Monday, May 20, 2013

In Response to Your Response

I never expected to receive over a hundred responses to last week's Friday Fricassee.  Honestly, I was simply trying to assess whether or not I needed to reduce the number of Secret Agent contests I hold each year.

Anyway, thank you all for your comments!  In culling through them, I've come up with a bunch of Stuff To Address, so allow me to do so now (in no particular order):


Many of you begged, "Please don't stop!"  I wasn't planning on it; I just wanted to determine whether interest was high enough to continue doing 9 a year.  I'm sorry if you got the wrong impression!


Mea culpa!  In times past, I was definitely in the habit of announcing submissions on the blog.  After a while, it started to feel unnecessary, so I stopped.  Clearly this was not a good move.  It's a simple fix, though.  From now on, I will announce submissions early on the morning of the day they open.


Again, this is something I clearly should have been doing, and is an easy fix.  I've mentioned in the past that I sometimes forget that we have a constant influx of new readers.  From now on, I will post the critique guidelines immediately after the excerpts go live.  This way, the guidelines will be at the top of the page during the contest, and highly visible.

(There is also a "CONTEST" tab at the top of the blog that you can read any time to brush up on Secret Agent etiquette.)


This is apparently true for many people.  May 2010, though, had 60 entries (and I'm not even sure why).  It may truly have been a combination of real-life busyness and extra online opportunities this year.

One comment I found particularly offensive, though, was one that inferred that our readership is all "stay-at-home moms writing YA".  Not only is that a slam to those among us who actually ARE stay-at-home moms writing YA (or anything else, for that matter), but it blatantly ignores the fact that May is also busy for teachers, professors, performers (dance and music recitals), students, and extended family members, as well as for parents.  It also ignores the fact that May is busy not only for women, but for men as well.  (I am heartily tired of the male vs. female argument, so let's let that one die, please.)

I haven't been experiencing "May busyness", so I'm thankful that so many of you took the time to point that out to me.


I'm thrilled that so many of you take this seriously!  Grateful, too.  And honestly?  Agents have mentioned this to me--that it's nice to not see constant repeats on my site.  (It's not just good for the readers, though.  It's good for YOU.  A few minor tweaks does not a revision make, and that's what I'm trying to foster here: serious edits/revision.  For your sake.)

I am considering shortening this to four months.  I want to give this a lot of thought, since parameters like this are, I believe, one of the things that keeps the quality higher during our contests.  I will let you know when I figure out what the wisest course of action is!


I addressed this issue very pointedly in THIS POST FROM FEBRUARY, 2012.  (Seriously--if cheerleading concerns you, please read this post, which details my reasons for not supporting it.)

Ultimately, I am not responsible for the way people critique.  I will certainly delete anything nasty--but cheerleading is not nasty, so I have no reason to delete it.

Cheerleading is, however, useless in a forum that exists for CRITIQUE.  Receiving "Yay, you're awesome!" comments on a contest entry is no better than letting your mom and dad read your manuscripts and tell you how fabulous they are.

I understand that there are other contests online that encourage cheerleading.  THIS IS THEIR PREROGATIVE.  I support their right to run contests as they choose, and I support your right to choose which contests you wish to enter/support.  In short--go for it!

But I choose NOT to pit writers against each other.  I choose NOT to encourage my readers to "Cheer for your favorite entry!"  I never have; I never will.

Because I don't want the atmosphere here to be "me against them" for anyone who chooses to participate.  NOT EVER.  For five years, I have attempted to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and support among aspiring authors, coupled with effective critique.  This is largely what we have here, and it's been wonderful.

So, please.  Keep your pompoms at home.  Making positive comments is an important part of critiquing the work of your peers (because, hey--if something is good, then we should say so!), but if all you're doing is "Rah! Rah!", then this isn't the place for it.

Nobody grows as a writer with nothing but "Rah! Rah!" in their comment boxes.


I wanted to address this particular comment because it doesn't take into account that we are constantly picking up new community members here.  It's true that many of our long-time readers have gone on to become agented, but the assumption that nobody is stepping up to take their places among the searching-for-an-agent ranks is erroneous.


Um.  Of our more-than-50 success stories, 24 are published (so far).  Really, this is no secret; they are listed alphabetically under "PUBLISHED AUTHORS" on the "SUCCESS STORY" tab at the top of the blog.

Also?  There is nothing "feel-good" (in the bitter sense) about posting a success story that shares how an author nabbed his agent.  If you are not encouraged by these stories, don't read them.  If you are so jaded that you cannot appreciate another person's success, then I am sorry for your sake.

I know what it feels like to sometimes burst into tears when I read someone else's good news.  Sometimes, somewhere along the journey, we all bottom out.  It's okay.

But we've got to move past it.  And if you can't seem to move past feeling negative about a colleague's rejoicing, then perhaps you need to seriously consider your own journey, and whether it's right for you.


This one admittedly disturbs me.  That an agent would agree to a contest, choose winners, and then never respond to the winners once they sent their requested submissions is, in my opinion, less than professional.

However.  This is the norm in the world of agents, whether or not your request from an agent came from a contest or through regular querying channels.  For a number of agents, no response equals no thank you.

I don't agree with this approach.  If you've requested material, I think you should respond to that material, whether it's a "yes" or a "no".  But my opinion on this matter doesn't change things.  The truth is, SOME AGENTS WILL NEVER RESPOND.  I hate it as much as you do, but you can't let it jade you.  YOU'VE GOT TO KEEP ON KEEPING ON.

So if you've had this experience via a Secret Agent contest?  I apologize.  And I encourage you to let go of the bitterness, because it's not doing you any favors.

Recalcitrant agents are not a reflection of this blog any more than cheerleaders or trolls are.  For your own sake, move past the disappointment.

(Also?  If this happens to you, don't suffer in silence.  Email me.  If it's an agent I have a good relationship with, I might be able to find out what's gone amiss.  Or, at the very least, I can talk you off the ledge.)


I can't push the entire window later in the day, because folks across the Atlantic will fall asleep.  But I can extend the window past its normal 5:00 pm Eastern closing time, for the sake of the still-sleeping Pacific Time-zoners and to the west beyond.  This won't help when it's not a lottery, but most of the SA contests have been lotteries lately.  So this is definitely an easy change.


Normally I ignore snarky remarks, but this one was such a huge dig at the folks who give their time to these critiques that I had to address it.

I'd like to publicly proclaim my gratitude for everyone who leaves critique on this blog.  It is my firm belief that those of you who have been cheerleading are doing so out of a sincere desire to cheer on your crit partners, colleagues, and friends.  If there's any hidden motive in the cheering, I've been oblivious.  And, frankly, I'd rather stay that way.  (At any rate, I've already said that I don't like the cheerleading.  So if the cheerleaders wish to stick around, I trust that they will start leaving valid critiques instead of cheering.)

Also?  There are times when critiquers say positive things that aren't cheerleading; they are simply pointing out strengths in an excerpt, which is valid.  To accuse these folks of trying to pimp their own blogs via positive critiques is absurd.

These are the kinds of comments that need to be deleted before you hit "send".  Seriously.


  • Thank you for deigning to leave your thoughts.  Insight from industry professionals, particularly those with years of experience, is always appreciated.
  • I absolutely agree that it is important to pay close attention to what the dissenters say.  This is wise counsel.
  • I disagree that most of the comments were "vacuous".  I asked a simple question about the Secret Agent contests in order to ascertain its level of relevance, and most commenters answered that question.  Letting me know the reasons why they didn't enter this month's round was actually quite helpful.
  • As one of my readers recently pointed out to me, there is a huge difference between a** kissing and gratitude.  Expressing enjoyment of the contest and/or a desire to see it continue is not a** kissing.  I have certainly waded through my share of sycophantic comments and tweets over the years; I realize that's part of the territory and I usually roll my eyes a little bit.  But Friday's comment thread?  I read gratitude, plain and simple.  My hope is that I will not become so jaded that I one day cannot tell the difference.
  • You wrote: "You might find it leads to a very bright future if you really focused on being a serious writer's site." Actually, that's been my focus all along.  Recently, I let my hair down a little bit to celebrate the blog's 5th birthday--definitely not the norm around here.  But overall?  My focus has always been on the craft of writing, and learning to give and to receive effective critique.  I've also been a huge proponent of Take The Scary Out Of Querying, which is why I wrote my e-book.  And, as the craze for writer contests has exploded around me, I have not jumped onto the bandwagon of All The Bells And Whistles.  I have, in fact, stuck to my tried-and-true Secret Agent format, which is straightforward and easy to understand.  My distaste for cheerleading speaks for itself, and my continued effort to encourage aspiring authors not to give up is, I hope, a hallmark of this blog.  I do not for a moment claim that I've done a flawless job, and I am always open to suggestions (which is why I pose questions on the blog).  But since its inception, MSFV has never been anything less than a serious writer's site.  I would have no interest in its being anything else.


I'll admit that it's frustrating when contest entrants fail to give critique.  But you know what?  Life is like this.  There are those who give and those who take, and there's nothing we can do about it.  For the most part, there are a lot of people who give around here.  If that weren't true, this blog would be nothing.  Seriously nothing.

So while I can understand that "turned off" feeling, I do think it's a poor excuse for throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  If you are giving and receiving and having an overall positive experience, why should it bother you if others are not as engaged?  Why are you even keeping track?

This doesn't only apply to MSFV, but to life.  All we can really do is to be sure we are giving what we can, and graciously receiving what is given to us.  Beyond that, it's out of our control.  It would behoove all of us to focus on the positive here.  If that's too much to ask?  Then, yes, it's time to move on.


When MSFV was a downy fledgling, there weren't many contests and critique opportunities for writers online.  Now?  They're everywhere.  Literally everywhere!  And there's a lot of hoopla and excitement and brouhaha and what-have-you, and it's easy to start "contest hopping."  I mean, it's heady!  It's an adrenaline rush!  PEOPLE CHEER FOR YOU!

My advice?  Choose carefully which contests you enter.  Ask yourself if it's a good point in your manuscript journey and in your career plans to enter each contest you're considering.  Contests may be a lot more exciting than plain old querying, but in the end, it's the plain old querying that leads most writers to their agents.

I landed my agent through a query letter, not a contest.  So there you have it.

Of course there are success stories!  Of course good things can happen through contests!  And there are some really neat people running some of these contests.  So on one level, it's all good!

But it's also easy to get swept up in it all.  And I'm advising you not to let that happen.  Carefully research the agents in these contests to see if they're right for you.  If the agents' identities are hidden, then carefully analyze the contest itself, to see if it has the potential to actually help you.  Don't participate because you somehow believe that contests are the new query.  They are not.

Any contest that includes valid critique is, in my opinion, most valuable.  The focus in our journey-toward-an-agent should not be, "Can I win a contest?", but rather, "Do I have a strong premise and strong writing?" and "What do I need to do to make this opening the best it can possibly be?"

So, by all means, get out there where the action is!  But do so with prudence and wisdom.  Remember that, in the end, fifty comments telling you how awesome you are is not going to get you a publishing contract.  (It'll feel awesome for a little while, but that's about all it will do for you.)


For taking the time to answer my questions, for pointing out areas in which you felt I could improve the contests, for offering words of sincere support--thank you for all of it.  If this blog isn't the best that it can be, then I'm selling you short, and I don't want to do that.  50+ success stories and countless writers who feel like they're moving forward is no small thing, and I want us to continue on this trajectory together.

Thank you for coming, thank you for staying.  And thank you, as always, for sharing your journeys with me.  In the end, we will, all of us, say, "I was never alone."

That, right there, says it all.


  1. We are defiantly not all 'stay at home moms writing YA.' :) That comment made me laugh as I'm a teen writing YA! I'm also not represented by an agent. And although I'm not a newbie to the blog per se (I've been stalking for a year or more now) I've yet to summon up the nerve to enter in any contests. But I really appreciate all the contests and opportunities you offer on your blog. Just reading through some of the archives has been really helpful to me. I really hope that when I'm ready to start querying my novel, MSFV will be a resource I'll be able to use.
    Thanks for all your work, Authoress!
    ~Sarah Faulkner

  2. Oh dear. I'm a little flabbergasted at the range of responses to the Friday post. I really don't understand the negative posters at all since you provide a free service that many people find very useful. Where did the crabbiness come from? And more importantly, why? We're not paying for this blog, we can participate or lurk at will, what's there to complain about?

    I find the blog useful because it lets me get a feel for the writing community and for what is happening with it. I also discovered Blake Snyder through this blog and that in itself was worth the couple years of lurking. I find most agents' responses highly illuminating (though not all agents).

    I'm not a stay at home mom writing YA, but rather a working mom writing after all the chores/homework/dinner/drama is over and done for the day (which usually means I'm done for the day as well).

    Authoress, if you get satisfaction from running this blog and it makes you happy, then run the blog. Once it stops doing that for you, then stop it. You're doing us all a favor by running it.

    Many people benefit from it directly and indirectly.

    Still speechless about the trolls though...


    I know you know this, dear Authoress, and that probably nobody else read my tweet to you, but still, for the record, I was joking :-)



    Re: we're all stay-at-home moms writing YA.

    BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! *wipes tear* No really, that was hilarious.

    So. Explosion critique?

  4. All I have time for now is "Brava, Authoress." (I'm a stay-at-home Dad writing MG who needs to get the kids off to school.) I'll respond at greater length later in the day.

    But, Brava!

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  6. "There are times when critiquers say positive things that aren't cheerleading"

    I take the same approach to critiquing that I do to coaching/mentoring. It's very similiar to your 'sandwich' principle.

    Start with something postive. This will build the person up a little so then we can then talk about stuff that can improve. This will naturally be a little deflating to them. We all know we NEED critique, but some part of us just wants to be loved. I mean wants our work to be loved. Yes, that's it.

    Then end our critique with something positive. This restores the person a little bit and helps the critique be accepted.

  7. So far, your contests seem like the most substantive out there. Thanks or the reminder to enter all contests after careful thought though. I'm finding some of them a bit ridiculous and too much like a high school popularity contest. Keep up the good work! I'm also not a stay-at-home mom, BTW (although sometimes, I'd like to be!)

  8. I commented a lot on the other thread, so I don't have much to add other than thank you Authoress for this great site you have brought to the writing community. I think most of us are truly grateful.

    BTW, I'm a stay-at-home mom. I home school my teenage daughter during the day and cook dinner and take care of my son (he's 8 and in public school) in the evening, while trying to find time to write in spurts through the day. And I don't write YA. I only write adult fiction. I also don't disparage those who write for teens and younger. The explosion of books for children and YA is fantastic because it means in this culture of the internet and smart phones, young people still read. That needs to be celebrated and authors who write for those age groups need to be thanked.

    Okay, so I wrote more than a simple thank you. :)

  9. I'm sorry, but I want to poke the 'anonymous publishing professional' in the eye. Anonymous comments are easy enough to make, and it's easy enough to call yourself anything when making them. "Look at me! I'm the heiress to the Sultan of Brunei!" If you don't feel comfortable saying something with your name attached, don't say it.

    I don't always read every bit of this blog, and I rarely comment, but you've been helping me and writers like me since this blog's inception. I try to pay it forward with comments when I feel I have something worthwhile to say. Keep on doing the good work, and don't let anyone make you feel bad about a single stitch of it.

  10. Awesome response, Authoress. Big hugs to you!

    I'm not a stay-at-home-mom, but I am a stay-at-home-author. I continue to read and support this blog because I started to follow it five years ago, before I found my agent and before I was published. I think it's a wonderful service for all writers, unpublished and published both.

    I may not be able to participate in the SA contests, but I do like to participate in the Drop The Needle critiques. I've found them to be immensely helpful for my WIPs, whether they're contracted or uncontracted. It's always great to get a fresh pair of unbiased eyes on my work.

    I recommend this blog to every writer I know. :)

  11. Time commitments keep me from hanging out here as much as I'd like, but I want to thank you for all that you do and all the crap that you take and yet you keep on doing so much for the writing community. Despite some of the negativity, this really is a safe harbor for many writers and an excellent critique forum. And, as evidenced by all the success stories, an amazing place for writers and agents to come together. Thank you for listening to your readers and thank you for advocating for writers.

  12. I love your contests - they were an eureka moment for me, the first time a writer friend entered and I popped over here to see what the fuss was all about. I'm glad you are extending the submission window - now I won't have to rush home on my lunch, so flustered and nervous I wear mismatched shoes!
    Keep up all the wonderful work you do.

  13. What a thoughtful post! I have so much to say, but I'll summarize it as this: You are providing an amazing opportunity for not just querying writers, but for writers in various stages of their career. You don't have to do it. You don't have to put countless hours into this blog, contests and doing all that you do just to help out a fellow writer, but…you do. The fact that there are people that find even a nugget of fault is mind-blowing.

    I commend you for asking for input to improve this blog and contests. That said, it wasn't an open invitation for people to whine and complain about what is 'fair' and 'unfair' with the way you run things. If they don't like it, they can run their own and make up whatever rules they want. I was especially angry about people complaining about the behavior of agents. Agents are people. No one can control other people. That's all. Agents have a job and some do things the way we wish they would, and some do not. How anyone can think that's a reflection of YOU, and what you're doing is being me. For every query this blog sees the exposure is massive. While I don't know specifics there is no doubt other agents and publishing professionals, aside from the ones participating in any given contest, checking out entries. I can think of no other way for a query to get so much attention.

    I'd love the person who said 'It's all SAHM's that write YA' to elaborate, but I can guarantee that would only fuel my rage. As a SAHM myself we don't have endless time to devote to our writing just like a person who has a out-of-the-house job. It was a ridiculous and judgmental thing to say.

    The fact of the matter is that you are helping, not hindering, someones path. I, for one, am grateful for that and others should be too. Querying is a long, often lonely road. There are days…weeks…sometimes months of rejection. Having someone basically say, "Hey! I've been there! Let me see if I can help!" is refreshing and inspiring. I sincerely hope I can do the same someday.

  14. Thank you Authoress for your response and seriously responding to all of the points brought up. Thank you for your example of graciousness when others lash out at you. This biz can tear you down and suck your eyeballs out if you listen to all the negativity. Thanks for the positive POV. And pleeease, consider changing 6 months to 4 months. Would be great!

  15. I did read through all the comments yesterday but never left a response--anything I would have said had already been said.

    I have nothing against the contests and often read the entries and comments even if I haven't entered. They are most helpful!

    So bravo to you for this site, and bravo for your responses to the responses.

    Sending virtual chocolate to you!

  16. Thank you for always leading by the example of a cool head, empathetic heart, bravery, and clear words.

  17. I subscribe to your blog and enjoy reading it, have entered several contests, but rarely (except for the contests) do I comment. But "Anonymous Publishing" snob made me want to say something. MSFV is a site dedicated to serious writers. I also follow many publishing info sites and read a lot of articles about writing/publishing, but you fill a definite and important niche. You have no control over people who re-enter the same book's beginning again and again because they can't let it go. But you know what? I've seen some of those shopped-around-for-two-years ms's get published! So they did learn something, it just took longer.

    Cheerleading and a**kissing is part of the business, too, O-Anonymous-Publishing-Person. It's a brutal business and people need some support, but I've seen fewer "vacuous" cheerleading comments on this blog than on many others.

    You should give negative comments no more sway than positive ones. Everyone has different tastes, and if people don't like this blog they can move on to somewhere they feel more comfortable, just as published books don't appeal to everyone (unless they strike that vast 12-yr-old audience that seems capable of making bestsellers out of trash). You're a smart lady, surrounded by smart people, so follow your gut instincts about changing rules or making "improvements."

    Personally, I think MSFV is perfect as it is. It helped me more than any other blog did, and I'm now agented.

  18. Just read a quote on facebook the other day which pretty much sums it up. "Haters don't really hate you. They hate themselves because you're a reflection of what they wish to be." I never enter or post (too cowardly), but I lurk religiously and would need to find a new religion if MSFV went away!

  19. I love getting your blog posts in my inbox. I subscribe to very few blogs because there just isn't enough time, but your posts are encouraging and entertaining. And I like reading about other people's success. Your recent post was so thoughtful. And even though parts were evidence of the old adage, no good deed goes unpunished, I'm sure there are many published and unpublished authors grateful for the work you do. Here's to success on *your* writing journey

  20. I'd just like to say thank you. Your candor, enthusiasm and determination to offer a valuable resource to fledgling writers is truly treasured by many.

  21. I'm a SAHM who writes MG, runs a part-time business from home, and cares for 4 kids under the age of 13. SAHMs & SAHDs have barriers to their writing time just like anyone else.

    I've been lurking on your site for over a year and gobbling up all of the great insights offered by the agents and other commenters. I can't wait until my MG manuscript is complete so that I can start to enter your contests!

    In the meantime, I try to offer comments during the contests if I think I can add something of value or for entries that have the fewest comments. I'm trying to pay it forward for my future entry. :)

    Carry on, Secret Authoress!

  22. This unagented working mother writing MG and YA thinks you and the contests you host are FANTASTIC. Thanks for all you do! :D

  23. Authoress,

    I guess there are people who think every negative comment must be true and anything positive must be a lie. Writers ought to hear the positive, as well as the negative, or else how are we supposed to know when we're on the right track?

  24. Really?

    How anyone can take the time to disparage Authoress or this blog is beyond me.

    The simple fact that Authoress posed the original question demonstrates her desire to make the blog as helpful to writers as possible.

    In addition to helping me get an agent, she's provided a forum to improve my writing and connected me with other writers who greatly enrich my life.

    I'd write more but I just got home from my fulltime job and now I need to tend to the kids. Then I want to spend some time reading Adam Heine's blog.

    Thank you, Authoress, for caring about what your readers think and for taking the risk to ask.

  25. Hello! I am returning to the writing scene. A big episode with focusing on college disrupted my writing and I'm mad at myself for letting that happen. I barely have WIPs and I am still very doubtful in my abilities.

    But it's blogs like these where we, the readers, can better ourselves even when we're not in the contest by reading and helpfully critiquing others' WIPs with support and helpful tips that make me put this blog in my notifications. I get giddy when I read other entries because it makes me hopeful for whenever my day comes. The SA contest is an awesome idea, and yes, I do truly mean "awesome". I meant to say it in the previous post, but thank you for making an encouraging and helpful blog. It really motivates me. So, I do hope this contest will get more entries, and this was just a shortage for the month of May. May is pretty busy at times.


    If I sounded a bit cheerleaderish, it's one of my many things I've come to accept. I'm an upbeat type of person with smiley faces galore, but I'll save them for now.

    Again, this was a great post. Mad respect for your humble and understanding approach.

  26. This community of this website, the SA contest and the critiques all have been very helpful to me. I'm happy to have benefited from the low turnout on the SA contest this month, being one of the 48. I've received some very helpful commentary, and I hope I've left some. Like some others, I hope I haven't been too cheery, but I think it's always helpful to the writer to point out what's good as well as what's in need of some further attention, work, etc. I just want to say I very much appreciate all the work this blog takes to run, as it certainly is considerable, and the great service it provides, free of charge, for all aspiring writers.

  27. I love the point about contest-hopping. The last thing you want an agent to think when they see your QL is 'haven't I seen this before?' Maybe they saw it before on several blogs, maybe they were even interested but couldn't request because they weren't judging. Either way when an agent is looking for something fresh the last thing you want to give them is deja vu.

    Choose your contests wisely and carefully. And the 6 month wait at MSFV is *not* a bad thing. Please keep this guideline.

  28. ^ I did several contests last fall, ending with the Baker's Dozen, and I have to say, it got pretty intense and difficult to manage! But if an MS is ready, and the feedback is taken into account, reworked, and the MS is submitted again, I see no issue with entering multiple contests. It really depends on the feedback the writer is getting, what they are doing with it, and also educating ones self on the market, what is selling, and whether the entry is a reflection of a story that won't sell, or a case of a writer not quite being ready. Contests are great opportunities to learn those things. Though too many contests at once could potentially be a drawback for the writer if there isn't time taken in between to make edits.

    I must have missed the stay at home mom comment. That kind of dig really says a lot, doesn't it? Good writing is good writing, regardless if it's written by a woman with a full time job and no kids, or a mother fitting in writing time while her kids are at school. Writers should be able to seek feedback and critiques without being slammed for choosing to raise a family while also wanting to work toward publication.

  29. I agree with Ashes. The 6 month wait between contests is part of what makes the MSFV contests so helpful. I've heard so many agents say that they're tired of seeing the same manuscripts over and over again in various contests, and I try to make sure I only enter mine in one or two (with different participating agents) before retiring it from the contest scene.

    For me, contests are a great way to get critique and feedback from other authors & publishing professionals, and although the contests may result in representation or even (in rare cases) book deals, I'm not holding all of my hopes on contests. I can take the feedback I receive in a contest and make my manuscript/query better before sending individual queries to the agents on my wish list. :)

  30. I just read some of the comments on the other post: They are COMPLETELY out of line, and I agree with your thought in this post. You are the greatest writer-helper-who-is-a-writer in this writing community. Of course you'll get some critics, but don't worry: You are awesome.

  31. I agree with SC and Ashes. There is a great learning oportunity from withdrwawing your manuscript and waiting 6 months or more - edits! It is so sad to click on an MSFV contest and see 30 entries that I just saw somewhere else. So, I secind (third?) the idea....don't let the 6 month rule expire or we will all just see the same first pages here as we see ina dozen other places.