Friday, December 31, 2010

Confessions of Neurotic Book Buyer

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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Books I Read in 2010

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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I love this

Swoonworthy scenes in YA movies.

The Dark Side of YA

Check out the Discussion.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Truth About My Time, Part II: Editing

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.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Life with Slevin

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Truth About My Time, Part I: Queries & Requested Material

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Truth About Feedback

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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Book Recommendations for Kids!

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!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'll Survive the Zombie Apocalypse with Dystopian Novels

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!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This cracks me up.

Monday, December 13, 2010

While we wait to hear about more Katniss speculation...

...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.

OMG...I heart League of S.T.E.A.M.!!


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!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Best YA Books of 2010

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


Friday, December 3, 2010

Next book in the HAUNTING EMMA series!


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.

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?