What’s your most memorable scene?

I need a little break from work today, so I’d like to start a book discussion. Kayla Olson recently blogged about loving the last scene in her novel. She asked her readers if they had such a scene in their writing. I replied that I did, but those scenes might not be favorites with my readers.

Her question started me thinking about memorable scenes in the novels I’ve read. Some, of course, are pivotal scenes, ones destined to become famous, but not all. Some resonate with me on a level not shared by everyone. As we’ve discussed before, reading is subjective. We each filter what we read through our thoughts, feelings, and memories, and it’s with that criteria we choose our favorites.

It need not be the whole scene that grabs us. Sometimes it’s just a paragraph or two, often descriptive. One such passage for me appears in the first chapter of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In one paragraph, she creates the book’s world for me.

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first new it. In rainy weather, the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

Please share a memorable passage from a book you love or, if you’re feeling contrary, maybe you’d like to share an illustration why you didn’t care for a particular book. I doubt we’ll all agree on either, but the discussion should be interesting. We might even discover new books to add to our To Read shelves.

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Can we get together and discuss this?

I know very little about self-publishing or e-publishing—or even small press publishing. I wanted to get that out of the way, so you understand I’m asking for information and discussion today, not stating an opinion from a knowledgeable viewpoint.

I do know that vanity publishing (where the author pays money to the “publisher”) is NOT something I’m interested in. But the longer I travel this agent query road, the more I find myself wondering about other publishing options. I haven’t given up trying to find an agent to represent my novel to a big name publisher (I have queries and partials out) but when I allow myself to read agent statistics, I tend to question whether I ought to face those facts with my head rather than my heart.

Consider this: established agents receive a conservative average of 50 queries a day—that’s almost 20,000 queries a year—but during that time take on maybe 5 new clients! Sobering odds, huh?

If you’ve ever looked up the agent who represented your favorite author, chances are you found that said agent “does not accept unsolicited queries.” The fact is the best way to get an agent to consider your query is by client referral. How many of you know an author offering to put in a good word for you with their agent? Show of hands.

For the most part, I search for new agents trying to build their client lists. They are just as hopeful they’ll discover the next best-selling author as we’re hopeful we are that author.

I know I’m not the only one who’s curious about the other publishing options. Natasha recently wrote a post about this. And super agent Nathan Bransford has written about e-publishing and self-publishing options.

So now, I’d like to know your thoughts. Have you considered (or chosen) one of these options? What do you know about the pros and cons? Do you think what you write should be a consideration? In the end, does it come down to a simple decision of why you write, whether you write just to share a story vs. writing to make money?

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