Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Fricassee

I've been unusually calm this year about walking away from the blog during the holidays.  Mind you, I have no problem making down time and family a priority; it's just that I usually do it while twitching sporadically over what I'm leaving behind.  As though it won't be waiting for me when I return.

Not this year.  I wrote last week's Friday Fricassee and danced off to make merry.  And it's been wonderful.  I'm in a deliciously slow-paced season of my writing life, too--waiting for Dear Agent to read what is hopefully a final revision, and developing a new story from the ground up (YA SF -- bliss!). 

So here I sit, in the midst of after-Christmas lull, thankful but slightly deer-eyed as I look ahead to next month.  And I should probably let you know what's on the horizon, so here it is:

1.  I'm running another CRITIQUE PARTNER DATING SERVICE!  Last July, there were some matches-from-heaven, and I'm hopeful for more of the same.  Keep your eyes peeled for entry information after the New Year!

2.  Submissions for our first Secret Agent contest of the year will be on the 14th.  Guidelines will post on the 7th.  Because of the Baker's Dozen hullabaloo, we haven't had a Secret Agent contest since October!  So I think this will be especially fun.

3.  Miss Snark's First Victim is TURNING 5 THIS SPRING!  There will be celebrations.  If you have any spiffy ideas, share them below.  (Seriously!  It's no small thing for a blog to turn 5.  I'm happy about this!)

That's all for now.  We'll jump in full-blast next week!  Thanks for making this such a wonderful community to return to.  You've no idea how much it means to me!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Fricassee

Funny, how I've been pressuring myself this morning to come up with Just The Right Friday Fricassee Post Before Christmas.  Must be my writerly perfectionism rearing its gnarly head.

But really, I've had such a joy-filled month, and I guess I'd just like to spread a little of that.  It's the whole anticipation thing--because I absolutely adore surprising the people I love. 

When Mr. A and I were newly wed, a friend asked me if we did stockings with each other.  I raised an eyebrow at her--because stockings were something from childhood, right?  But after she shared how much fun she and her husband had stuffing each other's stockings, I was converted.  Mr. A and I have been doing stockings for each other ever since.

It's the most romantic part of my Christmas.

I'm up for the challenge every year--finding things that aren't stupid or useless that will fit into a woolen Christmas stocking.  We don't do silly things like tubes of toothpaste or cheap candy.  (Or, like the sign at Walmart touts, bottles of Tums. No, seriously.)  Of course, we don't stuff the stockings with rubies and gold watches, either.  There's a middle ground and there's a budget, and we've both gotten pretty darn good at this.

We wrap each gift, too, which is a throw-back to my own childhood.  I've often scorned Mr. A's upbringing of throw-unwrapped-gifts-into-a-stocking.  I mean, where's the magic in that?  (I know, I know.  Half of you wrap, half don't.  What can I say? I'm loyal to my roots.)  Fortunately, he's found the value in wrapping the stocking gifts, so it's now a firmly entrenched tradition.

The utter dorkness of our Christmas-morning-on-the-sofa-with-stockings is beyond description.  And the anticipation of watching him open the gifts makes me squeal a little whenever I think about it.

And, truly, anticipation is a wonderful thing--not just during holidays, but always.  It's a huge part of the joy of giving, and of the joy of experiencing life.  We anticipate laughter when we share something funny.  We anticipate success when we send our work out there.  We anticipate a wriggly hug from our sweet nephew when he greets us at the door. 

My entire December has been imbued with anticipation.  I love it!

So there you have it.  Whether you are celebrating Christmas or not, may your anticipation of joy and pleasure and success and accomplishment and the sparkle in a child's eyes be fulfilled beyond your expectations.

And thank you ALL for being part of this wonderful community!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Am I a Success Story or Not?"

Here's the thing:  The MSFV Success Stories (have you clicked on the link above lately?) range from direct Baker's Dozen and Secret Agent pick-ups to around-the-bush, affected-me-this-way-so-I-could-go-that-way experiences.  Some of the authors have already been published; some are still in the trenches with their agents.  But all of them share this blog as a common thread in their success stories, whether directly or indirectly.

Here's one that wasn't sure she "counted".  I assured her that she does (remembering the ilk of Beth Revis, who credits MSFV as an indirect influence on her success--Across the Universe showed up on MSFV in Jodi Meadows's Query Contest several years ago, and the rest is history).

What I like about today's story is that it focuses on the advice she received here--and on the fact that she landed some excellent crit partners as a direct result of her involvement here.  (And yes, we're going to have another Crit Partner Dating Service in January!)

Without further ado:

Hi Authoress, 

I wondered if I counted. . . I did last year's Baker's Dozen, got good feedback on my logline, but wasn't chosen for the Baker's Dozen, which really bummed me out. However, I took the advice you gave to heart, rewrote my first page/chapter and eventually got an agent, Kristin Nelson. I've been with her since March. 

 I also want to mention I got two very incredible CP's through your site who are themselves success stories. . . it's all about the people, people. I love authors with a passion and think your website is SO helpful--not just offering exposure to agents but in getting us organized and meeting goals. Yay to Authoress!

Stacey Lee

Monday, December 17, 2012

Writing: The Odyssey

Last night, a dear friend gave me this wonderful box of chocolate bars:

You have to admit that there's something tantalizing about the phrase "a dark chocolate tasting odyssey."  You may not be able read the smaller print, so allow me to share the interesting and unexpected flavors included in this collection:
  • black sea salt with caramel
  • orange hibiscus
  • coconut caramel
  • chili cinnamon
  • almond ginger
  • salt and pepper potato chip
  • coffee and cocoa nib
(I know; we should all have friends like this, right??)

If someone were to hand us a beautiful box on the day we first embarked on our writing journey, and say, "Inside this box are all the steps of your journey; take a look!", we would likely find an equally unexpected, disparate collection of events.  And it might be tempting to know everything ahead of time: How long will it take me to get an agent?  When will I be published?  What will the deal look like?  Will I be rich and famous?

But, honestly, would you want to know?  Would it encourage or discourage you to know that it was going to take to you 5 years to land an agent?  (That's how long it took me.)  Would it encourage or discourage you to know that the first book your agent goes out with won't sell, despite some amazingly positive responses?  (That's what happened to me.)  Would it encourage or discourage you to know that you were not, after all, destined to be the next J.K. Rowling?  (I'm still holding out for that one.)

The journey is hard...and it is wonderful.  I wouldn't have wanted to know ahead of time that the next flavor was orange hibiscus.  It would have given me time to wish for something different, and find dissatisfaction with what was placed before me.  Because EVERY STEP OF OUR JOURNEYS IS AN IMPORTANT ONE.

Even the steps that hurt.  The steps that suck.  The steps that make us want to quit a thousand times, or maybe die a little.

It's only in hindsight that the value of these steps becomes clear.  I am so thankful for my own journey, and I wouldn't want to change it.  I'm feeling excited and encouraged as I move forward, and I'll open the next bar of chocolate when it's handed to me.

And, yes.  It's two years today since I signed with Josh.  He's my agent-from-heaven, and it's hard to express how profoundly he's affected my writing and my life-as-writer.  In the midst of a persnickety market, he's remained focused and enthusiastic and ridiculously optimistic.  And I love him for it.

May your own journey be as blessed.  And may friends with fine chocolate show up at your doorstep whenever you need it most.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Fricassee

You can imagine how much fun it is to send agent requests to authors.  I mean, the actual administration isn't fun -- it's tedious and annoying.  (Let's face it; there's nothing creative about looking up emails and sending countless messages that all say pretty much the same thing.)  But the RESPONSES from the authors are what makes this feel like I'm handing out sweets at a Christmas party.

Sometimes it's a simple, "Thank you so much!"  Four little words, imbued with the excitement of knowing that someone wants to see your work.

Sometimes it's an entire paragraph singing the praises of the blog and of Authoress herself.  And I just want to say--I appreciate the words of affirmation.  I really do.  It's my primary "love language" (fitting for a writer, yes?), so I feel the fuzzies on a deep level.

But but but--I also want to say this:  I wouldn't have sent a single email yesterday IF THE WRITING HADN'T BEEN SO STRONG.  You can find the best organized, most publicized, manned-by-amazing-agents contest out there; but if your writing is less than stellar* or not-quite-ready, then the awesomeness of the contest won't matter.

It's a team thing around here.  Or perhaps a circus.  (Which would make me the Ringleader.  I'm not sure how I feel about a top hat and a whip.)

At any rate, I should have paced myself better, instead of pushing through a lot of emails in the morning to get ahead of the game.  I started doing things like, oh, forgetting to include the agent's email address.  Oy.

So we're finished.  We're officially wrapped up, and I think it's safe to say that we'll do this all over again next year.

Once I stop twitching.

Thank you all for being wonderful!  And now I'm off to finish this oh-my-gosh-if-I-have-to-look-at-this-for-five-more-minutes-my-eyes-will-explode edit round.  Two chapters and a final sweep and it's done.  Which makes room for Christmas jollies this weekend.

* An agent actually said that about my writing, in a rejection email.  "Not, perhaps, stellar."  No, I didn't stab myself.  And she did laugh sheepishly about it later.  (Well, as much as one can laugh sheepishly in an email.)  Anyway, she was probably right.  She just might've, yanno, put it a different way.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baker's Dozen Exclusive Has Expired!

So today's the day I'll be sending out requests from agents who didn't win what they wanted -- and also from agents who didn't even participate in the auction.  (Yep. Isn't this exciting??)

Bear with me -- this is time-consuming.  I've already started, but the process may bleed into tomorrow, as I've got a full plate today (not to mention edits that I need to finish).

Also!  K.T.'s 50 slots for the Baker's Dozen I-Didn't-Make-It-In critique, but she is going to do a second round to accommodate more of you!  Here are the details:

Please continue to send submissions to ktcritiques [AT] by 10 PM EST Saturday night, December 22. I will post the second round of entries on Wednesday, December 26, at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing.

In the subject, please state “BD ENTRY 2".

Submit your logline and first 250 words just like when submitting to Miss Snark's First Victim. Your submission should look like this:

TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(Logline and first 250 here).

A confirmation email will be sent, but it may not be right away. Only resend if you don't get one by the last hour of the submission window. Once I receive 50 entries, an email will be sent to notify you if you didn't make the cut, so get yours in quickly! Round one filled up in just under 36 hours, so don't delay. And again, if you enter, please critique five other entries, so that it's fair for everyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dragon Moon Press Anthology: Reminder

Submissions for Dragon Moon's upcoming anthology, WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME 2, will be open the remainder of December.

From the web site:


The award-nominated WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME, from Dragon Moon Press, has been praised as “a perfect example of how an anthology of stories should work.” Upon the success of HERO and its follow-up, WHEN THE VILLAIN COMES HOME, co-editors Ed Greenwood and Gabrielle Harbowy are pleased to announce WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME 2.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baker's Dozen Non-Chosen Entrants: Critique Opportunity

As promised, here is a public critique opportunity for those over-300 of the original Baker's Dozen entrants, thanks to the generous K. T. Crowley!

Details from K. T.:

Please send submissions to ktcritiques[AT] by 10 PM EST Saturday night, December 15.   I will post them Monday morning, December 17, at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing. A maximum of 50 entries will be accepted.

In the subject line, please state “BD ENTRY”.

Submit your logline and first 250 words just like when submitting to Miss Snark's First Victim. Your submission should look like this:

TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(Logline and first 250 here.)

A confirmation email will be sent, but it may not be right away. Only resend if you don't get one by the last hour of the submission window.

If you enter, please critique five other entries, so that it's fair for everyone.

(Please ask your questions below!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

And now, a few words from our agents...

Winners have received their submission instructions and agents are reading.  While we wait for the exclusive to end (this Thursday!) and the extra requests to pour in, here are some thoughts from a few of our participating agents.  Enjoy!

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg:

I woke up late. Next year I'll wake up at six am to prepare. Also my thinking that the rules of the auction were super simple was wrong. I violated more rules at this auction than I did my entire high school career. This is absolutely, hands down, my favorite online pitch contest. I can't wait for next year.

Brooks Sherman:

This was my first invitation to participate in the Baker's Dozen auction. Given my antagonistic antics toward my fellow agents during the rush, it may well be the last one, too. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself immensely. I think auctions like this one serve as wonderful reminders--to agents and writers alike--just how much we all love good storytelling. The support among the writers was inspiring to witness, and the snarking between agents illustrates the very real competitive enthusiasm we all feel for strong projects. My thanks to Authoress (aka Miss Victim) for letting me play...and I hope I can find some way to convince you to let me do so again next year!

Lauren MacLeod:

Until Bakers’ Dozen came into my life, my experience with trash talk was limited to chanting “Yankees suck, Go Sox!” (There may also have been a t-shirt.) Three years in, however, and I’m slowly honing my skill. Sure, I still haven’t quite figured out how to intimidated Sarah LaPolla and Tamar Rydzinski into not bidding against me (WHY MUST YOU CONTINUE TO HAVE SUCH AMAZING, MACLEOD-LIKE TASTE?), but it worked on Josh Getzler who was totally vanquished, so I’m getting there!

I love Bakers’ Dozen—it is my favorite contest of the year. I love the strength of the entries (excellent work Authoress and Jodi Meadows!), the aforementioned friendly trash talking, getting to see the taste of other agents, and the competition--especially, but not only, when I win. Every year my hands literally shake with adrenaline for the first twenty minutes. Thanks so much to Authoress for hosting and arranging, to you guys for being so incredibly brave and putting your work out there in such a public forum, and to my fellow agents for filling my inbox with such hilarious email chains. And now I’ve got some reading to do!

Sarah LaPolla:

Baker’s Dozen is one of my favorite contests. I’ve met some great writers through it, and have seen many go on to get agents. The reason so many agents get so nervous once the bidding officially opens is because of the clear quality of these pitches! We want them all, and we need to get to them first. (Perhaps some of us – coughmecough – got too excited this year and may or may not have forgotten most of the rules… sorry you had to scold us this year, Authoress.) Thank you, as always, for putting together this contest. And thank you, writers, for being so amazing and putting your work out there. If I haven’t worn out my welcome, I’d love to be invited back. Baker’s Dozen has not only been a valuable source for finding new talent, but it’s also helped me learn who my nemeses are. My heart is still fragile from when Josh, Lauren, and Tamar stomped on it last year. This year I see Ms. MacLeod once again has resorted to her dirty tricks. But then, what else can one expect from a Red Sox fan?

Josh Getzler:

It's always such a fun day, the day of the Baker's Dozen. Sixty authors are trolling Miss Snark's First Victim, biting their nails and watching their entries be evaluated and bid on. Thirteen or so agents are jittery on caffeine, trying to outclick each other for their "Fight to the death" openers, cursing both out loud and on the screen, and generally trying to beat Brooks Sherman and Lauren MacLeod et al, and failing. Like Lauren said, there's a surge of adrenaline at the start of the day, when it's ON, and you're looking at your notes and trying to figure out your priorities.

And while some of the excitement comes from the competition, it's really the general rush of being around projects that excite us, that bring us back to the reasons most of us got into this business in the first place: We like stories, and we like to find new ones, exciting ones, ones that we want to guide to the Promised Land...



So thank you to all the writers who submitted; to the other writers and agents and editors who took their time to read and comment on the submissions before the day of the auction; and most of all to the fabulous Ms. A, for putting it together (and her faithful partner in crime Jodi!).

And next year I will be RUTHLESS!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Fricassee

Well, I suppose it's time for my post-Baker's Dozen gush.  Because you'd likely feel bereft without it.

Guys.  YOU ARE ALL SO AMAZING.  Not that this comes as a shock or anything; you have been amazing over the years (do you realize that MSFV is going to turn 5 in April?!?!), and I wouldn't expect things to change.  But wow.  Your behavior, your attitude, your generous spirits--I am constantly blown away.

Here's one example from the comments (and there are many others):

I've learned a lot from lurking on this blog but SO much more from finally getting involved in the action!

I've spent years feeling the urge to write yet also feeling the pressure to focus on my more "practical" career. I'm getting to a point where I needed to either try writing or stop daydreaming/being compulsive about it. Finding critical, constructive feedback has been a real struggle, though.

I submitted thinking I might get some feedback on one of the other blogs that will post submissions who didn't get into the Baker's Dozen. I nearly keeled over when I got the email from Authoress telling me I'd been selected!

I didn't get a bid (#25), but honestly, I think I have some more tweaking to do first. I'm ok with that. What I got from participating in the Baker's Dozen was more important for the stage I'm at as a writer: valuable feedback and the sense that, if I do some polishing, people might be interested in what I'm writing.

That means The World to me. I cannot thank you enough, Authoress and Jodi, for selecting me, as well as the people who took the time to read what I wrote and give me feedback. THANK YOU.

And this is one of the most amazing trends from this year's auction--the graciousness of the "unbid" authors.  None of us will deny that it's a hard thing to be one of the not-chosen in any situation, yet this author--and others in the same situation--has risen above the sting and received ALL THE GOOD THINGS that were available.

I am CHEERING over here!  Because this is the crux of it.  If you can get everything possible out of an experience like this, without being a "winner", then YOU'VE ABSOLUTELY GOT THIS THING RIGHT.

As always, I am humbled and thankful and delighted to be a part of your writing journeys.

Of course, HUGE THANKS go to Stephanie Thornton, Myra McEntire, Peter Senftleben, and Alison Weiss, for their WONDERFUL CRITIQUES.  (You all know how much time critiques take.  This is no small gift!)

And to my gaggle of agents:  I LOVE YOU!  May wonderful things come your way as a result of this auction.

To Jodi, dearest friend and writing soulmate:  We are THE TEAM!  I could never do this without you.  Never.

(This is starting to sound like an acknowledgements page. I'll stop now.)

Next week:  Thoughts from some of the agents on this year's Baker's Dozen!  And a critique opportunity for Those Who Weren't Chosen For the Auction.

Have a glorious weekend!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The 2012 Baker's Dozen Agent Auction WINNERS

And so closes our third Bakers Dozen Agent Auction!  Without further blathering from the exhausted-but-exhilarated Authoress, here are the winning bids-- a whopping 22 fulls and 18 partials:

 2 -- THE TRUTH ABOUT TITUS OATES: FULL to Tamar Rydzinski
 4 -- PRICE OF REFUGE: 25 pages to Sarah LaPolla
 8 -- LIFEWEAVER: FULL to Amy Boggs
10 -- TO CATCH A FETCH: 25 pages to Victoria Marini
11 -- THE OBSESSION BEGINS: 20 pages to Tamar Rydzinski
13 -- STORMHEART: 100 pages to Pam van Hylckama Vlieg
14 -- THE DEATH CLOCK: FULL to Tamar Rydzinski
15 -- VITRO/VIVO: 20 pages to Tamar Rydzinski
18 -- CITY OF ZERO: 75 pages to Sarah LaPolla
19 -- THE EVERETT QUARTET: 75 pages to Tamar Rydzinski
24 -- DAISIES FOR ELLA: 25 pages to Sarah LaPolla
27 -- VERITAS: 20 pages to Amy Boggs
28 -- BEANBLOSSOM VERSUS BOMBASTIC BANDITS: 25 pages to Brooks Sherman
29 -- THROUGH THE EDGEWOOD: FULL to Danielle Chiotti
31 -- UNKNOWN ELEMENTS: FULL to Tricia Lawrence
32 -- JANE, BODY AND SOUL: FULL to Amy Boggs
33 -- SUSPENDED STATE: 25 pages to Amy Boggs
34 -- DON'T FALL DOWN: 75 pages to Amy Boggs
37 -- OF ICE AND ASHES: FULL to Tricia Lawrence
39 -- DIARY OF A GHOST: 5 pages to Tricia Lawrence
40 -- DEAD NEW WORLD: 25 pages to Amy Boggs
41 -- TICKET TO REDEMPTION: FULL to Victoria Marini
42 -- WHEN I CALLED YOU MINE: FULL to Sarah LaPolla
44 -- DIAS DE LOS MUERTOS: FULL to Tamar Rydzinski
45 -- AUSSIE OUTSIDER: FULL to Lauren McLeod
48 -- THE FATAL CROWN: 110 pages to Pam van Hylckama Vlieg
49 -- HAUNTED: 50 pages to Tricia Lawrence
50 -- CALIFORNIA R.I.P.: FULL to Tamar Rydzinski
51 -- DUST AND BONES: FULL to Pam van Hylckama Vlieg
52 -- RIP HER TO SHREDS: FULL to Joan Paquette
54 -- BAD COMPANY: 5 pages to Joan Paquette
55 -- DISCOVERING ISAAC: 45 pages to Melissa Jeglinski
59 -- ABEL PIRATES: FULL to Tamar Rydzinski
60 -- POWER STRUGGLES: FULL to Amy Boggs

Winners:  Please email me at facelesswords(at) for specific submission instructions.  In order to streamline this process, PLEASE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:  Your post number, title, and the agent's name and request.  Your material will be granted to the winning agents on a ONE WEEK EXCLUSIVE.

Once the week has expired, other agents who placed bids--but didn't win--will have the opportunity to email me to request material from the auction.  SO SIT TIGHT.  I'll be contacting you if you've got more requests.

Oh, and maybe -- just maybe -- non-participating agents have started emailing me with requests, too.  So those will be going out after the exclusive expires as well.

CONGRATULATIONS, WINNERS!  And to ALL ENTRANTS -- well played.  If your entry didn't get any bids, MOVE ON FROM HERE and get those queries out the door!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Baker's Dozen: On Your Mark...Get Set...

Here we are, on the eve of the Big Bidding War!  Here's everything you need to know for tomorrow:
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE CRITIQUES starting at 11:00 am EST on Tuesday (tomorrow).  Comment boxes need to be clear for bidding only.
  • Agents will be signing in with their real names when they leave their bids.  No "Secret Agents" in this auction!
  • Bid will be placed IN PAGES, beginning with a minimum opening bid of 5 pages.
  • Agents may not bid for a full manuscript until a) a minimum of 5 bids has already been placed on the item, and b) the bidding has reached 150 pages.
  • Bids will be placed in increments of 20 pages or more, up to a full.  Once the bid on any given item has reached 150 pages, agents ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO BID THE FULL MANUSCRIPT.  The 150 is merely a minimum requirement to keep the bidding lively and fair.
  • As soon as an item received a bid for the full manuscript, I will close bidding on that item.
  • Not all entries will receive bids.  This is simple statistics, and it is not a poor reflection on those authors whose entries do not receive any bids.
  • Bidding will close on Wednesday, December 5 at 11:00 am EST.  All winning bids will be final.
I think that's everything!  Set your alarm, invite your friends, and get ready for THE MOST EXCITING AUCTION YOU'LL EVER ATTEND!

Questions, comments, pithy remarks below.  Let's get behind our 60 entrants and cheer them on!