Wednesday, March 30

OMG Query Openers - Take 2

Here we are again folks, more outrageously bad query openers provided by agents everywhere who are both amused and appalled...

Once again, as with my last OMG Query Openers post, all these are the opening lines to actual query letters an appear just after the 'Dear Agent' heading.

Hold on to your hats kids, here we go...

"This is my book, and I need an agent for it. It is mystery with love but no sex. It is called - title - and everyone who reads it thinks it's great."

"I am writing your firm to seek representation for my latest novel entitled - title. You currently represent a friend of mine who asked that I not use their name, and he said you would represent me. I have enclosed the complete manuscript as to save you the time of having to contact me."
(Yeah, either this person was lying about the 'friend', or that friend knew this person's writing was horrible and didn't want to be associated with them! Ha!)

"I have been forced to sen you an e-mail, as your receptionist is immature, rude, and practically useless in her line of work."

"My name is Janet Fisher, and I have been trapped it my house for 17 yeras. No one comes to see me, no one calls. Latly, I have become so lonely that man appears and keeps me company. He tells me strange thinhs about the world he is form. He wants to take me there. I cant go because he is imaginary. Or is he..."
(If you haven't realized yet, Janet Fisher is actually the name of this writers character, and this opening is the plot of the novel. Any yes, those were her spelling mistakes, not mine.)

"Are you laughing at me, or is that just my book your reading? Maybe not yet, but soon you will be. Title- is my comedy novel about..."
(Yes folks, I do believe that was supposed to be a pickup line...)

"Are you still representing books? Do you have any openings? I just finished one, so let me know if you want it and I'll send it."

"I have suffered these past months to bring new life to this earth. Life takes many forms and mine is one of ink and paper. I have bled, labored, and trudged through the afterbirth of the mind, and now weary and soiled, it seeks new light and cleaner home..."
(Ummm... so I'm stuck somewhere between WTF and eww...)

And last but not least...

"David Cunningham never thought much of life. His existence was mundane, and mundane he expected it to stay. Sometimes however, the biggest of life's changes can come of the simplest of dry-cleaning bills...
Title- is a 92,000 word, completed literary fiction manuscript, for which I am seeking representation."

'But Marian, what's wrong with that?' you ask? Just this - it was a snail-mail submission. No SASE, no return address, no phone number, no email. The agent who received this flat out said they would have requested a partial had they have had a way to contact the writer.


Monday, March 28


8 hours in the car
+ 2 kids under two
+ 6am start time
+ having to drive the whole way due to being prone to motion sickness
1 tired, frustrated, sore, mother who is looking for someone who would like two kids at a great price.

On the plus side, got head shots done. My favorite one is to the left, under 'Who is this chick?' section. Nice right? I actually like this one, and I hate 98% of all recent pictures of me, thanks to the 40+ pounds the two aforementioned kids left me.

Again, kids anyone?

Monday, March 21

Jane Eyre 2011 Review with Spoilers

So, I drove over an hour today to see the new Jane Eyre movie that opened last week. I am a HUGE Jane Eyre fan, having read the book more times than I can count and having seen all the previous versions of the book made for film and TV so many times that I have committed some of them to memory. I had held enormously high hopes for this film, as I am fans of the actors and because reviews had been excellent. I come to you now fresh from seeing it myself, and I have to say that I am highly impressed and only slightly disappointed.

As a warning to you, (if the title of the post wan't enough) the rest of the post will contain spoilers for the movie. Spoilers for the plot (which anyone who has read the book will already know) as well as spoilers as to what you will and will not see in the movie itself. Anyone not wishing to know such things, need not read on.

For the rest of you, here we go...

First off, I am going to give a quick rundown of all the previous version of the film as I will be referring to them throughout the post. I will give the year, the stars, whether it was a movie or a miniseries, and my general opinion. (I will only cover the versions made for the UK and the US, as there have been many made in other countries, India, China, France, etc.)

1934 - Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive, Movie.
This was the first rendition, and was fine for the times, but doesn't stand up to more modern films, but hey it was the thirties.

1944 - Joan Fontain and Orson Wells, Movie.
Many people still believe Orson Wells to have been and still be the best Rochester ever portrayed, and this to be the best rendition of the book, even after all these years. I am not one of them. I don't care for the MANY liberties they took with plot in this version, nor do I care for Well's Rochester. He is harsh and broody. Period. He doesn't portray anything else in the character - or at least I don't think he does. Much of the, what we today would consider poor over-acting, can be attributed to the era, but not that.

1973 - Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, BBC Miniseries.
A good version and very accurate to the novel. One major issue is that Cusack is too old for the part (and looks it) being in her mid twenties at the time. The dialog is, for the most part, direct from the book and well done, but there are times when the acting leaves something to be desired.

1983 - Zelah Clark and Timothy Dalton, BBC Miniseries.
This is my second favorite version. I have found it to be the most accurate in dialog and general description. Dalton's Rochester is - for the most part - well done, though he was much too handsome for the role (he's a future James Bond for God's sake...). However, that, I suppose has to be forgiven as he was one of the romantic 'it men' of the time.

1996 - Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt, Movie.
This version is changed a great deal and the acting is only soso. I don't tend to bother with this one - but then that's only my opinion.

1997 - Samantha Mortin and Ciaran Hinds, A&E Movie.
This is a strange one. It is well done, but some of the character personalities are very altered. (As an example, Rochester and Adelle are very close, and he is very kind and loving towards her.) The acting is great and the changes that are made, while major is some cases, are consistent throughout the film. I do like this version, but I look at it more as a movie inspired by Jane Eyre and not so much a movie based on Jane Eyre. (Though honestly, my biggest problem with this movie is Ciaran's pervert-esque mustache! Eew!)

2006 - Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens, BBC/PBS Miniseries. (Masterpiece Theater)
This is by far the general favorite amongst fans of the book. Every version of the book seems to be compared to this one, and for good reason. The acting is superb, the chemistry between the leads is undeniable, the dialog is faithful to the novel, and the casting as excellent. My favorite version for sure.

Alright, now on to the main event, which I will handle in sections...

Jane Eyre 2011 - Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender


In a word - fantastic! Everyone was spot on, Fassbender's Rochester especially. He was able to portray the necessarily moody, harsh, intimidating aspects of his character in a different and much more subtle way than his predecessors, and it was incredibly successful. The only complaint I would have is that he was not able to fully do justice to the more sarcastic and humorous side of Rochester, but that was due to the editing and direction, not the acting. The problem is that the scenes in which Rochester gets to show is funny and witty side are all cut down immensely or cut out entirely, which is not something that actors can help. Mia was a great Jane, also lacking in humor at times, but great all the same. Judy Dench as Mrs. Fairfax was wonderful, but then she's Judy Dench, so no big surprise there. Adelle was alright, not as good as the 2006's Adelle who was much more absurd(as she should be) However, I was impressed by the fact that in this newest version, Adelle spoke nothing but French and is subtitled throughout the entire movie. But don't worry, it's doesn't get annoying as Adelle says very little.


The Good Points: The scenery, sets, and costumes were all fabulous! Very authentic without feeling forced or stuffy. The dialog was also wonderful and almost entirely direct from the novel. They also used several lines and conversation from the novel that are rarely used which was nice to see. All the wonderful settings, props, costumes, and script enhanced and showcased the superb acting without getting in the way of it.

The Bad Points: The bad points can be summed up in a single word - time. Jane Eyre is really not a book that can be adequately told in two hours no matter how good your director or actors are. Almost all of the scenes feel very rushed and some of the major scenes simply do not appear at all, and it is all due to not having enough time. There is even a scene in the preview for the movie that does not appear it the actual film. It is the scene where Bertha Mason gets into Jane's room and rips her wedding veil. In the trailer we see the conversation between Jane and Rochester about that indecent in which Jane says, "I was not asleep, I know what I saw," and Rochester replies, "It must have been half dream, half reality." People who know the story know that they are talking about the veil ripping, but in the movie neither the veil ripping nor the conversation appear. Other missing scenes include the scene with the gypsy, shopping in Millcot, and the explanation of Adelle to Jane.(We never actually find out who Adelle is and where she came from. If you don't already know, you are left to assume.) Most of the other scenes are shortened, unfortunately in some cases to a fault. A lot is left out int he way of explanations. We never fully understand about Rochester's wife, as he only says like three words on the subject of how or why they were married.  which is sad, but to be expected when the entire movie is limited to two hours.

The Ending:

If you haven't heard already, the ending of the movie is MUCH different than that of the book. Basically, Jane hears Rochester calling her name, so she returns to Thornfield to find him. When she arrives she sees the Thornfield has been pretty much burnt to the ground. She goes in and begins to look around, when Mrs. Fairfax enters. She tells Jane that Bertha started the fire and that Mr. Rochester got everyone out, then went to the roof to get Bertha, who jumps off the roof. She says he then stands on the roof as if he is going to let it consume him. Mrs. Fairfax then tells Jane that she knew that Mrs. Poole had a patient, but she had no idea that it was Mr. Rochester's wife.Jane asks where 'he' is. We then see Jane walking up to the tree when they go engaged and we see Rochester sitting on the bench under the tree and he has a cane in his hand. (He also has this huge really bushy beard) She walks up, he says 'who's there', she says 'Jane', he says 'Jane?', she says 'I'm come back', they hug, he says 'it's a dream', she says 'awake then', and poof - black screen - the movies over.
So, needless to say that is my biggest problem with this version. No glass of water, no 'were there only ladies', no banter about St. John, no 'I want a wife', none of it. No that's not to say that this new version is bad because it's not. It is very romantic and the person that I went with who new nothing about the story going into the movie thought ti was great. It's just that the rest of us, who know how much more there could be, feel a little cheated. Besides that, I'm honestly surprised that a director doing Jane Eyre, who has such a unique, charming, and original ending to work with, would then go and make it so trite, mediocre, and run-of- the-mill. Like I said, not bad, but very much 'I've seen this before'. And thats all forgiving the fact that we are apparently supposed to assume that Rochester, Mrs. Fairfax and everyone are still somehow living at Thornfield, which when you see the house you can see would be impossible.

Other Tid-Bits:

I liked the way they handled the overall layout of the plot. They didn't tell the story in sequencey, but started the film in the middle of the story where Jane is running away form Thornfield. they then tall the majority of the story in flashbacks, which is fun. It doesn't change anything, but it make it different, and - in my opinion anyway - makes Jane's time with the Rivers family much more likable. I usually think that in the film versions of the story, that the River's section of the story tends to sag a bit.

I didn't like the way they portrayed Bertha, but then I didn't expect to as I never do. In fact that is one of the only two complaints I have about the 2006 version. They always humanize Bertha far too much, none as much as the 2006 version where she is actually wearing nice clothes and has sher hair done. Bertha is supposed to be an animal. Not even human anymore. Bronte is very descriptive when she is finally reveled in the book, and I can't figure out why so many directors choose to ignore what is in the book. When Jane first sees her she doesn't even think that she is human. She actually calls her 'the clothed hyena'. It might not seem like a big deal, but ti really is as it is essential to Rochester's character. We are supposed to see her and  - at least partially - side with Rochester. We are supposed to see her and think 'wow, this thing isn't a wife, it's not even a person, why should he be allowed to get remarried? He might as well be chained to a rabid dog.' However, when they portray Bertha as the poor, misunderstood, sick lady, we start to have too much sympathy for her whereby loosing sympathy for Rochester. Instead of 'he should be able to look for love', we start to say things like, 'Poor Bertha, maybe if Rochester spent more time with her she would get better', which is absolutely not true. Example, in this version, when Rochester takes everyone up to the tower and we see Bertha for the first time, she actually comes up to him and hugs him, snuggling in to his shoulder. She doesn't attack him until she makes a move towards Jane and he has to hold her back.(Hell, if my husband brought a woman he had just tried to marry behind my back up to meet me, I might make a move on her too...) Furthermore, since they don't really explain the nature of the marriage between Rochester and Bertha, those who don't know the story are left to think that Rochester and Bertha fell in love, got married, lived happily, the got sick so he locked her in the attic and went off to look for a new wife - which could not be further from the truth.

They did have the scene where Rochester is begging Jane to stay with him, and - thank God - is does not show they making out in bed. Thoes of you who have seen the 2006 version know what I am talking about. That is my other complaint about the 2006 version, which most people don't have a problem with, but I do. In the 2006 version, they should only two short clips in which most of the dialog is made up and they are laying on Jane's bed basically making out. In the novel, when Jane finds out Rochester is married, she won't even let him hug her because she believes it's wrong. So, we are supposed to go from that, to them making out? Yeah right. People don't mind the change because it's 'romantic', but I'm sorry it's wrong, and considering they went to such pains to make everything else so accurate, I don't understand why they went and changed that one scene. In this new version however, they have the scene accurate to how it was portrayed in the book - though very much abridged - which made me happy.

On a similar note, they also did a good job adding in the short scene where Rochester bursts into Jane's room looking for her after she has run away. Most version up until this point have made it seem like Rochester knew she was going to leave and then basically just watches her walk away. In this respect, this newest version is far more accurate.

This last point isn't so much about this specific version of the book, but all of them... I hate that all the movies do such a HORRIBLE job of maiming Rochester in the end! The book is very specific - lost one eye which is sealed shut, big scar on his face/head, blind in the one eye he has left, and lost his left hand. All the movies can seem to do is make him blind and maybe give him a weak little scar on his face that is so faded, it looks like he's had if for ten years! The only version that does a good job is the 1983 miniseries with Timothy Dalton. That is how he is supposed to look!


In conclusion, I am happy with the version overall, as most of the faults I find with it are things like length which could not be helped. I am not going to say that is it better that the 2006 version, because it's not, but then again I am not going to compared a 2 hour movie to a 4 hour movie because it just can't be done.All I can hope is that when the movie comes out of DVD, they will include all the footage that they shot but didn't have time for.

My Rating - 4 out of 5 stars

Would I recommend seeing it - Definitely

If you have any questions about the film, I would be happy to answer them, just post them as a comment to this post.

Friday, March 18

This is why we all need literary agents...

Ready for some perspective? I saw these on the blog of a one of the editors of a major publishing house in New York. She never names her house or gives her actual name but she writes under LadyLittlemore on several writing forums, some of you may know her. She posted these photos a while back. It's the dreaded 'slush pile'- aka. un-agented manuscript submissions/queries. Each of these photos are of the office of a different editor at her house.


I'd comment... but there's really no need.

Thursday, March 17

Home again, home again, jiggity jig...

Well, we're back! Due to some unresolvable issues involving wordpress, we are back to blogger's user-friendly goodness. I made a few changes to the look, and was also able to add back all the widgets and fun do-dads that we lost in the move. Hope you like!

Welcome back to all, and I'll talk to you soon.

Good to be home! :)

Self Publishing... Say it aint' so...

I was reading a post on a forum this morning by a girl who was super excited, because she had had her book self-published and the box of books had arrived. I was about to move on when I read the last line of her post and it made me groan aloud. It said, and I quote, "...and the best thing of all is now I can add 'published author' to my query letter!" And what's worse, is that TONS of people commented in agreement with that statement!

Now, if you are reading this and saying, "What's wrong with that? She has a book published, so she's a published author," then I say to you, "No, not really." It's a sad fact that, with self-publishing companies taking advantage of soul-weary battle-worn queriers, that more and more authors are falling into this trap. They self-publish their novels because they think that it will help them to get picked up by an agent or publishing house later on. This is simply not true. Log on to any literary agent's blog anywhere, and you will be quick to find out that 'self-published' authors listing themselves as 'published' authors in their query letters, is one of the biggest agent pet-peeves. That fact of the matter is that to an agent/editor, self-publishing just doesn't count. ANYONE can have ANYTHING self-published. I could sneeze on a piece of paper and have it self-published in a leather bound 'special edition' volume if I wanted, all I have to do is pay. Hence, the industry has no merit. Self-publishing your book, doesn't make it good or marketable, nor does it magically make you a writer who can be counted on for quality work. Maybe you are such a person, maybe not, but self-publication in and of itself does not make it so.

Look at it like this: Did you know that you can purchase royal titles? Really. You can fill out a form, pay a fee and be Duke So-and-so, or Prince Such-and-such. So lets say I filed all the paperwork, wrote the check and became Princess Marian; am I really a Princess? On paper - yes. In reality - no. It's the same for self-publishing; does it make you a published author? On paper - yes. In reality - no.(Though the 'Princess Marian' thing would be super cool!)

Now, I know that there are some of you out there who are protesting, and I can even hear what you are saying. Allow me to address some of your protests...

But Marian, there are authors who have self published and then hit it big, look at Regina Jeffers...

Yes, that is true. For those of you who don't know Ms. Jeffers, she self-published several books, and has since been picked by Ulysses Press who, not only publishes all of her new stuff, but has republished most of her self-published books under new names. So, yes, Regina Jeffers has made it big via self-publishing. She is one person, and yes I will allow that there are probably a few others - lets say ten, just last year. That is ten out of... ready... wait for it... 857,000 people who self-published just last year! Will you be one of the ones to bust out of the self-publishing industry into the ranks of the best? Possibly... but the numbers would suggest otherwise.

But Marian, the profit margin is so much higher with self-publishing...

That may be true, but that only works on paper. If you factor in the money you have to pay, not only to get the book published but to then market and sell it, you are no better off. This is the same argument that many people make about literary agents, 'Why pay an agent when you can go right to the publishing house and get all the money?' and the answer is the same - you get what you pay for. Yes, an agent may take 15% of my money, and the publishing houses may take a larger cut than self-publishers, but I would rather have 85% of a large sum, than 100% of nothing.

But Marian, if self-publishing is all bad, why are there so many self-publishers out there?

I'll answer that one in two parts:

One, there are so many out there because, like I said, they market to the vulnerable aspiring writers and more and more writers are falling into the trap. A company that makes money will stay around no matter what it does.

Two: Self-publishing is by no means all bad. There are several very good uses for it, and most of them revolve around education. For instance, often times University Professors have trouble finding textbooks for the upper level classes they teach. These classes are often very specific and specialized, and that professor may choose to write his own textbook focusing on exactly what he or she will cove in that class. He or she would then have it self-published and sold in the university bookstore for their course. Anther example would be publishing student work. One of my teachers in college taught creative writing classes. Every year he took the final projects of the literature majors and self-published all of them into a book that the student could them buy. The University library and bookstores also held and sold copies. At my little sister's school (she is eight) one of the fifth grade teachers does a project with her kids every year where the kids write poetry and words of wisdom and she has all the work published for the kids and their parents and families. THIS, my friends, is what self-publishing is truly for.

But Marian, I just want to see my book in print, and self-publishing is the only way...

Then by all means, do it. Really. If you have worked forever on you book, and know that - for whatever reason - it will never make it to the mainstream bookshelves, and you just have to see you baby between the covers of a real book, then go for it! As long as you appreciate self-publishing for what it is, and are not looking to use it as a pedestal or spring-board into the mainstream publishing industry, go to town!

I caved...

Well, it's official. As of 12:27 yesterday, I crumbled under the weights of peer pressure, marketing trap, and modern technology.

I bought an e-reader.

Those of you who know me are shocked, I know. I have long professed my hatred of the e-reader, and promised never to find myself in possession of one. For those of you who don't know me, let me catch you up... I love books. Now don't confuse that statement with 'I love to read' which is no less true, but not the same thing. I love books, as in the actual objects themselves. I love the paper, the binding, the print, the smell of a library, all of it. Therefore, I assumed I was the sort of person who would never find any pleasure in, or any need for, and e-reader. However over the past several months, I have had to download many of the books I wanted to buy to my computer because they were only available in e-book and not for tangible purchase. These titles were on my laptop and I had no way to read them conveniently. As tyher list of title on my computer grew, my husband began to try to convince me to get a reader, but I held firm, claiming that, as I could read them on my computer, there is no need to spend the money. However after weeks of pestering, Scott finally convinced, citing that he was tired of me taking my laptop to bed with me, as it puts out so much heat that it would hake the bedsheets hot and he would sweat. I'm pretty sure he was exaggerating, but regardless, I now find myself the owner of an e-reader. A Nook Color, actually. And after all my whining and complaining, I have to say...

It's pretty cool.

I now have all my e-books, plus some books i had in PDF format all on my reader which is about a fifth the size of my laptop. My philosophy has always been, 'If you can put a bookmark in it, it's not a book,' (those of you who know me also know that I collect bookmarks and have over 70) but it looks like I'm going to have to get over it. Besides the e-books have e-bookmarks, which I got a little kick out of. :)
By no means will I stop buying real books, as that would truly be blasphemy, but I have now decided to graciously allow e-books into my library as well.They may not be leather bound, bookmark-ready, or smell good, but in the modern world, even I have to admit, they have merit.

10 Things I Leaned On My Vacation...

1. If you poke a starfish, it will bite.

2. There is such a thing as too much Mickey Mouse.

3. Sea-Sick patches make you dizzy.

4. If you are playing a round of Logo trivia, it helps to be from Texas.

5. Cruise ship food is bad.

6. You can paint a coconut to look like a football, and tourists will buy it.

7. Cruise ship food is really bad.

8. There is no amount of heat makes that makes a Speedo on a 70+ year old man acceptable in public.

9. Apparently, people who frequent cruise ships enjoy purchasing gaudy jewelry and enormous bottles of alcohol.

10. I am not built to cruise.

Cough, cough, sniff...

I am happy to announce  that my revisions are complete and I have sent the new version of the manuscript off to Carly for the next round of edits. Okay, honestly I sent it off the day before yesterday, and since then I have been wallowing in tissues and DayQuil. Bleh...

In other news, I spent yesterday working on a story I and never actually planned to work on. I have had this couple - Alex and Becca, and for a long time now they have been my goto couple. Anytime I was stuck, or frustrated, or needed to get away from whatever it was that I was writing, I would open my Black Iris folder (that's the title of my non-book) and write scenes for Alex and Becca. Sometimes fluffy romantic stuff (who doesn't like a little drek every now and then?), sometimes funny or cute stuff, whatever I was in the mood for. I have a ton of stuff written for them, but they are all just random scenes without any context or nuance. There has always been a vague background story for them in back of my mind but nothing all that concrete. They have always been young adults - her 18ish him 20ish, there has always been a fantasy element - all the main people would be able to do one cool thing but would otherwise be normal, Becca's back story was always tied to her brother and father, and it has always been set in Ireland, but that was pretty much all I knew.

The other night however, while I was lying in bed waiting for my nasal spray to kick in so I could fall asleep, I started thinking about the Becca/Alex story, and out of the blue all these ideas started coming to me. It was really cool. I was able to create back stories that all intertwined and played off the setting, and plot out most of the actual story. My mind almost seemed to be working on it's own! Maybe it was the Nyquil... Anyway, my fear was that I would fall asleep and forget it all, so I had mu husband bring me a pen and I wrote all the major points on the side of my tissue box. The next morning I almost dreaded looking at what I had written, as I was scared that what had last night seemed like amazing ideas would - now in the plan light of day - be total crap. Happily though, it all held up, and I spent the rest of that day outlining my new story. Yay!

I'm really excited about this, because I like to have two books going at once. When I was writing Bibbity, Bobbity, Do-Over, I was also working on planning and drafting my second book, Not Really Cheating. Now that Do-Over is done (at least for the most part), I can work on Not Really Cheating while I plan and draft Black Iris. Having more than one project at a time helps me to not burn out on one particular book. This new combo will be even batter than the last, as they are two different styles/genres - Quirky Women's Fic and YA Romance/Fantasy - while Do-Over and Not Really Cheating are both Quirky Women's Fic.

Anyway, time for another dose of medicine. Bleh. Maybe I'll go back to the Advil Cold/Sinus this time, that seemed to work pretty well...