Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I come from the land of ice and snow...

The winter storm that swept up from the southern plains hit us last night. The snow turned to rain late in the evening, and it rained all night. Of course, this is central Ohio, and we can't have normal rain. We get freezing rain. When I woke up this morning, it looked as if there was white fluffy snow everywhere, but it was all frozen solid.

We're under a level 2 snow emergency. Max's school is closed. Vic's daycare is closed. The cardiologist Angie works for closed his office today. I work from home, so I don't get a snow day.


I get to spend all day putting together a contract for a prospective client. I'm not a lawyer, but I've done enough contract work as part of sales and business development that I feel I should charge people $500 an hour for a 5-minute conversation, and then go play golf. I bet I could actually drive the ball 300 yards today, because it would bounce and roll on the ice.


Marjorie said...

I disagree with your comment at JR's blog re: the query. She won't post my comments about it because I am not a groupie and I my opinion is spot on.
I said:
"Still my comments have not been published?
It was not my intention to hit a nerve. I wanted to share my opinion because I am not a "groupie." I was truthful regarding a perceived anger and an appearance of unprofessionalism in the post.
Where in the workday do you have time for (mean-spirited) nonsense on a computer in a blog such as discussing other agents and ridiculing authors' queries (real queries or those perhaps submitted in jest)? It is not funny; it seems like juvenile activity wrapped in eloquent verbosity.
Get busy doing the job! Nose in the book, and when you sign-on... wear mittens!
You may not publish this, but you will read it and my hope is that you give consideration to the message. That's enough for me."

Her post is not funny or hilarious. It embarrassed the author for no reason. And that is unprofessional. I do stand-up in NYC comedy clubs and I offered to set her up on a stage where she can be really funny . She responded with silence.

Rick Daley said...


What was your original post? This alludes to a prior post. I have an opinion to weigh in on this, but would prefer to know the whole thread before I do.


Marjorie said...

I was talking about Janet Reid's blog entry called: "Why You get Form letters." There are many comments at that post, and I made three comments and none of my comments were published (she has comment moderation in place).
In order for my opinion to be heard, I am visiting the blogs of several people who left comments there and stating my opinion.

You said: "The submitter though it was mean because it was directed at him, but as Mel Brooks said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."
I thought it was hilarious!"

Well, I do not think it is hilarious. I think a guy submitted a query, either real or in jest, and she ridiculed it in a mean-spirited and angry way. I think it was he who was trying to be funny and catch her attention. I feel sorry for the guy. I think she was unprofessional. I think she embarrassed the guy if the query was real and if she thought it was not she should have moved on with her work day an dignored him. It find it preposterous and juvenile to use a blog for that agenda... to make fun of queries and other agents. I think the poor guy tried to impress her and she was mean.

I am not a groupie and I don't need her approval. I said my opinion and she won't publish it. But I know she read it.

GutsyWriter said...

Try hitting the golf ball just for fun. Let us know how far it bounces.

Rick Daley said...


As a stand-up comedienne, I would think that you understand that humor is highly subjective. I've been to shows where a line from a comic fell flat, and they quipped "Nothing? That killed them at the 10 o'clock show..."

I laughed at Tina Fey's impressions of Sarah Palin on SNL. I laughed when the Daily Show lampooned President Bush. And I laughed when Janet Reid posted her satire of that query letter.

You claim that she embarrassed that author; I disagree. Had she not redacted his name, I would have a different opinion.

The way she opened her reply was spot-on satire, and a great repositioning of his opening to her.

She did not coin the term "writer porn." That term has existed for a while, and it typically refers to the books that are written to motivate writers. Janet's blog itself is a prime example of writer porn; we authors flock to it because it turns us on.

Remember, the author queried her. Had he done some basic research (let me stress the basic here), he would have known that his query letter was way off the mark for her personality. If he did not do any research, then his query can be considered SPAM, in which case he drew first blood in terms of rudeness.

I have no insight to her decision to withhold your comments. As to your offer for a stage where she can be funny, she does not need it. Her blog is her stage. You visited it of your own free will. If I went to a comedy club and I did not like the comic, I would not blame the comic.

What she said was not so rude as the very un-funny racial tirade Michael Richards released on the blacks in his crowd a few years back, but it seems like you hold it in a similar regard. It is not.

Lighten up, Francis.

Rick Daley said...

Hi Gutsy Writer,

I suck at golf, so I always hit the golf ball for fun :-)

It would have bounced further, but that window stopped it.

Thanks for stopping by! Come back often, bring a friend...

Marjorie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marjorie said...

reposted due to typos:
I don't get the Michael Richards analogy at all. It is not a proper analogy. You are comparing egregious behavior onstage in a comedy club to unprofessional posts at a blog within the context of a job description. It's not a correct analogy. I don't get a literary agent who uses a blog to ridicule submissions and other agents. It seems unprofessional, inappropriate, and mean-spirited. And wrong.

It seems as unprofessional to me as if a bunch of teachers went into a teachers' lounge and made fun of students' homework. If I had read a student's poorly written composition to the class and omitted the name of the student, don't you think the student in the class would still be humiliated? That's a better analogy. What about salespeople who made fun of the appearance of their customers. Or waitstaff who made fun of how people ate in the restaurant. Is that correct to do in a blog? Do you think it would be proper? Or does anything go?

It appears that many of the readers of JR's blog have a groupie mentality. I was the only brave one who spoke the truth of what perhaps many were thinking but too timid to express. I was spot on, and that is why she did not publish my comments.

Humor is fine... but when you are wearing "a uniform" and carry a job title, it seems like bad form and poor taste to ridicule your (potential) clients. I wonder how many of her colleagues think her blog is a riot?

Yes, the author's name was removed, but if he saw the blog he is readily identifiable to himself. He will know he wrote that letter. He will be humiliated and hurt. I felt sorry for the guy.

In terms of "in which case he drew first blood in terms of rudeness" sometimes a professional has to absorb rudeness and not "fight back" because it is not professional. Can you imagine employees in a job "fighting back" with customers on an equal playing field? It just is not appropriate and that is the word. Appropriate.

Her blog is her stage? Could you imagine a teacher in active service creating a blog "to be funny" and making fun of the staff and administration and students? Would it be right for police to ridicule in a blog those who came to the precinct during the day with complaints about robberies and assaults? How about firemen who made fun of people they helped every day?

You think her blog is her stage, fine. But to make fun of queries that are submitted in good faith by hopefuls to me is so not right. It is so jerky to me to engage in that on the job. I almost cannot believe it.

This is not about "humor being subjective." It is about professional behavior in a field that is greatly respected.

Rick Daley said...


The title of the post is "Why you get form letters" and the post is an exercise in the cause and effect of a personal response in lieu of a form letter.

The author spammed her as a joke; at least, his reply to her reply states it as such:
"No Agent Reid, my letter was jest, commenting on the barrage of insincere letters you agents sift through every day, and writers hate to write."

Her reply to the initial "query" was intended to be joking back, mimicking his introductory format, providing a hyperbolic critique of his fake novel, and closing out by stating point blank that she is joking around, too.

But she hurt his feelings, and the whole thing exploded. The whole point being: this is why she sends a form rejection, because it's too easy to misconstrue something and then it becomes personal.

You missed my point with the Michael Richards reference, specifically where I stated that they are not the same:
"It is not."

I also think the teacher analogy is only half relevant. Such an action in a classroom where everyone is physically present is much different than the online forum, but I agree that it would not be wise for a teacher to do something like this to a student. To take this a step further, if an anonymous student turned in a joke paper on a subject that was not assigned, spamming the teacher, and the teacher then jokingly failed the fake paper in front of the class...that's a circumstance I would find acceptable.

I used to work in a call center, and in the break room we all shared war stories about nightmare customers. Many IT help desks for large and small corporations have what's known as a "Wall of Shame" where emails from end users with inane questions are posted. Last night America's Funniest Videos had a montage of peoples' pants falling down, revealing granny's undies to millions of viewers. Yes, sometimes public embarrassment is funny.

You were not the only one to post a dissenting view. Janet posted HIS dissenting view, and another person posted this:

"...I agree with him? Sorry.

He was funny (the first time around), your response seemed a bit of a slap, and he should have swallowed his defensiveness and not replied to it."

I can see that we have an unresolvable difference of opinions on this matter. I do appreciate your candor, though.

J.E. Seymour said...

I live about an hour above Columbus and we had a level 2 as well. I was glad to have a reason to skip out on work and get some writing done though.

Rick Daley said...

Columbus is still in level 2 today. I almost threw my back out yesterday clearing the driveway. Couldn't just push the snow all the way across, it was too deep and to heavy. Scoop-walk-dump...Scoop-walk-dump.

Marjorie said...

I could write plenty again, but I won't.
Just let me say that I don't appreciate a blog from a professional with an agenda of ridicule.
The writer sending the query can write whatever he wants. When she responds in the same manner, she diminishes her own integrity. It doesn't seem classy.

I think when he initially used the word "jest," I don't think he was indicating he sent the query as a prank... I think he tried to craft a funny query and it backfired because she did not appreciate it.

My opinion is that she should send out form rejections, or if she wants to personalize it... give some constructive advice. When she gets down to that reciprocal level on her blog and fights back or tries to do shtik, it's a huge "ick" moment.

Anita said...


Not talking to you anymore about Cormac until I finish his spoilers for me! Can't finish book until I send my ms revisions in...that must happen tonight...will not sleep until I'm done!