GK, do you ever reject manuscripts because you think the author lied about having another offer?

Nope. If I suspect an author lied, it's generally because I don't understand another agent falling in love with the work. Therefore, I don't love it. So I say no, and would have anyway. If anything, the "I have an offer" note makes me think, "Great! I didn't love it, but it won't be my fault if no one takes it and it doesn't exist!"--and so, for me, it's an easier pass.

It's also very difficult to prove that no agent anywhere made an offer. It's not like I have every agent in the known universe on speed dial.

But it's interesting that you should ask. I've been receiving--and I asked, and other agents are too--a lot of "I have an offer!" notes that are much faster than the norm. When two of them were very similarly timed and almost word for word, I started getting a little suspicious: is there someone telling people, "To fake an offer, wait ___ days, then use this note"? I mean, I could tell you all about how to do that--but I don't think it's to anyone's benefit, in the long run.

Also, as much as I like playing gumshoe (unless it's gum-boot on the subway platform...uggh), it makes more sense for me to spend my time deciding whether I like a work than trying to decide if it's likely someone else loves it.

In other news, it's very possible that a lot of writers are receiving offers right now. There are so many agents--probably more than ever before--and, in that sense, it's a great time to be a writer.
Evil, evil, evil.

Check out this article about a site out to take advantage of writers.

Be careful out there.

GK's Thanksgiving, OR: "No one's going to hack mercilessly at your baby!"

Now, I have to preface this with a confession: I love Thanksgiving, and not for the tofurkey (though I find its fake skin rather clever)--but simply because I love having a kind greeting I can say to anyone without worry. Forget the December holiday season; I live in NYC and have a terrible time remembering/guessing what everyone celebrates (or if they celebrate anything at all). But Turkey Day has solved this dilemma for me, at least for November--I can tell everyone, from writers I don't know to lost tourists on the subway, "Happy Thanksgiving!"--and everything will be just fine.

Thanksgiving was a bit crazy this year--I traveled down to DC (Arlington, actually) to visit cousins, and we ended up having sixteen guests at dinner. My aunt brought DIY catapult kits for the kids (yeah...), my cousin brought two visiting Canadians ("That's so American," they kept saying to me--I think about my portion sizes--I like stuffing, okay?), and I brought won ton wrappers, to make raviolis out of the leftovers.

It went wonderfully. You can put just about anything in a won ton wrapper, wet the edges with your finger, fold it diagonally so it's a triangle, smash it with a fork around the edges, and gently boil it--and you'll have a delicious treat. The sweet potatoes with marshmallows were especially good--kind of like pumpkin-sage raviolis, minus the sage and pumpkin. And I was very pleased with my seven-year-old cousin, who made beautiful raviolis. Her parents seem to think of cooking as something one does out of obligation--to either impress other people or because one must eat, but not for fun--and I have a lot of hope in terms of convincing her that cooking can be a recreational activity. Next time I'm wealthy, I'm getting her some cooking classes.

But the best part, perhaps, was on the ride down. My cell rang, and I saw it was one of my authors, who'd just had a phone meeting with an editor. He's taking her to ed board, but wants her to cut the word count. She said she would, but she'd rather not--the work is--well, her baby, of course.

"I just don't want him to go hacking at it, if it can be helped," she said.

I'd been politely whispering, so as to go (mostly) unnoticed by my fellow passengers, but I felt badly for her--she was trying so hard to be okay with what she saw as a dramatic, inevitable change to her novel. And never mind that it has some serious thriller elements: "No one's going to hack mercilessly at your baby!" I cried. "Not if I can help it! And I can!"

That perked some ears and attracted some glares. Oh, GK. Public transit is public.  I keep thinking I could have, at the very least, phrased it more elegantly.

Lest you be worried about such things, editors always discuss their plans for editing your work before they buy it. There's no "Now the work is mine! I own it and can do anything I want with it! Wha ha ha ha haaa!" element to it. They want you to be happy. We (agents) want you to be happy. So we discuss these things ahead of time.

Also, generally, when they tell you to reduce word count, they leave it up to you to decide what to cut. They're not going to go through and do it for you unless it's a special situation--for example, you don't know what to cut and want their advice, or they weren't happy with your early chopping. Even then, you can ask for deleted scenes (not all but the ones most important to you) to be brought back. Again, it's much more work for the editor to do this him/herself--so you'll likely have power over what stays and what goes.

In other news, GK's inbox reached a number that I can't even retype for fear of having another "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" moment. Five days out of the office and I'm much more behind than usual. It always seems that I get a ridiculous amount of good work in the fall. Why? Not sure. But it's true.

Hope you're well and enjoyed your Thanksgiving. More soon after the leftovers run out, the tryptophan wears off, and the sheer volume of my inbox is somewhat less terrifying.

All best,
GK

Overheard at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America party

Yet another advantage to working in publishing: free food! And drinks! And parties!

Last night was the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America party, which was held--yes, I had my doubts, too--at the Planet Hollywood in Times Square. After wading through the requisite "Oh my gosh! There are screens everywhere! I must look at the screens!" crowds, we were escorted to the fourth floor, where a great spread was available--delicious vegetable spring rolls, "world famous" chicken (my meat-eating friend tells me it was very good), and various chopped veggies and dips. The bar was open and free; servers walked around with trays of red and white wines.

And, partway through the night, they put out some very good cookies. The peanut butter ones were excellent.

The space was nice, too--quieter seating areas, louder stand-and-talk areas, some places in between. We could look through a giant glass wall to the floor below, and there were screens flashing pictures from parties years ago. So, yes. The hosts knew what they were doing.

At events such as this, I just can't restrain myself: I love asking questions and hearing stories about peoples' lives. And listening, too. Some of these occurred while I was walking by and happened to hear (which I did several times, to replenish my supply of delicious spring rolls); some were direct questions from GK herself.

Ever seen Overheard in New York? Yeah. This is Overheard at a Publishing Party.

Here are some snippets:

(Asked of editors): What are you looking for?
"Graphic novels. But anything, really."
"Big thrillers, and small crime books."
"Dark fantasy."
"Sci fi/fantasy, but more on the fantasy side."

An editor on following their house's rules about submissions (for example, if an agent can send one project to two editors if they're at different imprints):
"Yeah, well, we pretty much enforce those only when it's to our benefit." [GK's note: I'm not sure this is true, but this is what this one editor said.]
"Really? What about that rule that says, 'If one editor rejects it, no one else is allowed to read it'?"
"If an editor at one imprint likes it but thinks it's better for another editor, they'll pass it on."
"In theory."
"In theory. We know each other's tastes really well."
"How many people are there in your imprint?"
"Ten."
"Oh. That makes sense."

On a "big six" house's new method of enforcing aforementioned rules:
"They have a database. I'm not even kidding. The minute you send in a submission, they log it in so everyone can see it and see who has it."

From a woman who looks like an ordinary mother:
"I have two three-book deals, and a stand-alone novel. The second series is one I started writing when I was worried the first one wouldn't [get an agent/sell]. I quit my job [it was something like computer programming] because I have so much writing to get done." She also had a framed picture of the cover of her second book, which her editor just gave her yesterday. It's beautiful. 

Where are you from originally?
"Cape Town."
"A small town outside Vancouver."
"Ventura, California."
"DC. Took the train up this morning."

How'd you get into the industry?
"I moved to New York for another job, and that fell through. A friend told me about an assistant position. At that point I was willing to try anything, and...it worked out." 

On being an agent and writing:
An agent: "I have most of a novel finished."
"Whoa--really?!"
"Yup. I used NaNoWriMo as my own personal editing month."
"You realize they have something like that in March?"
"Yup. Are you writing anything?"
"Yeah. [A garbled description that ends in ________ meets ________...and the world is ending]."
"I'd totally read that."

On agents blogging badly:
"You read these agent blogs that say things like, I can't sell anything! The market sucks! I hate my life! I can't afford air conditioning!--and then, next thing you know, they're blogging to say they're leaving the industry."
"Yeah. It's like being an actor. You have to love it."
"Perhaps it's good that the ones who don't really want to be in the industry are leaving."
"Yeah, maybe."

On agent job satisfaction:
"I hate those agents who are like, 'Whyyyyyy didn't I go to law school?!'"
"Yeah. Like, why don't you?" 


On (another) big six's editors:
"Is it just me, or are they all super nice in person--and then really rude over email? Like _________. She was SO nice, and then..."
"Not just you! In fact..." [a story follows that's both amusing and...well, makes that editor look bad though, in all fairness, the "you have a best friend for an hour" feel of some editor lunches leaves a lot of room for awkwardness.]

On Connecticut real estate: 
"Yes, there are parts of Connecticut that are very nice. It's great where I live, but it's getting there. I'll probably get home at 2 am, and I don't exactly want to be at that train station that late. I'm going to call my husband and talk with him all the way to the car."


On being single at a wedding:
"I seriously borrowed my sister's baby and walked around with her, so people wouldn't keep asking me why I'm not married."
"That's a really good idea."

On e-book royalties:
"There's no way they can afford to give more than 25 percent. You realize, of course, that that money isn't just for e-books--it's to support the print side of the industry, too." --An agent

On the industry:
"We're going to have another lean year, and then everything will be fine. People forget about how much money there is to be made [with royalties]." --An agent with her own (successful) agency

Awesome.

Yup. Express service to Hogwart's, platform 9 3/4, from NYC's Union Square.
I don't know who did this, but I like them.
See the piece about it here

Need something to stall/pep you up/distract you/calm you down while writing?

Hulu now has free yoga videos. That's right: write a scene, do fifteen minutes (or until the ad), write some more. No Lululemon products needed. Pajamas will do.

And, if you're a Manhattanite, this conveniently avoids the need to fight for prime mat space at Yoga to the People. Only in Manhattan (I hope) are there yoga studios where your space is literally your mat and just above it--move one inch outside, and you'll likely hit someone in the face. And yes, there are often threats ("That's my mat!" or "I was here first! That's my spot!") and occasional pushing. Namaste!

Covering Your Track(ed Change)s

Tip of the day: If you're writing, say, historical fiction, and having someone with, say, greater historical knowledge than you go through the document and note points where your novel is inaccurate--it's a good idea to  make sure that all of these comments don't show up in Tracked Changes when you send your manuscript to an agent.

To avoid this embarrassment, read this little article on deleting tracked changes.

Yes. You really do have to do this, or--even if you can't see them--the next reader might.

Cheers!,
GK
See? We've got a little while longer. :)

Another dystopian YA trilogy gets a half-million dollar book contract, plus a movie deal


If (Romeo and) Juliet had had a sassy gay friend.

Not child-appropriate, and certainly offensive in many circles.

But also, to GK, rather amusing.

Lessons from a Reading

Should you ever be in the position of giving a reading, book talk, or other author appearance, it's important to keep in mind that you're something of a public figure, and anything you say can quickly become a matter of public record.

With that in mind, here are some lessons from a real, bestselling author's reading this week (identifying details omitted to protect the author):
  1. Nervous + drinking = clumsy and nervous. I know you get free drinks from the venue. That's great. But don't have more than one until you're off the stage. If you're freaked out, alcohol will not help, and can cause problems. 
  2. If your book is printed in small type, print out your own version in larger font. 
    1. Don't want to do your own typing? Pay someone. Wouldn't you rather spend $20 to not trip over the text?
    2. Though the author didn't do this, it also wouldn't be good to say, "Sorry, can't read this! This was printed in ridiculously small type, wasn't it?" Someone from your publisher is likely to be at your reading. Be gracious.
  3. You're there to be the character of your author, not just someone who stands up, says Hi, reads from a book, and leaves. A few choice anecdotes about your process can really help. 
    1. You can re-use these. No worries. 
    2. A shout-out to the locals will always go well. Mention something famous in their neighborhood and you'll be instantly popular. Make time to go visit something nearby before your talk and comment about how good it is. 
      1. The author did do this. It went great.
  4. Remember that anything you say can end up on the internet. 
  5. Don't say rude things about other authors. 
Take a few tips from celebrities. You know how most stars never say anything negative? "How's the movie going?" "Great!" "How are your co-stars?" "Amazing! I love working with them!" "How's the director?" "A genius!" "How are your fans?" "I'm so grateful!" 

Do we necessarily believe it? No. But it's much better to say something positive and vague than to say something negative and true. 

Here's how not to do it (unless, perhaps, the press people thought a mini-scandal would help? I doubt it):

Question from the audience: "How do you feel about [author with opposing viewpoint]"? 

Author: "He's a douchebag." Followed by a number of unflattering comments and a few four-letter descriptions of him and his work.  

GK's jaw dropped. Literally. 

Granted, the author in question does have a negative reputation among edit-staffers. But that's something that's (sort of) okay to say within the industry, but not okay to say at a reading. For all this author knows, his relatives/publicists/edit-staffers were in the audience. The news will probably get back to him.

So, let's recap:
  1. Stay positive.
  2. Don't drink more than one drink before the reading.
  3. Be pleasant and warm. Be a real human being. If you show yourself to be pleasant and human, the audience will forgive any stuttering, tripping, clumsiness and/or nervousness. 
Great! Go get 'em!
How can vampires last for years and dystopian last for like... three months?! Woe.
  1. Vampires last forever, unless you stake them. 
  2. Dystopian societies tend to either blow themselves up or include members that eventually take them down.
  3. I don't think they're over yet.

Dystopias, burgers, trends, timing and--yes, again--leggings.

After a lovely night out with agent friends (lovely, that is, until the lounge was taken over by a comedian with gems like, "There's no 'I' in 'fail'!" and "So, he asked me why I had a penguin sticker on my car. I said, because I like cars AND penguins!"--but this proved the perfect excuse to move to a location with excellent burgers and, for GK, fries and onion rings with amazing batter), I have news to report that, well, you were probably expecting all along:

1) GK is a fan of the very long, usually-but-not-always properly punctuated* sentence, and

2) Trends are largely subjective and very difficult to time and predict.

Now, surely many of you have heard that dystopias (especially in YA) are/were enjoying a great deal of success.

Our book scout was telling us, about two months ago, that they were all the rage (at which point I sent out one of my own, which I'd already acquired weeks before. I got one of the most enthusiastic receptions ever--way beyond the usual, "Great, can't wait to read this!"

A week ago, an agent we know told us, "Uggh, the dystopia's over! Don't even try!"

Another wrote that she loves dystopias, but "the market's about to be glutted." (Which sounds to GK like, "I'm not going to eat this delicious burger because, in three days, it will be old and stale"--but, well, you know.) Yes, probably--in fact most assuredly, that market will be glutted--but I think there's a bit more time.

When I brought this up last night, everyone said, "Really? They think they're over already?! No..."

In other words, even within the industry there is often disagreement with regard to what is trendy, new, exciting--and what is old and stale and will have to wait until the trend becomes really unpopular, then is totally abandoned, and then comes up again (like leggings).**

What does all this mean, in GK's mind? Write what you love. If you write to the trends, the window of opportunity is often both narrow and fast-moving.

To make another leggings analogy (can't help it; the women of New York seem to have adopted a uniform of belted long sweaters, leggings, and knee-high boots), if you're going to invest a lot in a piece--whether it's a year or more writing, or a lot of money in designer duds--choose something you'll love for years. Don't choose something just because everyone's wearing/writing it and you think your friends will like it. It may be "over" before the season's out.

Even if you manage to hit it just right, it isn't timing that sells a book (though, of course, it can help)--but heart, and authenticity, and excellent writing.

__________________________________
* GK spent a fair amount of time wondering if there should be a hyphen. After all, wouldn't that be ironic? To have "properly punctuated" improperly punctuated?

** I know they keep coming up, but GK found them weird both times around. They're comfy, yes, but aren't they better as an extra layer against the cold--under, say, real pants? Okay, there are a few exceptions, and they do look good on some people, but I still find them strange. At least the stirrup pants aren't back. Later note: shoot, they are. Current faith in fashion = further diminished.

A Pep Talk from Aimee Bender

Most of you know that I heart Aimee Bender--so much so that, even though I don't find her work anywhere near "perfect," I love it anyway. (I was gushing about The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake all summer.)

So, in many ways, she's the perfect person to write a NaNoWriMo pep talk.

With thanks to A., my brilliant intern (who is bravely tackling NaNoWriMo--and she's actually ahead of her word count schedule! Wooooooot!) here's Ms. Bender's NaNoWriMo pep talk.

And yes, it applies to anyone writing any kind of fiction.

Enjoy! And then go explore your anthill.

This is a fun, fabulous insider's view of life in NYC.

And the "four cups of coffee a day is totally normal" thing? Totally true.

Is it worth resubmitting the full manuscript if I changed only one chapter?

Hi GK!
It's awesome of you to give an inside look into the life of an agent. My writing partner and I are so entralled by everything you get to experience, we've thought of a storyline featuring you as the MC! "The Adventures of GK!" Kidding...or am I? :) 


I'm actually writing because I was hoping you could answer a question for me. If someone were to have a full out with an agent, and they overhauled their first chapter, but not much else, would this be reason enough to send an updated version to the agent? Or do you think one chapter wouldn't make or break an agent's decision to offer representation?

Hi!
Yes, I think that's enough of a difference that you should resubmit. That's the first thing the agent sees--it's possible (though, one would hope, unlikely) that a full could get rejected after the agent reads the first few pages. And it's not like the agent will (as sometimes happens to me) sit there thinking, "I know this is a revision, but what's the difference?" The difference will be obvious. So, yes. Go for it. Make sure everything is just so and and follow the instructions here.

Now, if you had changed a chapter in the middle that wasn't a pivotal scene, I don't think you need to say anything. If you change the end, perhaps send an email that says you've changed the ending, give a short description (a line or two) about the difference, and ask if they'd like to see it.

It's not so much that I think you'll annoy an agent--though I suppose some may be annoyed; do a quick Google search to see if they're quoted saying, "I hate resubmissions more than rudeness, comma splices and phone calls put together!"--but I think this is unlikely. It's more a tactical decision. You only get one of these before you get into "start thinking about writing a very gracious email to smooth things over" territory, so use it wisely.

While we're on the subject, a writer submitted a revision to me this morning and gave me a list of page numbers where I could find the new passages. Very helpful. Gold star.



I think "The Adventures of GK" would be an excellent cartoon or comic strip. :) Can I have magical powers? I'd like the following, in order of preference:

  1. Safe, instant self-transportation
  2. Excellent psychic abilities--imagine how much more quickly query/manuscript reading would go!
  3. Flying, aircraft-free (though perhaps with free tomato juice) for fun and profit. I'd probably need a very thick sweater to avoid being flash-frozen.

All best wishes,
GK

P.J. Clarke's, the use of Courier--and leggings are not pants.

GK received an impromptu invitation last night--as is common in Manhattan; knowing that one's friends are likely working within a two-mile (or twenty minutes on the train) radius leads to many  last-minute invites--to P.J. Clarke's, one of the bars featured in Mad Men.

And my friend "happened" to be dressed like Peggy Olson.

You can tell how old it is when you go in--the bar is well-weathered, there are interior stained glass details, and it manages to be very cozy and warm on, say, the first day of hail (yes, hail!--though it's gone up to 53 again today) for the season. Drinking the house sidecar (which involved the bartender setting the lemon briefly on fire before throwing it into my friend's drink) and a gin and tonic, we were amazed by how very Mad Men-esque the place still felt--many professional men, few women, discussions about investments and stock portfolios and contracts and trains to the suburbs.

Yes. The perfect amount of civilized: no New Yorker logo man posture; no monocles; no hushed voices--or spilled drinks, yelling, or pushing, either. The people on our left ordered oysters; the people on our right ordered beer and watched the game--and both parties were perfectly happy.

Soon--odds being in our favor--two well-dressed young men approached my friend and me, inquired about our beverages, locations, jobs.

"Do you make people send you everything in courier?" one asked.

It's a fair question. A number of New Yorkers still think of writers as people who sit in their West Village apartments with typewriters, looking down on bohemians and lively street scenes below. It's been many years since that was the case (or since writers without trust funds could afford Village digs), but it's a pleasant image, and has stuck.

Here's the truth of the matter, though: I have never once taken on a project that came to me in Courier. Does this mean that I won't? Of course not! It's just a coincidence that I find amusing.

Does this mean fonts matter? No, not really: with a few CTRL-As and CTRL-Ds, it's taken care of, and I hardly remember.

I think it's more the personality type that sometimes goes with the font.

My friend (yes, the one dressed as Peggy Olson) mentioned that it's a great font for proofreading, since all of the letters (and therefore the errors) become quite large. So, yes. Maybe that will help you in proofreading, and not help you during submissions.

But I think most writers (especially those reading blogs, especially YA writers) are very--well--of the moment, even if it's because they have teenage children (who inevitably are surprised that their mother or father is cool enough to write for teens, but that's another matter). Courier has been out of fashion, in my mind, for years. And, unlike leggings (again: they're not pants!), I think it will stay out of fashion.

Again, would anyone ever reject you for your font? No. And, just to be clear, if we had a meeting with you, I wouldn't reject you for fanny packs, overalls, disco wear, poodle skirts or whatever else you like. I'd probably think it was cool. No worries.

You can imagine the strange questions I've gotten about my work over the years ("Do you enjoy rejecting people?" "Do you hate writers?" "Do you wish you could just never read again?" "Do you get a lot of paper cuts?"--No, no, no, and yes--occupational hazard). Surely you must have some too.

Ask away, fellow writers--anonymously, if you like. The weirdest agent life questions you can think of. GK will be pleased and amused, no g&t necessary.

Today's beverage is yet another French press coffee. On cold days, I can't get enough.

Does this means it's okay to squeal and scream when *I* get The Call?

It's nice to know agents get excited as authors do!

A question: does this means it's okay to squeal and scream when I get the call?

Don't think you're the only one: agents can also get really excited on the occasion of the "Yes, you're the one!" phone call (or email). It varies by project and situation, but for me, there's always at least some grinning (sometimes for the rest of the day) involved. And I've certainly seen (well, heard) editors have similar reactions--once, when I called up an editor and told her she was the one we'd chosen, I could literally hear her bouncing in her seat. She's been in love with the book, and telling everyone about it, for months. It's been a more-than-perfect fit (for that author, book, editor and house) ever since.

Don't imagine us sitting in skyscrapers and thinking of your work as mere (e-)paper. We're not sitting at our computers granite-faced, sporting to-do lists like, "Go to gym, darn socks, pick up dry cleaning, get client, buy oranges"--and not just because few people bother to darn socks these days--but, instead, falling in love with your characters, stories, ideas.

I think it's probably best to be as professional as you can manage--will I feel anything but joy for you if you, say, sound like you're jumping around on a couch, popping a bottle of champagne, dropping to your knees in thanks and shrieking--all at once? Are you kidding? I'm glad you're so happy! I know how hard it is to get an agent--I see the huge numbers of rejections our office sends every day--and yes, it's rare and wonderful to get representation, which certainly, in my mind, justifies a great rush of sudden happiness. You've accomplished something special.

I mean, really, it doesn't matter--you have the agent; he/she isn't going to rescind the offer if you're "too happy" to receive it. But, like all communication, it can set a tone--so don't sound bored ("Um, okay, I guess I can have an agent"); don't sound impatient ("Geez, finally someone sees that my work is genius! Guess you're not a total idiot!")--be authentic, be pleased and gracious, but try not to shriek at terribly high pitches. We need our hearing for our other clients, too. :)

As promised, GK's (very much belated) Halloween

This post is a few days in the making for a few reasons (and, yes, these are exactly the sort of disclaimers for which one gets charged fifty cents--each--in some writing groups):

1) Halloween is a very big deal in NYC. Some say it's our answer to Mardi Gras. I'm not a huge proponent of the parade, which makes it impossible to get anywhere quickly--though the costumes and floats are often very clever. But there are so many events throughout the city, it's often hard to choose.

2) The internet is down at Chez GK. It will be for another week. Time Warner's monopoly for Brooklyn has them insisting it's normal for it to go out (for a week!) every other month. GK has told them all about people she knows in the mountains, with snow drifts and falling trees, who have better service. Time Warner laughed (through a phone line stretching to another country, surely) and asked if I could take off work next week to be home for a repair person. Grrrrr.

3) This was a very big week for GK. At the end of the week before last, after a great phone conversation, a sought-after author e-mailed to tell GK that she would be the agent of choice. (Squee! Squee! Hyperventilation! Celebratory chocolate!) Now. This had me jumping around the office (most assuredly terrifying a rather stoic intern) going,  "[Book title] is mine! [Book title] is mine!" My boss came running in, thinking I'd seen a mouse or something. I'm not generally prone to breaking "inside voice" rules.

Now. Because of a variety of circumstances, the book had to go out that week. Last Friday, in fact. So everything had been shoved off the desk in favor of getting this amazing work out. Yes. I was up past midnight for two days reading it. I made everyone in the office read it. I blathered on about it to friends twice yesterday. I posted about amazingly creative ways the hardcore (yet very justified) young female protagonist kills people on my Facebook page. Can't get enough.

I've never taken on a work, done several rounds of edits with the author, and sent it out within a seven-day period. It was awesome and thrilling.

Anyway. Halloween. Here you go.

Yes, this is a pumpkin burger--from the very awesome MAKE blog

Halloween started, for GK, the weekend before--at a party in a warehouse converted into rent-controlled studios for artists, welders, writers and performance artists. Local artists had carved many pumpkins, and there were various oddities--it seems popular, lately, to bring elements of the country (like pig butchery demonstrations, rooftop beekeeping, and--in this case--hay bales and a wooden petting zoo) into the city. Great fun.

The night before Halloween, GK went to a house party thrown by a friend from school. She'd invested in scary-looking candelabras and ghosts with light-up eyes. The featured drink was a new cocktail our hostess says is all the rage in Paris--called, I believe, the martini bikini (yes, it's pink):
  • Splash of rose syrup
  • Splash of lychee liqueur
  • 1.5 oz Ketel One, straight from the freezer
  • Fill the rest of the martini glass with Fresca, straight from the fridge. Stir gently. Serve cold.
Halloween itself, I went to the Edward Hopper show at the Whitney (which is truly fabulous, should you be in town), went for a drink at the Flatiron Lounge (very pretty--and quite reasonable, if you order beer!), then went to a jazz show at The Blue Note. It took about half an hour to go two blocks--that's how crazy the parade's crowd was.

Imagine GK trying to take an elegant out-of-town guest (a family member still not convinced living in the city is a great idea) of 60+ years through a dark, costumed, drunken version of Times Square (with about triple the density--there was no way to not brush against people as you passed them). 

At one point, two women started yelling at each other a few people away from us--the situation is frustrating, given that there are barricades on every block, and the rules keep changing about where you can cross, so I'm surprised we didn't see more of that.

I explained later that I knew they probably weren't going to hit anyone, and if they did, they'd hit each other, so I wasn't particularly worried. But imagine yourself trying to explain this to a (very polite about it) senior citizen and devoted suburbanite. GK was rattled. My guest was rattled, and probably quite tired of being shoved by the crowd--though she was too kind to say so. Not an ideal situation. 

We arrived in one piece--barely--after convincing one of the policemen to let us through the barricade (only after they checked our tickets and questioned us). 

Now, this is the part that requires explanation.

In GK's mind, there are two extremes of jazz shows: 
  • The ones that have patrons with posture like the man in the New Yorker logo (monocle not included), who sip exorbitantly expensive glasses of wine or Scotch, maintain a golf-like hush during performances, and only break this behavior to murmur things like, "Hmm, yes, excellent, quite" and to gently tap between four and six of their fingertips together at the completion of each solo. Each performance is just like the one before it--and, thus, the group praises itself for being "consistent."
  • The shows where almost everyone in the audience is standing and dancing, the band's having a blast, the neighbors are probably calling the police complaining about noise for the fifth time that week, the musicians are dancing around (sometimes in the audience), the bass players do tricks like spin the bass when possible, everyone's yelling support for the band and clapping until their hands itch, the drinks are reasonably priced, even if there's a minimum--and every show is very different, because the musicians think of music as something that's living. 
Happily, the show was about here on that spectrum:

Formal/quiet/stodgy ---------------------------------X-------Super fun

The band was dressed up in Ghost Busters outfits. They employed someone to dress up as a ghost and run around the audience. We were on our feet for most of the performance. At one point, the trombone player did a few bars of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game"--and someone in the audience yelled, "Go Giants!"*--which the rest of the crowd loved

So, yes. We had a blast. Definitely up there with GK's top three Halloweens.

Now that we're, you  know, a week into November and you've probably moved on to other things--um, what did you do? 

___________________________
* GK seconds this sentiment. Several friends from home are going to a parade in San Francisco today. 
NaNoWriMo: Great idea or good idea or bad idea or abysmal idea?

Aside from the creative, esteem, enjoyability, etc. benefits of writing fast, have you or do you know any agents who have represented a novel born of NaNo? Or do the words, "P. S.: I wrote this in under a month!" set you cringing?

And your readers (at least this one) would really appreciate a post about what you're doing for Halloween as it's bound to be exciting I'm sure (see how I applied the car rental trick there?)

Very clever. Tell you what.

Tell me about your NaNoWriMo plans/experiences, and I'll tell you about what I did for Halloween. I'd like to know if you planned everything for the novel ahead of time, if you stuck to a strict "___ pages/words a day" policy, if you attended events, and if you ended up writing things like, I don't know what to write, I don't know what to write, gee I'd like some Cocoa Krispies.

Also tell me if you wrote in notebooks or on laptops, if you wrote on public transit, in coffee shops, in mornings, at night, while eating, while watching television, etc. Tell me if you told everyone you know, or kept it a secret.

Like with everything, I think NaNoWriMo is great for some writers, not great for others.

In general, yes, I do worry if the writer seems to have written the work in a month without doing extensive revisions--so, if you're submitting in December or January, I may be concerned. I don't think it will earn you more points to mention that your work is a product of NaNoWriMo. It's going to come down to the quality of the work, as it always does.