QUIBBLES & BITS

Deni Dietz

                             BREW HA-HA [no, that’s not a misspelling]
                                    or
                             BREW HOO-BOY

Last week the ITW [International Thriller Writers] Awards raised a lot of dust, eh? Funny thing is, I wouldn’t have even noticed that all the nominees were male, had it not been brought to my attention; had I not been thunked on the ol’ noggin with a blog-mallet. [And this from someone who practically memorized Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be You And Me, whose daughter at age 5 wanted to know why it was called a menu and not a womanu.]

People, friends, fellow authors, if you want to get your knickers or tightie whities in a twist, how about tackling "real" issues? I’m against the War, any War. I hate it that funding for libraries is practically non-existent. I hate it when I call with a question about my bank account [or computer] and I speak to someone with too-perfect English who admits he’s pretending to be from Peoria. I hate that people are stealing files with my personal information, or that phone companies can give the government stuff about me, or that the government wants personal stuff about me, and I hate Wal-Mart.

Those are the issues I fret over.

As far as my Awards opinion, it won’t make me very "popular" and I’ll probably never again be short-listed for an awar—oh, wait, I’ve never been short-listed for a major award. So I guess one could say Deni has sour-grape issues (Deni loves talking about herself in third-person), but they’d be wrong. Dead wrong.

People, friends, fellow authors, lend me your ears. Somehow, hard as I try, I can’t envision ITW judges receiving submissions and forming 3 separate piles: Male, female, Initials. And that’s where last week’s brouhaha breaks down. As an author, I must give my characters motivation [otherwise my plots break down]. Where’s the motivation in short-listing a guy author over a woman author? It just doesn’t make any sense.

For want of a better word — and because I’ve racked my brain for a catchy phrase and couldn’t find one, I’ll designate this week’s Quibbles & Bits:

DESIGNATIONS

I hate ’em.

I’ve been told they’re necessary because bookstore personnel need to know where to shelve books. So why, may I ask, did my first mystery novel Throw Darts at a Cheesecake get shelved with the cookbooks? And why did my stand-alone thriller Fifty Cents For Your Soul (which Publishers Weekly called "Horror and Hollywood noir") get placed on the Inspirational shelves?

I’ve been told designations are necessary because agents need buzz words to sell books to editors (and editors need buzz words to satisfy marketing departments).

Agent to Editor: "It’s a thriller. Think Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, only this has a woman protagonist, her sexagenarian sidekick, and a three-legged dog ."

Editor to Marketing Dept: "It’s a saga. Think: ‘Lonesome Dove’ with sex."

Author to agent/editor: "It’s a cozy. Think P.D. Christie’s ‘The Cat Who Tatted Lace While Brewing Cappuccino and Cutting Hair.’"

And by the way, why the heck don’t we have an award for cat mysteries? We could call it the Pussy Awards — or even better, YELP [Yarns Embodying Lynxlike Personifications].

"Hey, d’ya hear? I was short-listed for a YELP."

When you have designations, you have the following conversations:

"I don’t read cozies."
"What’s a cozy?"
"I’m not sure. I think it has to do with knitting and recipes. And cats. A friend of mine wrote a mystery with a cat and she won a YELP."

I don’t read woo woo."
"What’s woo woo?
"Supernatural shit. I hate it when a sleuth solves a mystery with ESP."
"What book did that happen in?"
"I don’t know. I told you, I don’t read woo woo."

Book Awards have designations: Mystery, Romance, SF/Fantasy, and so on. Skipping the fan [AKA Readers Choice] awards and concentrating on the ones that get judged . . . I was an Awards judge once. I had to read 40 books, and here’s my confession for the world (okay, the 20 or so people who read my blog every week) to hear: [whispering] I didn’t read every page of every book! If the book didn’t grab me by page 50, I skimmed.

I hang my head in shame, but assuming I eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom, it takes me a minimum of 2 days to read a book. You do the math. Forty books = 80 days. I’ve heard judges say they "get over a hundred entries and read every word." At one book every 2 days, that would take ME, at the very least, 200 days.

I’m not saying it can’t be done . . .

By the way, one of my favorite (award-winning) authors is Barry Eisler. His [controversial] June 21st. blog was titled: INDEPENDENTS, CHAINS AND DRIVE BY SIGNINGS
http://www.barryeisler.com.blog

Last week was one hell of a week, eh?

Over and Out,
Deni, dusting herself off.

12 thoughts on “QUIBBLES & BITS

  1. Linda L. Richards

    Lovely, my dear. Trust you to put it all in perspective, plus mix in a bit of fun.

    But the YELP is genius, Deni. It’s… well… it’s prrrrrr-fect. Why isn’t there an award for kitty mysteries? Or is that asking for trouble? As in, “OK: Merry-Lee Pennyweather’s CATS IN TROUBLE would be a super candidate, but didn’t you think the dog played rather a large role?”

    “Hmmm… yes. Too large a canine role.”

    “But… well… didn’t you think the dog was sort of… well… lynxlike?”

    You know: a whole new set of things to sling mud about. (All worth it for a YELP, I guess.)

    Yep… hell of a week.

    Reply
  2. Rob Gregory Browne

    My UK editor tagged me as PULP FICTION meets DEAN KOONTZ.

    Who am I to complain?

    Designations are a way of life in the screenwriting biz, which is where I’m originally from. Shorthand is essential for people with very little time…

    And sometimes they work. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. Carstairs38

    I have a very serious question for you. Why am I just now hearing about “The Cat Who Tatted Lace While Brewing Cappuccino and Cutting Hair?” It sounds perfect for me!

    Mark

    Reply
  4. Pari

    Heh heh heh, Deni. Thank you.

    We’ve had these conversations before. I remember calling my writing “serrated cozy” and not being satisfied with that.

    Don’t you hate when people ask you, “Who do you write like?”I’m always at a loss to respond. “Well, gee, um . . . I write like myself. That’s why my stuff is, uh, fresh.”

    Argh.

    The marketer in me understands those designations, but just about every other molecule in my body rejects them.

    Reply
  5. Beatrice Brooks

    LOL, Linda. I love your Kitty Award dialogue. And yes, I tried to put the ITW awards into perspective. When you have *really important* things going on — like, was the American Idol voting fixed because the producers wanted a guy to win? — to paraphrase Bogie, “The gender of the ITW nominees don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”Here’s looking at you, kid,Deni

    Reply
  6. JT Ellison

    Funny post, today, Deni. I enjoyed it. Seems there’s just nothing we can do to please everyone all the time. So let’s live a little in the meantime, yes? Thanks for the laugh πŸ™‚

    Reply
  7. Beatrice Brooks

    Mark, the reason you’re just now hearing about ‘The Cat Who Tatted Lace, etc.’ is because I’m just now marketing it — to Ugly Town publishers, as a hard-boiled thriller that harkens back to the days of Sam Spade, Betty Boop, and Felix the Cat. Hey, it won’t win no YELP award, but, when published, I’ll make sure it’s entered in the ITWs. I’ve been thinking about using the pen name King Stephens, which is kind of generic…Deni

    Reply
  8. Beatrice Brooks

    Rob, it’s always fun to get your comments. And even though you’re published by a Big Pub House – and will probably win every award there is – I’m still going to devour your books :::grin:::

    We have one thing in common. I tried to market FIFTY CENTS FOR YOUR SOUL (a mystery/horror novel that revolves around events that occurred during the filming of ‘The Exorcist’) as a…well, mystery/horror novel. No go. Until I high-concepted it as — are you ready? — DEAN KOONTZ meets THE EXORCIST.

    So what you’re talking about is “high concept” rather than “pure designation.” And yes, high concept sells.

    Hmmm…I think I might do a blog on high concepts, maybe after next week’s K&B – which will be sub-titled THAT DIRTY WORD.

    Deni

    Reply
  9. Elaine

    Thanks, Deni – for the laughs. I think we all needed them today.

    I’m thinking of a new title too – Bludgeoned By The Blog. Think it’s too tame?

    Reply
  10. Rob Gregory Browne

    Deni, re: awards — LOL. I doubt I’ll be getting any. My work tends to be very meat and potatoes commercial fare. Fun to read, but award worthy? I highly doubt it.

    It’s nice of you to say, though. From your word processor to God’s ear. πŸ™‚

    Reply

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