Guest Angst Redux

So, my writer-friend Gretchen had a chance to sleep on her previous guest blog (actually, she said she wrote this in the wee hours of the morning) and wanted to make a few clarifications. Great stuff. I encourage you all to weigh in on the discussion.


“Me and my big mouth. Regardless of what Danielle Steele writes, she has 108 published novels to my zero. There’s her portfolio, and then there’s mine. She’s on Good Morning America in Prada wedges and at the same time I’m on the phone with a friend in fuzzy slippers.


For the record, I’d like to spout off a little more (as if…) about commercially successful writers that I think the world of. Here goes a very partial list: Nelson DeMille, Sue Grafton, Tom Wolfe, Elizabeth Berg, Carolyn Keene’s ghost writers, Lawrence Sanders (miss him so much), Scott Smith (wrote the only book I stayed up all night to finish), Pat Conroy, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, Michael Lee West (probably my hero), Carl Hiaasen (probably my favorite), and Janet Evanovich. I admire her to pieces.


My husband’s in manufacturing and you should see the crap that leaves his docks. I don’t necessarily go off on him because people still decorate their homes in wall-to-wall quacking geese, although I do get mad at him, often and with a lot of gusto, just not about the fact that he produces what consumers apparently want to buy. It keeps the lights on, and I suppose that’s what the A-list writers are doing– keeping the lights on. I won’t take back what I said about James Patterson. And I won’t take back what I said about Oprah. The woman has no business choosing what we read and I think every Oprah Pick (Bestseller! Foreign rights all around! Film rights! Audio rights! Braille Editions! E-Z Readers! Early retirement!) all ought to come with a warning, like cigarettes: If you have suicidal tenancies, put this book down right now. It will send you over the edge. Here’s a synopsis for you, then go straight

to your therapist: everyone is victimized, then they die grueling deaths. The end.


A possible solution? What if one of the Big Seven– are there seven big publishers left?– hired a jury of our peers for just one list. People would probably do it for free, I know I would. Let us see what you’re NOT

publishing. Let mainstream America tell you what we want to read instead of letting 22-year-old Ivy League English Lit trust funders choose everything that hits the shelves. I stand by the premise of my original rant– I think the wrong people are screening who gets that 2% of the market that the brands (that’s you, Mr. Patterson) don’t have locked up. So my true angst might be more toward agents than publishers, because initially, that’s the test you have to pass. A lot of agents blog, and I read one that will be with me forever. I’ll paraphrase (I paraphrase often):

Look, you memoir people, we’re sick of cancer. Cancer is out. It’s all about child molestation now. If you were molested, query me. No one cares about your chemo anymore. Now, if you have cancer and you were molested, don’t even query. Call immediately and have my assistant’s assistant’s assistant put you through.”