Showing posts from March, 2011

exhaustion hunting the great spotted WIP-alump

Yesterday, INTERN was half-intrigued and half-horrified to learn about exhaustion hunting (also known as persistence hunting)—a style of hunting in which the hunter runs after her prey until it literally drops dead (or near-dead) of exhaustion, at which point, a festive barbecue ensues.

It turns out humans are the only creatures on earth who are capable of exhaustion hunting another animal. We can't run the fastest or gnash our fangs the fearsomest, but damn—can we ever hang in there.

Exhaustion hunters rely on their tracking skills to chase an animal over long distances without losing it. Whenever the animal stops in the shade to rest, the exhaustion hunter startles it into running again, until the animal is so weak and delusional it cuddles up to a thornbush and goes to sleep. From there, it's only a matter of carrying the animal's carcass back to your village in a victorious parade.


Writers are exhaustion hunters. INTERN can't think of that many other professions tha…

did you mean: nag a ram?

Sometimes when INTERN is up very very late at night, she gets the urge to make anagrams out of her favorite publishing blogs' titles. Right now it is very very late at night and even the (temporary) pet newt Techie Boyfriend found for INTERN has gone to sleep (and she is nocturnal). So here they are:

The Rejectionist with "cretinise the jot," "entice jitters—oh!" and best of all, "eject thine riots."

Pimp My Novel: "envy limp mop"

Query Shark: "quark shyer"

Nathan Bransford: "hard nonfat barns"

Editorial Anonymous: "inanimately odorous" (!) or "aromatised oily noun" (!?) or "damnation—oily euros!"

Editorial Ass: "adroit lassie" (aww.)

Grab a Pen: "began rap" (sorry T.H.—it was either that or "pear bang!")

Perhaps next time INTERN is up late, she will anagrammize her favorite commenters (you've been warned!)

With love,


Special Topics in Calamity Novel Repair: Part 1

Over the next few weeks, INTERN will be running a special series on novel revision. Or, if you share INTERN’s alarmist tendencies and fondness for plays on book titles, Special Topics in Calamity Novel Repair.

INTERN, alas, is not one of those whiz-kid über-writers who can bang out a novel, revise it in a week, and have it shipped and ready to print while everyone else is still figuring out they have their pants on backwards (in fact, INTERN has her pants on backwards as she writes this post.) Quite the opposite: INTERN is one of those horribly inefficient writers who lumbers around like a crazed elephant, sowing disaster at every turn, and deletes not just sections but entire drafts before she finally arrives at the draft she considers done. If INTERN is lucky, this is a phase she will grow out of with enough practice. For now, though, INTERN is a die-hard novel reviser.

If you are the same way, perhaps you would like to come along with INTERN on a revision safari. Our Special To…

love, fear, and the Pareto principle

One thing that always comes up when Techie Boyfriend talks about his work as a code toad/interaction designer is the 80/20 rule: 80% of the features take up only 20% of your total programming time, the other 80% of which is spent fixing bugs you never even expected to have.

This is phenomenon is called the Pareto principle, after an Italian economist who noticed that most of the peas in his garden (80%) were produced by only a handful of super-productive pea pods, while the majority of the pea pods lounged around in the sun growing the other twenty percent of the peas.


INTERN has a friend, let’s call him Egbert, who recently wrote a query letter for his novel. Egbert embarked on the query-writing project with joy and enthusiasm and promptly churned out several decent drafts. Writing these pretty-good drafts took him about two hours.

Soon after Egbert had written these queries, however, he began to fret. He really ought to get some feedback on them before proceeding any further…

why queries get rejected—a pie chart in the manner of Kate Hart

If you haven't seen the lovely pie charts over at Kate Hart's blog showing YA deals by genre and 6-figure YA deals by genre, hie thee over there—not only are they interesting, but INTERN has never actually seen a pie chart look so cute and fun you want to take it home and rub it behind the ears.

When INTERN stumbled across this post by Kathleen Ortiz, an agent with Lowenstein Associates, she was inspired to make a pie chart of her own (cue two hours of cursing at Microsoft Excel, enlisting Techie Boyfriend's expertise, and resolving to sign up for remedial math). Ms. Ortiz took a pile of fifty queries and jotted down the reason she either accepted or rejected each one. Here's an excerpt:

1- one sentence about book. I have no idea what form of fiction it is. Pass. (they also submitted the SAME query four the system. If you see "Thank you for submitting" after you hit "submit," then we got it.)

2- We don't rep romance. pass

3- Three pa…

sunday special edition: your publishing horoscope for this week

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20):

New possibilities arise when you have an extremely vivid dream in which the most gorgeous boy you have ever seen burns a stack of library books while gently whispering the words “YA paranormal”.

Aries (March 21-April 20):

A critique partnership could flower into something more this week—isn’t it time you read between the line edits?

Taurus (April 21-May 20):

A literary acquaintance who previously spurned you will come back unexpectedly with an offer of representation. Proceed with caution—is she really the best match for your work?

Gemini (May 21-June 20):

Quick reflexes could prove extremely valuable when a freak power outage threatens to wipe your 110,000-word manuscript out of existence. The oracle has said this before and she’ll say it again: back up your work.

Cancer (June 21-July 22):

A work-in-progress will go in a bold new direction when a stranger comes to town, throwing your entire worldview into question and sowing romantic chaos among your close-knit…

department of dubious dreamery

Recently, INTERN has been noticing a curious trend in YA author interviews: authors who attribute their inspiration for a character or an entire novel to a dream.

By now, everyone is (over-)familiar with the Stephenie Meyer Legend: had dream about sparkly vampire and unsparkly girl discussing the intricacies of sparkly/non-sparkly love, woke up, penned four-book series, laughed hysterically all the way to the blood bank. (Cue wannabe bestselling vampire authors everywhere popping Nyquil and repairing to their beds.)

When she first heard of this Legend, INTERN thought it was an unusual story. But since then, INTERN has stumbled upon tons of YA authors who claim to have discovered their novels in a dream.

Humph. *glares reproachfully at her decidedly non plot outline-producing or query letter-generating bed*.

While INTERN doesn't doubt that these YA ladies are telling the truth about their nocturnal inspiration, she can't help but smell some kind of culture-bound fish. INTERN wo…

Writer, Confess! Have you ever used a real person as a character?

A little while ago, INTERN read about the lawsuit simmering over Kathryn Stockett’s novel “The Help,” in which a sixty-year old woman named Ablene Cooper is accusing Stockett of using her as a character in her book. Even though the character allegedly created in Ms. Cooper's likeness is depicted in a very flattering way, the experience of seeing herself (or what looks like herself) in a novel has her hot and bothered to the tune of $75,000.

This made INTERN scratch her head. Is it really illegal to use a real person as a character? What if you show them as being charming and intelligent and irresistibly attractive? What if you do the old gender switcheroo, or dress them up as a Deaf-Mute Bong Salesman or a Costa Rican coffee farmer? Who decides what degree of character-snatching is OK and what degree is punishable with a $75,000 fine?

In her quest for answers, INTERN stumbled across this blog about Writing and the Law, wherein she found the following quote by first amendment exp…

Der Man Aus Tennessee: Ein Top-Western

Besides INTERN and Techie Boyfriend, there are three other semi-permanent residents at the ranch: two sweet and loveable Ranch Hands of the djembe-stoner variety, who like nothing more than to partake of some herbal medicine and spend all day pruning grape vines, and the inevitable Creepy Caretaker, a lecherous, pot-bellied hermit who lives in a house on the hill and whose main responsibility at the ranch is puttering around in an ATV searching for Hot and Available Young Ladies to woo, of which this vast and unforgiving landscape is in disappointingly scant supply.

Every month or two, Hippie Roommate and her high-powered boyfriend drive up from San Francisco for an all-too-short weekend visit in which they have just enough time to unpack their organic groceries, hold an elaborate tea ceremony with cave-ripened thousand-year-old Pu Erh straight off the plane from Xishuangbanna, fret over possibile mutinies among the Ranch Hands, and enjoy a brief dip in the hot tub before motoring off…

INTERN returns!

When last INTERN poked her head into the blogosphere, she was grease-stained and coolant-soaked and half-insane from breathing in too many Spaceship Fumes whilst repairing the van she had been living in with Techie Boyfriend for the past six months. INTERN is happy to report that her days of living in a motor vehicle are now over, and that she is finally ready to return to a slightly less auto-shoppy existence—and to this blog.

INTERN and Techie Boyfriend are currently holed up at a secret hideaway in the hills of Mendocino County, California, where they spend most of their time studying cougar scat and making elaborate plans to catch wild boars using ingenious and entirely humane traps built out of manzanita twigs and duck spit (not to fret—INTERN is still herbivorous. But only until she catches her first boar.) Those of you who have known INTERN for some time will be intrigued to know that INTERN and Techie Boyfriend are living here under the patronage of Hippie Roommate’s high-po…