Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Oranges of O'Connell Street

The parade scheduled for St. Paddy's Day must not be enough to fulfill the Irish love of marching and marching bands. They've taken to inviting in other groups to stir up the soul with invective.

Loyalist Rally

As long as Ireland is welcoming parades of foreign representatives, perhaps it is time for the Ku Klux Klan to march down O’Connell Street. They could take on the role of victim, weeping over their Civil War dead and the few who suffered in the civil rights movement. Surely the people of Dublin would appreciate the great unfairness, the concessions given to black folks and Catholics and Jews, at the expense of the majority. Mr. Donaldson et al. would fit right in, and their orange sashes would provide a lovely splash of color amongst the white robes.

Without doubt, the loyalists have won the Grand Gesture of the Month Award. Taking a page from the KKK, they've adopted the heavy mantle of victimhood and then cannot understand why they are so maligned. Oh Lord, don't let me be understood?


It must have been a psychic connection that made me realize that Christina Hogrebe had not responded yet - I got the rejection today. Not a word about the writing or anything concrete. She turned it down because she doesn't feel that she could sell it. Close with the usual subjective business, someone else might take to it, but the end of the line has come. Okay, who else can I query at Jane Rotrosen's agency?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Log Book

Another Monday, another day of silence in the mailbox. There are four queries outstanding since 1/30, three outstanding since 2/14, and another four that I sent on 2/23 that have garnered no notice.

A query sent to Kathleen Anderson on 12/2 has not been answered, and after three months, I guess it's time to write it off. Mitchell Waters (Curtis Brown) and Michelle Wolfson (Ralph Vicinanza) have had queries since 1/2, and two months is more than enough time to send the SASE back. Maybe they're waiting on a new intern to stuff the stack of envelopes for the rejects. If there was interest, the agent would have e-mailed by now.

Is Christina Hogrebe still with Jane Rotrosen's agency? She's had a partial for three months and still no word. Oh, of course, it's being shown around the agency because she wants to request the full and has to sell her superiors on the quality of the writing and the freshness of the voice. Paula Balzer at Sarah Lazin Books must be doing the same with the partial manuscript I sent her at the end of November.

Time to wake up, dreamer. All five of those e-mail queries that were sent last Wednesday have not garnered a response yet, and that doesn't mean that the literary agent is eager to request more. For the first time, I sent the sample chapter as an attachment, which I believe was okay as per the website instructions. Then again, maybe Michael Adelman deleted the thing unread because it had - gasp - an attachment. Did I misinterpret the submission requirements? Will I ever know? No.

Not to get all existentialist, but I'm beginning to wonder if I do, indeed, exist. No one answers my query letters. Am I sending them? Or do I imagine sending them? Are literary agents a figment of my imagination?

Addendum: Michelle Wolfson was kind enough to post a comment on a later entry - she was between agencies when I queried her. For the record, she is with Artists and Artisans, and she did respond to my e-query - a quick rejection. Probably not right for her list.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

My Two Cents

If anyone is wondering about the SASE's they sent before the postal rate increase, I can safely assure them that the post office does not seem to be overly concerned about the two cents due.

I've gotten three rejections that I had written off as 'no reply' back at the end of December (after 2 months, hey, it's done). Just yesterday, I received an old SASE with a 37 cent stamp and my mailman delivered it without any question. Laura Dail must be one busy lady, to take over three months to respond. What would have happened if the Post Office had a problem with insufficient postage? Would the rejection have gone to the dead letter office, or would I have been notified that I owed two cents?

These days, I only have partials out, no fulls, and the fact that I haven't heard back in short order means I won't be getting requests for more. Query on, query on, and then wait, wait, wait. It gives me something to do in between applying coats of paint to the kitchen cabinets and walls. Idle hands and all that.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rejected Again

Michelle Andelman, a new agent at Andrea Brown's agency, turned me down today with a form rejection. So, can I read between the lines?

"Thank you for the chance to consider your project. Unfortunately, I am unable to offer you representation."

Standard boilerplate sentence there. The answer is no, plain and simple.

"Today's market is a demanding one. We receive hundreds of submissions a year, and can only take on a small percentage of them. I enjoyed reading your pages, but I'm afraid your work just isn't the best match for my agency's representation."

The old 'demanding market' gambit I see. Is this agent-speak for 'I can't sell this'? Then she adds on another reason for rejection, that the work is not right for her agency. Now, since I included a synopsis with the original query, how could she not tell that in the beginning? But, she also enjoyed reading the pages, which leads to the closing paragraph:

"There are many authors whose manuscripts have been rejected, and have then gone on to find the right publisher for their work. In fact, you might say this is a time-honored tradition, and I hope that it will be the case for you."

My take on this? The work did not suck eggs, but she did not get grabbed by the story line. Or, she's just being nice about something that is unpleasant. No matter what she meant, or did not mean, it all boils down to a 'no', and I know what that means.

Yesterday night, I sent Elisabeth Weed the sample chapters that she requested of the same manuscript. The frustration continues.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

St. Paddy on the Web

If you've grown weary of green beer and plastic 'Paddy', corned beef served on rye bread, and Tommy Makem's crooning, there's another way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, courtesy of the Internet.

No need to go to Dublin. As a matter of fact, the Irish celebrate the day by getting out of town, which is overrun with American tourists getting pissed. Even An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern heads for Washington, D.C., to be entertained at the White House. So, stay put yourself and take advantage of the World Wide Web to bring those perfect touches of Ireland to your American home.

A good place to start is with a hearty meal, and Food Ireland can ship the essentials to your door. Corned beef, it turns out, is not the traditional dish. While we cannot import meat and meat products, we can purchase American-made copies of boiling bacon or Irish-style ham, which is as close to the real thing as you can get. Boil up some spuds and a head of cabbage, and you've got a dish of boiled cabbage and bacon, which is pure pub food. Looking to go a step further? You can order a gift basket with everything you need to make a full Irish fry in your own kitchen, from rashers to soda bread and genuine Irish tea. Try not to think about the key ingredient in the black pudding and you'll be fine.

To set the mood, you will need the right sounds, and the easiest way to pretend that you are in a cottage in the West of Ireland is to click on RTE,Ireland’s public service radio site. Four different stations are carried on a live stream, including a channel that broadcasts exclusively in the Irish language. RTE’s Radio One has a varied assortment of news, talk, music and sports. Should the evening drag on, you can tune in to Des Cahill and his sports call-in show, to drive your guests away with the inanity of Chicago’s 670 The Score wrapped up in a thick brogue.

Prefer music playing in the background? You can find a wide selection at Irish Music Mail,
the order site for a music shop in Bray, County Wicklow, and they will ship to your door via An Post. Should your tastes run from traditional to rock, you might like to try the new release from The Saw Doctors, based in County Galway. Their newest album has just been issued in the U.S., and if you haven’t had enough Irish-ness after March 17, they will be performing at The Vic in Chicago on the 18th. In the event that you reach the end of the evening, the Guinness gone and not a bottle of Harp’s in sight, you can wind down to the soothing sound of Pierce Turner, the legend of Wexford who has a cult following in New York City. Blending folk, jazz and rock with an Irish choir boy twist, his latest album The Boy To Be With is just the thing to close out the day.

On the folk scene, Christy Moore has been around for thirty years, the grand old man of Irish protest songs in the vein of Bob Dylan during the Sixties. Most famous for starting the traditional-rock blend that gave rise to the likes of The Pogues and U2, he continues to record and rail against the Iraq War, George Bush, and injustice in general. Agree or disagree with Moore’s politics, he has a rich voice that carries the smell of a peat fire and the heat of strong whiskey.

Need more atmosphere? The Irish Times is available by subscription on line atThe Irish Timesfor terms ranging from a full year to twenty-four hours. While feasting on boiled cabbage and bacon, you could amaze your guests with your knowledge of current events, Irish-style. With facts at your fingertips, you can open a discussion about devolution in the North, and encourage your dinner guests to debate the merits of Sinn Fein in coalition with Fianna Fail. If Des Cahill’s sports talk did not clear the room, they will get the hint and flee, leaving you to a wee drop in peace, with Pierce Turner crooning on the stereo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Second Time Around

Out of curiosity, or maybe spite, I sent queries on Manuscript #2 to some agents who have partials since last year on Manuscript #1. Not surprising, Julia Lord not only failed to get back to me on the partial manuscript she's had since last March, she does not reply to queries via e- or snail-mail. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I'd guess that she's just too busy - or her assistant quit and she doesn't even know what's piled up in the office.

Susan Golomb has had a partial since May, and again, no response. I sent her a snail-mail query at the end of January and got a rejection today. Well, she's alive, or her assistant is still breathing. Not a word about the three sample chapters I sent nearly a year ago, but the rejection was addressed to me so someone is working in her office, cutting and pasting and stuffing SASE's. The onerous task of writing up a rejection must be beyond the reach of said assistant, and so I will never know why. I do know, however, that the answer is obviously no.

Sally Wofford-Girand at Brickhouse Lit is another no responder. I was originally contacted by her assistant, Kate McKean, who is now an agent at Dystel & Goderich, so I guess that's a full manuscript down the drain. Sally doesn't respond to my queries, and that's the end of that. Another agent off the list, and she's got to be glad of that.

Getting back to writing, focusing on short stories, I've found some relief from the query fever. If only I had the time to write. Tomorrow is, after all, another day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And a Player To Be Named Later

Agents are moving all over the place these days. I had sent a query to Sophia Seidner some time ago and never got a reply, but that's to be expected from an e-query. According to Agent Query
, she's with Judith Ehrlich's agency now.

Trouble is, I can't very well send her a query when Martha Hoffman at the same agency is looking at a partial. But not to worry, when the urge to query is overwhelming my fingers. Elisabeth Weed has left Kneerim & Williams and moved on up to the big time at Trident Media. Her e-mail addy? We don't need no addy, not when we can wing it. This morning, I sent a query to eweed@tridentmedia.com, constructed like the other agents' addresses. If it works, it works. Chances are, I'll never know because no answer is a no, just like no answer can mean she never got it.

All this trading sounds like it's pretty rough to go it alone as a literary agent. Sophia is listed on Gerard Jones' site under her own business name, a business which apparently is now defunct. Elisabeth Weed, on the other hand, was a rainmaker for her agency, and she took advantage of her talent and bolted for greener fields. Look for Kneerim & Williams to bring someone up from the minors.

Miss Me?

So I go away for five days and come back to check my e-mail, hoping that one of the agents who have my partial manuscript have sent word - any word, Jesus Christ Almighty, just get back to me.

The e-mail I've been using has been picked up by a spammer somehow, and I had 26 messages. Yes, I did hear back from one agent. Amy Rennert let me know that she was rejecting my query, two months after it was sent. Well, I kinda figured it was a no after a week or so, and I wrote it off back then.

I really want to hear from people who are reading the manuscript, and I want an e-mail. The rejections might show up tomorrow when the mailman brings the post, and since no one sent me an e-mail, I'm pretty much expecting some bad news. Those unfolded #10 SASE's are a sure sign that the game is up.

There are those who may never respond, like Peter Cox at Redhammer. According to his web site, he claims that he responds in four weeks, but it's been well over six and there's been nothing. Maybe he'll re-do the info and add the caveat "if interested in pursuing representation" and no one will have to be left dangling, wondering if he ever got the submission. What if his virus filter went off and he deleted the attached file that he asked for? I don't like mysteries, which is why I don't read them and I don't write them either.

Presidents Day is over, the holidays are done, and I have to sit down and work on the WIP, the short story WIP, and finish up the research on the other WIP that's being formed in my tired aul' brain.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Gone Away

Is there anything quite so intriguing as politics? According to news sources, a jail guard at Cook County's Department of Corrections helped six inmates to escape - for political reasons. Seems the guard is supporting the opposition and wanted to embarrass the current frontrunner, a man hand-picked by current sheriff Mr. Sheahan.

Brilliant idea, that, to spring murderers and thugs for political gain. Fortunately, all were caught, what with their distinctive khaki garb pretty much making them easier to spot on the streets. My literary mind sees a John Grisham novel in the making here, for some odd reason. Or perhaps it could be filed in the "stupid criminal tricks" folder. A grand gesture on the part of the jail guard - we salute you.

Off to tour college campuses (campi?) for the long weekend - but not before sending out a reworked query to three agents who said no before. New query, new title, and probably the same old response, but won't it be grand to find some rejections in my mail when I get back? Nothing says welcome home like a form letter - and I am sure that the literary agents who have partials now will still not get back to me.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I Forgot

When I picked up the day's mail, I was as shocked as could be to find an invitation-sized envelope from Kneerim & Williams. Before I even opened it, I checked my list of outstanding queries, but it was not there. I had forgotten to update the list when last I sent out query letters, two weeks ago.

The preprinted card was sent to let me know that they had received the submission and would need a month or two to review the material. It was the first time that I ever got a card like that from them, which makes me think that either the previous submission was lost, or they have a new assistant who is very organized.

Nice to know that they have the packet, all the same. I guess that the other five queries that I sent on the same day must have arrived as well. By keeping busy with writing short stories and researching another WIP, my little brain's been rather too full to dwell on submissions. Most likely, I was obsessed with checking e-mail before because I did not have a good long stretch of time to write.

Thanks much, Kneerim & Williams, and I hope that when next we communicate, it will be to ask for the balance of the manuscript. In the meantime, I will get back to the revisions on another manuscript so that I can fire off a pile of queries when my creative juices run dry. But first, better check the e-mail one more time.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Sending off another short story to a literary magazine, and I've got the old feeling of complete confidence. A little of the old 'how could they not publish this, it's that good' line of thinking. Now, after getting shot down so often on novel-length queries, one might think this is madness. It is.

Having never before tried to write short fiction, outside of English class, I'm as much a newbie as I was with the first queries. What goes on the cover letter? Don't really know and can't get much in the way of suggestions, so I wing it and hope for the best. Why should a short be any different than a full? Read the first few lines, and the editor makes a snap decision. Same idea, shrunk down in size - like sending a partial only there's nothing more to be requested. It's up or down with a literary magazine submission.

Supposedly, I should hear back in a matter of months. I'm getting to like short pieces. They keep the mind occupied and well away from the drudgery of agent querying. Besides, a new source of rejection should make life more interesting.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Another Fix

Can't stay away, no matter how hard I try. A new agent at Andrea Brown's agency appeared on Agentquery.com this morning, and I gave in to the urge to query. God help me, but I couldn't resist.

Kristin Nelson has a blurb on her blog about the death of "chick-lit", which implies that the more annoying parts of the genre have gone on to their reward, leaving the reader hungry for more substance. My manuscript fits the bill, don't you know, with its heroine not sleeping around and chasing men. Ah no, she is the prey. If all the young ladies were blackbirds and thrushes, all the young men would go beating the bushes.

So, I query and get a request for the first three chapters - and I can file electronically - all in the same day. The requested material is off in cyberspace, and now I wait again. Somehow, sending a manuscript as a Word file does not carry the same level of anxiety as a ream of paper tumbling through the post office sorting machines. Not having spent any money on the process, I don't feel that anything will come of it - more like an agent browsing to see what slush is out there.

A note to my loyal readers (yes, both of you) - Pierce Turner is officially releasing his newest album, The Boy To Be With, and kicking things off with a show at Joe's Pub in New York City on Saturday, 28 Jan. 2006. Always a good time, if you're in New York.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

No Pictures Please

We're quakin' in our boots here. Jesus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph, there's drawings of the Prophet Muhammad on display and they'll be after us next. You'd think that the Moslems would be okay with it, seeing as it was one of their own who illustrated the manuscript in the first place.

The way I understand it, an Iranian Moslem painted an image of "himself" and his daughter's partner Ali, holy flaming haloes all around their heads. Given that he did the deed in 1595, I'd guess that it was acceptable to create images of you-know-who. Not that I understand everything about the different sects, but I have a suspicion that the artist was Shia, and it's the Sunni element that is hard-core against the pictures. Funny that, because it's the Shia who come across as die-hard fundamentalists.

In our society, the illustrated manuscript is a piece of history and a piece of art. We aren't offended by images of the human form, although Renoir's later nudes were not exactly attractive. However, because one group doesn't do something that we do, we are supposed to stop doing it. Excuse me?

Riots sprung up in Australia because the Moslem lads took offense at the scantily clad bathing beauties, causing the local boys to explain Australian norms in a very violent way. We don't want fights on every street corner, but we don't want to be told to alter our way of life or risk beheading. George Bush might have it right. The war against Islamo-Nazis is indeed global.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Memo to Bill Ford

Recently, Bill Ford called for suggestions to improve sales at Ford Motor Company. Although some analysts question the concept of ‘Buy American’, I for one would recommend that this be used as a selling point. I do want to spend my money where it will benefit my neighbors. Better that the profits are stuffed into the pockets of executives who live in this country and pay other Americans to cut their hair or mow their lawn, than send our money overseas to enrich some other nation. Are you with me so far, Bill?

The location of the factory is not enough, however. Let me put it this way. I do not care if Hugo Chavez personally drives up to my house in a Citgo truck, every morning, and fills my tank with gas. For free. And checks the oil. And washes the windows. And brings coffee and donuts for the family. What I would like, Bill, is a car that uses little or no gas. Think hybrids, like the ones that Japan has been producing while Ford was busy making SUV’s with high profit margins. Anything going on with hydrogen cell-powered cars? Henry Ford gave us the cheap vehicle that revolutionized our way of life. Can you take a page from his book, Bill, and revolutionize the way we power our vehicles?

What do you say, Bill? How about a little innovation? People want to cut back on fuel consumption to reduce greenhouse gases. Others want to stick it to the whack-jobs that control the foreign oil fields. Doesn’t that just about cover every driver in America, Bill? Give the consumer what they want. That’s all it takes to sell more cars and make a profit.