Notes from 9/24/09 Writer’s Group

There is a great deal of advice out there on how to write a query letter for a novel, and precious little in useful facts. It is, after all, a completely subjective exercise. I’ve done a fair bit of research myself, and here’s the two sites I found most helpful:

Do’s: Nathan Bransford – literary agent – on how to get an agent. To save you a click – his “mad-lib” query template.

First I’m going to need these things:

[Agent name], [genre], [personalized tidbit about agent], [title], [word count], [protagonist name], [description of protagonist], [setting], [complicating incident], [verb], [villain], [protagonist’s quest], [protagonist’s goal], [author’s credits (optional)], [your name]

Don’t’s: For those who like their truth a little brutal, you can follow agent Janet Reid’s Query Shark (where you might eventually see my query letter). Reid critiques “sample” query letters sent specifically for that purpose (as oppossed to real query letters sent to her real agency).

I’ve stopped reading right here. […]

Answer three simple questions: who’s the protagonist; what choice does she face; what are the consequences of the choice. That’s ALL you need.

Not for those with squeamish egos.

Personally, I value the advice of agents and editors far more than the advice of teachers and authors. If your goal is to get through the slush pile – heed those who read that slush pile.

ASCII Codes for special characters

Alt+160 = á

Alt +130 = é

Alt +161= í

Alt + 162 = ó

Alt + 0252= ü

Alt + 163 = ú

Alt + 164 = ñ

Alt + 167 = º

Alt + 168 = ¿

Alt + 0193 = Á

Alt + 0201 = É

Alt + 0205 = Í

Alt + 0211 = Ó

Alt + 0218 = Ú

Alt + 0220 = Ü

Alt + 0209 = Ñ

Alt + 173 = ¡

§ couln’t find an ASCII number for this.

I inserted it from the dialogue box.

[Word to WordPress = weird typeset anomolies]

Not directly relevant – but too cool not to share: A pictorial tour of Odessa

The Encyclopedia of Ukraine on Nationalism. (And some “don’ts” of HTML typesetting).

Just who is Scott Turow anyways?

Three viewpoints on ghosts:

1- Van Alst “Spirit Investigators” answer prospective client’s FAQ’s.

2- Canadian kooks researchers who believe ghosts are misunderstood and that exorcisms are worse than useless.

3 – Mystical Blaze ( a New Age reference site) with a relatively coherent run-down on theories behind ghosts.

And a sidebar – a review of a role-playing game rules about ghosts. (This is a PDF, and may take a bit to load.)

And if you absolutely cannot eat another can of beans in this old trailer, here’s the Kingman Chamber of Commerce list of Restaurants.

Now You know

Bullets, bats and sharks.

My son’s baseball team learned that if you don’t listen to the coach in practice – you get shelled – and I mean shelled – in your first game. Now, the other team had some higher skill levels (where my son’s team is still working on basic base running, they were working on steals), but the athletic talent was about even. The lopsided score was the difference between working on your game and making excuses.

There’s an ammo shortage in the United States. Between wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and – ahem – Mexico, plus the 30-50% increase in sales since O’Bama took office (the gun-lovers are a fearin’ new laws and/or taxes) both gun shops and police departments are struggling to stay fully loaded, as it were.

I sent a version of the query letter for Jack (the title is The Beanstalk and Beyond) to Query Shark. The letter was sufficiently off main sequence that I felt some more objective eyes might be useful. My letter isn’t up at this writing and there is no timetable for it (the agent who writes QS does this in her “spare” time). We’ll see what comes of it.

What’s the value of Facebook? My 20+ hit day (24 March) came after announcing my blog update on FB.

Now you know.