Friday, October 14, 2005

Today's breakfast? Raw human flesh. (for my horror genre friends)

Don't mind the screams here at the cafe. And I'm not too shy to tell you something is smelling mighty good in the kitchen. And lookin' mighty rare.

No need for extra ketchup when it comes to the P5, however:

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 12,554 6
(2) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 46,212 5
(5) RATED F: 132,871 6


Speaking of flesh, here's something you don't see at the POD-dy Mouth cafe very often:
fresh meat. That's right, a new agent to hit the lit scene. Why I am mentioning this? Because the best time to nail an agent is when they are building their initial lists. It won't be long before you start getting the "my list is full" response (which really translates into "your writing/idea stinks.")

Anyway, this gal seems nice and she works for Mr. Z himself, so have at it.

This meat is not quite as fresh, but is still worth mentioning. It is a hilarious (and inane) battle over reviews at Amazon. As noted months ago, it is incredibly simple to have a negative review removed from your book on Amazon, especially since they "err too far on the side of caution."

But best of all, this entire battle is over a self-pubbed book.


Well, the Agents Diatribe posting certainly brought in a wave of comments. If I counted correctly, 47 people wrote in to ask my opinion of their agents. Like my opinion is worth a hill of rocks. As far I know, I only suggested to four people that they start over and look for a new agent.

And don't forget Writer's Beware and Preditors and Editors as great base points for weeding out the losers.

My extended suggestion (of listing the crappy agents) was regarding so many of the "reputable" agents (those who sell books, and in some cases, a lot of books) who are incredibly rude, foolish, short-sighted and difficult to work with.

But, one of my initial tenets of this blog was to try and focus on the positive (beyond my obvious biases and general irreverence, I suppose) of POD and publishing, which is why I do not (usually) pick on bad POD books--even though it would be incredibly easy.


Speaking of incredibly easy, the big boner book, as it is now referred to here at the cafe, actually broke the Amazon 250 yesterday. Like print Viagra. If someone can figure a way to incorporate a diet system and sexual enhancement tips into one book, you'll become a very wealthy individual.


Well, I hope you enjoyed this little food adventure. Please do not try this at home, and least not without a buzz saw and a couple cases of duct tape. And next time I'll try to have more fly swatters handy.

Stay tuned for more treasure on Monday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The agent diatribe

I've been getting a flurry (really, something between your standard storm and a blizzard) of questions about agents lately. Which is cool, by the way; part of the joy of anonymity is telling tales out of school and giving my opinion on which agents are angels and which ones suck.

First, let me say this: Getting an agent is not the same as getting a book deal. So many writers tell me, "Hey! I got an agent!"

To which I respond: *yawn*

Unless you tell me
Binky signed you up (and even then . . . ) I will tell you that the situation is very encouraging but that you should now get busy writing another book (or a multitude thereof) while you wait for your agent to pile up the rejection slips.

Sound negative? Whatever. Truth be told, you have an exponentially improved chance of getting published by landing an agent--any agent. But these are not perfect people. In fact, they are not even close. They are not the answers to your prayers. And they are not going to save the world, not even your little piece of it.

My agent? Angel. And as I am blessed, I certainly have no basis for this particular rant. But rant I shall.

I should mention (and I will certainly get a lot of flak for this) that many folks who entered the world of agenting did so because they were unsuccessful editors (translation: built a list of midlist titles) or were squeezed out of an editing position due to a corporate takeover. Granted, the money is better, which will lure some folks out of the crappy-paying, high-stress job of editing, but for the most part . . . the odds are good (like 3:1) that you're dealing with someone who couldn't cut it or didn't want to cut it.

These are the ones who don't (or are slow to) return your calls and emails, submit to inappropriate editors, shotgun your proposal or manuscript (sending it out to everyone they know at once), spend time attending conferences nonstop (some hit 4 or 5 a year!) instead of working to sell books, give up all the rights to a book out of the gate just to make a deal, can't seem to command an advance above $20K, and--worst of all--have lost every iota of passion for books they might've once had.

In case you have never read
Lauren Baratz-Logsted's story on Mad Max's blog about landing an agent (she is on agent #6!) you should check it out. It is an eye-opening journey on how long it takes to get published and how many agents you may need to go through before you ink a contract. Then go buy one of her books, by the way--she's a clever and talented writer; you have to be good to attract an agent in the first place, never mind six!

Then check out, on the same blog,
Jessica Brilliant Keener's commentary of agents as well. Come to think of it, while you're at Amazon, buy her book, too.

Anyway, you can scour the Internet for a year and find countless stories of writers going on and on about agents (and now you can add this one. *sigh*) Let's be honest, the only agent that matters is the one that sells your book--and represents it well. DO NOT waste your time reading the instantly outdated agents guides. (Case in point, Nicholas Sparks ended up sending some queries to dead agents.) Everything you need to know is online. Jeff Herman's poorly vetted guide is particularly ridiculous. In one edition, back in 2003, there is actually an agency listed in Michigan whose agent is Paige Turner. C'mon, Jeff. Not to mention the prominent listings by some well-known scam agencies, like Mountainview Literary out of Arizona.

Now--another truth be told--nothing would be more fun than creating a list of agents that really suck major wind and letting the chips fall where they may. But perhaps it would be more useful to list as many agents that I can think of (and know, or have dealt with, or have consumed too much alcohol with) that would be great people to have represent your tome.

So I shall.

Please understand that I do not know everyone in the industry--but I'm surprised at how many I do know (though a lot of info is received via friends with agents.) And as with acknowledgments in a book or an acceptance speech at the Oscars, I will certainly leave some people out, so please do not be offended. Much.

You can't go wrong with (in no particular order):

Alice Tasman
Mollie Glick
Jeff Kleinman
Amy Williams
Julie Barer
Elyse Cheney
Joe Regal
Noah Lukeman
Christy Fletcher
Jennifer Unter
Paul Cirone
Felicia Eth
Farley Chase
Pamela Harty
Diedre Knight
Linda Chester
Kristin Nelson
David Dunton
Simon Lipskar
Dan Lazar
Ginger Clark
Ira Silverberg
Karen Solem
Nicholas Ellison

Matthew Guma
Richard Pine
Kim Witherspoon
Jenny Bent
Douglas Stewart
Claudia Cross
Suzanne Gluck
Jay Mandel
Jennifer Joel
Lisa Bankoff

If you have an agent with a great story, I'll be happy to add him or her (and, likewise, if you have a horror story about one of the agents listed above, let me know!)

Good luck. Happy hunting. And drink up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Announcing the Blooker Prize (no, that's not a typo)

For all you folks who have--or have wanted to--turn your blog into a book, here's your chance to get some moolah out of it. Lulu, once again, is sponsoring a contest where the prizes make it all worthwhile.

Here is the official promo:

Announcing “The Blooker Prize”, the World’s First Literary Prize for “Blooks,” alias Books Based On Blogs or Websites

October 10, 2005 (London, UK and Raleigh, NC) – The world’s first literary prize for books based on blogs or websites – known for short as “blooks” – is announced Monday by its sponsor, Lulu (, a website that enables anyone to publish and sell their own books.

The Lulu Blooker Prize ( will be a global competition honoring the hybrid literary form of blooks, a new form of an old media and one of the hottest new publishing and online trends.

The prize will honor blooks in three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and web-comics. The overall winner will receive $2,000, and winners in the other two categories $1,000 each, in addition to a small piece of literary immortality and something approaching glory in the expanding realm known as the blogosphere.

The contest, which is open to books published by conventional publishing houses as well as independent (self) publishers, will be judged by a panel of figures prominent in both the online and offline publishing worlds, chaired by Cory Doctorow (, the noted, London-based science-fiction author, blogger co-editor of BoingBoing ( the world’s most linked-to blog.

Doctorow, who develops his own books from notes and ideas posted on his weblog, believes that blooks are distinct from traditional books: “Blogs encourage their authors to publish in small, partially formed chunks,” says Doctorow. “Previously, they might have been kept in the author’s notebook, but something amazing happens when you post them online: readers help you connect them, flesh them out and grow them into fully-fledged books or blooks.”

Other judges include Robin “Roblimo” Miller ( of Slashdot ( and Paul Jones (, founder of All judging will be independent of the contest sponsor and no favor will be shown to blooks published on Lulu.

The Lulu Blooker Prize, whose title is an affectionate nod to another important literary prize, will take place annually. Winners will be announced April 3, 2006. Details for submitting blooks for consideration appear at

Monday, October 10, 2005

DEATH COMES TOO SOON by Patricia Harrington (PublishAmerica)

So many wonderful folks have submitted their not-so-wonderful books to me for possible review. With dozens arriving each day (and with me already being months behind) I have managed to start culling at a slightly quicker pace (like a literary assistant at a big agency.) I've go to tell you, the quickest way to get deleted out of my mail file is to throw unnecessary back-story into the first paragraph--or worst of all: personal stats of a character.

Crap like this: "Bob was a good looking guy, 6'1", 190 pounds, nice shoulders, a 32" waist, olive skin with green eyes and brown hair, who loved to take long walks . . ." If I want to read a personals ad, I'll go to Yahoo!, where they're typically written better anyway.

So why do I bring this up? Simple. Patricia Harrington knows better--and how to write. DEATH COMES TO SOON is a quick, witty and clever whodunit that will keep the light on late at night (or, in my case, my laptop.) As an example of good style in discovering a new character, she writes:

"The high-pitched voice and breathless rush of words could only belong to one person: Beverly Tilton. She hadn't bothered to identify herself, but Bev's image popped up right away: model-thin, thirty-ish, and long, straight blonde hair. Bev had an intensity about her that wore thin--or wore out--those close to her. She was an artist and ran a bed and breakfast in Seaview, Oregon. Bev painted boldly and lived impetuously and didn't do anything in pastel."

You've got everything you need to know about Bev and now you can be off and running.

Thus endeth the lesson.

DEATH COMES TOO SOON tells the story of Bridget O'Hern (get ready for the Irish references!) who does non-profit consulting and takes (Bev) up on a free trip to her bed and breakfast if she'll do a little poking around on the suggestion that there is some embezzling going on at the Oregon Coast Art League. Bridget takes her up on the offer at the thought of getting away after the end of her marriage ("On my twenty-third wedding anniversary, my husband John had given me his "notice" instead of roses.) One detail leads to another as Bridget assists the police in the investigation until a fatal accident brings everything to a head.

No more info, because, well . . . it is a mystery, eh? And it's a good one. Tightly written, surprising and memorable. And it's 200 pages, which is pretty darn big for PublishAmerica. (*rim shot*)

Note: Patricia is donating $7.00 for every online sale to supporting Katrina animal rescue. Pretty generous for an author, especially a POD author!