Thursday, January 27, 2011

Slack Indeed

I really do like my Slacker Radio station, but today it treated me to the most absurd review ever - and it has some SERIOUSLY flawed reviews on tap.

Mixing heavy metal riffs with punk's fury, Van Halen were onto a whole new sound

Anything more antithetical to punk, than long haired metal men, I can scarcely imagine. Not that I don't love Eddie and - yes - even Diamond Dave. But the punks I knew said, "It's 1983 (or whatever the year) - can't you affor a ****ing haircut!???" as often as they said, "Can I bum a cig?" - so VH was not on anyone's list of must-have punk properties. Metal fans were a joke to the punks I knew. And when I married a hair metal front man - as much as my brother loved my ex husband - don't think I didn't take a few jokes about my thing for Hair Boys along the way (and still do).

For at least twenty years now, I have had to contend with people who think The Clash were punk rock. For fifteen or more, it's been the commoditization of pop as "punk", in everything from the sentiment "I am all about the leopard" to Avril Lavigne to (Lord help me to even say the words) Green Day. I once saw a movie in which Adrien Brody explained to me that The Who were punk.

I once thought that was perhaps the most baffling use of the term I'd ever heard.

This, though, goes right on the shelf beside The Who.


Mind you, I love Van Halen, and I love The Who, too.

Mind this, too, though: I am not now, nor ever have I been, a punk. There was punk music I liked, and much I was afraid of, growing up with a real one in the house. For me, punk's anger was manifest regularly, in the person of my brother, whose closed door did nothing to stifle That Noise. At 43 now, noise has a visceral, deep position in my own musical tastes.

But that doesn't make a punk. I never was one. Very, very few people actually have been, if the truth were told. And the label grows emptier and emptier and emptier.

The Who had some anger. They had politics. They had a lot to say, and Daltry could yell it wonderfully. Punk? As much as I.

Van Halen?

That's just BAFFLING. Not to say what I hope some will be thinking, that it's actually laughable.


Mixing heavy metal riffs with punk's fury, Van Halen were onto a whole new sound ...


Wow. No, it just doesn't get any less brain-twisting, reading it again. But then, I am insufferably narrow in what I allow the label and definition of punk, in my mind. A good ninety-nine percent of what "kids today" think was (or - HAH - is) punk never came even close. The Clash. Good heavens.

I don't even think TSOL is "really" punk - though they've made their share of a living on it, from people who do. What they don't know, and I do, is that TSOL was largely dismissed as kind of Romanti-Goth before the term had been invented. I remember seeing "Suburbia" (AKA "The Wild Side" - and a more suprising Penelope Spheeris joint I can tell you you'll never even imagine), seeing them performing, and having to be embarrassed - as the NOT PUNK girl - for LIKING them, because they were interlopers plopped in the middle of a movie about kids who "should have" hated them.

Even I knew (loving the band as I did) that TSOL wasn't what the punks I knew considered to be "loaded with cred" shall we say. Shoot, I sure knew Jack, with his Billy Idol costume design, was an actor, surrounded by "real" kids. He looked it. And so did TSOL, in a way.

Van Halen and punk's fury.

I have a feeling that one'll keep getting funnier and funnier. Can't wait for my next conversation with my brother. This could be good for a bit of breathless mileage.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hear Here

Perhaps my favorite comment on the State of the Union so far.


Definitely my favorite.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Would You Like A Little Reductio With Your Ad Absurdum?

This is one of those stories which, like those by the Mac-haters, contains a discussion with merit and worth discussing, but which unfortunately is done no service by the ludicrous style of its delivery. In the end, the article as a whole ends up useless thanks to junk writing like THIS:

While a number of major countries are battling inflation and are alarmed by food and fuel price inflation, Bernanke is battling low inflation, or imaginary deflation, and is determined to inject US $600 billion to prevent low inflation and achieve higher inflation, as per the Fed's mandate to achieve full-employment. Bernanke's theory could imply that 10% inflation per year is better than 3%, 50% is better than 10%, and 100% is better than 50%.


I color writing purple when, even if it's "journalism", it tends this starkly toward ravishingly purple prose. Yeesh. Don't even get me started with EXCLAMATION POINTS in "journalism"! Good lord.

And it might just be a shame, too - because, stripped down to its dumbest essence, the point about inflation isn't bad in itself. But the hysterical hyperbole and outrageous misinformation (yeah: The Fed doesn't print the money, actually - gah) make this one a frustrating miss.

I Don't See London, But Guess What I Do See?

More readers from France than even stateside, by a margin of over 200%.

I love seeing the French landing here, even if they are bots, because I have gained THAT much of an affinity for the place, writing about their first king.

If my fifteen-year-old self only knew. In our house, "French" was a dirty word, and not because of the kiss, and NOT because of my folks. My brother and I were the anti-francophiles; surrounded by pink and green preppy girls (a large number of them named for that color green) who thought the adjective determined the Nth degree of romantic, and who thought the nation itself proceeded from the eighteenth century cartoon-like, fully formed in quisine and cigarette-hazed languid accents, defining a refinement they could scarcely even have named as such, having learned the admiration more by funnel action of the crowd than through any individual experience (... or interest). So we hated what they loved. To fully entrench the rule, it had its exception - the French marines; perhaps itself a conceit chosen less from depth of education than some known factoid or other and b*tchin' footwear or something.

If I had known then my first novel would CENTER on this center of my adoptive reverse-snobbery, I would certainly have been pretty torn. Torn asunder at the idea I really would write a book someday ... but about something I was so faux-passionately against.

It would have been worse than the knowledge that my future self would come to own a cat. (And then three.)


Yet, in its way, my lacking the years-deep background in adoration - er, or even deep respect, ahem - in fact served me to be a clean slate in coming to my subject. In this reverse-decision, if in nothing else, it's impossible to deny that subjects choose authors, not the other way around.

In the early days of my writing, I actually feinted a tiny bit from looking too French-loving. I would joke, "if you go back far enough, the French are German" - which isn't strictly speaking true, but which research did make at least a defensible statement to make (if not a purely nice one, born as it was out of franc-ambivalent defensiveness and denial).

But the deeper I got into my own reading (I have no honest gauge for any extent to which my WRITING has effect here), the deeper my subject's homeland and heritage got into me. The homeland he *created*. The heritage of nation which was his patrimony, and the heritage of name which lives now around the world, and has been on the throne of his country more than twenty times. And which caused me to write my book.

My people come from Europe in its many stripes, mostly the UK and Germany, but my family's name, at least so the story goes, was born in the Channel Islands, of a Norman and his love. Norman territory is so close to the seat in which my King made his start, I as a dork and a woman and a writer hear some kind of *thrum* in the juxtaposition. I don't need to count myself part of Clovis' line (it is enough joy to know one of my best friends can clearly do so), but I like the idea nonetheless - that, even if not in blood, some part of me extracts from that place that spawned my first book.

The king's name helped make what I am. I count my work a service, hoping I can claim some ghost of the same in return.


So hello, France. I love to see you visit.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

They're Short Enough As It Is ...

... that I can't say I'm quite nuts about spending my weekends feeling sick. It's a waste of what should be good rest and good productivity - and here I am (a) wishing I could barf, and (b) planning how long before I can go to bed.


As it turns out - I can actually go up whenever I want to, and cuddle in, and if I feel like it I can hit the tube or some downloaded "Dollhouse" eps, in the comfort of my bed. Hm.

George, my wireless router, is making being sick one hair easier. What a little blinky prince of a guy George is.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ever Have One'a Those Days?

Yesterday was just one of those days when I could do no right. Night before last, the tip of my incisor finally broke off while I was eating, and apparently I just do not operate well without a fully matched set of teeth. *Le sigh* In the morning, my day began with some travel planning for the boss; wanting to redeem some reward points, I hit the website and found an array of options. Sent them to boss for approval. Boss says, "I'll do this myself" and I feel rotten about basically offloading something he asked me to help with right back to him. Gah.

Later in the morning, I call to follow up on an expense report. Boss has paid for a train ticket out of his own pocket, and our scan of the receipt is unreadable. Because of the nature of our employer, for audit purposes, it simply is not allowed to forgo a receipt, even for an expense of this nature under $50 - and so, since Boss no longer has the original, I call Amtrak to arrange a duplicate receipt.

Do you know, Amtrak charges TWENTY DOLLARS to provide this service???? Outrageous (and train travelers with expense accounts, be warned - that's pushing half the cost of the dang ticket itself - and of course, it's not an expense-able fee!). I approach Boss again, and he has to throw up his hands again - and it's not even twelve o'clock, people. I just forced a manager I really want to please to eat a travel expense personally - having already set him to tasks he wanted to put on my plate.

Stellar morning.

After this, it's more of the same - just moron, moron, moron, all morning long. At 12:30, my buddy K, our laid back hep cat, says, "your day gets a reset button; you will come back from lunch and it will be smooth sailing" basically.

Apparently, one needs an actual fairy godmother to fill the magic slippers, because though the level of "ugh" stopped ramping up, it didn't reverse, and it didn't even quite peter out. None of what went wrong was technically my fault, and I know that, but I'm the sort who, when I want someone satisfied at my hands, I don't feel good about their being served with mediocrity. Even if I'm just the bearer, I don't like handing over un-stellar messages. Or missing the meeting cancellation I apparently misunderstood, or not being able to answer a question with alacrity (or a positive response). I got these people thinking I am a rock star, and so average-to-meh performance doesn't make me happy.

Today, I started off with a good morning of follow up and taking names, but my visibility in front of my boss didn't change (and one doesn't tug the sleeve of an uninvolved party on administrivia to show off its being competently done), so the impression of yesterday still sat on my nerves.

I ended in good stead, efficient and things accomplished, with tons of follow though today. Still. Could hope for a more exhileratingly fulfilling time of it to come.

You know, and teeth. Ferengi-osity ... *Bleah*


This is about the best description of, and insight into, Tea Partiers I can think of:

Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.
--Alexander Hamilton

Yep, that's about the size of it. Strangepersons fear The Intellect. *Sigh*

Mac Again

I don't know, I don't mean to be one of those puling brand haters, because I just don't care enough to whinge about something I don't even use (and, yes, I can see that the article is sharpening an ax) - but Apple really comes across like Big Brother sometimes ... It makes the appeal of their products even harder to grasp, for a dimwit like me. I don't get the staunchness of the loyalty to this stuff (though YES, of course I have heard the arguments; since the fact is, the arguments usually just serve as justification for what generally appears to be a much more subjective elitism, they don't mean all that much, at the end of the day). I mean: Apple had been using 5-point Torx screws for its MacBook Pros, not standard 6-point Torx screws."We did a little bit of research and found out that this particular screw has been patented," Wiens says. "It is illegal to import screwdrivers that can open this screw into the U.S. unless you buy it through Apple's sales channels. Apple sells the screwdriver for $40."

Really ... ? This is the enlightened, superior company? I'm still not partisan here, but I'm genuinely befuddled.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


During the past six months, I have noticed a strangely large percentage of the people I know starting sentences with the word "So". The first time I encountered it was during the in-person interview for my job, and it was so unfamiliar and distinctive, it has struck me as ever stranger and stranger that this pattern seems to have not merely caught on, nor developed, but sprung fully formed from nothingness into the most astounding ubiquity.

I'm certainly old enough to have heard a few trends in speech patterns develop in my lifetime ("like, totally"), but this one was unheard-of one day, and has become everpresent every day since. And, no, I thought at first maybe this is just a linguistic tic amongst the people I work with: but I saw it on the NEWS tonight. It seems to be cropping up all over the place.

I don't mind it. But I'm fascinated, and I want to know why this happened, where it came from, how it's spawned so prolifically. (Prolificly? I'm not looking it up.)

Anyway. So.

Nova Nerding

Neil Degrasse Tyson is almost unbearably cool. And so are giraffes. Love. It.

American Idol? Who needs that? This is content. This is ENTERTAINMENT. Space suits and gross food and ani-mules. Woo!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Can I be Nichelle Nichols when I grow up?

Heh. I know - keep dreaming. I do. Her career is sort of based on that being the point. (And growing up isn't, necessarily.)

Pioneers of Television

Soooooooooooooooo many resons I love public broadcasting.

Monday, January 17, 2011


By the way, I know I have more readers than I have followers, but if y'all don't mind I'd appreciate your hitting "follow" if you come much. I need all the support I can get during this querying process - and I know how pitiful seven looks! Not that I don't love my currently-advertised readers, of COURSE. I just need more of you on the bandwagon, m'kay? M'kay.

Mac Daddy

So the 8% drop in foreign holdings in Apple on this day where our own markets were closed and Steve Jobs announced his medical leave brings to mind a consideration outside his wellbeing, but which has made me scratch my head for years. Mac users have always confounded me because of this: the most loyal (morally superior, actually, often) of them have a brand snobbery which one hardly finds outside of your basic celebutante regarding her shoes - and yet an aspect many of them share in common is a disdain for consumers of OTHER kinds. I know a lot of Mac users who sneer at certain kinds of consumerism ... and yet, it is funny: they themselves actually embody it, in their superior disregard for The Great Unwashed - er, those of us on Windows.

It doesn't offend me, mind you. It just seems a kind of unusual irony, considering the source and the nature of the thing. Odd.

American Vitriol

I can't add to the mountains of words about the shooting in Tucson last weekend. But I would ask one thing:

Why is it the republicans and Tea Partiers think it is smart to respond to calls for civility with anger, outrage, and offense? HOW is it they think that is okay?

Deliver me from discourse, if this is its shape and nature.

I'm not precisely a government employee, but I do consider myself a public servant, and I for one wouldn't mind seeing the hatred and bloodlust for my kind ABATE. Good lord, people. Simmer the hell down.


Well now I *have* gotten some sleep. Sometimes, it's good to know my old ability to sleep whatever the circumstances remains intact. The headache has nothing to say about this rest, but it has been gotten, and the headache can't gainsay *that* at least. Now I'm bleary and slow, but that's not too bad. The afternoon is just giving way to dusk, and the dog is making sweet tired sounds at my feet. Light in the living room is softening; it is dim here now.

Not the worst day off.

Not the best headache.

I could cocoon on a day like this.

Oh, wait - I kind of did. Heh. If only X had been here to nestle into a day like this with me. That would have been perfect.

Not Resting

I need to be sleeping, but the caffeinne in that headache pill is keeping me from the possibility. I lay for a while trying to think lovely thoughts of X - of his being here on a day like this, the way we'd run errands, the way we'd sit and read at each other - but I am restless and unable to do right to myself.

The pills aren't working (on the pain) - but they are keeping me nattering. I "called in" on our writers' club meeting today, and can't seem to get down to un-business.

From my experience Saturday, going out when I knew my head was clanging with pain, I know at least I'm avoiding exacerbation. And the laptop is quiet, where turning on the TV would attack me - and reading a paper book would have me in glasses I have been fighting against for a week - but it isn't the brightest headache treatment. I know that. But it is so easy, so temptingly, time-wastingly present.

X tells me if he had headaches like the one I've been describing this week, he'd be grabbing a doctor by the lapels demanding relief.

I, of course, respond by abandoning my glasses, failing to lie down and rest, and pretending that a cocktail of acetaminaphen and ibuprofen, and leaving the TV off, are some sort of therapy. Meanwhile barfing out of my puling brain, knowing the result is drivel.

Hey, clearing the head of drivel must be good for what ails the brainpan. ... No ... ?

Ah well.

Time to try lying down again.

Then probably a stab at Chinese food, later. That might actually be a step up.


If I have said in the past that I am made of hope, and that headline on this page is one of meaning, it's true too that there are more ingredients. But the fallout is, I am full of ambition.

My drive isn't toward pinstripes and paychecks - that career thing so many people understand as ambition. I have more goals than one. There is my work - that at my office, yes; and that of my dreamier, unpaid kind, which might someday become more lucrative. There is my family and my dog - the ambition to become the woman they need in me, the kind heart, the dependable resource. There is my love - the need to have something to offer beyond the effable, because there are so many miles between us.

Chiefly, though, in terms of "real" ambition, my motivator is that work I'm seeking partnership for. My writing. My querying. My marketing and marketability. My confidence, and yes my product.

Hope is what ambition is made of, and I am a success waiting to happen. When someone takes advantage of it, together there will be rewards aplenty, even if I'm not Kirk Ellis waiting to happen. But certainly, if I *am*.

My hope in some of the places above quails, but my understanding of what I am as an author never seems to wilt nor question. I know my talents and my assets, and I know this is just "waiting" - there is no worry "it might not happen" for me.

My full has been out since October, and on November 12 I got the note about opening the document. If this is when the agent started actually reading, I'm eight weeks into potentiality here. Nerve wracking, but in the best way!

I have my hard copy queries qeueing. Now is when we begin overseas. UK options, a rich mine for me.

The path isn't unclear to me. I'm on it.

I can't wait to see who joins me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Horror of Loss

It's a long weekend, so timing is strange, and nothing is happening as normal. Not feeling well, I took a two hour nap today on the chaise, and just now I finally recommitted to cleaning the house.

I dropped my father's old transistor radio. Circa probably sometime in the 1940s, this was a mahogany colored bakelite little breadbox, and had still worked even as recently as when we were kids. It was fully intact, still had all components and tubes, and would even buzz quietly if actually plugged in and turned on. And I have shattered its case.

My instant response to this was to fall to the floor in shards myself, loud sobs, terrible tears.

I know that the loss of a thing attached to a man is fearful only because it is one less piece of HIM. Because it reminds us that as time passes, there will be less and less. It's not about the object; the object is a symbol.

My brother trades in symbols like that, saving what has been hidden, and calling it artifact.

My mom is able to ascribe symbolism to approximate objects - not the "real" thing from her childhood, she can still attach the immortality imbued in artifacts into new artifacts like the ones actually attached to memory.

I live surrounded by artifacts. The beautiful tables TEO has let me hold onto, which stood silent at the center of warm afternoons at her father's. The chair my sister-in-law upholstered, in which I sit typing right now. The television X left with me, and the DVD player he gave me the day my father died. The paintings of my grandmother, the globe, always beside this radio, which my dad had as a kid. There are pieces of my grandparents', parents', siblings', even my nieces' lives all over this cheering, welcoming house. They MAKE it cheering and welcoming. They make it feel "warm" to me in that ineffable way beside the point of temperature.

My very father's cremains, in his little dragon box.

This is why I could never in good faith (har de har) be a Buddhist. I'm a believer in the cult of Stuff.

Breaking my father's radio means there is one less (intact) thing of his in the world.

Maybe my brother's old advice - to bury some piece of it in one place, other pieces of it far away, in some archaeologically-impossible configuration - is the next response.

Now is not the time to contemplate disposal.

Now is the time to still the wracking horror, to sit in this good chair, to be glad of those things which do survive, to survey my blessings, to nullify my self-blame for something which isn't even a crime.

Now is the time to clean this house.

Now is the time to be glad of the father I had ... *have* ... who was so fine a man that the very loss of his childhood radio is occasion for such anguish. Tears and flapdoodle.


The anniversary is coming, and I'm surviving a lush case. What once was a radio had become just a piece of silent decor. I know better than that this is genuinely loss.

But I know enough, too, to experience this sadness, to know it for what it is. And to be so grateful I have so much to lose. How blessed my dad made me.

How like a little kid in the way I miss him.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So Full of Thoughts

I had things I wanted to write about tonight, but I also have a pretty bad headache. Why'm I online? Things to do. I have a birthday card to get out for someone wonderfully amazing. I have a baby shower card to make - and I had wanted to really make that personal, with a little poem or something. I had planned to inventory some things I have from my late Uncle, to figure out what to do with them.

How is it my life after work hours used to be so much more my own? Weird.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Being Bad

Last night didn't have much to offer in the way of sleep, and, as sometimes happens with nights like that, it led to the fairly strange-feeling morning I am having. It's wreaking havoc on the poor dog's nerves, but at least I'm *here* to be all reassuring and some junk.

Richmond is sandwiched between the two major storms hitting the east coast right now, and as such we are having not-such-great weather, but not to terribly awful either. The weathermen have been pretty excitedly yipping about this for literally a week now, and so I had plenty of notice. Last night, I brought my work laptop home, and have duly logged on to do my job.

I am not blogging from my work computer, no. But I am blogging, yes. For I am evil, profligate, and slackerly-selfish. (I feel my self-respect as a member of Generation X swelling even as I say so.)

The thing is, I was actually up and working well in advance of my usual reporting time. And my usual reporting time is 7:30 mainly in service of my function as security escort. I come in before the 8:00 races so as to be available for Julie McCoy Your Cruise Director duties - and, given that the building isn't crawling with visitors, I don't expect much demand for that this morning.

So I was up and working by seven a.m., and why the heck would I be doing that, one might ask.

I did that because, in the blear and hate of oh-dark-thirty, and having been up all night, I FINALLY drowsed for a moment - I finally almost fell asleep - and my body realized it couldn't allow that. And so I woke. All sure that I was late.

I got up, I clambered down the stairs, I refused to notice how dark it still was (it's ALWAYS dark when I get up!), and I was 2/3 the way through my various inbox audits before I realized the clock on my laptop had interesting information for me. Seven oh seven??

Good lord, even for me that's a bit eeeeeaarlly.

I indulged the luxury of going upstairs to scrape my hair off my face, to wash it, to clean my teeth, to get some shoes on. This office floor is icy cold tile. It was luxury, to clothe my poor feet.

So I am blogging (but I won't be all day) because it is that eerie kind of time where there's snow outside and it's wildly dreary, but I am home ... but I'm not "off" either.

And because, of course, if I had anything to SAY I'd hardly be a self-respecting blogger. Or Gen X'er, for that matter.

So blather, blather.

Maybe it's time for a bowl of cream of wheat and something to sip on.


Side note: it's so weird being able to scritch my Lolly in between work stuff. I always did want to bring her with me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lush Case

You know it's going to be an indulgent encounter with PMS when watching the final episode of "Dollhouse" leaves you fighting hard not to sob.



Sarah Plain and Tall

I have this fantasy - not *only* about the Palin, to be sure - but most specifically about her, that her "popularity" (or, at least, her career of fame-whoring) could go something like this, if people actually change, with all the talk of The Vitriolic Atmosphere comes to more than hot air.

Sadly, it requires that people actually change. I remember 9/11, and do know better.

Pity, though.

Perhaps a better thing to remember was the day the president was elected, and hope almost seemed a sane possibility.

We DID do that. Possibility is always possible.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Off the Tether

Finally, with thanks to "Jake" the CSR at my router's help line, I am online without actual lines.

Ahh, computing from my Queen's Chair. Most excellent, and comfortable too.

Now, if I have to work remote on Tuesday because of the snow the local weathermen are getting so frothy about, I will be able to set myself up in a more civilized way at the dining room table. Also excellent.

Friday, January 7, 2011


As with so many intentions, I also let slip my plans to write about the headline on this page ... and about work this week. So goeth the Thoughtkiller. (... and wouldn't that make a great sarcastic overwrought online ID ... ?) More to come. But if I don't force myself offline, I'll begin to be reckless, and get off useful stuff like query research - and even off idiotic stuff like posting complaints about agents so they can google me and be offended (oh - wait - nobody I'm kvetching about got queried) - and end up visiting fora I haven't been registered with in years, or reading Miss Manners, or the usual, eBaying pointlessly and obsessively checking the items I'm trying to sell.

Sleep, also, is good stuff.

Even short of going to bed before 9:30, like last weekend, I need to disconnect. The dog surely has qualities more worthwhile than even my Asus.


You know, I had planned to come home and work on installing my router tonight (what's a good day's work, having been up since six and online since before 7:30, without a pile more hours in front of a computer, after all??), but I came home and got all inspired and writerly, and here it is suddenly almost nine o'clock and I just fired off another query.

It was the only one, out of today's crop, to be sure. But it was a productive night, even if the yield doesn't look "impressive" by the standard of number-of-emails-sent. Sometimes, finding the RIGHT person to query is worth finding five or six others you end up not wanting to pester.

(To be sure, sometimes a fifteen hour day yields to self-righteous whinging. However, in this case, I am opting to pretend I am Noble and Intelligent, choosing my deployments with care and doing small amounts right, rather than quantity in mediocrity.)


Tonight's search yielded some of those things resulting in the post below, and one possible agent I pulled up on QT. QT is nice not least because it links a list or sampling of agents' authors' product on Amazon. It's a lazy tool, BUT a nice snapshot if you're just window shopping agents.

When you find one with seven links, that's nice.

When all seven of those links result in "no products found for 'this author-under-representation's name'" ... you maybe think better of querying. Amazon is what it is, but if it can't find this agent's authors, you're not likely to become *more* visible. Are you?

Apparently, I am playing Devil's Advocate today.

And also playing Repel All the Agents (whose bad habits you're snarking about here). Stupid game, one might say. But, though I'm not cranky, the one-way-street instructiveness tends to be for querying authors gets to be a dreary road to trudge sometimes.

To Don'ts

In the process of querying and research, you run across blog after blog, article after article, about what not to do, what not to say, what not to write in your contributions to the many dozens of slushpiles you're sending your work to join. I won't regurgitate the tips; for those doing this job, you know already. For those maintaining slushpiles I've become a part of, googling me up and finding this place - who needs it?

For the latter, though, I would like to turn the tables upon you.

How not to "help" your prospective authors ...

  1. Please don't say you want to read "something that will keep (you) up at night turning the pages". For Pete's own dear sake - you guys tell US ad infinitum to use specific, clear, pointed examples and language in pitching our work at you. Offer the same courtesy in kind; that would give it some depth and urgency. After all: how can you imagine I know what keeps you up at night? I just eliminated a query because I couldn't get a handle on the agent, thanks to communication just as vague as any poorly-constructed query letter they can ever have complained about. (See also: "I like ALL kinds of reading!" and "I never know what I am going to go for." Terribly helpful. I mean, again, I get it. But it's not precisely instructive either.)
  2. Don't describe what interests you as "transformative historial fiction" ... If I've been instructed once, I've been instructed a hundred times now not to make up genres to describe my work. What in Maud's name is tranformative historical fiction? And - again - how is it you imagine we can get a handle on that, any better than y'all can understand made-up and crossbred "genres" which don't exist? Sure, if you say you like romantic historical fiction, that makes sense. But if you get schmoopy and bring an amorphous term like transformative in, I'm wondering if what you prefer is fantasy.
  3. Please please DO tell us what you don't take. There are times that kind of bullet point helps clarify what you DO take, if "historical fiction" isn't addressed in some way in your blurbs, on your site, or even in your completely absent list of actual works under representation.
  4. Please put your list of actual works under representation SOMEWHERE we can access it. If you can't bear to do so on your own actual site (it is astounding to me how many agencies won't do this), then let QueryTracker have a shot. Please? I know it just coddles us spoiled authors, but gravy on gravel, people: it serves you, too, actually.
  5. And, yes - do please address how you personally define the genres you cover. We all know they are bludgeons, not scimitars, and I don't want to waste your time or mine shilling my fairly muscular work at you if you prefer heaving bodices and lots of candlelight to axes and intricate religious politics. I can take my cues if your website is pink and all images soft-focused, but not everyone is that on-the-nose in their electronic aesthetic.
  6. And building from that point: consider web design. I've gotten a migraine every query-night since last February visiting agency pages, and some take a LONG time to (a) navigate, and/or (b) load. I want to know your library, and I *need* to "meet" your agents, but I don't care about all the scrolling you have never heard people hate to do (the studies on this date back to the nineties, people; and even I am aware of them). And, as much as I love nifty graphics, if they bounce and swoon to the point I can't control or get beyond them you're wasting my time as much as any slush pile so famously wastes yours. Simple is perfectly fine. There's no taint nor shame in having a sensibly designed site; even if it's pink and loaded with clip-art of Fabio. Like your writers' pitches are - if the content is no good, the showy Flash won't help me *or* you - and if it is good, you don't even need all the Fancy-Fancy. Just sayin'.
Off for a few more fistfuls of Advil.

In conclusion - either "physician, heal thyself" or "practice what you preach", depending upon your preference for medical or religion-themed metaphor.



I came home today and had received an email from "Mary Sue Doe" ... The agent who has my full in hand right now is named Mary Sue D'oh-ish, and so for a fraction of a second, my eyeballs perceived in my Inbox the potential for ... An Answer.



And I'd thought X was the only person whose emails could get a splash of adrenaline quite like that out of me.

Live and learn.


Though X is still something rather more personally fierce, even than Good Writing Stuff.

Writing Groups

I have two levels of writing groups, the Big One and the Intimate One. James River Writers is of course a thoroughly amazing group; responsible for the foundation of my education, stoker of my enthusiasm, font of one of those "scenes" I *do* feel very much part of, and annual squee-fest for the Conference. The SBC is smaller; newer; and "mine" in another way than JRW is. JRW inspired me. But in the Sarcastic Broads Club, the inspiration is exchanged and more intimately personal.

We're new, and we're only getting ready for our second meeting, but I'm a little girlishly excited to have a club of my own ... and tickled, too, at the way group-ish-ness lights my authorial fire.

I almost wrote professional writer instead of author up there, to indicate the inclusion of all the publishing work "writing" necessitates. It seems to me, though, the august title of author includes that implicitly.

Boy howdy, language is neat stuff.


Randomly, I smile and think of the woman today (someone whose mode of expression I respect) who told me she expands her vocabulary reading my emails.

And of my old friend the Frenchman, from my last job, who gave me a sterling compliment indeed: he said I speak English like a European.

He didn't need to explain that, nor that it was a very deep piece of praise. Exceptionally nice.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphanic Moment

Today is epiphany, the day Christ entered the world with us. I had an idea today of what to post today, but the headache has pushed it out. I then had a good laugh with X, and then finally put away the tinsel of Christmas. Seems right.

Maybe I'll remember what the epiphanic thought I was going to blabber about.

I'm betting I won't, though, and will let it go, and tomorrow will go on until it's done.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Punkin' OUT

Speaking of punk rock. Here we have the PERFECT example.

Oh, good lord, people.

It's enough to make you LONG for Hot Topic. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Acceptance At Work

I realized today I have become accustomed to being a little trodden-across in my work life. It's an interesting thing, because I was handed a tray to carry by someone with no right to determine my workload, and I was a little apologetic (let us say "tactful") in pressing the shyest question about this to my manager.

With the economy as it is, and as confident a woman as I am - I am still a new kid at a very large establishment. I learned from my last employer that questioning was not allowed (for secretaries), and that additions would be given to my job both without warning, and certainly without pay.

(What is most interesting about that is any sort of *initiative* or attempt to provide value-added service on my own was greeted with pearl-clutching horror; but that is a whinge for absolutely no other time and beside the point here. Mostly.)

I learned that from one day to the next, not only would I have multiple managers in the first place, but several others were also going to be allowed to call upon me.

Boys and girls: this is one of the reasons a multiple-manager operating structure is to be avoided, if at all possible. It never works very well, the politics become deeply tedious, and sooner or later, the thought occurs to higher-ups, "if she can support two, she can support three more a little in addition ... but not for additional pay of course."


I have always loathed multiple manager setups, since the time I worked for three guys, one of whom backed out on his WRITTEN promise to provide bonuses, with the other two, and the PRESIDENT OF THE FIRM had to step in and pay me one because all of them ended up collapsing on the thing when one decided to be tight-fisted.

Le. Sigh.

So no small joy in my current job is that, while I am core to the team, and we HAVE multiple managers I support, my actual reporting structure is clearly to the top banana, and there is no question that my provision of work for EVERYONE in my group leaves him still and unquestionably at the top of my priority list, every day, no dibs-calling on my time he can't trump.

I love the way I work on special projects with the manager who calls me Tenacious D. I enjoy working with the guy in the midwest, with the local officer, and sitting back and watching as my whole group, nationwide, comes to understand - and act on - the fact that I am to be depended on for certain functions. They seem to like having someone to turn to, and I at almost-six-months-in am reveling in the ways this educates me, entrenches me (frankly), and begins, bit by bit, to make a difference for everybody. An explicit part of my role is to be a core unifier, and this is coming to be, just a little faster and deeper as time moves me more "in" my job.


And so.

When someone outside my team, whom I've begun a new relationship with through providing regular deliverables he compiles, turned to the admin he thought was there to support his team - and she turns out to be offloading her administrative duties in favor of more project management, or analysis, or whatever-it-is she thinks is more "worthwhile" than administrative work - they both turned to me. I took on a small to-do, and then, innocuously, the guy's boss emailed me to ask if I could help out administratively.

I didn't argue my way out, but I did consider the senior level of my boss, and emailed him a quick FYI.

Then the admin-who-isn't-doing-admin-work-anymore emailed two of the senior admins explaining to them that my name needed to be put next to other-manager's as his assistant.


"Yeah: no" was the gist of the diplomatic email I sent right back, explaining that unless and until my actual manager says I need to be given a new job alongside my own, I'm not interested in formalizing my support of someone who in fact told me he has an admin actually.

(To which I say: what is it she does ... ? Maybe I missed that bit.)

Anyway, so another quick FYI to my boss, accompanied with "I don't mean to create politics where there are none" but the clear understanding I defer to him, not just anyone with a tray to hand off, no matter how lightly laden it might be for a minute.

I got an actual thank you from one of the seniors, who felt I had expressed a very proper expectation, that MY boss decides my job - not an admin who doesn't want to be an admin, and who isn't even a part of my group, and assigning to me people not part of my boss's.


There isn't a good coda here, other than my ruminations about my newfound (since the last/cr*ppy job) willingness to get myself handed-off on. It brings to mind an interesting train of thought about the last GOOD job I held, which so often I actually find myself thinking of more than the one more recently held - the one I keep passively-aggressively half writing out of my work history, in conversation and in my consideration. The last good job provides a very interesting view of me as a worker, indeed.

This Post Is the Sister Post to a Post In Equatorial Antarctica ...

My brother's been going through old vinyl and memories on his blog, and I told him recently he had to tell about his one gig as a punk rocker (hee - in our house, that was usually pronounced PUH' rokka) and the moment of glory he spent on a White Cross album cover or I would be all stupid-baby-sister and pouty about it. Heh.

What an obliging lad he is. With imagery, too. Bro is the black thing with stripes on him; wearing a shirt from our grandfather, doing that thing guys do which is the ultimate remedy to the White Boy Shuffle, grainy and denatured, twenty-five or so years ago now.

It's funny to me; he talks about not being core to the scene ... but, of course, he was my entre' into it. I've posted before about the subcultures I've touched, never counting myself full membership out of respect for the imaginary boundaries subcultures tend to set up (which he talks about too, to be sure), but so often being accepted anyway, welcomed, and encouraged to consider myself at home. Bro, though, doesn't know about himself what I do, and would never be so vain as I am, to admit it, if he did: but he had charisma. I forget this often, but growing up in the house with him, *I* was subject to him. I idolized him not in his capacity of My Big Brother, but in his skin, in his shape, in the space he occupied, and always has.

We both nursed on social openness as kids; our father taught us how to move in any context of people, it was a conscious lesson his own parents had given to him. And our mother is a meeter of others; not in the sense of introductions, but in her desire and ability to reach out to them. So, though Bro and I both accidentally shared an intensive shyness and even backwardness in some ways - we both also gained a talent for people, as well.

In him, this built on an innate charisma. I think I have it too, but as a woman I have refined and cultivated it out of a natural state, and as a vain one I have abused it to the point age has dulled it. My brother, though, had this scimitar way of cutting through crowds, and even without my desperation and intention, he had attention, quite aside from the mohawks. Bro still has a "way" about him.

I've known only a very few people with charisma - hiya, Zuba - but I recognize it, and that's not because I recognize it from those people-person parents of ours. It's because I was imprinted pretty early on someone with a personal power he both used in rebellion against his context, and which he rebelled against in itself. If I hated being "That Guy's little sister" for all those years, he himself had to BE That Guy. If being smaller-sib made me want to be A Famous Person (actor being quite secondary to the cause), then appreciating how hard a time he had even on the normal human scale of personal power has made me all the more grateful that never happened.

But yeah, there's something magic about my bro, and if out of love for him I had to put away my stupid-eyeballed idolizing, I still admire something about him which exists quite independent of my having been his sister. I get the pleasure, still, sometimes, of watching people come to see what he is - through his work, perhaps more than any other way - and sitting back, silent, all swoll'up with pride and some junk.

Family's always grainy in the eyes of its strangely-linked members. But my brother's not a dark, indefinable thing with ancestral stripes on him. He is that. But I see more, too.

Neat guy. I like him.

Monday, January 3, 2011

RIP Mr. Kobayashi

Pete Postlethwaite has died. I always love his voice.

Only 64. Not enough time, Pete.

*Off to pull "The Usual Suspects" off the shelf*

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oh Yeah, It's 2011

Huh. Yes, I skipped the opportunities to stay up late for NYE (I did end up succumbing - by 9:30, as a matter of fact), and - shockingly, for I am A Writer - to go on about the new year.

I don't believe in my life I've ever made a new year's resolution, and by and large I didn't really grow up around resolutions. Aware of the concept, yes, but unfamiliar with anyone actually troubling to enact it. So new year's has always been one of two things for me, either the opportunity to celebrate, or, since my late twenties, the opportunity to privately, silently, reflect.

Couple years ago, it was about simple, unadorned, bereft depression and shock. So last year I made it a party.

This year could have gone either way, but in the end it was WORK had the final word. Yes, because instead of early dismissal, I had the pleasure of someone showing up at the office at 2:00 p.m. and spending an hour and a half sitting in my cubicle with me working on a mass of expense reporting, dating back twelve months, the deadline for 2010 having passed by two weeks ago.

To those who have protested that I should have found a way to say no, I say: I got it over with. And the boss is in town this week. Just as well to endure the tedium, and have it off my plate, as to put it of still more. In any case, that would have led to bad feeling, and who needs that. So.

I came away from the day frustrated, tired, and without time to unwind and even nap, as might have been ideal for the pulling on of impractical cuteness and shoes - and set myself a few tasks.

The wireless router had arrived (and in record time, Amazon, it must be said! so thanks). Any remaining doubt about whether to go out was dispelled when I called Roma Ristorante and they were open.

So to spinach and feta pizza, the installation of the router, and the dismantling of the tree!

Or, in fact, not - as the case may turn out to be.

The router connection instructions were great, nicely elementary and clear and quick - it was after that that the disc seemed to lose its senses. And, of course - no paper manual. And the PDF accompaniment skips installation, in favor of "advanced internet setup" ... which would be useful, I'm sure, were the installation complete. One needs must call customer service, which I'm sure is good. But at nine-thirty, pizza snug in my tum and having been up since six, I opted for the middle-aged, single homeowner's prerogative, and said hang ALL of this (including housecleaning, router, *and* tree) and Went to Bed. Mmm, now, that was delicioso.

Up and at 'em on 1/1/11, I did move to the router, which had decided to go to new, less "stuck" looking screens for the morning ... yet even less 'splicable somehow, and so it was time to shut down and get to the rest.

My brother is right when he says it's hard to spend too much time staging for actual action. I love staging for housecleaning - and did so to my pleasure/leisure. And then talked to him for a while, about 1973. Then it was on to staging for the taking down of the tree.

And the hoisting of all the other pointless and unseen (did I mention I'm single - and mom and my stepfather came over only briefly - with my friends, V and W being the lion's share of holiday activity inside this house?) decorations up to the guest room

Which itself, now, is a staging area - everything "cleaned" up from Down Here is now piled up Up There - the double bed hosting a huge jumble of acres of silver tinsel, purple orbs, sixteen kinds of painted, ceramic, silver, brass, and even musical knickknacks, shiny decorations, multicolored candles, heavy piles of lights, and a partridge in a pear tree - none of which passed the penultimate state of Putting Away - which is to say, they're in their room, but not in their closet just yet ...

I took until 11:00 doing everything, including one load of laundry - and still stopped with Swiffing; vacuuming only the upstairs.

So this morning began with the final frontier, ten minutes of speed-sucking - and NOW the house is done.

Still no router; no.

But I've got a book I vastly prefer to spend time with. And I am online, even if only in my office. That has sufficed (well!) for a year now almost exactly. A little longer, wireless-less, I count less as symptomatic of my laziness than as the badge and banner of a better priority: for reading, fella babies, is better than computing.

It is early yet - and plans to get out in the nice weather have been shifted, by yesterday's sopping rains arriving about eighteen hours late, rendering plans to go out and collect breezes and photons in my hair are no longer interesting.

Bookshelves are a grand thing. And my Queen's Chair makes such a comf place for dozing and reading.



Oh, and happy new year, fella babies. I may not have much to say about its staggering importance, but the wish to all to have a fine 2011 is intact. All the best, kids.