I ought to contact National Enquirer or something and see if I can sell this story. I think it would be a shock to learn Janet Reid is really very sweet. However, since you are all my friends, here goes. Bear in mind I haven’t had much sleep, I am in pain and I am suffering from a huge guilt complex because I called in sick to work. I’m going to crash shortly.
I first heard Janet’s name mentioned at the conference after the first workshop. You’ll recall, I got into Jack Whyte’s minor characters workshop so I dropped out of Janet’s query workshop. I should have done the opposite. If I get a chance to go to another workshop where she is teaching, I will sit at her feet for everything she teaches.
Jack is an intriguing man and a good teacher, but basically the secret of bringing minor characters to life is the details. Not to sound arrogant, but I’m already pretty solid in that area. Perhaps too solid since I always wind up cutting much of that.
Query letters are a challenge for me. The one I submitted was hashed over on Books and Writers, Barbara Rogan’s workshop, Evil Editor’s twice, and here. Should have gone with my gut.
Three different women I know from Books and Writers told me Janet was looking for me. She was going to kill me. Oh, dear. I’ve just arrived and already triggered homicidal urges in someone. It usually takes me at least a full day.
Apparently, she liked my query and I ditched her for Jack Whyte. In my defense, Janet’s Scottish brogue leaves a bit to be desired and I am a sucker for all things Celtic. Besides, I had seen pictures of Jack in a kilt and I spent my workshop happily imagining him in his kilt. Yes, I confess, I am a pervert.
At lunch, I was being introduced to the people at the table behind me, friends from Books and Writers I hadn’t met in person, and was introduced to a lady with a lovely scarf draped about her shoulders. She hissed at me and backed away as if she were a vampire and I had just doused myself in garlic-flavored holy water.
I had stood up Janet Reid. I underestimated her. Knowing she would be flooded with submissions, I assumed she wouldn’t even know I was missing, unlike Jack, who would definitely notice one of his chosen ten was missing.
This continued for the next day and a half or so. Every time Janet saw me, she announced, “Julie Weathers, the one who ditched me for Jack Whyte.”
It broke the ice for me and immediately put me on notice this was going to be a fun conference. Any butterflies I had disappeared with that first hiss. Her assistant must have been coaching her, because it was a very good hiss.
Janet’s workshops were all excellent. She is wickedly funny, as we all know, but she’s also amazing in the way she shares inside information about what does and doesn’t work in the industry and why.
Janet has an excellent sense of humor, as I said, but she does drop into her professional mode very quickly and you better be paying attention when she does because you want to take this advice to heart.
I was also quite surprised at her aplomb with a rude student who astounded all of us. That deserves a post of its own.
I think Janet and I became friends during the conference. I know for my part, I adore her, but I wouldn‘t presume to speak for her.
She claimed to be Rachel Vater at one point and told everyone she accepted 99% of everything people submitted to her. Here’s a clue. Janet doesn’t look like Rachel. She’s a sawed off little munchkin like me. Yeah, you thought she was ten feet tall and breathed fire, didn’t you? Well, she doesn’t. She’s a delightful, funny, professional and knowledgeable woman.
She did invite me to submit Paladin to her, but it needs work. The first three pages made it to sentence three in the Idol workshop before both Rachel and Janet killed it. Yeah, that’s a sure sign it needs work.