Monday, March 9, 2009

Two Very Happy Things

Good morning one and all!

'Tis a Monday of happy announcements, so here they come:

1. Our next Secret Agent contest launches on Monday, March 16 (that's one week from today). I will post the genres and submission guidelines tomorrow, so keep a lookout.

2. I've mulled over the suggestions concerning some sort of in-house critique session dealing with longer excerpts. Wonder of wonders, I think I've come up with something that just may work! Please understand that this is an "experiment" of sorts, so we'll be tweaking as we go. At any rate, read this over and tell me what you think:

  • I will accept submissions of the first 1000 words of your novel.
  • These submissions will be accepted on a regular basis; that is, you can email your submission whenever you'd like, and I will save it in an ongoing queue.
  • Once you send in your submission, you will be assigned a post number. That's "your" number, and it'll show up in its own due time.
  • The 1000-word excerpts will be posted in batches of ten. I'll give you a one-day heads up to let you know it's coming. The next ten, consecutive excerpts sitting in my "1000-word" email file will be posted for public critique.
  • Once you have received a public critique, you may then submit a new excerpt, which will be added at the back of the queue. You may not, however, have two separate excerpts in the queue at the same time.
  • This will be an ongoing, in-house critique that will occur several times a month. Unlike our other critiques, there will not be a call for submissions with a time and number limit. Submissions will always be open, and I will always have a queue from which to take the next ten excerpts.
That's about it, really. Now tell me what you think.

And please -- don't send anything right now! I'm asking for feedback today, not submissions. Once the kinks are worked out and the questions answered, I will post specific submission instructions for this critique.

The comment box is now open -- have at it!


  1. Any ideas yet for those of us not living in the continental US? Here in Japan I often miss out on such excellent contests...

    Great idea for the 1000 word excerpt, but I expect you'll still be inundated. :)

  2. Ah, yes, inundated, to be sure. But without the pressure of doing it all at once. ;)

    And I'm experimenting with different start times for the contests. It's virtually impossible to make it "work" for everyone, because I really do have readers all over the globe. But rest assured that it's something I've been giving a lot of thought to.

  3. That's a great idea -- I think 1,000 words and ten submissions to crit per session sounds really workable.

  4. You're doing a great job here. The 1000 word excerpt is a great idea; aspiring writers everywhere thank you.

  5. Love it...I'm so happy I found this website. Thanks, Authoress.

  6. Sounds great! I will be glad to do some critting for the fine peeps on this site. :-)

  7. This sounds great! I agree with the previous post, though, I hope you're prepared for the flood of submissions I am sure you'll be receiving for this. Something like an "open casting" of sorts. It's definitely a great opportunity, though.

    With the submissions that much longer, I wonder if ten submissions may end up being too many? I mention this as I would hate for any of the "ones in the middle" to receive less crit as people starting from the beginning or end may lose steam. I only speak from my own experience being "one in the middle" for the last Drop the Needle... perhaps 5 submissions per session?

    Just a thought.

    Thanks, Authoress, for giving all of us aspiring writers such a great opportunity.

  8. Point well taken, Windy. Perhaps 5 at a pop would be better. I will ponder this a bit. :)

  9. I agree with Windy -- we'll probably give better attention as critters to fewer 1,000-word excerpts at a time. But five on one day and five the next wouldn't be overwhelming.

    Thanks, as usual, for your helpful ideas!

  10. The 1000 word crit sounds awesome! I have to ask you you have a death wish? LOL You think you're inundated with the Secret Agent subs. Good gravy woman! You'll be buried in electronic paperwork :)

    Just sayin'


  11. Sounds like a great idea! It gives us a chance to really get into the story which isn't possible with only 250 words. But I think it should be only 5 at a time, period. Those who were in the second batch last time didn't get as many comments as the first batch.

    Would it be the first 1,000 words, or any where in the novel?

    Thanks, Authoress, for doing this for us.

  12. I agree with Windy, that 5000 words is easier to crit than 10000...reading 10 1000 word subs and giving a serious crit to them is time-consuming but all of us will want to give it our best. Even working from home, I wasn't able to read through as many of the last batch as I'd have liked. I can't imagine how everyone else managed :)

    Love the idea, though, and am looking forward to dutifully getting in line with the rest.

  13. Another vote for only five at a time. The total word length would be comparable to one chapter, so I think that would be more manageable for reviewers.

    Would this replace the once-a-month first chapter crit?

  14. Another thought--should there be something in the rules as to how many crits people should do in exchange for having their excerpts reviewed? Maybe people should review five or ten other openings the month their piece is posted; if they don't comply, then they're unable to submit something else to this crit workshop until they catch up.

  15. Or ten 500 word subs would be fine too. <- First two pages.

    My problem with the 250 words was I kept winding up with 300-400 words instead.

    Not saying 1000 would be too much.

    Either way works. :]

    Looking forward to commenting on this month's SA thingy.

  16. I'd like to see 5 1,000 word entries over 10 500 word ones. Same word count on the critters, but gives the writers more space.

    I also think the authors shouldn't comment until the crit session is over.

    Thanks again Authoress. :)

  17. Your generosity simply floors me. I hope good karma heads your way on a regular basis.

    I love the idea of the 1000 word critiques, and agree with others that 5 at a time may result in a good amount of feedback for people. I hope this doesn't overwhelm you.

    Hope your week starts off well; you've made my morning even brighter and my motivation to continue revisions stronger. Thank you!

  18. I'm for the 10 @ 1,0000 words. 10 crits are easier to do than the 60 during the last SA contest. I think with just 5 entries there might be crit overload - i.e., 100 people critting the five entries. I don't know about anybody else, but, for me at least, I think that might count as 'crit overload' and send a poor writer into hiding . . . or at least to the closes wine store for sustenance!

    At least with 10 entries, the crits should - hopefully - be more manageable for the 'critters' and the 'crittees'. Just my thoughts.


  19. I think you'll be getting a lot of submissions. How can we be sure that we'll ever end up on the blog? If there's too many, for instance, to effectively post on the blog for critique? I'm just a worry-wart, that's all.

    I think these are great ideas, though. That was the only concern I had.

    Can't wait for the SA contest!

  20. The below link has some good advise on giving and taking critiques if anyone is interested.

  21. Great news! These contests and critique sessions are such a great way to get feedback and also learn what works for people and what doesn't.

    Thanks so much for doing these!

  22. Your generosity is amazing, Authoress. Thank you.

    I'm in the 5 1000 word entries camp. We should see more indepth crits that way. But if it ends up being 10, then I will still participate.


  23. I like the 5 submissions, even though it will take longer to get through the que.

  24. I think it depends if as a group, critters are willing to make a point to go and crit the ones that have fewer crits, regardless. With 60 posts, it was hard to scroll down and see which posts had fewer, but with ten, I think it'd be easier.

    Some of the critters during the drop the needle and SA had the same thing to say as previous critters. If you don't have anything new to add just leave a short note and move on.

    I also bet, now that everyone is more aware of the "middle slump", we will all go out of our way to make sure that doesn't happen. I'd try it at 10 first and see what happens. See if we're all up to the challenge.

  25. Thanks again for starting this up Authoress, it's a great idea! I vote for the 1,000 word submission but am torn between 5 at a time or 10 at a time.

    Like Lady Glamis I worry too that there will be so many (hundreds?) of submissions. Maybe just take the first few rounds as experiments, and don't set any hard and fast rules as expectations yet. See what comes in, how people respond, then play around with the format until you find the right one that works best.

  26. I like the 5 or the 10 submissions. I will crit and I will sub too. This is so much fun! Bravo Authoress!

  27. Great Compromise! That seems like a great way to set things up. I pity your poor inbox though!. :D

  28. You have a lot of great suggestions and comments on your new idea. I'm in, regardless of how you decide to do it.

    Speaking from a logistics point, I think either 5 or 10 would be doable. But here's a suggestion that might make it easier for the critters and more evenly distributed for the crittees. Keep in mind, this is your game, and this is just a suggestion (I'm kind of a logistics kinda guy.)

    What if the critters only picked three of the submissions to critique, and suggest that they pick the three with the fewest critique on them? That would solve two problems. (1) It wouldn't overload the critters and (2) It would tend to keep the number of critques evenly distributed and not have a lot of the same suggestions included, as we've noticed when when there are numerous replies on the same submission.

    Just a thought for you to ponder.

    And I'll also express my appreciation for all you've done and all you continue to do to inspire and motivate us.


  29. I'll comment on all subs. That isn't a problem. :]

    I was just thinking that 10 (500) subs might give us more of a diversity of things to comment on - particularly for those people who only comment on one genre or another.

  30. You might be flooded with submissions; yes, but for the person worried that her excerpt would never make it to the light of virtual day, I'd say - hey, let's be grateful for what we get. This is amazingly generous, and I think the crit process is beneficial both for critter and crittee.

    Then again, I'm still new here - what do I know?

  31. If it's the first 1,000 words, does that mean you can't enter the SA contest? Not that it makes a difference to me. I can't enter the contest, and I'm not subbing anything, but I will crit all the YA subs.

  32. I think you're doing a great thing, Authoress, allowing aspiring writers a place to show their stuff...BUT I don't think a queue is the right thing for your blog.

    Here are my reasons:
    1) The queue would inevitably be backed up. Don't underestimate just how many readers/submitters you have here (or will draw here with this queue.)

    2) 5/10 crits a day may seem like an easy task to undertake, but you multiply that times 7 days a week, for however long the queue will be going and it will become exhausting and/or the crits will become less detailed.

    This is just my opinion. But, if you do go ahead with this I wish it lots and lots of success. :)

  33. Wow, all this tremendous feedback -- thank you all so much!

    The Secret Agent question is a good one, and I think I'll spend some time blogging about it tomorrow so we're all on the same page.

    Fairchild -- the queue would be "perpetual," so to speak. In other words, once you submit and are assigned a number, you might not actually see your writing on the blog for 6 months. You will also have the option of updating your submission if you've done substantial revisions and your number hasn't come up yet.

    This is NOT something we're going to do every day for weeks on end! This is intended to be an ongoing project, a pool of 1000-word submissions that I can always draw from when we need something to keep us busy. ;)

  34. I LOVE the idea, but I question ten at a time... is there any way we could do five at a time instead? I think I would read the first half and never make it to the second!

  35. Reviewing five 1000-word submissions at a time seems manageable. Thanks for the good news this rainy (in Albuquerque) Monday. Sherri

  36. I agree with 5 1000words at a time. but Scott does have a valid point. Since this is an experiment, I think you'll figure out pretty soon what works and what doesn't.

    Oh, and on the question on time start for those not in the US, maybe you can host an international contest, that way, they have a better shot, and it will give your US readers an extra month to polish the ol ms or get a WIP ready. Just a thought.

    You are so awesome for doing these things. I know how much work goes into this, and I salute you.


  37. Great idea! I love it!

    I agree that maybe 5 1,000 word excerpts one day and another 5 the next day might help get everyone equal feedback.

    Good luck! I can't wait!!

  38. I vote for 5 1k subs at a time. I simply can't crit 10k at a time any more, even if they are different subs. ;)

    You could start the queue on a trial basis, maybe a few months, and if it ends up being just too much, you could call it off. I think it's a fun idea. Not sure I would submit, but would probably participate now and then.

    (As for SA contests, due to work, I always miss the deadline (or it's filled within an hour of opening ;)) so don't think I will try submitting again in the future. :P Still, it's fun to crit!)

    I admire your masochistic--I mean, motivational tendencies to hold crit sessions on your blog, Authoress. O:)

    Looking forward to seeing how this works out.


  39. I'm on the "10,000 words at once OMG" bandwagon. With working full time, critiquing like mad on CC (and writing about 5,000 words of crit comments a week), plus trying to find time for my own writing, I couldn't possibly commit to another 10,000 words a week.

    With the SA contests, I've noticed the first 20 and last 20 get most of the comments, but the middle ones kinda get forgotten. That might be because people get overwhelmed at the sheer number of words. Or they get brain-fried after so much critting at once.

    What about posting a two 1,000 word excerpt 2-3 times a week? This way, it won't feel too heavy, but you're still getting six people's work up for crit in a week?

    And ditto on all the comments about your generosity of time. I can't express how much I appreciate all your hard work and Xtreme organization skills!

  40. Sounds like a great idea.

    What if you split them up according to genre as well? Perhaps some of the fatigue can come from scrolling through the list and seeing genres you aren't familiar with. Not that you can't critique a genre you don't write, but doing those in genres you feel most comfortable in could feel less stressful and more like a "warm-up."

    Then you can say: "SF/F critique batch," or "YA Fantasy critique batch." Or something like that.

  41. I have to say I don't really crit things that are outside my genre unless they really catch my interest and that doesn't happen often because they're not my normal genre. Vicious cycle :P

    I just find it easier to crit what I'm comfortable with so yes, the 'groups' would be a good idea :)

  42. Sounds like an awesome idea! I'd love to join in! Thanks for thinking up such a good way to help so many of us grow as writers. I can't wait to hear more about this.

  43. This is a great idea, Authoress! I would like to see ten at a time with a rule, such as crit those with the least to date or when they're posted, assign the first half of the alphabet (last name of critter) to five, the other half of the alphabet to the other five. It seems that after about 25 or so, they start to repeat a bit anyway. If critters want to do more than their "assigned" lot, that's fine.

    Also, since the rule is one in the queue at a time, I don't think the backlog will be that large after the initial influx.

    This sounds like it will work really well and be a lot of fun. Looking forward to it. Thanks!

  44. Will there still be the perk of an agent looking at the top 5 or whatever?

  45. I like the idea (were do I sign lol), but I think ten at one time is too many. I'd suggest something like one a day or three, three times a week. Something to break it up. I don't have the time to critique like I used to. As it is I'm getting up and 5 to squeeze two hours of writing out of the day.