No mail until Wednesday–snailmail, I mean–in USA

In case you hadn’t yet heard, a public service announcement:

There will be no regular mail delivery or retail services at post offices Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007, as the Postal Service is closing to observe the national day of mourning for former President Gerald Ford, who died Dec. 26. Express Mail deliveries will be made Jan. 2. Regular retail and delivery service will resume Wednesday, Jan. 3.

So that means I pay some bills online today.

We watched President Ford’s state service and arrival to lie in state under the Capitol dome yesterday evening. An 84-year-old former Congressman collapsed halfway through and was taken to the hospital. I wasn’t surprised, because it was a long time for all those elderly (mostly) people to stand on that hard marble floor in the overheated and close air, but it *was* kind of upsetting. The entire thing made me cry, not just because I believe he was a nice person and an honest person and not one of the usual liars/cheats that you get in politics, but also because it all reminded me of burying my father-in-law back in 1999 . . . he also died on the 26th. It seems as if that was another lifetime ago, but also seems like only last year. Time telescopes and collapses in memory. I can’t remember the 1990s worth a hoot, although we did a lot of things. Surely we did. (*grin*)

Craft:My Crapometer Results! *LONG POST WARNING*


Visit the faboo comment thread on my snark crapometer entry. Or just read this entry!

My original pitch:

Kate Underwood Fisher has a guardian angel.

All the Underwoods in her mother’s line have them, which is good. Otherwise, the truck that almost ran her down this morning in the parking lot of Cable News Flashes in Dallas would’ve taken her out. She sprained her ankle, and Whit Bradley reached down to pick her up.

Kate co-produces “Pundit’s Policies,” a political talk and call-in cable show. Whit Bradley works for USA Homeland Security. He’s at CNF because signals are somehow being sent to a terrorist group via the “Pundit’s Corner” opinion segments. He must crack the code fast; if his cover is blown, the opportunity will be lost, and the group will start using other signals. But what are the signals?

Whit suspects Kate is the group’s tool, as she edits all Pundit’s Corner text. His cover story: he’s a consultant doing efficiency analysis. But everyone jumps to the conclusion that he’s there to justify downsizing them. Kate discovers the truth when she stumbles on the secret to the code, and she becomes Whit’s ally.

Then the villain catches on. A klieg light nearly falls on their heads during a taping; a crew member is found dead; text is inexplicably changed right before airtime. Kate starts getting calls on her old (inactive) cellphone from her guardian angel, telling her that the villain will soon eliminate them and make his major move. Can they stay alive and get the help they need to unmask him and stop the terrorist group?

Miss Snark herself replies:

“So, why doesn’t the guardian angel just make the bad guy drop dead of a coronary at Shoneys?

“When you use a trope like guardian angel, you have to be consistent. It’s clear Angel can help her physically–you told us about the truck. Why wouldn’t he do it now?

“The problem is you’ve got too much going on here. Terroism, romance and angels is one too many things.”

(But wait! She’s misreading it. Probably not deliberately. She presumes there IS a problem, though.)

My mistake in the pitch was that I mentioned the guardian angel at all–although if I don’t mention it, then readers will wonder where that first line of the book comes from. It’s not the crutch that she implies it is or has to be. She’s jumping to the conclusion that because there’s a possibility that an author could write a dum-dum story in which help descends from the sky to rescue Mary Sue constantly, that you WILL. And assuming an awful lot about the book just from what she calls the “hook,” and to me a hook implies that this is merely a blurb to draw you in. There isn’t room to explain or specify everything. Those who are intrigued and want to know more are supposed to read the book itself, not conjecture on the basis of 250 words. The blurb should give the flavor of the book–whimsical, romantic, whatever–instead of merely being a rundown of plot, and she goes “bleah” herself when it IS.

Now, I can’t and wouldn’t take OUT the angel from the book itself–although I could change this blurb, and probably would make it slightly longer anyhow. The opening is one of those focus-in opening hooks that tells you about her guardian angel. It’s like in the Lucille Ball film _FOREVER DARLING_, or like _TOPPER_, sort of, but not really . . . or like . . . any number of old movies of the stripe that I love.

But the novel’s opening just mentions that in passing as if it’s a family joke or kidding, and then we focus in on the action of her dodging the truck, tripping over the curb, and falling into the mud puddle. Her ankle is sprained, and Whit comes over to help her up. Romance introduced.

If I don’t mention the angel AT ALL in the pitch, then when they read the opening paragraph of the novel they’ll ask whether they got the correct novel, won’t they?

My initial reactions included the following. Forgive my tone of irritation, as it irritated me to have her misread (seemingly in a contrarian fashion) the obvious drift of the story. I’m not really irritated, but going into professor-lecture mode.

“>>So why doesn’t the guardian angel just make the bad guy drop dead of a coronary at Shoneys?<>Why wouldn’t he do it now?” Protecting you is different from attacking/killing people who are your adversaries . . . that would be more like the act of a demon. Haven’t you EVER seen ANY movies made before 1990?

Again, personal preferences of agents. As I mentioned in an earlier post, y’know. (BTW, that is the traditional representation of “you know.” Just so YOU know.) She misread (or deliberately misread) Rebecca’s _Knife_ hook about the fairies and the Great Oak, as well–did I ever post that as a rant, or did I just comment to Rebecca? Whichever. . . it doesn’t mean Rebecca’s book won’t appeal to the proper agents. Just means that this lady didn’t get it. Which is fine! I don’t get Geo. Clooney. Sure, he’s fine. Seems a nice guy. People think he’s great-looking. But really, to say you’re going to throw yourself at him and carry on like that about a living person . . . hmm, wouldn’t it be embarrassing if she actually DID run into him? What the hell would she SAY? “Oh . . . hello, Mr. Clooney. I–um–am a fan of yours.” If he’d been reading all the rot she types about him as “humor” and maybe rolling his eyes, that could be an embarrassing encounter for her. If I were still twelve and I ran into Micky Dolenz, I wouldn’t be humiliated by all those doodles of “Micky+Me” on my notebook, but when you turn forty, subtlety can be a watchword. It’s sort of like if I ever run into Bobby Darin in Heaven and have to explain all the fangirl behavior. I wouldn’t put that out on a professional blog even to have it as a humor hook, but to each her own–she certainly could get a book contract if she decided to unveil who she is and write a book about being an agent.

She may not even BE an agent, however. Speculation on various mailing lists says she’d like to get into the business, or used to be in the business, but is now out to either make a name for herself (and get a book contract to write about her realityblog) or is an altruist who hopes to help writers while entertaining the world. I figure she’s probably not nearly as snarky and nasty in person.

She might be someone who’s not even in the business, someone who has lots of free/spare time to spend doing this stuff. A failed wannabe at writing/editing or agenting, or what-have-you, who has a lot of talent but can’t for some reason get into a money-making position. This way, she (whoever she is, assuming she’s not a working agent) gets the prestige, the mystique, and a lot of power, and she gets to give advice. It’s a way to use her talent.

It’s sort of like . . . if I put up flyers saying I teach writing (and piano, for that matter), but admitting that I have no credentials. Who’d want to take a seminar from me? Who’d want to believe that I can teach you to play by ear the way that I do or write a salable novel (when I don’t have sales to point to and I don’t have concert dates)? *But* if I put up a blog or website and claimed to be EvilEditor or MissSnark or whatnot, and I put up a lot of mystery about who I really am, then I might get the same kind of excitement going about me. And then I might break INTO the business that way.

However, who knows? The key is that they don’t request to have you send them your work, even if they liked the hook, so how this benefits EvilEditor or MissSnark I can’t see, in any way other than personal fulfillment and a sense of giving back to the community. And that’s laudable. Still, you gotta wonder how they have the time to do these things if they are making money and still have to do the laundry in their off hours! For the purposes of this analysis, however, we shall assume she is a working agent who makes money hand over fist in New York City (where they do NOT make real salsa.)

“>>When you use a trope like guardian angel, you have to be consistent. It’s clear Angel can help her physically–you told us about the truck. Why wouldn’t he do it now?”

Well, who says I’m not consistent? You don’t have enough to judge that. You haven’t seen how it works AT ALL. And you know nothing, apparently, about the cultural tradition of guardians–they don’t attack people to protect you, but give help so you can help yourself. He wouldn’t “do it now” because there’s nothing to do, although she and Whit get blown out of range of the klieg light. Whit thinks it was a crew member who pushed them, or that he did it himself on autopilot. She knows (“knows”) it was the angel. But that was ALL. The angel did not stop the light from falling, as you seem to expect must happen for consistency’s sake. (“Consistency: denseness; the hobgoblin of little minds.”)

“>>The problem is you’ve got too much going on here. Terroism, romance[,] and angels is one too many things.”

YOU think so because you can’t keep two things in mind at a time *grump*. Until you actually see how the story works with everything together, you cannot really SAY something like that. I’d need a deeper analysis to dismiss ANYONE’S book on the basis of “one too many somethings.”

WHERE did I say that the angel would kill to save her? Where is that EVER implied or assumed? Where did I say or imply most of this stuff, such as the angel being “a crutch” or whatnot? (SIGH) I did NOT write that, but it was INFERRED. It wasn’t really IMPLIED. Thus the importance of making the pitch more bullet-proof, as many bullets will be lobbed at it. Illogical bullets, to my mind, but they’re sailing through the air and following a Newtonian trajectory path even as we type.

Okay, *harrumph*, it was nice of her to do all this. And she’s gotta be bored as heck with it by now. It’s a wonder she can be even remotely civil on hook #500-something. But still, it “aggravated” me (as my MIL used to say, misusing the word to good effect). It does point up the importance of reformulating a different pitch paragraph for my query letter.

Hark! A comment thread developed.

Anonymous said…12/28/2006
I love the premise of a talking head show being used to pass messages to terrorists. I would definitely read this–but only if Kate is up to the task of taking on spies and terrorists without angels handing her crib notes.
Sounds too much like a crutch that would relieve Kate (and the author) of the tedious detail work. Because red herrings and dead ends and misplaced trust and double crosses are half the fun in these kinds of reads, having an angel there to point out errors kinda spoils it.

If the angel is too integral to extract neatly, maybe you could make it constrained by very specific probationary rules or something. The angel can only save her from physical harm, and no more than once every six weeks, I dunno. Figure it out, because I think this could be really good.

Shalanna Collins said…
That’s the way I have it working–the angel *does* save them from the klieg light (*or so Kate believes*–it is never SAID for sure), but it’s not in a guardian angel’s charter to kill off the guy who’s sending signals to the political group–the charter is to protect her from physically getting offed until it’s the proper time for her to go, and that’s really how it’s understood in our culture, I think (and in the end, it’s up to the reader to decide whether there was ever an angel at all; it’s ambiguous, and Whit thinks every instance was just “chance,” because that’s Whit for you, the skeptic–it was Whit calling on the “dead” cell phone, using an electronic device he planted, because he wanted her to back away.) It isn’t an avenging angel who follows her around protecting her as if she’s Jeanne d’Arc, and I didn’t mean for people to take it that way. I didn’t have room for all of this to get explained in the 250 words, but it’s in the full synopsis. So the guardian angel is more of something that Kate is convinced she has . . . making her bolder, in a way. However, there are obvious constraints on what it can and can’t do. The angel doesn’t hand her crib notes or swoop in all the time (did I imply that? Because if I did, I need to correct that. I only mentioned the call because it’s a plot point, and the truck save because it’s the meeting point for Whit and Kate.) The angel is not used very often and is NOT a crutch, though I can see why you’d warn against it. It’s more of a family tradition that she believes in, though Whit doesn’t (he thinks her family is endearingly eccentric), and they save themselves. This story is like the movies on Turner Classic Movies, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. I suppose that if you’re in the audience for this kind of book, you’d self-select.

Thanks for the feedback!

Heatheness said…
A character named Whit Bradley? WHIT BRADLEY. What’s his middle name, Ford? Plus an angel? Adam Sorkin is rolling over in his crack-crumb filled bed.

(She must mean Aaron Sorkin. Someone corrected her on that. Maybe this alludes to a TV program where they USE the supernatural presence(s) as deus ex machina or otherwise incorrectly?)

dana p said…
Drop the angel.
That’s what I was going to say before I read your commentary, Author. Now that I know how you’ve woven the angel element into the story, I *still* say, drop the angel — but only from the hook. It’s plenty interesting without it, & since the angel *could be* all in Kate’s imagination, it sure doesn’t seem crucial to bring it up in the (conceptually overcrowded) hook.

Writer on Board said… 12/29/2006
A funny, touching, and entertaining beach book about terrorism, romance, and angels: Humans by Donald Westlake.

Shalanna Collins said…
Oh, I love Westlake! I’ll go find that one. He’s a Grandmaster for good reason. I don’t think I have ever read that one. My favorite of his is TRUST ME ON THIS. Funny!

Um . . . duh, I’m missing something in the Aaron Sorkin remark. I made the character’s name Whitney Dean Bradley because I thought that sounded crusty, and I wanted to NOT name him “Spence” (even though he keeps being a curmudgeonly Spencer Tracy from “Woman of the Year” in my mind’s eye). Is there a Sorkin show with such a character? Oops. That’s why it’s good to get out here and get comments from others who know the pop culture better than I do. Or maybe you meant he sounds TOO Old West Crusty. I usually stick my guys with yuppie-wimp handles like Alan, Justin, Lance, and the like, so I thought a bit of John Wayne might be in order. It keeps him from sayin’ Alan Alda-type stuff. *grin* A “Whit” *NEVER* says, “I’m a sensitive guy!” But he grabs your Christmas packages as they’re slipping to the ground, and he might call you a lady, ma’am. . . .

After all, we’re Texans.

Dana P–thank you! That’s what I’d about decided to do: just not mention the angel in the pitch. Or pitch it differently somehow so that readers didn’t get the wrong idea. It’s one of those ambiguous things, not like in _The Bishop’s Wife_ where everyone sees the angel or even like _Topper_ where one fellow sees the angels, because no one ever actually SEES an angel. It’s just a family tradition in Kate’s eccentric family. The way Whit (okay, Spence) finds out about that is by going home to Thanksgiving with her (she invites him so he won’t spend the day alone in a hotel room, and the romance deepens–AND one of her nephews gives them a clue to the way the code/messages are passed.) The book also opens with a mention of the guardian angel, because she dodges the truck and sprains her ankle in paragraph 1. No one’s gonna say this one doesn’t start with action.

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Anyone who wants to chat further about this or about writing should click on my name and c’mon over to the weblog. The disk is always spinning.

I also commented on another entry that *I* found worthy:

{Fourteen-year-old Hannah is thrilled when her mother is elected the first female President of the United States. But joy turns to devastation when her best friend Sasha dies in a freak virtual reality accident while surfing the Grid, the world’s highly evolved electronic network.
Two months later and only seconds after Hannah’s mother takes the oath of office, a ghostly anonym appears at the inauguration. Hijacking every video screen, the anonym delivers an ultimatum. Hannah’s mother must resign within forty-eight hours or a powerful virus will destroy the Grid. The cyber-terrorist’s transmission yields only one clue, a digital signature identical to one created by Hannah and Sasha. With less than two days to go, Hannah is recruited into NEST, a top-secret cyber spy agency located in a hidden basement of the White House. Using the tremendous power of the newly developed quantum computer, she takes to the virtual world to track down the terrorist and save her mother’s presidency. But, as she delves deeper into the Grid’s alternative universe, she uncovers a frightening connection between her mother, the terrorist and her dead friend Sasha.}

I think this one shows great promise. I don’t always agree with the Snark rating, as I think maybe preferences and reading comprehension differ greatly between different readers with various expectations; try this one (complete with details) on a different agent, one who handles YA regularly. Or c’mon over to my LiveJournal and we’ll type about it all–I have a book with a premise about a virus in the Grid (even using the term “Grid”) that is under consideration over at Dorch for a new line (if that line ever comes into being, that is.)

I could not contact this person, but I hope he or she comes here so we can discuss this one. It needs to go out to YA-savvy agents. How about ? She’s hip. Keep me posted (if you are reading this.)
# # #

Things I’ve learned from Miss Snark’s crapometer
1. I wouldn’t want Miss Snark for an agent. (Partly because she doesn’t know much about SFF and partly because we have widely diverging tastes.)
2. Lots of things Miss Snark thinks are fresh and original I think are cliche.
3. I was surprised to find myself less interested in whether the idea was very original, but rather whether I thought the person was going to tell an interesting story.

I agreed with all of this post and announced that I was linking immediately.

I also had additional comments, reproduced here.

First, I’ve concluded that I would not want this lady for an agent (assuming she has any time left for agenting after she does all this reading and blogging . . . that has to take up a chunk of free time, and when does she do laundry and walk the Yapp?) because we don’t share much insofar as “what makes a book good.” I found many of her “BINGO” entries “YAWN,” and several times I was reading eagerly along in a pitch (which is what these really are) only to find that she didn’t get it at ALL or totally misread it/read something into it that wasn’t there.

She went nutshappy over “Zoe Chandler can’t wait for her Australian vacation” with all its cliches and formulaic structure (or so it seems from the pitch)–dream vacation turned nightmare: done many times, several times by National Lampoon. Hot babe with cheating hubby, the wrong guy gets poisoned, a stiletto-heeled stripper (oh, PLEASE) with a heart of you-know-which-precious-metal, final scene at the edge of a cliff and the bad guy falls over it. Aaack! It’s as if they collected all the cliches. Maybe the book is OK, but the pitch seemed really formulaic to me. And the Crap-0-Meter is pegged on the happy side. Then she says that several of the books that sound good to ME “have too much going on.” Only if you do it wrong. And agents apparently assume that you ARE going to default to doing it all wrong, so they reject. *SIGH*

I liked some of the characters in some of those rejected pitches, and I’d have requested the book, even though there wasn’t an A-B-C-D structure to the pitch in the form that she kept emphasizing. But people really are writing some oddball books out there.

It’s all so subjective.

(f/x: Cluestick beating me about head and shoulders as we fade out)
* * *
If you’re really bored and want to surf:
Hubby’s and my Amazon profile

Dulcie’s page

(This is funny) The evil-monkey-guide-to-creative-writing

Merry Christmas, Y’all

*Silent night* playing in background.

Quiet and still. Everyone’s got the colored lights plugged in. Smell of sugar cookies wafts from oven. (That burned smell is the pie crust bits that fell down earlier, not the bottoms of the cookies. They sure did GROW and spread, though. I should’ve made the dough slices thinner.) Even the dog is happy.

Peace and goodwill across the land, for ONE day of the year, at least.

Santa Seen On Radar!!

NASA and satellite tracking stations report that Santa has taken off and is already delivering presents to children on the dark side of the globe. So get to bed before you hear those reindeer hooves on the roof!

Turkey is in oven, ham is ready to reheat, pies (Splenda-sweetened) are cooling, cookies are made . . . bread machine is on counter and ready for countdown. (Too bad I don’t get any of THAT! Or possibly it’s a good thing.) I only hope everyone’s feeling good by morning. I think they will, as two plates of nachos were made and devoured tonight by the other household residents, and both pies seem to have mysteriously lost wedges that are far larger than any of the neighborhood mice ever took before.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and serene holiday time tomorrow with your chosen family/pets/plants!

It’s NEARLY here!

My husband and Mama are both sick with the respiratory/stomach stuff. He’s been nauseated every day this week. I can’t get him to go to the Urgent Care Center or anything. But anyhow, we’ve tabled the idea of going off to see family up North until probably Monday or Tuesday. By that time, he’s gotta be better, because he’s going to veg out and rest. “Rest” in this case meaning “sit in front of World of Warcraft and make battle, taking short breaks to eat snacks and lie in front of the TV watching TiVoed episodes of SF shows.” Why not, I suppose.

We made the peanut brittle tonight. Man, when they say “stir constantly,” they mean it. That hot sugar stuff would take your skin right off. We had to be really careful pouring it onto the cookie sheet. If anyone thinks I’m gonna let ’em pack that into my unicorn tins to give away, though, they got another think coming. (*Where* did that expression *come* from? Daddy always used to say that. And “knock you into the middle of next week.” I always wanted to go, but I never made it to next Wednesday.) People can be satisfied with a decorated plate and colorful Saran Wrap with ribbons. Unicorn tins==.mine. (Had ’em for years.)

Wow. All this driving and dropping off food baskets and picking up last-minute prezzies is exhausting, especially when everyone else is constantly moaning and carrying on about how sick they feel. I ran into Penneys (madhouse) this afternoon to pay the bill and picked up two shirts for hubby, but the clerk forgot to take that ink tag off of the collar of the nicer one. Aaaack! We’ll just go by after the holiday. The other shirt is a cloth shirt that says “100% Cotton” and will presumably be good for one wearing, as I do not iron. But it’s a pretty red plaid. . . .

*I* am getting a Tivoli CD player, I’m pretty sure. Yes, they’re overpriced, but they’re matched to the Tivoli Audio Two (with the second speaker and subwoofer) that I got earlier in the year for my birthday. I use that system in the kitchen so we can have near-audiophile sound instead of that iPod plugged into the $5 speakers. If I don’t get it, well, the cheap portable Technics CD player works well enough with that system. It’s a cool system. It just killed us to see it at Target stores on Friday! For around $400 or so. Wow, I think I paid nearly $300 for the components earlier this year. And the CD is $200 by itself, or thereabouts. It’s either that or the audiophile Marantz CD5001. *That* one would go on the Big Stereo for Beethoven listening.

Hmm. Or perhaps it’s neither, and that big box is actually one of those emergency radio/light/TV gizmos with the hand crank and solar panel. The boxes are about the same size. *sigh* Well, whatever. The important thing is that I know I got the new Weird Al disc and a Bobby Darin disc that I don’t have, because I got them for myself. *sheepish grin* Hubby informed me crankily last night (in the car, as we drove somewhere or another in vain pursuit of a Garfield book) that he doesn’t really like the Squirrel Nut Zippers other than that first album, which is a bummer because guess what I got him as one of his stocking stuffers? But he’ll have to console himself, as I’m not going to go back out into that madness. Unless we need some food item or other that I’ve somehow forgotten.

Everyone on my list is getting what they were getting before, PLUS a hardcover book. Dollar Tree had a stack of remaindered books! And not junk, either. They had my boyfriend Pat Buchanan’s _Where the Right Went Wrong_ (but OMG don’t tell him! He would cry, as would I if my book hit Dollar Tree for $1), John Dean’s book, Ann Landers’ daughter’s book with letters they sent to one another, Saul Bellow’s most recent novel, and a tome about the media and its sneaky influence on everything (can’t recall the author’s name). The political books are going to Mama, my aunts, my uncle, and Mama’s friend who loves politics–they all crave that stuff. Oh, and Dollar General had the “Don’t Sweat It” guides to golf, taxes, the holidays, and travel on for $2. Those are going to the NORMAL ones. Wow! I spent around $20 to get everybody a book. They are gonna think I went crazy. That’s good.

I love to get books in the mail. Got one today from an editor who was clearing her shelves. It’s a Jean Auel. I don’t know yet whether I’ll try to read THAT one or not, but it’s on the stack. Whee! More junk on the stack!

I don’t know if the wrapping will ever be finished.

Agents clearing those desks for year’s end

The agents of the world are clearing those desks off for year’s end. I got an e-mail rejection the other day from an agent I’d forgotten all about. I looked it up in my log, and I sent this out back in September after the agent asked for a full. It’s not a form rejection, which gives the agent Princess Points, but it’s typically obscure about what exactly she thought was “wrong.”

Thank you so much for your patience while I read and considered your dark (very dark!) fantasy for y.a. This book has a good premise and promise of good plotting but, at least for me in its current form, it needs to be edited, to bring the plotting, the narration forward. Then your fine writing will shine and so will the story. Thank you for the opportunity to read your material. I wish you every success.

Nice enough for a rejection letter. But, of course, whatever it is that she wants changed is unclear. This is hand-waving that is supposed to be code for . . . what?

Bring the plotting and the narration forward? Meaning what? Get rid of the dialogue? Most of the time, you want to avoid narration and be in the “dramatization” mode. That’s showing instead of direct telling (although all storytelling is TELLING at heart.) Bringing the *plot* forward might mean that she just doesn’t like my kind of book. My kind of book will be character-driven, will have character introspection, will have implication rather than lots and lots of events, will tell things indirectly rather than through car chases. I have to say that _Camille_ is one of the more plotty and event-driven books that I’ve done, though, so I don’t see redoing it. The agent who backed away after saying she wanted to offer representation (who *still* said she loved the book even as she said it wouldn’t work out) didn’t ask for this kind of change (whatever the hell that vague stuff is supposed to mean in the first place), and specifically told me NOT to change the opening (I asked about that because so MANY people seem to want a different book that’s about something else, and so they try to impose that on everything they read.) This one’s not supposed to be a page-turner action flick, but a book for people who like books.

I’ve been reading the SnarkCrapOMeter in fits and starts, and it has brought forward for me just how much personal taste and preferences (and the weather, and today’s lotto numbers, and the possible conjunction of Jupiter and non-planet Pluto) plays into whether a hook/pages interest a reader or not.
Sometimes she’ll say entry X has the “WTF” meter pegged, but then a few entries later there’ll be one that’s pretty much the same flavor and she’ll yell BINGO. *shrug*

She’s GOTTA be exhausted and fed up with reading these things, let alone with typing coherent responses. If what agents mostly get are these weirdo ideas, no wonder the stuff on the shelves doesn’t always appeal to me. *GRIN* There have been a few that I think I’d pick up off a shelf, but they are not always the ones that hit Miss Snark’s bingo button. I do think that it’s pretty obvious how to write a blurb/hook paragraph, though, so how some of these writers came up with the stuff they sent is beyond me.

Number one on the Christmas list: that _Camille’s Travels_ wins the Delacorte YA Novel Contest. I don’t even know if it got to the contest judges, as I didn’t put delivery confirmation on it, or I’ve lost that little slip of paper. But anyhow, that’s the only way the book is going to reach its audience. It’s edgy and it’s like the kind of book that has won the contest in the past. What’s not to like?

(Don’t bother, rhetorical question)