Happy Agent's Day!

Without a doubt, I have the most hardworking, enthusiastic, encouraging, positive, genuinely nice agent in the business. And she's also a bull dog negotiator. THANK YOU, Victoria, for taking a shot on me and my story. You are lovely and then some. **throws confetti**

You know what's coming.

You know you do.

ELAINE DANCE!
I'll do this in person for you someday, and it will mesmerize you.

An Open Letter to Pinterest

This is going to be the teensiest bit of a rant. Completely non-writing related. (Although I did work hard, dang hard, to write a strong female protagonist for my novel. And I wrote her that way to encourage female readers that it is a good thing to be strong and smart and funny and geeky.)

I'm new to Pinterest, and the vast majority of the content is funny and cool and inspiring and swoonworthy. But, come on, ladies, STOP pinning pictures of yourself in little lace panties to show off your rock-hard abs. There are only two reasons you would do such a thing. 1.) To make other women jealous. Or 2.) To make men you'll never meet drool. 

Please. Stop. Because 1.) Don't be that woman. And 2.) Don't be that woman either. Most of those men are husbands or boyfriends already.

Okay. Rant over. Carry on, my lovely readers. (And might I add, I know none of you are these pinners.)

Why We Need Book Snobs

My uncle owns the Dickson Street Bookshop. It's something of a local treasure. (Locals, are we agreed?) He specializes in used, rare, and out-of-print books, specifically literature, poetry, and Irish Studies. He loves books.
photo from their Facebook site
No, really. He loves books. This is but a teensy fraction of the store.

He is a book snob. (Don't worry. He avoids the internet. Also, he would agree with me.) I have actually been at his house looking through one of his books in his personal library, which is pretty staggering on its own, only to have him take the book out of my hands and say, "No. Read this." Now, he doesn't do this to his customers. Hmm...actually that might not be true. He doesn't do it to new customers. But he has strong opinions and he's not afraid to share them.

It doesn't mean that he won't stock pop fiction or pulp fiction or stuff that rolls his eyes. That stuff sells and he sells it. And this isn't a post to bash any genre. My book is YA sci-fi. It's light and fluffy and whimsical. I can tell you right now that it won't be my uncle's cuppa, personally. And he'll turn books away. Not for reasons of  his own taste but for reasons of a glutted market or something he just doesn't think will sell.

Lately, I've read a lot of posts accusing agents and publishers of being nothing more than "gatekeepers" and "tastemakers," as if these were slurs flung from the very gates of Hell. Most of these have been in the traditional vs. self-publishing debate. Now, I am in no way, shape, or form saying that everything traditionally published is wonderful or that everything self-published is not. This isn't really about that at all.

But I will say this. I cringe at the day when indie bookstores and libraries are obsolete. Do you know what my uncle (and his staff) would recommend you read? James Joyce. Iain Pears. Oscar Wilde. Osamu Dazai. Xaviera Hollander. Max Brooks.- (These last few are just from their status updates.)

Do you know what Amazon recommends that I read? An amalgamation of books that are statistically similar to titles I've searched for. They don't care if it's good or bad. No, seriously. They. Don't. Care. I'm not bashing Amazon. I hope my titles will sell well there, and I buy from Amazon. But if I really want to shop for a book, I go to a bookstore or library and ask the tastemakers what they recommend, see what they're actually investing their money in and stocking. I'm not a lemming who will read whatever book someone places in my hand, but come on! There's value in that.

I cringe at the day when editors aren't able to fall hard for a manuscript and buy it because they love it and they think others will love it. I think there's value in the gatekeepers. Do I think that current models will have to change and change fast to avoid obsolescence? Heck, yes! But I shudder inside when I read angry, gleeful posts about "The Big 6" falling.

Yes, customers will make out like bandits. When books are valued at 99 cents, that will happen. And, yes, a tiny percentage of authors may make out like bandits. The same small percentage that make out like bandits with traditional publishers. But I don't think society will benefit from the destruction of tastemakers. Sometimes, I think society needs a crotchety old uncle telling us what to read.

Wait A Minute, Mr. Postman!

Hey, there! I'm setting up my mailing list for futurey stuff, like official release dates, cover reveals, giveaways, and such. I promise not to abuse it (let's be honest--I'm pretty lazy, so it will have to be pretty big news for me to send out a newsletter), and I'll never share your e-mail with anyone. Pinky swear. You can sign up in the upper right corner of the blog or use this form link: Subscribe to my newsletter
 
Now I'm going to have the Postman song that we sang at camp stuck in my head. For the rest of my life. 

If You Feel Like You've Been Hearing "No" A Lot Lately

Just remember that you haven't been hearing it as much as Worf does on Star Trek TNG.  
As always, thank you, Mental Floss.

(And here's to some more "Yes!")

Interview at Krista Van Dolzer's Place

So head on over to Mother. Write. (Repeat.) if you want to know juicy details about my querying process. (Or if you're researching agents and want to know what Victoria Marini is looking for in a manuscript.)

Also, yes, I did have specific crit partners in mind when I wrote the advice about that (towards the end of the interview). One of my toughest CP's isn't even a writer. She's an avid reader, though, and she asks HARD questions. I need that. Plus, she loves to brainstorm, which is fun. 

And my kissy-face-love-love critter would be the always lovely Mandy Silberstein. *waves* She literally draws hearts all over my pages. She's so encouraging. And y'know what? I need that, too. Plus, if Mandy mentions something that needs changing, I don't even consult my brain. I change it.

We Have A Winner!!

I used Random.org to pick the winner of the Full Manuscript Critique from me and Three Chapter Critique from Victoria Marini.

And that winner is...
(I'll e-mail you, Plamena with further instructions.)

This has been an amazing experience for me. I have to tell you, I was blown away by the generosity of you guys. Guess what! Shelli and Justin are almost 2/3 of the way to meeting their fundraising goal! (And if you want to laugh and cry a little but end up feeling totally encouraged which is what always seems to happen when I'm with Shelli go read her post about adopting here.)

Anyhoo, I truly have been wowed by the response to this. And I want to say a little thank you to everyone who gave. SO I would love to give everyone who donated a first page critique! I'll e-mail everyone further instructions on that as well. If you donated and don't receive the e-mail from me within 48 hours, please check your spam box, then send me an e-mail at karen.d.akins (at) gmail (dot) com.

Last Day to Enter

Happy June! If you haven't already, take a minute to go enter my Share the Lubov Critique Giveaway. Bulgarian name, great cause.

And also, I want to give a shout-out to my sister. Do you ever love someone else's work so much, and it just kills you that others don't know about it? Well, I'm remedying that right now. Take this picture for example. Which I just went and ripped off her portfolio without asking so...((waves hi to sister))

I love that it's one illustration, and she's not even telling a story with it, but you can tell there's a story behind it. And I can't help but fall in love with Harold.