Well, I’m back again, having seen some responses! How nice, I didn’t really expect anything so soon! Welcome, sit down and we’ll chat a bit.
My writing project at the moment is the sequel to my novel that just came out, Storms of Destiny. (You can read the first hundred pages for free on my website, www.accrispin.com) The working title is Winds of Vengeance. The publisher wanted an “epic” with “epic” titles, so I did my best to come up with some. Interestingly, I’ve managed to make the themes of the books reflect the titles, which was a bit of a challenge.
Someone said they were interested in Writer Beware’s work. Boy, that’s a long story, too long for one entry.
Basically, back in 1997 or so, I became aware of a nearly illiterate woman in chatrooms on Aol calling herself Kelly O’Donnell. She claimed to be a literary agent. Since she couldn’t spell and her writing was riddled with grammatical errors, I was skeptical of this claim, to say the least. I began watching her, seeing her solicit prospective clients in the Writers Cafe on Aol. It was a eye-opener for me, how aspiring writers flocked to this obviously bogus woman who charged reading fees upfront. I’d never heard of a successful agent who did that. MY agent certainly didn’t!
A little personal history here: Back when I was first writing a book with the intention of submitting it, I realized that I knew next to nothing about how the publishing industry operates. So I did what I’d been trained to do in college…I researched the topic. Thoroughly. (This was all back in 1978 or so, so things were a bit different. For one thing, there was no internet. The internet has been such a boon to writing scammers, trust me!)
It took me about 6 months of reading everything I could dig up on the subject of publishing, writing query letters, networking, etc., to learn how to submit a book in a reasonably professional manner. (Even so, I made mistakes, and these days I use my first query letter as one of my “bad” examples when I teach my writing workshops. Still, my “bad” query letter was better than 90% of the ones most agents or publishers see, I’ll wager.)
As to how this applies to Kelly O’Donnell, I realized that most of the writers I ran into in chat rooms were ideal prospective victims for a rip-off artist (which I’d realized O’Donnell must be, though I knew nothing, at that time, about writing scams) because THEY HAD NEVER DONE A SPECK OF RESEARCH ABOUT HOW THE PUBLISHING WORLD WORKS. I was aghast.
These poor people were like gazelles, sipping eagerly at the watering hole, while Kelly O’Donnell strolled around the nearby hillside, picking out her next victim at her leisure. All she had to do was flatter these writers, and make (it was obvious to me anyway) empty promises, and they fell into her lap like ripe plums. Eager to pay, eager to have a “real” agent, pathetically grateful to have someone appear to take their writing seriously.
I’ve never been the kind of person who thought that a young woman who went into a bad area of town wearing a short skirt and tight sweater was “asking for it.” I don’t believe in blaming the victim. I got mad at Kelly O’Donnell. I began questioning her closely about publishing processes, contract language, agent contacts, etc., probing questions that she obviously could not answer.
She didn’t have a clue.
Things went rapidly downhill from there.
As I said, the story’s too long for one day, so I’ll continue tomorrow, see you all then!
Oh…before I forget! Today’s writing tip: WHEN CHOOSING THE CHARACTER WHOSE POV YOU’LL USE DURING A GIVEN SCENE, IT’S GENERALY BEST TO CHOOSE THE CHARACTER WHO WILL EXPERIENCE THE MOST EMOTIONAL IMPACT FROM THE EVENTS OF THE SCENE.
Later, folks. Have a great day!
-Ann C. Crispin
Author: Storms of Destiny/HarperEos