5.25.2010

NATHAN BRANSFORD SAYS CRAP

yup. he totes uses the word crap, besties.

IN THIS FABULOUSLY AMAZING INTERVIEW.

You might know Mr. Bransford as The Man With the Orange Blog. You might know him as That Guy Whose Email Inbox Dings So Many Times in the Same Minute It Sounds Like Someone Planted a Car Alarm in His Computer. You might even know him as that guy who was like, KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE #$Q@%$@^ RHETORICAL QUESTIONS, OKAY QUERY-PEOPLE? except he probably said it a lot nicer than that.

Because Mr. Bransford is a nice guy.

His blog is one of THE MOST comprehensive sources of literary wonderment on the interwebs. Not only can you cruise by to learn how to format your query letter, read professional critiques, brush up on the publishing biz and discover new ways to use your E-reader, but Nathan Bransford will keep you up-to-date on even more important things, like
  • Where in the world is Heidi Montag?
  • Wait, who in the hell is Heidi Montag?
  • SHUTUP THEY DID WHAT ON LOST??
  • No, really, you can just put your Kindle in a Ziploc bag and TADA! Shower-proof!
  • SUPER important publishing-speak, like, "Sweet, my answer is get out of my car." (Which is quite possibly one of my FAVORITE blog-posts, ever, of all-time, ever.) 
basically, if you don't know who Nathan Bransford is, you are seriously missing out. definitely send him a query letter, RIGHT NOW. (maybe open with a rhetorical question?) because he is a LITERARY AGENT who is single-handedly taking over the world.

now, i'm sure you're all eager to fill his inbox with query-goodness but WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

AN INTERVIEW WITH HIS PERSON!

ahem ahem.

(my comments are in red.)

1. Full name? Place of birth? Earliest childhood memory?

I’m actually hoping to keep my full name off the Internet. Does this make me paranoid or merely sensible?
(sensible! natch.)

Place of birth: Colusa, California. Never heard of it? (nope.) Yeah.

Earliest memory: When I was about two-years-old I was a very sickly kid and I had to stay for a while in the hospital in San Francisco. The zoo brought some animals to entertain us, and there was an iguana that I thought was basically the coolest thing ever. I know people say you’re too young at two-years-old to remember stuff, but THAT IGUANA WAS FREAKING AWESOME. Blew my mind. 

2. Who's your favorite fictional character, and why?

So many to choose from, but I’d have to go with Ahab from MOBY-DICK for being so awesomely insane. 

(AHAB?!) (BUT HE WOULD EAT YOU FOR BREAKFAST, NATHAN!) (run!)

3. What kind of shoes are you wearing?

White and orange Nike sneakers. I swear not everything I own is orange. Just most everything.

4. When/how/why did you make the transition from agent to writer?

I wouldn’t say that I have actually made a transition from agent to writer as I spend way way way more time agenting than writing and thus feel like I am way way way more an agent than a writer. But basically a couple of years ago I had an idea for a novel that I was very excited about, and so I took the time and went and wrote it. That novel didn’t work out, but the next one did!

(YAY!) (also, notice the HOPE, besties! if at first you don't succeed??) (yes, mm hmm, buy orange Nikes & try try again!)

5. Do you think it's better to have a good concept or strong writing? Why or why not?

I don’t see this as an either/or thing because you definitely need both.

6. Bad habits?

Evasiveness.

(ahem.) (touché Mr. Bransford. touché.)

7. Before you go to bed at night, you're thinking:

            A. IF I GET ONE MORE QUERY LETTER I WILL BREAK SOMEONE.
B. Ooh! Dear Wife, did you hear that? That was the lovely chime of a QUERY LETTER RINGING IN MY EARDRUMS! Delight!
            C. DAMMIT HEIDI, why'd you have to ruin The Hills for everyone?!
            D. OTHER: ____________________.

D. OTHER: Holy crap I’m tired.

(TOLD YOU HE SAID CRAP!)

8. Complete this sentence:
           
            I really need to fix my _____________________.

 ...wife dinner since it’s my week to cook.

(hidden talents!) (a secret sous-chef, perhaps?!)

9. When people send me queries with rhetorical questions my first instinct is to:
           
            A. Scream.
            B. Eat a lot of chocolate.
            C. Shake my fist at the world.
            D. DELETE.

C. Shake my fist at the world.

10. Favorite food you've ever eaten, EVER?

I ate at The French Laundry one time and every course was basically the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life.

11. QUICK! Pitch JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW (which will be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2011) in three sentences or less!

Jacob Wonderbar trades a corndog for a sassy spaceship and blasts off into space with his best friends, Sarah and Dexter. After they accidentally break the universe in a giant space kapow, a nefarious space pirate named Mick Cracken maroons Jacob and Dexter on a tiny planet that smells like burp breath. They have to work together to make it back to their street on Earth where all the houses look the same.

(um. no lie, this sounds like the coolest book i ever wish i'd written. i'd trade a corndog for a sassy spaceship ANYDAY. MAYBE TODAY, in fact.) 

12. One thing we'd never guess about you?

I took piano lessons for thirteen years. Then again maybe you would guess that.

(i, uh, never would've guessed that.) (do you have piano-hands?)

13. Two things you wish we knew about you?

1) I love Disneyland in a wholehearted, un-ironic fashion. That place is magical, people.

(Disneyland FTW! EAT THAT BAUDRILLARD.)

2) I have an uncanny talent for catching things before they hit the ground, kind of like in “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.” I should really be working in a museum or tea shop.

14. Complete this sentence:

            Right now I have _________(number) emails in my _________(adjective) inbox.

Right now I have 17 no 18 no 19 emails in my insatiable inbox.

15. Favorite thing about your job?

Helping authors make their dreams come true.

(SQUEE)

16. Check ('X') the most suitable answers. You may choose more than one:

            __ Team Edward
            __ Team Jacob
            _X_ Team JACOB WONDERBAR, SUCKAAAA

All due respect to the chiseled nonhumans, but I have to go with my man Wonderbar, who would come up with a prank that would leave Edward and Other Jacob in tears.

(*FIST-PUMP*)

17. After reading Tahereh's blog every single morning without fail, the next best blog I read is:

Tahereh’s again as I re-read it to savor the brilliance, all the while lamenting that I can never again recapture the experience of reading the post for the first time.

(I DIDN’T EVEN PAY HIM TO SAY THESE THINGS, BESTIES, I SWEAR.)

18. Your favorite quote?

It takes a smart man to know he’s stupid.

19. Your high school voted you most likely to:

I don’t remember what it was called exactly but it’s the one where they throw the nerd a bone to make them feel better about how they studied all the time.

(MMM YEA, i remember that. they voted you mostly likely to break the universe by accident. remember? they used to call you Jacob Wonderbar for short.)

20. If you could meet any superhero ever, who would you meet, and why?

Does Marvin the Paranoid Android count?

(did you just make that up??)***

BONUS QUESTION:

21. How do you feel about rhetorical questions?

[Resists the trap]

(HE OUTSMARTED ME!)
(*shakes fist at world*)

---


impressed?? intrigued?? 


ARE YOUR QUERY SENSES TINGLING?! 


CLICK HERE
to be transported to a place just as magical & unexpectedly delightful as Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! (BUT DON'T EAT THE WALLPAPER.) (if you look closely, you'll notice the Oompa Loompa's have faded into the background!)


BUT BEFORE YOU GO! 


tell me, besties, what kind of shoes are YOU wearing today??


<333



***THIS WAS A JOKE! don't worry! i'd have to be cut off from society not to know about the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (but thanks for your concern!)


P.S. ABOUT THE CONTEST RESULTS!! hang tight, loves! i'll be announcing winners in pieces -- i'll probably need the weekend to sort through all the entries because i don't want to make a hasty decision. (after all, you put so much time into your submissions! i want to spend some time reading and rereading everything.) BUT! i will announce the WINNING NUMBER this Friday! stay tuned :D 

5.18.2010

I DON'T KNOW WHY THEY LET ME GRADUATE

HOW MY COLLEGE FRIENDS HELPED ME 
BECOME A WRITER.
by Tahereh Mafi
cameos by @randa_gill & @tanagandhi

WE DISCUSSED FINE DINING.


WE ENGAGED IN ARTS AND CRAFTS. 


WE THOUGHT UP CLEVER V-DAY GIFTS FOR OUR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS.


WE EXERCISED OUR 5TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS.


WE RHYMED.


APPARENTLY WE WORE UNIFORMS.


(WHEN DID I DRAW ANIME?!)


WE ILLUSTRATED IMPORTANT STORIES.


WHO THE HELL IS BOB?


WE WERE CLEVER WITH WORDS.


WE HAD EPIPHANIES.


WE EMPLOYED COMMON SENSE.


WE HAD BIG DREAMS OF BEING PUBLISHED.


WE HAD REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.


WE RECOGNIZED OUR OWN GREATNESS.

5.06.2010

FORM REJECTION.

omg!
BESTIES!! 
I'VE RECEIVED A QUERY LETTER!! 
--------
From: Mr. Ben Mark 
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Date: Tue, May 4, 2010 at 5:26 PM
Subject: Second Notice!

Greetings,

I understand that through Internet is not the best way to link up with you because of the confidentiality which my proposal demands.

However, I have already sent you this same letter one month ago,but I am not sure if it did get to you since I have not heard from you, hence i am constrain to reach you through the Internet which has been abused over the years.

I wish to notify you again that You were listed as a Heir to the total sum of (Three Million Six Hundred Thousand British Pounds) in the codicil and last testament of the deceased.(Name now withheld since this is our second letter to you). We contacted you because you bear the surname identity and therefore can present you as the Heir to the inheritance funds.

Please indicate your interest immediately for us to proceed. I shall feed you with full details of this transaction upon receipt of your reply towards this proposal.

All the legal papers will be processed in your acceptance. In your acceptance of this deal, we request that you kindly forward to us your letter of acceptance; your current telephone and fax numbers and a forwarding address to enable us file necessary documents at our high court probate division for the release of this sum of money.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mr. Ben Mark (Barrister) 
Telephone +447024095765
--------
unfortunately:

PROBLEM #1
: not addressed properly. 

PROBLEM #2 : written in first person.
PROBLEM #3 : too many typos.
PROBLEM #4 : too much telling, not enough showing.
PROBLEM #5 : we know nothing about the protagonist.
PROBLEM #6 : this is a RE-query.
PROBLEM #7 : improper capitalization in a business letter.
PROBLEM #8 : improper usage of semicolons & commas.

PROBLEM #9 : insufficient contact information.
PROBLEM #10 : WHERE ARE YOUR SAMPLE PAGES?!

MY RESPONSE:

Dear Mr. Mark,

Thank you so much for your query. 

Unfortunately, this project doesn’t sound right for me. I encourage you to continue to submit elsewhere, and I wish you every success in your writing career.

Thanks again for thinking of me.

Cordially,

T. H. Mafi
 
sorry Mr. Mark. 

but this is a form rejection.

hearts!


5.05.2010

INTERVIEW WITH The REJECTIONIST.



"The Rejectionist is a cranky, underpaid, whiskey-swilling, snack-deprived assistant to a Very Important New York Literary Agent. Don't "UNICORN & RAINBOWS!"*** with the assistant."

yes. she will blow your mind.

you can find her HERE.

Le R is the kind of person who doesn't need an introduction. 

but i will introduce her anyway.
she took the literary blogging world by storm with her unique voice, ridiculously wonderful insight into the literary world, and her unapologetic perspective on life. she's loved by many, feared by more, and envied by most. she's an effortless combination of brilliant and awesome, hilarious and grounded, and an absolute genius with the written word. i am not ashamed to admit that i devour her blog like it's nobody's business. i look forward to her posts every day, and i'm never disappointed EXCEPT FOR THAT ONE TIME SHE TOOK A BREAK HOW DARE SHE GO ON VACATION ahem. also i love her.
so if you're not eating fancy cheese at The Rejectionist's party, you seriously need to FOLLOW HER BLOG LIKE WHOA. 
like yesterday. 

i'm not even kidding a little bit.


without further ado,

HERE IS THE INTERVIEW! 
WATCH CLOSELY AS SHE MANEUVERS HER WAY AROUND MY MOST RIDICULOUS QUESTIONS!! (see!) (i told you!) (AHMAZING!!)

ahem.


1. when did you start blogging, and WHY?


July of last year, and to meet babes. IT'S TOTALLY WORKING.


2. tell us a little about "Steve". does "Steve" know that you blog about him? if yes, what does he think? if no, what do you think he would say?


"Steve" is hands-down one of the greatest, smartest, and most professional agents working in the industry. We are very, very lucky to be laboring under the auspices of such a splendid person, who does not even raise an eyebrow when we come into the office in faux-python leggings. We have no idea if "Steve" knows that we blog about anything at all, but prefer to think that he does not. What would he say? Um, "you're fired," probably.


3. how do you take your eggs?


We make our Support Team poach them for us.


4. what's your favorite part of the blogging experience?


We have grown inordinately fond of the Author-friends, and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their continued support and wish them success in all their endeavors. No, really! We're not an asshole ALL the time! Just mostly!


5. TELL THE TRUTH! how did you come to be so awesome? (are you secretly the protagonist in a paranormal romance who came into her "Awesome" powers? is "Steve" your Dumbledore? Does your Support Team sparkle like Edward Cullen?)


We have a direct line to Sauron.


6. how do you like your coffee?


Black. Or macchiatos if we are feeling festive NOT THE KIND YOU GET AT STARBUCKS JESUS GOD. An ACTUAL macchiato.


7. what's your favorite article of clothing? (BONUS: who is your favorite designer?? *COUGHnotthatifollowthesethingsCOUGH*)


That we own? Our Neil Diamond concert shirt. That we would like to own?
These. Or this. Alexander McQueen for clothes we like to look at and Ann Demeulemeester or Rick Owens for clothes we would actually wear.

8. if you could have any superhero power EVER, which would you choose? why?


Laser beams shooting from our eyeballs, with which to smite our enemies. Also they would work over the internet.


9. jumpsuits or leotards? why or why not?


Leotards immediately make us think of those really gross American Apparel billboards. We have been experiencing inexplicable cravings for the perfect jumpsuit lately, perhaps Tahereh Mafi was HAVING A PSYCHIC MOMENT.


10. when you wake up in the morning, you're thinking:

A. I LOVE MY LIFE (& mostly Tahereh cause she's so cool) & I CAN'T WAIT TO ATTACK THEM QUERIES!
B. WHERE IS MY LATTE WHO ARE YOU AND WHY AREN'T YOU HOLDING MY LATTE??
C. HELLO WORLD! I EAT HOPES AND DREAMS FOR BREAKFAST!
D. uh, i don't know. [insert your own option HERE.]
D.: TODAY WILL BE THE DAY THE UNIVERSE GIVES US OUR TRUST FUND HUZZAH. Although we do love our life a lot, even considering how many things we find displeasing. The Rejectionist doesn't drink lattes.

11. use the words PTERODACTYL, ESOPHAGUS, ARROWHEAD & LAPTOP in the same sentence. MAKE IT MEANINGFUL.


You goddamn kids think you're so goddamn clever.


12. one thing you think the blogosphere should absolutely know about you?


WE'RE EVEN MEANER THAN WE LOOK


13. your favorite food in the world other than smelly cheese?


BOURBON***


14. COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: sometimes i feel __________________ because ___________________.


OMG THE REJECTIONIST NEEDS A SNACK


15. should my readers direct query letters to your home address or should they just call your cell and leave an astronomically long voicemail?


Send cash.


16. worst line from a query, ever?


If by "worst" you mean "most amazing": "14 stories 7 are XXX sexy.One outstanding lesbian love story of 10 pages called Giggles"***


17. one piece of advice you'd offer every aspiring author?


SACK UP.***


18. one rejection you'll never forget?


We just watched the X Files episode where it is revealed that Cancer Man is a would-be novelist who turns to evil machination because his secret dream of being a bestselling writer is continually crushed by heartless rejection, and it made us quite despondent.


19. COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: my mother is embarrassed to be seen in public with me because ________________________.


Our mom is pretty cool about being in public with us now that we wear a bra and gave away our "'UNICORN & RAINBOWS!'*** Your Capitalist War" t-shirt.


20. closing thoughts? anything you want to say?


There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.


BONUS: on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest) HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO MEET TAHEREH & @TANAGANDHI THIS SUNDAY??


We will quote here our French cousin, who once remarked, when we asked him how to say we were excited about something: "It is always naughty in French to say 'excited,' because in France we are not excited about anything, unless it is for sex."***


***OMG MY MOTHER READS THIS BLOG.
---


BESTIES!!!

is she not fantastic in her insouciance?!

ALSO SHE HAS VOLUNTEERED HER LOVELY LOVELY TALENTS AS A PROFESSIONAL QUERY REJECTIONIST FOR MY LITTLE CONTEST!!


yes, besties, Le R is going to provide a QUERY CRITIQUE to one lucky winner!!


STAY TUNED FOR DETAILS VERY SOON!! 

(she may or may not also autograph my napkin this weekend.)

!!!!!


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