Can you guess who joined Twitter yesterday, gentle readers? That’s right… the President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev. Thus far, he has 20k followers, and only follows four: Barack Obama, the White House, the UK Prime Minister (David Cameron), and the Kremlin. Impressive.

Apologies, but all I keep picturing is this:

“KremlinRussia_E: Hello everyone! I’m on Twitter, and this is my first tweet.”

KGBvlad52: RT@KremlinRussia_E давайте потанцуем.
Kim_ofthe_JongIl: @KremlinRussia_E @KGBvlad52 LOL
chitownBObama: RT@KremlinRussia_E Welcome! X-) Prague wuz fun. Lets do agn?
McGeneral: Need 2 change usrname. EFFEFFFFefff!!11!1!
chitownBObama: RT@McGeneral pwned!
Kim_ofthe_JongIl: @chitownBObama LOL @BritPetCARES LOL
fmr-akgovsarah: RT@BritPetCARES Don’t b such a DeBbIe DoWnEr! ::wink::
HtotheL-C_2012: RT@fmr-akgovsarah O.o R U 4 SRS?!
fmr-akgovsarah: RT@HtotheL-C_2012 YAH. Sux 4 u moratorium wuz blocked!
08johnmcAZ: @HtotheL-C_2012 @fmr-akgovsarah ::munches popcorn::
Kim_ofthe_JongIl: @HtotheL-C_2012 @fmr-akgovsarah LOL
Kim_ofthe_JongIl: @08johnmcAZ LOL
HuPRCJintao: **msg blocked**
Kim_ofthe_JongIl: @HuPRCJintao …LOL?

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programme. Next up: In which breaking “the rules” is scrutinized.



I saw where you told someone you hated her. In fact, all of the letters answered here pretty much show your contempt for the wanna-be writer. Why don’t you cuddle them close and pet their heads and tell them how special they are? I mean, hello, they’re writing. That in and of itself is AMAZING.

You’re crushing hopes and dreams, Ms. Riter. I hope you’re proud of yourself, because you should be ashamed. Ashamed. Ashamed!

Most assuredly not yours,

Ben D. Over


Dear Mr. Over,

I’ll admit, I’m a bit flummoxed as to how to address your accusation. Perhaps I’ve been unfair to writers?

I assure you, it was not my intention to make anything personal. I feel I’ve been careful to address any one-on-one critique by concentrating on the writing itself. I’ve attempted to give my honest opinion on the state of their art, especially in light of the critee’s questions.

However, it isn’t infrequent that one sees questions regarding the nature of critique, so I hope my responses are construed in the constructive manner in which they’re offered. It took a considerable amount of time for myself to understand critiques are not meant as a personal affront on the author — it’s easy enough to do so, as many consider their writing to be very personal indeed.

So long as ad hominems aren’t offered as part of the crit, the critee should be reminded to offer thanks in in the spirit the crit was given. Meaning, if free, say, “Thank you. I shall take your words under consideration.” And thus move on. If one is paying for a crit, then sign the fucking check and move on.

It’s the crit dissemination that should be the hard part. Critiquing the writing is not the same as critiquing the person. Any writer worth their salt can divorce self from art, sweetheart.

Write on, dear Mr. Over, and never allow anyone to tell you otherwise.

Kind regards,

Ama Riter

Dear Ama Riter,

I’m a published writer. <g> I write books — books that have been read by people, and sometimes even books my publisher has listed on Amazon! <g> People like my writing. <g> I know this because people have told me so. <g> People like my BFF May Dupp, my seven boyfriends last month, and, most importantly — my parents. It’s unanimous!!

Until last week.

Ama, someone posted a bad review. A bad review on a public Website. They told the entire Internet that my work was swill!! Hogwash! Drivel! I told them very very very politely that they were, of course, wrong. They aren’t a professional reviewer like Harriet Klausner!! What do they know?!

And then people started making threats against me. It was a death threat, Ama. On the Internet. From a person.

It made me cry. The whole thing made me cry. Even my soul, my scintillating, light-winged lavender soul is heavy with tears of hurt and pain and fear and wrenching loss. <kry>

I didn’t want to, but I reported it. I called up the FBI, MI-5, Interpol, and the Te-Wu. Was this the right thing to do?


Clay Z. Pearson


Dear Mr. Pearson,

I can understand your hurt and bewilderment regarding a negative review. It is never pleasant to discover that people have divergent opinions from your own.

But please, my darling… in the future, take out your frustration on your dear dear friend May, or even on a new gaggle of boyfriends. Not upon the internets.

Readers do not often delight in discovering that the creators of the books they are currently reading wear crazypants. (Some readers and other writers do, though, delight in schadenfreude.)

Receiving a death threat is not a laughing matter, however. This is not an accusation to fling about lightly. Other authors (upon request) have actually experienced attempts upon their lives.

Darling, I know you know this, but do not call the, er, appropriate authorities unless you have received a legitimate threat. Typing as a person who has actually been physically assaulted, let me implore you — do not waste law enforcement’s time with the insanity you decided to concoct on a whim/reader opinion. You’re adding to the response time the police took to respond to my incident. 😦

Mr. Pearson, your takeaway is this: Screencaps are forever.

Kind regards,


Dear Madam Riter,

You seem to have some knowledge of writing, so I shall grace you with my Golden Words.

[Golden Words redacted]

I’m sure you’ll agree that my words are, in fact, Golden, and requirre no edittinh whatsoever.

Now, my question for you — why don’t the 5,236 agents and editors I CC’ed on my query letter get back to me?  As you saw, my words are Golden, so there is no reason they shouldn’t be clamoring to pay me money right now.  I must have sent the letter 12 times (various times of the day, just to make sure they all saw it. It was also CC’ed to every agent I know of so they’d all be aware there is stiff competition to represent me).

I sent the last batch 20 minutes ago.  I made it very clear I need my advance within the next 10 days so I can make bail.  Why is it taking so long for them to get back to me?


S. Pam Zawrz


Dear Ms. Zawrz,

Hmm. Your words certainly are… something.

I can empathize with your frustration, my darling. Writing tends to be a very lonely hobby. You’re screaming against the blank void of humanity and word processors. Writing pits you against a blinking cursor and an empty page; it’s a passion that can reward rampaging alcoholism and even extreme sociopathic behavior of the sort that lands people behind bars.

But I digress.

Sweetie. Darling. Sweetie, darling. The damage is already done, but please immediately cease your rapid-fire issuance of queries!! Tailor them. Find those who represent your genre! There may be fifty, tops! Recognize that spam queries addressed “To Whom It May Concern” are about as fun for legit agents to receive as solicitations from the Central Bank of Nigeria informing you that you’re the recipient of $1mm if only you would ever so kindly send $1k via bank funds in advance.

Pay attention to submission guidelines. Guidelines are there for a reason — ignoring them does not ensure you a Very Special Look-See, unless it’s one that involves much rolling of eyes and gnashing of teeth. NEVER send the same MS query to the same agent twice unless you have received email confirmation from said agent specifically asking for a resubmit. [Or, unless the requisite number of days per the guidelines have passed and you received only non-response in the interim–and the agent specifically requests in said guidelines that you do so.]

Also, agents never pay you an advance. This is a common fallacy, and ever so incorrect. You pay the agent, through monies earned from a publisher after your work has been bought by said publisher! Also! Never, ever pay an agent in advance!!

Therefore, do your research. And for GOD’S SAKE, stop spamming them and me! You’re not helping your cause here.

Kind regards,


PS. Snookums, please consider addressing your abysmal spelling. That’s why the the handy-dandy “spell check” tool was invented! Google Docs is free, and there’s a grammar/spell check much like that in Word (I don’t trust that of OpenOffice). There is simply no excuse for your blatant ignorance.

PPS. All numbers less than one hundred? Spell out. Unless it’s a highway. Or some such.

Dear Ama Riter,

I’ve totally been writing and writing and writing, and I think I’m ready for publication!!111!1!! Like, srsly, I’m thinking of skipping the source, because, hello? 15%? To an agent?



Who wants to write a query? A synopsis?

WTF are they anyway??? Like anyone ever has any luck with that crap.

And? Which em-effer likes REJECTION???


Why go through all that when I can SELF-PUBLISH?? OH YES, CNN told me it was the next big wave!! That looks like some fer srs quality shit right there.

We all know print media is dead, especially given the current economic conditions, so WHY TRY, AMA??? There is no point. IT IS ARCHAIC.

I’m going to be doing ALOT of research in the next few weeks for reasons NOT to get involved in the romantic dream-boat fantasy of agents/ trad publication. I’m going to send you link upon link upon link about Publish America and DellArte Press and why they’re the wave of the future and why I think I fer srs have a shot at making the BIG TIME without going the traditional route.

Big Time, Ama. I’m talking Stephenie Meyer Big Time. Capital Bee, capital Tee. JK Rowling Big Time. Nora Roberts Big Time. STEPHEN MOTHER FUCKING KING BIG TIME. THAT’S RIGHT, BISHES!

So I will send you my links, Ama, and my emails and my rants,  AND I WILL NOT PRETTIFY IT FOR YOU NO MORE. Because you are wrong. YOU ARE WRONG in thinking that traditional publishing houses are where it’s at!!!

The next #1 NYT Bestseller,

Cleary deLucienal


Dearest Mr. deLucienal,

I am tres impressed by the surety of your convictions regarding something as “archaic” as publishing! If only everyone had the same enthusiasm to devote to their own medium of artistic expression, despite the double negatives!

However. One of the fundamental rules of the publishing industry is this: Money flows toward the author. This is also often referred to as Yog’s Law. Google is a wonderful tool, so look it up.

Agents ensure your work gets sold to a house that will advocate your work (not to mention protect your interests and your butt from a legal perspective!). This does not mean you must “sell out.” Further, this is not to say that authors don’t contribute monetarily to ensure the success of their work. After all, publishers only contribute so much toward marketing the novels in their stables. They do, however, contribute toward editing, copy editing, cover art, garnering cover blurbs, etc, etc. And very often, these houses afford the author advances on their work. But this is after you have an agent and after you’ve gained a contract with a house! Sure, there may be blood, tears, and sweat involved with getting to that point, but how valuable is the opportunity time-cost to you, my darling?

Which is more than one can say about vanity and self-pub models. Several self-publishing companies only ensure that their own bottom line is getting fed. They ask you to pay fees to gain editing services, to publish, to “market.” Then, on top of that–on top of selling you a slick Glenngary Glenn Ross type of deal–you’re in charge of ensuring you break even. These “publishers” could care less, from what I’ve seen and heard.

There are, however, some lesser evils to consider, like (no affiliation). They’re a POD, and don’t require you to purchase your own work. This route in “publishing” is often worth it for the hobbyist, or someone who simply wants to see their words professionally bound.

But, Mr. deLucianal, you proclaimed you want to become a bestseller. I highly doubt that this is the route that will earn you the millions and the accolades. People have broken into traditional publishing this way (the few names upon request) and then become bestsellers, but they are the exception and never, ever the rule.

I’m sorry, my darling, but thems the facts.

So, in closing, I’d like to request that you please stop sending me your missives, the unsolicited and mysteriously stained manuscripts, the half-eaten chocolates. The garter belts, the several dozen beheaded roses, the envelopes coated with the fine white powder.

Hereupon, I am forced to resort to emoticons. Imagine, if you will, that it has fangs, and a nasty snarl upon its features.

>:[ . . .

It is also drooling a poisonous bane, Mr. deLucienal. A neurotoxin that works swiftly and indiscriminately, leaving its victim comatose and yet dying an excruciating death.

If that does not work, I may soon be forced to obtain a restraining order.


Kind regards,


PS. When you are referring to a number of things, the correct way to spell it is “a lot.” “Alot” makes you look illiterate.

PPS. Spelling “seriously” and “for” as, respectively, “srsly” and “fer” has the same effect upon readers as “alot.”

Dear Ama Riter,

I’ve been sort of having this problem lately. Everything I write is unadulterated crap. Crap, crap, crap. A big stinking, steaming pile of crap. Such a big pile of crap, it even has flies buzzing around it.

So, you know, basically… crap.

I don’t know how this happened? My writing used to be decent, if not approaching good. I had no problem with pacing, with grammar, with dialogue, or with tension. My scenes and sequels were above par; I routinely made plot and voice my bitch.

And yet. I just opened up my 35k/100k Word doc and realized that my MS is destined for the bottom of the slush pile. Here, let me show you:

[work redacted]

See?!!? IT. IS. CRAP. It’s so bad I’ve taken to lying in bed fully clothed and eating B&J’s Phish Food ice cream with my fingers and a bunch of Twix, trembling as I stare at my laptop in a strange mixture of terror, desperation, and depression. Why am I doing this?! I can’t even bring myself to open my MS again for fear that the crap’s contagious. And so, advice on how to remedy the heap of poop that’s my MS would be greatly appreciated.

Mucho desperate for answers,

Ivanna Vine


Dearest Ms. Vine,

I sympathize, I do. You’re doing the right thing by reaching out to a fellow writer. Misery does indeed love company. However, what you are most desperately in need of, I fear, is not answers or sympathy. No.

You are need of a big, swift kick in the pants.

You’re not halfway finished with your first draft, right? No? Well, then. I most definitely shall not hold your hand.


Since you’re so worried about the first 35k of your MS, I’m going out on a limb here to say you’ve fallen prey to the most common writerly problem… insecurity. From my experience, about 99.9999999998% of writers are prone to that same emotion. I see it every day. I feel the same every day.

You are not alone, Ivanna.

Your self-doubt is then compounded with a different breed of Golden Word Syndrome: the belief that your first draft must be perfect. A first draft is very, very rarely what one sends off to a potential agent. Most writers need at least two, three, or even twenty drafts to get to that level. Your MS may truly be crap right now, but you can always polish a meta-physical turd. By no means is your work always going to be the humongous pile of poo in which you keep stepping barefoot, my darling.

For first you must have a turd prior to getting out the hazmat and the flamethrower. Once you’ve finished all 100k of your MS… you are then allowed to set your work aside to gain some objectivity. You’re too close to it right now, so you need to finish slogging through even if it’s the worst drivel ever written since a certain Mr. Swann first dunked a madeleine in a cup of tea. And if your MS still sucks after you’ve stepped back, then possibly consider engaging betas/crit partners.

So, in closing, may I reiterate: FINISH THE GODDAMN THING.

Then you can worry.

Kind regards,


PS. I am, actually, quite fond of Proust. But, boy… did he ever need a good edit or twelve.

Dear Ama Riter,

Every word I write is SERIOUS BUSINESS. I will never, ever write something that could ever EVER be considered a COMPLETE waste of time. That would be POINTLESS. And, it’s not like I’d learn anything from it anyway. I’ve heard that there’s only a finite number of phrases and words and clichés and idioms and tropes that I can use and/or type… and once that well is empty I will never be able to write again. *sad face*

FREX: Committing to write 200k in a year? POINTLESS. Committing to that stupid thing no one who’s as cool as me does called NaNo? POINTLESS. I mean, for serious, I’ve never heard of any REAL writers finishing something without getting paid for it, or writing anything for the lulz!! WHAT A WASTE OF TIME. Hello? You should be improving your craft by carefully choosing every single word, even if it takes you decades upon decades to finish a single 100k novel. In writing, PRACTICE DOES NOT MAKE PERFECT!!

People who do this? People who write short stories or character sketches and maybe even respond to blog comments or… BLOG?

Since you are one of these people… you are clearly an idiot. And have too much free time on your hands. I would never want to read anything of yours, especially a fiction novel, because I have no doubt it would be dry and stifled and AWFUL. And BAD! So so so so bad!!!

Again, writing is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Good luck with getting published, anonymous internet person!!! You’re gonna need it!11!1!!

Hoping you rot in hell,

Seymour Butts


Dearest Mr. Butts,

If your thesis–as painstakingly outlined above–is to believed, I’m not entirely sure why you bothered spending your precious time to write me.

Two things to keep in mind, however:

  • Caps lock is completely unnecessary, and often considered rude.
  • Never refer to a work of fiction or a novel as a “fiction novel.” Just don’t.

Kind regards,


Dear Ama Riter,

After suffering in a cold, dank garret for many moons while assiduously pecking out painful letter upon painful letter of the Great American Novel on my MacBook Air, I finally typed the two greatest words in the English language: THE END. Whereupon panic and palpitations beset me, for I decided it was time to gather consensus about my work.

For it was time I began seeking beta readers.

Thus, I joined an extremely popular online writing forum, and attracted the attentions of A Real Published Writer through baseless flattery and relentless pestering, through rep point after rep point. After weeks of such skulduggery, the Real Published Writer caved to my incessant hounding and reluctantly agreed to peruse my first two chapters despite obligations to her current WiPs.

I was ecstatic! Birds sang! Wild beefalo fed from my hands! The very Earth rejoiced with me!

Then I received RPW’s comments.

): ): ): D:<


Why? Why does she feel the need to attack me personally??!! I didn’t do no nothin to her! MY WORDS ARE GOLDEN. It’s not my fault that I use every vampire/werewolf/mother-daughter/[insert trope here] cliche ever trodden to death! I’ve never even read in the genre, so my ideas are new! Fresh! Unspoilt, even!

I refuse to thank her. I refuse to acknowledge her. She just doesn’t ‘get’ my work!!!

It’s not my fault she’s dumb!!! It’s not my fault I don’t know how to spell check!! It’s not my fault I don’t know what a comma splice is, that I don’t know how to tag dialogue, that I don’t know basic punctuation!!!! It’s just NOT!! MY WRITING IS PERFECT. RPW doesn’t know her ass from a teakettle! She’s only getting a trilogy published with a major house. WHAT AN IDIOT!!!

Why?!! Why does she wound my soul so? Does it make her happy? Does she sleep at night?

Please advise.


Lipschitz Dipfarger, esq.

PS. Can I use song lyrics in my novel? KTHXBAI


Dearest Mr. Dipfarger,

Have you ever considered that perhaps RPW would not be remiss in telling you to shove off? At the very least, send RPW a polite email thanking her for her time and effort. Tell her that you shall take her comments under consideration, then wish her the very best of luck in her future endeavors.

Then I suggest you study her crit. It may sting, but you need to learn how to look objectively at your own work. If you can’t handle critique now, just imagine how you’d take the snark leveled at Dan Brown and the like.

Furthermore, please consider seeking psychological help.

Kind regards,


PS. And no. No, you cannot use song lyrics in your twee little work of emo.


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