Sunday, January 25, 2009

PHC Meta-Update | Agents, Allergies, and the Awesomeness of Experts

Thanks to McKoala's cleverness, the Public Humiliation Challenge updates are now sequestered to the sidebar. Huzzah! Your Google Reader shall be spammed no more! Of course, the B. S. Haiku will also be rarer. Yes, I'm sure you're all crushed.

I have also included links to the PHC badges, since I made them and am geekily proud of them. Feel free to snarfle these if you wish to join the challenge. (And come on; lookit dat oochy-coochy koala--don't you want to join just to have her on your sidebar?)


I had my first drink in fifteen years on Wednesday. That makes it sound like I'm an alcoholic who has just fallen off the wagon, but the truth is a margin weirder and not at all alarming. I stopped drinking alcohol because it made me feel sick--but a lot of things were making me sick at the time.

In my mid-twenties, I started having health issues with my gut (the less said, the better), and a series of invasive and uncomfortable medical tests left me,
1) still not knowing what was wrong, and
2) disinclined to go see any more doctors.

About ten years later, it was getting to the point I didn't see how I could continue living normally, i.e. hold down a job, etc., if I didn't get this sorted out. I wasn't in good shape.

A gentle and understanding GP sent me to a very smart GE specialist, who didn't put me through the painful tests again, but instead examined all the evidence and then gave me the most helpful "I can't help you" statement I've ever heard. He said, "I don't know what this is. Try an allergist."

Even now, I'm shocked at how quickly my years-long trouble wrapped itself up. The allergist listened to my woes, prescribed a medication and--with a few caveats--I've been fine ever since. I am so damned grateful for this.

Now to swing it all around to writing: When Nathan Bransford was on the Book Roast this past week, it gave me another opportunity to think kind thoughts at the man. As you might know, if Nathan rejects your query, you can email him and give him permission to critique it on his blog, and he might decide to do so.

He did this for me, and that experience had a lot in common with, "I don't know what this is. Try an allergist." At the time, hearing what Nathan had to say made me pretty unhappy, but it also sorted out my problems fast. I rewrote the opening scene of my novel and had an offer from my agent, Eleanor Wood of Spectrum Literary Agency, as soon as she finished reading the full. I had racked up about 25 rejections, with only one request for a partial, prior to that. Nathan? I am so damned grateful for that critique.

Publishing can move pretty slowly. It's been almost a year since I signed on with my agent, so although I don't believe in posting details unless there's real news, I thought I'd give you an update on the book. Last I heard, there are two editors interested, but they both have to get an okay from higher up in the company before they can make an offer. Given the state of the publishing industry in today's economy, nothing is certain, but keep your fingers crossed for me!

Having my first belt of rum in fifteen years was not, in fact, correlated with the above; I just wanted to see if I could do it. It's taken me a while to get braver about trying things I know used to cause me pain, but I am getting there.

Hard liquor still tastes really bad, however. Pity I'm still allergic to wine and beer. If and when my book sells, I shall toast that fact with chocolate!


Aerin said...

When it sells, J. Definitely "when" and not "if".

(Though if you ever want to try, just pop on over and I will make you the most fantastic chocolate martini in the country.)

Heather said...

Totally agree with Aerin's "when" not "if"...

You know that post you made awhile back about our family and our oddness of "knowing" things... well, I just caught myself earlier today thinking about how Rob is a published game programmer and how you are a published author... so WHEN not if!

pjd said...

Oh, crud. I knew Nathan was coming up, but I missed him? I thought it was next week. Damn. That's what I get for having a Day Job and keeping my bills paid.

"Try an allergist" may become my new motto. New mottos... how bourgeois.

I am, to be honest, terribly disappointed in the reduction of BS haiku. But I wasn't sure how you could keep up both the volume and quality pretty much forever. Because, like the War on Terror, there was no definition of the end point, right? Anyway, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to use "try an allergist" in a BS haiku. It's 5 syllables, so you just need to come up with the other two lines...

and no fair using

"try an allergist"
it's become my new motto
new mottos... how bourgeois

PS: that's quite a story about your health thing. It must have been a tremendous relief when something started working.

Sepiru Chris said...


Great news must be coming down the pike...

I want to buy one of the first ten copies (with an inscription...)

Thinking of what you wrote, I thought of combining the ideas, PJD beat me, but here is my idea...

Try an allergist...
They clean the hard to reach teeth.
The Crocodile smirks.


Sarf's Travels. said...

Well sis is there a link to this critique?

You know your family still has no clue what the book is about....

You know it would have made a good x-mass gift :Þ

Inquiring Relatives want to know :)

McKoala said...

Two editors? Very cool. Keep us updated, hope that they end up in a huge bidding war etc.!

Virginia Lady said...

Good luck with the editors. And chocolate is definitely better to celebrate with!

jjdebenedictis said...


(Okay, I admit I have that reaction to anything with chocolate in it, but a chocolate martini sounds awesome! Thank you very much for both the offer and the kind words.)

Heather: I'm holding you to that! :-D Let's hope your family "tingle" has it right. Thanks for the encouragement!

PJD: Oh, I doubt the quality of my haiku will ever change much...

Try an allergist
Is a really tricky prompt
You're a crafty one

Will this undo me?
Will PJD laugh at me?
No--I must prevail

*deep breath*

Surgeons are stringy
For a tender cut of meat
Try an allergist

(And yes, finally sorting out what the issue was, and getting a fix for it too, was a huge relief--for both me and El Husbando.)

Chris: I'm resolutely refusing to get excited until there's a deal, but I am hopeful.

Awesome haiku! And thanks for the linky-love on your latest post; I'm so pleased PJD has sucked you in too! :-D

Sarf: Yes, there's a link, and no, I'm not giving it to you! (neener, neener; heh, heh. I'm such an evil sis.)

You can search Nathan's blog if you're really curious, but I rewrote that scene, so it's no longer part of the book (and I'm kinda embarrassed about it now.)

The query letter I sent to Eleanor Wood can be found here. That contains as good a summary of the plot as I'm likely to let anyone pry out of me for now. :-)

Er, so how's Iceland? Y'know, with the government collapsing and all... D-:}

McKoala: In this economic climate? I should be so lucky! Hopefully one of them offers; that's all I ask...

Virginia Lady: Thank you so much, and I do agree! Not only does chocolate taste better, but it's harder to poison yourself with it (although, sadly, not impossible.)

Josh said...

Fingers definitely crossed. Sorry to hear about all the allergy problems, but yes indeedy, chocolate is a nice curative.

jjdebenedictis said...

Josh: Thanks! The allergy issues are being manageable, so I count myself lucky.

Especially since I can still eat chocolate. OM NOM NOM.

Stephe said...

*fingers crossed to where they hurt*

writtenwyrdd said...

For me, it was undiagnosed sleep apnea. It's nice to have a diagnosis and have proof you're not crazy or imagining things; but it's even better to feel normal!

I am glad to hear your book is at least wanted, and hope that the winds of publishing fate blow in your favor! :)

Marjorie said...

re: JR's blog post about that query letter:

She won't publish my comments because I am not a "groupie" and I was spot on with regard to my opinion.
She was mean-spirited and unprofessional.
This is what I wrote that she won't publish:

"Still my comments have not been published?
It was not my intention to hit a nerve. I wanted to share my opinion because I am not a "groupie." I was truthful regarding a perceived anger and an appearance of unprofessionalism in the post.
Where in the workday do you have time for (mean-spirited) nonsense on a computer in a blog such as discussing other agents and ridiculing authors' queries (real queries or those perhaps submitted in jest)? It is not funny; it seems like juvenile activity wrapped in eloquent verbosity.
Get busy doing the job! Nose in the book, and when you sign-on... wear mittens!
You may not publish this, but you will read it and my hope is that you give consideration to the message. That's enough for me."

She embarrassed the guy and I felt sorry for him. How do you think he will feel if it was not in jest and he sees that post?

jjdebenedictis said...

Stephe: Thank you! :-D

Writtenwyrdd: Oh, it totally is a relief to finally have a diagnosis. My first go-around with the doctors involved some of them hinting I was hypochondriac. Grr...

Marjorie: I really do empathize with the frustration of not getting to have your say, but responding like this only makes you look unprofessional--not her.

The internet is big, and you can choose to not care what any one particular person thinks--if someone's being a nincompoop, then just walk away from the discussion It's way easier on the blood pressure! :-)

(You're also unlikely to "fix" the person, so it saves you wasting your energy.)

Marjorie said...

re: "Marjorie: I really do empathize with the frustration of not getting to have your say, but responding like this only makes you look unprofessional--not her."

This is not about me not getting to have my say. It's not about me. It is about that blog post. I don't have to be professional. I am a 62 year old retired teacher and I also do stand-up comedy in NYC comedy clubs. I don't work anymore. I am not a literary agent using a blog to ridicule queries. The poor guy tried to impress her and she embarrassed him. There is something so wrong and juvenile about that agenda. I feel sorry for the poor guy.

I am retired and that gives me the space to be honest. Also, I don't need her approval and I am not her groupie.

I appreciate your advice. I do. I like that I stated my opinion. I hate lemmings. Her agenda is wrong in my opinion and even if she does not post my comments, she read them and that is good enough for me.

Carrie Harris said...

Good luck with those editors. It's always nice to read about someone else in submission purgatory and realize that I'm not the only one going through this. :)

I'm allergic to wine too, but I'll happily toast your success with chocolate when the time comes.

jjdebenedictis said...

Carrie Harris: Thank you, and good luck to you also! May you have opportunity to break out the chocolate on your own behalf soon!

Sepiru Chris said...

Hello OxyJen,

I wanted to say thank you for your e-additions to the e-world...


I have given you an award here:

No need, though, to do anything at all. I just wanted to thank you publicly.

(Sepiru) Chris

jjdebenedictis said...

Chris: *points to next post* Thank you too!

Pageloads since 01/01/2009: