Friday, December 31, 2010

Rachel's Letter to Teen Me

Today at the Stiletto Gang, I've posted a letter to my teen self!

What would go in your letter?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Buzz: The Last Innocent Hour by Margot Abbott

Reviews are often most useful when we're talking about new books, but new books are seldom what I read. I just finished an old book (1991) that I thoroughly loved and suspect some of you will, too--The Last Innocent Hour by Margot Abbott. Set in Berlin circa the 1930s and 40s, this novel is best described as noir meets love story meets Nazis meets journey of personal growth and recovery. Kind of a Sophie's Choice with a Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers angle thrown in. Trust me. It's incredible.

The reason I'm so enthusiastic about sharing this one is that I had a very emotional response to it, which for me is the hallmark of excellent writing. This is the first book I've read in a long time, since longer than I can remember, actually, that sucked me in even when I was not reading it. You know this type of book. The one that you can't get back to soon enough. The one that makes you giddy because it's time (!!) to sit down and get back to the story. The one where you think you know the characters and feel like they are with you in your living room.

It's okay. You don't have to publicly admit that you do this like I do. But for me, this was that book.

Recommended for fans of historical fiction, noir, or dark romance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Up in Flames. Dead Lift starts a fire.

My friend told me a distressing story today!

She was getting ready to fry some okra when the mailman pushed her letters through the slot in her front door. The oil was heating on the stove as she stepped away to gather the mail. One of the items was a package from Amazon with her new copy of Dead Lift.

But that isn't what got her attention. An envelope was wedged in the slot that had a Sprint rebate for $100 that she'd mailed days ago. Somehow, it had gotten smashed up in there and the mailman had missed it. This bugged her. Soon the rebate would expire.

And then she pulled Dead Lift out of its packaging, and instead of finding the hardcover she was expecting, she was holding a large print paperback. "Whoa, there! My eyes! How did this happen? Who messed up my order? Am I going to get a refund from Amazon?"

Meanwhile, grease fire!

The pan was in flames. Not as high as this picture. She went to handle it. She assures me that, at this point, she was very calm. An extinguisher was near, but first she removed the pan from the burner. Then, since it was a grease fire, she thought she would toss flour on it to put it out. The flour (from making the fried okra) was right there.

Only, not flour.

It was powered sugar.

Whoosh! More fire.

Then she started to freak out because the flames were high! She tried again to move the pan and it fell, splattered hot grease all over the floor, burned the rug.

And her hand. :(

At last, water put it out. Three hours of icing her hand contained the burn damage.

Such a scary story. I hate that it was peripherally tied to the receipt of a Dead Lift copy.

Be careful out there. Let's learn from my friend's experience.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How fast can you reject me?

This e-mail came today from my writer friend who is querying agents:

I've sent a handful of queries out into the great void. Yesterday I got a response from an agent in New York dated at 2:56pm to a query I'd emailed at 3:35pm. Which means that, due to the vagaries of the internet, my query was, technically, rejected even before I submitted it!
Ouch. And yes. This is exactly how much querying sucks.

I recall sitting down with a list of e-queries I planned to send one afternoon. Of course, I was spending inordinate amounts of time personalizing each one with small nuances to suit each particular agent. I sent one off, and before I had the next one crafted, a rejection from the first agent popped right up into my Inbox. Total time? Maybe three minutes.

I think these quickies are more palatable than Rejection by Omission, though. There were quite a few queries I sent that never received a response of any kind. So we're kind of comparing the "rip off the Band-Aid fast" rejection against the "I know you're bleeding, but I'm just going to let that gusher go forever until you give up and die" rejection scenario.

How do you take your pain? Got any good rejection stories you're willing to share?