Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hitlist: 1) Adverbs; 2) Thesauruses...

Yesterday was the best day ever so I figured I should blog about it now, before this heartbreaking client manuscript has me bawling.

The agent-editor party was poppin'. It was great catching up with FinePrint Lit and Nancy Coffey Literary. I miss them so!

Also, I finally met a certain editor. When I interned at FP and NC, I recommended a manuscript to an agent there, who ended up selling the book to Tor. So when I bumped into the editor at the shindig yesterday, both of us were like, "It's you!!1!" lolzolz It's just a really awesome feeling to see a manuscript you love go from intern to agent to editor. I'll let you know more details when the galleys are out. Believe me, I can't wait to share this sizzling love triangle. And you know me--have I ever led you astray?!

After that, there was a panel at the Center for Fiction called "On the Well-Tempered Sentence," which was all about language. My favorite quote from the night was from author Gary Lutz about never using thesauruses. He said something to the effect that dictionaries and thesauruses should only be used to remember a word that has escaped you; however, you should never just plug in synonyms in your sentences, because you need to use your own line of thought to find your own word. The thesaurus, after all, reflects the thought process of someone else--it's already been done and it's just going to limit your writing. It's important then to make your own word and image associations to come up with something fresh.

I like that.

It reminds me of one of George Orwell's rules for writers: "Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print."

So. The crowd was mostly made up of Columbia MFA students and I ran out of business cards pretty fast. Can't wait for the next event!

In other news, I'm still struggling to come up with a photo and bio for our website. I should've gotten my professional photographer friend from San Francisco to take my pic when he visited the other weekend. I'm debating whether or not I should fly out there next week just so he can snap a photo of me that says HI-I-AM-A-VERY-NICE-AND-FRIENDLY-YET-FIERCE-AND-COMPETENT-AGENT-WHEN-IT-COMES-TO-CHAMPIONING-YOUR-WORK.

You might think I'm making a big deal out of a dumb photo, but consider this: A writer called me once to ask if he could send his query to a certain agent here. I replied that she doesn't normally handle that genre, so maybe he should send it to so-and-so instead. The writer answered that he's aware of that, but the agent looks so welcoming and friendly, that he wants to send his query to her anyway.

See? That's the kind of picture I need!

As for my bio, I figure it's like the agent's "query letter" to the author. It has to be just so. While brainstorming, Steve Ulfelder, author of PURGATORY CHASM, suggested I open with this gem: "Judith has seldom been convicted..."

Thanks, thanks a lot, Steve.



Shelley Watters October 7, 2010 at 3:01 PM  

Congratulations!!! *Happy dance for Jude!*

LOL @ Steve! Seldom...

I think you should try to work in "Literary agent by day, ninja by night" to your bio somewhere :)

What genres are you going to rep?

And once you're official, if you're interested, I'd love to interview you for Fabulous Friday Agent interview for my blog. Hopefully it'll help you find some great clients! (Because, you know, my readers are awesome...) :)

Sharon K. Mayhew October 7, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

I'm glad you had a good time last night. Great advice on using a Thesaurus...

Perception is everything...There are certain agents I would never query because I don't care for their "tone." They may be the most brilliant people on the planet, but I know who I am...I'm the type of person who will get on a plane and meet you for lunch before I decide if we are really right for each other. You want your bio and your photograph to portray who you are. When you look at my blog, you can see who I really am...(I've checked with non-virtual friends and they agree) You want your bio/photo to represent who you are...

Have a great rest of the week!

Sharon K. Mayhew October 8, 2010 at 12:40 AM  

Jude--My email is sharonkmayhew at gmail dot com.... You have your blog set where your email does not show, so I couldn't just reply to your question via email....

I wouldn't read your blog and comment on it if I didn't like your "tone." :-) I was just trying to encourage you to let your bio reflect who you are...

Kelly October 8, 2010 at 9:59 AM  

That sounds like an amazing event!
And how fun to get your photo professionally taken when you get a chance. I have been using cropped candid pictures on my blog and facebook. And my dad is a semipro photographer!!! (though he really is a nature photographer, but I'm sure he'd wouldn't mind photographing his daughter! I have so many great pics of my kids by him!) Hopefully one day I'll have a reason to have an author photo taken!
And interesting thoughts about the thesaurus. I find I use it when I write poetry, but not as much when I'm writing a story!

Christina Lee October 8, 2010 at 10:15 AM  

Hi there!

Yeah the whole photo thing is tough--which is probably why I still use an avatar image--ha!

I would totally jump on having professional photos taken!

lotusgirl October 8, 2010 at 11:59 AM  

I'd totally take your picture if I were there. I agree with Sharon that you want your image and bio to represent you and who you are--just in a professional way.

Lynda Young October 8, 2010 at 4:47 PM  

Sounds like you had a brilliant time that night. I like the advice about not relying on a thesaurus. It's the easy way out, but not necessarily the best.

Myrna Foster October 9, 2010 at 3:49 PM  

hehehe - I may have to check out Steve's book, though it doesn't sound funny.

My poetry professor told us not to use rhyming dictionaries either. It sounds like it was a great conference!

Shrinky October 10, 2010 at 6:36 AM  

I can feel the buzz of the evening still tingling through your veins! Sounds like you had a very worthwhile,and rewarding evening (smile). Good luck with the profile pic, though frankly, from the one posted on here, I imagine any photo you choose will project warmth and sincerity. And um (blush), truth be told, when I sent out my queries I bacame a total whore, so long as the person in question dealt in my gendre, even if their image screamed Vlad the Impaler, nothing turned me off..

Stina Lindenblatt October 10, 2010 at 7:56 PM  

OMG! I know the book you're talking about. I'm going to start reading it tonight. (Let's just say I'm going through an angel phase right now).

Too bad you don't live in the same city as me. I would do your photo for you. I'm doing an author photo for a friend of mine this week. She has a YA novel coming out next year. :D

Jude October 11, 2010 at 12:35 AM  

Stina, hmm I'm not sure if we're talking about the same book. The one I recommended that just got sold to Tor isn't out yet, and it's not an angel book. But as soon as galleys are out next year, I'm going to blog the crap out of it and let you know more :)!

And yes please! I'd be honored to have you photograph me.