Saturday, June 29, 2013

Authors And Our Agent Nightmares...Hilarious!

Dear Literary Loves,
Honest to goodness we authors have our share of literary agent nightmares.  People email me or message me about them all the time.  I've decided, some it is so hilarious, heartbreaking, and completely foolish I really have to write a book about the whole experience.  For instance, this one writer was telling me about a writing conference she went to this spring.  She signed up, paid her fees, and had scheduled to pitch to two agents.  I had already had an experience with one of those agents so I knew she was up against a wall.  Seriously.  She went for the pitch session with the first one who is male.  She was nervous which is to be expected.  He told her to come back in one to two years when she had a polished manuscript because she had only been writing on it for ten months.  She only lacked working out the ending on the manuscript; otherwise, it was completed and edited to the best of her ability.  I hear from her:  "What the hell?!  I Don't Have One To Two Years!" I was shaking my head.  Damn, he can be abrasive.  Then, the agent asked her for her word count.  Well, if he had paid attention to her in the pitch, she said she hadn't finished the ending to the manuscript.  She reminded him of this.  No matter, he wanted a ball park figure on how many words her memoir manuscript would have.  She politely guessed 110,000.  He went loco.  "What?!  Cut it to 80,000 or just self-publish because it won't sell at that word count if you are a debut author."  She was devastated.  Here's the thing:  I told her, Mr. Smarty Pants doesn't have a clue.  You know why?  Because many a debut author memoir has sold with a word count over 120,000.  I know, I have them on my bookshelf.  She was somewhat consoled and agreed to keep on querying as I encouraged her to do. 
Next, we have the writer on one of the literary agent query sites who just cracks me up each time she receives a rejection from an agent.  She will post the agent's rejection for all to see on the site and then in all caps put "ONWARD!!"  Each time I read a rejection post for her I think of a Civil War general who keeps rallying onward even though he's lost half his men, there is no food for the troops, and some are fighting without equipment.  Damn.  You have to admire her tenacity.  I have to take several days to myself when I receive a rejection.  I have to step away from it because I tend to take it too personally.  And everyone knows what happens when someone slams me personally. 
Don't even get me started about the literary agent who willingly gives himself the name of asinine agent or something to that extreme.  I advise writers in relation to him:  Don't waste your time.  He's has some sort of twisted agenda of that I am sure.  Beautiful people, just say no to these types. I'm serious, cause life's too short.
And finally, there's the author who published a memoir just for venting and vindictive purposes.  She even admitted that she had done this.  I was like, "And your agent agreed to shop it and sell it?" She told me, "Oh yeah, well, we're friends.  That's how I got published in the first place.  She and I know each other."   And the book had a terrible showing.  So the agent wasn't really basing her decision on the writing, but on the relationship she had with the author.  There's professionalism on display for you.  Damn.  When I queried this gal's agent or any agent in this literary agency, here's the response I got each time:  "We are not the agency for you.  Look elsewhere."  Again, unprofessionalism reeks to high heaven people.  And reputations are made and broken on how you present yourself.  Writers ask me all the time about who they should query with a certain manuscript.  Guess what?  That agency has a major, red HURRICANE flag in my book.  Just saying.
And FINALLY, talk about nightmares, I have editors from Random House and Skyhorse Publishing requesting the manuscript and I DON'T HAVE AN AGENT YET!  How did I manage this you ask? I am a very likeable person, make friends easily, and am highly convincing.  It doesn't hurt that I have one hell of a tale and am good at pitching it to anyone whether that is the President or a homeless man sitting by the subway entrance. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Revelations From Agent and Editor Wish Lists

Dear Literary Loves,
Oh my. I just found an internet site that posted all the tweets from some circulating theme of Agents and Editors Wish Lists.  Was it ever revealing!  I felt like I was a fly on the wall listening in on the George Zimmermann trial in Florida.  Talk about truly discovering what literary agents are REALLY
looking for in the slush pile!  I was shocked because well, I had queried some of these literary agents and it was quite obvious to me that memoir IS NOT a genre where their true interests and priorities lie.  WHO KNEW?!  Anyway, my point is that there are many an acquiring literary agent who list on an agency site that they acquire memoir, but they wouldn't have the slightest bit of interest if a really good one came across the desk because WHAT they are really truly focusing on acquiring is young adult this and young adult that.  Tsk. Tsk.  Yawn.  Sorry, young adult is definitely not this southern writer's area.  Also, the vampire, werewolves, shewolves, etc. were SO OVER five years ago.  So here I was reading all these tweets and thinking why in the hell did I ever query him/her when it is so obvious we are not even on the same literary wavelength?!  Let's be real.  We may not even be residing on the same planet in some cases.  Lord, I was shocked.  By the way, there is an agent or editor that wants the next Downtown Abbey book, if that's your thing.  I fall asleep during the opening montage for Downtown Abbey if that tells you anything about my tastes. 
And let me say there is an agent that is looking to acquire memoir, but she wants one without the following:  illness, addiction, or families.  SAY WHAT?!!!!  Oh my goodness peeps!  Where would we be without those universal qualities throughout oh, I don't know, 80 percent of all the memoir titles?!  OH, IT'S JUST THE BEE'S KNEES HOW WHEN I READ THIS I JUST ABOUT PASSED OUT FROM HYPERVENTILATION!  By the way, that's probably why this particular literary agent rudely did not get back to me when I queried her with my memoir!  Damn!  Maybe he/she wanted a memoir that was going to sit on the shelf and collect dust and be sent back to the publisher as returns, but I'm in it for the real deal sweethearts.  I'm in it because I have a strong voice, a twistedly good yarn, and one hell of a fabulous author Web site that debuts this weekend!  Ya'll Be Sweet Now While I Take Myself Out To Lunch!  CHEERS!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Dear Literary Loves,
I know ya'll are reading this blog cause I can see how many views this blog has created and I know from where you are viewing this blog.  First, let me give a shout to Anonymous who sent me a reply about my post on literary agents:  thank you man, anytime; I ain't afraid to tell it like it is.  That's how this southern girl rolls.  Now, let me ask the editors and agents out there a question cause I'm getting worried about you.  Would you really recognize the next Kathryn Stockett or the next J.K. Rowling if she knocked at your door?  I'm serious.  Evidently, most would not judging from how many doors both ladies had to knock on and have shut in their faces before someone finally turned on the light switch and said, "Hell, yes.  You do have the next big thing, don't you?" 
Okay, so where's this beef coming from on my part you ask? Well, I had two literary agents turn my book down because they thought I should take out the life lessons:  said it was nothing new to them.  They already knew all that:  well, excuse me, let me get out of the way for your big-headed selves ladies.  I'm not writing for you darling, I'm writing for the general reading public.  Understand?  Cause here it comes now, wait for it..........WHO DO YOU THINK KNOWS MORE ABOUT WHAT THE GENERAL READING PUBLIC WANTS TO BUY?  A southern gal from the middle class who went to public schools and put herself through a state public college; she also taught public school and especially connected to inner city school students!  OR DO YOU THINK IT IS TWO GALS WHO GREW UP RICH AS AUGUSTA NATIONAL GRASS, WENT TO PRIVATE BOARDING SCHOOLS AND A PRIVATE COLLEGE, AND OH, HAVE AN OFFICE ON FIFTH AVENUE?!  Hey, I'm not knocking your life story cause I major in writing about real life recollections, okay?  I'm just making a point that there is a real reason why a book like Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten sold millions.  Hint:  it spoke to the vast majority of the general reading public.  Just sayin' folks.  Better look closely at who is knocking at your door with a query and a damn good book.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Awaiting Agent, Editor, or Both

I am currently in a holding pattern until I can obtain a literary agent or catch the eye of an editor at a publishing house.  Meanwhile, back on the farm, I am endeavoring to reach out to various memoir editors and at least see what types of memoirs they have published.  Out of eight editors that I contacted, only one, yes one, responsded to say she still needed me to have a literary agent before she could look at my material.  I told her I fear I may not be able to obtain one until the afterlife.  Seriously!  Meanwhile, back on the farm, I continue to endeavor to read a selection of memoirs I wouldn't normally or otherwise read.  I am doing this with the notion that I can hone my craft or at least get a feel for my competition.  Will be back with another memoir review shortly.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: Proof Of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Jouney into the Afterlife

Because I am in a holding pattern until an editor or literary agent acquires my own memoir, I am reading several memoirs I wouldn't normally choose to read on my own.  A writer hones his/her craft by reading in their genre and reading their competition.  My dad was the person who brought the book Proof Of Life to my attention after realizing this doctor's experience mirrored mine at age four and also watching Dr. Alexander speak of his experience on a local television station.  Essentially, Dr. Alexander contracts a rare form of bacterial meningitis originating from E. Coli bacteria.  He awakes one morning to a tremendous headache and unbearable pain in his back.  By mid-morning he has started having seizures and his wife calls 911.  The doctors at the hospital are perplexed by his condition, but continue to conduct tests.  It is determined after a lumbar puncture that he has bacterial meningitis.  The originating bacteria is E. Coli; however, initially the doctors think he picked it up during a trip to Israel.  That didn't turn out to be the case.  And I never actually learned where he acquired the E. Coli bacteria.  My theory is that he picked it up from the meat he ate at the barbecue he attended in his neighborhood the night before all the trauma begins.  Dr. Alexander spends seven days in the ICU with no signs of life.  He experiences what most people I know call a Near Death Experience whereby a person is in between this world and the great beyond or afterlife.  His experiences are quite similar to many others that I've heard or read about with great light, seeing someone who has gone on before you, a lush landscape, and a general feeling that it is not the person's time to enter the great beyond as well as a feeling of unconditional love.  Most people having this kind of experience also relate that there is no fear of going on to the great beyond.  I have never heard of anyone having a near death experience while having contracted meningitis; it's usually when a person has a cardiac arrest or the brain goes without oxygen for more that four minutes.

I will say that Dr. Alexander goes to great lengths to communicate that his is the only known recorded case whereby a person does not die given the type of illness he has.  He doesn't appear to suffer any residual damage after the experience either.  Well, guess what?!  Never say yours is the only case of its kind.  Why?  Because whether recorded or not, there is usually somebody somewhere that has experienced what you have.  When I was four years of age I contracted bacterial meningitis from a preschool I attended while my parents worked.  Another girl in the same preschool also came down with the same form of bacterial meningitis. My dad said he knew something was seriously wrong with me when I walked into a wall at home, fell, and my eyes rolled to the back of my head.  So I was in the hospital for 37 days and specialist among specialist was brought in to try and help heal me.  And this is back in 1973, a whole lot earlier than when Dr. Alexander was diagnosed, so there was even less known about how to successfully treat bacterial meningitis.  The other girl from my preschool who had contracted the same form of meningitis died.  I survived, but doctors warned my parents I could have residual side effects like going cross-eyed or suffering developmental disabilities.  Everything was fine up until I turned 17 years of age.  I never went to a preschool program again.  At age seventeen, I was diagnosed with Meniere's disease and its development was attributed to damage I suffered during my bout of bacterial meningitis.  At age sixteen, I developed Uveitis, a serious eye inflammation that later led to glaucoma at age 32.  The Uveitis was also attributed to damage I suffered during my fight with bacterial meningitis.  I have to say that I don't remember any near death experience; it freaked the hell out of my parents, especially when the other girl from the preschool died.  My dad has always said that it wasn't my time to go and there's something I am meant to do here.  Hopefully it is to get my own book published and become a successful author who can help people through her own weird, wildly unusual experiences.

And yeah, I believe in near death experiences even though I haven't experienced one.  There are so many common characteristics among all the people who have experienced one and also, I've seen my dad be within a pinch of death and come back completely healed.  Let's hope I get to tell my story one day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Getting Published Is Like Teaching 8th Grade English

Dear Literary Loves,
Okay, first, I have not written on this blog in over a week because I have been too blessedly perturbed with publishing and literary agents. I had a literary agent that I had submitted my full manuscript to and on all fronts it appeared to be a match.  And then she sent me a pass on the book saying it was a difficult decision for she and her literary agent partner.  They thought the life lessons I included in the book were to simplistic or nothing they hadn't heard before and they were perplexed as to how to make my manuscript stand out from other books like it.  I knew I wasn't taking the news well when I could hear my teeth grinding and my nostrils were flaring.  It took me three days to calm down enough to send a reply.  I have been attempting to land an agent for this book, which is quite personal, for two years.  It is quite difficult to know as a writer that your book is needed because you probably have read more memoir than the literary agents considering it.  I have well over 100 memoirs on my shelf.  No, I didn't attend Harvard, Northwestern, or Columbia.  No, I didn't grow up in the northeast and go to a boarding school for girls.  My parents didn't live in a country club.  I'm from a small town.  No one where I grew up was really expected to do anything special.  None of us were rich.  So when I decided to go to college I majored in teaching middle school.  And then I decided I would teach English and Social Studies.  I never wanted to teach in a private school because that is such a foreign concept to me.  I made it a priority to teach in the public school system and then was assigned to teach in an inner city school.  Dangerous would be an understatement.  I did teach one year in a private school, but honestly, I loved the students; it was most of the parents who drove me crazy. 
So trying to get my first book published has reminded me a lot of what it is like to successfully teach sixth, seventh, and eighth graders:  you've got to have loads of patience, you have a backbone of steel, and occasionally, you just have to imagine round-housing a wall.  Then my family came to visit for my birthday this week and well, the memoir is about them and it just frustrates the hell out of me that no one among the literati appears to be able to recognize a diamond in the slush pile even if it got up and hit them on the side of the head.  And on top of it all, I got called for jury duty on my birthday!  I did buy three new memoirs this week and I will be reading and reviewing them on this blog, but I don't think they are anywhere near the quality of my memoir.  I don't write for Joe and Jane Smith who were born with silver spoons in their mouths darling.  I write for the casual, normal, everyday, get with the program, and put up or shut up members of society.  Cause you know what? They are the heart and soul of this country.