Jan Flanders

As everyone who has not been dwelling under a rock for the past half century knows full well, Jan Flanders is a world-renowned expert on writing, editing, and publishing fiction. A bona fide member of the landed gentry dating back to the Jamestown, Virginia, settlement, and a magna cum laude graduate of Ms. Finicky’s Foundational Finishing School of Fiction for Well-Bred Females (FFFSFWBF), she resides with her three Angora cats in the heart of the deep South on the plantation, sadly diminished, where she was born and reared, and which her family has owned since the early 1700s. God forbid she should ever allow it to fall into the rapacious hands of any vile Northern carpetbagger! That will happen over her dead body. She is still mourning the lamentable outcome of the late War of Northern Aggression, and if you know what is good for you, you would be well advised not to bring up the subject unless you wish to have your ears pinned back. Rest assured that if anyone knows etiquette, it is our own Ms. Flanders, and she is doing you a favor by sharing her expertise.

Fiction Etiquette with a Southern Twist Twisted Southern

A hearty New Year’s greeting, class. Now, do not squint at me with those bloodshot eyes, baby doll. This is not too early an hour to be considerin’ the Sacred Laws of Fiction Etiquette. Didn’t your mama warn you against partyin’ into the wee hours of the mornin’? Let this be a lesson to you, sweetheart. On the stroke of midnight, Ah was sound asleep in mah bed, as all decent folk should be, and you will take note that Ah am wide awake and ready to deal with the likes of you. And do not think that you can escape mah notice by slouchin’ down in your seat at the back of the room.

Ah guarantee you will be rendered wide awake as we consider the ten most important New Year’s Fiction Etiquette Resolutions. If you evah wish to reach the exalted ranks of the most revered fiction authors, repeat these maxims every day and observe them religiously.

Ahem. Are we ready to take notes? Or must Ah briskly rap the top of your puddin’ head with mah ruler, darlin’, hmmmm? Now that Ah have your full attention, let us begin.

10. Ah will nevah allow desperation to take ovah so as to follow an editor into the bathroom at a writers’ conference to urge him or her to take a look at mah work in progress.

9. Ah will nevah trample on propriety or step out of mah appointed place in relation to those who are mah betters in the publishin’ world by pushin’ mah way ahead of other aspirin’ writers or yammerin’ on and on about mahself and mah writing projects.

8. Ah will refrain from flirtin’ with that adorable editor or agent in hopes of persuadin’ him or her to take a peek at mah work in progress. Such scandalous behavior can lead only to ruin!

7. I will give proper reverence and all due obedience to the gods of the publishin’ world, such as editors, agents, and published authors.

6. Ah will nevah descend to shameless self-promotion by settin’ mahself up on one of those scurrilous so-called social networkin’ sites. Ah would rather remain unpublished forevah than indulge in such scandalously exhibitionistic behavior. And honey, if Ah ever so much as think of Twitterin’, just smack me upside the head!

5. Under no circumstances will Ah evah allow the siren song of crass materialism to seduce me into writin’ a best-sellin’ “edgy” novel. No good can come of such dealin’s!

4. In fact, Ah will nevah pay any mind to any suspect genres such as edgy romances, thrillers, science fiction, speculative fiction, and that ilk. And good glory, the very thought of graphic novels will be barred from mah brain pan! Delving into that kind of trash will serve only to degrade the writer as much as those who read it.

3. Ah will write only the loftiest of inspirational romance fiction featurin’ characters as pure as the driven snow and plots guaranteed to nevah elevate the reader’s heartbeat the teeniest

bit. Ah know full well that will arouse the most depraved emotions—and mah great-grannie’s garters, what do you imagine will become of proper society then?

2. If Ah am evah so fortunate as to receive that hallowed publishin’ contract and mah publisher should deem fit to grace mah book with a purple monstrosity cover, Ah will not utter one single, tiny word of complaint. Instead, Ah will smile graciously and bow to the marketing department’s greater . . . wisdom.

1. Ah will wipe from mah mind the very thought of evah upstagin’ mah own dear Ms. Flanders—as if any of you muddle-headed young’uns ever could. Should you be so foolish as to try, however, Ah assure you, your hiney will be booted into the outer darkness of fiction h—well, you know what Ah am sayin’ darlin’. Bless your heart, honey chile, Ah am nobody’s fool.

Ah see that, as usual, Ah have managed to rivet your attention in spite of your sadly debilitated state. Thank you so very much for your kind attention—as if you had a choice when I ascended the podium. Nobody can command an audience like your own Ms. Flanders.

Now that y’all have been properly admonished so you will start 2009 off right, Ah am off to enjoy mah traditional New Year’s luncheon of black-eyed peas, hoe cake, and pulled pork barbecue. As usual, mah second cousin three times removed came along early this mornin’ to bring us good luck by havin’ a man be the first to enter the house. He brought along a generous portion of his award-winning elderberry wine, and judgin’ from the delicate aroma wafting from the bottle, mah dears, this is going to be a very fine year indeed!

Upcoming Topics

February: How does a new author go about securing endorsements for an upcoming release?

March: Is it proper to attempt to communicate directly with an author if you’re a huge fan?

April: What is the proper etiquette on writers’ e-mail loops?