Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, May 22, 2009

This Week in Publishing 5/22/09

Very big week for links, so let's get started!

First of all, I hope everyone remembers that This Week in Publishing is but a pale imitation of author Cynthia Leitich Smith's comprehensive weekly Cynsational News and Giveaways, which rounds up all of the best news and promos all in one place. It's a weekly must-read.

Andrew Sullivan recently summarized two different anguished posts about the effect piracy is going to have one the future books. In order to enjoy my weekend I will stop thinking about piracy now. Okay now. Now.

Over at Bookpage comes word about Stephen King's new book UNDER THE DOME, a 1,136 page epic novel about a town that is suddenly surrounded by an invisible force field and things start to go crazy. Anyone who has spent a day in 100+ degree weather in New York City probably knows what this feels like.

The Guardian recently featured the opposite of the "end of publishing as we know it" article: the less common but still enjoyable "things have always been this crappy" take on the book business. And actually, they have the audacity to suggest that some things might be less crappy now than before.

Janet Reid ponders what I've been pondering, which is that we agent bloggers may have terrified the wrong group of writers. It's the age-old blogging agent conundrum: we want to reach the truly clueless, but the truly clueless don't read agent blogs. If an agent screams in a forest about rhetorical questions, does he make a sound?

Kristin Nelson has some really terrific advice if you're going to name-drop someone in a query: remind us who that person is. Our brains are full.

In agent pushback news, Jennifer Jackson took up one of my personal sticking points, and reminds authors to remember the difference between what is wanted and what is owed.

Via reader Tomas Mournian comes a really great post by author Joshua Mohr about his path to publication with big agents and a small press. He gets at some of the essential truths about the business: luck is huge, and rather than knowing everything, agents and editors are just making the best guesses they can.

Neil Vogler pointed me to an article in the Bookseller that provides the very interesting news that in 2008 the number of self-published books exceeded the number of traditionally published books for the first time. Wow.

And finally, I'm sure that I'm the absolute last person to know about this in the universe since even the New York Times wrote about it a couple years ago, but reader John Ochwat took pity on me and pointed me to the review page of a gallon of Tuscan Whole Milk, which has the best and most hilarious review thread on the Internet. Enjoy. If you haven't already.

Have a great (long) weekend!


csmith said...

Thanks Nathan, enjoy your weekend too.

Kristin Tubb said...

*rushes off to stockpile Tuscan Whole Milk, one gallon, 128 fl oz*

Barb said...

Assuming that you have seen the Three Wolf T-shirt? But for those that haven't:

Justus M. Bowman said...

Many links, you make me click. Curse your telekinesis.

Tales From A Small Island said...

The Amazon review links have made my week - thanks for posting and have a great weekend!

Stephen Elliott said...

Hey Curtis,

I'd love to talk to you about running some of your stuff on The Rumpus.


Stephen Elliott

Loren Eaton said...

Yes, Nathan, Tuscan Whole Milk (one gallon, 128 fl oz) is great, but what about Amazon's nifty uranium ore?

Kimber An said...

The article about terrifying the wrong group of writers is especially true. Almost all the blog readers are here to learn and are in the midst of growing as writers. They might not know everything, but if you come after them with a hammer you may never get a query on what might be a bestseller which could make your career. I suggest putting away the hammers and put the clueless out of your minds. Focus on those of us who really want to learn and please remember we're all at different stages and doing our bestest.

RW said...

I'm glad you included that J. Mohr essay. I saw that yesterday and was hoping to have a chance to ask you about it.

It's not like I would want my agent steering me to a deal that would mean fewer sales and fewer readers, but as Mohr points out, a small press doesn't necessarily mean "settling." And a deal with a big publisher can still result in low sales and no second book, etc.

So I'm very intrigued by the possibility of a small press--Soft Skull is another one I keep an eye on. And I wonder how much agents are interested in considering those options for their clients. Are agents disinclined to look there because it's not cost-effective for them?

I wonder about this because of all the horror stories I hear about agents who sign a client, pitch the book to ten big publishers, get 10 attaboy-rejections and then fire the client, apparently without ever considering smaller presses like Mohr's second agent did. Are these agents just churning through clients playing the percentages to land a deal with a larger press? Do they not have contacts with smaller presses? Do they not really know of all the options that would be best for their clients? Or do they not bother because it wouldn't be a profitable use of their limited time?

Scott said...

Cheers, Nathan. Lots of stuff and just when I needed a distraction.

And I may be the only one in the universe, but I really think Steven King has worn out the "town in Maine" thing. As contrary as it might first appear considering what a large book it is, he's been coming off really lazy and indulgent in the last decade or so.

Oh, and he kinda stole an idea of mine. I'll sue!

Laura Martone said...

Thanks for the links, Nathan. The query-related ones were especially helpful... and yet my brain feels even more swollen than yesterday. ;-)

Nathan Bransford said...


Interesting questions, and it's something that varies from agent to agent and author to author. As THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE (MacAdam/Cage) and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Quirk) have shown, among many others, a motivated small press can not only publish a book well, they can get major attention for the right project.

I personally am willing to submit to as many places as the author is willing to submit to and will go the distance. But especially for agents who already have a huge roster of clients, the economics can be tough to square. Keep in mind that a $1,000 deal usually takes longer to complete than a $500,000 deal. So you're spending more time for far less return. Some agents don't feel it's productive for them to then spend the hours and hours it takes to sell a book to a small press when there's a $150 return.

But I try and take the long view.

Dawn said...

Loved the article by Joshua Mohr. Very entertaining and informative. Thanks for these great links, as always.

Rick Daley said...

More cool links to keep me from legitimate work. Thanks. I think.

RW said...

It sounds like at best an agent would have to hope for with submitting to small presses is ROI in the very long-term. At worst, they would have to martyr themselves. If it's truly not cost effective to swim in that pool, I wouldn't blame agents--in my business I don't sign agreements that aren't cost effective for me either.

But I think I would want an agent who is serious about exploring all the options that could work for both of us, possibly to include submitting to small presses. It gives me something to think about when it comes time to hunt for an agent. (Still a ways to go in my case.) How to find one who can successfully pitch to traditional/big publishers but who is ready to think outside the box in ways that make sense for both parties in the relationship.

abc said...

Here is my addition. Please join me in reading Infinite Jest this summer:

Patrick Rodgers said...

RW you bring up great points but the problem is how do you know going in which agents will submit to small presses if the big ones don't pan out.

Nathan said he would submit to small presses and do whatever it takes to get the book published but we get to see Nathan's thoughts because of this great blog.

So once again Nathan endeared me to make himself the first agent I query.

Another way to do it is to find the agents of popular books that went to small presses and then query them next,

Nathan mentions two THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE (MacAdam/Cage) and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Quirk) so now to just find out who their agents were.

Bunny Hills said...

How do you do it? How?? And you do it every day? My eyes melt just looking at all these links (all very interesting), and you actually read them (and so much more! Just the tip of the iceberg!).

Kudos times a billion! I sincerely have the highest admiration for you.

Me? I'm going to go drink a beer.

Shakier Anthem said...

Re: reaching the wrong group of writers...
For what it's worth, I try to use what I've learned on this blog and others to help friends from my writer's group (who don't read any agents' blogs) improve their query letters. While writers who seek out feedback from their peers may still be a step up from those who crank out a 300,000-word manuscript in their basement and then blindly mass query agents the next day, perhaps it's at least a step in the right direction.

Patrick Rodgers said...

Well I can cross of The Time Traveler's Wife literary agent as Audrey Niffenegger sent her novel to over 25 agents and go rejected by them all. She ended up sending it unsolicited to MacAdam/Cage and got published by the press itself.

That's a great idea for perseverance if all else fails and you can't sell the book to an agent see if you can actually sell it yourself to a small press. If you believe in your novel then never stop believing as The Time Traveler's Wife has sold 2.5 million copies as of March.

Nathan do you ever see novels like that that you passed up on and have to kick yourself for it. I mean those 25 agents had to hate themselves for just a little bit for passing up on the book.

TC Laverdure said...

Thanks for taking the Long View Nathan. Are you really as nice as you seem?

Every industry needs more Nathan Bransfords. I have been following this blog for awhile, lurking mostly and think this is the best blog for wanna be writers like myself.

This blog keeps me writing, when I feel down about the process, I come here to see that there is still hope for my writing future.

One of these days I will query you with the book I am working on, when its finished.

Have a great weekend and if you are ever in Calgary, Canada I will buy you lunch for all this effort on your part.

Muchas Gracias

PSGifford said...

Now I am going to gete even less writing done today.

PurpleClover said...

Thanks for the links. Have a good weekend!

Mira said...

Cool - wonderful links, Nathan. Very interesting, thanks.

The Tuscan Whole Milk thread is absolutely hilarious.

Nathan Bransford said...

If you do want to go the distance with your novel and consider small presses that's an important conversation to have with your agent before you sign, so you're all on the same page.

And I will say, the small press route isn't for everyone. Sometimes authors follow up their first novel with one that's far better, and possibly could have sold at a major publisher. But if the sales with the small press aren't good, it can tough to make "the leap." Other times a small press can really understand and push a title, and can do wonders for the book.

So really I think it should be considered on a case by case basis, but if you do want your agent to consider that option it's an important conversation to have right from the outset.

Jarucia said...

The link about piracy is more pertinent than I think most writers (okay, aspiring writers) probably give it credit for, especially with the rise of e-publishing and use of the internet to workshop, etc.

There is SO much going on the e-publication front, it's ridiculous. And it's scary because it could go so many ways. It's that unknown factor.

I'm glad to see the level of confidence the publishing pros have in not only the survivability of the 'old fashioned' book, but in its ability to thrive as well.

But as we branch into the cyber ether, we do need to be aware of where and to whom we make our work available.

I think of Stephanie Meyer and her issue with the in-Edwards-POV of Twilight book. Sounded like a soul crushing experience.

Bane of Anubis said...

I don't mind agents scaring me about dos and don'ts - but then again, I was a Navy brat, so dos and don'ts were a part of me wondrous childhood :)

As for Neil Gaiman's comment about GRRM: "George R. R. Martin is not working for you."

Ummm... who the hell is he working for then?

JJ's comparison between agenting and an author's responsibilities is a bit casuistic - an agent, rightfully, has no responsibility to a querier (essentially a cold-calling telemarketer), whereas an author should feel some toward his/her readers (though this could be the Navy upbringing in me believing in responsibility, accountability, etc.)

Thanks for the links!

Yamile said...

Tuscan whole milk for that much? And I thought I was crazy for driving 90 minutes (roundtrip) for raw milk! And uranium ore? Sometimes when I'm looking for a special product or even struggling with a home project, my mom would say, "It's the United States. You can find it; you can do it. Anything is possible here!" After visiting those amazon oddities I have to agree.
Have a great weekend!

Marilynn Byerly said...

The Bowker figures don't say that the number of self-published novels outnumbers traditionally published books. It says that print on demand numbers have surpassed traditionally published numbers.

As a number of us had to remind GalleyCat, print on demand and self-published books aren't the same thing. Print on demand is used by the big publishers for backlist, by small publishers for front list, and by the self-published, among others.

Marilyn Peake said...

I agree with Joshua Mohr in his article about having a big agent and a small publishing house when he says, "... since they've corroborated that the publishing business is run on chance, I need only concern myself with one thing: the quality of my writing. That isn’t chance at all. I can't control marketing trends or debutantes, but I can control the amount of energy I put into my revision process. I can take my time and make sure to write the best book I can." That really is the only thing a writer can control. Small publishing houses, taken as a whole, aren’t better than the large publishing houses. A good small press is a wonderful thing, but there are a LOT of small presses out there so corrupt, they make the big publishing houses look like the work of Mother Theresa. Many of those small publishing houses eventually disappear into the night, taking authors' royalties and book rights along with them. No matter what, though, writers can always control the quality of their writing.

The First Carol said...

Mr. Bransford: I have the answer to "does he make a sound?" It's a small, yet unique cartoon I've saved for many moons in my desk. I found it recently while cleaning. Really. I was cleaning. I will send it to you surreptitiously, which means ack! I don't want to fill your inbox so will have to find some clever way to share. Me? Clever? Sure. It happens.
Have a great weekend and don't worry about publishing--and thanks for the extra thoughts on small press.

Margaret Yang said...

I'm sold. I just ordered Joshua Mohr's book.

Chuck H. said...

I'd love to stay and play with the links but I must go out to the shed and roll out my bike. It's warm and dry and I don't have anything to do til tuesday. Ya'll watch out for bearded old men on black motorcycles this weekend, okay? Later!

Laura Martone said...

Patrick -

I'm confused. According to my research (i.e., the Acknowledgments in Niffenegger's novel), I thought that she did in fact have an agent - one Joseph Regal (who prefers referrals, by the way). Does that mean she secured him AFTER getting signed by the small press? Hmm, I wonder.

Vacuum Queen said...

Regarding scaring off the wrong half of writers...I can attest that I was one of the truly clueless, but because I came across YOU and Janet Reid, and Kristin Nelson, and Miss Snark, and and and...I figured out how to take my time ('s been since last summer since I began researching how to find an agent for my manuscript) and do it right. I hopefully had a much better query this week when I actually queried 6 agents! Obviously I'll query more, but that was a lot of work this week (I do have another life). I feel like having a party and I feel like such a smartypants for having come across you all. Yay me! and Yay you too!!! So keep it up, you're doing well.

The First Carol said...

Chuck H: since your hitting the road, may I sit in your 1959 Airstream trailer and type on the old Underwood? I wouldn't mind a weekend of peace and any good reason to stop cleaning...

Ink said...


Writers don't work for readers. Businesses don't work for their customers. Now, it's good to satisfy those customers, as they might go elsewhere with their money. But you aren't required to satisfy them. For example, if I make a nice, juicy hamburger, and put it outside my shop, and someone comes along and buys it and loves it, that's great. But what if they demand another burger? Am I required to give them one? Is there something about buying that first burger that requires the sale of a second? What happens if I don't have another burger to sell?

Writers don't owe readers, and they don't work for them. They offer a product that the customer can choose to purchase or not. Now, it would be wise to offer a good product, and prudent to offer it in a timely fashion. But they don't have to. Bad business? Perhaps. But that's Martin's problem, not the reader's, and the consequences are his to live with. If they don't like how he operates (or, rather, how long he takes to operate...) then they don't have to buy his books.

Well, that's my take, anyway. And now I want a burger.


Rick Chesler said...

Thanks for yet another interesting TWIP, Nathan!

Bane of Anubis said...

Bryan - I understand they don't work directly for readers, but it's a simple logic ladder (to me):

An author, to get paid, has to please the publisher - the publisher, to get paid, has to please its clients - the consumers. The model is essentially the same in business (hence the slogan - "the customer is always right" - which I don't wholly agree with, but I believe the gist). Now, I realize someone like GRRM can take his time and still be a bestseller, but that doesn't make it right.

I agree that it's not a requirement, but it's good business practice.

Now, am I gonna go on his blog and ask "WTF?" or call him out - no... but I still think Gaiman's off base b/c authors live off of readers and nothing else.

Ink said...


I agree with that, but I think Martin's given readers a lot. And if he's a bestseller, it's because he's giving enough of those readers just what they want - a great story. If someone doesn't like waiting, well... don't. Don't buy the books. That's the most effective message out there. I, like you, think it's kind of silly to go on the man's blog and yell at him, as if this were somehow constructive. Sort of sad, really, though not unsurprising.

And I still want a burger. Who's gonna pony up for me? :)

Laura Martone said...

I find myself agreeing with you a lot, Bane. It unnerves me a little. ;-)

Bane of Anubis said...

I want a burrito, myself :) - yeah, he has given a lot, but we are a culture of "want and demand," unfortunately. I'm just gonna need some cliff notes before his next book comes out

Bane of Anubis said...

Laura, I'd definitely be unnerved - I tend to be an outlier (though my wife prefers the term megalomaniac :)

Ink said...

Lol on the cliff notes. I hear you.

The other thing, with Martin, is that I really don't think it's lack of effort or laziness. I think the story's gotten away from him, and he's finding it hard as hell to make it work and keep all those juggling balls in the air. I think one of the reasons people love that story is its ambition... but that ambition, well, it gets you stuck in a hole, sometimes, too.

Bane of Anubis said...

I agree, it's definitely connecting all the dots that's got him in the tar pit. Kind of an epiphany for me recently - of any spec genres, I'd say Epic fantasy is one of the easiest to write, but good EF could well be the most difficult.

He just needs to kill off a few more characters and the sky won't appear so hazy.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I have to say I thought Neil Gaiman's response was hilarious. Whatever Martin's creative block might or might not be, he is not a slave to the readers. Fans can get way too possessive of stories, films, celebrities, etc. And, if disappointed, they should move on to something else.

Angie said...

Apologies if you've seen it before, but I just discovered this funny comic thing from Book Expo America, about things we'd all like to tell publishers :)

AndrewDugas said...

Gosh, Nathan, somehow you omitted the week's biggest publishing news, namely the big splash made when Kemble Scott, author of the best-selling "SoMa", published his second novel in e-book form. The NY Times covered it, SF Chron, and even NPR had a bit about it.

(Scott was part of a troika: Tamim Ansary and Joe Quirk did the same thing at the same time with their new titles.)

How does it sit with the agent community and the established publishing... er, establishment when authors bypass the whole system like this?

Patrick Rodgers said...

Laura I do believe she acquired the agent after she had already gotten several publishers interested in the book. The book actually went in an auction. So she did it backwards acquiring an agent after pretty much already selling the book.

Weronika said...

Fabulous stuff/links--makes my week every time.

Have a good one, Nathan!

Kimber An said...

Well, I work for the readers because they pay the bills. However, since there isn't much money in this business unless I become a bestseller, which is less likely than winning the lottery, I write for the readers out of a desire to share my stories. If I didn't care about sharing my stories, I sure as heck wouldn't be going through everything required in order to achieve publication.

Chuck H. said...

@ The First Carol

Sorry, the Airstream is long gone and the Underwood is sitting down in my dungeon room waiting for an over haul. Must go now. Sun shinning still and bike is warmed up.

Chuck H. said...

Of course, I meant shining but I was so excited over going for a ride that my finger stuttered.

allegory19 said...

Thanks for the info Nathan!

I would also just like to add that today's my first time blogging from the west coast - Seattle!!!
This Michigander's loving the city - but can't adjust to Pacific time yet.

Laura Martone said...

allegory -

Where do you live when you're in Michigan? I'm sitting in a little house in the woods - not far from Gaylord. So, I guess I'm a Michigoose, too. Small world, huh?

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Milk and interesting? Who'd have thought!
Thanks, Nathan, for ensuring I have too much to 'do' to get anything done; as usual!

allegory19 said...

Hey Laura,
I live in Saginaw. Although I wished I lived up north - it's so much nicer!

PurpleClover said...

UNDER THE DOME sounds interesting. I have to say I've never read Stephen King. I'm sure I'm flog-worthy for even admitting that. I think I saw part of two movies of his but never anything in its entirety and I'd have to google it to find out what those two movies were.

I may have to give UNDER THE DOME a try though.

Funny about the milk. Very odd. But you were not the absolute last person to know about it. I think that would be me.

I did comment on Janet Reid's post. I thought it was sweet of her to acknowledge that about blog readers. Although I'm a fairly new blogger so I'm not sure it applies to me yet. I'm still finding that I'm on a steep learning curve.

I will check out JenJa's post next. Have a happy weekend! Hope you're enjoying yourself and taking much needed time off rather than "monitoring". ;)

Laura Martone said...

Hey, Allegory!

Aw, Saginaw's not so bad. I like the museums there.

I'm only a seasonal resident of Michigan (can't handle the winters!) - but my latest travel guide (Moon Michigan) just came out, so now that the deadlines are past, I hope to explore even more of the state this summer - your area included. It's such a beautiful state - I have to admit I love living in the northern woods. It's fun seeing deer, foxes, porcupines, and beavers on my daily walks. You should come visit during blueberry season!

Patrick Rodgers said...

I just can't see how you can say you have only seen two of Kings movies and not even in entirety. I mean I can understand not having read any of his books but his movies have been almost as successful as his writing. Shawshank Redemption, the Green Mile, the Shining, Stand by Me, 1408, the Mist, IT, Carrie, Children of the Corn, Firestarter, Pet Sematary, Misery, Secret Window, Hearts in Atlantis, Dreamcatcher. And thats not even mentioned TV miniseries like the Stand, Salem's Lot, the Tommyknockers and the Langoliers.

Films based on his work might be more famous than his writing starting with greats like the Shawshank Redmeption.

Laurel said...


I'm not a huge King fan, either. I appreciate his ability but the stories freak me out too much. NOTHING is sacred. You have no idea who's going to make it through to the end.

Oh, yeah, and the "don't kill kids or animals" rule. I don't think he likes that one. But hey, it works for him. Pet Cemetery was huge.

Laura Martone said...

Patrick -

I've seen almost all of the films adapted from Stephen King's books - even "Rose Red" - and I've read quite a number of his books and stories... "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" long ago inspired me to be a writer - well, that and "The Hobbit" of course. So, I can't fathom anyone having seen only two of his flicks.

Sorry, Purple Clover. I'm just flabbergasted is all... not passing judgment or anything. ;-)

Mira said...

I can't read Stephen King's books either. I read Salem's Lot and couldn't sleep for a week - his books terrify me.

I will acknowledge his skill though. He's masterful at what he does. I will also say, 1,136 pages - that's a long book.

Laurel said...

I like long books...Maia was over 1000 pages and one of my all time faves. It even got pretty creepy at the end. But King is the master of scary. I'm not a thrill seeker.

No sky diving, no bungee jumping, no free climbing any mountains, and no King. Just haven't got the chops.

Mira said...

Laurel - me too. I'm too imaginative, and King's got a direct line into unconscious imagery.

Jil said...

If the agent saw that a writer had many more good books in her, wouldn't it pay to get the first one out there anyway he could in hopes of getting a following and then be picked up by a big publishing house?

By the way, on Query Tracker it's possible to type in an author's name and get their agent.

Also, does Stephen King write his own books? I've heard, {Is it true?} that some prolific authors just give their ideas to a stable of writers to get on with. What do agents think about that?

Laurel said...

Hey, Jil!

Out of turn here, not being a King expert, but I find it far-fetched to think that a stable of writers could duplicate his style. Mira's right about him. He has a preternatural ability to tap into primordial fear that affects both an individual and a community. What if everybody's crazy/ what if I'm crazy? Even worse, what if it's all really TRUE?

He's a really gifted writer, I think. If he wasn't, I could probably read more of his stuff. I don't think just being good at mimicry would be enough to pull it off...

What do you think? You've probably read more King than I have. Did any of it not quite ring true for you?

mkcbunny said...

A friend of mine has had the Tuscan Whole Milk on her son's Amazon wish list for years. It was not always $77+ a gallon. If I recall correctly, a couple of years ago, it was under $10, maybe even only $5.

The problem wasn't the cost of the milk. The shipping was outrageous.

Patrick Rodgers said...

King hiring a stable of writers is the most bogus thing I have ever heard. Just read On Writing he comments that he spend 4-6 hours a day reading or writing. And then look at his retirement after his accident in 1999. The reason he retired was because he could no longer sit for long periods of time to write.

If he had a stable of writers he would never have had to retire as they could have just churned his stories out for him.

And you can see his stylistic changes and influences in all his writing. Read anything before he gave up junk in 1987 and anything after he gave it up and you can see the differences. In fact the more whacked out he got on drugs the stranger his stories got like the Tommyknockers.

His writing ties in with what is happening in his life and no stable of writers could mimic that.

I am not sure if it is true about other authors but it is most definitely false about King.

Now that Stephanie Meyer is hugely successful she should hire a stable of writers to improve her work.

Claire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annerallen said...

Eternally grateful for Tuscan whole milk. I'm laughing tears.

PurpleClover said...

Patrick -

You're right I've seen a few more of his movies. Thanks for listing them out. I did see Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile. Parts of Misery and Firestarter (on TV in the eighties). I've seen Langoliers more than once. Oh and I watched the IT and Stand By Me.

I think he has a great imagination. But I can't watch the scarier stuff (mind control or whatev). Plus, in my defense, I'm fairly young (I like to think) sooooo some of his stuff I've just "missed" out on because I was too young to be exposed.

Ink said...

Howsabout that LeBron?

Jil said...

I think you are right about King - thank goodness - but is it true that others do have books written from plots they provide? Maybe, at least an outline?

What is Tuscan whole milk?

Ink said...

Oops. Sorry, Nathan. Forgot it was the long weekend. We Canucks just like to jump the gun and get the holiday weekends done early. Mea culpa.

PurpleClover said...

Laura -

No offense taken. It's just a matter of taste really. Like Laurel, he's just too scary for me. I'm very sensitive to horror and supernatural stuff. Not so much when I was a teen but even then King was too out there for me.

If I've seen a King flick it was only because it came on TV and I was curious. I never seeked him out. But again, that is due more to taste than anything. I picture his house to have dishes flying around at night and creepy squeaking stair cases and such. :D

Not my cup of tea. On the other hand, there are some of his flicks that I did like and thought were tasteful. So it's kind of like a lottery.

Deniz Bevan said...

Love the milk link! Have you seen the pen one?

Patrick Rodgers said...

My favorite work by king is his novellas and his collection of stories in books like Four Past Midnight and Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Its not surprising either that his best movie adaptations were almost all based on his novellas and not his full length novels. The best of course being the Shawshank Redemption. My second favorite was Kubrick's the Shining and King said he never liked Kubrick's version.

I just bought King's first seven novels off ebay and plan on reading them in a row.

Bane of Anubis said...
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Bane of Anubis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bane of Anubis said...

Byran - that was sick - of course, SVG once again showed why he needs to work on his coaching. Should have been hedging the 3 more and why would you put Hedo - a taller, but much slower defender than Pietrus? If you're not guarding the inbounds play with a big, should have had a double hedging on LeBron... nonetheless, helluva shot....

I still think Orlando wins the series, but Denver's taking it home (my Lakers just aren't tough enough to handle Billups, Melo and the energy Denver's bringing every night)

Ink said...


I gotta support my Cavs for the title... but I never liked the match-up with Orlando. The Cavs interior defense and rebounding is rather nullified by the fact Lewis and Turkoglu always pull the bigs away from the basket... and the bigs can't guard them out there. I mean, LeBron can guard one of them... but who on Cleveland can guard the other? Of course, the Cavs biggest thing is that they're simply missing shots. Easy shots. Delonte, Mo, Z... miss, miss, miss. If they start hitting, though...

And Denver intrigues me. Kind of snuck up on everybody. And the Lakers aren't playing great right now. Not terrible, but not their best, certainly. Right now, Denver looks better... but Jackson usually finds a way to push a few buttons and ramp up the intensity. Like how he said "Oh, maybe I'll have to sit Fisher..." and suddenly Fisher is playing well again. I'm curious to see what happens in that series.

I know what the League is hoping for... LeBron v. Kobe.

allegory19 said...

Hey Laura -

Yes Michigan in beautiful (and I don't blame you for booking it in the winter - it's miserable in February). When's the blueberry festival?

Sorry Nat for going way off topic. Laura, you can e-mail the answer if you want:

Bane of Anubis said...

Yeah, Nike, too - with those creepy muppet commercials (though the one w/ LeBron clapping powder all over the place cracks me up :)

Jil said...

Seeing as we're already off topic ... would Kindle work in a space station? How great to have a world of books up there in one little gadget!

Bane of Anubis said...

Jil, probably not b/c most wireless communications occur through tower/antenna transmission - even if it were directly based through a satellite, the space station would have to be in a lower earth orbit relative to the satellite.

To work, NASA would probably have to reroute Amazon's transmission metric to sync with its own.

Mira said...

Jil - I don't know if authors use a stable of writers, but I can think of one who could use one.

G.R.R. Martin. He's a bit behind schedule.

I wonder if all those fans on his site who are chewing him out would like to volunteer to help him write his books?

Ink said...


Nike has muppet commercials? How have I missed this? The citizenry of Canada is being robbed of its rightful commercial propaganda and manipulation. I am going to write a strongly worded letter to Nike concerning their failure to properly export consumerism.

Bane of Anubis said...

Bryan, here's a link:

I'd avoid writing Nike, though - keep Canada pure :)

Ink said...

Okay, those were funny. Ah, Youtube, what would I do without you? First you brought me Jeff Vader and the Lego Deathstar Cantina, and now this...

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "sitting in a little house in the woods - not far from Gaylord"

You mean, near "Call of the Wild" museum? I love that museum. How can it be possible to go "Up North" and not go to the "Call of the Wild" museum? I surely do not know.

Trout farm
Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes (I wrote a poem about them)
Cherry Festival (Cherry syrup on pancakes)
Mackinac Bridge (too scary - but I might write a poem about it to go with the one I wrote about the Ambassador Bridge) (#1 scary bridge in Michigan)

"Up North." Down here - well, let me put it this way - "for sale or lease" signs are sprouting in office parks like morel mushrooms. Depressing as hell. I understand Macomb County is about to get slammed as well.

Good luck with Ruby Hollow.

Laura Martone said...

I'm way behind everyone else on this stream... I think the last comment was yesterday afternoon... but I've always been a late bloomer... so, here goes.

Purple Clover -

It's definitely a matter of taste. King's not for everyone, I know. I haven't read all of his books, I must admit, but I've read a lot of them - and I love his sense of atmosphere - makes me feel the ghosts and ghoulies are right behind me! I love that feeling!

The craziest experience I had with King was when I was a camp counselor in West Virginia. The kids and counselors were playing a massive game of hide-and-seek, and for some wackadoo reason, I decided to wait it out in a walk-in fridge, reading "The Shining" while I waited (guess which scene - yup, when Jack is locked in the pantry). Talk about scary - I banged so hard on the fridge door that a kid found me anyway!

Steph -

Well, the National Cherry Festival is in Traverse City in July - and blueberry-picking season is also in July. I think the National Blueberry Festival is actually in South Haven in early August (far from both of us).

Wanda -

Yep. I'm not far from Call of the Wild - I've been there a couple times with my nieces. So charmingly low-tech. I'd love to read your Michigan poems - can I see them somewhere?

In the meantime, I'm sorry that things are so depressing down south. My brother-in-law lives in Rochester, and he's about to lose his GM job (he's got three girls, too). Well, you and Steph are both invited to the north - so pretty now that spring is finally here - you can forget your troubles for a while.

Thanks for the well wishes - I'll need 'em!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

"things have always been this crappy"... I love that world view!!

Mira said...

Good links, I read through them.

I had a couple of thoughts. The first is that I agree with the Guardian article. I believe the golden age of publishing is coming up. Ease of access means more - more poor quality, maybe, but more good quality definitely.

The other thought I had was about about Janet Reid's aricle: we're terrifying the wrong group of people.

I agree - except she doesn't quite get to the real point. It's there underneath....

I think the main point is why is anyone being terrified?

I have a good writer friend who spent months and months researching agents, writing queries, etc. Just think - if she had spent that time instead on writing.

I wish agents would completely simplify the process. Create a fill-in form.

What is your genre:
What is the main conflict of the book:
Who are you:

And attach 3-5 pages.

Simple. Easy to read, easy to fill out.

Ease of access. No one is terrified.

Wouldn't that be nice? And think how much easier it would make an agent's life. No more queries to sift through. Just easy to read forms.

No joke, totally serious. Just because something has always been done that way, doesn't mean it's the best way.

Anonymous said...

Tuscan whole milk is the bomb

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Hi Laura,

I emailed you my Ambassador Bridge poem since I didn't want to post it here.

Suddenly, I have a craving for blueberries and cherries! Hmm...

General Motors...perhaps your brother-in-law will get a job in the new "green economy" that's been bandied about...when my mom broke her hip, at one point she said, "Out of the darkness comes radical change. Creation, then re-creation, the re-creation again." So I'm trying to stick with that about Detroit, and Michigan as a whole...that's the last line in the last poem in my book about Detroit: "Out of the darkness come radical changes" (thanks for the inspiration mom!) It's like Michigan has got a broken hip, and the broken hip is called "Detroit."

Wanda B.

Mira said...

So, I was imagining an agent's response to my idea posted yesterday. In keeping with the fact that I never need anyone else to have a conversation, I thought out the whole thing.

Here's the conversation:

'Mira,' said the agent. 'That was brilliant.'

'I know,' I'd reply with false modesty.

'But,' the agent would continue, 'Queries are the only way to know if the author is a professional and someone easy to work with.'

'Balderdash!' I'd reply. Then I'd say it again, because it's so much fun to say. 'Balderdash!. Queries are a very poor way to get that information. Know a better way? Talk to the person on the phone for 5 minutes. That will do it.'

'True,' the agent would nod.

'Not only that,' I'd continue,'but really, why should you get clients who are easy to work? The rest of the world gets clients who are living nightmares. Why should you get be exempt?'

'Good point,' the agent would admit.

'And finally, I noticed that you don't like it when writers are mad at you. Well, insisting that writers not only be extremely talented but also willing do extra work and be sooo nice is a tad annoying.'

'You're right on every point.' the agent would agree. 'Mira, you're a genius!'

'I know!'

'I'll get right on it. No more queries for me. Fill-in forms it is!'


Then, we'd walk off hand and hand into the sunset to go get some beer.

Middle Ditch said...

Some good information here

Anonymous said...

Interesting links, Mr. Bransford. Many thanks.

Laura Martone said...

Oh, Mira, if only it were that simple. Ah, a fantasy world where hateful queries didn't exist...

I liken the whole experience to that of a smart person who doesn't test well. Overall, I'm proud of my novel - I think it's something that readers (especially women) could relate to and perhaps be inspired by - but, alas, my query-crafting abilities are less than desirable.

As proven by my first rejection. Sniff, sniff.

Still, like standardized tests, queries seem to be the best way for unpublished authors (at least in the fiction world) to reach agents (or, realistically, their assistants) who might otherwise not take their phone calls.

But I wish you much luck with your sunset-strolling, beer-snarfing dream!

Anonymous said...

I wish everyone a nice Memorial Day. God bless all the veterans, their families and friends, and especially our fallen heroes who lie where American Flags mark their graves.

A salute to all veterans!

And a "hello" to fellow vets who like to write.

Mary Jo, old Cold War nag

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

I love this poem:

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

From Wikipedia:

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Roman lyrical poet Horace's Odes (iii 2.13). The line can be rendered in English as: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.", "It is noble and glorious to die for your fatherland." or "It is beautiful and honorable to die for your fatherland."

Marilyn Peake said...

Noticed there was some discussion here about angry vs. cooperative authors. Found out via Neil Gaiman on Twitter about an interesting TV documentary scheduled for tonight about the writer Harlan Ellison. The article says, "But, mostly, he's just angry as hell."

Harlan Ellison Documentary on TVHarlan Ellison's Background on Wikipedia

Marilyn Peake said...

Somehow, my two links merged in the above post. Here are the two links:

Harlan Ellison Documentary on TVand

Harlan Ellison's Background on Wikipedia

Jil said...

Wanda, what a very sad poem!

Have you been to Gettysburg where the circular painting is described as men going to their glory. The glory of dying horribly- oh, the magnificence of it!

Blessings and thanks to all the poor souls and their families who suffer so.

Jen C said...


Owen is my favourite poet. His work is just beautiful, and what a shame he was lost so young. Thanks for posting.

PurpleClover said...

Mira -

I think the difference between a query letter and an online form is much like the difference between playing poker in a casino rather than online. You can see their tells in a query letter but the online form may mask them. ;)

Either way it's a gamble.

Wow. Sometimes I surprise myself. ;)

Anonymous said...

Um. There are some agents who have fill-in forms. I can remember at least three from when I researched them a year ago. There may have been a lot more who did then and there may be even more now.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Brooke, McCrea, Sassoon and Owen -but Owen's 'Disabled' is my absolute favourite.

Love the idea of the standard form - then could we use colour, fonts, form verse and perfume??

Mira said...

Laura - congrats on your first rejection! You've arrived! You're now a 'real' writer - yea!

P.C. - !!!! I play poker! Do you play?

But you have a point. It's not that the agent doesn't get any information from a query. I just think it's a very time-consuming and labor intensive way to get the information. For both the writer and the agent.

The agent can get the information more quickly and easily by finding writing that he likes, and contacting the author. If he then finds out the author hasn't bathed in 3 years, that's a 'tell.' It 'tells' him to conduct all his business by phone.

Ha ha.

Really. Does it matter if the writer is professional? Really? If they'll net you a million bucks with their writing, can't you put up with nose plugs?

I'm just saying.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "Brooke, McCrea, Sassoon and Owen -but Owen's 'Disabled' is my absolute favourite."

Here's a great resource on WWI poets:

It says:

"Harry Rusche is the author of Lost Poets of the Great War, a hypertext document on the poetry of World War I; his address is the English Department, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322; he can be reached by e-mail at"

I find it interesting that (at least in the writing programs I've been in) you just don't READ these poets at all - there's a whole tradition including them, Edna St. Vincent Millay, even Robinson Jeffers, whom Millay said was the only free verse poet that she admired. You know, as if narrative poetry isn't "modern" enough a response to war, or "high" technology, or social changes...

Joseph L. Selby said...

Marilynn Byerly beat me to it. POD is not self-publishing. The OOS designation is being replaced with In Stock but that in stock is POD. Lightning Source is growing by leaps and bounds and they won't be the only POD solution in the future. OOS will be a thing of the past until books go fully digital and stock ceases to exist.

PurpleClover said...

Mira -

You have a good point. I mean seriously...if celebs can get paid millions of dollars and not have one iota of mad-writy skillz then I think we can let a few great story tellers slip through the professional cracks.

And yes, I play Texas Hold'em for fun with friends. Not online (I try to limit my internet addictions to Blogger & FB). Though I came close to playing out in Vegas when I was visiting my sister. But I found I have mad-winny skillz at the Wheel O'Death. Much safer and winning was fast!

Mira said...

P.C. - I'm not familiar with Wheel of Death (at least not in Vegas. In my life, it sounds familiar...), but Vegas is fun whatever you play. :-)

I played poker seriously for awhile, but had to give it up. I'm a wimp. I'd feel guilty taking their money. I couldn't go for the 'kill.'

I will say it was fun at times, though. Poker is a man's world, and a woman can use that to her advantage - if she's not a wimp!

PurpleClover said...

Mira -

I take candy from babies.

Mira said...

P.C. -


Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...


All poetry has to resonate from the writer's hand (through time and over cultural and around gender barriers) until it gets to translate from words to images in your head.

I first heard the words of these war poets.
Of the pack, only I kept trying to get my Dad to talk about his experiences of war - he refused all medals he was entitled to. By using his brother's birth certificate he went to war at 15.
For years he didn't talk but he would read the poems to me - several rang louder than bells when he read them.
But I was most fascinated by the one he wouldn't read.
He wasn't disabled by injury - theoretically he came back whole.

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