More Homework for White Folks

After that whole brouhaha over the Magic Under Glass cover, we stayed away from internet conversations about racism in publishing for a while. Honestly, they seem more often than not to go like this:

PERSON OF COLOR: posts thoughtful, amazing, carefully-considered, and very insightful commentary about racism/appropriation/marginalization/being a good ally

MANY, MANY WHITE PEOPLE: leave totally horrifying comments (see "but I'm a good person so I can't possibly be who you meant," "whtevr get over it u ppl r so sensitive," "we are post-racial now," "one time someone called my Irish grandfather a bad name which is exactly the same as your experience of racism and look at me I'm fine," etc.)

and then we put out our own eye with a fork and are of no use to the People's Revolution. But anyway! All of that was just to say we missed some of these posts when they first went up, but they are all amazing, and EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO READ THEM RIGHT NOW. Okay! Thanks.

The Book Smugglers compiled the most considered and comprehensive overview of whitewashing in publishing ever, and finished it off with another out-of-the-ballpark letter from Ari, who is seriously our hero, and some days when we are feeling really un-optimistic about the future of the People's Revolution, we think about Ari, and then we feel better.

Also our hero: Neesha Meminger, who routinely posts some of the most thoughtful and compelling writing about race (and cookies) in the universe, has a great post about representation. OH LOOK NEESHA INTERVIEWED OLUGBEMISOLA RHUDAY-PERKOVICH AND THEY BOTH SAID A BUNCH OF CRAZY SMART THINGS HOW EXCITING. This made us cry: "I hope that readers know that I am writing to them from that place in myself that is both broken-hearted and beautiful to that same place in them; that I'm hoping that we meet and are transformed in some way together. That we're all imperfect, self-conscious, want more, don't even know what the questions are sometimes, much less the answers...and we can all get beyond ourselves, even in very small ways, to make a difference in this world." Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, if you get any more awesome, our head is going to fall off.

Here is a very fabulous post from the very fabulous Zetta Elliott on her experience at the NYC Teen Author Festival (Dear Zetta: "Should I, as a woman of color, expect my “white sisters” to rush to my side and stand in solidarity on this issue that doesn’t negatively affect them?" We know you are being wry and resigned but YES YOU SHOULD WE LIKE TO AIM HIGH OVER HERE AT THE PEOPLE'S REVOLUTION. LADIES LET'S STEP UP OKAY? OKAY!). You should also read her Huffpo post about self-publishing. You should also read some Sarah Schulman while you're at it.

Finally, here is an interesting series of posts on the maybe-almost-but-not-quite-yay-they-fixed-it-anyway whitewashing of the cover for Holly Black's forthcoming White Cat, from Book Smugglers and Gal Novelty, and Holly's response (Dear Simon and Schuster: if someone wanted to send us a galley for this book so we could not have to wait until it comes out to read it because it is totally going to be so awesome confirm your success in non-whitewashing we would not say no).

Spring Break Personal Safety

This has nothing to do with publishing but lots to do with awesome. The entire article is here. Thanks for the link, Subcomandante Emiko! Maybe someone will send this to Terry Richardson. We're not joking.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundromats to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are committing a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

ALSO! Delightful Author-friend Tahereh (dear young lady! We cannot be your fiancée, we are practically old enough to BE YOUR MOTHER! HA! HA!) is having a very splendid rhyming-query contest, already the entries are very funny, maybe you ought to enter!


FRIDAY; Or, This Week in Queries, With Albatrosses, Demonic, For the Use of

So maybe in the future one of you dear little creatures! will come to literary events with us! and when we are going on at the sizzling afterparty about how terrible someone's story was! you will tug at our arm and say REJECTIONIST THAT PERSON IS STANDING BEHIND YOU!! But it WAS a terrible story, and maybe the universe WANTED the author to know it was a terrible story, and so used the medium of our person to convey this message, and who are we to tamper with the machinations of fate! and anyway it wasn't our fault that CHARMING young man from the catering company took such a SHINE to us and kept refilling our wineglass, WAS IT?

LOTS of people wrote us to thank us for rejecting them this week, or sent us very plaintive missives re: their grandiose aspirations and subsequent failures in the arena of publishing, and we thought of YOU LOVELY PEOPLE and responded to every one of them! so nicely! with helpful links! Maybe also because we just watched all of Life in the Freezer, and the sad little query-friends reminded us greatly of clamoring albatross chicks, and for a moment we envisioned ourself as the far-ranging albatross parent vomiting up the squid of consolation and wisdom into their hungry mouths as we pressed SEND, and now that we wrote that it sounds kind of weird, but metaphor is a very personal language. Peep, peep, wee chicks! Peep!

Lots of demons this week! Scandalous demons, sizzling demons, demons tormented by the Desire to Be Good, steaming hot demon dumplings! Demons are NAUGHTY NAUGHTY NAUGHTY!!!! Maybe we will write a Mem-wah about Queries! And call it Angels and Demons! Isn't that a great title? Angels! and Demons! Strangely familiar, and yet possessed of a certain différance ! Angels and Demons and Derrida: Our Life In Slush OH GOD WE ARE LOOOOOOOOOOOOOSING OUR MIIIIIIIIIIIND


You can buy this poster too, if you want.

Yet Another Brief Note On the Importance of Proofreading


So, we get it: people like the plateful of crack that is Twilight, including some people we love and respect, and although we were personally unable to slog through even the first book in that juggernaut (it wasn't the dreadfulness of its politics that deterred us; it's just SO. FUCKING. BORING.), as someone who has read the entire cheese-tastic and wooden Dragonlance trilogy not once but multiple times, we should not point fingers at other people's vices. However, if you even TRY and tell us Twilight is a GOOD book, we will immediately stop listening to anything you say after that, and you will deserve it. Sorry. True. We are talking about a series in which a vampire performs a Caesarean with his teeth, folks. You do not hear us arguing that Dragons of Spring Dawning is LITERATURE, hmm?

BUT! then we found THIS LIVEJOURNAL! Which possibly you have already seen, since these posts are years old, but which is the funniest goddamn thing we have come across since The Road: A Comedic Translation. Cleolinda summarizes the Twilight novels ("Twilight means never having to say you're kidding")! provides a helpful glossary! highlights Great Moments in Sparkle Motion! If the actual books were this awesome, we would totally read them! and now we don't have to! FURSPLODE!

Also very old, very funny, and very true: Top Ten Things Never to Send Your Favorite Writer, by Neil Gaiman's assistant Lorraine.

**ADDENDUM: Dear Cleolinda, if you are reading this, and would like to apply your patented treatment of excellence to the Dragonlance Chronicles, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU WOULD MAKE A LOT OF PEOPLE REALLY REALLY HAPPY. Love, The Rejectionist**

Elif Batuman, Please Be Our Bestie

Who went to Elif Batuman's reading last week? She was hilarious, yes? And so smart! We had planned on writing some sort of very witty and scintillating and erudite review of The Possessed but a lot of people already beat us to that, and we realized that the reason we wanted to write a witty and scintillating and erudite review was to show off our delightfulness, in the hopes that Ms. Batuman would someday come across it and realize that, obscure random blogger though we may be, we are clearly destined to BE HER NEW BEST FRIEND. So! Dear Elif Batuman, instead of a review of your book, which is so funny it made us cry in places (and which ALL OF THE AUTHOR-FRIENDS SHOULD GO BUY RIGHT THIS SECOND FROM THEIR FAVORITE LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE OR ONLINE HERE IF YOU ARE SO UNFORTUNATE AS TO NOT HAVE A LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE), here are SIX EXCELLENT REASONS why you should be our #1 friend.

1. Exchange of Anecdotes. You can tell us wacky stories about graduate school and we will tell you wacky stories about the things we did instead of going to graduate school, including but not limited to dropping out of college and running away with a circus (100% true!), bicycling across two continents by ourself, and roadie-ing (sp?) for punk bands DON'T THOSE SOUND LIKE EXCITING STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BE TOLD (confidential to the New Yorker: should you wish to complement Ms. Batuman's essays with convivial musings by our person, we shall be happy to oblige you for a small fee, and we are more entertaining than Malcom "Snoresgasbord" Gladwell, that is for sure).

2. Anna Karenina. OMG, Elif Batuman, you already know this, but AK is like the best book ever, that scene where Levin brings in the harvest with the peasants makes us weep (WHAT DO YOU MEAN you have not read Anna Karenina, Author-friends? WTF is wrong with you? GO READ IT NOW! It's shorter than Twilight and 9,875% less stupid!) and it is all so transcendent! and rapturous! and magical! and uplifting! and tragic! So anyway we could talk about AK all the time and drink coffees and look very intelligent in a café of your choice, on either coast, and maybe someone will put us in a movie.

3. Tutoring. You can teach us things in Russian, and we will teach you how to say "My cat is an excellent animal and I adore posting videos of him on my charming blog" in French. Ummm, maybe you speak French already, what with having a doctorate in comparative literature from Stanford, but we will teach it to you with a certain je ne sais quoi that is irreplaceable.

4. Able-Bodied Assistance. If you ever needed someone to carry your suitcases to your readings we are very strong and uncomplaining and we could do that, and bring you snacks afterward like a good best friend, and we will quietly remove any very agitated Russian ladies in the audience who are going on about wildly obscure Russian writers for ten minutes and picking fights with other excitable Russian audience members and shouting things like "Stalin wasn't RUSSIAN he was SOVIET" while you sit being very patient and gracious.

5. Despair in the Face of Depravity and Mediocrity. We also find Vice Magazine to be quite horrifying, which you are diplomatic enough not to say outright, but a good best friend can read between the lines.

6. Flexibility and Innovation. If these are not enough good reasons WE WILL MAKE MORE WE ARE VERY SERIOUS ABOUT THIS PROPOSAL we can send you cookies! write zines about your book! make you a poster! you just ask!!!!!


(Morning. ASSISTANT, seated at desk, types quietly. "STEVE" office door opens. Enter "STEVE", glancing about furtively.)

"Steve": Ummm, Rejectionist!

Assistant: Your latté awaits!

"Steve": Oh! Thank you! It's not that-- er-- this is embarrassing, but I have to ask--

Assistant: ?

"Steve": Erm, you didn't, er, by any chance, eat some Triscuits yesterday? That were in the Kitchen Area?

Assistant: ?

"Steve": Because they were, well, they were Cretinous's Triscuits, and the thing is, well...

Assistant: ?!

"Steve": The thing is, he's quite upset, and he's sent-- well, he's sent an email, er, around the office-- he's asked us, the agents, he's asked us to ask our assistants not to eat his Triscuits.

Assistant: !

Assistant: !!!!!!!!!!!!


"Steve": I know! Of course! Of course I know! I told him you only eat health food! But he's-- (whispering) you know, we don't like to upset him, and we did all promise to tell our assistants not to eat the Triscuits, so I just-- I had to--

(ASSSISTANT turns toward office of Cretinous van Poopypants. Lasers shoot out ASSISTANT's eyeballs. Cretinous's office explodes. Assistant eats a bowl of granola. ORGANIC granola. MADE AT HOME. ASSISTANT rests.)


Author-friends, Meet Osa

Osa is the superstar genius behind Shotgun Seamstress, a zine by, for, and about black punks, queers, misfits, feminists, artists, musicians, weirdos, and the people who support them. Shotgun Seamstress is always a treat, full of interviews with musicians, thoughtful essays, and profiles of often-overlooked but hugely important black artists and punk hero/ines. Osa also writes a smart and funny column for Maximum Rocknroll (source of our new motto: "if you want to see yourself represented, you have to represent yourself") and plays in the facemelting band The New Bloods. You can get Shotgun Seamstress here.

Why did you decide to start Shotgun Seamstress?

i wanted to create a tiny space where all of my identities weren't conflicting, but instead flowing harmoniously with each other. making that zine is like building my own house to live in with all of my best friends, chosen family and heroes. i also wanted to talk about race in punk in an updated way, and from a new and different perspective and context than the people of color zines of the late 90s and early 2000s.

What is so appealing to you about punk and punk communities? How do you deal with racism/sexism/homophobia in punk, and what keeps you strong?

i am in love with diy culture. for me, it is an inspiring and positive way to dismantle white supremacist patriarchy and to resist capitalist consumer identity. punk and diy culture, in its most ideal sense, is ultimately about everyone being able to have a voice and be heard. it gives us all the authority to be leaders instead of the more capitalist, mainstream, hierarchical model that says that only a chosen few are experts or leaders. diy culture in its purest sense is empowering to everyone and isn't limited to arts & culture. recently i've been talking to people about how diy & punk can be a launching pad for action and activism in other realms.

being involved with punk & diy has made all of my dreams come true. ever since i found out about punk rock, i've done so many things i never thought i could do. it's given me a community and i've even found chosen family through it. i also stick with punk because i am obsessed with punk rock music. i like a lot of different kinds of music but punk is awesome because it is so accessible, hands-on and obvious and because it expresses a political and emotional reality that i relate to.

i deal with racism, sexism, homophobia in punk by being very selective about my interactions within that community. when i was younger, i was way more willing to be the only woman, queer person, or black person in a band or at a show or whatever. i can't do that anymore. i think i walk around with a wall up, a little bit, when it comes to meeting new punk kids. maybe not a wall, but a screen. i've been around too long to keep putting myself in the same stupid situation over & over again, having the same stupid conversation with the same straight white dude who never seems to grow up. i've had enough. i'm not even sure i could tell you the last time i dealt with homophobia in the punk scene. i just don't go there with people anymore. more often, i associate with people who are proud to be brown, proud to be women, proud to be queer, and who make me feel proud to be those things too. i feel lucky to be able to have the opportunity to hang out with people like that.

what keeps me strong: meditation, my family, being in love, positive feedback & support from people across the country & the world

Who are some of your punk and metal heroes?

punk heroes: adee roberson (new bloods) & brontez purnell (the younger lovers); metal heroes: lozen (two piece metal band from tacoma washington)

Some books you've read lately that you found pleasing?

the neighborhood story project series =books written by teens about their own neighborhoods in new orleans before katrina.

Today's Font of Joy

This is our new favorite blog ever.

ALSO! Author-friend/fiancée CKHB has published a short short in Boston Literary Magazine! Woooo CKHB!!!!

Also! Beloved interview alumnus/coolest YA author in universe Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is reading TOMORROW at the Brooklyn Central Library as part of NYC Teen Author Fest, along with about a million other totally fabulous people, so you should probably go. She's also signing books in Manhattan Friday and Saturday, also with some other totally fabulous people, including the brilliant Neesha Meminger (whose Shine, Coconut Moon is currently in the vast pile of to-be-read books threatening to collapse our apartment). If you don't live here THEY MAKE THESE CRAZY THINGS CALLED AIRPLANES.

5 Traits That Bag an Boyfriend Agent, Courtesy of Cosmopolitan Magazine

At Cosmo's Fun Fearless Males the Booker Awards, Mario Lopez Hilary Mantel confessed, "I'm not really working on trying to find Ms. Right an agent. I'm kind of working on being Mr. Right a totally amazing writer, and it will happen." It got us thinking: Not only is Mario Hilary freakin' hot, [s]he's also pretty damn insightful. And experts agree: Before you go looking for your other half the perfect agent, you may want to work on yourself book first.

Here are the qualities that make you more desirable to guys agents. Think of it as your pre-dating querying to-do list.

1. You're just that into yourself.

A chick writer may have smarts, sex appeal, and a sense of humor, but if s/he doesn't have self-confidence, most guys agents will take a pass. Womenriters with low self-esteem come across as extremely needy, explains Jim Houran, PhD, relationship psychologist and feature columnist for They have to be the center of attention and are constantly looking for reassurance and compliments. And even if you find an guy agent who at first is willing to be your personal cheerleader, before long s/he's probably going to start to agree with all the crap you say about yourself book and take a hike.

2. You've got a burning passion...and not just for him an agent.

Whether it's writing is a hobby or a job, men agents are undeniably attracted to women with clear interests writers who are passionate about their work, write because they love writing, and have lots of enthusiasm, according to Houran. The benefits are twofold: The guy agent won't feel totally responsible for your happiness — a huge weight to put on a new love interest agent-writer partnership — and s/he'll be more inclined to want to be a part of your multifaceted life writing career.

3. You know how to compromise.

This is one of the most important skills to have if you're looking to get into a long-term relationship, emphasizes Houran. Being flexible is a huge turn-on to guys agents, since it means less conflict and a smoother partnership in general, he adds. If an guy agent senses that the girl he's dating writer s/he's signing isn't willing to try to meet both their needs, s/he envisions a future of trivial disagreements, fighting, and ultimatums — not exactly the makings of a happy twosome. Prove you know how to compromise early on by letting him/her weigh in on the restaurant choice editing process or not acting annoyed if s/he needs to reschedule plans phone calls or meetings.

4. You dress for guys online critique groups, not girls agents.

If you[r book is] not turning heads, it could be because you're looking girl-hot and not guy-hot sending out an ms with sloppy errors - typos, inconsistencies, or significant grammatical errors. Polish that shit until you can see your reflection! Skinny jeans, babydoll dresses, peasant tops — all supercute, but you might as well be wearing a Snuggie. Men want to see curves, so stick with sexy the remainder of this item is redacted because the Rejectionist found it too horrifying to repeat even for the purposes of satire.

5. You're over your ex first draft.

Nothing kills a budding romance agency agreement quicker than being hung up on an old boyfriend draft of your book. So before you get serious with a new guy agent, make sure you're not hoping — or worse, trying — to get back together with the ex or looking for someone just like him resurrect a draft - or worse, an entire first novel - that's totally unsalvageable. It's relationship-repelling for two reasons: No dude agent wants to feel like s/he's in an unwinnable competition signing an author who can't handle editing, and if you're living in the past, you won't truly be motivated to meet and make a connection with new guys work on new projects. So ladies Author-friends, move on and get an upgrade revise.


WAYNE: Hi guys! What's up! This is Wayne, from the excellent TV Show Wayne's World! And over here is Garth. Say hi, Garth!

GARTH: Hi guys! Party time! Excellent!

WAYNE: So listen, the weirdest thing happened to me this weekend! I was just gearing up for the Alice Cooper show, when I got a phone call! And there was this CRAZY LADY on the other end!

GARTH: Totally crazy!

WAYNE: Yeah, I said that already! Anyway, she kept yelling some stuff! It sounded like, I can't pick a contest winner! I can't pick one! They're all too good! And I said, Whoah, lady, you gotta calm down!

GARTH: Calm down!

WAYNE: Yeah! And she said, You have to help me! And I was like, Okay, cool!

GARTH: Cool!

WAYNE: So then she sent me all these metal lyrics! Only, they weren't, like, metal songs! Or I mean, they were like metal songs, but with different words! They were about books or something!

GARTH: Yeah, books!

WAYNE: So that was kind of weird! But even though I didn't really understand them, I could tell they were really awesome! And I was supposed to pick the best one!

GARTH: There were songs, too!

WAYNE: I was getting to that! Yeah, some people even recorded songs! That was pretty killer! This guy Tom and this other guy Rick Daley, they had some awesome covers!

GARTH: Tell them about the part where Rick Daley made the tearing paper sound effect!

WAYNE: Oh yeah, that part was cool! Then there was this really excellent duet! Who ever heard of a heavy metal duet? But this lady Lucy Woodhull, she made a really great duet!

GARTH: Yeah!

WAYNE: And there was this totally killer drop-crotch pants reference in d minus 's song!

GARTH: What's drop crotch?

WAYNE: I dunno! I bet it looks cool in New York or something, though!

GARTH: Not Milwaukee!

WAYNE: Noooooooooo, Garth. So also, this lady Kimberly Kincaid had a really good one too, there was stuff about zombies being over!

GARTH: Zombies were out in 1990!

WAYNE: I know that, Garth! Yeah, and this McCormick person even dropped a Kristeva reference!

GARTH: Who's Kristeva?

WAYNE: The author of Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art , who was heavily criticized by Gayatri Spivak, among others, for her ethnocentric feminist theory! Everybody knows that!


WAYNE: So anyway, I guess I had to pick the best one! It was hard! These people are really funny!

GARTH: Funny!

WAYNE: And people recorded songs and stuff! It was like the coolest contest I ever saw!

GARTH: Cool!

WAYNE: So then we thought there should be a battle between the finalists!

GARTH: Yeah! Like this one!

WAYNE: Excellent! But we don't have a prairie!

GARTH: No! No prairie!

WAYNE: But I wanted to help this crazy lady out! And it took me a long time, but there was this one, it had the greatest lines ever! Like this: "Like Animal Farm but set in space!" Or "if you want to write, pretend you care"!

GARTH: Man, those are pretty good. But wasn't that the Aerosmith song? Aerosmith isn't metal.


WAYNE: Well, if you make a Guns 'N Roses station on Pandora, you get Aerosmith songs.

GARTH: That's cool, then!

WAYNE: So yeah! So we picked a winner!

GARTH: It was hard!

WAYNE: And we weren't worthy! We're not worthy! But the winner is...

GARTH: The winner is...

WAYNE and GARTH: TRICERATOPHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WAYNE: So this person gets a query critique! and a book! and should email rejectionistandyourmom at to claim these items!

GARTH: But also a special prize!

WAYNE and GARTH: OF A HEAVY METAL MOTORCYCLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To the tune of "Love in an Elevator" by Aerosmith:

Workin' like a dog for the boss man
Workin' for the agency
And every single day I'm tossin'
Out toothless vampire fantasy

And it seems the more I look
The more bad queries I find
I can tell not one of these should be a book
Just from the opening lines

Pitch in an elevator
"It's like Moby Dick meets My Two Dads"
Pitch in an elevator
"Like Sixth Sense crossed with the Iliad"

This one's from a woman-hater
That one is a total bore
Rhetoricals come in later
What if you couldn't take much more?

And just when I think I'm done
Another hundred arrive
If I close my eyes and click on
Auto-reject, honey
I could be home by five

Pitch in an elevator
"Magic orphan twins are heirs to the crown"
Pitch in an elevator
"Then they're whole world is turned upside-down"

Don't use "they're," make it "their," if you want to write
Pretend you care

Pitch in an elevator
"You'll be sorry if you turn me down"

(Guitar solo)

Pitch in an elevator

"The next Dan Brown"

(Guitar solo)

Pitch in an elevator
"I call it baby's first Peyton Place"
Pitch in an elevator
"Like Animal Farm but set in space"

"Gonna be a famous author"
"Gonna be a millionaire"
Hope the lotto makes you an offer
Because I can't help you there

Gotta get your query right
It's a test that you haven't passed
Stop wasting all your time on your log line, honey
Back to writing class!

WAYNE: You can listen to Tom's song he recorded!

GARTH: And Rick Daley's, too! It's excellent!

Heavy Metal Self-Helps

So maybe, like us, you never learned how to play guitar, and sometimes experience very real sensations of regret and loss for never having fronted a metal band of your own. Maybe you DID front a metal band of your very own as a wee pup, and are now chained to the 9-5, longing for the halcyon days of your youth when anything seemed possible and legions of fans awaited you. Um, that's depressing. ANYWAY. Our point was supposed to be: it's never too late to make your everyday a little more metal!

1. Nothing says "1996 was the last good year" like tying a bandana around your cowboy boot. If you really want to commit to a metal nostalgia, make yourself some of these (ummm, not the Confederate flag ones. But those wolfs are SICK). We are currently working on this project, perhaps we will post a photo if they turn out well. If wearing boots to your work is discouraged, may we suggest moving to New York.

2. Engage in Heavy Metal Visualization Exercises. First: name your metal band (our metal band will be called Shiba Inu, if you were interested). Next, decide which instrument you'll play (always the center of attention? You're a Lead Singer! Like being the behind-the scenes powerhouse? You're a Drummer! Is your favorite thing staying out of the limelight until it's time to step forward and steal the show? You're a Lead Guitarist! Ummmm... like, uh, dancing? You're a Bassist!). Behold! Before you lies the limitless possibility of a rich fantasy life! Where will your band go on tour? What will your songs be about? What countries will love you best? Will you wear totally ludicrous outfits onstage, or stick to all black? Glam metal or thrash? Imagine how pesky customers/bosses/coworkers will grovel when YOU TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!

3. We have lately been hunting down concert shirts for bands we loved as a young person, which may be a sign we need to either a. grow up or b. take a vacation, but anyway, it's kind of fun. Added bonus: if you go running in a Master of Puppets T-shirt, it makes everyone you pass really, really happy. Seriously. DISCLAIMER: There is not a single item of clothing in our wardrobe in which we get sexually harassed more frequently than our Guns 'N Roses shirt (including our collection of skirts so tiny our former roommate once referred to them as "long belts"). Seriously. It is INSANE. Men have followed us down the street shouting ("I'll rock you baby!") pretty much every time we have worn this shirt out in public. Ladies, consider yourselves warned.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: So we are right now halfway through The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman, and it is so far the most awesome book we have read in this entire century. We will tell you more about it when we are done. Anyway, Elif Batuman is reading at McNally Jackson Books on Monday, and if you live in New York YOU NEED TO GO, and you should also bring a diaper, because if she is a tenth as funny in person, you are going to PEE YOUR PANTS. Okay? We'll see you there!


Misstallica Will Take Your Feeble Werewolf and Raise You a Master of Puppets

Last night we were coming home quite late when we spotted two visibly inebriated gentlemen staggering toward us with their arms around each other, bellowing. As we got closer, we realized they were sharing an iPod, with one ear bud per gentleman, and singing along quite loudly to "Don't Cry." No jokes. It is kind of awesome when one declares Metal Week and the UNIVERSE AGREES.

For today's metal moment we present to you Misstallica, an all-girl Metallica cover band whose members are still in or have recently left high school (they used to be called "Clitallica" but one of their MOMS made them change it HOW GREAT IS THAT). It sounds like a cute gimmick until you go see them and they blow the left hemisphere of your brain out your ear. Being pushed up against the stage by a mass of huge, fist-pumping 45-year-old man-metalheads bellowing in sheer joy at the mindblowing amazement that is Gigi Gleason (pictured) was, like, life-altering. So! What are you waiting for? Hmmm? GO SEE THEM. Or, as one of their internet fans put it, "why would u pay $60 to see metallica for the 90th time wen u can see these chicks for ten and they rule harder."

Special Guest Post: Chérie l'Ecrivain Has Some Metal Writing Advice For You

Our beloved psychic twin/spiritual counselor, Author-friend Chérie l'Ecrivain, expounds on how to end your novel properly. You can see more of Chérie's wisdoms here. Chérie l'Ecrivain is a Real Writer, agented, currently working on her first novel.

[An aside: if our posts are full of typographical errors from this point onward, it's because OUR FACE IS MELTING SO HARD FROM YOUR CONTEST ENTRIES WE CAN'T SEE OUT OUR EYEBALLS. You are AMAZING, Author-friends!!! UH-MAAAAAAAAAY-ZING!!!!!!!!]

Someday Axl Rose is going to die. I’m willing to wager that I find myself mulling over this sad fact more frequently than about 99.9% of the population. Sometimes when I can’t sleep it hits me, and I imagine myself many years in the future, watching the evening news after dinner with my Eventual Life Partner when Axl’s visage appears in the corner of the screen above the anchor’s talking head. Shortly after Axl’s demise is announced, my Imaginary Children flock around the sofa and tug frantically on their father’s sleeves while demanding to know, “Why is Mommy crying? Did she know that man?” After I’ve collected myself and one of my offspring has fetched me two fingers of Jameson, I explain that no, Mommy didn’t know that man, but she followed his music, his career, and his ridiculous, inimitable, singular life story, and it was a story I was devastated to see finally come to a close.

The reason is simple: Axl Rose is like a book I never want to finish. I am not a delusional fan, I do not think that Axl and I are destined to be friends, but I have watched his story unfold with particular fascination, first during my adolescence and now throughout my entire (ostensibly) adult life. I understand that he has been the subject of a great deal of ridicule since he had the audacity to outlive the typical rock star expiration date of 27 years old, get cornrows, and spend a decade holed up in his Malibu mansion, obsessively recording and rerecording every track on “Chinese Democracy” fourteen or fifteen thousand times, but I have remained captivated, if by nothing else than by the sheer outlandishness of this narrative. He never had the kind of bonafide drug or alcohol problem that plagues nearly every successful rock musician eventually, and therefore can probably count on having a normal life expectancy, which not only fills me with unimaginable delight but also makes me wonder how the hell this man is going to come up with a comparable third act, and, yes, a satisfying denouement. If his life were a novel, what ending could possibly do it justice?

There is a great deal of discussion about how to open your novel, how to write the first five pages so that you hook an agent/editor/reader, but there’s always a lot less chatter about how to write an ending. Writing the end is, in many ways, infinitely more difficult. If you have done your job as a writer, and breathed sufficient life into your characters so that your readers now consider your imaginary friends to be their imaginary friends as well, then a) HUZZAH YOU ARE A CHAMPION and b) how do you wrap up their story in a way that is gratifying and conclusive but also true to the idea that your characters are somehow real entities who will continue to live their little lives after your reader has closed your book with a pleased sigh, turn off their bedside lamp and gone to sleep? How do you leave your readers with that wistful feeling of wanting more, yet still knowing that the story ended right where it should? Imagine you were trying to write the novel of Axl's life. If you could even wrap your mind around where to BEGIN his story--when he's thrown out of his house at sixteen? when he meets Izzy Stradlin in driver's ed? when he moves to Los Angeles?--how could you possible find a good place to stop? Sure, maybe things gets less exciting after the band disintegrates in the mid-nineties, but would you really want to end your novel before you get to the part where the man responsible for the most face-melting album of the 80s makes an exclusive deal with Best Buy for the retail rights to his new record?

When people invest in fictional characters, eventual closure is one of the returns they will demand on that investment. (This is why the series finale of “Six Feet Under” is the most pants-shittingly awesome episode of television, ever, and the last ten minutes of “The Sopranos” is essentially believed to be an act of aggression against decent American people.) [Also why the final episode of "Battlestar Galactica" makes us FUCKING HOMICIDAL. --ed.] Since most fictional narratives can’t follow every important character to their eventual demise, the rest of us are stuck trying to find a sincere way to bid them farewell. Like pornography, we know a good ending when we see one but are hard-pressed to identity its components; we recognize that plaintive lump in our throats when an utterly delicious book comes to its conclusion, and we turn the last page hoping for more but find only the acknowledgements. If I had to find a common thread among my favorite endings, it would be those that have followed their characters to the completion of whatever story that novel set out to tell, without overreaching by trying to freeze the cast in that moment forever. The last line of Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block’s slinkster-cool YA masterpiece, sums it up nicely: “I don’t know about happily ever after... but I know about happily, Weetzie thought.” As for Axl, I will continue to follow his story in real time, occasionally going back to revisit some of the juiciest bits, checking my Google alerts for news of him, my bottle of Jameson always at the ready.

Author-friends, Meet Helen Walden

Historian, writer, and metalhead Helen Walden is, as those crazy kids say these days, totally killing it. She writes the hilarious and incisive zine Doctrinal Expletives (which you can get here and here), as well as the blog Order of the Gash. We would like to state for the record that we thought she was amazing long before she said anything nice about us in a public arena.

Why is heavy metal so awesome?

Well, first of all, the music is amazing, and there's a surprising (to some, anyway) amount of variety within. There's scrappy punk-influenced bands like Motorhead, bombastic symphonic bands like Therion, bands like Moonsorrow that incorporate European folk music into their sound, bands like Necrophagist who play super-technical stuff with a billion wacky time changes... I could go on forever, really. I used to be a little punk rocker, and I've always loved aggressive-sounding, energetic music. Metal offers that same aggression and energy with a little more sophistication and variety.

Second, metal is nerdy, in many senses. It's got a reputation is being a genre for meatheads, but a lot of bands are unabashed geeks. For example, look at Iron Maiden basing a 14-minute song on Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, or Karl Sander's lyrics to Nile songs being (in some cases), directly lifted from ancient Egyptian texts. And even bands who don't necessarily explore sophisticated concepts in their lyrics sometimes still nerd out with their music, in terms of playing solos and melodies that are technically complex yet still memorable as songs. A lot of these supposed meatheads do actually know quite a bit about music theory, and apply themselves to their music with a dedication I really admire and try to emulate.

Third, sometimes I really love metal as a subculture. Sometimes it makes me want to punch a wall, but at the best shows I've been to, there's this sense of "look at all of us scumbag longhairs, we don't fit in but who needs that when you've got all this?" which is just exhilarating.

Metal gets a bad rap for a lot of things: misogyny, homophobia, and racism, for starters (although one could certainly argue metal as a genre is no more misogynist/homophobic/racist than, say, Henry Miller). How do you negotiate being a feminist metalhead? And conversely, how do you deal with people who assume you can't be both?

I'll refer to my main man Robert Walser, a UCLA musicologist who wrote my favorite book about metal (Running With The Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music). In his chapter on gender, he points out repeatedly that while many metal songs and music videos are quite sexist, sexism (and homophobia, and racism) is hardly unique to the world of heavy metal. To say so would ignore the wider social/cultural context in which it is produced, where those forms of oppression are widespread. That is, I'm not going to pretend that some bands and fans don't traffic in pretty vile misogynist imagery (from Motley Crue's leering in "Girls Girls Girls" to the pile of sexually assaulted and mutilated women that populates Cannibal Corpse's discography), but it's not as though they're deviants in an otherwise egalitarian society. If I gave up my participation in metal subculture tomorrow, I would still be dealing with sexism in my daily life. And, speaking as someone involved in punk rock for the better part of ten years, I can say that even subcultures that claim to be politically enlightened when it comes to "women's issues" and female participation still fall short a lot of the time. So, I would say that I negotiate being a feminist metalhead in the same way I negotiate being a feminist anywhere else.

I was actually talking with my friend Greg a little bit about this--he's an out queer dude who has played drums for a couple awesome metal bands around here. To the people who claim that we're "outsiders" in metal because of our politics or our gender/sexual bent, I think we would both answer: fuck you, dude, you don't own this. Our love for the genre is just as fierce as anyone else's, and I think that's all that really matters. There's no specific lifestyle or set of beliefs attached to liking loud guitars. (I have heard some Internet blowhards attempting to expound on what they apparently see as an inherently right-wing traditionalist heavy metal philosophy, but I am fairly sure this is simply the result of a few too many hours spent feverishly masturbating over their dog-eared copy of Lords Of Chaos.)

Best metal album of all time?

Slayer, Reign In Blood. I would say that one of the high points of my life was seeing Slayer when I was 19--their encore was just playing Reign In Blood, beginning to end. Every song is the perfect fusion of melody and aggression. The lyrics maybe aren't the most eloquent in the world but they fit the music to a T: "Bones and blood lie on the ground/Rotten limbs lie dead/Decapitated bodies found/On my wall, your head!"

Some books you've read lately and found pleasing?

Angela Carter's Nights At The Circus, China Mieville's The Scar, John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let The Right One In (I loved the movie, too). I've been re-reading H.P. Lovecraft's stories, which I've loved since I was a teenager. I'm also currently reading Reza Negarestani's Cyclonopedia, which is this bizarre philosophical novel based on the premise that oil is a sentient entity and us humans are merely its pawns. Or something of that nature. Anyway, it's great.

Who are some of your metal heroes? Any advice as to how the general public can incorporate the awesomeness of metal into their daily lives?

Heroes? Let's see... Cliff Burton, for being an amazing bass player and writing some of my favorite Metallica songs. Whenever I don't feel like practicing, I sometimes imagine the ghost of Cliff Burton shouting in my ear "I used to do this shit six hours a day! Get off your ass!"It's incredibly motivating.

Although I don't listen to her band Arch Enemy that much anymore, I still admire Angela Gossow for being a high-profile woman in the world of metal who steadfastly refuses to talk shit on other metal ladies. I've seen far too many women take the "cutting down other women to fit in with the sausage party" route, and her outspoken opposition to that is refreshing. Plus she's probably inspired a bajillion teenage girls to form bands, which is terrific.

Also:Dio. Just for being Dio. And for providing me with my karaoke standard, "Holy Diver."

As far as incorporating the awesomeness of metal into one's everyday life, I recommend doing what I used to do in college and listening to Manowar's "The Gods Made Heavy Metal" every morning. Wimps and posers leave the hall!


You know what we love about HEAVY METAL? Well! Lots of things! Weird outfits! Shenanigans! Loud noises! Thrashing around maniacally! Repetitive power chords! Yelling! When you are stomping down the streets of Brooklyn in a high dudgeon and suddenly hear the opening chords of "Paradise City" and realize they are coming from a Hummer being driven by an elderly Polish gentleman and you make a little "rock on" sign at him and he makes one back and then the rest of your day is really excellent! Stuff like that! So what if you could take that feeling and make a WHOLE WEEK OUT OF IT? WE DID!

Oh yes, dear ones, it's HEAVY METAL WEEK! In honor of HEAVY METAL WEEK: heavy metal interviews! heavy metal guest posts! HEAVY METAL CONTESTS!!!!!!! ARE YOU READY? READY TO ROCK?


Your task is to compose The Most Shredding Form Rejection in the History of the Universe. Your heavy metal rejection special shall be a COVER of a HEAVY METAL SONG. Remember that day when we were listening to a lot of Bon Jovi and everyone practiced this activity a little bit in the comments? Like that, except with a whole song. You can rewrite all of the words, replace a few choice phrases--up to you. You may send us lyrics, submit a video of yourself (CLOTHED) covering the song--whatever. Just make it shred, make it reject, and make it fucking righteous.


1. Our tour van will have a Jacuzzi filled with Evian and we want CAVIAR BACKSTAGE AT ALL TIMES.

2. What counts as Heavy Metal for the purposes of this contest: we will leave this largely up to you. Though legitimate metal aficionados everywhere doubtless weep and groan when we use "Bon Jovi," "Poison," and "heavy metal" in the same sentence, hair metal bands are absolutely in. Yes? Yes. Journey is not metal. Don't even ask us if Limp Bizkit counts or we will hunt you down and make sure you never write anything again ever.

3. If any of our 17 Norwegian readers (Heisann, Opphavsmann-venns!) wanted to use a black metal song and enter in Norwegian we would probably invent a special prize just for that person. No impaled animal heads, please, we are deep down kind of softhearted.

4. Your Most Shredding Form Rejection must be posted in the comments of THIS POST by EIGHT P.M. EASTERN STANDARD TIME ON FRIDAY MARCH 12th. The WINNER and there will be ONLY ONE WINNER shall be announced MONDAY MARCH 15. Because the Ides of March are totally metal.

5. You may only enter one Shredding Form Rejection.

6. Please let us know which Heavy Metal Song you are covering. We are very clever, but not psychic.

7. Please also keep in mind that we are, you know, kind of leftist. So, as much as we love Guns 'N Roses, maybe you don't want to cover One in a Million for our contest. Also, Cannibal Corpse covers are probably not a good idea. Dead ladies=not okay. You don't like it, take yourself to a GWAR show, babies!

8. We will absolutely accept bribes in the form of pre-1995 Bon Jovi or Metallica tour shirts.


1. Knowledge that you are like the most righteous force in the universe ever and all your enemies shall bow down before you.

2. A book which we shall select for you at random from our exhaustive library of titles filched from "Steve's" collection of books sent to him by editors.



Some Things We Overheard At the Office This Week, Also Paul Constant Is the Best, Also An Announcement

"No, she's not supernatural. Just compelling."

"That guy has his head so far up his own ass it's a wonder he can see well enough to write a book."

"Are you saying to me in code that she's an idiot? Because you know I don't do idiots."

In other news, interview alumnus/fiancé contender Paul Constant, who is possibly the only person in the world who has read more books than us (hey, we didn't say they were all GOOD books, did we), has started an exciting new matchmaking service. Can't think of what to read next? Paul will help you! How clever is that? So clever! AND he likes Elaine Dundy! Who you should all go read RIGHT NOW!

So maybe it is extremely possible that NEXT WEEK WE WILL BE HAVING THE MOST AMAZING CONTEST EVER IN THE HISTORY OF PUBLISHING BLOG CONTESTS WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO NATHAN BRANSFORD. Maybe our contest is SO AMAZING that we made A WHOLE AMAZING THEMED WEEK WITH WHICH TO HOUSE OUR CONTEST. Maybe that might happen! Maybe you will find out on Monday! Maybe we walk these streets! a loaded six string on our back! we play for keeps! 'cause we're not coming back! we been everywhere! and we're standing tall! we've seen a million faces AND WE'RE ROCKING ON AND YOU BETTER ROCK RIGHT ON WITH US SEE YOU MONDAY AUTHOR-FRIENDS!!!!!

Today's Book Review

Tayeb Salih
Season of Migration to the North
184pp. NYRB Classics.

After years of study in Europe, the still-young and nameless narrator of this 1966 novel returns to his native Sudan, eager to make his mark in the postcolonial culture of his homeland. In his home village he meets the enigmatic Mustafa Sa'eed, who slowly reveals the story of his own years in London, his career as a child prodigy and brilliant economist, and his series of increasingly perilous relationships with white women obsessed with his dark skin and invented exotic past.

Though we finished this novel months ago, its unsettling and complex beauty still haunts us. Salih writes with an unerring eye for the terrible consequences of colonialism and its lasting impact on Africa, as well as an eloquence and restraint that is as remarkable as it is effective. Never less than gorgeous, his cool and hypnotic prose sits in the mouth like poetry. Salih, who died in February of 2009, deserves to be every bit as famous in America as he is in the Arab world (a panel of Arab writers and critics selected Season of Migration to the North as the most important Arab novel of the twentieth century). As relevant now as it was when it was written, it's also a surprising window into a Muslim world most Americans never see. As close to perfect as anything we've read in a long, long time.

In Which We Uncharacteristically Attempt to Offer You Some Comfort

1. We do not troll the internet looking for your faux pas. Really. We often read the blogs of our Author-friends for fun, because our Author-friends are very clever and charming people, but we for reals do not care if three years ago you left one comment on one agent blog being all like WTF PEOPLE WHY HAS IT TAKEN YOU SIXTEEN YEARS TO READ MY GODDAMN MASTERPIECE WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP IN THERE LOOKING AT YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF PUPPIES OR SOMETHING. Honestly, it would not affect our decision to reject or request even if we DID google you and, say, found a post on your blog along the lines of THE REJECTIONIST IS A HUGE CRYBABY FEMINAZI MORON. The ONLY thing we care about is YOUR WRITING. Lots of agents do very much care what you say in public forums (for (hopefully) obvious and very good reasons, and we are certainly not suggesting you should be a douchebag all over the internet); but also lots of agents don't spend much time on the internet at all unless it's to watch Youtube videos of puppies.

OBVIOUSLY the odds are very slim that a person who thinks we are a crybaby feminazi moron is smart enough to write a good book. But just so you know, we don't care what you think of us. We care about your book.

2. Writers get signed out of the slush pile ALL THE TIME. WE SWEAR TO GOD. WE HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN. WE HAVE LISTENED IN ON THOSE PHONE CALLS. Writers also get signed by meeting agents at conferences, by being agents' dentists, by randomly charming people they do not know are agents, by mystical coincidence, and by being famous, it is very true. But listen up, little ones: we have been reading slush of one kind or another off and on for almost ten years now (!!! GET US OUT OF HERE!!) and we are STILL happy when we see a query that is actually delightful. Promise. We are even happier when the manuscript is delightful, too. Promise!

3. Maybe what you need is a break from the internet altogether! Try it! Don't look at publishing blogs. Don't write about writing on your Author-blogs. Don't look at agent blogs or other Author-friend blogs or Rejectionist blogs. Don't look at Galleycat or Publishers Lunch or even Bookslut. No looking up debut authors on Wikipedia to see if they are younger than you! No refreshing your browser every sixteen seconds to see if someone you follow put up a new post! No obsessively reviewing every post ever written on how to write a query! It's kind of amazing! Freeing! Joyful! Try it for more than seven minutes! Try it for a day! TWO DAYS! A WEEK! Need help? Mac Freedom can help you!* Go outside! Take a goddamn walk in a park! Pet a fuzzy animal! Eat a tasty treat! Try the revolutionary process of WRITING WITHOUT FEAR (of failure, of being rejected, of the imminent collapse of publishing/rise of e-book/pending mass polar bear extinction and total disappearance of polar ice, of the logistics of the royalty schedule for a book you haven't even finished let alone started querying for let alone published, of whether some agent is RIGHT THIS MINUTE finding a comment you left on an agent blog three years ago being all like WTF PEOPLE and blacklisting you from ever being published anywhere in the entire universe). NO INTERNET. WRITE YOUR BOOK. It is kind of amazing how much less anxiety we feel about publishing when we are not, you know, reading about publishing all day.

4. There is not actually an industry blacklist anywhere. As far as we know. Maybe that's something agents get handed at their top-secret annual meeting with Xenu, to which the assistants are not invited.

Okay, that's all. Tomorrow we return to being hateful. SACK UP, BABIES!

*Seriously, this app changed our entire life. We feel totally cultlike about it. Just looking at that glowing blue circle is now enough to soothe us.

Today's Extreme-er Font Dork Moment

From Fuck Yeah, Puns!, a site we swear is hosted by our seventh-grade geology teacher ("What do you call more than one puma? PUMICE"). Thanks to Author-friend Sierra Godfrey for the link!

Stuff We Did This Weekend

1. Went running. Again did not think about queries. This time accidentally ended up in the middle of a sixteen-block Purim celebration complete with legions of small children costumed as stuffed animals, princesses, King David, and police officers (?); young Hasidic gentlemen standing on the roofs of "Party Buses" doing covert dances to Hebrew techno; and many, many persons dressed as clowns.

2. Oh look! It's Women's History Month! Also known as "Those 31 Days One or Two Public Officials Pretend They Give a Shit About the Ladies So As to Guiltlessly Spend the Other 334 Days of the Year Denying Us Reproductive Rights, Paying Us Less, Taking Away Our Children, Refusing Us Healthcare, and Passing a Bunch of Really Creepy Legislation--and That's Just in the U.S.!!!" In honor of Women's History Month, we will be boycotting the state of Utah. Also in honor of Women's History Month, we will be attending the midnight screening of one of the best feminist movies ever made next weekend, where we will be the lady screaming FUCK YES RIPLEY and pretending all the aliens are Utah senators.

3. Received random mass email from mysterious personage entitled "Edward Champion" which we almost deleted but then it turns out this entity is also affiliated with "The Bat Segundo Show," a podcast series of interviews with, like, almost every interesting author in the universe. Thanks, Edward Bat!

4. Pretty sure the gun laws in Utah are really, really lax. Food for thought.