On check-ins--that necessary, uncomfortable, "Hi, how're you doing on that manuscript?" not-so-evil

Here's what happens when you check in:
  1. I forward your email, if it comes to one of the other accounts, to the account for manuscripts.
  2. I forward the conversation with your manuscript to manuscript e-mail again, so it's at the top and more visible.
  3. The conversation gets bright yellow "Checked in" tag.
  4. In most cases, I add the e-mail address of the writer to my calendar, so I get a little notification if I haven't been in touch within two weeks of the check-in.
  5. Also, in most cases, I get back with some variant of, "Oh! Yes! Cool! I'll be in touch soon!"--that said, I get a lot of emails, and there are certainly some that don't get this friendly reply--but I do read them and make a mental note.
Here's what doesn't happen when you check in (these from the worries writers have expressed to me):
  1. I think, "Uggh, I hate this writer! Why won't s/he leave me alone?"
  2. I think, "Oh, geez. This person will be hard to work with." 
  3. I write back, "LEAVE ME ALONE! CAN'T YOU SEE I'M BUSY?!"
  4. I think: "I hope this writer has a day job."
In general, so long as you're nice about it and don't email, say, all the time, I'm thankful for check-ins. 

After all, you have one (or perhaps two) manuscripts to keep track of. 

But I have more than a hundred. At all times. And I get several hundred emails about manuscripts every day.

Here is my preferred check-in schedule--though do note that a lot of agents have different preferences (some--probably those with file folders with neatly typed labels and otherwise color-coded desks--don't like them at all):
  1. One check-in when the standard response time has elapsed.
  2. One check-in every two weeks thereafter, until you get a response (rejection or request for phone meeting).

Do I occasionally get check-ins, especially if it's a day with a lot of them (eight yesterday), and feel like a jerk/person who may as well have an avalanche for a desk/severely coffee-deficient? 

Yes. But I promise I won't take it out on you. Or your work. 
Raising Elijah is amazing so far. I keep talking about it, which is, to me, a very good sign.

And I've been marking passages with hair pins--which will give you an idea of how much I liked them (I was out of post-it flags--and, happily, only got a few strange looks on the subway).

So. More soon. And it would appear that Amazon is letting you purchase the title now, though its official release date isn't for a few days.

Dude, GK. Where ARE you?

I'm still here! I'm going on a little "It's almost spring, so I'm getting my last bit of hibernation out of the way!" break. This involves a yoga binge, giving up television, choosing to write by hand more often, dodging a lot of invites (and there are so many, now that it's warm), dreaming of the first picnic of the season, and--strangest of all--giving up caffeine beyond green tea.

And falling in love with a manuscript. I've been doing that too. It's amazing how that happens. I'd love someone to do a test and see if all of the chemicals related to love--dopamine, oxytocin--are coursing through my surprisingly undercaffeinated veins.

I was sitting up in my office, yesterday, making little sounds--my boss apparently picked up my empty plate and took it away, and I didn't notice--and I kept making "Oh! Oh gosh! No--don't...! Oh--okay--whew" reading sounds.

Yes. I am worse than an avid football fan yelling at the television. Poor Kindle.

I'm also kind of obsessing about kneadless breads. I'm dreaming about stirring in olives and rosemary. And infusing olive oil with rosemary, for dipping. The first time I saw the recipe, I was like, "How is that simple? It takes 24 hours!" But--well--it is. Sort of. If you already have a cast-iron dutch oven. Amazon seems to think this one is a good idea.

I also made Dirt Dessert for my writing group. They asked for something spring-like--and what's more spring-y than soil? And I served it in a flower pot:

Yes--that's crushed Oreos and chocolate pudding, stirred--with some gummi worms on top. I'm trying it again for my other group, and will see if I can find some gummi frogs--and perhaps a (clean) garden spade, for serving. 

I also have two new plants: a palm frond, and an aloe vera plant.

If you'd like to place bets on how long they'll last before I inevitably kill them, make your guesses now.

Winner gets a bag of gummi frogs (probably from Dylan's Candy Bar)!

We just received a copy of this in our office.

I've already officially called dibs.

Can't wait to read this.

Official release date: March 29, 2011. 
Comments on Query Tracker let me know you were sick.

Now that's just creepy! (Not the writer of the e-mail--she's nice. But the fact that people can look up all of this on sites about querying...!)

Next it will be, "Comments on Absolute Write say that you are currently sipping peppermint tea with a splash of organic lowfat milk."

Oh--and I am!

Dang. Only $9.95 + shipping? Maybe everyone's hoping to Snipe* it at the last minute.

Letter from a literary agent, 1944http://cgi.ebay.com/1940-typed-letter-Literary-Agent-Aspiring-Author-/310304076660

* Not GK-endorsed. Haven't used it.

Roald Dahl's Matilda--for the digital age

Highly recommended:

H1N1, Emma Donoghue, and soda crackers

So. GK's come down with a case of what WebMD insists is swine flu (and real life MD thinks will be solved with a few days of sleep, soda crackers and 7-up); in either case, I've been out of commission for a few days.

Happily, even when I'm too ill to get to my computer and count how many queries are adding up (I'm still afraid, but I know it's in the triple digits, easy), and can barely leave my room, I can still get real mail.

And there's an excellent interview with Emma Donoghue, author (most recently) of Room, in this issue of Writer's Digest.

My favorite quote:
Some journalists even slightly scold me, like, "Now you've learned how to be commercial. Will you do it again next time?" And I say, "No, it doesn't work that way." There would be no surer way to write a complete failure of a book than to try and in any way recapture Room. Bestsellers are completely unpredictable, and you certainly don't manage to be original by looking over your shoulder at your possible readership and trying to guess what they will like. The only way to succeed as a writer--in literary fiction, anyway--is to follow your personal obsessions. And once in awhile, your obsessions will happen to overlap with the obsessive interests of a lot of readers.

I've said this before, of course. But if it takes a bestselling author saying the same thing for you to believe it--not only believe it, but internalize it--then I am happy to type up all of the quotes like this I see over the next year.

When I'm feeling better, of course.

Hope this finds you well.

Just add won ton wrappers and garlic paste.


Yup. You can make raviolis out of just about anything. Just put a spoonful of whatever you want between two won ton wrappers, press them closed with a fork around the edges, and gently boil.

But these ideas look especially delicious.

I'm starting to think there should be an upscale chain of buffet restaurants that are all carbs all the time. I would vote for the following:

  • Mac and cheese (fried, four cheese, and other varieties)
  • Homemade pasta and a selection of sauces
  • Israeli cous cous in various salads
  • Mashed potatoes
  • French fries (all varieties--sometimes you want steak, sometimes you want shoestring)
  • Risotto and arancini (deep-fried risotto spheres)
  • Garlic bread
  • Garlic knots
  • Polenta
  • Fresh-baked breads
  • Pita chips plus dips
Plus beer pairings, and cheeses to melt on everything, if you like.

Sounds good to me.

I think there should be a special, perhaps rubberized, certainly well-padded "Dorothy Parker" case for Kindle: for those books that shouldn't be tossed aside lightly, but thrown with great force. (It'll also come with a martini-locater app.)