Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Your Birthday Gift to Me

Yes, it's the Big Day (not so "big", really), so I'm treating myself by not hanging around here much.

(Don't take that wrong. You know I love you.)

So while I'm busy eating cupcakes and pondering the direction of my life and all that, I have a small request.  Will you share ONE THING you've received from this blog community?

It can be something big, like an agent or a book deal.  It can be something that SEEMS smaller than that (like the courage to do a revision or a renewed faith in what you're doing), but that will potentially have a huge effect down the road.

Maybe you found your crit partner here.

Maybe you learned how to critique.

Maybe you grew the first layer of your Thick Skin here.

Maybe it occurred to you, after two years here, that you actually want to be a taxidermist instead of a writer.

Whatever your story--whatever way you've been touched--please share!  Even if you've already shared it (or even if I've already showcased you as a success story).  It will be the best present ever.


  1. Miss A,

    Your success in finding an agent inspired me to get up and keep going when things were looking down. I don't follow a whole lot of blogs--busy as my life is--but I follow this one. Thank you for being there and being awesome.

  2. Happy Birthday! I've only been here for a few months, but I've learned that despite having to grow a thick author skin, there's a ton and a half of support from other writers out there. Your readers are kind, insightful, and understanding, and even though I haven't had any entries in your contests (yet! I will someday conquer the automatic entry selector widget!), reading other entries here has helped make my query stronger, made me brave enough to actually enter a contest online, and given me a lot of insight into writing and publishing in general. Thank you so much! Enjoy your cupcakes! :)

  3. I only started really reading this blog after Christmas 2011, and only stopped lurking earlier this month.

    For me, writing was a lonely experience interspersed with getting aggressive crit and advice online. And do you know, that helped me grow the Thick Skin so deserving of capital letters.

    But what made me stop lurking here and really start paying attention was the encouragement here, even when the news delivered was harsh. That rather than spending time tearing down books and other writers and ideas, you and readers celebrated successes when they came.

    This sense that writing doesn't always HAVE to be lonely has made it the most awesome part of my life, rather than a guilty secret.

    So Happy Birthday, Authoress, and cheers for creating this awesome writing community.

  4. Happy birthday! I hope the cupcakes are amazing :D

    Last year, I participated in a Secret Agent critique, and the agents as well as the community brought up points I hadn't even thought of, both encouraging and critiquing. That really helped me jumpstart my editing process- so I'd just like to thank you for offering these opportunities!


  5. Eeeee! Happy birthday!

    I found one of my nearest and dearest CPs here, during Baker's Dozen 2011. And by "found," I mean, "stalked mercilessly until she finally sent me her MS for my reading pleasure."

    I got two full requests out of Baker's Dozen, but finding Jamie was worth ten times both of them.

    Thank you SO MUCH and HAPPY BIRTHDAY LADY! Enjoy it. <3

  6. Happy birthday!

    Well, as I found my agent who sold my book through your website I would have to say THAT! :)

    I owe you some SERIOUS chocolate!!

  7. I have received encouragement,hope,and strength for the journey. (And several full requests from the Baker's Dozen auction. :))
    THANK YOU and Happy Birthday!

  8. Authoress, happy birthday. From your website I have found something pretty invaluable-- procedure. I felt really sort of willy-nilly before my first Secret Agent contest, but I feel like all the advice I get from here has really made me more professional, from query to actual text. You've helped me grow in so many ways, so thank you.

  9. HAPPY, HAPPY! Oh goody, I get to tell my appreciation properly!

    DEFINITELY a thicker skin posting your own work here! But this time last year, I won a SA contest, got great feedback from that agent and it helped me revise my manuscript. Then I went on to query some more and found my agent as a result. So all of that feedback HELPED! xoxo

  10. I've had the privilege of participating in both Baker's Dozen contests, two SA contests and just recently the Mysteries for Danielle Svetcov. The sense of community among writers at your site is priceless. I've never felt so supported. The comments from other writers have been more important than the requests for partials. I've improved my craft because of this site -- but most importantly, I have an appreciation for the hundreds (thousands) of writers out there who are committed to a life of writing. Go YOU and go WRITERS!

  11. I've been following this fantastic blog for two years now. I mostly lurk, but I have participated in one SA contest, a few in-house crits and I was lucky enough to make it into the Baker's Dozen 2011.
    But, even as a lurker, I've learned so much here I can't begin to describe it. I know my writing has vastly improved from the critiques I've received and given.
    Thank you for providing this space for such an awesome community to gather. Thank you for graciously giving so much of yourself. Thank you for being you!
    Happy Birthday, Authoress! I hope your day is packed with love and fun!

  12. Happy Birthday Dear Authoress,

    Your blog has been an inspiration to me over the years. I have seen through your blog how perseverance pays off and I have been encouraged to write through some very dark hours. Thank you for your constant effort to succeed on the behalf of the whole writing community.

    Sincerely yours, Marty

  13. Happy Birthday Authoress! I hope the gorgeous Mr A is spoiling you rotten.

    I discovered your blog early last year and entered a SA contest. I did not win, but the comments I received made me realize my writing wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was. I spent last year editing and rewriting and am now in the midst of negotiations with my dream agent and a publisher. So you could say my own inciting incident was the SA I entered on your wonderful blog :-)

  14. Happy Birthday!

    The one thing that I am most thankful for from the community you have built is perspective. It's hard to evaluate our own work, and we always--always!--miss our own flaws. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  15. Happy Birthday and many glorious capcakes to you, Authoress.

    Your gift to me: accepting Shakespeare on the Lam for the 2011 Bakers' Dozen. From which I gained 1) fabulous critiques; 2) Special blog friends (Hi Tara Dairman!) 3) Confidence to keep querying 4)Which in turn led me to my wonderful agent.


  16. Happy Birthday!

    I'm still new to your blog, but I've gained really valuable critiques. I'm going to rework my first chapter based on them, so that's huge. That's the face agents and readers will see when I pitch to them.

    Thank you! Have a wonderful day!

  17. Happy Birthday! Less than a year ago I participated in the MG Are You Hooked? open critique, and somehow gained the interest of Miss Ammi Joan Paquette. Although I didn't end up signing with her, the motivation to finish my book so I could send it to her, plus the wonderful critiques I got, paid off when I signed with Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. Thanks, Authoress, for all you do for this community!

  18. Happy Birthday!!! I love this blogging community, and I think I've learned the most from the contests people provide, including your Baker's Dozen last year. I learned so much that helped a ton with my opening chapter and consequently my whole ms. Thanks, Authoress, and I hope you enjoy your day!! :D

  19. Happy Happy Birthday, Authoress!

    I can't even tell you all of the things I've gained by being part of this community, and I have no idea how to thank you for all of it!I've found the best CPs ever, who have gone on to become my dearest friends, I've read snippets of books that I can't wait to read when they're published. I've met the classiest agents ever, and I've gained such inspiration from your own journey.

    Not to mention all the valuable feedback on my own work. There is such an amazing community here - and it's all because of you!

  20. Happy Birthday!!!!!

    I got my first taste of industry interest in my writing here. It didn't land me an agent or anything "big", but it was what I needed at the time: fuel for my motivation to continue pursuing what I'm passionate about. And that's worth more than I can imagine.

    Hope you have a fantastic day!!!

  21. I got a ride home one time.... Some guy stopped and recognized me from my blog while I was walking home from work (true story) And guess what he didnt even kill me!!! He just offered me a ride home!!!

  22. In addition to the priceless practical knowledge gained through viewing contests and participating in critiques, the most significant thing I've gotten out of this blog is the feeling of not being in it alone. It's very encouraging to see other people standing where you want to be--they've paved the way, and they've proved it's not impossible to get there.

    Thanks so much for running the blog and Happy Birthday.

  23. Hehehehe you know what I found :) I will text you less cryptically at some point today :)

  24. I'm a lurker, but thought I'd say something today. ;) I love reading all of the success stories on here. You do such amazing things for so many writers. I'm in awe of how you do so much.
    I parted ways with my agent earlier this year, and after reading this blog, I'm hoping to have something ready to submit to your fun agent contests soon. Keep up the good work and Happy Birthday!! :) Thanks for all you do!

  25. First-Happy Birthday!!
    As for your present-
    I've been following your blog for at least 2 years or more, I've kinda lost count. I'm just now starting on rewriting my novel I was writing when I entered this writing world. The gift I felt I have received myself is thick skin. After rereading my novel I wrote 3 years ago I can tell how far I've come. Seeing yourself grow as a writer is an awesome experience.

    Your blog is AWESOME you gave me soooo many things and you KNOW that and you're just AMAZING and I LOVE YOU and MSFV!! <333

  27. Happy birthday, and enjoy those pineapple cupcakes!

    My sincere thanks to you for hosting such a wonderful blog. I discovered it last December, and it really changed the way I approached my first chapter. I feel so inspired by this amazing, supportive writing community and have learned a ton about making those first 250 words count!

    Thank you, thank you!

  28. I came to your column by way of a friend who is a fervent fan and I quickly understood why. I want to thank you for providing a safe harbor for those of us who struggle to learn the intricacies of an industry that at times appears ruthless.

    I had the good fortune of participating in the 2011 Bakers Dozen contest where I received great feedback and an auction bid. This validation was beyond worth.

    So I wish you Happy Birthday, but please realize it is you giving the gift.

  29. Happy Birthday! The biggest thing that I walk away with is the "hook". You asked for our first lines once & I suddenly "got it", by way of reading others work and the loving criticism I received. I use that piece of info often.

  30. Happy Birthday! Oh my. I've learned plenty here: The thick skin I'm fertilizing. The connection to other fantastic people and ideas, the Query contest--with a real agent--got the best critique, which helped me along.
    This is my go to Blog for all writerly info, connections and contests. I'll be in one of those contest coming around again.
    You know you don't gain any calories from birthday cake, btw.

  31. Happy birthday, Authoress! Thanks to this blog, I learned what makes a killer first page, caught the attention of a lurking agent in an SA contest, signed with that agent, and sold my book.

    Hm--writing that out suddenly makes it feel like it's my birthday. =)

    Hope you have a beautiful, hug-filled, chocolate-rich day!

  32. Happy birthday!

    I think the best thing I've found here is "guts." The ability to share something with an open and honest forum, and not only within my relatively safe crit group. (Relatively safe meaning that I know what to expect, not safe as in their crits. I love my crit group, especially when they bite!) But it's different when you step out into the unknown. I've survived two secret agents and have come away with invaluable information. And thank you for that.

  33. First off, Happy Birthday!! Enjoy the cupcakes!!
    I'm an admitted lurker, but I have to say that reading all of the entries here for the various auctions and secret agent contests helped me learn a lot about craft...which I believe helped me get to where I am now which is agented and soon to be published with Random House next year, yay! Thanks for running such an invaluable site and helping so many fledgling writers--like me:-)

  34. Having a community of writers all with the same goal to get an agent when I first started looking for one was so valuable. I knew I wasn't alone in getting rejections and needing to improve my work.
    When I won a secret agent contest a few years back, it meant so much to me even if it didn't get me an agent right away. It gave me the courage I needed to keep going and eventually land my agent. And even though my goals have shifted from finding an agent to finding a publisher, I still learn something every time I come back here!
    Happy Birthday!

  35. Happy Birthday! I hope you're having the greatest day EVER!

    I'm a lurker who has only been here a few months but I have learned so much about the "hook", starting your story in the right place and the benefits of getting and GIVING constructive criticism/feedback. Thanks so much for the blog!

  36. I've been in "ever-hopeful" mode here on your wonderful blog for the past oh, two plus years. Two things I can share: 1) Publishing, especially children's literature, is one mysterious, confusing, that-which-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger, world and 2) the emotions, ups (whether a request for a full or are waiting for that reply, and the downs (when you finally get that rejection) are felt and shared by everyone here, making the burden a little easier to bear. Bless you all!

  37. You have given me truth with love, a lesson in perseverence, and a sense of community and hope. May your generosity be returned to you tenfold.

    Here's what I wish for you: the love of family and friends, chocolate cake, fine wine, great reviews, a lively muse, and blessings the whole year through!

    Happy birthday! :) :)

  38. Happy Birthday! You write one of my favorites blogs, and I'm grateful for the encouragement and the sense of community that this arena provides everyday.

  39. Happy Birthday Authoress! I do learn a lot from this community. I've only found it about six months ago but I've already improved my logline and query because of it. But I think the best thing I found here was a reference to the Save The Cat books, which I now own and which are amazingly helpful. So...always learning. And which cupcake flavor did you end up choosing?

  40. Happy Birthday, Authoress! Every blog post you write is my favorite one. :)You seem to touch on a point that is relevent every time! I have learned the importance of a great opening, thoughtful critiques and immersing yourself in the writing community as a whole, because we all seem to inspire each other! Cheers to you on your big day!

  41. Happy Birthday, Authoress! Every blog post you write is my favorite one. :)You seem to touch on a point that is relevent every time! I have learned the importance of a great opening, thoughtful critiques and immersing yourself in the writing community as a whole, because we all seem to inspire each other! Cheers to you on your big day!

  42. Dear Authoress,

    I guess you could call me a mostly silent lurker. I only submitted (and was chosen)for a critique once, quite a while ago. I have had many discouraging times(as we all have)on the way to publication. Your funny, insightful remarks have often been a bright spot. Your "keep the faith" attitude is very appreciated. Many, Many Thank- yous. Have a wonderful Birthday! Celebrate!

  43. Happy Birthday!

    I've gained a lot from this community, even though I don't comment that often. I've learned to write a logline. I get a glimpse into other people's worlds. I get to see what works and what doesn't. I've learned to keep following my dream no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.

    So, thank you.

  44. Happy Birthday! This blog has been a continued source of inspiration for me. I've learned a lot about the world of publishing and subjectivity in the business. Thank you for all that you do!

  45. Happy Birthday! Because of this blog, I've learned a great deal about making every word count. Thanks!

  46. I am new to this site (as well as to writing). This site keeps me motivated and energized about writing. I can't imagine how much harder it was back in the days before internet. Now we can connect with writers across the country and the world.

  47. Happy Birthday, Authoress!

    I can't name one thing because there've been too many. I've learned lots from crits of my own writing, of others, and especially from the comments of the agents.

    I hope you spend a lovely day and that the number of comments lets you know how much we value all you do. <3

  48. Happy Birthday to YOU!!

    I have gotten very helpful critiques and improved my own critiquing skills from hanging out in your neighborhood.

    Oh, and lots of education from reading other crits, especially from the agents. (When I'm too swamped at work to spend time here, I'll go back, sometimes months later, and read the Secret Agent entries and crits).

    Aaannnd (the list just keeps growing), a great sense of community that's facilitated by the things you share in your posts.

    THANKS!!! May good chocoalte, loads of cashews and delicious cupcakes ever be yours.

  49. This blog has inspired me to EDIT EDIT EDIT so I won't be totally embarrassed if one of my contest submissions gets chosen!

    Happy Birthday!

  50. Happy Birthday!!!!! Enjoy your well deserved day off. As you know, I indirectly found my agent thanks to your Secret Agent Contest and getting an offer from that agent and my agent. You rock!

  51. I haven't submitted anything for critique (yet) but just reading through the critiques of others is so helpful. Both to see what kinds of things are universal, and what kinds of things are really subjective. Thanks for everything and Happy Birthday!!

  52. Confidence to accept criticism, rejection, and mostly confidence to dream of the life I want...thank you Authoress!

  53. I've found the critiques and encouragement to be incredibly helpful. On the whole I think writers are amazing folks but I have noticed on some other blogs and forums that people can be particularly harsh while not being incredibly helpful in their comments when they know agents are lurking (as if we're all in competition against one another). I haven't found that here. Everyone seems honest and to recognize the main purpose of critiques are to make us all better writers and our manuscripts better pieces not to tear us and our WIPs down. (There's enough success for everyone!) Because of that, I've felt much more connected to this blog and it truly seems like a writing "community" rather than a place that happens to attract writers. Community = cares.

  54. Ah, huge guilt trip for forgetting your special day.

    Your blog has been a source of so many things to me. A chance to meet new people. An opportunity to receive helpful feedback. A phone call from an agent who eventually passed, but, hey, that doesn't happen every day. A safe place to grow in my skills as a writer. A place to learn the ins and outs of helpful crits. And the opportunity to get to 'know' someone I would be proud to call a friend and mentor.

  55. Well, I've learned to go last on questions like this so I can say "All of the above"!

    Well, almost all, as I don't have an agent yet (*yet* being the key word here), but the help and tools you have given us on MSFV have been invaluable. I put my writing on hold for a while to deal with some family issues, but when your mystery contest came up, I felt it was a sign for me to get back into the game! Thanks to some wonderful critiques and some much-needed positive feedback (yes, a balance of both is necessary), I have a renewed spirit and a clear plan for revisions. I also have faith that if I keep at it, I will soon become another one of your success stories, something I wish for all the writers on here!

    So HAPPY BIRTHDAY and THANK YOU for all the gifts you have given us! And thanks also go to Mr. A, who must think at times that there are hundreds of crazy writers living in his house.:)

  56. I found the courage to share my work. The importance of that cannot be understated. You do us all such a great service here, and that's why I continue to follow the MSFV blog. Hope you have a very, very Happy Birthday!!!
    Ninja Girl

  57. I've gained a lot from this community. Insights into my writing, lessons in how to critique gently yet honestly, insights into what agents see...

    HOpe you have a marvelous birthday! :)

  58. Authoress, from your site, I found out the importance difference between hoping an agent likes my work and hoping this agent is the right fit with my writing.

    I think that's the most important thing I've learned.

    Many thanks for the site, and happiest of birthdays!


    (I'm posting this again as the first one seems to have floated out into the ether)

  59. Happy Birthday! Three Cheers and enjoy your favorite drink of whatever :-)

    As for this site, Authoress, I've been quite the shy thing, though I'm not sure why. But coming by here, seeing those who have the courage to put themselves out there, there's something very encouraging and inspiring about that. So although I don't do much - yet - I've received a great deal of encouragement.

    For the writing communiity as a whole, the support is beyond words.

    I'm not alone. I'm not the only one afraid. I'm not the only one unsure. Having a community of others who think differently, have their own unique viewpoints, quirks and whatnot, but still share the writing in likeness, that is extremely supportive.

  60. Where do I start?

    I learned how to critique, how to query, how to get an agent.

    I met a wonderful friend and crit partner (smooshes!) and continue to meet more wonderful writers every day.

    This blog has changed my life and one day, it will get its own "section" on my Acknowledgements page!

  61. Happy Birthday! Your blog has taught me how to critique better. Practice, practice, practice! :)

  62. Have a most auspicious day, Miss A.

    I was a runner up on a contest here the same weekend I won a contest at another blog...both gave me the courage to start querying that MS. Landed an agent 2mos. later.
    And I LOVE swooping in and out for critiques when you're running them. They helped me so much and I know others are learning just like I did.

  63. Happy birthday!!! Your blog's given me the opportunity to get critique from literary agents, which is invaluable. :)

  64. I was fortunate enough to be part of one of your Secret Agent contests, and the agent offered a bit of invaluable advice -- I had a fantasy novel with a title that didn't match the genre. So true! That pushed me to think of something better.

    I always look forward to your posts, your enthusiasm, your supportiveness. I can't wait until I can buy your books.

  65. Happy birthday!

    I've learned so much from the critiques other writers have received, but most of all I've learned how to give a critique that will be well received and in that way I've learned to help my fellow writers. That is a gift that I am truly grateful for.


    I want to thank you for all you do here. I haven't been able to fully participate in the awesome secret agent contests, and was luckily not picked in the Baker's Dozen (when I got honest with myself, I knew my MS was so not ready), but I have seen what hard work I need to do. You and this whole Snarky posse have really helped bolster me into knowing I can do it. Does that make any sense? I might need an editor. ;)

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. Thank you for giving me courage.

    You provide this supportive community that allows newbie writers and writer wannabes to take risks.

    True encouragement means we no longer fear failure. We may still experience it, but we don't fear it. That is a true gift!

    Happy birthday!

  69. I've learned how online critique differs from in-person critique, but both formats are useful.

    I've found a few new blogs to follow based on concise and helpful feedback provided by commenters.

    The agents feedback is invaluable. And lastly I've learned I have no business even reading the submission guidelines until I have a completed polished work. :) :)

  70. I learned that my work can be shown on the interwebs and I don't have to fear that my glorious idea or scene will be stolen. Once I got past that hurdle, I learned that there is an entire community of people struggling with a family and full time job, and dreams of being a writer -just like me.

    I found that getting feedback from an agent is much more likely when participating in that community through blogs like yours.

    I learned how to look at my first sentence and my first page like it was the only chance I got to make an impression. Entering your Drop The Needle contests helped me understand how to pull myself out of knowing everything as the author, to examining a page or scenes critically as if it wasn't part of what came before and must stand on it's own. This makes for much stronger writing.

  71. I've learned from you and blog:

    Faith in the little things. There's an inherit kindness in most people including you Authoress. There's plenty of room under the spotlight but it doesn't come easily. You have to have a thick skin and the strength in you head, hands and heart to grab a quill and create something meaningful to yourself and then...GASP...share it with others. Not as easy at it sounds but man the inspiration you pump into this bard's vein is nothing short of a miracle.

    Have a blessed birthday, enjoy every thigh-widening, scrumptious bite of those cupcakes without an ounce of guilt and know you have made a difference in this world.

    Now how cool is that?

    From the bottom of my heart - thank you :)!

  72. Happy Birthday!

    I love your blog, I've learnt so many things here and made friends and as a result my writing is stronger, but the biggest thing this blog has given me is confidence - so thank you for that.

  73. Happy birthday!

    The in-house crits on MSFV (and WO! Teens) really helped me to understand that a bad critique wasn't an attack on me. I guess you could say I developed thick skin through the blog.

    The in-house critiques were also the place where I stopped getting lots of bad critiques and started getting lots of good critiques!

  74. I learned that there's always hope.

  75. Happy belated birthday! I hope it was an awesome one. I just want to chime in with the others--the online critiques are so useful, not only for my own writing, but for getting a sense of what works an what doesn't. Also, I was lucky enough to win a SA contest a few months back, and while nothing came of that, it did give me more confidence in my writing.

  76. I learned I'm not alone in this journey.

  77. I rarely comment and only participated in one first line contest many many moons ago, but I get the posts to my e-mails and read them regularly and it just reminds me that when I am ready to jump into this world with more commitment than I can do right now, that there are people and communities waiting and happy to encourage me.

  78. Happy birthday!

    I'm a sometimes-participant, often-lurker in the discussions here, and the thing I'm most grateful for is the wonderful community you've built. As a writer, I often get trapped in my own head, and finding a supportive community of other writers is a rare and precious gift. It's also rare to find an oasis on the internet where trolls and infighting are rare or nonexistent, so that makes this community doubly special to me. So, thanks!

  79. Happy birthday! And thanks for all you've given us!

    I've found the courage to share my work here. The careful, helpful critiques led me to reach out and find a crit partner. Also a lurking agent wanted to read more, so here's me crossing my fingers :)

    This site is amazing and I share it with everyone who aspires to become a writer. Thank you for all you do. Hope your birthday is as wonderful as you.

  80. I'm relatively new to your blog. I've only tried entering one contest. Naturally, I was one of "those" contestants. I botched the format and was unable to enter. Better luck next time. However, I still take quite a bit away from reading others' critiques. I've returned to my first line and my first 250 after reading critiques here.

    To date, my favorite post, however was "On Reaching the End." That's one I keep going back to. ;)

    Happy Birthday Miss Snark. Enjoy the much deserved time off. ;)

  81. I've learned from the blog that the whole "just because we don't like it doesn't mean someone else won't" trope is true. I received a fairly broad range of criticism on my Secret Agent entry, and while the Secret Agent in question did not like my work, I received a query request from another lurking agent! This was hugely encouraging, and I've left with a new sense of determination to pursue publication.

  82. Happy birthday, MSFV

    I've loved reading through the archives of openings and critiques.

    This blog reinforced what I already suspected: a strong opening is so very important. The lesson I've taken away is that /a high-impact hook early in the opening often backfires as the reader has not had the chance to connect with the mc or care about what happens/. It's almost like being yelled at by a spruiker.

    A clear voice, sympathetic mc and good writing trumps every time.

    And there are plenty of examples of both!

  83. Happy, happy birthday!

    After nine years of writing, I connected with my agent through this blog. Very soon, my novel is going to go on submission. Editors are going to look at it. Yes, I feel like I'm dreaming.

    I've said this before, but thank you so much. I hope the cupcakes are delicious. :)

  84. Happy belated birthday - too much day in my day yesterday!

    One of the many things I've learned is to recognize when I read an opening that works. I still may not be able to write one of my own that I'm satisfied with, but I recognize it in others. It is a good first step.

    This blog also makes writing feel less alone and hopeless. The high of a contest is huge too, even when you don't win. Just the chance for a critique is a huge opportunity for growth - something I aim for daily. All your time is greatly appreciated. I hope you enjoyed your day.

  85. Happy Birthday and thank you for the wonderful meeting place for writers. The best thing has been to discover a community where criticism of a work is the most important thing. We have all been made better by the process because it is so unique. Most sights are just mindless cheerleading. I really hope this place never loses that quality of writers helping writers. It always stings when someone does not love your 'baby'. But, it also provides food for thought as to how you might improve. The only bad thing, as I see it, are the lurkers. Even in a recent SA contest there were entries that had 10 or so reviews - and if you look closely, the same people seem to do many reviews. So, everyone else who is just watching, is taking benefit from the sight without helping the writers by providing anything in return - that irks me. (yes, I said irk) But, I guess that's life and will always be the case. This is a more valuable place I think than any other on the internet. I hope it continues as such.

  86. Happy Birthday, Authoress!

    Even though I've never had a winning entry in the contests, they've been fun to watch. Your gift to me was how to craft a devastating hook, after I'd lost hope trying to formulate one for a gigantic fantasy novel. (I trunked that one, for the moment.)

    But writing a great hook led me to playing with a brand-new novel in a different genre. I'm happy to report that the hook led to a query, which led to a full request, which led to an offer and an agent willing to at least look at my big fat fantasy epic.

    I've learned so much from your blog and readership. Keep up the good work!

  87. I'm pretty new to MSFV so I don't have anything to share yet but I wanted to wish you a (belated) Happy Birthday :)

    ~ Rhonda Parrish