Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Fricassee

I've gotta say -- you've ROCKED the critique for this month's Secret Agent Contest!  It's so encouraging to watch my inbox continually refill with all your comments.  WELL DONE.

If you've been meaning to leave feedback but haven't had time yet--no worries!  You can continue to leave your comments throughout the weekend.  I'll unveil our Secret Agent and announce the winners on Monday.

For several years, I ran 10 of these contests a year, every month except June and December.  It got to be a little much--I needed to feel less pulled away from my writing, for one thing, and for another--well, I think I was feeling a bit of blog burnout!

Truth is, when I started this blog (9 years ago this month!), there wasn't much out there in the way of online contests for writers.  I forged new ground, and people were excited!  After a while, though, more and more other contests popped up--some fantastic, some not so much--and it felt like such a contest glut that I wasn't sure I wanted to keep swimming in the overcrowded pool.  Scheduling became an ever-increasing issue, as it seemed there was always something else going on whenever I scheduled something of my own.  I didn't have the time or the wherewithal to try to keep track of everything going on out there, just to keep from double scheduling something.

I mean, that sort of thing can be exhausting.  (But I did just use the word wherewithal in a sentence, which is kinda cool.)

So I cut back, and it felt great.  Then I cut back even more, and I find that I've lowered my "writing stress" (because, yes, blogging is writing).  Still, I sometimes wistfully look at the list of past Secret Agents on my sidebar, and I feel like a slacker.  I've got a gang of over 60 success story authors who landed their agents through one of my contests, and that's an awesome feeling!  I want to see more of that; I want to add new names to our Success Story Facebook Group.

But.  I've got to stay with this truncated version of the contest schedule.  And I'm grateful that this week's Secret Agent Contest generated so much energy and participation.  I have always loved the community that sprang up around this blog almost from its inception.  KEEP BEING YOUR WONDERFUL SELVES.

I've still got a few Secret Agent Contests up my sleeve.  And of course I'll keep hosting the in-house critiques.  But the glory days of monthly Secret Agents surrounded by nearly-incessant crit sessions are over.

HAVING SAID THAT: I'm still, as always, interested in hearing what you'd love to see here in the upcoming months.  Is there a particular critique round we haven't done in a while that you'd love to throw your work into?  Is there something we've never done that you think I should consider?  Let me know your thoughts in the comment box!  This blog is for you, after all.

Thanks for reading...thanks for being here.  Some of you are oh-my-goodness-long-timers.  I so appreciate you.

And now I'm going to wrap this up and go have coffee with my sister, who now lives here.  We haven't lived in the same state since I graduated from college, which was ages ago.  I'm still pinching myself that she's actually here!

How's that for a happy, feel-good sendoff?  :)  Blessings on your weekend, my friends--and remember to shoot me your thoughts and ideas!


  1. I love your inspiring blog and all that you do. I would LOVE something that gives us additional insight on showing vs. telling. I know when we TELL an emotion (e.g. Sarah was sad) that's telling, but when Sarah is watching something that makes her feel sad and we're seeing it through her eyes, besides physical reactions to the event (lump in throat, gut wrenching, etc.) how else can it be shown so the reader feels it.

  2. Any chance you could change your stance on queries and hold a query critique round? Just once?

  3. I love your blog, which is full of information and has helped me find a lot of things I've been looking for. And this secret agent has taught me a lot, particularly that I seem to be on the wrong track. Once more, after god knows how many different 250 I've written. But after this experience, I think I know which way I should be heading. Thank you so much for this opportunity. And yes, maybe a query critique round could be something to consider, if your time schedule allows it. Enjoy your time with your sister.

  4. I agree with the others: your site and time are so appreciated! These types of contests provide valuable feedback from people who care about writing.

    Critiques/contests that help me: query critiques; synopsis help; first 250; pitches.

    I'd also love to see a Q&A from agents/editors around questions we send you:
    What makes a great/poor query? What tropes need to be ditched/saved/reinvented?

    Some ideas!

    Thank you!!