Like all the best people out there, I'm a little crazy.  I have some serious OCD tendencies and an obsessive personality and I'm neurotic about some of the strangest things.

One, not very strange in my opinion, neuroses I have revolves around my books.  I love hardcover books - like love love love them.

I always prefer to buy hardcover over paperback.  There are practical reasons.  I can reread without wearing the book out.  I can lend it out without worrying it'll come back in tatters from too many people bending it every which way (I do not lend dust jackets).

But one of the real reasons, is that when I put the book on my shelf, it looks better - neater - when all the books are hardcover.

This becomes a real problem for me when books are paperback originals.  I still buy and read them of course, but I am always hoping the book will come out in hardcover later.  In fact, I compulsively check amazon to see if I can get a hardcover edition.

Like with Kim Harrison's The Hollows series.  The first several books came out in mass market before switching to hardcover.  Which of course presented a huge problem for my bookshelves.  I can't possibly display mass markets next to hardcovers but I can't break up a series either!  (After biting my nails and secretly stressing about it, I do now own this entire series in hardcover...and I still own those mass markets too.  They're shelved behind the hardcovers.)


Occasionally though it's hard to get a hardcover edition.  I've ordered them from the UK a few times.  Or I've bought them used when they're out of print.  (Side note: I'm also obsessive about collecting used books with inscriptions to other people.)  Which brings me to...

MY RANT

A few days ago, I ordered a used book online.  A hardcover, of course.  The bookseller described the book as being in excellent condition, no markings, no stickers, almost like the book looked new.  This was perfect for me.  I sent my money through the internet and awaited arrival of said book.

Today it came.

WITHOUT A DUST JACKET!

I didn't shed any tears, but I did have a minor fit in the office about it.  (Thankfully no one was hear to witness it.)  And then I ordered another copy from another bookseller after double-checking to make sure their copy does have a dust jacket.

I know how crazy this is.  I know.  But on the upside, people like me are the reason print books will never die.
I read 116 books last year.  I was pretty impressed with myself.  Then I did my taxes and discovered I bought 157 orders of books on Amazon, and then there are all the books I bought at actual bookstores, plus ARCs I got from BEA or colleagues, and all the books I received as gifts.  Which means, I bought a lot more than I read.  Not so good.

Then I moved.  And in the process of packing up the TBR room, I discovered, the pile had grown (mathematically, this of course makes sense).  I now have 705 books in the TBR room.  Which means if I read a book a day, it will take me almost two years to read them all.

I doubt this is what my dad meant when he told me I should have a retirement plan, but it's the one I've got.

So here they are, the books I read this year.  I didn't quite get to 116, but I got over 100.  Favorites in bold, and yes some of them are re-reads.  Sometimes, it just must be done.  Even if you have over 700 books you haven't gotten to yet.

  1. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
  2. Lucky by Alice Sebold
  3. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
  4. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
  5. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judith Blundell
  6. Evernight by Claudia Gray
  7. Stargazer by Claudia Gray
  8. Hourglass by Claudia Gray
  9. You by Chuck Benoit
  10. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
  11. The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
  12. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  13. First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost
  14. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
  15. The Daughters by Joanna Philbin
  16. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  17. Silver Bourne by Patricia Briggs
  18. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
  19. Deception by Lee Nichols
  20. Poseur by Rachel Maude
  21. Ghost Country by Patrick Lee
  22. Room by Emma Donoghue
  23. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  24. Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop
  25. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  26. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  27. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
  28. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  29. War by Sebastian Junger
  30. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  31. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
  32. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
  33. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
  34. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
  35. Lover Mine by JR Ward
  36. The Darkest Passion by Gena Showalter
  37. The Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
  38. Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
  39. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  40. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  41. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
  42. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  43. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  44. The Electric Church by Jeff Somers
  45. How to Grow Up and Rule the World by Vordak the Incomprehensible
  46. Matched by Ally Condie
  47. Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong
  48. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  49. The Insiders by J Minter
  50. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
  51. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  52. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  53. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  54. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  55. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
  56. Faithful Place by Tana French
  57. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  58. Bound by Darkness by Annette McCleave
  59. Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang
  60. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  61. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
  62. Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
  63. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  64. Dust by Joan Frances Turner
  65. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  66. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  67. Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor
  68. Highborn by Yvonne Navarro
  69. Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
  70. You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fillion
  71. The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
  72. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  73. Banished by Sophie Littlefield
  74. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  75. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling
  76. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
  77. An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
  78. Oogy by Larry Levin
  79. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  80. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  81. Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
  82. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
  83. The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
  84. First Test by Tamora Pierce
  85. Page by Tamora Pierce
  86. Squire by Tamora Pierce
  87. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
  88. Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers
  89. Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney
  90. Twilight's Dawn by Anne Bishop
  91. Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
  92. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
  93. Fallen by Lauren Kate
  94. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
  95. Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
  96. Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan
  97. Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
  98. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  99. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
  100. Made in Detroit by Paul Clemens
  101. Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
  102. Firelight by Sophie Jordan

One book every 3 days, 13 hours.
I edit.

Alot.


It's always made me a tough critic.  But the more I've gotten sucked into the publishing industry, the harder it's gotten for me to read published books because so often, I'm on the verged of being sucked in and then I think of something I would have edited differently.

Or even more often, I read a book and like it, but still think of what I would have edited differently.

This is, of course, what makes the exceptions, all that more wonderful.  Books like a few that I read this year: You by Charles Benoit, Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott.

Then of course, there are my own clients' manuscripts which I edit and then send off into the world so an editor will hopefully fall in love with the manuscript just like I did, and then edit it some more.

The 2010 Statistics

Editorial Letters I Wrote for Clients: 129

          Shortest Letter: 3 pages

          Longest Letter: 14 pages

          Average: 7 1/2 pages

Editorial Letters I Wrote for Colleagues: 23
(When I was reading something for them as a Second Read)

Now, I mentioned I read fast.  It usually takes me about 3 1/2 hours to read a 300 page book, depending on the genre.  But editorial letters are different.  I might jot some notes down while I read, but actually thinking about everything, putting it onto paper and expressing my thoughts in a concise and coherent fashion (hopefully).

How Long Specifically?

The Fastest: Overnight, 7 hours total

The Longest: 13 Days

Average: 2-3 Days


Every agent I know, does the majority of their editing (read: all) at home.  I've heard a lot of editors do their editing outside of the office too (And yes, their editing is much much better than mine).

Here's why:

The second fastest editorial letter I wrote, I tried to do it as an overnight job.  I just started typing everything in an email.  I did this for two reasons: we were on a time constraint and it was one of the best manuscripts I'd read. Ever. I figured, there weren't going to be many notes.  So I set out and started typing.

I got about 75% finished before my brain started to feel like mush.  So I went to sleep.  The next morning, I finished typing everything up, gave the email a once over and sent it off to Unsuspecting Brilliant Writer.

Two days later, Unsuspecting Brilliant Writer, replied and said "Here's my revised version.  I took those NINE SINGLE SPACED PAGES OF NOTES and revised."

I replied and said: "That was not nine pages of notes!  Why do you lie so much?"

Unsuspecting (and Clever) Brilliant Writer replied with an attachment of said notes, copy and pasted into a word document.  And yes, it was 9 pages, single spaced, 12 pt font.

I said "...."

And then I said to myself You turned around 9 pages in 2 days...are you sure you got everything?


But Unsuspecting and Brilliant Writer is...well, Brilliant, and did it beautifully.

Not exactly a cautionary tale, but still, something tells me I wasn't quite as concise in that letter as I should have been.
In 2010, I was open to queries from January 1st to November 15th.

Here's what my stats look like:

Queries

Queries Received: 5530

Rejected: 4803

Requested: 727

          Partials: 152 (and then at some point I realized requesting partials didn't work for me and I should just request the whole thing)

          Fulls: 575


Manuscripts


I Still Have: 6


Read 100+ Pages: 425

Read to the End: 312

Sent an Editorial Letter: 62

Invited to Resubmit: 15

          Of those, I offered on: 2

Offered (including those 2): 16

New Clients: 10
I imagine most agents start the way I did, and by that I mean eager and wide eyed, ready to dive into the slush pile and find The Next Big Thing.  Even Janet Reid is nicer than she pretends to be mean and sharkly all the time.

That may or may not be the legs of an unsuspecting writer. 
 I signed a confidentiality agreement.

When my boss first told me I could start requesting manuscripts and looking for something I could represent myself, I was so excited that I requested 11 manuscripts...that day (so I was a little over ambitious, story of my life).  But when 9 of those manuscripts showed up the next day, I read them, one after the next, and I took notes and sent feedback to the authors.

And despite the problems with that, I continued to handle requested submissions in a similar manner.  Even when I had six clients, I desperately wanted a YA fantasy, so I requested every single YA fantasy that found its way into my inbox.  Then thankfully I found Cat Hellisen.  Or rather she found me, by way of that Moskowitz girl.

But at some point this year, I hit a wall where the words of Janet Reid ("I told you to stop doing that!") really sunk in.  And I started form rejecting manuscripts and denying writers feedback.

This was a sad decision for me.  I've heard so many writers talk about how they so desperately want feedback.  I know I would have a hard time reading form rejection after form rejection.  And don't get me wrong, I get plenty of people who respond to me and ask for feedback anyway.



But here's why I just can't give it.

I just don't have the time.

This might sound callous or self important.  I know that.  But it's the truth.  Every reason I can think of for why I don't send feedback and notes, why I form reject, comes back to the fact that I just don't have the time.

1. Feedback creates a dialogue. Writers almost always respond to personalized emails (I respect that).  Sometimes the responses are pleasant and short and The End.  But with the amount of emails I get, these add up and take a while to go through.  Other times, they're rants (which do hurt my sensitive feelings even when I try not to let them) or belligerent personal attacks, which means I have to turn to someone in the office and cry/complain/rant/vent or something in return.

2. Feedback can also give writer's a sense of hope, and unfortunately sometimes a false sense of hope.  Back when I gave feedback to everything, a lot of those manuscripts had problems I could point out, but they also lacked something much more amorphous and hard to define--whatever was going to make me fall in love with it.  Yet a lot of writers revised, according to my notes and resubmitted and then I read again.  And most often times I still had to turn around and say "nope not for me."

3. I have client manuscripts to edit.  My feedback has to go to them.  These are the manuscripts I've read and loved and said YES I WANT TO REPRESENT YOU! And I doubt I'll shatter any delusions (I've seen what my clients say about me), but I edit those manuscripts.  A lot.  I read them again and again before we go on submission and go through multiple rounds of edits.  Then after my clients have editors and they edit for them, I read again, just to make sure nothing was missed.  Admittedly, I read fast, faster than almost anyone else I know.  But editing isn't a job that can be rushed.

4. The hard truth is that agenting isn't about answering queries or reading requested material.  Even pitching books to editors doesn't take up the majority of an agent's job.  It's handling problems that arise during editing, production, the release, the next book, and beyond.  And so many of those problems jump up unannounced and require a lot of phone calls and/or emails to a number of people.  Sometime one problem takes up a whole day or a whole week or even more.

Even though it grates my skin to say it, no matter how little I sleep, I just don't have the time to keep up with everything I do if I'm also giving feedback on requested material.  So I don't.  Which means, my rejection now includes:

Due to the volume of queries and submissions I receive, I'm unable to provide a personal evaluation and/or further explanation of my decision.

Which also means, when a writer replies and says "But could you tell me why it's not for you?  Any feedback is helpful!" I don't respond.  My heart bleeds a little and a part of me wants to write a couple paragraphs about why.  But I just...



Can't.

Because I have 239 other things I should be doing with the 15 minutes that will take.

* Note * 
Please feel free to disagree, however, disrespectful comments will be deleted.
Tis the season to buy books (or giftcards to bookstores, right?). So while you're out there either before or after the holidays, keep an eye out for these awesome titles for the kiddos in your life:

Picture Books:

Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoomaker
(Aladdin, Jan 2011 - a post-holiday buy!)

Eula, the square cat, even has a blog!

Dinotrux by Chris Gall

Revenge of the Dinotrux was just announced to pub Spring 2012!

A Cold Winter's Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas

There are 4 other Good Knight titles to choose from, and another one coming out this summer!

Chapter Books:

Frankly Frannie by AJ Stern

The 4th title in this series pubs in June 2011!

Zombiekins by Kevin Bolger

The illustrator for this series, Aaron Blecha, also illustrates Nancy Coffey Lit's very own Zachary Ruthless series!

Middle Grade:

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley


Also be sure to check out Buckley's more boy-centric series, N.E.R.D.S. !

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Okay, seriously...I don't meant o have 2 Grimm related stories, they're both just SOOO good!

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

Zahler's second fairy-tale reimagining comes out Feb 2011, A True Princess!

Milo by Alan Silberberg


The Storm Before Atlanta by Karen Schwabach

Schwabach's other historical titles include The Hope Chest and A Pickpocket's Tale!
I recently moved from Brooklyn to Washington Heights (I love my new apartment! omg) and this past weekend I dragged Joanna up to see the new place and walk my dogs with me.  When we walked into Ft. Tryon Park, our conversation went something like this:

Suzie: Isn't it pretty? Look at all the leaves and the trees and the grass and the wide open space.

Jo: Oh my God, this is perfect!

Suzie: I know, right?  There's a fenced in dog park and everything and--

Jo: You'll totally be safe from the zombie apocalypse.

Suzie: ...

Jo: I'm serious. Look, this is exactly how you'll get out of the city if it's overrun by zombies. [Insert Joanna's plan here.  She might kill me if I gave it away.  I'm not kidding.  She doesn't joke about how she plans to outlive the zombie apocalypse].

And I'm not a zombie.  I recently read a zombie novel with the interns and could barely get through the first hundred pages.  Not because it was poorly written (it wasn't), but because the descriptions of the flesh and bugs and decay made me feel sick.

But as you might know, I do like post-apocalyptic novels, and there are a slew of good ones coming out in 2011.  Here are the top five on my TBR list.

5. XVI by Julia Karr
Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world - even the most predatory of men - that she is ready for sex. 


Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past - one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.


I love the thrilling aspect of this premise--staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.  And I love the sort of distorted cover image.

4. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.


Annah's world stopped that day and she's been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.


Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah's longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

I've loved Carrie Ryan's post-apocalyptic world every since The Forest of Hands and Teeth which remains one of the only zombie novels that I've enjoyed.  I love how no one is ever safe in her books--anyone can die.

3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.


But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.


While I was reading Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver's debut novel, I had a love/hate relationship with it.  I love the writing and the premise, but I hated the main character.  And it remains one of the only novels I've been able to constantly think about and love, when I in fact didn't like the main character at all.  This is so different from her first novel, so I'm really excited to see what she does with it.


2. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.


When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.


But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.


I have everyone else at a disadvantage because, I have read this one.  And it's awesome.  Like I stayed up reading until 3 am on a Friday night awesome.

And of course...

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth


One choice


One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs, and determines your loyalties . . . forever.


Or, one choice can transform you.


And I read this one too. OH. MY. GOD. All I can say is...

DAUNTLESS!
...did you hear about the City of Bones movie? It appears they have a studio and a director and they've cast Clary.

I'm so excited.  I love love love those books.

So recently our lovely assistant Sara snagged her first client and we co-agented an amazing deal (let's be honest, Sara put my agenting skills to shame with her awesomesauceygoodness when she took the lead on this). Read more about this project by the amazing Susan Dennard here.

And after you read about that, you'll understand why The League of S.T.E.A.M. is the best thing I've seen since my first Ren Faire (don't make fun--I'm a nerd and proud of it!).

Not only do I love all things steam punk, but dude...I grew up on GHOSTBUSTERS (whose mom wouldn't let them use the slime that came with the GB Fire Station because it stained furniture besides mine??).

Just look at that fire station--SO. COOL.

But I digress.

So the League of S.T.E.A.M. was recently discussed on Twitter and I think I officially geeked out in front of my boss for the first time when I watched one of their clips. They are AWESOME.

But don't take my word for it. Watch yourself!

Congrats to Lee Nichols and Lisa Desrochers who hit Galley Cat's Best YA Books of 2010.



Okay, squee much? Serioulsy. So. SO. Excited about the next installment of Lee's Haunting Emma series. And I got to read it MONTHS ago. In fact. I just got to read the first draft of the final book in this trilogy, Surrender. And dude....

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Before Surrender comes Betrayal. And it is dark, creepy, suspenseful, and oh-so-steamy. Bennett fans get ready!

So to kick off the holiday season for this March release, Lee is doing a giveaway on Goodreads. Check out the details on her blog here.

No, probably not. Maybe.

It's definitely an incredible example of a cover that tells you something. Not that it's YA vs. adult (in my opinion, this could be a cover for either), not the "tone" or the time period, although it does both of those things. I mean it tells us about the crux of the plot. It hints at the major choices the characters will face. The stakes.

This woman is leaving. She's moving towards something else, which is interesting too, but she's looking back, not forward. It could be that she's being forced to leave something she doesn't want to (reading the synopsis, it seems likely). But it could also be that she's escaping, and the glance over her shoulder is to ensure she's not being pursued. There's so much tension!! It's in the way her fist is clenched against the seat, like she's turning frantically before the last glimpse is lost. She's uncoiffed, rushed.

I think it's thrilling. Seen any good ones lately?
I love YA. I love representing YA manuscripts and interacting with the YA writing community online. But more than that, I am representative of a huge portion of the YA reading audience. Because YA book buyers fall (mostly) into two categories: fifteen year old girls and those of us who still feel fifteen at heart.

I love reading YA. Those firsts are moments I love reliving, because I still feel fifteen. (And I’m definitely not). But I taught high school for six years, and it’s hard to grow up when you’re surrounded by those tumultuous emotions, that whirlwind where everything feels like it’s Life or Death, like this might be the Most Important Moment of your life.

But thankfully I’ve gained a few insights since I actually was 15. And I’ve seen going around, first on twitter and now on several blogs, letters or advice to your teenage self.

I have to say I can’t really think anything I’d do differently if I suddenly had the chance to go back. Okay, well maybe a couple things. But through all that drama (and oh, there WAS drama), I don’t have regrets.

And even if my future and older self came to give me advice when I was in high school, I would have scoffed at it. (I was one of those teenagers who Knew Everything, trust me, and I wasn’t going to listen to anyone, let alone myself).

But here’s my top five anyway.

5. It’s the little things that make you feel alive: leave your windows open, walk barefoot, eat dessert first, stay up to see the sunrise, buy yourself flowers, change your hair color often, and laugh as loud as you want.

4. One day that obsessive personality and hardcore perfectionism will serve you well, but focus them. Reading Cry the Beloved Country to the point of memorization is probably not the best use of your time.

3. It doesn’t matter how pretty the guy is - it matters that he’s nice to you.  A swoonworthy smile, a six pack, and chiseled hip lines don't ever make him less of an ass.

2. You'll never have another teacher like Mrs. Hall - she really is that awesome.  But it doesn't matter.  The written word, books, and Lucky by Alice Sebold will save your life.

1. What you think of yourself is the only thing that matters.


**And yes, these are authentic high school photos**
Best Character Names
Mike Koch @ 6:51 pm

Best Love Triangle between the protagonist, Pee Wee, and the Were-Mer-Bear
Yahong Chi @ 9:36 pm

Best Description/Imagery
abrielle1 @ 11:15 pm

Best Soundtrack
taratyler @ 11:47 pm

Best Last Line
Pamela @ 5:02 pm

Best Dialogue
Alex @ 7:42 pm

Best Game Show
brian_ohio @ 9:02 am

Best Use of the "Beware the Were-Mer-Bear"
Heather Rebel @ 1:01 pm

Best Description of the "Were-Mer-Bear"
justwritecat @ 10:22 PM
they leap into the sky and remain airborne for extended periods of time


And the runner up is...


Elizabeth @ 8:51 pm

She shifted from foot to foot, feeling the betrayal: Where was her husband, with their tickets to see Pee-Wee Herman on Broadway? She waited across the street from the theater, underneath the bright lights of a marquee that read “Beware of the Were-Mer-Bear.” The round bulbs spread out above her in a V, like brightly illuminated wings in the night, turning her shadow into something as thin and stretched as she felt. She looked to the sky, but she knew she wouldn’t have the kind of comeback Pee-Wee did. Her husband had already found another playhouse.


*DRUMROLL*


Our Winner is 


Alex @ 10:56 pm


It warms the cockles of my heart that the “Beware of the Were-Mer-Bear” sign has the neighborhood Pee Wee’s and Scuge Muffins so terrified. Nothing betrays the mind more than the wings of imagination. The ground based motion sensor spot light blinding their scurrilous little faces helps too. As soon as they set foot on the lawn the sky lights up and I begin roaring “Down Were-Mer-Bear, DOWN!” over the howling zombie recordings I took with me when I retired from the film editing suite. Fact is I’d be bored if it weren’t for the kids.


Congratulations to everyone for fantastic entries.  Sorry it took me so long to get results up (blame it on that nasty flu going around)!  Alex, send me an email with your address and I'll send you a copy of Highborn by Yvonne Navarro.
This is my husband:

This is my husband on Bieber:

Any questions?

It’s Thanksgiving week! I wish you all quick access to that state where you're so full you can feel the food at the top of your throat. Don’t be alarmed by the extreme distress that ensues. It’s normal.

With a looooooong weekend staring you down, you might consider other things you could do besides eat yourself into misery. No? Well, me either. But hypothetically if you were going to do other things, you might devote some time to your query. And I’ve got an idea on where to start.

Start your query where the action starts. Where your character faces their first big choice. Tell us what the choice is, then tell us what will happen if they choose path A vs. path B. The query can’t start with your character’s backstory. How they came to be a lawyer or a detective or a sorceress. Or what the “themes” are or the “universal truths” the book “grapples” with. These may be the heart of your book, and it’s hard to accept that they have absolutely no place in your query. But it’s true.

The query should tell the agent what happens in the book. The plot. The action. The stakes. The themes and universal-truth-grappling, if done right, will just emerge as the agent reads. But she’s only going to read if you tell her what goes on. The plot will tell an agent whether what you’ve written is a good fit for her list and current needs.

My suggestion, if you can wade out of the food coma, is to write down your plot. Make it four sentences or fewer, as bare bones as you can, and focus only on your main character’s trajectory. You’ll need to do some finessing, probably, but this could very well be the first paragraph of your query. Also, read Janet Reid’s blog, Query Shark. Not only will you learn, but you’ll laugh. And I’m told that burns calories.
First I have to be shameless and plug our new Ask PeeWee segment over at Coffey. Tea. And Literary. Have a publishing/writing question? Ask PeeWee.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program....

I just got finished watching 3 Ninjas. That's right. You heard me. This movie from 1992:

I remember seeing it in the theater, too. Multiple times. I. Was. Obsessed. And it helped that my parents ran a movie theater :-)

So what did I do after the movie was over? I proceeded to go around the house, chasing my husband and PeeWee, kicking and punching, screaming AYAH! AYAH! AHhhhh! AYAH! At 11:30 at night. On a weekday.

You see, watching this movie and its Home Alone type hijinks made me giggle, but it also made me remember how BADLY I wanted to be a ninja when I was a kid. Seriously. I begged my parents to take karate for years (Karate Kid is another favorite childhood film). They never caved. I wonder if I'm too old to start now?

Watching this movie tonight reminded me how much I'm still a kid at heart.

Which is probably why middle grade is my favorite category in books. Don't get me wrong, I love YA and adult as well...and a good picture book I can read over and over. But 9-12 years...well, that's me. And you know how I know? Because when the dumb-surfer-kidnapper in the movie goes "If I were a little booger, where would I be?" I laugh hysterically. And when Colt gets angry at his dad for not understanding how much being a ninja warrior means to him--I'm *totally* pissed, too. Parents just don't get it.

So I'm going to leave you with a montage of some of the great 3 Ninja scenes here. Maybe it will remind you of being a kid, too. In fact...what did YOU want to be when you grew up?

Sidenote: Rocky's kip up 2:36 in is awesome! I knocked the wind out of myself trying that move more times than I can count....

I got a text message today that said "Stop whatever you're doing right now and go to the link I just sent you."

Begrudgingly I did so.

It took me here.

Where I immediately called over Mer Bear and Interns Laurel, Rachel, and Brooks.  Because it was definitely Stop Whatever You're Doing worthy.



(from Io9)
Books of course.

But also... when I was surfing through my blog list, I found Arlaina Tibenksky's post about the best t-shirts ever.  And I promptly when over to Out of Print Clothing and bought this:

And this:


And actually several more.  It's almost enough to wish I was teaching again - I could wear each shirt I bought when reading and teaching that book.  I can just picture the eye rolls at my unbelievable nerdiness.  Makes me miss my old high school classroom.  Almost.  

The Mer Bear, Film Intern Greg, and I all recently finished reading Highborn by Yvonne Navarro, a new Urban Fantasy out with Pocket Books.  And I have an extra copy to pass along.

Once an irresistible, soul-destroying seducer of men and women through the ages, Brynna Malak has fled Hell to seek redemption. While dodging the brutal Hunters sent to retrieve her, she must also battle her own kind to save the life of a young teenage girl fathered by an angel—whose destiny is to complete a preordained task. At Brynna’s side is Eran Redmond, a Chicago police officer who is fighting his undeniable attraction to her. Brynna would rather die, for eternity, than return to Hell or give up her quest. Yet to continue, she must begin the long and difficult journey of learning to embrace both the joys and the tragedies of being human.

Here's what you've have to do to get your hands on my copy.

Write a story, one hundred words or fewer, using these words:

Betrayal
Sky
Wings
Light
Pee Wee

Bonus points if you can include this phrase: "Beware of the Were-Mer-Bear."

Contest opens NOW, and runs through midnight Thursday, November 18th. Post your entry in the comments section.

Enter as many times as you want.

Someone has a treat, all dogs come running....


Attentive pups.

PeeWee is so small! Slevin is so big!
It's happened.  I've managed to bury myself under a pile of requested material and client manuscripts and of course those TBR books, and I'm pretty sure I might not be able to move around until I read my way out.

There are also those things called holidays coming up and I'm moving apartments so after torturous amounts of deliberation, I'm going to take a brief query hiatus from November 15th to January 5th.

This means any query that comes in between those dates (11/15 to 1/5) will get response saying something along the lines of "Hey I'm on hiatus, re-query on 1/6" and will then be deleted from my inbox.
We come across some pretty creative genre/category match-ups in queries. Chick lit with a gruesome murder in it. A middle grade about patent law (I am not making that up). These are extreme examples, but their ilk is not entirely uncommon. Queries like these demonstrate a complete lack of knowledge about categories and genres. It means the author has no idea about what defines certain genres and what’s appropriate for different categories.

In order not to get ahead of ourselves, my definitions are as follows*:
“Category” references the audience of the book: is it a middle grade (10-14-year-olds), a young adult (15-19), an adult book? “Genre” is a description of content. So you can have a book where the category is middle grade and the genre is fantasy. A MG Fantasy. The combination of category and genre tells booksellers where to shelve your bastion of literary greatness.

You should know where your project fits in the category/genre morass even before you’re finished with the book, and certainly long before you start querying. Obviously, don’t obsess. Good writing trumps all. But if you don’t know where your books fits on the shelves, it will be hard for you to know a lot of other things. Like to whom to pitch and what to say when pitching.

Know what’s out there, and know what’s similar to your book. If there’s something out there like your project, don’t panic. You're still way out on the publication timeline, and an agent will know how to position you. Embrace the similarities between you and the published work. It won’t be identical, so mention (briefly--remember that a query must say what your book, not another one, is about) what makes yours different. You can mention these comparable titles in your query.

Note: You should not, when discussing other works, say anything remotely like “There’s this other, totally crappy book out there soiling bookshelves, readers’ minds, and, unbelievably, the Times list. Mine is vastly superior.” Statements like this are among the most maddening things you can do in a query. Comparisons are only useful when 1. not hostile 2. the referenced work(s) is(are) compatible with your project and 3. they've done well. But that’s a whole other blog post. Seriously. Comparisons are not easy. Beware. Pitfalls lurk everywhere.

BUT! Help lurks everywhere too. There are resources out there that will help you with queries and with defining genre. Once you’ve figured out where your project fits, you’ll be in an infinitely better place as far as knowing who to query and how.

Once you’ve decided where your book fits, put that info in your query. I think queries should start right in on telling me what’s going on in your kickass book, so I think that The Facts (word count, genre, category, title) should go at the end, before any bio paragraph you might choose to include:

Dear ______,

ENTHRALLING DESCRIPTION OF PLOT

My (number) word (category/genre—e.g. YA Fantasy), (title—in all caps) is complete and ready to send.

Love,**
Author

…Or something like that.

Check back here in the next few days for some more talk on comparisons. Because I think that's a pretty opaque topic for a lot of people. And we can talk about any questions you pose in the comments.




*These, like the query format, are my opinions and are not considered law, no matter how many tantrums I throw.

**Don't be crazy and really say this.
So you can head on over to Coffey. Tea. And Literary. if you want to hear my excuses for being MIA lately. Suzie and Meredith were nice enough to pick up the slack! But no more. This agent is back and ready to blog.

And the first thing I want to tell you guys about is a book store chain I recently discovered in British Columbia while attending Surrey International Writer's Conference (SIWC). It was quite a journey....



I arrived in Vancouver in the middle of the night (Cathay Pacific--best airline ever!) and was ushered straight to my hotel. Because it was so late and I had worked earlier that day, I was more than a little bleary-eyed. Basically, I didn't pay attention to my surroundings. As soon as I got to my room, I crashed.

The next morning, I woke up with a rumbly in my tumbly. So I pulled back my curtains (I was on the 12th floor) to see if food was near by. This is what I saw:


I spy something edible....



I threw on a sweatshirt and headed over. Only to discover that EVERYTHING in the store was in another language that I couldn't read. So I picked the first thing that looked recognizable and brought it to the register. Where the cashier somehow swindled me into buying TWO boxes (she'd be some terrifying competition if she were a literary agent...).

Each box had 18 Choco Pies. Dude.


But the conference didn't really start up that day for me (I arrived a day early because of the red eye flight I took) and I wasn't sure if food was available, and I looked both ways outsides of my hotel and nothing. See:



To the left.


To the right-->




The Choco Pies held me over until the afternoon (although, after 3 I thought I might puke), but by that time I decided, if I didn't eat real food soon, I would wither away into my bed sheets, unable to take a single pitch or teach a single workshop. Now, any who knows me, knows I'm not one to shirk on my duties. So I threw my sweatshirt back on and took the stairs down 12 flights (I was trying to pump myself up for a long journey), and walked outside. And this time, I took a right and kept walking.

Well, I didn't need to go far before I ran into a HUGE shopping mall (that wasn't there before, was it?).


This shopping mall had a food market in it (something I now adore Canada for).


And you didn't have to lift a leg on the escalator (seriously...freaked me out at first, but then I used it 6 or 7 times for fun).

AND...look what I found right across from the book store (this is clear proof that the Literary Gods had a hand in designing this mall):

I grabbed the coffee first. Then I went shopping at Black Bond Books.


Yay! Canada loves THE DUFF! Look at it snuggled right between The Hunger Games and Thirteen Reasons Why...brought a tear to my eye. (This selection was made by Christina, a Black Bond employee--thanks, Christina!!)











Of course I had to buy a book (I don't think I've ever walked out of a bookstore without buying something). This time it was Stephen Hunt's THE KINGDOM BEYOND THE WAVES.

And I met the manager, Trish Petrie, who put up with my yakking all afternoon (I can't hold back when it comes to talking books!).



I also discovered some hidden talent in the book store. Check out these pictures done by Black Bond bookseller April Pierce:











When I left, new book in hand, I thought "It can't possibly get better than this."

Well...I was wrong. Because I turned the corner and lo and behold, one of my FAVORITE treats of ALL. TIME.


I had three that weekend (hey, I needed to stock up--they're not in NY anymore!).



**In case anyone is wondering, yes, the hotel had a restaurant and room service. I finally came to my senses and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich that night. :-\**