Friday, April 29, 2005

Bad Spam

I've been discussing bad spam here, and I just wanted to add a small coda to that. My friend Angela--a wonderful diva of snark and wisdom who really does need her own blog--reminded me that it's not spam I've been receiving from those other agencies, but a virus. I had meant to say that. There, now I have.

Also, in the realm of *true* spam, I should say that somehow these spammers mimic parts of the emails I receive, I have noticed. So I get things like, "A new e-book on..." and my brain begins to supply something like, "day trading!" and instead it's "your G spot." Twisted publishing spam, I tell you. Last night I had a viral email from one of our film agents in Hollywood--who is currently shopping a major project for us--and with great excitement I clicked it open. All it said was: "funny animals. See attached." I didn't THINK this had anything to do with Lindsay Lohan (who my three year old calls Lindsay Lowhead.)

Anyway, just had to add that.

Still the Same Girl You Were Before

Today was a watershed moment in my life as a creative person. I signed my first book contract: three copies for three books. Now, I have been paid to write before in my lifetime—a screenplay, movie reviews, reference work—but this marks a new era. I am now a contracted novelist. But the funny thing? As I signed each contract copy, adrenalin surging, I thought of my clients, those authors whose book deals I’ve negotiated, and their own first "golden moment." Today I stood in their shoes, an experience of supreme empathy.

With every passing day in this writing venture, I become more convinced that I’ve embarked on a kind of Agent Gal Learning Lab. Each step, each new milestone in the process, signifies an event that I’ve seen previously from the other side of the desk. A perfect example: only a few hours after packaging up my contracts, I again thought of my clients when my editor emailed, letting me know that she needs character descriptions because cover conference for my book is coming up in about a week. Cover! Squeal!

So I sat here at my laptop, thinking about the hero of my book, wondering if a single description I’ve written *truly* captures the way I see him. Not that I expect my Cover Adonis to actually resemble my hero, mind you, but wouldn’t it at least increase the odds if I’ve managed to describe the poor fellow properly? It’s all up to me. The block of stone is in my hands, and I must now find the figures trapped within it. All the times when some author’s cover has been butchered. All the times when I’ve argued about some incorrect image or concept. And now, for the very first time, I can know for myself the excitement of awaiting a first cover—everything is still wide open.

Did I fight for my clients before? Yes, always. Was I empathetic and caring? I definitely believe so. But there’s value in seeing this business from as many angles as you possibly can. Today, I took a first step in a new direction—one which I believe will ultimately strengthen my agenting skills. And in the meantime, I sure am having a blast along the way!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Blogger Buzz

Blogger Buzz

Taking the self-referential nature of blogging yet a notch further for us all. Here's a blog site that is about the state of the blogging "industry." Thought this might interest some of y'all. (Yes, I had to do it--it would have happened eventually, the slip into my native tongue. Now we just have it out of the way....)

A Brief Word from Your Sponsor

Click here to join DeidreKnight
Click to join DeidreKnight

Allow me, ever so briefly, to remind our visitors that I also have an author e-group. At present I'm not posting very much, since most of my ramblings are appearing on this blog. That said, as the date draws near for PARALLEL ATTRACTION's publication, I plan to offer tidbits and contests, maybe even some gossip!

Also, in case you've found this blog, but not my author site, let me be sure you have that link, as well:

Enjoy! And now back to the blogging...

My Beloved Blackberry

My beloved blackberry

No, it's not a fruit! It's a technological marvel! (For Lynn--grin)

Lord of the Blackberry

I read yesterday in publisher’s marketplace that a debut novel has just sold, WHO MOVED MY BLACKBERRY—a title, by the way, that my husband and I once bandied about. I'd just voiced the question one too many times as I wandered around our house, lifting magazines, towels, children’s clothes. (Well, not who *moved* my blackberry, but rather, “Honey, uh, where’s my blackberry?”)

Why, you might ask, is the blackberry of such monumental importance in the Knight household? If my life were a romance or fantasy novel, the blackberry is the golden tether, the magical object, THE thing that expedition parties would search for ceaselessly until they laid hold of it for me. In other words: before the blackberry, there was the void, a seamless cloud of nothing moving over my agent’s life.

And then God spoke, and Blackberry was given unto me.

Brickbreaker. Calendar. Meeting notes. All pale compared to the freeing ecstasy of receiving e-mail at any place on the planet. No longer must wayward agent girl sit in hair appointments wringing her hands, wondering how many URGENT emails have arrived in her absence. Never again shall anxious agent girl observe a child’s six p.m. gymnastics class, only to wonder distractedly if CAA has emailed about that pesky and unresolved Disney matter.

And most glorious of all? Landing on any city’s tarmac, and powering up Blackberry (my friend, my beloved, my most excellent mystical object!) to receive an instant download of emails that have winged through cyberspace during my travels.

Little flashing red light. Gentle vibrating reminder. Ah, Blackberry, how I love thee. Your freedoms are endless, your productivity without boundary. Let not the day speak my name when I must—dare I ever—cry out in unanswered agony…

Who moved my blackberry?

Ah, shall it never be so.


Oh Writer, Thy Name Be Praised!

A short one tonight. It is late, and I am far beyond the realm of rested reason. Still, I thought I'd share something funny with all the writers who visit this blog.

A kind of spam floats about in agents' mailboxes, something that seems to originate in a querying author's rolodex, and tends to blast a bunch of literary agents all at once. It's usually recognizable because the subject might be, "your submission." Or "submission guidelines." That kind of thing. Then, in the body of the email--originating from some fellow agent's email box (again, copied out of that unknown writers rolodex) will be "see attached" or whatever other familiar spamish thing comes with the note.

So, recently I'm writing along on a Sunday afternoon, battling my way uphill through a particularly nefarious section in my novel, when an e-mail pops into my box. I open it, thankful for ANYTHING else to do at that moment, and discover one of these agent spams. And what does the small missive say?

"You are a bad writer."

Nothing more, nothing less. And for that passing moment, I couldn't argue with the fact. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


The agent’s journey involves a kind of love-hate relationship with the written word. With much of our time devoted to evaluating work that is often *not* all that great--as well as living with the heavy mental burden of an unending reading surplus—books tend to lose their once-held magical appeal. Instead, reading becomes an onerous experience much akin to schoolwork or exam studies or some other duty-bogged mental task. I recently read my friend Jennifer Jackson’s remarks on this matter at, and felt encouraged to hear another agent voice an experience so similar to my own.

As if it weren’t bad enough to fall out of love with books, there is a fate equally horrifying (perhaps I overstate the case? I’ll let you decide.) Imagine constantly attending parties or social functions where you’re expected to be the singularly most well-read individual in the room—only to consistently disappoint, almost like a magician incapable of the parlor tricks of his trade.

“You haven’t read THAT?” a friend will cry. “But you’re an AGENT!” (“That” book typically equals something like THE DAVINCI CODE or THE LOVELY BONES or any other buzz book that Every Other Person on the Planet Seems to be Reading.)

You shift your eyes, looking for the flashing exit sign, and admit, “Uh, no, I haven’t actually had a chance to read MAMMOTH BESTSELLER OF THE YEAR, no.”

“But, but,” the friend stammers, unable to compute this strange illogical slip in the data, until finally they arrive at, “Wow. I’m so surprised.” Disappointed. Disillusioned. Unimpressed. I have just been struck down to mere-mortal proportions among my bookish set of friends.

“Uh, but I did read five books last week!” I might offer helpfully.

Friend turns back, ready for deep talk. “Really? Anything I might like?”

“Well,” I have to admit, “nothing that’s published” (Translation: nothing I can really even discuss right now.)

And so it goes. The agent’s life is a constant state of readerly doom—condemning us to either mediocre (or bad!) books, or to devouring fabulous books that no one else besides the author has yet read! Talk about isolation. Part of readership’s thrill is the act of communion—one reason why agenting is also such an ecstatic pleasure on occasion. To discover a first time author or an unpublished book, then find another living individual—the editor—who appreciates it with equal measure is beyond sublime.

So you muck along, wondering what happened to your simple pleasure as a reader, those days when you nestled on the sofa and nobody could talk to you until you reached a story’s end. But then after a time something transcendental eventually occurs in your journey as “mere reader.” One day, when you almost think all your old bookish passions have been sapped out of you completely, something causes you to pick up a magic book, one that so inspires you, so ignites you, that your old passion is rekindled.

And when the love returns, it seems to return with greater burn. For me, the past year has been a year of falling in love with books all over again. I’m not sure I can point to *the* single novel that led me back into the fold; it was a series of wonderful books: THE TRUE AND OUTSTANDING ADVENTURES OF THE HUNT SISTERS, THE SECOND ASSISTANT, ANGEL FALLS, and then, the life-changing, mystical and amazing… THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. Let me tell you, if you’ve not read this last one, you should *rush* to beg, borrow or buy it. I read and re-read it. I wandered about my house in a Marsha Brady-esque fugue state, placing milk in the pantry, coffee in front of my three year old… well, not that bad (thank goodness!) But I did quite literally move about with half my mind perpetually engaged in the world Audrey Niffenegger had created. Even now, months after finishing the second reading I can re-engage with her characters, question their choices, wonder about their “endings.” That is the mark of a mesmerizing book. Read it. Trust me.

And so I believe I can thank Audrey N for my current euphoric reading state. She then led me to Carol Berg, a marvelous fantasy writer whose every book I’ve now devoured—again, you MUST try her TRANSFORMATION. From there, your Carol Berg journey will have begun, and like me, you’ll be destined to keep on going!

All of this leads me to the best news of all. I have discovered that with my reignited pleasure in reading, another pleasure has also returned: excitement about reading submissions. And so it has come full circle. I’m happy agent girl, awaiting Amazon shipments with breathless anticipation, and opening each submission with that dewy promise of *possibility*. If only it could always stay this way…

Sunday, April 24, 2005


We sell a lot of first-time authors at my literary agency. Writers like Karen Marie Moning, Gena Showalter, Beverly Brandt, Cara Lockwood, Jacquelin Thomas, Jennifer St. Giles, to name a few, were all authors whose very first books we placed with a publisher.

With that thought in mind, one of my clients and I were recently discussing how the sale of a first book can potentially impact a writer’s psyche, often for the negative. You know, the nattering voices of performance anxiety or impostor syndrome—the sorts of problems that agents tend to “occasionally” see in their new authors.

I weighed in from my own current experience as a new author, as well as my longstanding philosophy as an agent of new writers. Here’s the advice I often give, and have, of late, given to myself. The truth is that even though my own books are now under contract, I am the same writer I was two days before the sale, or the day before, or the year before. Whatever. There is the sense when you head back to work “the day after” the sale that the stakes are higher, that now the work MUST be the very very very very best ever. But then it’s like you release a sigh, you unclench your hands… and just go back to what you’ve always been doing.

If you’re lucky. For me, I calculate that in the past four years or so I have written more than a million words on a variety of novels. I suppose that kind of work habit forms a nicely worn groove on my creative carpet, which does make it easier to employ the mantra that I’m *doing what I was doing the day before I sold.* Because I AM doing what I was doing the day before I sold—I’m writing. Grin.

Now, on the other hand, I have a client who has been publishing a long time (at least in my mind—five years is a long time in this business.) She tells me that with every book it gets harder; you’re more aware of the potential for bad “fallout” and the self-pressure becomes more and more intense. I see this scenario play out with some of my clients too.

But all of this brings me to my morning’s epiphany (or late last night’s epiphany.) I was thinking that now that I’ve sold my first books, I find I’m delving into my writing craft with less frenzied emotion. (Oh, and by the way, the oasis is just fine—thank you. No worries about me and my creative drought!) There’s not that feeling of, “What if THIS one won’t sell? What if it’s wrong for the market?” Those doubts that tend to haunt you while you work on a novel for, oh, sixteen or seventeen months as I did my first women’s fiction/literary novel. The One That’s Yet To Sell. But I’m okay with the fact that it hasn’t because as an agent AND author, I’m a firm believer in taking risks. We have to target the market, and we can’t be foolish or Pollyanna, but at the same time I think that when a writer follows the story that’s whispering to them, even if it doesn’t sell immediately, it’s a worthwhile investment of their skill and time—despite those haranguing doubts in the sixteen month writing breach.

Which explains my recent answers about online writing while on the RWC list. Several of the authors on that loop seemed surprised that I had such a positive outlook on online publishers—what’s more surprising to me, however, is that other agents are dubious about the medium. Apparently some agents look at it as a lazy format for learning craft, but I have to say I feel pretty impassioned on this topic. I view online writing as a unique way to allow a writer to push the boundaries. To learn that it’s okay to write the risky books, and that if they do, a readership may very well follow. Today’s print publishing market is nothing if not rigid in what it will “tolerate”, i.e. editors tell me, “We want paranormals, but ONLY if they’re really, really, really sexy. They HAVE to be sexy, okay?” (Actual tidbit of conversation with a publisher in NYC.) What about the sensual, wildly romantic beta hero, who may not think from his ‘nether regions” every time, but might actually use his other head.

And, by the way, I’m sure that Karen Marie Moning wouldn’t mind me sharing that when I first shopped out BEYOND THE HIGHLAND MIST, many editors told me: “Nobody reads time travel.” Not.

Online writers find a wealth of possibility right now, and I’m betting that in years to come the medium will come to be regarded as the place where certain cutting edge writing forms gained a foothold. Don’t quote me on that or anything, but I believe that freedom in creative pursuit is a powerful thing. Which brings me back to my opening thought here: when an author lands their first book contract, there’s the potential for anxiety and pressure, but there’s also an exhilarating freedom that comes in knowing your work has found a home. That inner place of questioning is silenced, and for the first time in your life you can go about the business of writing without the handmaiden of doubt—that doubt about whether the work will sell, or if it speaks to the market. Later, new choking doubts will appear, concerns about sell-throughs, and reviews, and packaging, and option books, and cruel bloggers, and the like. But for this glorious sliver of time, your newly contracted job is heartbreakingly simple. You are a writer. Just what you always wanted to be.

Friday, April 22, 2005

And What Do We All Look Like?

One more for today. I have so many friends from around the world who have been visiting this blog, and while I'm still awaiting that great *author photo* (yikes, it's like the ultimate class reuion!) I thought I'd post the picture that's just been put up on the Surrey Writers Conference page. This image of me seems appropriately bookish and agently, though of course my AUTHOR photo will make me look svelt, sexy and creative!

I did think of stealing Gena Showalter's picture and claiming it was me, but alas, too many of you have met me before.

Just for fun, here you go, oh wonderful friends in Poland, Germany, and all over the whole wide world!


To put a Bob Dylan spin on the blog title. I’ve been thinking that to start a blog wherein I analyze other blogs might be the ultimate blogging art form. Sadly, however, I’m sure such blog deconstruction already exists. Or, perhaps I could become a blogosopher, speculating on the nature of existence and life as viewed through blogging. I’m sure a college studies program will eventually evolve—if it hasn’t already.

In the meantime, perhaps it’s the agent in me, but I find myself spontaneously generating great blog names:

Blog on Blog (a play on Dylan’s BLONDE ON BLONDE)
Hot Blog! (Self explanatory and not a little bit silly)
A Bloggy Day in London Town

The ridiculous pun opportunities are apparently endless.

Oh, you can tell I’ve had an intense week, can’t you? In the meantime, I have to wonder why a search of my agency’s name on the Net, generates the following page title:


Isn’t that exactly the sort of thing you’d like to have pop up on the Net when people search YOUR name? It seems to be a bad nonfiction title of sorts.

You can tell there’s not a lot of new Deidre Knight writing news this week. I am hungry for some creative time, which has been eluding me of late. When I don’t get the chance to write each day, I feel parched. That’s where I am this week, and wandering in search of my creative oasis. I’ll let you know when I set up tent there.

In the meantime, thanks to all my wonderful friends who posted and shared their enthusiasm for my new title! I will let you know once I have a cover to share!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Some Exciting News from the Realm of Deidre

Okay, for a couple of days now I’ve been too busy to come post, but I have a very exciting announcement: my first book has a title! It’s like being pregnant and learning whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl. Or having someone give you a home after you’ve wandered aimlessly for a while. It feels like my “baby”—this first book I am writing—is somehow more authentic now that it has a true identity!

I won’t keep you in suspense another moment longer. Book one of my new series will be titled, PARALLEL ATTRACTION. Since this is a story of alternate timelines and dual realities, I think this title is perfect. I’m also excited because the publisher went with my suggestion. As many of you know, I also work as an agent, and I can say that I wasn’t at all sure I’d come up with the title for my own book. Sometimes authors are able to do so, other times they are simply too close to the material. In this instance, after weeks of false starts, I took an early evening walk with my family, and perhaps that loosened up my creative self somewhat, I’m not sure. But there I sat, daylight fading, watching my daughters play in the sandbox even though they should have been inside taking baths. And this title simply popped into my head. Maybe because I’d been praying for a week that God would help me *find* a title! I’m a big believer in God’s creative genius, though sometimes I forget He likes to inspire writers too.

Anyway, I’m thrilled and excited, and this experience feels real now.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

I Was a Mail-Order Alien Bride

I was a teenage Spock stalker. We’re talking pre-Internet, when the best you could do with your obsession was join some mail-order Starfleet Command chapter and collect glossy black and white headshots of the guy. Maybe I should put it this way: I was a mail-order Spock bride. I wished. The whole Pon Far mating season played marvelously to a teenage girl’s fluctuating hormones. To be The One who might penetrate the man’s oh-so-logical armor of restraint. To be The One who made his half-human green blood run hot.

Yes, these are the earliest roots, the tiny tendrils deep in the soil, of my penchant for sci-fi romance. Not Kirk, not Scottie, not even Jean Luc Picard, who didn’t come along until I was in college. Spock—he was the man.

And then let’s flip forward a few pages in my Book of Nerd, and you’ll find me watching a relatively unknown and under-appreciated sci-fi television show, Roswell. Spock had been dethroned by a dreamy eyed alien named Max Evans, and I wanted to be his Liz Parker. I had children, a successful business, a wonderful husband, but that show put me under its spell. I didn’t collect headshots, but nevertheless I know that plenty of people (most especially my husband!) would say I became obsessed.

But the ultimate Hunky Guy in Space of the 2000’s just might be Farscape’s John Crichton. What is it with me and placing bets on a series that is doomed for cancellation? At least we live in the era of the box set, not the glossy black and white headshot.

Dreaming up strong, sexy, heroic alien men comes naturally to me at this point. Maybe somewhere in my consciousness there’s a permanent bulletin board, covered in fluttering Police cutouts, Duran Duran snapshots—and right in the center, like a bull’s eye, stands a black-and-white glossy photograph of Spock. Then again, maybe I really am a mail order Spock Bride.