Friday Twitter Tips - Roundup of #pubtips from agents and editors

I love following agents and editors on Twitter. It gives such a great insight into what they like, dislike and what is trending in the publishing world. Plus, some of them are interesting in their own right. When they tweet about the weather, opera, their children, cats, happy hours, well, it reminds us they are human and not robots reading and rejecting our manuscripts just because they can. I see so many good #pubtips on a daily basis. So, as a public service to my fellow authors, and as a way to keep the ones I like best easily accessible on my blog, I'm rounding up my favorites. My idea is for this to be a weekly post. Considering how sporadic my posting as been, and my general inability to follow-up with my Grand Blogging Ideas, I understand if you are skeptical of my ability to do this. At the very least, you'll get this one post, and that ain't nothing.

This should be a no-brainer to writers. That someone had to tweet this advice makes me sad.

I especially love agents who do 10 queries in 10 tweets, or a similar series. You get lots of great tips and advice about what turns agents off. Margaret Bail has been doing 10 queries in 10 tweets consistently for a while now. Great info.


You know what they say: "It is what it is. Literally."

Media Bistro is making news out of old news: the misuse of the word "literally." (For the best comments about the misuse of "literally," head over to the Reddit thread Media Bistro sourced their article from.) As much as the grammar Nazis don't want to admit it, the second definition of "literally" has superceeded the true definition in every day language.

From the Oxford Dictionary:


Syllabification: (lit·er·al·ly)


  • in a literal manner or sense; exactly:the driver took it literally when asked to go straight across the traffic circle tiramisu, literally translated “pick me up.”
  • informal used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true:I have received literally thousands of letters

In its standard use, literally means ‘in a literal sense, as opposed to a nonliteral or exaggerated sense’: I told him I never wanted to see him again, but I didn’t expect him to take it literally. In recent years, an extended use of literally (and also literal) has become very common, where literally (or literal) is used deliberately in nonliteral contexts, for added effect: they bought the car and literally ran it into the ground. This use can lead to unintentional humorous effects (we were literally killing ourselves laughing) and is not acceptable in formal English.

I am an offender of using "literally" for emphasis. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever used it in the correct way. Which is why I try to avoid using it at all, in speaking because I use it incorrectly, and in writing because it is an adverb. Though I don't judge people that use "literally" in conversation, nor would I ever care enough about its use to correct anyone, it literally stands out in conversation.

What also stands out in conversation and is a particular irritation of mine, even though I have said it in the past - we have all said this - is the use of "they" as an all encompassing, all knowledgeable being. "They" is brilliant. "They" are always saying this, that or the other. "They" are always right and "they" usually share our views. "They" is what people say when they want to spout their own, probably unsupported, opinion about a particular subject, but don't want to be blamed for the content.

Neither of those two bug me as much as the phrase that is suddenly everywhere. "It is what it is." Usually, this deep thought is delivered with a long suffering sigh or a whaddya gonna do? shrug. It just might be the laziest phrase in the English language. What is it? Tell  us! If you can't explain what it is to us, then you probably shouldn't be talking about it.

I have a few other conversation pet peeves - "Back in the day..." always makes me laugh and feel sorry for the poor soul that is reduced to reliving their glory days instead of enjoying their life now. And, I'm starting to get irritated by all of the war imagery and phrases in sports. Every time a sportscaster or player compares a game to the life or death reality of war, it pisses me off.

What about you? Have any conversational irritations? Sound off in the comments.

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm out competing in a watermelon eating contest, watching a parade, eating pizza and homemade ice cream. Not necessarily in that order. The point is, I'm not here. So, here's a round up of Fourth of July related links:

Revolution Blues: Why do popular histories of the War of Independence ignore modern scholarship? - It's much more interesting than it may sound and makes an excellent point.

Fourth of July, Independence Day, Independent Day? What should we call it?

Born on the Second of July - When the Declaration of Independence really came into being.

This Day in History: July 4

Born on this day...

I know Gettysburg ended on July 3, but these are interesting reads:

Chronicle of Gettysburg Refuses Easy Answers

Did Black Soldiers Fight at Gettysburg?

I know, I know. This is a boring post. But, I did take the above pictures!