An agent's perspective on the NY Times Amazon article:

Really, New York Times??

Consider it recommended reading--pairs well with the (yes, rather one-dimensional, panic-inducing) piece we all read earlier this week.
A lot of people have been asking me about in-person pitches at conferences.

Here is, I think, my best answer: Author-agent speed dates, Diet Coke, Purell, and self-deprecation that doesn't work.

And yes, someone really did accuse me of sneaking wine into a pitch session, of requesting work (I can't make myself type that phrase again!) just to suck up, and yes, my hands really did get crunched.


These are both effective and dangerous. They're the most portable, self-sufficient form of caffeine I've found--which is great for conferences that, for some reason, think caffeine is a sometimes drink*--and dangerous, because if you don't know (as I didn't) that Coke Zero is far from caffeine-free--and, for some reason, decide to drink two of them before bed before an important event like your cousin's wedding in which you are a responsibility-laden bridesmaid--you'll be in trouble. 

From "cookies are a sometimes food"--a sentiment I strongly disagree with.

Anna Dressed in Blood

In case any of you were on the fence about this book, do know that it's very likely to end up on GK's (eventual) future list of favorites.

I powered through 184 pages in a single sitting last night. And can't wait to read more.

Recipe Comix

I love this! Every recipe should have pictures.

Survey Time!

Survey time! Do you think the piece on Amazon in the NYTimes today signals "the beginning of the end"? All opinions welcome. I promise.

Someone asked an excellent question of Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Justine Larbalestier, Chris Moriarty, and Delia Sherman--all taking part in last night's Big Read: Before and After Harry Potter: YA and Fantasy talk: "What books do you recommend?"

I scribbled down their answers as quickly as I could. Here's the list of the panel's top choices:

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor--described as a Nigerian Harry Potter with excellent world building

The Thief (The Queen's Thief series) by Megan Whalen Turner

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor--note that this was not only a YA Buzz Panel book, but also has 99 revies on Amazon and a 5-star rating

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake--on my TBR list too. Hurry up, NYPL!

The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking series: Book One by Patrick Ness

How to know if you will love The Night Circus

Working on world building? Do I have the book for you!

I don't believe it's just in NYC--it would seem everyone, everywhere, is talking about The Night Circus and how it is the best book that ever happened to them. Ever. Like, whoa. Accelerate the presses and pre-order the DVD of the movie adaptation that hasn't been made yet. OMG. Can't wait. Squee, squee, squee.

(Yes, I realize I sound like the circus Grinch. I actually also had my first incident of boot-on-subway-door violence today. Not a swift kick, but still. And not to worry, everything was fine. I was not charged with, say, defacement of public property. No doors were dented. And you would have been miffed, too, if the subway doors didn't open for thirty full seconds, thus preventing you from transferring to the express train across the platform.)

I first heard about the book at this year's BEA--and remembered it because it came with a free bag of (perfectly fine--I can hardly expect anyone to give out hundreds of bags of, say, the Jacques Torres caramel corn with dark chocolate) popcorn that sat in our office freezer for weeks. Edible advertising. Excellent.

And I finally sat down to read it last week.

The world Morgenstern has created is extraordinary. The book's design is, fittingly, gorgeous--even if the interior stripes can make one dizzy after too much staring. And this is the prettiest book world I've seen in a very long time. It's Victorians, travel, an enchanted night circus, and confections that the Food Network can only dream about. It's enjoyable. It's vivid. I won't soon forget it. I loved the twins, Bailey, the magic kittens, the imagery.

As an added bonus, it reminds you of words like "exsanguination" in a manner that prevents their future relegation to second-string vocabulary. Yes, you too can have conversations like this:

Me to a friend this weekend: I was dumb and put my red sneakers in the washer. Now they look exsanguinated.

My friend: ...


Why, then, did I nearly put the book down without finishing it?

I did finish--and I'm glad I did--but then I saw on GoodReads that there's a vocal minority that can't stand the work for the simple fact that it's approximately 80 percent description.

This stuff costs $8.50 a bag. And, even on my publishing budget, I think it's worth every artery-clogging penny. Yes. It's that good. 

So. How do you know if the work will annoy or enchant you?

Think of its emphasis as divided up like a circus candy apple:
  • Extraordinary world building/atmosphere/concept--the apple
  • Writing--still quite good, mind you--the caramel
  • Characters--the candies stuck into the caramel on the apple
  • Plot--the thin popsicle stick that will probably break before you finish said apple
Will that work for you? Maybe.

Or, if you liked The Science of Sleep--which is, like The Night Circus, pretty much (and I'm not giving away anything here that you can't assume from the book jacket) Boy meets Girl, Boy and Girl explore strange magical world, Boy loses Girl, Boy gets Girl back through magical means, The End (or, in TSoS's case, Fin). One contains Le Cirque des Rêves; the other, La Science des rêves.

I confess I prefer the latter to the former--even though I think most (if not all) things Victorian are very pretty.

If you're especially fond of magic, circuses, Victorian items, you'll probably like this.

If you require pat, perfectly pinned down resolutions, explanations, and plot points, you may not.

If you're a fan of impossible love stories in any form, put this on your TBR list.

If you're a linear thinker and need linear narrative, this is not good for you. I went back and forth about the book's ordering, and have since concluded that it's necessary, even if it requires some flipping back and forth to figure out what happened when.

Tell me what you think. I can honestly see both points of view.

Also, it's possible I'll wake up tomorrow on the other side of the bed, start clamoring for sooner movie release date, proclaim myself a rêveur, start selling scarlet scarves on Etsy, and whisper sweet nothings to subway doors. You never know.

You will enjoy this.

I've just learned a new acronym: NSFW. So, this is Not Safe For Work if you work in a giggle-free office. (I am quite pleased that I do not.)

Happy Monday, everyone!

Random House joins It Gets Better Project

Further proof that people in publishing are awesome.

Vintage Typewriter Ads

Having just read this rather depressing piece on what may become the future of funding for writers--and having been firmly told, "There will be no books in six years! Just get over it!"--well, I thought I could use some cheering. 

So,  here you are: vintage ads for typewriters.

They will all enlarge when you click on them.


Whoa there, Mad Men era. A typewriter designed to protect one's manicure.

"It's the in thing with teenagers who want to swing college!"

Clearly I did not compile these statistics. 

They "anticipate every demand of every user"? Really? I'd like a macchiato, please.
Apparently the typewriter is now mightier than the sword.
And here's my favorite: too hungover to type? Want to have a drinking problem and a job? Try this quiet typewriter!

I should give credit where credit is due. This all started with this image:

From this interview.

Carrie Nation, the Prohibition documentary, theme drinks, and Victorian ladies smashing things

May I highly recommend the Prohibition documentary?

Well. It's excellent. My favorite part, so far, has to do with Carrie Nation, an older woman (in Victorian garb, no less) who would go into bars and, well, smash them.

Can you imagine this woman smashing things? Neither can I.
It also does a fabulous job of making both side sympathetic--and of weaving in other historical occurrences.

Now, if someone on Etsy would just make tiny bathtubs for the serving of gin, would I have a theme viewing party for you!
Publishers Marketplace has a selection of excellent graphs today!

Hooray for quantitative data!

Here's my favorite:

Six-Figure US Deals in September: Children's

I must explain that I never liked cozy mysteries. I thought of them as easy presents for my grandmother--I imagined most had puffy lambs and pristine countrysides and murders committed with fluffy yarn nooses--but they struck me as such a strange combination of cutesy and faux-scary that I never bothered to read many.

And then this one cozy crossed my desk, which started the aforementioned Publishers Marketplace searches. It's terribly clever and wholly pleasing.

In any case, this is yet another example of how writing can matter a great deal more than genre.

Funny and punny cozy titles on PM

I spent the morning giggling at funny and punny cozy mystery titles on PM.

Here are my favorites:

ETERNALLY 21, the first of a new series featuring Mrs. Frugalicious, who trolls the malls for savings -- until she's framed for shoplifting and suspected of murder.

(Dun dun DUNNN!)

PROBABLE CLAWS, in which feline fancier Theda Krakow investigates a shelter poisoning and finds herself on trial for murder.

Hee hee hee...

And, yes...I want to read them. The beginning of fall seems perfect (purrrrfect?) for mysteries, cozy or not.

Unfortunately, most NYC landlords frown on indoor fires.

Michael Moore comes out in support of the St. Mark's Bookshop

Whether or not you agree with Mr. Moore, it's hard to argue with the fact that a celebrity coming out in support of an independent bookstore is pretty darn awesome.

That, and the older woman's exclamation at the beginning is hilarious.

This little bookstore (not so little--medium-sized, I suppose) has an excellent selection--with very smart staff, who make my favorite "staff picks" shelf in the city.

Their landlord, Cooper Union, has threatened to raise the rent far beyond this bookstore's capabilities--and, though they've laid off most of their staff to keep up, they're still in trouble.

You can sign a petition asking Cooper Union for fair, affordable rent--non-New Yorkers welcome!--and check out the Shelf Awareness piece the situation here.