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December 09, 2005

Face Time with The Rottweiler

This week


went to

New York

Go to fullsize image

for some face time. Yep, in these dark and turbulent publishing times, we must make the pilgrimage if we want The Powers That Be to remember who we are.  They need to see our faces.  And we need to hear what they think so we can plan accordingly:  Start looking for a day job or reading


real estate ads. Or something in between.

My game plan started two months ago. Once I got over the sticker shock of hotel rooms ($500 per night plus 17% in sneaky taxes) and the airfare ($800, if you can believe it) I made the sensible choice and phoned my sister to ask if I could crash at her place in Brooklyn--Park Slope, to be exact.  (She, meanwhile, scheduled her vacation to the

Galapagos Islands

—I kid you not—so I had to cope with the city without benefit of a native guide.) Then I jumped into the Silver Bullet and drove.  I like driving. But I hate getting lost.  And, baby, I got lost in


for 2 hours while school let out and every kid in the borough threw snowballs into traffic.  But enough about my travel woes.  You want the good stuff, right?

'Cause, whoa Tarts, I heard all the gossip!  (Meet me at the water cooler when Margie goes on her ciggie break and I will reveal all!!  Preview:  Michele Martinez has The Coolest shoes. I saw her at the MWA Christmas party along with such luminaries as Reed Coleman and Alison Gaylin. Honestly, Michele is a BABE. Plus a great writer, and I think I caught a glimpse of her Most Wanted in paperback, so run, don’t walk to buy it.  But is there a nicer person in the biz?)

Anyway, I met my agent first in the Magnolia Bakery where I picked up the famous cupcakes to take to my editor. (HAVE YOUR CAKE AND KILL HIM TOO-- get it?--comes out in March.)  Over coffee (for her) chamomile tea (me—I needed to be calm) my agent laid out the strategy.

I love my agent. Heretofore, I have referred to her as The Rottweiler. She is very aggressive when she needs to be (Nervous Publisher:  “Are you going to yell at us today?”) but the rest of the time she’s the most entertaining person in the room, very smart, funny, lovable. Eager, energetic. A purebred winner. An incredibly hard working, creative person. The perfect agent.

As we walked down to the publishing house, she was still talking business, but we were laughing up a storm.

My editor is a lovely lady—quiet, intellectual, also hard-working. Tiny. She took us to the conference room, which contained a table long enough to seat Parliament. Put a couple of candelabra on it and the right table linens, and you’d have an ideal setting for a Danish modern version of Frankenstein. The PR department trooped in, sat opposite us.

Which is when the Rottweiler began her presentation. Her first of many that day. She was incredible.  Full of ideas. Contagiously enthusiastic. She did everything but get up on the table and dance. She had vision, and she had concrete suggestions of how to realize that vision. And she did it while making everyone smile. Talk about a championship act.

Then we adjourned to a French restaurant for the obligatory Take The Author To a Lovely Lunch, which was incredibly delicious and attended by about two dozen publishing executives. (Well, okay, not two dozen, but times have changed since 198- when the same editor took me out for a Rueben sandwich at a deli around the corner from her office.) After lunch, we were scheduled for the heavy duty discussions, so lunch was supposed to be a nice break in the action—the social hour. Did we have an uplifting literary discussion, you ask?

Uh, no. We swapped Christmas shopping tips. (Red Envelope.  Go ahead and click. You’ll thank me.) We talked about the Tuba concert at




this weekend.  A little literary talk, I guess, when Caroline Kennedy’s poetry book   came up—another ideal holiday gift for just about anyone. We leaned in close for a little industry gossip. Thinking about what I could possibly blog about later, I asked them to tell me their most horrifying Obligatory Author Lovely Lunch stories, but they were too well-mannered to share.  The Rottweiler continued to be the Queen Bee---the most entertaining person at the table. We got to laughing, of course.

And we ended up talking about what kind of dog you are. It’s a quiz, and you answer the questions to find out what breed of dog best represents your personality. This is fun, so take a look: http://www.gone2thedogs.com/  Go to fullsize image  I am a Chinese shar pei.  Who knew??

Anyway, in the course of our Lovely Lunch hilarity, the Rottweiler revealed that she loves reading the books of Jan Karon. Which, in a single stroke, completely ruined the whole Rottweiler image for me.  For the record, I, too, enjoy Jan Karon’s books, which are gently funny, sweet stories set in a small southern town full of quirky characters.  But this kind of info sure made the Rottweiler seem more of a . . . Labrador retriever. Or maybe a nice cocker spaniel.

But not for long.  After lunch, the Rottweiler was back in action.

I shopped long and hard for the right literary agent. The Rottweiler is my third in twenty-some years of writing.  I researched the kind of agent who worked with the sub-genre of books I longed to write, and I traveled to NY to meet her face to face. On that trip, I met another agent, too, and when I described to her what I wanted to write, the second agent pulled a book from her shelves and said, “Oh, you mean a book like this one.”  Which was a current bestseller the Rottweiler had agented, not the woman who pulled it off the shelf.  Decision made.  Well, that moment plus the hour I spent howling with laughter in the east side, third floor, windowed garret the Rottweiler called her office.

Anyway, it takes a week like the one I just had to appreciate the value of a fabulous literary agent. I’m so, so glad the Rottweiler is on my team.  At this point, I only hope I can deliver as much good stuff as she has to this relationship. I’m still absorbing what I heard and learned,  The Silver Bullet and I were alone together during my drive home (yes, I beat the snow storm) so I had a lot of time to meditate on what happens next.  Thanks to the Rottweiler, I have some new ideas.

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend. We’re venturing out to find a Christmas tree, and I’m considering breaking out the cookie recipe box. If anyone has some suggestions, I’m listening.

Meanwhile, what kind of dog are you??


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Sounds like you had a fabulous time in NY. I always said that I'd love to live in NY, the moment I become a billionaire. Then I can afford to have a driver take me everywhere and the cool shops would let me go in after hours so I can wander the aisles in privacy.

I am a Canaan dog. Neato.


Nancy, I'm weeping. I'm so homesick for NYC, I could spit. I've got Christmas hormones this morning. (sob.)

I am one ugly dog, the name of which sounded French. Can't remember how to spell it. Something to do with wine, it sounded like, which is appropriate.

Your post makes me anxious to make that NYC face trip. Sometime next year, I hope.

But if I look like that damn dog, I'm liable to scare everyone off.

Just because I have an evil streak - I live only 2 hours from NYC so I can go to the City and visit corner vendor and get nice, hot, sweet, roasted nuts and wander the streets whenever I want to!!

Not that I'd do that every weekend but I am going to see Wicked and The Lion King on Broadway in January - maybe I'll get my fill then. :)

Rob, I have a difficult time believing that you would be an ugly dog. Very difficult.

Harley, if you want something from NYC, let me know. I'll pick it up during my next visit.


Lisa, there was one handbag that a street vendor outside the 86th St. subway had . . . If I'm still thinking about it, I should have bought it, right? No crystals, but it was pretty nice.

Nancy, I'm thinking you are right. If you describe the handbag, I'll see what I can do. Maybe if we're lucky, the bag will still be there in Jan.


I got caught in a deluge in my recent "face" trip to NYC and bought a $3 umbrella from a street vendor. It immediately turned inside out, but it lasted just long enough to get me to dinner with my agent (Nancy and I have the same walks-on-water agent), my editor and the editorial director...but I still felt like a...um...wet poodle. ;-)

I'm a Norwegian Buhund. Hilariously appropos. The picture on www.buhund.org even looks a little like me.

WARNING to all those taking the quiz while at work: the site makes noise!! Whoops!

A Hungarian Puli? Ugh. Maybe I'll go back and change some of my answers.

Okay, now I'm a German Pinscher. That's more like it.

Cassie, get back to work!

(That's my kid, everyone. Making her TLC debut.)

You want good recipes? Try Joanne Fluke's books. Say what you want about food cozies and recipes in mysteries, those cookies are delicious. I'm trying the pumpkin pie recipe from Sugar Cookie Murder this weekend and am craving the Apple Orchard Bar Cookies from (I think) fudge Cupcake Murder like you wouldn't believe. And I hate Apples.


Hello, Cassie! You must be awful proud of your mom -- as I'm sure she is of you.

My daughter was looking for a teaching job and having no luck. What does she say to my wife? "I'd give up on finding a teaching job if it meant dad would sell his book."

Well, we both made it. And we're both awful proud. :)

I guess I don't mind being a Keeshund as long as I can get a better haircut than the one on the clip.

My mother, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and Old English Sheepdog/Irish Wolfhound cross (I'm not kidding, and yes, he looks exactly like what that sounds like) are heading to Manhattan the weekend before Christmas. I'm insanely jealous and would join them myself if I had the $$$ (did I mention that I just bought a horse? I'm still on cloud 9 about it, and don't even mind being broke for the rest of my life).

Nancy, I'll try to dig up the recipe for my grandmother's chocolate sour cream cookies and my mother's "thumbprints" (a sort of shortbread cookie rolled in walnuts with a dollop of red currant jelly in the middle). My personal holiday favorites . . .

I'm a Clumber Spaniel ?!? Ulgh ! I HATE Clumbers ! Every one I've ever known was ill tempered and incontinent. Not to mention those mutant eye boogers (oops - I guess I just mentioned them) Does this mean that I have to sign up for an anger management course and buy some Depends ?
Meanwhile, I've got to go shovel about eight inches of snow, because my Great Dane doesn't like to get his wittle toesies cold and I am NOT carrying him to his favorite weewee spot.
Hey, RGB, what's the weather like in CA ?

Well, I don't know about where Rob is, but here in the Bay Area it's mid-sixties and sunny. I had to roll down my window when I went to pick up my sushi for lunch, because my car was too hot. But I think it's supposed to rain sometime next week.

Well, I'm reasonably certain I began life as a Scottish Border Collie. Now I'm an Ibazan Hound. With less hair. Three young kiddos will do that to a man, I suppose. Having watched you work the room at Malice 2003 by positioning yourself at the entrance and graciously greeting everyone BEFORE they entered the room (now THAT'S timing), you must be the world's sharpest Shar Pei. And I wonder if your agent may perhaps have just a dash of Newfoundland or Portugese Water Dog to leaven the Rottweiler. The Blackbird Sisters are inspired. As is your writing. Your humble, snowbound fan, Ross H-V.

Italian Greyhound. It's a snow day here...I came back and took the test. Italian greyhouds supposedly are dainty, affectionate lapdogs, the smallest of the greyhounds, and they don't "moult" and are "odourless."


The toughest part of course was picking FIVE words - i'm no good at limits like that. What I like best is the description of the type of dog I am: "good natured and courageious, this is a delightful companion although owners have to get used to its gentle snuffling. It also has the tendency to wander off and sulk on the rare occasions that it is in disgrace."

You know you can't help having allergies and a stuffy nose. Snuffle, snuffle.

hmph.....me? sulk? Who told?

Dascshund. This is, of course, due in no small part to my stature. heh.

The only thing that seemed remotely familiar was that they have a 'surprsingly loud bark for their diminutive size.' Well, I've always said I make up in volume what I lack in heigth.

Still - an odd looking creature.

75 Degrees and sunny.

Was COLD this morning, however. Fifty or less. Brrrrrr.

I'm a Kooikerhondje, a Kooiker Dog, which sounds made up. (There wasn't even a picture of it!) It's the duck-decoy dog from the Netherlands.

Carla--you're my Dutch expert--ever heard of this beast??

"an intelligent dog...plenty of energy...busy duck frightener...must keep it entertained...calm by nature...not over-excitable."

Sounds about right, except that I would never frighten a duck.

Not on purpose, that is.

Just one crucial piece of info missing: How many words per day can it write? I'm not sure whether I'm living up to my potential, or missing it by a mile.

Surely some of these dog breeds are made up?

And Carla Neggers as an Italian greyhound?? Good thing I wasn't drinking a glass of milk when I read that, 'cause it would have squirted out my nose. I'm thinking one of those fluffy little dogs with lots of sharp teeth.

Kathy, the perfect dacshund!! LOL!

Ross, you give me more credit than I deserve. "Positioning" myself at the door sounds suspiciously like I was trying to work my way against the tide to hit the bar one more time.

And, for the record, my beautiful daughter looks nothing like a Norweigen Buhund. She has been known to bite, tho....

Kooiker dogs are for real.

Nancy, I wish you *had* been drinking milk! HA! ;-)

OK, I'm getting out of this house. I'm stir-crazy, and we didn't get all that much snow here.

75 degrees in California...

Hey, I'm a sharpei too!!

It's one of my life-long goals to visit New York. Will I ever get there? hmm ... I'm half a world away, so it could be tough.

Late in the week has officially become my time to check in with Nancy on her blog. :D *Loved* your Thanksgiving post. (I want to read a book from you that is steeped in just this kind of thing!)

Having some rare free time, I actually played the dog game... I'm a Schnauzer, used as a ratter (!) and have a face like an old man who lived life the right way. I'm good with the last part.

And drove to NYC not too long ago and got lost in Brooklyn, too - wasn't the driver, though, so it didn't much bother me. I had fun watching all the folk...

A big HELLO to Daisy, er, Cassie :D...

Nancy, it was SO fun seeing you at the MWA Holiday Party the other night. I'm just sorry you don't come to NY all the time. You should! New York would be a more fabulous place with you in it. You sparkled up the room in your glamorous little top and perfect makeup.

There is a definite value to living here despite the inconveniences. And no, I'm not talking about the Manolo sale (although that, too.) I do think it's a bit easier to get that facetime with editors, publicists, agents, etc., WITHOUT having to do a whole big pilgrimage, although non-NYers can achieve the same results by going to the big cons, assuming their agents and editors go. After all, the Rottweiler is here. (Yes, she's my agent, too! That makes us like sisters). Does she know this is her nickname? I must say, although I LOVE how aggressive she can be, I never pictured her as a Rottweiler. A lab or a retriever with the soul of a rottweiler, perhaps?

I will say, the only thing about your post that gave me pause was the hotel prices in New York. I'm planning a trip there for next spring (trying to time it to coincide with Edgars week and Cornelia's launch party, hampered by the fact that I don't know the dates for either one). But five c's a night for lodging will definitely put a crimp in my plans to rampage through the stores of that fine city.

(And, I'm Cassie now? Or is she me? This is very confusing.)

I love Rottweilers--so sleek, so elegant, yet with the fun, sometimes goofy personality that can turn on a dime, if necessary. Yes, Michele, having the Rottweiler in common definitely makes us sisters!

Did I tell you about checking out my sister's closet before I left for the party on Wednesday night? Sixteen--SIXTEEN!!!--shoe boxes marked "Prada." Unfortunately, a size too small for me to take them on a test stroll.

Carla, I was an Italian greyhound, too-- when I re-took the test.

I couldn't resist another shot. I mean, only 5 adjectives to describe myself? (Was "cheater" one of them, I can't remember?)

Nothing against the kooky Kooiker, I just really wanted to be a dog I could pronounce. Or at least recognise.

And now, of course, I must make my husband take that test.

Hi, Nancy,

Well... I'm a Chinese Crested, and I quote: "This affectionate little dog makes an ideal pet for those who appreciate it's loving nature enough to see past its heart-stopping bizarre looks." Ahem. Ummm...

Anyway, it was so great meeting you at the party! Hope we can talk again soon -- I just love your books and your blog.
Alison (who will be wearing a bag over my head for the rest of my life.)

A Pomeranian? Not a chance!

Forget the dogs - and by the by, I wonder if all these posts raised a flag at Senator Santorum's office?

What we REALLY need is a test that tells us what kind of Superhero we are. I want some special powers, even if I can only use them for good...

Kathy -- here you go:

I'm "Super(wo)man, the sort of righteous, indestructible do-gooder the world is crying out for. You use your uncanny powers for good, not ill. You are upright, resolute and just a wee bit boring."

If the cape fits . . .

Alison, there's no way you should be wearing a paper bag. Take the test again, girl. You're going to end up something lovely and smart, I'm sure of it!

Now, this super hero test---I love it! Definitely for divas, huh?

I can help with Edgar Week dates. The symposium will be on Wednesday, April 26th and the awards banquet on Thursday, April 27th. We try to arrange for a discounted room rate at the Grand Hyatt (where the banquet is). Last year the rate was $199/night. Because of the increase in fuel prices, I'm sure it will be higher. But, there are some reasonable hotels in the area of Grand Central - just go to www.hotels.com and you can find some good deals.

Yes, Lisa, there is something you can bring me from NYC. The subway. I'm tired of LA traffic.

Uhm. I'll work on the subway thing. I just returned from visiting San Diego/Santa Ana areas and I agree, traffic stinks. I remember when I was a teen and there was talk that the metropolitan areas of Cali were going to beef up the bus system. Yeah, that happened. Not.

I'm Spiderwoman. Just a regular ol' girlie by day but hanging off buildings at night.

Who knew?

Actually I would like to have the spidey sense but be able to fly and be virtually indestructable. I can do without the whole "GO BERZERK" thing (Take the test, you'll see what I mean.)

My word for the day - "Thing" or "Thingy". I hate when I do that, get stuck on one word and it shows up everywhere.


My word for the day - "Thing" or "Thingy". I hate when I do that, get stuck on one word and it shows up everywhere.


Ok - Superwoman. That's more like it. I feel better, although I think I'm going to have to have that outfit custom made.

They just don't make strapless in my size. And for good reason. But Superwoman - I'll bet we don't need no stinking straps - that's got to be included in the powers.

Cannot wait for that golden lasso - isn't that the thing that makes people tell the truth? Althougth I've always suspected she had other uses for it... those X-Men can be tough to handle.

Kerry - thanks for the link - let's get together and rope some liars. Then we'll divvy up the X-Men later.

I'm right with you, Kathy, although I think you're conflating Wonder Woman with Super(woman) :) I just wish they'd included Xena and Gabrielle on the list -- talk about something to aspire to!

I think a cape-and-lasso combination would be fabulous!

Thanks Margery! Looks like I may be able to run wild(ish) after all. (By the way, may I commend you on your fine choice of names?)

-Daisy (whose real name is Marjorie, and she should just use it and stop confusing people)

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