Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Thursday, August 25, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 25

Barley Shea

Here’s a photo of my wonder dog, Barley Shea. She’s taking a hammock hiatus while waiting for you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 24

"Mom! There's a shark on the lawn!"

Your torture continues. I struggled mightily to narrow down my vast cache of favorite feline photos, finally reducing it to seven. I've attached one, but would need only the slightest crook of your royal finger to send you the other six! I'm captioning the attached photo as thus: Mom! I think there's a shark on our lawn...

I have four cats. Ol' man Otis is often called "Pappy Otis" as he cheerfully adopted the tiny kittens we rescued two years ago. We'd hoped Lady, the Queen of the Kingdom, would become a surrogate mama, but she wanted nothing to do with such base creatures. The Wonder Twins, Luna and Lily, are identical beyond a minuscule variance in the white stripe down each grey nose. We have no children, so my cats are truly my fur babies.

Thank you again for running the 100-word contests on your blog. I truly feel they've helped me refine my prose. I already write in a tight fashion - both my thrillers capped at 73,000 words - but your contests require exquisite attention to form and word choice, which is particularly vital for short stories. I was notified last week that a 750-word crime story I wrote for the WOW blog ( is in the finals for their quarterly contest. If I win, it will be my first contest win, my first short story published, and my first monies ($350.00.) Small potatoes, I know, but one has to start somewhere! Since I would retain all rights, I plan to expand it to 1500 words and try submitting it to Ellery Queen Magazine. (hardly small potatoes! VERY nice potatoes!!!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 23

I wish you a fruitful August of enchanted adventures between pages. We at the Reef will try to behave. Ok, that is overstating it a bit. We will, however, make every effort to keep the blog from spinning off into Carkoon to be overtaken by kale and mushy peas. Probably. It'll be fine.

Attached is a picture of my pug, Frankie, at my favorite pub trying to steal my beer which she does sometimes. There really is little better than a pug at a pub.

Monday, August 22, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 22


This past March, our cat, Tasha, had to have an operation on her paw due to an ingrown claw. This was her expression, not long after she got home.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 21

 Took this photo especially this arvo (US translation: this afternoon). This is Biggles, my 10yr old schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle cross). And yes, named after the literary Biggles =) The photo is taken at Australia's Defence headquarters in front of the Australian-American Memorial, the tall column behind Biggles. Sadly you can't see the top of it - a sculpture of an American eagle.

Would have liked to send an action shot, but hard to get good photos with a black dog.

Tempted to send the one of him on an esky (US translation: Coleman cooler), but the "dog on the tuckerbox" reference would probably be lost on a mostly US audience. (Dog on the Tuckerbox reference here)

More than you probably wanted to know but you did say you were taking a break to read. Just helping with that *grin*.

Enjoy your sabbatical and thanks from the bottom of the Earth for being one of the good people on this planet. To put it the Aussie way: Fair dinkum you're a bonza sheila (US translation: fierce  shark who gnaws hapless writers!)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 20


This is Ooee

She has 7 lives after falling from a couple of apartment balconies (6th storey and 3rd storey), before coming to live with us.

She’s not always this irascible - she just didn’t appreciate having her catnap interrupted by the paparazzi.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 18



I love the idea of pet pictures on your blog for August, so attachinga picture of one of my four cats, my beautiful Isis, who was killed by a car a few weeks ago. 

She was a very independent cat, a former stray and because of that a very successful hunter. I first met her six years ago when I stayed with a friend who looks after the stray cats around her house. (I live in Spain; unfortunately there are a lot of stray cats here) I sat down on the sofa and shortly after, Isis jumped on my lap and settled down. My friend said she was surprised because Isis didn't really like people that much, but from that moment on, Isis slept on my bed and was waiting for me every time we came home to my friend's house. She continued doing that when I adopted her. Every afternoon she'd be waiting for me to come home from work to greet me with a special, excited meow, but as soon as greetings were over, she'd go back to her delicate, reserved self and act like a real goddess. Everything was on her terms. She was an incredible cat.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 17

 So I said I was going to pore over my pictures, but really, this is my favorite picture of Elka. It makes me happy every time I see it, and is probably the best photograph I will take in my entire life.

I took it through sheer luck. She isn't always pleased to have the camera (or cell phone) in her face, especially if we're on a walk and there's just! so! much! to! see! I forget why I had the camera out; We were at a new park, and I must have seen the merit in something she was doing, or I was going to ask her for a behavior, but instead I waited.

See, Elka likes looking at things that fly. She dances around with stray moths in the house, she looks up for an airplane or a helicopter if she hears them (but they're just too fast), and birds....well, when I took this picture, she'd just watched a bird hop across an expanse of grass and take wing, and then whipped around and looked at me as if to say "Did you just see that?" Sheer joy and wonder.

I thought about sending you the picture of her in bunny ears, but I guess I'll save that 'til I query you next (or for the next Chum Bucket?)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bonus content! T-time!


Meet T.A.R.D.I.S., the Russian tortoise. His hobbies include lounging in his food dish, glaring at humanity, and sleeping. (And, yes, ladies: he's single!)

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 15

Luca Brasi
 This is Luca Brasi.  Contrary to public belief, he doesn't always sleep with the fishes!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bonus content!

 All the best in your new literary home! I'll bet you're already looking at paint colors for your new office.

I know it's late for the pet photos, that's all right I have none to speak of. Hubby has hinted over and over about getting a dog. I told him with our lifestyle (traveling, apartment living in a big city, etc.) that was the last thing we needed, so I got him a cactus instead. Not a big one as you can see in the photo. Lol.

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 14

Sam, ShelfPortrait

As you know, we are in the process of packing to move to some house we haven’t found yet. We came home from looking at houses today to find Sam the Cat taking advantage of an empty shelf. As you can see, he is quite at home.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

This Blog is going to the dogs, Day 13

This is Little Girl Dog, ten pounds of solid energy. At nine years old, people still think she's a puppy, though she's starting to feel the humidity in her little joints. She loves nothing better than to run - chasing, being chased, or just running in ever-increasing circles. I decided to try to harness some of that energy by taking her to agility classes. She loved them.

The last day of class, the dogs had a chance to run through the course a few times. Now, one way to get a dog to run through those agility tunnels is to throw a treat in. I never had to do that with LGD. She just loved the running. But after a couple runs through the course, she may have been getting bored with it. She ran into the tunnel - and didn't come out. Where was she? I got down on my hands and knees to see, and there she was, sitting just out of reach, chawing on a treat that someone had thrown in there. Her teeth aren't exactly even, and she has a small mouth, so she tends to chew on one side, which makes her chewing look particularly forceful. The other participants looked at me as though I were nuts, while I'm laughing and calling her. Of course, she goes looking through the folds of the tunnel for more treats. I had to crawl into the tunnel to extract her so the other students could have their turn.

My dearly departed Koko had a similar last day of agility classes. Now, Koko was a bit OCD, and everything had to work the way he expected it to, or he would repeat that action until it did work. He surprised me the first run through by doing everything perfectly. Now, we're supposed to give them a treat every few obstacles. Well, on his third run-through, I guess I was remiss. I didn't give him a treat after a few obstacles. So instead of running to the next obstacle, he ran back a few obstacles, to the tunnel, and ran through it. Then he paused, looking at me. Then he ran through it again and paused, looking at me. And I realized that that obstacle was where I had last given him a treat. He ran through it over and over again, then just started running. I knew then I wouldn't get his concentration back to the course. We had to cut our run short then, too.

Friday, August 12, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 12

Storm and Breeze

Storm, the Aussie, has anointed herself Admiral of the Castle. Tasked with defending it at all costs, she keeps a watchful eye atop her perch.  She questions all that dare to pass.

Breeze, the Toller, is more of a...Joker. She assists in the Castle's defense by eating flies, gathering *all* the socks, and chewing any offensive sticks found in the vicinity.  Her perch is underfoot.

Together they defend the Castle in my stead.

But some days, I'd rather just dig a mote.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 11

Missy Kay

Given the temps predicted for NYC today (and the humidity) I'd like to be in that pool with Miss Missy Kay!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 10

Juno, QOTF!

This is Juno, QOTF (Queen of the Fetchers). She's about to launch herself after that elusive quarry, the tennis ball!

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Monday, August 08, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 8

My husband is not a dog person, but he's grudgingly tolerated my dogs so far.  We've had Ginger for 7 of her 13 years.

My husband frequently teases me.  For example I'll say "I'll be home late tonight.  Take care of my dog for me."  He'll answer "Sure, I'll take care of her."  With a wicked gleam in his eye.

Despite that, Ginger is very attached to my husband and prefers him over anyone else in my family.

About two months ago, the vet called and informed me that Ginger has kidney problems.  She now has different food and daily medication.  The vet tells us she probably has no more than a year left.

When I told my husband that news, along with a little tease like "You finally get your wish", he stared at Ginger for a minute, rubbed her ears, then looked at me with sad eyes and said "I'm not ready for her to leave."

Sunday, August 07, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 7

These horses aren't really pets, but I respect the work that is being done at the PProud Spirit Horse Sanctuary so much that I kind of insisted that Melanie Sue Bowles send us some photos.

And boy howdy did she!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 6


 Arlo, who thinks outside the box but inside the bag, is a deconstructivist feline artisticat who works with paper disassemblages. An interview with  Arlo and pictures of his work can be found here

Friday, August 05, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 5

This is Max.
She lives on the ranch with Kari Dell and Kari's family.
Max doesn't read much but if she did, she'd love Kari's new book Reckless in Texas.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

This blog is going to dogs, Day 4

My two curly coated retriever boys, Pax and River. This was a sweet moment of tolerance between a tired older dog and an exuberant puppy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The blog is going to the dogs, Day 3

I'd like to introduce you to one of my two Westies, Chloe. This is her first ride ever on a boat, and my first since I inherited my grandpa's pontoon after his passing in February. Due to his health issues, the 'toon hadn't run for a few years, but a little love and a couple YouTube videos remedied that. Now, the family and I can enjoy some warm sun and cold brews in his memory.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

This blog is going to the dogs, Day 2

The little brown ShihTzu is named Whiskey. When we picked him up, my ten-year-old and I were singing "whiskey for my men and beer for my horses" along with Toby Keith and driving through whiskey country in Kentucky. The ten-year-old chose the name. I never anticipated any problems until the six-year-old's teacher commented that she always talked about how much she loved her whiskey.

The little white guy is Gotti, and he's a sweetie!

Here are their favorite things to say:

"I didn't do it."
"I have no idea who pulled that out of the garbage can."

"That was not me dancing on the dining room table."
"Don't worry. I'll be back as soon as I have a quick zoom around the neighborhood."
"Gotti did it."

"Come on. We can play throw at least 200 more times. Come on, come on."
"Was that your food?"
"But I love dirty laundry."

"I thought that was my toy. See, you can still use them."
"You walked away. I thought you were finished."
"Sure, I'll take you out for a walk, but keep up, will you?"
"Gotti did it."

"How was I supposed to know you just paid $75 to clean that bedspread?"
"I didn't know that leather showed dig scratches."
"That squirrel wanted to play."

"He was holding our pizzas. Of course I had to jump all over him. He knew I meant thank you. Anyway, you gave him a nice tip."
"The mailman invited me to ride with him."
"Gotti did it."

"May I just cuddle on your lap? Please and thank you?"

Monday, August 01, 2016

The blog is going to the dogs, Day 1

 Princess Miyuki (Japanese Chin), Tinkerbell  (Chihuahua ) and Gizmo (Pomeranian).

The cats wanted me to send their pics, but they refuse to pose together and the dogs looked really cute that day.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

slacker Janet does not review the week

Instead she is "catching up on her reading"

The animal parade starts tomorrow! You guyz sent me some GREAT photos! Can't wait to share them.

In the meantime, go get some "reading" done!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Eleven queries that did not get to yes

1. Fourth novel in a series.
Further scouting revealed the series is self-published and has fewer than ten reviews on each of  the other books. 

How you will avoid this: Generally agents aren't going to take on a novel that's not the first in a series. When they do, it's usually because the previous books sold well. Selling well means more than 10 reviews on Amazon. If you intend to self-publish, you are also signing up to self-promote and self-market and a lot of writers either don't know, don't care or just plain don't do it.

2. Identifying something as a hot topic that isn't.
How you will avoid this: Know what people are talking about, and by people I don't mean your friends and family. You have to watch the news, see what's trending on Twitter, take a look around at what people are holding protest marches about.  Something that was a hot topic 40 years ago probably isn't today.  (Although, honest to godiva, this election season is making me rethink that position.)

3. Previously published
How you will avoid this: I don't take on novels that have already been published. You just have to know this by osmosis, since I don't think it's in any of the guidelines I've posted.

4. So so query letter, really kind of a mess, but I read pages. Writing not compelling enough for me to ask for more pages to figure out where the story really starts.

How you will avoid this: If you query talks about an event, it's really helpful if that event is near the start of the book. Avoid all the stuff of moving the characters into place, explaining why they are there. They're here, you tell me, I go along for the ride.

5. Novel is a thinly disguised revenge memoir.
How you will avoid this: If you're writing a novel to showcase a grievous wrong done to you, you're better off writing something else.  Writing novels to make a point leads to very bad novels.

6. A: Overlooking the "Dear Mr. Reid" salutation
I don't get my fins in a frenzy about that stuff but I should warn you, a lot of agents do.  

How you will avoid this:  If you don't know if the agent is Mr/Ms/SnookieBaby, then Dear Janet Reid is your safest bet.

6  B: A ho-hum plot that stinks of repetition. In other words, a book I don't want to read cause I've already read 700+ versions of it, and there's nothing new here to catch my interest.

How you will avoid this: you have to bring your own particular spin to a plot, something that elevates it beyond the books I've seen before. What is NEW about your book? What are contributing to the genre? How are you adding on to the work of the others that came before you?

7. Absurd plot, categories that don't make any sense (honestly cowboy porn haiku is a damn JOKE!)
How you will avoid this: pick one category. Stick with it. As for absurd plot, I really don't know. If you don't recognize it when you see it, maybe I'm just the wrong agent for you.

8. A To: Undisclosed Recipients. In other words: spam. 
How you will avoid this: address your email to the agent you want to read your work

8. B. The first four paragraphs were about the author's writing journey.
How you will avoid this: Talk about your book, not your writing journey. I care about the former, not a fig about the latter.

9. Not enough about the plot to entice me to read the pages or the full.
How you will avoid this: Get the plot on the page. Set up and background, and rhetorical questions to "entice" the reader are a waste of space.  Tell me what happens in the first act that will change the characters for good or ill. Without that your query is boring. Boring queries get a pass.

10. NOTHING about the plot in the query. Literally NOTHING.
How you will avoid this: get the plot on the fucking page. It's not like there isn't an entire blog with  260 query letter examples to show you how to do this! This kind of stuff just kills me cause rejection SUCKETH for writers but what the hell am I going to do if you don't tell me what the fucking book is about!!!!!!!!!!!!  (yes, I need a vacation)

11. A collection of short stories. Generally short stories need to have been published before they're collected into one volume.

How you will avoid this: If you want to do a collection of short fiction, get some of them published first and mention that in the query letter.

No requests on this round, which is probably just as well since I clearly need a vacation, a drink, and review of what kind of language is appropriate for public forums.  

PS Don't forget to send your pet's selfie for the August hiatus. 
I have just enough photos for the month now. If you didn't get a chance to send, don't worry.
I'm SURE there will be another chance later in the year! 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Announcing a blog hiatus for August

Dear Readers,
I'm going to take a hiatus from posting in August, but I'd miss the community here too much if I let it go dark.

Thus, August will be pictures of your dogs/cats/horses (Melanie Sue Bowles, I'm looking at you!) or any other critter in your life.

Send me an email with a jpg (ONE!!) of the critter, and if you want to include name, anecdote, etc, that's fine.

I've gotten just the right amount now for the month of August.

Example: one of my all time fave dog pics is Miles!

I figure y'all will find something to talk about in the comment threads.

This would be a GREAT time to visit each other's websites, blogs etc.

I'll be back in September of course, so don't worry.

(I really need to catch up on my reading in August, or the next image of me will be swimming in a cauldron of boiling oil, surrounding by chanting writers with torches!)

Email to use is: jetreidliterary @ gmail
no spaces
.com of course too

Thursday, July 28, 2016

In space, no one can hear you scream paginate

In space, no one can hear you scream.

They also can't see you paginate your email submission.

"Whut?" I can hear you say.

"What on earth are you talking about? Did you leave your mental acuities in Canada?"

Well, no, all evidence to the contrary this week.

What I mean is this: you guyz are sweating bullets on three-page synopsis, five-synopsis, three-five page synopsis, when in fact page numbers do NOT appear in email submissions.  Thus no one really knows the difference between a three, four, or five page synopsis.

Generally you want to keep a three page at about 750-900 words. If it hits 1000 words (thus 3.5 pages) no one will notice or care.

When agents say 3-5 pages, or 3-5 page synopsis what they mean is "don't send ten" or "don't send the whole manuscript."

There is no magic distillation of the synopsis to 3-5 pages that makes it better. It's simply to avoid the splat of words that would come if we didn't specify. "Here's my entire novel plus a synopsis, and it's a lovely 165,000 page epic fantasy that really starts in chapter 10"  And don't think I haven't seen those.

Submission guidelines are just that: guidelines. They're intended to help you, not make you crazy.

That they do make you crazy is just a bonus of course.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


This little woodland creature has just leapt her way into the query pool, and unfortunately some agents are cruel enough to request synopsis in addition to the normal query and pages. My question is this: when querying such agents, if they don’t specify, where the heck am I supposed to put this darn thing? Usually my queries are laid out as such:

The Query
Contact Info

So should it be:

The Query
Contact Info


The Query
Contact Info

I really have no idea and both options look pretty bad to me, and while I know you don’t request synopsis, do you have any advice for where, in general, the evil little thing belongs?

Yes, we saw you make the dive into the query pool.



To keep you afloat, here's the answer:

contact info

Here's why: You want the agent to read your most compelling work first and I hope that will be your pages.  Synopsis are by definition terse and not-tasty. Your pages are (we hope) quite the opposite.