Friday, November 13, 2009

Lit Agents Acting Like Big Sister

They aren't exactly like Big Brother, more like Big Sister.

Those of you who have a big sis, know that as you grew up, getting you into trouble was very easy, guys, wasn't it?

They get you going, then start their tears flowing, and before you know it you were screwed; punished, grounded, for your beastly, retaliatory behavior.

I have been taking shots at some of these lit agents through their blog sites recently because it pleases me to do so. They are not cursing shots, not profane; they are simply shots, for the fact that many of them are simply ruining book publishing in my honest opinion, and I am not particularly happy about it.

Of the sanctimonious people who serve relatively little purpose on this earth, other than we writers, I have to think literary agents are some of the most sanctimonious and self-satisfied, especially in light of an industry that is on the brink of death. Self congratulatory like HMS Titanic Captain Smith; right into the iceberg.

I started with agent Kristin Nelson's blog: Pub Rants. Normally I like her take on things over there, in that she's very informative. But every once in a while she reveals the fact that her blog is really a girl's club for suck ups, in my opinion, and wedge used to goad publishers not to mess with her or her clients, also in my honest opinion. She does this by giving writers information not normally shared with our bottom-feeding ilk.

But she doesn't sign with just any writers, she signs mostly, predominanty with (awwww, pity party for me) female writers. She makes no apologies about it, and like so many agents today who have lopsided stats when it comes to this, she offers scant explanation. She does list one writer of seemingly male extraction on her site, of the 19 who blog anyway, that being Hank Phillipi Ryan.

Great so we go to to see what he's written: and it's Air Time, out this year in fact. And good for him. The product description?

"When savvy TV reporter Charlotte McNally enters the glamorous world of high fashion, she soon discovers that when the purses are fake the danger is real..."

......yeah. Nnnnnnnnnnot really a male-centered subject? Uhm...? Yeah.

And maybe that's because! Hank is a woman! Dolp! And a very good looking one at that.

Most of the books Ms. Nelson advertises on her site, anyway, fall into one of the remaining genres left in fiction these day. That is, the remaindered few types of stories that interest publishers anymore, since in the damnable cirumlocution of the fornicated paradigm, these are the remaining types of stories agents will accept anymore. They are romance, vampire, vampire-romance, men in kilts with good abs romance, and Dan Brown-esque.

By the way, statistically the magic bullet assured to at least get an agent interested, is Dan Brown as a belly crunching, kilt-wearing, sex-addict vampire, who fornicates and slurps his way across, oh, I don't know, Europe of the seventeenth century? Got it? Good. Get busy writing this horrid monstrosity before some lemming bound for a "writer's conference" beats you to a $200 pitch-session.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but, Ms Nelson is not alone. In fact the more I have hunted and pecked, the more I have found that most literary agents, follow this tired business model. Vampires, and the sub-genre werewolves. Oh and romance. Big studs, lots of abs, lots of belly crunchers out there in the sixteenth-century, apparently, many of whom have no heads if you look at the covers, and in some cases, the men aren't even in the room!

Yay! Like this cover.

Imagine non-reproductive orgasm, delivered by a meat-puppet with good abs, from the 16th century. The gal's perfect friend, beef-and-be-gone. Or maybe it had been one of those egg thingies, powered by, what, rats on a hamster wheel? Who the hell knows. Whatever happened, girlfriend on the cover is satisfied, and a man, might have had very little to do with it, other than strict mechanics of the thing, because he's totally out of the picture.

I suppose I really ticked Kristin off when I suggested a spoof cover on this one, of a man, flat on his back with his hand near his (whoo hoo!). What would that look like? (Sorry, again, for having a sense of humor.)

Yes, one might say unsanitary and a little bit disgusting? A man who may or may not have just gotten his own damned self off - not that there's anything wrong with that - would not look good on the cover of a novel. I think the novel itself might be suspect if this were the case.

Gasp! Don't you dare suggest that! Someone will end up on Oprah's couch in tears, and you, you oppressive male, penis-wagger, will be the damned reason! Ms Nelson has also previously mentioned Lit agent black lists, on her blog site. Nice. How charming and tolerant. Black lists.

Not that there's anything wrong with that (WTF????) but, when I go into B and N thinking that such as thing as blacklists exist, and I am most definitely on one somewhere, and all I see are these books that look alike; smell alike; have similar pictures on the cover; read alike and they are all written by women, I have to think something is wrong with this picture.

Bringing me to the point: how do you alienate half your potential market, then "claim" you don't understand why book publising is going downhill? Are you deaf, dumb, and blind? Or are you willfully ignorant of what's happening? Are you ignoring what's going on because too many men have been run out of publishing - for whatever gigantic international Machiavellian reason - and thus the whole show is now a gal's club -for whatever gigantic international Machiavellian reason - that caters to women and women only, but the checks are still coming so you pretend you're not a part of it?

Dave: what the hell are you saying here? What reason could there possibly be...

When men lose a voice in this country, they get very angry. This leads to civil unrest. Men have this stuff inside them called testosterone. It's emotional dynamite. When you gag them, they tend to get disruptive. Gals if you have even a shred left of sympathy for the males in your life - and the culture is so toxic to men these days, it is highly doubtful - you'll note what forcing your son into submissive silence for no good reason, does to his morale, not to mention his behavior.

It is my belief this is calculated to promote that unrest through the alienation of the American male. It is only one little prong in the giant corporate fork up the ass of the American male that you gals don't feel since you are soo damned busy getting over your hurts from the last four decades, or whatever. And we note that most of the large publishing houses are owned by foreign corporations in Europe so the chances that they give a shit about the American male, run even less than the sympathy of female lit agents and editors.

The women who have been given the keys to the kingdom of publishing, go blythely along getting the avatar male back for the likes of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, ignoring modern male writers, and male readers, living and breathing, struggling for a break.

I have said this before. I say it again; it is tantamount to racism, Naziism, sexism, treason, in publishing to suggest that editors, agents and so on, should be looking for the next Leon Uris, or the next James Michener. It is almost something one must whisper. The idea of it so foreign, so 'radical' as to border on criminal in this environment. Weak, limp-wristed men will post to Ms. Nelson's blog, selling out their brothers for a chance she might deign to represent at least one male!? Because obviously she is a very effective literary agent who fights hard for her clients!

But men are not totally left out in the cold. Of course, those in control of publishing at this point, direct a feminine digit at either Stephen King, an icon from the 1980s who they have not yet managed to geld or kill (though he did have a rather strange hiking accident), or Dan Brown; who really is more like a robotic book-signing Ken Doll, let's face it. Is he even human? Or is he the result of a focus-group meeting of bored housewives who wanted an unthreatening male of sufficient corporate blandness to read?

To suggest we need find real men, to fill the ranks vacated by real men who struggled, drank, belched, stopped drinking, swore, whored, wrote and died, why, you must have killed a baby Harp seal on the way to your blogging seat. Not that we wish to whore, or even swear anymore, but won't you let us write?

How did it get this way? Intolerance. Agents, the most intolerant of the bunch.

The girls club aspect of Ms. Nelson's blog surfaced when those other than her adoring fans, rose to argue with her about certain aspects of the biz. When they did so too vociferously (this is deemed 'lacking etiquette'); she blocked commentary.

Gordon Jerome was her victim on this day when he dared suggest some romance titles and covers were more reminiscent of porn. (Gasp!) And I think we all knew that. At least those of us who read Penthouse Forum, before it was screeched out of the existence by a tide of zealous harridans, can see the similarities.

I guess I started off in this line of thinking when I quipped wise and sideways that the cover she sported on her page was reminiscent of masturbation, and you can see the article and find my reply here, along with Gordon's more straightforward take on it.

Her answer was to turn on the commentary moderation and her first victim was Gordon, second being me, when I got through again, and offered that it is ironic to watch people calling themselves writers fawning to the headmastress that she was doing the right thing in blocking, i.e. censoring, bullying meany trolls under the bridge. I think somebody actually called me a troll, whatever the hell that is.

Now men are trolls. If they say anything out of line, they are exibiting trollish behavior. Like that? Are we back to junior high in this country when it comes to the dialogue between men and women?

Granted it's her damned blog and she can do as she wishes. But, it brings up an interesting point, which is the intolerant femi-socialisticus attitude, which definitely lives and breathes in the publishing world, although many of this ilk will be quick to point out they don't need "to burn their bra" anymore, to prove they are the liberated women who have been handed the torch of freedom.

Take this exchange here between myself and, Julie Weathers, on Galleycat.

You scroll down and see my first comment, was deleted. I guess I scored a point by asking Dystel Goderich how they can justify saying "serious authors" need agents, when they have represented so many serious authors in the form of celebrity cook bookers, and that literary genius, Judge Judy, much as we like Judy's flair dealing with semi-literate doltsters who find themselves in her court. (It's like watching Mike Tyson beat up on mice, isn't it?)

Anyway, we can't have that, I suppose so down comes my first comment, along with the link directing anyone who might be listening to a funny, black-comedy about a writer who thinks he just might want to murder his literary agent and then by a series of bizare circumstances, he is propelled by fate into maybe actually doing it! The novel currently in construction is called The Dead Agent.

Well Ms. Weathers didn't like that. So she starts in on me. Before long the "bra" comment, comes out, as if this proves anything or I even asked whether or not she owned a bra. Is this a stock, for-publication comment, any time a man ever questions the current male bashing environment?

Galleycat has long been a venue for agents to vent spleen about how necessary they are and for once they offered some balance. I have risen to the bait once or twice. I am the victim of some bad agenting in the past I am affraid. I ripped my book back from this agent, and a dying publisher, got threatened with a lawsuit, but went solo and got my book published pants down anyway, and yes, at times I feel like Forrest Gump talking about his "million dollar wound?" "Gov'ment must keep that money, 'cause I haven't seen any of it."

Point being, I did it without an agent and since they are scarcely getting us an advance anymore? What's the point? The one I had actually wasted more of my time than helped, and in the end, damned near made me insane when her people threatened to sue me for walking away from a dead contract!

You, fire me? How dare you! was the attitude delivered by her second-in-command.

Long and the short is, the entire industry is changing, but the old skirts want to keep things same as it ever was. And don't you dare say anything or you'll end up on a "black list!" Ooooooooo. Hey lady, get in line. The next time you offer a threat, have it mean something anymore. I will be blacklisted by a group of people, who, in less than five years will be obsolete professionally? Oooooohhooooo. Chills, I tell ya!

And men, they definitely don't want you writing, especially novels about literary agents. Big Sis in the house, that's who.

Back to that, is there any situation more rife with comedic potential than the love-hate found in the writer lit-agent conundrum, where need meets paranoia and distrust? Why is this not subject to fiction as any other humorous situation? Does it not make sense in a John Updike kind of way to write about it? Or would they have us pen endless dogshit about vampires and dundering men with good abs?

As I said on one hashtagged Twit page about the notorious Galleycat article Agents, bah, who needs them, that more than one agent was kvetching about, and urging other agents to lambaste, "Karma it is a beach, and the worm is turning girls."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why the background color change? "The Man"

Because during the month of Big Brother, we are now at condition DEFCON RED!


DEFCON RED is when the man has taken over even your penis, along with the balls behind them, and subjected them both to horrible torture.

Are we there yet? I think so.

The Man is everywhere these days. He's shutting down newspapers and magazines. He's trouncing on free speech.

To paraphrase Morpheus from The Matrix, the man is all around you. He's in every feigned smile from a television pundit feeding you bullshit about why it's not good for you to have health insurance, even though you've been downsized. He's in the memos from Walmart discussing "Dead Peasant" Insurance.

The man is also found across the net, searching through email, Twitter posts, Facebook photos, looking not for a terrorist, but a tourist, who might have learned how the rest of the world views us overseas, and is disillusioned with our government because of it.

The man is inside the little camera at the intersection you stop at on the way to work. The man is in the little note sent home with Johnny seeking a parent-teacher conference for something Johnny said in class.

The man is media, shutting down free thought in publishing, limiting your speculative fiction choices to those remaining genres, which have survived by force of unwritten decrees: vampire fiction, romance, and vampire/romance.

The man is everywhere. He lives inside upper management at your local airline and your local school board, deciding pilots and school teachers should receive equal, dismal pay, so that both are overworked and essentially asleep, while they do their jobs.

Yes children, the man is Big Brother and Big Brother is the man. The man has so convinced you of his nonsense, he has you enraged at so-called socialism, while you live in a box that prevents you from loving and appreciating your wife, and children; scarcely able to communicate with them anymore.

The man is in every polygraph you've ever taken, every security clearance review you've ever sweated, in every hang-up "unknown number" you've ever fielded in the middle of the night.

That's the man, and he is watching you.

Shhhhhh. Go back to sleep, there is more to come, during the month of Hermano Grande.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Smear Campaign Against a Horror Movie? Fourth Kind gets Big Brothered.

Yes, children, go to sleep and don't even speculate about UFOs. Big brother, in the form of Big Media is going to tell you to stay home and not see The Fourth Kind, lest it trouble you.

And it is scary as hell, and it is worth every damned penny so don't listen to them!

But did they do this with Paranormal? Which for me was a total waster. No. Do they do this to vampire films? No of course not. Did they do this to any number of movies that attempted to blur the lines between fiction and reality? Of course not.

Shhhhh, little sheepies, don't think about UFOs! Not even in fiction, not even in movies. Go back to sleep until the farmer comes.

Reviewer Kyle Smith, a good little slavish doggy for the New York Post, lambasted this movie, missing the point like a republican feigning ignorance of the Watergate.

I invite you to read his take on it and note how far he stretches to include himself in the dated, boring downing-discussion of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.


Yes, this is what news geeks do: they are vying for a new spot, a new desk, a new set of busines cards they can display at O'Neals' over drinks, always. This imp is obviously shooting for a political beat and here he is stuck reviewing movies, UFO movies at that! He wants to let you know how important, not to mention bored, he is doing his job when he renders a 2 out of 5 swipe at a very good, if not excellent, flick! He does this with an eye-rolling, smirking stab.

Is there an editor somewhere at the Post going "Psst. (wink) Kyle you know the drill, how we treat little green men here ?"

In my honest opinion, you bet your damned ass there is. Because it has been my exprience that there is just such a person, in every newsroom. This is the man or woman who signs your paycheck; who, with droll witicisms, and cutting disdain for anything requiring a bit of imagination, sets the tone and "(tsk tsk) Little green men, well, (lofty tilt of the jaw, admonishing shake of head) we don't do that sort of thing here at the (You name it), Post, Tribune, yada yada, Scranton Weekly Buzz etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. Fade out.

One has to wonder how deep it goes, though. It's been nearly twenty years since Whitley Strieber's Communion was turned into film, and the reviewers are still savaging it, as they attack this newer effort in the UFO genre!

Oh yeah! That's hatred.

I had enemies in college I wouldn't continue to hound across 20 years of time-space. You talk about obsessed!

See here as I rise to at least defend the right of artists to pursue the fledgling genre of UFO fiction.

Speaking of Strieber, I went into the B and N to pick up a paperback of his latest The Grays, and was asked by the local manager "who is Whitley Strieber?" I had to describe for her the book Communion which she at first pretended not to remember. I thought this a bit odd, and creepy, reminiscent of the newsroom when it comes to this subject. For Strieber is to fiction, of UFOs, as Stanton Friedman is to the science of it.

Strieber, who claims to have some personal experience with the abduction end of it, has gotten farther than any other writer attempting to get his big ole mind around the speculative end of who they are, and what they may want from us. And Big Brother really can't have that, can he?

I hold The Grays up here, and right there on the cover it says, "Soon to be a major Motion Picture." Chhhyeah, as if. Not after some of these reviewer pinheads get through ripping into Fourth Kind.

Anymore - and as I have detailed in previous blogs - literature, and the movies are intimately related in this country. As it stands a novel will not take one step toward publication unless an editor or an agent sees a Harry-Potter-Payoff at the end of the tunnel. Which means, kids, UFOs will also be rendered untouchable UH-GIN, by nasty little reviewers scratching away their souls and their integrity like ferrets in a cage, just to keep their gigs writing for the man. Just the way it works.

It's disturbing enough that every reviewer has to qualify in some way during their take "now I don't believe in UFOs." These cowardly caveats take all forms: take Glen Boyd for "for those who take this subject matter seriously.." I can't help but hear the old Shakespeare saw "the lady doth protest" in all of these. For how often do they begin a similar review "Now, I don't normally believe in vampires, but..." or "Now, some of us do believe in werewolves, but..." or "Now, having seen Rocket Boy, let me qualify this by saying I don't believe in children flying with rocket jet packs over skyscrapers, since I have never seen one myself, but..."

Assinine! Review the damned movie; keep your damned opinion about the subject matter to yourself, or at least not the focus of your article. How often do editors allow this sort of bias in articles about other events or phenomenon?

"I don't beleive in icebergs, since I have never seen one, so, let me talk about why, the greenhouse affect is bs!"

You will also hear today across the net, it sounded with trumpet and bazooka, the fact that there is no "Dr. Tyler" as portrayed in the horror film! Yes, a small Alaskan newsaper sorted this out weeks ago and it has been passed off as proof positive that THERE ARE NO UFOS SO SHUT UP ABOUT THEM.

You will not hear that there HAD BEEN a very prominent Harvard psychiatrist named John E. Mack who boldy titled his decade of research Abduction: Human Encouters with Aliens, based on 200 plus interviews with patients who all shared similar stories with him.

I say had-been because Dr. Mack died after being struck by a car on a London street in 2004 . Dr. Mack is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

You won't hear about him today, even though he perfectly could be a substitute for the fictional psychiatrist in the movie, because this information is all so ten minutes ago. And in dealing with technology that enslaves us so elegantly, our attention span has been reduced to that of a gnat along with our cognitive skills.

As to that latter statement: Go to the video box to your right labeled "Go See Fourth Kind", hit refresh on your browser until you get the previews, and one review, of The Fourth Kind. Watch the individual reviewer. I rest my case.

Yes, Virginia, this isn't a good movie about "Alien Adoptions."

But....there is still hope, and there are bright spots.

There are some decent reviews out there, here Jenna Busch for Huff Post. Not bad, although she goes too far to criticize Will Patton, I think. In more of a gesture: well we must find something to fault.

But as someone who has sifted through the literature out there covering the phenomenon for my own novel series on it you find two things. 1. The Big Denial, leads to some strange psychological effects to the sufferer whose world is collapsing around them. I equate it to a decompression sickness of the mind. I mean, here you are learning that everything your authority figures have been telling you, from your president on down to your local ministers, is a lie! And, big surprise, it hurts and it makes you angry! 2. The side effects of step 1 are agression, substance abuse, raging paranoia; I think Patton conveyed all of that. He walks through the movie with a permanent five o'clock shadow and his eyes get more crazy and bloodshot as we go.

You want specific reasons why the man was acting strangely? They were self-evident.

The tension between Patton and Jovovich was outstandingly portrayed, mirroring the tension between those who believe in UFOs and those who do not.

Many reluctant witnesses across this country are attacked, some physically, by their neighbors, bosses, yes, and even law enforcement for speaking out about what they experience.