Thursday, May 15, 2008


Someone yesterday wrote in saying that he had written a "non-fictional novel."

Normally I'm pretty laid back about the whole "fiction novel" business, but this was hilarious.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Interviews and Unloved Manuscripts

Clearly there's a bit of a lag between when I get emails and when I answer them, mainly because this blog only takes priority after I've finished my real work and then my writing work.

Dennis Cass asked me to do a guest Q & A, and I did. The results are here.

Dear Rejecter,

I was wondering whether you know how I can get my hands on unloved (rejected) manuscripts? The ones without a loving home etc.

On principle we toss them. Sometimes we recycle and sometimes we don't (if the recycle bin is unavailable or I'm making the decision, because I don't recycle). While the paper belongs to us, we don't have legal ownership of the words ON the paper. The author holds the copyright - the right to copy and/or reproduce them. That puts "sending other people's rejected manuscripts around" into somewhat dubious legal/moral territory.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mystery Genres

Dearest Rejecter,

I am writing a series of what might be called "ultra cozy" mysteries. My stories don't involve murder. I think there is plenty of evil that men can do in addition to homicide, and I think a lot of that evil doing can drive stories that can be compelling and satisfying.

But I don't quite know how to pitch them. I'm afraid that if I say they are in the mystery genre, most agents and editors will have the standard preconception that there "must" be a murder or the story isn't worthy. Is there a genre title for what I am writing?

Yes. Thriller. Sorry, but now you are obligated to thrill. Or suspense. No, wait, I think suspense is the one where the protagonist is in danger, while thriller implies that other people are in danger, but not necessarily the protagonist. I always get these mixed up.

The long answer is that it kinda depends what the crime is. If your protagonist investigates international intrigue, you're writing a political thriller. If your protagonist is investigating a religious conspiracy, you're just writing a thriller that has an angle. If your protagonist is investigating the proper use of pre-existing water maintenance regulation, you'd better throw some lesbian rape in there, because otherwise it's probably going to be pretty boring. And you'd better be a woman too, because then it makes it a feminist piece.

"Mysteries" are generally to classify books about murder, or at least the implication of murder. Why that is, I'm not sure entirely; it's just now the industry developed. Either way, feel free to query agents who deal in crime, thrillers, suspense, and mysteries. Depending on what the crime actually is will narrow it down a bit for them in the query.

For more on your question, there's a discussion here.