"You'll have no choice but to tear through this book!"

The above blurb is from Jay Asher. If you haven't read his 13 Reasons Why, pick up a copy--and you'll see why I'd be willing to read just about anything he recommends.

I love to ask editors about their favorite books, and last week, not one, but two mentioned Before I Fall--a work I'd been avoiding because, frankly, I'm not a fan of Groundhog Day.

But I got a copy, and it's true--after I got past my skepticism (it seems impossible that a story with this premise could be as good as it is), I totally tore through it.

Lauren Oliver has set up quite a task for herself--the bulk of the story is the same day repeated seven times--and yet it's always new, interesting, and--yes--the sort of thing one must rush through. It feels like time has frozen, and the protagonist can walk around the people in her life, finally realizing everyone's motivations--all while knowing she can do anything, try anything, and none of it matters--because she'll just wake up with a clean slate the next day.

Oliver does a great job with showing the inner workings of life at the top--her protagonist is one of the most popular girls in her school--and we get to watch her become more empathetic, more likable, more multidimensional.

This is another example of how works in the real world (albeit with a time twist) can be incredibly interesting.

I'm terribly behind on my "GK Recommends" list, but this work is most certainly on it.

Editor Cat

Heh heh. 

The Manuscript Buffet

I found this very clever.

Would every agent find it clever? No. Some are all about the succinct emails. I, however, can't get over the all-you-can-eat manuscript buffet. I really like salad bar buffet restaurants--and, yes, the ones with the carb (pizza and pasta and macaroni and cheese and bread and...) stations, too.

Yes, that's right. Sometimes I get NYC fatigue and just want a nice suburban restaurant with fluorescent lighting, logo napkins, and scalloped, plastic bowls for pudding served with a ladle (which I will cover in soft serve and chocolate syrup).

Naturally, she's from a diet website. It suggests packing healthy snacks in one's suitcase. Ha! The best part of vacations is that calories don't count.

With the writer's permission, here's my favorite "You just rejected this one, but you said I could send you the next one, so--awesome, no hard feelings, hooray, will do" email:

Dear [GK]:
Thank you for taking the time to consider [title of manuscript]. As a blog follower, I understand the GK plate is submerged under the weight of an all-you-can-eat MS buffet, and truly value the individual consideration you allowed my work.

My first MS, [title of work] remains dear to my butter-clogged heart. Currently, I am plugging away at number two and hope you will consider giving it a read once the T’s are crossed, I’s dotted and vodka finished.

With Thanks,
Just in case you're wondering, sometimes we go through that, "Arrrgh! I can't think of anything!" period while writing our pitch letters, too.

Today's ritual involved lots of coffee, lots of tea, lots of mayo (unhealthy treats distract one from the pain of writer's block), lots of complaining to my intern.

Not to worry. She had very amusing works to keep her upbeat. (See below.)
Terribly important pots de creme update: they never got cold enough to hold together. Perhaps because I took them on the subway at rush hour.

So. If you were planning to invert your pots de creme--well, don't. You'll get a sticky mess.

However, I just went to Michael's (yes, it's only a matter of time before I grow into one of those women--I'll probably even scrapbook with those special scissors that make decorative edges--but I had a good excuse: I was looking for items for a themed gift for a friend's book party), and they have a huge selection of unique cupcake wrappers. Many would coordinate well with, say, dark chocolate.
I love it when my interns giggle while reading manuscripts.
Today's project: not eating the dark chocolate pots de creme I made for book group.

They're in the office fridge now, a mere thirty-five feet away.

I made them in muffin tins, with little bright papers--a pattern of pink and lime green fitting for, say, a Sophie Kinsella cover. I'm going to cut teeny strips of lime skins, knot them, and maybe (if I can) grate small amounts of lime zest over the top. (I'm always worried that I'll be getting mostly food grade wax, the stuff they put on grocery store limes to make them shiny. Well. Desserts should be shiny too, I guess.)

All of this after accomplishing what may be a ridiculous, miraculous feat--flipping each one over, removing the paper, and somehow getting it perfectly centered on a dessert plate.

Yes. We'll see how this goes.

But first--a day spent not eating them.

When it rains, it pours.

I can't speak for everyone, of course, but we're extra super crazy busy at the moment (with lots and lots of wonderful things). I think this happens to many New Yorkers in September--everyone tries to cram everything that didn't happen in August into an already-full month.

So I would assume it'd be normal to have longer response times, etc., this month. 

Sit tight. It's not you, it's September. 

Field Trip to Borders

So. I had to go see the carnage.

It's hard to believe that, a little more than a year ago, Suzanne Collins signed copies of Mockingjay in this very spot (well, against the now-red wall):

They repainted.
Note the "ALL SALES FINAL" sign. And the sales tags on all of the cases.

Those racks were filled with CDs, and yes, people were queued up around them. 

And yes, that's where I was told to put away my recording device. Ah, memories. 

Though the books were pretty picked-through--there were only a few left--I did walk away with one of these: 

I've always wanted one. 

With a bath and some new paint (I'm thinking a sassy, shiny red--just on the grey parts), it'll be good as new. 
If someone attached a heart rate monitor to me while reading queries--and it beeped above a certain number--I bet it would do a pretty good job of predicting when I was saying Yes to a work. (My heart was certainly pounding a moment ago. My. I do hope that manuscript comes in soon!)

Either that, or it would tell me to chill with the caffeine. I'm trying a new experiment: no Splenda (or sugar, or stevia, or sweet and/or low) allowed. I'm taking all beverages black. Perhaps it'll slow me down.

Haven't decided if lemon is allowed. Extra Vitamin C, right?
If you happen to hear about any stories of working in the industry in the fifties, sixties or seventies, please send them my way.

Thank you.

And no, this is not just because of Banana Republic's new Mad Men line.

The Last Days of Summer

When I was in summer camp as a child--one of those places where they force you to walk a good half mile to the mess hall, where watery soup and neon pink milk carton-ed juice await--a girl told me that her parents often allowed her to take extra sessions of camp, and miss the first two weeks of school.

This seemed fanciful, indulgent, ridiculous at the time--miss school? On purpose?

But then I started to wonder if her parents had wonderful stories about summers, and thus wanted to elongate them as much as possible for their child. For all I know, their memories were as warm as Country Time's commercials, and the rest of the year was mere waiting.

Well. This year, for the first time, it seems I've adopted this practice. It's well into September and I am still wearing flip flops. My toes are a scandalous reddish pink called "party in my cabana." I assure you there are neither cabanas nor parties in the office. Today. The latter would be more likely than the former.

And--perhaps most surprising of all--I have not purchased a single school supply (choosing notebooks, pens, and backpacks used to be one of my favorite activities) or a single new fall cardigan.

What, then, have I been doing in the past few weeks?

  • Encountering jellyfish. Apparently they frequent NYC beaches in August and September, but I'm not sure why. There were days when the waves were perfect--just enough that I could jump over most of them and only get knocked over a few times--and they were scarce. But, on calm-watered days, they hung out--usually in pairs. Supposedly these do not sting. I did not wish to find out. 
  • Surviving hurricanes. As I'm sure you heard, it was a non-event. However, out of duty (though I thought they--and the enormous line at TJ's for the bottled water--were overreacting), I got candles. Saw that someone was tweeting as the hurricane and giggling about how we'd all be fat and hungover the next day. Sounds about right.
  • Traveling. My cousin got married, and I was in the bridal party. She was kind--our dresses were deep purple, and only somewhat spherical. The groomsmen walked down the aisle to the U of Michigan football fight song. 
  • Making scones. It's hard to get them to be the right amount of crumbly without being too dry. When I figure this out, I'll let you know. 
  • Hiring interns. We have a new army, this time of seven. Very sadly, IFI is on to bigger and better things, but you can still check out her blog (see the post below for link). 
  • Meeting writers. So many have come through the city, and as someone who's bossy ("Go here! Take this train!") it's hard to resist the opportunity.
  • Trying to get ahead on reading. We always get a huge number of wonderful works in September, so I'm trying to clear the inbox. We're at about 50 fewer than the number before, all while requesting at the same rate. This is significant progress. 
  • Reading so many excellent book-books and getting to the point where I may just splurge on reading chair + ottoman + lamp + delivery. (I tried to take a huge ottoman on the subway once. That did not go well.) My current set-up is only comfortable for a little more than an hour, which is not ideal for days that could be better spent reading. 
  • Attending various vaguely publishing-related events--garden parties, museum parties, agent get-togethers. Other activities with cheese plates.
  • Stalking Dîner en Blanc and then realizing I was busy during registration and could not escape to a computer.
  • Picnics in the park.
  • Book club. Writing group. Book club...
  • Watching Daria online. If you have Hulu Plus, you can too. Highly recommended.
  • Making awkward thank-yous to firemen and their wives in the city this weekend.
  • Trying to start up a "Save the post office and make the world better by sending real mail!" campaign. Really. The world would be better.
  • Readings--so, so many readings. It's like they were all waiting for August to be over. It seems I could attend three every day if I just had the time and energy.
Pretty as they are, I don't think we'd get along. 

So, yes. Lots happening over here at GK Industries.

What have you been up to?

* Sure, I faked sick--but only for the duration of P.E.