 3rd. Have you heard from your agent during those two months with an update on where you are in their reading pile and what might be the hold-up? Does your agent want to shop this project or have they already told you that deep in their heart they don’t feel like this is “the one”. Is there a market for this project or is it something that is going to be a REALLY tough sell? How much of the manuscript are they having to re-read and with how watchful of an eye? Did the agent receive 15 full manuscripts the week before you sent yours in (and yes that happens, when it rains, it pours!)?

If the agent is unresponsive and takes two months to respond to you on anything, always, regardless of circumstances, well yes, I think its time you look around. It is important that you have someone in your corner who is going to be respectful of your time and your goals for progressing forward.

I’m going to add my own little disclaimer in here, just because I think *good* agents often can catch a bad rep for things that are really outside of their control. As I mentioned above, life happens, and we have learned to always expect the unexpected. This past spring my career has been on a whirlwind ride. Its been fun and exciting and promising for the future, but for a brief time my clients have had to bear with me while I’ve just been treading water and trying to squeeze it all done into a day (and night’s) work.

Times like this ebb and flow. At the end of the day even if my responses haven’t been quite as quick or quite as detailed as they typically are, my clients know that I totally adore each of them and their writing. If not, I would have cut them loose when the going got tough. They also know that while I may temporarily be in a position where I can’t get them an instantaneous answer on anything they send material or question wise, I without a doubt would drop anything in a second if anything really important would come up.

It is an agent’s job to be available for anything at anytime, it comes with the territory and we all know it. And deep down, whether we will all admit it or not, everyone of us loves that about the job, or we wouldn’t be in agents. Still, at the end of the day we are all people, and sometimes we deserve a break just like everyone else. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew, sometimes we find ourselves in time crunches, and sometimes we just can’t do it all.

There have to be cut-backs somewhere, sometimes we just have to put one thing aside, ask yourself, has your agent sacrificed your best interest or is this issue really insignificant in the grand scheme of your career.

The ultimate answer to your question lies in whether you have tried talking to your agent about what the hold-up is. Have you voiced your concerns that you aren’t getting the attention that you feel you deserve? If not, let them know you feel like you’ve been abandoned, that you are concerned about their dedication. Talk it out and see if their response is something you think is fair and justifiable. If it is, stick with them, give them one more chance, if they tell you “they’re just too busy, maybe they’ll be able to get to it next month” then perhaps you consider your other options.

And on second thought. I hope I didn’t interpret that question wrong. It just dawned on me and I thought in my own head, “maybe they were referring specifically to the submission process, as in the agent isn’t really “theirs” just one they have submitted to and the agent requested rewrites.”

If that’s the case, well shoot, lets make this short and sweet. After two months? Yes, move on. Don’t count the agent out yet, because sometimes as I said, things come up and we can’t move as quickly on non-client material as we wish we could (and sometimes we consequently miss out when the author does in fact go wider).

If the agent thinks they have it on exclusive shoot them an email and let them know you are going to submit to others and let them know when you receive alternative offers. Regardless, keep your options open!
How often do you update your clients on the submission process? Do you prefer email or phone for doing so? Just curious....

This one is easy. I update my clients on the submission process the instant that I have anything to report. If we are at the beginning of the submission, just preparing to send out, I will let them know who I’m planning to target. I usually ask if they have anything big to add, sometimes if they have some valid point I’ll take their suggestions and other times I follow what I know is best and stick with my selection.

After the send-out I let them know who accepts and who declines (hopefully no one to the latter!). I then update them when I’m doing follow-ups and as soon as I hear from anyone. If its an offer, well then obviously, we discuss pros/cons (if any) and move forward). If it’s a pass I forward the response word for word on directly.

Sometimes this is via the phone sometimes via email sometimes via snail mail. That varies depending on circumstance.

Told you it was a good one. Don't forget to post your questions in the comments section.
Thanks Elaine!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blogging Top Chef- 1 mo' time!

What's Jack up to? Poor Jack is as stinky as he can be so I guess he'll be getting wet today when I dunk his dirty butt in a bath. Oh the fun. Not!

So here I am blogging Top Chef one more time. It's The Reunion show
Whoo Hoo! Here it is as I’m thinking it.

Gail’s covered. Tom's in a vest- I likie. Padma’s looking like Padma and Ted’s there. Yay!
No Richard because it was taped when his wife was giving birth. Aww.

Loving Dale’s body language. He is so not into being there and the show is just beginning.

Stephanie is using the money to open another restaurant in Chicago. She will be a powerhouse.
The talk of Mark and Spike's Bromance was just icky. And Dale and Richard? Andrew and Spike? That Spike just gets around. And Can I say how I can’t stand the word Bromance. Like I hate the term Baby bump. But I love Andrew. He’s just crazy.

Marks of the market. He got married to an American. Hmm.

Oh Snap! Internet rumor blow up. Zoi and Jen totally broke up, but don’t want t admit it on TV. I guess couples will think twice before signing up to compete on TC the next time. Must find out what happened. I suspect someone cheated and Zoi is was too defensive.

Who will win fan favorite and why are they suggesting Spike? Pla-ease. Spare me.

Love the idea of The Stew Room and what the judges do during that time. So funny.

Dale talk. Yes! Tom disagreed with the decision. Dale was a big man though. I still heart him.
Lisa’s scowl. Yech! Ha, Lisa got dirty looks at a lesbian party. Too funny. I love that.

Best of Andrew. ADD. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Great! You know he could win fan favorite and I wouldn’t be surprised. And Andrew’s "Culinary Boner" line won the t-shirt contest this year.

Top fights:
4. Dale vs. Andrew
3. Lisa vs. Dale
2. Lisa vs. Andrew
1. Spike vs. Antonia vs .Jen vs. Dale vs. Lisa .What?
Good Times!

Hey it’s Richard via satellite with a sort-a-hawk? You can tell he was up all night. He’s opening another restaurant. See I knew he was going to be fine.

Now for fan favorite…. And it’s... wait Tom just dissed Lisa and said it won’t be her. I can’t stop laughing. Ha. That is too mean. I want to see the mush face again. David Dust are you out there?

Ok now to fan favorite. It’s… Stephanie!! All around a great year for the super woman.


PS: Scroll down for a fun book review video. We should all be so lucky.

We should be so lucky

So I came across this cool video from, Daniel on Melissa Walker's Blog. In it he reviews her Violet Books. He's a big fan. Check it out. He also has strong opinions on America's Next Top Model which I just love!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hell Week

What's Jack up to? He's being a Jackster. Barking like crazy whenever another dog prances by. No matter how sweet or silent that other dog is or how friendly the other dog's owner is by smiling and waving kindly at us. So embarrassing, Jack.

So, I'm in the midst of hell week with the Dear Twins. It's finals week at the high school with tests scheduled all different hours. Some in the morning and some in the afternoon and the kids only have to come in for their tests or for different study sessions if they want so it's mom On Call all the time.

Besides that I'm in the middle of pure adolescent hell and my motto of "I'm not mature enough for this job" is really being proven. Every day new situations arise that just baffle my mind. I'm exhausted.

Note to self: must talk with hairdresser about these pesky grey hairs that have popped out this week. Ugh!



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2 for Tuesday

What's Jack up to? He's running around happy today. Nana's visiting so it's all joy for him. He's never happier than when she's here to give lots of love and treats!

I was so exhausted last night that I was nodding off on the end of The Bachelorette. So I didn't get to see who got booted off. No big surprise to me today to find out it was Sean and Twilley who got the ax. Buh-bye boys! Now on to the home town dates!

I'm glad to say that the proposal is going well and I bit the bullet and dove in the the synopsis. I couldn't let that bout of Synopsisphobia get the best of me. It had me in it's grips for while there though. Thanks for all your comments on that post. If you missed it you can check it out here. Ugh those dreaded synopsis! Yech!



Monday, June 16, 2008

200th Post

What's Jack up to? Well he's still Jack. Which means he's up to just about anything!

I had new clue what I was going to write today. My current mood puts me in mind to complain and I really don't want to do that. What would it accomplish? Nada.
Then as I opened my blogger dashboard I noticed that this would be my 200th post. Wow! 200. That's a huge accomplishment for a person that can't stick to a diet for more than 3 days.
So I'll just write:

Happy 200th post to me!!

And share this pic that I took recently of a flower after the rain.

I hope you have a great week.



Saturday, June 14, 2008


What's Jack up to? Just being a Jack nuisance. I had a late night flood in the basement last night when the sink from the washing machine backed up. Well it was party time for Jack. How much fun was that? Sopping up water while trying to keep Jack out of it.

So I think I have a Synopsisphopia. You know a phobia of synopsis. Give me a book to write and sure it's tough, but I can make it though 300-400 pages with just a few battle scars. But ask me to do a 5- 10 page synopsis and the thought causes me to break out in a rash.
Why oh why are they so hard? Waaa-Waaa!!!!

Would someone please give me the magic formula? I want to hear from all you writers out there. Especially you pantsers. I'm itching over here!


P.S. Scroll down for Ask the Agent.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ask the Agent

What's Jack up to? Just being Jack on this fine spring day. He's checking out the scenery and seeing what sort of trouble he can get into.

Welcome to ask the agent for this week with Fab agent Elaine Spencer from The Knight Agency. Thanks for joining us again this week . Here goes...

I'm curious as to what makes a manuscript you like turn into a "pass" instead of asking the author to rework the whatever portions don't quite click with you?

This was a left over question from an answer that I gave last week and I thought it really had some merit so I figured I would revisit.

The above situation always involves a gamble, usually one on a couple of different levels. When I’m reading a partial (or a full) I have to give it my own personal rating system. If it’s something I’m enjoying and I see potential in and I think to myself “ok, so you like this, now how much do you like it”. I start to weight the merits of the manuscript on every level from the page that it hooks me forward. I look at the quality of the idea, the development of the plot, the evolution of the characters, the authenticity and readability to the voice, the world, the strength of the writing, the skill of the story-teller, and the list goes on and on and on . . .

Then I stop and I look at my pros and cons. When I start to realize that yes there are a lot of things I really like, but also there are a lot of cons, that is when your question really comes into play.

I stop and evaluate these cons and try to figure out if they are all related to one another. I try to figure out if we can go in and fix this and that, or if once we do that it’s going to be like a giant thread and once you tug, the entire story will unravel. I look at what these fixes will take. I try to figure out if it’s something simple like working on a certain writing “tick” or if it’s something greater that shows the author just isn’t there quite yet in their potential.

When I have a story that I really love but isn’t quite there I always strike up a dialogue with the author in question. I figure out where they are in their querying process and where they are in their writing career. If they have another idea that they are working on I’ll take a look at that too to see exactly how much I love the writing of the author.

Basically I try to figure out how serious the errors are in a partial. If they are substantial but fixable I’ll offer suggestions and see how the author does with the editorial process. If they are errors that show me the craft just isn’t there yet, there is no amount of revision that can really expedite that process so I will most likely just say, “Until next time, good luck” and pass.

Hope that clears that up.

Thanks Elaine and thanks to everyone for stopping by. Please be sure to post your comments and questions.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ding Dong .. and She's the Tops

What's Jack up to? He's extra playful this morning and he's following behind me with his new favorite stuffed toy so that I'll play fetch. Jack, love. There's work to do.

First off, thanks for all the well wishes for my birthday yesterday. You all were so sweet!
I'm on a chocolate high today. My head is spinning. and I'm so tired from watching the late version of Top Chef. But here goes. The final re-cap. It won't be a goody because honestly I was watching though half-closed eyes.
The show opens with our lovely final 2 plus 1 that we just can't understand, but there must be something to her because as Tom says it's in the taste of the food. That's what I have to tell myself so I don't hate the show.

There was no quickfire just straight to the real deal and it was a real doozy. The chefs got to be paired with real top chefs Eric Ripert, Dan Barber and April Bloomfield. They have to make a 4 course meal including dessert, which scares them all to death.
Richard and Stephanie were tied for most wins and had to draw knives to see who would chose first. Stephanie won and picked Chef Eric. Richard picked Chef Dan and Lisa Got April. She was thrilled. Girl power!
Richard is exited to pull out the Liquid Nitro and start to demo for the Top Chefs. I'm worried something is going to blow up in there. But Richard is happy as a pig is slop. The Chefs are happy that Richard is happy.
The next day the finalist were surprised to be left on their own with no help. Richard is wild, Stephanie is nervous and Lisa is calm. She's all like "It's all good."
At this Richard makes a face like he wants to smack her into reality.
Stephanie says "she hates her cake, yo." I think she's channeling, Dale.
Suddenly it's plate time and the judges are all dressed up and going into a beautiful dining room to be served.
On to dinner, The finalist come out and say a few words. Blah, Blah, Blah.
1st course. Lisa got a question mark from the judges. Stephanie was elegant and Richard was s0-so.
2nd course Lisa's soup was a love. Gulp. Stephanie fell flat. Richard was a like.
3rd Lisa was pedestrian. Never good. Stephanie's lamb was a love and Richard's Pork had no seasoning.
Dessert- They loved Lisa's rise pudding, Liked Stephanie's cake and Liked Richard's Ice cream.
With the commentary after ,they made it all vague so you couldn't tell who would win. It had better not be Lisa.
Chefs go to the not so Glad room where this is lots of Evian today. Hmm?
They all look thoughtful. Not a lot of action there.
The chefs are called in and questioned. Then they're ask if they have any last words. There's a long awkward pause and Stephanie speak up saying she second guessed herself on the dessert but she wants to be the Top Chef.
Lisa says she should be be it or something like that. Ha.
Richard says he thinks he choked, which shocks the judges. Quick cut to Tom for expression. He serves it well.
There is judge talk. Blah, Blah, Blah. I like' Tom's scruffy look.
The chef's are called back in and the verdict.
Padma please.
The Top Chef is..... Stephanie!!!

Ding Dong the witch is dead and the right woman won! It's been a roller coaster season. This was a fun was to experience it.
Can't wait to see the reunion show next week.
Oh and check out the A-List awards tonight on Bravo, which I went to last week!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to... Me!

What's Jack up to? He's just being Jack. Happy and bouncing and driving me batty.
Just like he's supposed to.

So today is my birthday. Wow, I can't believe another one has come around so quickly. Must be the age.
I'm always a little down on birthdays and holidays. Like a child, I tend to make way too much out of them. I don't know why I do. I'm old enough to know better. But, I'm one of those people who believe that special days and special people should be marked in extra-special ways. So I always go all out, make a huge deal, then I get all melancholy thinking of the past and the future and then I turn to mush. I'll try real hard not to do that this year. This year I plan on smiling as much as possible and counting the many blessings I have.
What I'd like to do here is say thank you to my dear friends old and new for hanging with me on this blog and listening to my silly ramblings. It really means so much to me.
Please enjoy this pic of my little flower this sits in my kitchen window and let's bloom together this year.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's a Man, Baby!

What’s Jack up to? Just trying to keep cool. Right now, the basement is the place to be. Ahh, relief is being a dog with a cool bed and no responsibilities.

It was another day of mind boggling heat. Man, it was blazing hot yesterday which meant power outages all over New York. That’s just what happens here when the temps go up and the A/C goes on. Today will be another day of record heat.

I have been in complete edit mode which is intense. I’m in that space where my mind is never really out of the story. I was chatting with a friend who is married to a writer and it was funny because she could see it in my eyes where I was in the story process.

I had, no time to sit and watch The Bachelorette for 2 hours straight. Why is this show so darn long? I’ve got a lot to do with 2 hours. There is no way I can sit and watch the whole thing.

And DeAnna, why are you crying so much and saying ‘ya’ll’ so much?
I did love when she cried, yelled at the guys and said, “I can’t promise to not kiss other people!” Then she walked off. A total guy move, right.

Sidebar: Can I just clip Jesse’s wings? That hair is making me crazy.

Robert, the chef, was living in La-La land. How sad was he with the single tear in the limo? But then DeAnna does a Brad Womack and gives the old double whammy and lets poor Fred go home too!! She really is turning into a guy on this show!!
Going home tonight was the tall guy that I don’t remember DeAnna hardly talking to at all. Go figure.

The Mole is back and they are still hating on Nicole, but that Bobby is surely showing the most Mole-y behavior by having a girl push him in a wheel barrel uphill. Nutty, but fun to watch. The crazy thing is I still have no clue who the mole is or how this game really works. Shrug.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Weekend Wonderer

What's Jack up to? Chilling out after a long and really hot weekend. Not too much jumping around today eh, Jack?

This Really has been a particularly hot weekend in New York. Especially for June and especially in my house and I don't see any relief any time soon. I'm really busy with writing work and end of the school year things for the Dear Teens. Mom stress is at the same high level as the outside thermometer. These are the times that no one warned you about when it was all smiles and congratulations over you having babies. Teens are not babies.
So of course as a writer, when I get stressed I turn to books. Romance, Self-help, The bible. etc.

I picked up this one book in B&N because the title was just was calling my name THE WORN OUT WOMAN. Check out this anonymous quote at the beginning of the first chapter:

"Don't ask me to relax; it's my tension that's holding me together."
It just made me smile in it's perfection.

In between working on my new proposal I did a little work in the garden to give my eyes a break. I thought I share some pics here of the Collards I planted. Thanks to PVE for coming through and finding these at Carlson's.

I'm a girl that likes to feel the dirt in her hands when planting. Guess it's time for a new mani huh? Boy do my hands look old! UGH.
Here is a freshly cut bouquet of roses that the DH cut for me right before a flash thunderstorm on Saturday. It's so nice to have flowers from your own garden on your table.
Now to get a little peace of mind at said table...
So how was your weekned?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Prince-ly Day!

What's Jack up to? Jack's on fire today or at least he will be if the temperature hits 94 as the weather predicts. Jack doesn't like the heat. But he'll make it through like the charmer he is. Speaking of being a charmer. He was quite the charmer on our walk yesterday and despite being wild and jumpy, he was extra cute and our lovely little neighbor, T, is now more determined than ever to convince her mom, E, to get a D-O-double-G. She even watched me pick up P-O-O-P and promised to do so herself! Uh-Oh! Watch out, E!

Happy B-Day to Prince. Another Gemini. His Purple Highness has had way too much influence on this girls formative years. Be still my little heart!

From Adore :
Until the end of time
I'll be there 4 U
U own my heart and mind
I truly adore U
If God one day struck me blind
your beauty I'd still see
Love's 2 weak 2 define
just what U mean 2 me
Scroll down for Ask the Agent!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ask The Agent- Why Don't Cha ?

Here it is! Your ask the agent question of the week and it's a goody answered by fab agent, Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency. Thanks again to Elaine.

Now don't be shy. Post your questions in the comments section. Feel free to pass the word onto your friends because Elaine can't answer what she doesn't have.

Have a wonderful week full of many words on the page or am I just projecting now? Sorry.


Now to the question:

What things keep you reading when a requested partial has been submitted to you? What parts of a query letter are most important in your eyes?

This question is actually harder to answer than it sounds. It is so difficult to put into words exactly where the magic happens in either a query or a submission.

I’ll start with a query, since it’s the first piece of the puzzle. What is most important to me is a simple display of competence. I want to see that they have done their homework and are familiar with how a query should be presented and submitted. I want to see quality grammar, solid writing, and fabulous content. I think a lot of people out there think “its just a query letter” and try to short-cut steps or break the rules as a way to stand out. I advise against this.

In regards to query letters, write what everyone tells you to write. Follow the format of the standard three paragraph, introduction, pitch, summary letter. This gets my attention right off the bat by showing me you are a professional and you’re serious about getting a foot in the door.

The only area that you really need to stand out in the query is with the content. While I discourage anyone from deviating from the traditional style I encourage authors to really find away to pitch their novel in a creative way. Pitch us the story in a way that we can’t help but stop and think “that sounds amazing” or “what a brilliant idea”.

Sometimes I request chapters because the heroine sounds like a cool gal, or there is some setting element that really interests me, or the subject matter just sounds ground breaking. Sometimes I request because I’ve just heard a fellow agent or editor say they were really looking for something that this particular query might describe. Sometimes the author seems really qualified and so I assume they are going to bring me a well written sample. On other occasions the author finds a way to infuse their voice and style into the query that make me really compelled to see how it translates over on the written page.

There are a ton of things that make a query stand out and warrant additional material requests. At the end of the day remember that your query is a reflection of your manuscript. Try to keep them on equal footing in terms of tone and appeal.

In terms of a partial, in my eyes I am looking at the material from a totally different angle, so its a very different question, however my ability to pin-point exactly what works is just as difficult.

Again, at the top of my list, the most glaring thing is the quality of the writing. I want to have a sense that I’m working with a professional writer, or at least someone who is pretty darned close. I want to see grammatical competence and a familiarity of what “Publishable” quality writing is.

In many, many instances I start reading and the writing is just not publishable. I can’t tell you how often I stop and scratch my head and think is this author crazy? They have to have an idea that this isn’t yet up to par, so why are they sending it to me? That sounds harsh, but its frustrating how cavalierly many people treat our valuable reading time.

I think that with the ease of email and how accessible many agents are, a real lack of accountability has shot up. In many instances people send off their material at the drop of a dime without proof reading, without editing, without facing the reality that their product is not on any equal footing with the book you would pick up at your local BN.

Yes, I know that titles still have to go through an editorial process, and those folks up in NY etc. certainly do know how to really make a project shine. Still, before an author sends any material off, the submission should be as clean as an author can possibly imagine it being. There should be zero room for improvement.

So, that being said (and boy did I get side-tracked) what makes a submission stand out. Quality writing. A great voice. Opening pages that have a real “hook” in them. A character who instantly is in my head. A setting I automatically start envisioning.

There is something really magical when you have found that special submission and is hard to put into words. You just know. I’m currently reading a submission that I absolutely love. I know I’m not going to take the project on right now because it needs additional work, but still, I LOVE the manuscript. Despite the flaws in the manuscript, the voice and the characters have totally engaged me, I really want to know how to story unfolds. I used the term “compellingly readable” earlier in the week to describe the project.

That’s what the magic is, when we forget that we are reading an unpublished manuscript, whether it be at our desks at 10am or in our beds at 10pm, but yet we can’t put it down. When we get carried away by jaw dropping revelations, heart wrenching character developments, and laugh out loud dialogue we know we have a winner and we can’t help but keep turning the pages.

Now ask away. See you next week for more Ask the Agent!!

Scroll down for some new music!

My Ears Are Ringing

What's Jack up to?Being Lil Jack. Ya know, wild and crazy. Happy it's Friday. Not that that means much to Jack.

So my always up on the new music writer friend surprised me and dropped this early b-day gift in my in-box. I was too happy. Adele's voice has been haunting me in the best way for days now.
Let her haunt you too.

Darn these Brit girls. They are rockin!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A-List Night and What-evs

What's Jack up to? He's up and perky and once again I'm oh so tired. Must start getting some sleep. Well not today right, Jack? There's writing to do today.

So, let's get to why I'm so tired. Well, I didn't get to watch Top Chef until the The wee hours of the night because I was out late. Where was I you ask? What, you don't ask? How dare you! I'm telling you anyway. I was at the Bravo A-list Awards!!

See, I got this email a while back that said: click here to win tickets to the A-list Awards and thought, okay. And crazy enough I won! Once I won I panicked. How could I go out on a Wednesday night? No way! I've got kids and way too many things to do. But I so wanted to go. They were being hosted my my fave, Kathy Griffin. I had to find a way.

The lovely DH agreed to get home early and do kid run around duty. A was going to go with my Bravo fan and super fun attorney friend, W, but at the last minute she got stuck in court, doing good and saving the world. UGH! The nerve! It was down to the wire. I called another friend, neighbor and blogger, Wish List Mom, who had to pull herself and her kids together in no time flat in order to go with me.

I drove from Westchester to midtown Manhattan in about 1/2 an hour (I think I'm ready for the Indy 500 now). All in time to hurry up and wait to get inside. Since we were late we were the last to get inside the venue. I was standing for well over an hour on 20 minute shoes. Ouch!

While one line we made friends of course. Here are two of them, Patrick and Aarash who were so much fun to hang and wait with. Don't you love Aarash's hat and Patrick's untied bowtie?

While we were waiting there were 2 things going on, the A list awards and church service of The Journey Church which I had never heard of. Well, did they have a crowd! The longest line for church that I had ever seen. And who did I spy in that line? America's Next Top Model cycle 6 Winner Danielle Evans. She was cute and casual in jeans and and burgundy top. I still Love Dani!

While we were on line we didn't have a view of the covered red carpet and could only hear the cheers but I did see Simon from the Real Housewives of NYC. Ugh! But it was still fun to see him and sneer.

Finally we hobbled in on aching feet. The show was just starting Kathy was onstage singing and being Kathy in all her glory. We got seats upstairs and once we were settled we were happy.

Kathy did not disappoint. She was hilarious! Dissing all who dared cross her and cracking as up in the process. Telling us secrets to her Mona's Basement dress and talking about her peekaboo bra. Be sure to tune in for her duet with Lance Bass. Too funny!

Who did we see? I can't tell the full list, but all the faves were all there such as:
Tim Ginn, Christain, Tom C., Padma All the Top Chef Faves (although I didn't see Tre), Margret Cho, Lauren Hutton, Molly Simms, Obama Girl, all the Housewives of NYC and California and the Supermodels. It was a fun time.

Bonus: For the Sex and the City ladies, remeber Dante from the movie? He was there!

Then it was back home and I could not go to sleep so I open my email and see that something not to good has happened on TOP CHEF. I had to watch. Here goes a quickie recap....
The show opens at the the airport and the are 3 faves and 1 villain with freshly washed and cut hair and I think plucked brows, but I'm not sure. The faves are all shocked by this.

We see that Padma is the only person that looks camera ready after the break. She knows where her bread is buttered everyone else has been living in the kitchen.

Quickfire challenge. Faves run to the table and villain runs to the pantry. Okay villain. Cagey.

Bottom two are: Antonia and Richard
Top two are:Stephanie and Villain, I mean, Lisa

The Winner is Stephanie!! Yay.

There is a party, but Richard is not ready to party he is all about winning. I hear that. The game is always on Richard.

Now the Elimination Challenge. Dang! That is a lot of pig.

It's all pig all the time. A whole pig for each of them to cut up and make 3 dishes with.

And they get help from, Dale, Nikki, Spike and Andrew. All BFF's of Lisa's.

The trick is Stephanie as the winner of the quickfire gets to choose who gets who.

She takes Dale. Richard gets Spike. Antonia gets Nikki and Lisa gets... Andrew. That's right the same Andrew that she ratted out. What does sweet Andrew say? That he'll do what he can to help her win. But watch out, his eyes say she'd better not drink from an already opened bottle given by him if you know what I mean.

The sioux chefs go shopping as the chefs hang back to butcher the pigs ugh. Then it was manic prep time and Lisa's true colors start to show.

In the craziness of the tight kitchen horror struck and Dale forgot to put one of Stephanie pans of pork in the fridge overnight. It's ruined. Now I'm really worried. What if Stephanie has to go home. Mel-O-Drama why are you making me watch this!!!

Now Stephanie has to come up with another dish on the fly.
Dale and Stephanie pull together and come up with something. I won't recap the dishes here. Let's just say they all make a lot of pork. A LOT OF PORK!!!

Turns out even with coming up with an on the fly dish Stephanie is in the top 2 along with Richard. Yay!

The Winner is Richard. Good for him. He won a new car. His wife will be so happy. It will come in handy with the new baby girl!

Now for the bottom 2. Antonia and Lisa. The Not so Glad Room has been moved to sunny Puerto Rico to be just as sad. Lisa assumes she's going home and Antonia is crying because she doesn't want to go home. I've already got a bad feeling.

Just put me out of my misery. Judges please. Out this week is... Antonia.

Lisa rides another week. I'm numb to it all. But it doesn't stop there. Richard and Stephanie are horrified to see their friend and who they feel is the better person go and Lisa gives them crap for not congratulating her! The nerve. How much did I love Stephanie's dead pan expression? "well, congratulations," she said with no emotion. Perfect.

Till next week and the finale. Who knows she may win it all. I won't be surprised.



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