Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Contributing Editor Makes Gross Assumptions About Women Who Wear Lilly Pulitzer

Dear Lit Loves,

Greetings!  I'm still reading The Mad Woman In The Volvo:  My Year of Raging Hormones by Sandra Tsing Loh so I am unable to give it a thumbs up or thumbs down yet.  I have read Every Patient Tells A Story by Dr. Lisa Sanders, an internist at Yale Medical School.  Excellent book.  I sent her an email about my reaction to the book and she kindly responded to it. 

Now, I just ran across a blog or periodical post from a contributing editor who makes some seriously adverse and judgmental assumptions about the women who she sees wearing a Lilly Pulitzer dress.  Well, I happen to be a fan of Lilly Pulitzer so I decided to post this contributing editor's assumptions and then respond to them.  Here We Go:

Contributing Editor at Digital Magazine Files Blog Post Making The Following Assumptions About Women Who Wear Lilly Pulitzer. My feedback to her statements is/are in Italics:

1)  You belong to a country club.   Hell no, I don't belong to a country club.  I might sign up for a Fight Club, Book Club; or Rebel Southern Ladies Club.  I might decide to live in a country club.  It depends on if I get published and if I like the house and acreage.

2)  You have dated a Lacrosse player.  Say What?!!!  No, I've been known to snag a Frenchman and date a few delirious male souls, but no I can't say I have ever encountered a Lacrosse player I would date.  I married an Electrical Engineer with a Ph.D.  I liked him as he is as smart as I am. 

3) You know how to tie a scarf.  Well, yes I do.  I used to wear them around my neck and tucked into my pant suits when I was a public and private school teacher.  Now I just wear them as bandannas around my head when I exercise.  I also tie a scarf to my purse.  You never know when you might need to use one as a tissue or turn it into a tourniquet to stop profuse bleeding.  Heck, with enough scarves tied together, I could make them into a parachute and potentially jump safely from a small plane.

4)  You can name all the Ivy League Schools without having to google them.   Maybe.  I really feel like asking most students and graduates of Ivy League colleges if they feel good about overpaying for their education and having massive student loans.  I also ask them did they feel privileged to attend an Ivy League School and ask if they consider themselves arrogant.  Can you tell I attended a state college?!

5)  Your dress would be great on a small child.  Damn straight some of them would.  I like little people occasionally.  Not the obnoxious, bratty ones.  I like adults who haven't lost their inner child-like spirit.  I'm in touch with my child-like spirit, how about you?

6)  There's another pair of shoes in your bag.  What?!  No, there's another pair of shoes in my car in case I need them when I wash my Mustang or if someone tries to attack me and I can use a pair of stilettos to defend myself.  The only other things in my bag might be meds, a Tazor, and a red lipstick.

7)  You might be drunk and you like an umbrella in your smoothie with five or six shots of rum.  Girl please.  I can't drink because I take a boat-load of medications and I don't need alcohol to swing from the rafters, okay?!  

8)  You are really fun.  Well, hell yeah.  I would wear my Lilly Pulitzer to a professional wrestling match or to a Floyd Mayweather fight.  You've got to sport some style, honey.  And trust me, I know fun like no other person or soul.

9)  You know how to French braid hair.  Um, no.  I like short hair and pixie cuts, preferably flaming red.  I have a sincere dislike for long hair as most of the time long hair can look like a bird's nest.

10)  You have a list of baby names.  Baby Names?!!! Hell, I don't even have children.  They generally give me a migraine.  And I really like my independence darling.

11)  You own a Tiffany necklace.  You got it in ninth grade with a velvet box.  Girlfriend, I do not own a Tiffany necklace.  I spent the summer of my ninth grade year working on a tobacco farm and attending professional wrestling matches.  I do like a bit of semi-precious stones and accompanying hardware though.  Personally, I really like the jewelry designer, LeVian.

12)  You say your favorite movie is Amelie.  You are kidding, right?  My favorite movie is Erin Brochavich (spelling?).  I like women who stand up to big business and know how to kick legal ass.

13)  Your favorite movie is Fast and Furious.  You like fast cars and man feelings.  Oh, for the love of Jesus.  I like Vin Diesel.  I like my vintage cherry red Mustang.  I like the Mach sound system in my Mustang so I can crank it up and listen to the Rolling Stones.  And "man feelings"?  Well, isn't that a form of stereotyping?  I choose to not participate in that portion of your list of assumptions.  Sorry.

14)  You have been watching a lot of House Hunters.  No.  I don't have time, dearest.  I don't need to watch any show to discover what I like in houses.  I just do a simple crayon home layout, find a contractor and get him to build it according to the specifications.  Then I decorate, relax and sit outside on the patio with a lemonade and the latest memoir by a non-famous person.

15)  Your Instagram makes your relatives feel like butt.  Wow, such language.  No, I hate Instagram and Twitter as I think they are self-aggrandizing.  And, please leave my relatives out of this dialogue.  Are we clear?  They are my problem and I know how to best deal with them.

16)  You are into the dessert zeitgeist.   What?!  Does this mean I adhere to Paula Dean and Martha Stewart recipes?  What are you saying, child?  I like chocolate and peanut butter ice cream pie.  Who has time to make dessert?  I just call my favorite baker and stir up business for him by ordering a fancy-dancy cake.  I support small, local businesses.

17)  You love Taylor Swift's brother more than you love Taylor Swift.  I googled Taylor Swift's brother as I have no idea what he looks like.  I think he needs to be about twenty years older, more mature, and lose the scruffy face.  And no girlfriend, I do not listen to Taylor Swift.  Presently, I am listening to AC/DC, but YOU may have to google them to understand what band that is.  Personally, my favorite song is "Back In Black". 

18)  You have a standing appointment for a Kate Middleton blow-out.  No, No and just Hell to the No!  I like my pixie cut and my brother is my bad-ass hair designer.  You should try him.  He works wonders, let me tell you.  Honestly, I keep telling him he should add "magician" to his business card.

19)  You have a porcelain box of baby teeth.  Now girlfriend, I am telling you that is just nasty.  And I will not be caught dead with baby teeth; however, I really did like the tooth fairy.  She was quite generous compared to what my classmates received for their baby teeth.

20)  You feel superior to people who like Versace, but you would never say it.  Girl, Donatella Versace rocks.   Really, you shouldn't indirectly try and insult her or me like that.  That is just a serious form of rude behavior.  Total shame.  And I have never been one to keep my opinions to myself as my family and friends can tell you.

21)  You have a Pandora bracelet and it is filled to capacity.  Um, no.  I wear a Swiss watch.  And I am known to carry a cross and recite Hail Marys when I come across hospitals, obnoxious people, bad drivers, chauvanistic men and most medical personnel.  And no, I don't like charms on a bracelet or in a breakfast cereal.  My brother did remind me that most of my rings could potentially be used as weapons so I will add that observation.

Wow.  Wasn't that something Lit Loves?!  I mean, you know I HAD to respond to this contributing editor's list regarding women who wear Lilly Pulitzer dresses.  I'm hoping she learned a few things by my responses,  like stop trying to make assumptions about someone just from how they dress.  Be prepared for people to surprise the crap out of you.  Get to know someone before you make potentially erroneous statements about them.  Some of us are just rebels wearing Lilly Pulitzer, okay?  It's not illegal or anything.  It's tricky, yes, but man is it ever a load of fun to confuse the hell out of people!  Now, I've got to get back to reading and over the weekend I've got to go find this Lilly dress I've been dying to score.  Ya'll have fun, keep reading and have one damn colorful summer, okay?!!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Evaluation of Literary Agent Responses To Writer Queries Via QueryTracker

Dear Lit Loves,

Greetings fellow literary lovies!  I have a major announcement. And no, I did not secure a literary agent. If that had happened you would have heard me screaming and doing somersaults in the parking lot of my apartment complex here in North Carolina.  My major news is that I have now surpassed 4,000 views of my blog!  Okay, it's not on par with Lady Gaga's number of Twitter followers, but I'll take it.  My number of blog views is actually 4,124!  AND HEY!  IF YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE ME IMITATE ELECTRIC GUITAR PLAYING TO THE ROLLING STONES TUNE, "START ME UP", THEN PLEASE FOLLOW ME ON THIS BLOG'S HOME PAGE.  I'LL TRY AND GET MY TECH GURU HUSBAND TO VIDEO RECORD IT AND POST IT SO YOU CAN SEE MY EXCITEMENT.

So today I decided to peruse QueryTracker, a website where new writers log their queries (aka book pitches) to literary agents and then have the option of letting the rest of us (writer minions) know what kind of response they received. Well, I decided to evaluate a few of the "alleged" responses noted from literary agents in reply to writer queries.  I say "alleged" because I am assuming that the writers are telling the truth about the responses they report from literary agents.  I don't want to get sued either.

Evaluations of Literary Agent Responses To Writer Queries Via QueryTracker
For July 16th, 2015:

1)  Writer #1 noted that she sent a query via postal mail to a literary agent regarding a political thriller manuscript she had written.  She mailed this in March of 2015.  After four and a half months, this writer has still not received a response to her query.  Personally, I thought it was shameful on the part of the literary agent.  And then when I looked to see the identity of the literary agent, I wanted to tell the query writer not to worry, this literary agent did not get back to me on four different occasions so I struck her off my potential literary agent list for untimely behavior and poor time management skills.  I am a former inner-city teacher.  I have responsibilities you know.

2)  Writer #2  queried a literary agent on July 6th, 2015 with a query for contemporary romance.  That writer received a full request from the literary agent on July 12th, 2015.  This means the agent wants to see your entire manuscript, book proposal or sometimes both.  The literary agent offered the writer representation on July 15th, 2015 and the writer accepted the invitation.  Good for you!  I've never had any luck whatsoever with this literary agency.  I think it's because they do not like serious subject matter or memoirs written by non-celebrities, but that's just my assumption from the rejections I have received from them as a writer. And I am also very intuitive.

3)  Writer #3 queried a romantic thriller to a literary agent on July 14th, 2015.  The writer received a rejection or pass on the book pitch on July 15th, 2015 because the literary agent felt he/she was not a good fit for this book.  I took this to mean maybe it wasn't his/her style or maybe this is not a genre in which heshe specializes.  Anyway, it was a timely and professional rejection.  This literary agent remains on my potential literary agent list. Being prompt is always beneficial in my opinion.

4)  Writer #4 emailed a query letter to a literary agent in June 2015 regarding a time travel novel.  She received a response from the literary agent a month later saying that it was essentially well-written, but he/she could not connect with the voice of the main character.  This literary agent invited the writer to query her again with future projects.  I thought this was courteous and professional.  And it's certainly nicer than any rejection or pass I have received from any literary agent at this particular agency.  I no longer query any of the literary agents at this agency because I just didn't feel they were willing to make the time and effort to guide a new writer through the publishing process.  This agency was banished from my query list.

5)  Writer #5 sent a pitch letter and first ten pages of her manuscript to a literary agent on June 22nd, 2015 and received a courteous email rejection a week later.  This agent said the manuscript is wonderful, but the main character's voice is just not her style; however, he/she recommended the writer not change a thing about the manuscript and to just keep querying because some agent will fall in love with it and choose to offer representation.  Folks, I actually stood up from my chair in my home office after reading this and applauded.  What a genuinely pleasant and personalble response by a literary agent.  I just queried this same literary agent and I have not heard back which means either she is quite busy, has placed my query in a "maybe" pile, or is horrified by my content and writing style.  Fingers crossed though.

6)  Writer #6 queried a quite busy and popular literary agent on July 14th, 2015 even though the literary agent's website noted he/she was closed to queries.  The writer received a full request on July 16th, 2015.   This means the literary agent wanted to read her entire manuscript and evaluate it.  I was impressed.  I have queried this literary agent with at least two manuscripts and he/she has rejected them.  Recently, when I had four editors who expressed interest in perusing a manuscript of mine once I landed a literary agent, I queried this same literary agent asking if he/she could consider any material of mine now.  Crickets.  No response.  And it was just a simple question too.  I guess neither me or my question warranted a response.  Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers.  Onward!!

Okay folks!  That's it for today's blog post.  I'm still reading the memoir entitled "The Mad Woman in the Volvo:  My Year of Raging Hormones" by Sandra Tsing Loh; however, I am no longer laughing hysterically.  I'm now beginning to wonder if she is going to need a prescription for Paxil, Wellbutrin, Xanax, or possibly Prozac.  And I'm beginning to wonder how she and I grew up both belonging to Generation X.   Will get back to you on this once I conclude my reading.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why Querying Annoys The Hell Out Of Me

Dear Lit Loves,

Hi!  I'm back!  Yes, after my last post there were people wondering if I would ever blog again, or quit writing and suddenly take up rodeo riding, or transition from my potential writing career to professional wrestling just so I could take on Ted Cruz!  Obviously, I am blogging once again, I rather like trying to ride the mechanical bull in a club, and well, I am an avid professional wrestling fan (whoo-hoo Ric Flair) and if I ever take on Ted Cruz, well, my husband said his money is on me and I should disclose that my husband holds a black belt. 

Yes, I'm still emotionally raw from my father dying recently.  And I'm rather upset at the way his oncological care or lack thereof was handled, and I was informed by Duke University's Retina Department on Friday that my Uveitis (major eye inflammatory disease) is now not just residing in my right eye, but also the left eye too.  Joy!  Wonder if the Uveitic Glaucoma in my right eye will also take up inhabiting my left eye too?!  Oh, the wonders of modern medicine!  And I just want to add that I really wonder if doctors, surgeons, specialists etc. ever take any psychology or interpersonal communication/how to be humane classes during their many years of college?  I WOULD HAPPILY VOLUNTEER TO TEACH THIS COURSE FOR ANY INSTITUTION WHO FEELS DOCTORS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO ENGAGE WITH PATIENTS/PEOPLE IN A REPUTABLE, PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONABLE FASHION.

Now, allow me to get to the subject of this blog post:  Querying.  So many people ask me what this is.  My routine answer is that it's when you are trying to secure a literary agent and you write them a pitch letter for your manuscript.  You introduce yourself as a writer, pitch your book, and then list your accomplishments or "platform".  The next question I get asked is, "What the hell is platform?"   My short answer is:  it means how many people know you? do you have a website, and how many social media sites can people (readers) go to on their phones or computers and find you?  And finally I get asked, "But isn't it about the content of your book, your voice, the story, etc. etc."  In a nutshell:  maybe. 

In the last four months I have queried various literary agents because to sell your book to a publisher, it is quite wise to have secured a literary agent who can negotiate for you.  Well, I can tell you this:  some literary agents will not respond to you or are going to willfully ignore you; some literary agents will respond to you politely and in an explanatory fashion even if they are rejecting you; and then some literary agents are rude, don't abide by their own rules for querying, and would not recognize the next bestseller or successful writer (see J.K. Rowling) if their own personal publishing fairy Godmother dropped down from heaven and smacked them over the head with an iPad containing your query, book proposal and manuscript.  I'm serious people.  It's brutal.  Thank God I once taught in an inner city school as well as a private, religiously-oriented school.  I have vast experience on the front lines of interacting with exasperating and non-compliant folks.  Enough said.

Here, for your perusal are some of the responses I have received from literary agents I have queried in the last six months along with what my responses might have been if I had felt so inclined to respond: 

1)  "I don't think I am the right agent for you."   (Well, why not?  Are you too busy?  Do you belong to The Tea Party?  Do you dislike feminists?  Are you leaving in the next six months for a better job?)

2)  Okay, there are literary agents who I have queried and they have never responded.  (I begin to wonder if they were involved in an accident, are on maternity leave, are too busy traveling, or have been advised to leave town immediately and take up residence in a witness protection program).

3)  "Your project (aka book) is not right for my list."  (I take this to sometimes mean they do not like the subject about which I'm writing, they are looking for the next Hunger Games and not a memoir, or maybe they just use it as an excuse so as to not hurt a writer's feelings.)

4)  "Dear Author,  Thank you for your query.  Your work is well-written and very timely.  I applaud you for sharing your experiences; however, you really should have 25,000 Twitter followers or no editor will even look at you."   (So I write well, am a former English teacher, and have good content, but I am not a famous person; therefore, I am not worthy of representation.  By the way, I feel Twitter is for those who are pompous, have a limited vocabulary, and like to fill up an enclosed stadium with their own individual hot air,)

5)  "I didn't connect with the narration." (Maybe they do not understand southerners or southern lingo?  Maybe they have never dealt with serious subject matter?  Or even better, maybe they don't want to deal with/face the subject matter?  It's about life and death people!  Or trying to teach and connect with inner city school students!  Or caring for aging parents! Or the strength of female friendships!  Or God Forbid, it's about being diagnosed with,at the time, a rare disorder called Meniere's disease at age eighteen!)

6) "We do not feel sufficiently enthusiastic about your project (book).  Please forgive the impersonal nature of this letter." (We don't like your subject matter or you and we will not even give you the time of day, understand?!  Well, whoop-tee-do.  I'll let you all go put on your Pollyanna dresses and continue prancing down Park Avenue!).

7)  "Dear Author, we are not the right agency for you.  Sincerely, Assistant #3"   (We are a conservative literary agency.  We do not wish to speak with you, sit near you, or waste our time reading your query.  And dear author, you are not worthy of a response from a literary agent; therefore, we devalue you as we do our interns by not inserting or addressing you by name!  Damn, this has definitely got to be "that time of the month" for this entire office of literary agents and assistants; therefore, thank God you didn't consider me for representation.  I'm placing you all on the naughty mat and referring each and every one of you to Dr. Ruth!"

Yes, dear lit loves, all these responses were actually sent in response to my query by various literary agents working in publishing today.  It's a riot!  I do take solace in the fact that two literary agents are seriously considering not just my query, but also my book proposal and manuscript.  Also, four editors from major publishing imprints have expressed interest in my projects (books) once I sercure a literary agent.  And finally, one small press is actively considering publishing one of my manuscripts even if I do not have a literary agent.  Damn!  Thank God they don't hold it against me that I have not yet secured literary representation! 

Ya'll have fun now, ya hear?!  By the way, I am currently reading The Madwoman in the Volvo:  My Year of Raging Hormones by Sandra Tsing Log and doubling over hysterically laughing while reading this memoir at two in the morning.  Cheers!

Grace (Amy)