Thursday, November 22, 2007

Questions to ask when the offer comes

An agent recently offered a friend of mine representation. I heard about this first thing when my friend pinged out critique group with a frantic message about what he should ask before inking the deal.

It was eye-opening for me, since I've got material out and if I got the call today I would be wondering the same thing. Luckily, shortly thereafter a couple of agent blogs made excellent posts on the subject.

First Jenny Rappaport gave a thorough list, and not long after Nathan Bransford invited a guest blogger, Ginger Clark, to chime in on what you should cover. There's a lot of overlap between the two, and the bottom line seems to be about setting expectations (like any good relationship!)

I still plan to sit down and write up my personal list distilled out of these sources, but these give a great starting place for that moment of truth.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Books: Cat's Cradle

This the third of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut's books that I've read. The first I read was the one he's best known for, Slaughterhouse-Five, and the second was Galápagos, which my friend Brian got me started on reading aloud on a road-trip along the Oregon coast.

Most people know about Slaughterhouse-Five if they're familiar with Vonnegut at all, but Cat's Cradle comes a close second. It was the first novel of his to get much attention in 1963, and I can see why. Cat's Cradle is trademark Vonnegut, with crisp writing, an engaging conversational voice, and a pervasively off-kilter point of view that leaves you constantly guessing what will happen next.

In contrast with Slaughterhouse-Five, which is defined by it's non-linear story, Cat's Cradle follows a more standard narrative arc. That does not, however, make the story straightforward. The book's jam-packed with odd side-lines, quotes from the made-up religion of Bokononism, and stunningly original concepts. Vonnegut mixes these up in such a way that you never quite know whether something is crucial to the plot or tossed in as a bonus, but it all makes you want to keep reading.

I highly recommend Cat's Cradle, especially to anyone who hasn't read Vonnegut before. It'll definitely tell you whether he's an author you'd like to read more of, and if you do there are many other treats in store.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Anticipation

I haven't mentioned it on the blog yet, so I guess this qualifies as the first world-wide announcement... Amber and I are expecting!

The due date is March 30, and that puts a significant milestone on Wednesday of this week--the ultrasound. We had two other ultrasounds in the early going, but those revealed only a thumping jelly-bean. I've glad to have seen and heard it, but it doesn't give a lot of personal detail. Wednesday will (hopefully) change that.

Everyone asks whether we're going to find out if it's a boy or a girl. If you know Amber, the answer probably won't surprise you. She has a hard time keeping birthday gifts secret :) It'll be public knowledge as soon as we leave.

Anyway, anticipation is running high. Amber's been quite sick for a lot of the time, but that 's starting to lighten up and now the big ultrasound is on the way. Exciting times.

PS -- To all the folks who would remind me that not everyone finds out, that the baby might not cooperate, etc. I know. Gotta keep optimistic, though, and if not the eventual surprise will be all the bigger and better.

Pitch Workshop with Agent Kristin

Just a quick post to call out Agent Kristin's currently running Blog Pitch Workshop. She's breaking down jacket copy line by line, telling what works and what doesn't across the literary spectrum. As I'm in the process of sending out query letters, this advice couldn't be more timely!