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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ask James Anything Friday

We haven't done this for a few weeks. So ask away. Ask me anything about anything - the news, the news biz, me, you, life, war, death, destruction, love, hate, Miami, etiquette, civility, raising kids (kidding - I'm clueless about that), whatever. No holds barred.

But Matt, don't try to get me in trouble with overly out-there questions. I'm PG-13 on this blog, 'cause it is affiliated with my employer. And I have bills to pay.



  • Hi James. I'll be in Orlando soon. The last time we went to Dayton Beach (in '99?) it didn't seem to be too family-friendly an environment (Tallman and I were actually kinda uncomfortable having his teenage girls there). What's your take?

    By Blogger Freddie, at 12:52 PM  

  • Happy Friday James.

    Two light questions from me today.

    1. What do you think is the key to a successful marriage?

    2. What's your favorite weekend activity?

    By Blogger fiwa, at 1:38 PM  

  • Was being clueless about raising kids a difficult choice?

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 1:49 PM  

  • Hey Freddie, while Orlando is hands down a very family-friendly town, I still don't see Daytona as a family-friendly place. I'm sure some folks will disagree with me. But outside of resorts in Daytona that have self-contained family friendly activities - centered around beach/pool, etc., I can't think off the top of my head of one thing out on on the town I'd take my teenagers to other than restaurants, theaters, mini-golf (all stuff you can get back home).

    Fiwa, I'm approaching my second anniversary. So I'm hardly an expert. But I'm convinced more everyday the two keys are not sweating the small stuff and compromise. By small stuff I mean picking and choosing your battles. Stuff that annoys me but isn't the end of the world goes unchallenged by me these days, for example. Same for Mrs. B. As for my favorite weekend activity, I have to go with sitting on the beach with my laptop, a good book, a snack, and a few cold beverages - alternating every 40 minutes or so from writing to reading and occasionally stopping to just watch the waves.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:07 PM  

  • Sarc, that was an easy choice 'cause I don't have kids yet.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:08 PM  

  • You're not the only who's skittish of my blog....

    Hmmmm, okay. Question: Will we go to war with Iran during the next 18 months?

    By Blogger Matt, at 3:10 PM  

  • Matt, I consulted folks wiser than me. And I don't believe we will go to war with Iran within the next 18 months. I believe in the next 18 months Iran will do a few more outrageous things, on par with the taking of the British sailors/hostages, and it will push the "civilized" members of the UN over the edge and convince people the Iranian regime really is dangerous and they will get further isolated by way of sanctions, etc. Buuuuuuuuuuut, this doesn't mean Iran won't start war with someone else, like the US, or the US by way of Iraq, Israel, or Saudia Arabia.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:11 PM  

  • Who handles the money in your household, you or the Mrs.?

    Do you pool your money together and share one bank account or do you both contribute to the household bills 50/50?

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 4:32 PM  

  • Grizz, she handles the money. I'm the absent-minded professor. If it were left up to me nothing would ever get paid 'cause I just don't think of that stuff. I'm always in a cloud, trying to think of my next article and what not.

    Anyway, we share accounts, but by virtue of the fact that we both work, we both contribute to the household bills.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:39 PM  

  • Hey there James, I am wrapt you came on over and commented on my ANZAC DAY post :)
    I have a question, my best friend came from Carmel in California. HAve you ever visited her home town of "Carmel By The Sea"? If so, was it as beautiful as she described it? It is one place I would love to visit before my time is up in this life :)

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 4:53 PM  

  • Sorry Cazzie, I have never been to Carmel. I haven't spent much time in Cali - just a couple of brief work-related trips in the L.A. area. The name alone, sounds nice though. You have me curious. I'm going to look up Carmel. Incidentally, Australia - in the Perth region - is one of the few must visit places left on my list.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:00 PM  

  • James, I apologize for this question in advance because it is incredibly self-serving. How did you go about selecting an agent? Also, about when did you start to market your books?

    I'm several chapters in, and I'm thinking it might be time to shop around for a publisher. I have no deluded myself into thinking that I'm going to get some million dollar deal. I suspect that at first I'll be lucky to get a rejection slip with some pointers on how to make my book more marketable. It's just the whole starting of the process that's intimidating...

    Any pointers oh wise one?

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 5:37 PM  

  • Ha! Queen, in this case flattery will get you nowhere. Kidding. I couldn't get an agent to hold too serious a conversation with me until the past six months or so. I honestly don't know what changed. Seriously, I couldn't tell you the before/after. Who knows? Maybe I unwittingly started doing a better job of presenting my idea(s). Since then I've been struggling with who to work with 'cause you just never know. In the end, I used work-related connections to narrow things down to two or three tried and true agents who fellow journalists vouch for. I've set my sights on one guy. He seems to feel good about me too. Let's hope it's a happy marriage. My best practical advice though is to do your homework and find an agent whose client list and stated interests reflect exactly what you're writing. I've found a lot of agents get ticked off when you pitch stuff to them blindly and your stuff doesn't even remotely resemble what they tend to represent. I found the Web site to be very helpful in this regard. You can narrow the parameters of your agent search to agents who represent the topics you are writing about. You also might want to consider boutique, or smaller, publishing houses. Many don't require new authors to have agents. And they'll deal with you directly.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 6:35 PM  

  • When was the last time you went to Disney World and do you go on the rides when you are there?

    By Blogger Erica AP, at 7:18 PM  

  • Erica it has been like six years since I went to Disney. That was even before I lived in Florida. I've visited Orlando since then, but only to chillax at a laid back hotel and accompany Mrs. B to some antique fair.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:24 PM  

  • Erica I forgot about the rides. When I fo go to a theme park like Disney - Paramount's King's Dominion, for example - I go on all rides but traditional roller coasters. I'm a chicken for roller coasters. I'll play the games - like shooting water pistols to win stuffed animals. I'll do the bumper cars and the water log ride. But don't ask me to do a roller coaster.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:27 PM  

  • Do you always shave your head? Do you get the wife to help you with the back, or can you do it by feel?

    By Anonymous og, at 9:16 PM  

  • Og, I do usually cut my own hair as long as I'm keeping it short like in the photo above my profile.

    It took me a while to get it down pat, but now, with multiple mirrors at different angles I can get the back too. Occasionally when I'm in a hurry I have Mrs. B edge up the back of my neck. And if I let my hair grow any longer than it is in the picture I go to a barbershop.

    And I know someone will ask, so here's the answer: I only have to have my hair cut every two weeks or so in order to keep it short and laying flat the way it is in my profile pic.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:36 PM  

  • Perth is "to die for" I love it very very muchly :)
    Also, about 4hrs north of there, by car, is Kalbarri. I will have my ashes scattered is that lovely and so untouched!!

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 9:38 PM  

  • Have you ever been to Dallas? If so, what's your impression?

    By Blogger katrice, at 9:47 PM  

  • will my book sell? do you think i have any talent in a literary sense? I'm having an i hate my own writing week. can you tell?

    would i look good as a blonde? do you think i should give up and just get gastric bypass?

    are you gellin?

    do you think we exploit sad situations?

    By Blogger Yas, at 10:40 PM  

  • I'm laughing because you told Matt to stick to PG questions. HA HA HA.

    He knows why I"m laughing.

    I just wanted to tell you how much my sister enjoyed your article about the old couple -- she lost her husband a year ago -- and she read it with tears in her eyes.

    oh... I guess that would be a good question to ask.

    Does hearing that make all the other junk you have to deal with worth while?

    By Blogger Pamela, at 12:54 AM  

  • Katrice, I have been to Dallas. But I have to confess I never left downtown except to go to the West End to eat, drink, etc. It was for a week in August for a writer's convention. I most remember that it was hot as all get out. I met friendly people. But if I had a gripe it was that my hotel was too far away from the rest of downtown. Stuff seemed too spread out. Overall I liked Dallas.

    Yas, I like your book idea. I think it will sell and sell well. At least I like what I've read of it. Don't go blonde. I haven't seen proof that they have more fun. And I'd do more homework on that gastric bypass thing. I've read it can be dangerous. Yes, I am gellin'. And I think we all exploit sad situations, some of us subconscioulsy some of us purposely, and some of us purposely but not with bad intentions - maybe because we're looking for people to commiserate with.

    Pamela, I appreciate that your sister enjoyed that article. I aim to please. And yes, seriously it does help to hear that readers enjoy what you write. Sometimes it makes my day or my week, even.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:19 AM  

  • Thank you oh wise one (gong).

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 11:32 AM  

  • James, thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoy reading yours. I think I found it through a link on QofD's.

    By Blogger Betty, at 1:53 PM  

  • James. Should I just go take a nap or finish my work?
    Should I feel guilty about almost thinking we needed to put the cat down when it wasn't his fault?
    May I buy a pair of shoes tomorrow that I don't need?

    By Anonymous Kim, at 3:39 PM  

  • Kim, sorry I'm just seeing this, but take the nap if you haven't already. Give the cat a second chance, and buy the shoes. I've heard that new shoes have the soothing effects of chocolate.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 8:48 PM  

  • Recently, some right wingers (two columnists from the National Review come to mind) have written that the students in the Virginia Tech shootings were somewhat lacking. One of these columnists alluded that the students were cowards, that they should have rushed the shooter. Another columnist went so far as to evoke the people on flight 93 as an example.

    Since this is ASK YOU ANYTHING...
    would you like to respond to these individuals who believe that arming college students and insisting that rushing armed attackers is a way to prevent violence?

    By Blogger Stewart Sternberg, at 10:11 PM  

  • Hi James,

    You're like my personal Magic 8-Ball on Fridays, huh?

    Well, will I get a stellar review at my new job or not?

    By Blogger Fairmaiden327, at 10:32 PM  

  • damned good answers sir! damned good!

    *golf claps* ;p

    By Blogger Yas, at 3:14 AM  

  • Stewart, I always think that Monday Morning Tragedy Quarterbacks are losers, 'cause it's easy to tell someone else they should have been "brave" under fire. I want those idiots to chase down a gunman or tackle a bomber, and then they can berate the other folks who, wisely, I think, cowered in the corner.

    FairMaiden, you've got a good 'tude and healthy optimisim about that job. Those things combined with the know how to do the job make for a good pairing. So yes, you will get a good review.

    I swear, I ain't psychic that I know of. But if any of my prognostication turns out to be true, you guys need to let me know, so I can start my new career.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:19 PM  

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