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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Josepha Sherman

I'm saddened to hear that Josepha Sherman, a long-time writer and editor and one of the first people I met in the sf genre, passed away on Thursday. She was 65.

Those of us who are experienced at reading and evaluating manuscripts, it's sad but true that we can often tell in a matter of sentences whether there's any "there" there in a manuscript. Jo might have the best raw evaluator I'd ever come across, she could tell more in ten pages than anyone I've ever come across, and when I started out doing freelance work for Baen almost 30 years ago, Jo was someone I'd look up to in awe and amazement. She was always willing to put in that little something extra in giving feedback to an author who had earned it.

My respect for Jo was such that she was one of the first people other than myself to do work for JABberwocky. When it was getting to the point that I had a hard time just doing triage on the requested partials out of the query pile, I asked Jo to help out. We'd usually meet up at the Starbucks at 60th St. and 1st Ave., I'd hand off the pile of partials and a week later I'd know which ones could head off, which I needed to spend more time with, which ones needed encouragement, and she knew my tastes and interests about as well as I knew them myself.

She was a writer in her own write, author or co-writer of close to twenty novels. She was a folklorist who compiled many well-regarded anthologies and used her knowledge well in her own fiction.

She was a raconteur. If you found yourself late at night with Jo and a few friends in a con suite, you were likely to be there until early morning, much entertained and much the wiser for the experience.

She moved from New York around ten years ago and kind of fell off the face of the Earth even though she wasn't all that far away. The Jo Sherman that many of us knew left before she herself did this past Thursday.

The Jo Sherman that many of us knew was one of the unsung heroes of the genre, somebody who quietly helped many to achieve their own dreams of writing fantasy and science fiction.

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