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I am a writer!!

Words of wisdom from The Literary Lab.

So, excuse me while I go off to resemble that loquacious remark.

But, because it's my custom to leave you with music, I'll link this video, because it's so apt to the writer also.



The long awaited event of the season is, regrettably, over. Nathan Bransford’s workshop “Secrets of a Literary Agent” convened at Books Inc, Opera Plaza in San Francisco on Sunday, September 13, 2009, and it turned out the info wasn’t so “secret” after all. Aside from the Books Inc staff and the 25 or so attendees, Nathan also invited Chronicle Books assistant editor Melissa Manlove, and Andrea Brown agents Jennifer Laughran and Mary Kole (who announced she is currently seeking new clients).

After introductions, Nathan began his presentation with a brief overview of What Agents Do, followed by a question and answer session, then on to How To Find An Agent, also followed by Q & A. For those who paid for lunch with the workshop, Books Inc had box lunches of sandwiches, cookie and apple. I don’t know who catered lunch, but it was delicious. Jennifer, Mary and Melissa each joined circles for open discussion, and Nathan made himself available for anyone wishing one-on-one conversation.

Once everyone was back from lunch, Nathan gave a presentation on How To Write A Query letter and provided a handout on the Basic Query Formula to use for the group activity. (It said “Burn After Reading”, but the info is already public knowledge, and I was disappointed not to have something super-secret that would get my query and “insiders” advantage.)
How many authors does it take to write a query? Apparently five. I don’t usually enjoy group activities, but this one was very entertaining. Having five people, each writing in a different genre, agree on a consensus for title, genre, word count, main characters, and conflict to be resolved wasn’t easy. Probably because we spent way to much time laughing and having fun.
The winners of the query writing contest (Does Mars Make Me Look Fat was the title of their project I do believe, and weighed in at a “never-ending” word count) each won a set of Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3 audio discs. A prize worth its word count indeed!

The workshop ended with an Agent/Editor Question and Answer Panel, with Nathan asking some very interesting question (and filling in with some of his own personal views as well) of Melissa Manlove and Jennifer Laughran. And of course, there was plenty of time after for specific questions from the audience.

So, what questions did Nathan pose, you might be asking? He asked Melissa what an editor does (they sound nearly as busy as a agent, and this posted by Nathan sums it up nicely), how the acquisitions process works, and if it really is necessary for an author to be previously published before an offer would be made. (All three agreed that having no published “tracking record” is much better than have a bad sales history, and at least 75 percent of their clients are debut authors.)

He asked both Melissa and Jennifer to address two prevailing myths in author land. First: that agents and editors are buddy-buddy together and conspire on what the best marketing strategy is, not necessarily what is in the author’s best interest; and the opposing myth that agents and editors never talk to each other. (All three confirmed that agents and editors usually agree on with is in the author’s best interest, and that they do talk to each other when the occasion warrants, but that the “craft” of making the book happen is the province of the editor/author.)
Second myth involved the perception that “editors don’t edit” anymore, and agents don’t edit at all, so a novel has to come to them production ready. (All agreed that editors and agents are willing to invest a huge amount of time into a project if the story is worth it and the writing good. An agent’s editing will be limited to things that make the story flow - like characterization, POV, timeline; while an editor goes much more indepth.)

Finally, Nathan asked the most burning question: Does and Agent/Editor reject a query based on the quality of the query alone? (All agreed it was a combination of writing style, basic story line, and query quality.)

The rest of the Q & A was devoted to specific personal preferences for the agents/editor themselves. Questions like: Is it OK to re-query an agent, how “rough” can a debut author/manuscript be, how involved does the writer need to be in the marketing process.
Well, for those answers, I suggest taking a Nathan Bransford workshop the next time one is offered. It is well worth the time and wasn’t all that expensive either. Besides, I took about 10 hand written pages of notes, and the post on that much info would be ghastly long. (Maybe there are still a few “Agent Secrets” out there yet to be discovered.)

Would I recommend this workshop to others? Definitely. It was well organized, informative, and loads of fun. I would also recommend workshops by Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Melissa Manlove of Chronicle Books, if you’re into Children’s and YA.

Would I take another workshop presented by Nathan Bransford? ABSOLUTELY.



I'm finding out more and more about this blogging stuff every day. Well, maybe not "every day" as I forget to check on the sites I visit - and subscribe to. But, lets ignore that today, because I already had an idea in mind when I logged on, and dammit, I'm bound and determined to learn something new today.

So, if the musical link I'm trying to post here doesn't come up - well, I'm expressing a very happy mood. No, no. Not the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" song, though it really does fit me right now. No, it's the Gorillaz "Sunshine In A Bag". One of my sons (I have four; five counting the spare that my daughter has been living with for the past four years or so) turned me onto this song, and everytime I'm in a mood I just can't define - but definitely not a bad mood - I have to hear this song. 'Cause, it plays over and over in my mind until I just bring it up and listen to it.

Well, lurkers and commenters of all shades, I'm in one of "those" moods, so I'm going to share with you one of my ways of dealing with the "am I crazies" when I'm most definitely thinking "I'm on to something here, and be damned if it might not just work."

So, tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after, I'll get to the "this week in publishing" from all the sites I follow. But, since I haven't done much following this week, as I've been focused on submitting - and offering feedback on - queries, I'll leave you with the a link to The Public Query Slush Pile, and my most recent post that has put me in such an awesome mood; a link to the past Labor Day facts, and hopefully, a link to the video SUNSHINE IN A BAG, by the Gorillaz.

And, I will leave you with this bit of oddity at Pimp My Novel, because it's an opportunity to get some serious, or just plain annoying, questions answered. And how often does a blogger guy invite you to abuse him so publicly! I have, of course, found Eric's posts very informative.

Ok, ok, one more - two more - because I'm just on Nathan Bransford roll, since I'll be attending his Secret Agent workshop on Sunday, and I though Rick Daley and Nathan had an awesome on-line agent interview. A must read for anyone in the query phase of their writing career.

Ah man! One more, I promise, and I'm done. I've gotten a lot of - hmm, don't really know how to put it. A lot of "insight", from my characters by lurking in Mira's COME IN CHARACTER site. And maybe that's why the site is in danger of shutting down - too many lurkers, not enough participants. Amy Thompson is guilty as charged. It's a great place to explore your novel characters; to work out some so-called "kinks" the writer and characters are having.

If it all comes out like I planned, well, great. If not, I'll leave you with Roland o' Gilead's favorite whipping boy: "If Ka wills it, there will be water."