Monday, December 30, 2013

What the New Year Will Bring

Hello, all!  I promised you I'd let you know what to expect in the coming year, so here it is.  But first, you absolutely have to see this:

My wonderful sister gave me these necklaces for Christmas.  Can there be a gift that says BOOK GEEK more loudly?  I love these necklaces more than I should.  No, really.  My sister knows me SO WELL.  And Pride and Prejudice is one of those "sister things" that stretches back to our teen years.  So not only do the necklaces reflect my bookish self to the Nth degree, but also they represent my relationship with my sister.

She is an incredible gift-giver.

You may or may not have read my mini-story on Twitter on Christmas Eve.  The planned-forever visit from my sister and her family almost didn't happen, you see.  Their cat, who recently had a leg amputated, became suddenly ill on the 23rd--he couldn't move at all.  That night, while Mr. A and I were out on a Very Christmasy Date, my sister called me in tears.

"We're not coming."

It was a moment of stunning denial.  I couldn't accept that all the planning, all the special touches, all the anticipation would come to nothing.  I hadn't seen her on Christmas since 1999, and now a cat was going to usurp our plans?  

But I kept my voice calm and asked her to call me in the morning after they'd seen the vet.  

Mr. A asked me if I'd rather cut our date short and go home, but what would have been the point of that?  To go home and sulk?  So we stayed out and had a lovely evening.  Every time I remembered my sister, though, an emptiness yawned inside me like a bottomless hole.  I wanted to be with my sister for Christmas--such a simple thing, really--and I couldn't bear the thought of Christmas without her.

My sister, of course, had lamented on Facebook about the plight of the cat and the ruined plans.  When I checked Facebook on the morning of the 24th, I noticed a comment from one of my sister's local friends:  "We will take care of the cat."

My heart leaped--but my sister hadn't seen the comment yet.  So I gave it a "like" and went along with my Christmas Eve Morning (which consists of making gingerbread people).  A couple hours later, my sister texted me:  "Pray!  Got an offer."  Then, minutes later, "Never mind.  It won't work."  The reason?  They had to get the cat back to the vet the day after Christmas, early in the morning.

And yet this Selfless Person wasn't daunted.  She had no problem taking the cat to the vet at 8:00 am the morning after Christmas.  No problem caring for a paralyzed cat around the clock during a major holiday.

My sister texted, "Who the heck would offer to squeeze someone else's cat's bladder?"

And I laughed--the first laughter since her teary call from the night before.  So it was settled, and this amazing person I've never met saved our Christmas celebration.  When I messaged her to express my thanks, this was her reply:

It is our pleasure to do this.  It is not a sacrifice for us at all. (M) and I do not have family, so we stay home.  To enable another family to spend Christmas together is a joy.  It's going to end up being our blessing!


To her, it was nothing.  A trifle.  No sweat.  To us, it was everything.  It was this Christmas's greatest gift.

The NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE in my house (who knew a not-quite-2-year-old could be THAT loud?) was so worth it.  And the ringing silence in the aftermath simply reminds me of the joy of their presence over the last few days.  

That, and I have these amazing necklaces.  :)

So.  That's my story.  And now, as the year draws to a close, here is what you can expect from MSFV during 2014:


I have decided to cut back.  The Secret Agent Contests will take place during the following months:



This will follow its regular schedule, with logline critiques beginning in October, submissions in November, and the actual auction in December.


Someone recently commented on the blog that the original intention of this blog--the critique to better our writing--continues to be met.  And I want this original spirit to continue to shine throughout this coming year.  We don't need contests and hooplah to grow as writers; we need hard work and the honest critique of our colleagues.  And we need a safe venue for this critique, which is what I've always wanted this place to be.  So during the off-months, we're going to be having plenty of opportunities for feedback on our writing.  The thing that's REALLY GREAT about this is that, since there aren't agents or editors involved in our in-house critique sessions, we can include WIPs as well as completed manuscripts.  So those of you who aren't quite ready to query yet can still receive valuable critique on your work.  And I feel like this is really important.

Right now, I'm thinking MORE critique rounds with FEWER entries per round, to tone down the overwhelm factor.  And I want to hear your feedback on this, so please do leave your thoughts below!


Yes, I'm going to do another one this year, TBA.  But the last one I held (several months ago) was way down on numbers, so I'm going to keep this to once a year.  If you're looking for critique partners and you're not subscribed to the blog, please subscribe so that you don't miss this (it will occur during a non-Secret Agent month).  


Because the 3-page edits I offered to entrants in the Baker's Dozen turned out to be a wonderful (and time effective) way to offer feedback to story openings, I have decided to extend this offer to everyone.  Here are the details:

I am offering a 3-page line edit and editorial letter for $18, payable through paypal.  I'll take a look at all genres except erotica.  If you're interested in hiring me, please email me at authoress.edits(at)  (Please DO NOT email me at my facelesswords account!)

And that's that!  I feel like this schedule gives me a better handle on running the blog (which admittedly feels like a heavier burden when I'm in the midst of revisions), and I hope it works for you, too.  Thank you again for reading, and for being a part of this community.  I remain honored to be one of the voices in your writerly journeys.

Happy New Year!


  1. Ooh, i definitely think more crit sessions with less entries is more manageable.

    And glad to hear your xmas was awesome!

  2. I'm so happy for you that the neighbour was able to look after the cat, and you could have your family Christmas.

    Thinking about CP match-ups, I remember a suggestion a while ago on the blog about changing the submissions info for anything on the blog so that along with your novel title and genre, people could say if they were looking for a CP - I think the suggestion was just for it to be one line: "Looking for CP for this piece: Yes/No".
    I wonder with fewer match-ups this year if putting that info into a piece that's up for feedback would be something we'd be able to put in?

    As always, I'll be lurking around the blog this year, and looking forward to it *g*

  3. Wanted to say something similar to Ailsa--if there's a way for those in critique rounds, etc. to indicate if they're open to new CPs, there would be less need to run official matchmaking services. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I have found the BEST CPs through your critique partner dating service. This blog attracts some awesome, serious writers with great books. So thank you, Authoress, for all your hard work! If there's a way for people to take their own initiative in finding CPs via this blog, that would be great.

    Excited for more critique stuff! That's one of my favorite parts of this blog :)

  4. This whole post makes me happy!

    I love the idea of more in-house crits. I entered a SA contest last January and was unable to enter another contest until summer. Because of what the agents wanted, I ended up not entering another SA contest last year. But I did have a wonderful experience with Baker's Dozen.
    Thanks, Authoress, for all of this!

    Also, thanks for sharing your Christmas Miracle. Very happy-making!

  5. Sounds like it will be an exciting writing year in 2014. Can't wait! Also, I love your gift from your sister. That is possibly my favorite line from "Pride and Prejudice". Have a great new year!

  6. I really love the idea of having more critique sessions with fewer entries!

  7. I also like the idea of more critique sessions with fewer entries. I think that will cut down on entries receiving lots of comments while others have only a few.

  8. What a wonderful Christmas tale! I'm so glad you were able to spend the day with your sister. The wonderful people who took care of her cat surely earned their angel's wings. Thanks for the uplifting post.

  9. Our dear, tireless Authoress, I wish you a wonderful 2014. Thank you for all you do for the community.

  10. I'm sorry to say that the cat went downhill quickly and had to be put to sleep the day after Christmas. My sister and brother-in-law were thankful they were here, and were able to deal with the loss of the cat after they returned home yesterday.

  11. These plans for 2014 sound great. I'll add another vote for more critique opportunities with fewer entries. Spreading out the critiques would definitely make them seem less overwhelming and encourage me to comment more.

    I'm also glad you're going to repeat the CP Dating Service. It was a great success for me this year and a huge boon to my writing.

    Thanks for sharing your Christmas story. I'm always overjoyed at the way difficult situations, even tragedies, bring out the best in people.

    Happy New Year!

  12. Just saw your post about the cat. So sorry!

  13. What a touching Christmas story. It's wonderful that things worked out like that. Happy New Year!

  14. What a wonderful happy ending to your Christmas story! Thank you for sharing it:) I am a faithful reader of this blog- have been since almost it's beginning! I think the changes will work out just fine. I too love the secret agent contests but by having fewer, it does give more attention to the writers who are not quite there yet and still revising! Whatever you do will work, I'm sure. This blog is special-golden really and it will continue to be in the new year! Happy 2014 and thank you for inspiring all of us!

  15. I also vote for more critique sessions and fewer entries. I don't know if it's feasible to offer a variety of genres in each session, but that would be nice too. I love critiquing a smattering of different kinds of stories. It has lead me to genres I hadn't read before seeing a sample on your blog.

  16. I like the idea of saying you want a cp/beta reader when you enter a critique on the blog. Sorry about your sister's cat. :( Glad you had a nice holiday tho. Looking forward to entering more SA contests, I entered one last summer but didn't get any requests. Maybe allow those that enter and don't get requests to enter again?

  17. I'd highly recomend writers considering paying for critique look at EFA (Editorial Freelancer's Association.) While I'm not exactly sure what the going rate for Authoress's service, one could argue that there is a lot more value in money spent on a proffesional editor, especially one who has worked for publishing companies.

    Again, there is nothing wrong what Authoress is doing, it just depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for the opinion of another author, then certainly her service is great. Then again, you can get the same service for your entire chapter from critique circle or the like free. However, if you're looking for proffesional advice for your dollars, then perhaps it's best to hire a proffesional.

  18. Looking forward to additional critique opportunities. That will be extremely helpful for those of us not ready for the Secret Agent Contests and should make those entries even better. Thank you for all that you do to help other writers!

  19. That lovely story about the selfless person who took care of the cat brought tears to my eyes! I love that there are such amazing people in the world. Of course, you are one of these amazing people so it's only right that someone else helped your dreams come true!

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