Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fricassee

Happy almost-the-last-Friday-of-January!

Not that I hate winter or anything. (Really, I should try to be more transparent.)

So let me ask you something--particularly those of you who have participated in this blog for some time, whether as reader, critter, contest entrant, or a delightful combination of all three: Have you found that your CONFIDENCE has been positively affected by happenings on, or in direct relationship to, this blog?

We've got critiques leading to (hopefully) improved writing. We've got Secret Agents offering generous prizes. We've got TWO CLIENT SIGNINGS through Secret Agent contests.

And something you may not know: We've got agents snooping around the blog. Not only are they snooping, they're finding things they like. And they're emailing me, asking for author contact information.

It's happened a few times already, and I expect it'll happen more often as the blog continues to grow in popularity and QUALITY OF WRITING.

So. All that to say: Has your confidence been boosted? Are you encouraged? Stoked to press on? Feeling the forward motion and determined to experience it in your personal journey?

Because this is exciting stuff. And I'm certain I'm not the only one feeling the love.

Talk to me! I'm glad we're sharing this journey.


  1. That's wonderful news that writers are getting noticed, and even signings as a result of your blog. That must feel great.

    I've had you on my blog roll since sometime in December, and I'm glad I found it. Though I can't offer much feedback at this time, I appreciate the open submission offer that you just posted. Having you on blogroll counts the same as following, right?

  2. I agree with Theresa. This is a great blog and great opportunity for writers to share their experience and expertise with each other.

    In fact, I just started a blog this week and I put a link to yours, along with Query Tracker and Nathan Bransford. You are right up there at the top of the list.

  3. I have been a reader of your blog for the past year. I don't post much, but I have been very encouraged by the willingness of agents who participate here to give genuine feedback and offer a window into the way that professional readers think. It has helped my craft tremendously. Also, your excitment, confidence and exuberence is infectious and your investment in this community has been a gift to me and to, I suspect, others who like me, work primarily in the isolation of their own heads. Keep up the good work.

    Suzanne Nemeroff

  4. I've entered two SA contests. In the first one, the agent said my entry drove her to drink. That wasn't a real confidence boost, but I laughed, because she was right.

    Second contest, I won honorable mention. Very nice for my confidence, even tho I never heard back from the agent (which is fine, I knew it wasn't her thing).

    So, yes, this blog has been an incredible resource for me, and not just because of the SAs. The writing community here provides great feedback. I can't thank you enough for what you do here.

  5. The inspiration, encouragement, opportunity, and camaraderie with other writers that I've well as new knowledge about agents and great feedback, have been incomparable.
    I've also loved hearing about your own journey to create a work worthy of publication! It is so wonderful not to be alone.
    Keep it up!
    I hate winter too =)

  6. I read everything here daily and participated in one secret agent contest. To me it didn't matter that I didn't win. The critiques from readers (not the agent) gave me exactly what I needed to fix my opening. I think the community here is the best even if no agents ever notice us because what we give each other makes us ready for the agents.

  7. I’m still more of a reader than a contributor, but it helps so much to see that there is some hope of contacting an agent other than dropping queries down a well. I’d say my mood is gritty determination, not confidence, but I think it will do for now.

  8. I entered the query contest and had lots of feedback on my letter and first 250 words of my novel. From that input, I was able to improve my letter and send out queries. An agent requested a full manuscript as a result. Anxiously awaiting the agent to call with a contract offer! :-)

    So, thank you Authoress and all the helpful people on the site.

  9. Confident? Heck, yeah. The input from the critters on this blog has really helped me see my writing with new eyes and . . . I didn't burst into flames when someone critted my work! : )

    I haven't had the time lately to crit as much as usual, but that will hopefully change by the next contest. Love. The. Site!!


  10. I'm encouraged by the blogging community of writers and industry professionals as a whole. And I think your blog does a tremendous job in bringing people together. So yes, it's encouraging.

    Now, if I can just find out how to bribe the agents snooping around. :]

  11. Confidence? For sure! Knowing that there are others like me out there, with the same struggles - a life saver! But the most important aspect for me about your blog - knowing that there is hope, that there is someone out there with the ability to help writers - absolutely priceless ;)

  12. This is one of the best online critique-sites I've found. I haven't submitted much since my MS is still very much in progress, but I'm looking forward to doing so.

    What I love is how polite, honest, and professional everyone is. I've been worried about finding a crit group once I finish editing my MS, and realized that I already had one right here.

    Yeah, the idea of submitting is nerve-racking, but I'm also excited about it. I can't wait to get feedback from people I trust to be honest.

  13. My first thought was NO: my confidence was destroyed after getting my work critiqued here. It was painful! But! I really needed unbiased, honest opinions. It took some time to digest, but it has really helped me become a better writer.

    So YES, my confidence has been positively affected from this blog. I think learning to give critiques as well is just as essential to the development of a writer. I love that this blog gives us a glimpse of what an agent's in-box looks like. It really makes me aware of how high the stakes are and how outstanding my work must be before submitting.

    Thanks for building this awesome little community. We should name a town after you...if only we knew your name! :)

  14. I haven't been participating much lately, but I've been around for awhile. This is a great and very helpful site! The SA contests are great as are all the other wonderful things like the drop the needle. I've received wonderful feedback from those.

    Seeing all the great insights from the Secret Agents encouraged me (lit a fire under my behind) to get my novel done, polished and ready to go so I can finally particpate!

  15. Your blog has been a confidence booster and how!It amazes me how the online community gets together.
    Keep up the AWESOME work and don't let anyone get to you!!!

  16. Your blog keeps me motivated, reaching for better writing within myself. I read your posts and the comments of others and realize that I am not insane for trying this (or if I am, I'm in good company).

    Please keep up the good work, and maybe one of these days I'll be ready to actually submit something instead of cowering in the corner, eyes swirling in opposite directions.

  17. Yes my confidence has gotten a boost. But the real learning experience is seeing the feedback from your readers on all the entries. Talk about a great read and critique!

    Thanks for supporting so many writers!

  18. I guess my confidence has been boosted, but mostly I've learned a tremendous amount from the contests, posts, and all around good times on this blog.

  19. The quality of the crits here is amazing. I've been in 2 SA and 2 Drop the Needle and I have no doubt my novel has benefited both times. So, yea, that gives me confidence. That's why I'm here- to get better.

  20. I’ve learned so much from this blog. I’ve entered your Drop the Needle and Secret Agents contests. I even won an honourable mention and have now sent my first three chapters to Ammi-Joan Paquette. What a thrill that is.

    I’ve always had such wonderful and helpful feedback from the secret agents and other writers whenever I’ve posted on here. It’s helped with my writing and confidence. I also checked out all the great links you have on the side bar.

    I have a link to your blog on my blog so I can easily see your updates. I wouldn’t even have a blog if it wasn’t for joining yours over a year ago. I’ve met so many other wonderful writers here.

    Thanks, Authoress. You came up with a great idea for a blog.

  21. I've been lurking around your blog for a while...I'm not sure if I've ever commented. I enjoy reading your posts and the comments. I posted, on my blog, yesterday that you should be careful about what you say on-line, because you never know who's listening/reading.

    It's very cool that you've had this kind of interest in your blog and it's readers.

  22. I'm not sure about the confidence part, but I have learned a lot through participating in the crits and reading all the comments on everyone's entries.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  23. I'm fairly new in these parts, but I love how your blog is set up and the contests that you run. I think you're doing an awesome job of building community, helping writers to grow and making professional contacts happen.

    Thanks for putting in the work to help others. I hope this also helps you as much if not more.

  24. This blog has been an inspiration to me both in terms of the feedback I've received and being able to read and submit comments on other writer's work. I feel as if I've learned so much about the whole process, both from Authoress's book and from the posts so it's been such a great experience. I do feel better about my writing and hope I keep moving forward, improving my writing and my marketing skills.

    Thanks Authoress, Secret Agents and everyone who participates!

  25. I LOVE being able to give and receive feedback here. And connecting with other writers is a definite plus, too.

    And I can see the quality of writing increasing, too. That last Secret Agent contest was GREAT. So many good entries.

  26. I enjoy your blog. I like your confidence which is mixed with a kind of vulnerability and sensibility which, as writers, we must have in order to hop inside the heads of our characters and to motivate them into a journey others will want to follow with us. That is what writing is about.

    Yes we are sharing the greatest journeys of our lives and we need to have access to those of us sharing the exsquisite pain of the impulse to spin a yarn. It's nice to know that on Monday I can get up and read my manuscript and say to me:

    "Wow! You wrote that!" ...

    ...and yet by Tuesday I can get out of bed and look at the same paragraphs with distain and say:

    "Oh you poor deluded fool - go find a worm and have breakfast because you might be a better worm cooker than a writer!" ...

    ... but come Wednesday, I'm back by some irresistible pull to gloat over my failures only to find ...

    I'm Hans Christian Anderson and bring you a tale so rare ...

    Pennyoz (who is sitting inside today during a heat blitz.)

  27. I belong to several crit groups so criticism isn't new to me. My experience here was very negative because there is no comment moderation. People handed underhanded digs left and right. When someone complains you make it very public. (I didn't complain, I just despise this blog. And you can bet if I ever get that book published-I'm not stupid enough to think this is a given- I'm going to hold it against this blog publicly.) Following the nastiness, one of the readers harassed me via my personal email address.

    I didn't contact you because at the time you had several complaints, and like I said, you do a very public job of things. The resulting message was, being nasty is okay. Authors just need to grow a thick skin.Apparently if you can't take nastiness now, you can't become a published author. That's just BS.

    Recently someone crossed the line in one of my crit groups. It wasn't the only one with underhanded comments, but it was so bad it made me think of this blog. Anyway, I sent a polite email to the moderator, asking them to take a look. They did, agreed it crossed a line and said they'd speak to the person. End of story. No public announcement. Hell I don't even know if that person was spoken to or not, but I have confidence in the site,. Public announcements are a lazy way of dealing with problems. They send a message. "I don't think I should have to deal with this so I'm going to make you regret making me do so."

    This site needs etiquette. People who come here to be mean should be banned. That simple. As much as I like "anon" its not that hard to create a fictitious account and if I abused the privileg you'd ban me. That simple. Ugliness happens a lot here so I can see why you don't want to deal with it. But if you hadn't taken the lazy way to begin with, the problem wouldn't be what it is now.

    Obviously several people are going to say "grow a thick skin." Like I said, that's just BS. I believe the people who hide behind it are the ones dishing out the crap. There's a big difference between struggling writers and published authors. Know what it is? Okay, I'll tell you. Published authors have an agent, and an editor, and a publishing house, and readers who back their book(s). We, if we're lucky, have our family and friends. (And some of us aren't so lucky to even have that-My family is dead and I don't burden my friends with my noble, but sad writing attempts stories.)

    Criticism can be constructive without being mean. And just because people want to dish it out, doesn't mean anyone has to take it. There are lots of places whose authors get published all the time- critters for example- where writers don't have to put up with the crap (I include the fawning over Authoress and her desperate need for affirmation** in that term) that goes on here. Is it not glaringly obvious yet why "grow a thicker skin" is BS.

    ** Every post un-related to this contest, even this one is a request for affirmation. The resulting emotional eruptions when she finds out someone doesn't "love" her, and the calloused way she allows submitters to be treated... I just can't wait for the day she gets treated the way some writers have been treated here.

    Of course, if she follows her own advice, she'll grow a thick skin and take what I've said as constructive criticism, saying only "thank you."

    You're welcome

  28. I've found the crits posted here very valuable. Not just in terms of providing feedback but also in terms of helping me grow as a writer. When you have as many people critiquing your work as you do in SA contests, all making valid points (though sometimes contradictory), you really have to trust your gut in order to decide what feedback to go with and what to disregard. And it's hard, but ultimately it makes me look at my work with more critical eyes than before. So yes, the blog has helped me as a writer and my confidence has definitely grown as a result.

    Also, I'm feeling the spirit right now. That is some exciting stuff that's going on :D

  29. Overall, I've had a really good experience with this blog. As a result of the last SA contest, I got what was the most encouraged, just plain awesome, rejection I've ever had.

    Mad props, Authoress, for giving writers a forum to get noticed and learn a thing or twelve.

  30. First mistake is this isn't a contest. We are not competing. So get that out of your head to anon who is saying the blog isn't liked.

    Poor you. Your negative attitude will probably reflect in queries and other projects you undertake.

    There's a key on your keyboard. It's called delete. Use liberally on your own behalf to delete yourself from this site. There is also an "unsubscribe".

    If you don't like this blog why the hell are you here?

    I leave the question in the air. It needs no more to be said.

    Pennyoz (scratching her head and wondering ... ???)

  31. I enjoy this blog immensely.
    I came second in the first SA contest I entered and although nothing came of the subsequent submission, it gave my confidence a tremendous boost.
    The SA contests are an education. It's fun to see what people are writing; I enjoy honing my critiquing skills; and I'm blown away by the generosity of the agents who take part.
    I can't even begin to imagine the work that goes in setting one of those contests up.
    As for Anon 3.44am - um, are you reading the same blog that I am? I think not. I can't say I've ever seen a mean-spirited critique. *shrugs*

  32. Anon 3:44

    You commented anonymously because you're afraid of outing yourself. That's understandable. You said some things you wouldn't say to anyone's face. Remember what you just said about dealing with things publicly? I know Authoress pretty well by now; if you had a problem, you should have emailed her and she would have taken care of it. She's said before she can't read every comment on the threads -- she does have a life outside this blog -- so she relies on her readers to a) moderate themselves, and b) report problems. If you didn't report a problem, she can't help you.

    While writers often do need thick skins to survive in the writing world -- agents and editors will not stroke egos (ask me how I know!) -- I don't think that's what's called for in this situation. Don't worry about growing a thicker skin just yet. For now, worry about growing up.

    Jodi (ex-agent assistant) Meadows

    PS. PennyOz, While I see you're trying to stand up for Authoress and this blog, I'm afraid your comment did not reflect the behavior she'd have liked for people to respond with. (That, and yelling at trolls never works.)

  33. I'm fairly new to this blog and entered this SA contest. My beginning is very polarizing and people tend to love it or hate it. A lot of the critters hated it, but not a single one of them was mean about it. And one who loved it took extra measures to assure me it was good.

    I did say Thank You after the contest was over, but let me say it again. Thank You to those who read this blog and participate in the critiques. You're doing an awesome job.

  34. Any feedback is useful feedback and you have provided an amazingly useful venue for aspiring writers to get both peer and professional feedback. I'm not a huge commenter, but I am a huge reader (and a huge fan) and the one SA contest I entered was a fascinating and nail-biting experience (which is good practice for being a writer on submission).

    I am grateful for this blog and for all the effort you put into it.

  35. Until recently, I had been an off and on type of visitor to the blog. As a grad of Miss Snark's school of thick skin (3X), I think this blog is awesome. You provide an opportunity for connection and feedback that you never get in the real world. Trust me, as she who has over 600 rejections on five stories, I know there is no feedback from industry professionals. They don't have the time, energy, or willpower.

    I entered the last SA contest and was pleasantly surprised with my feedback. The main comment was too much repetition and needs tightening. The good stuff: stong voice, witty and funny character. Extra perk: I got a Notable Mention.

    And you can bet your sweet patooties I took the crit comments to heart. I cut over 3000 words of the partial--yes, gang, that was ALL of chapter two and three and completely rewrote the first three chapters.

    Authoress provides a wonderful service here by allowing writers the exposure that is virtually impossible to get. And the extra perk: agents are looking and interested.

    Who knows? You might not garner the attention of the current Secret Agent, BUT your story might be just what a snooping agent wants.

  36. Yes! A most resounding yes!! This blog is awesome. Even though I've only entered one of the contests, I've learned a TON from commenting, reading the work of others and the input from the readers and secret agents :)

  37. This blog has helped me a lot. When I entered a SA contest, I got very polarising comments, a partial request (which was ultimately rejected). It was then I realised that the first page that I had (after changing it umpteenth times) was still not right. Since then, I've revised it and it has become a much stronger book. I think my current first page is The One :p

    The other writers who have submitted their work here are so inspiring!

    Thank you so much for providing this facility, Authoress!

  38. Encouraged? More confident? You betcha, baby.

    Receiving crits, reading crits of others' work, and learning how to give (hopefully helpful) ones has been a great learning tool for me.

    It's also invigorating sharing the road with such good company. Even when I may not comment, I still read the blog post and everyone's responses and learn, learn, learn.

    Thanks, y'all. Chocolate for everyone!

  39. BTW, I've been hanging around here for about a year.

  40. Authoress, I've found this blog immensely helpful. I won a SA contest way back with an older MS of mine, and got a great critique in return, one I would have followed up upon if I hadn't signed with someone else in the meantime.

    Some of the feedback from readers (or agents) can be harsh. Sometimes it's off-base. It's up to the writer to have the self-confidence and judgment to know what advice to follow and what advice to disregard.

    I know with my most recent MS, I was really struggling with the beginning. The rest of the story was as airtight as I could make it (with my current writing capabilities), but the first ten pages killed me. I fixed the first page as well as I could, but still received harsh critiques here both from the agent and the readers. This motivated me to start from scratch, fix it up, and now I've signed with an agent for that MS.

    If it sells, I'll really have this blog to thank for finally making me fix that pesky problem with my beginning. :-)

  41. I enjoy this blog and community. I've entered three SA contest and all of them have been helpful, though I haven't won anything. The critiques I've gotten for the most part have been good. Mostly I enjoy the community of writers. Thanks so much for this most recent opportunity.

  42. This blog is one of my favorite things on the internet. Please keep it coming! And thanks fo all of your work!

  43. Even though I haven't commented for awhile, I do check in because of how much I've learned. (I know, spank me for not participating more!) I really owe you and this site quite a lot and I do suggest you to others. ;D

  44. Like Victoria, I don't comment as much as I should be I do read your blog all the time. I've participated in a couple of events. (last 250 words of a chapter and a secret agent content) and I learned a lot.