Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Fricassee

Happy How-can-it-be-the-last-Friday-of-June-already!

So this First Sentence round was a BIG HIT!  A total of 129 of you stepped up to the critiquing plate, leaving thoughtful, honest comments for our 50 entrants.


Meanwhile, a bunch of the Success Story authors, in our private Facebook group, offered up critique for each other's first sentences--because the bot didn't pick theirs (or they forgot to enter).  And, yes, I entered, too, and the bot didn't pick mine, either.  (Silly bot.  Doesn't it know that it's supposed to show favoritism?)  So thank you, Leah Petersen, for initiating the mini-critique for the rejects!

I hope that turning off the word verification made it easier for you.  Seriously, I was inundated with spam the minute I turned it off; Blogger caught a lot of it, but some still filtered through to the blog.  So ridiculous!  I've turned the word verification back on again, but I'm going to try to remember to turn it off whenever we've got critique going on the blog.  I really do want to make things easier, so that you won't feel frustrated when you try to leave comments.

We can't have community without comments!

So, to answer the question that's tingling inside your mouth:  YES.  We are going to do this again.  Soon.


We are going to do a FUN CONTEST WITH EDITORS AND BABY PICTURES AND PRIZES.  With first sentences.

I will give you ALL THE DETAILS next week.

Of course, we've got a Secret Agent content coming up, too--submission info will post on Monday.

(How am I doing on the get-the-information-out thing?  Any better? I'm really trying!)

And, finally, since I like to let you know where I'm at personally--I'm in a great place, and am continuing forward.  It feels SO GOOD to actually be excited about my writing again.  I kind of worried myself for a while there.  I think I might've worried my agent a little, too.

One thing that Josh is really good at is pushing through tough places with enthusiasm and chutzpah.  Agents have their share of frustrations, too--rejections that they then have to pass along to the authors, editors who disappear into bottomless holes of silence, and everything in between.  But Josh has an uncanny ability to formulate a game plan and articulate it in such a way that All Things Seem Possible. I'm not the bleeding-heart needy type, but if I were, I'm absolutely certain that he wouldn't allow me to lie there in a quivering puddle of artistic jello.  As it is, he knows when I'm discouraged, and he won't let me stay there.

Email is not his forte (much to my introverted chagrin), but hand the guy a phone and he's magic.  And that's how he is in person, too.

Well.  Didn't mean for this to turn into a sing-the-praises-of-Josh.  But his enthusiasm has helped to stoke the fire that had already been reignited by my two-week (stay)cation.  So he deserves a little shout-out today.

On that note, I'm off!  I've cleared my afternoon for NOTHING BUT WRITING, so I'm awfully happy right now.  Have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

First Sentence Round Today!

Here's the scoop:

  • If your sentence is included in today's round, please critique a minimum of 5 other entries.
  • 244 people entered this contest; only 50 were chosen.  If your entry was not chosen, perhaps you can stop by and critique anyway.  Because, yeah.
  • Critique is simple:  YES or NO to determine whether or not the sentence hooked you, followed by a brief explanation of WHY.
  • Please choose a screen name.  (I say this every time, but still there are people who choose "Anonymous".  The Name/URL option in the comment box allows you to type in any name you wish to go by on the blog.  Please take a moment to use this option.)
  • As always, please be honest yet kind!  We're all in this together, so let's offer our best to others so that they can find their best.
  • Have fun!

First Sentence #50

TITLE: The Saline Solution
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Sunday night was always forensic night at the Klyczek house-- popcorn, pierogies, and petechial hemorrhaging.

First Sentence #49

TITLE: The Legend of Dan
GENRE: Paranormal

I am penniless, but I have treasure beyond imagination—treasure I didn’t believe existed, preserved in a place I believed in, but didn’t fully comprehend…until the Time of Abomination.

First Sentence #48

GENRE: Legal Thriller

Since her arrest and detention, Isha was never removed from her jail cell without her wrists manacled to a restraint around her waist.

First Sentence #47

TITLE: Breaking the Butterfly
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

We peel back the oleaginous foundation of Maddy's clothing millimetre by excruciating millimetre, separating fabric from scab as selectively as we can.

First Sentence #46


Happiness is so many things.

First Sentence #45

TITLE: The New Eden Chronicles
GENRE: YA Speculative Fiction

Theresa’s a kicker--Mama and I struggle to keep her in the kitchen chair so the medics can find a vein and fill a vial with her blood.

First Sentence #44

TITLE: Witness
GENRE: YA Sci-fi

It is twenty-seven seconds before sunrise and I am leaning against the chain-link fence that no one remembers.

First Sentence #43

TITLE: The Island
GENRE: Thriller

The first time she saw Robert was almost six months after the accident which killed him.

First Sentence #42

TITLE: Lucas Peregrinus and the Escape from Manuki Island
GENRE: Middle Grade Adventure

Six pairs of obsidian eyes stared down at me from the rocky outcrop above my hotel room.

First Sentence #41

TITLE: The Triangle
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Just because you're being sent to your death in one week is no reason to slack on your chores.

First Sentence #40

TITLE: Our Lady of Fatima

Paige stepped off the school bus, and there was Kathy’s beat-up Volvo in the driveway again.

First Sentence #39

TITLE: Brothers on the Rim
GENRE: YA Thriller

Artie sure was fast on his feet; you’d think the wet grass would slow him down, not Art.

First Sentence #38

GENRE: MG Sci-fi

Mike crammed his Space Camp application and the “C-” history quiz into the Tweety Bird backpack that was not as cool as The Avenger’s Hawkeye, no matter what Mom said.

First Sentence #37

TITLE: The Calling
GENRE: YA Epic Fantasy

Tabitha walked sullenly through the overgrown garden of her castle, which had also been her prison for the past eighty years.

First Sentence #36

TITLE: Europe (WIP)
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

“The logistics are going to be hell.”

First Sentence #35

TITLE: An Absence of Light
GENRE: NA Sci-fi

The dark rind of blood wasn’t coming out from under my fingernails no matter how hard I scrubbed.

First Sentence #34

GENRE: Historical Fiction

The Elisabeth’s grimy floor lurched underneath Thom.

First Sentence #33

GENRE: YA Magical Realism

Mom worries about my fingers.

First Sentence #32

TITLE: Closets
GENRE: YA Contemporary

It's not lying if you're acting; it's art.

First Sentence #31

TITLE: Patterns of Perception
GENRE: Thriller

Amelia’s fingers froze on the keys of her FBI computer before her heartbeat escalated—anxiety propelled by the sudden appearance of an unauthorized file from her deceased husband.

First Sentence #30

TITLE: Middledom
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

Due to unfortunate events involving the League of Fairy Godmothers at her sister Lily's christianing, Princess Violet failed to receive any fairy blessings on the advent of her birth.

First Sentence #29


“Don’t puke.” I muttered, remembering just how pissed off the cops and crime scene geeks had been the last time I’d “disturbed” one of their crime scenes.

First Sentence #28

TITLE: Fear the Drowning Deep
GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy

They found her body at dusk, washed up in a tide pool with a handful of spiny sea urchins and a brittle green starfish.

First Sentence #27

TITLE: Flying Home
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

Randolph hauled himself out of the mulch pile and shook his feathers to remove the debris that clung to them.

First Sentence #26


Katie had lost count of the days that she lay exhausted either in her bed or sitting in an old brown leather chair beneath the living room window.

First Sentence #25

TITLE: Recess Isn't for Sissies
GENRE: MG Contemporary

The first day of my last year at Our Lady of Never-Ending Misery started the same as every other year.

First Sentence #24

TITLE: Chasing Betsy
GENRE: Mainstream Fiction

This is my last trip to the house of crazy.

First Sentence #23

GENRE: MG Fantasy

Nara pushed her way through the soup of darkness.

First Sentence #22


Mac’s face burned as she opened her eyes.

First Sentence #21

TITLE: Toward the Light
GENRE: suspense

Maria Luz Concepcion returned to Guatemala to kill a man on a breezy late fall afternoon.

First Sentence #20

TITLE: Wishing
GENRE: YA fantasy

The man sitting across from me on the faded motel bedspread wants a complete overhaul.

First Sentence #19

TITLE: The Unicorn Garden
GENRE: Middle Grade

Clara was trying them out - the watch and the blue nail polish - and felt very grown-up for 12 and very Parisian, in an American sort of way.

First Sentence #18

TITLE: The Wild Hunt
GENRE: MG Fantasy


First Sentence #17

TITLE: Blacktop Oracle
GENRE: Paranormal

After finding Mac’s body on Wednesday, Coop’s mom let him stay home on Thursday.

First Sentence #16

TITLE: A Question for Kieran
GENRE: Early Reader

Kieran dragged his feet over fallen leaves, crunching and kicking his way down the street.

First Sentence #15

TITLE: The Parade of Haunted Homes
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

Johnny Briar first put boot to pavement twenty-one years ago, and not before and not since had he wondered on the occupancy of hell.

First Sentence #14

TITLE: Where All the Missing Pieces Go
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Waiting before the closed doors of Lord and Lady Crocket’s dining room, I could only think of one possible explanation for why I’d been summoned: they were kicking me out.

First Sentence #13

TITLE: Bling Bong the Witch is Dead
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

I've always thought that Slacking has been severely underrated.

First Sentence #12

TITLE: Warriors over Darkness and the Unsettled Grave
GENRE: New Adult Urban Fantasy

After hours at the lakefront carnival was a perfect place for bloodshed, especially the kind saddled with revenge.

First Sentence #11

TITLE: Through Thick and Thicker
GENRE: Commercial Literary/Book Club

Human sacrifice has an upside, doesn’t it?

First Sentence #10

TITLE: Keep Your Eyes on Me
GENRE: Upper YA Contemp

Death smells like rubbing alcohol and regret.

First Sentence #9

TITLE: Life Begins at 14
GENRE: MG Sci-fi

My father walked off the face of the Earth.

First Sentence #8

TITLE: Flicker
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

There are many versions of how this night might play out—all of them end with me getting arrested against the hood of an unmarked police car.

First Sentence #7

TITLE: Shadow Company
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

It had taken two hours, but I finally got something other than lazy fog rolling across the surface of the bowl.

First Sentence #6

TITLE: Love and Other Firsts
GENRE: Realistic YA

Mom was as passionate about the upkeep of her daughters' hair as she was about her backyard; whenever she ran out of weeds to whack, out came the shears.

First Sentence #5

TITLE: Wolf's Tail
GENRE: Fiction

Trickles of sweat stung Kato Okami's eyes and he did not wipe them away, refusing to show any sign of weakness.

First Sentence #4

TITLE: A Boat Against the Current
GENRE: Women's Fiction

I was ten when Gaysie Cutter tried to kill me, which was just like her; always leaving a bad first impression.

First Sentence #3

GENRE: YA Contemporary

I sit in the back of class, where no one can breathe on me.

First Sentence #2


Hell's teeth, I so know how to get myself into trouble.

First Sentence #1

TITLE: Tiger Daughter
GENRE: YA Contemporary

When Mei's mother died, 47 cats attended her funeral.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Submissions and Stuff

1.  Submissions for the First Sentence critique round will be open today from noon to 7 pm EDT (NYC).  Enter HERE.

(Please note: The maximum word count for every contest or critique round is always included on the web submission form.  Which is yet another reason to use the form instead of email.)

Miss yesterday's guideline's?  Read them HERE.

The sentences will post on Thursday morning; critiquing may begin immediately!

2.  Alas, I still have a 3 month lag on my editing (mostly because of the mad rush that happened at the end of April!).  But I AM STILL SIGNING NEW CLIENTS.  If you want to get in the queue, it's best to sign up sooner than later, because of the lag.  If you make changes before I get to your project, you can always send me the updated version (lots of folks have done this already).

You'll find all the details HERE.  You can email me at authoress.edits(at) with your questions.

3.  Thanks for waiting in the wings while I recharged.  The second week made a huge difference; apparently I needed a week to wind down before I could begin to actually relax.  How sad is that?  Yet there you have it, and I'm back now, and I feel NORMAL AGAIN.  (Well, okay.  That's relative.  But you know what I mean.)

So normal, in fact, that a few days ago I pulled out my YA SF draft (you know, the one that almost killed me while I was writing it a few months ago) and began the read-through-that-will-lead-to-massive-revisions.  I did it because I wanted to (imagine that!).  And now I'm unexpectedly and thoroughly in love with it, which is that last thing I thought would happen.

In short--all is well!  It feels so good to be excited about this.  Honestly, I didn't think it would happen.  That's what burn-out does to you.

Okay, then!  We're ready to roll for the rest of June.  I'll tell you about my fun-thing-with-editors another time.  Because I'm feeling feisty again, and it's more fun to be infuriating than accommodating.


Monday, June 24, 2013

A "First Sentence" Round

We haven't done this in ages, so let's kick off my return from hiding-from-the-publishing-industry with something lighthearted and fun!

Submissions will open tomorrow for a FIRST SENTENCE ROUND.  It is exactly what it sounds like: send the first sentence of your novel.  A first sentence has the power to draw us toward the second sentence.  And the third.  And the rest of the book.


It's not a magic bullet; it's not make-or-break.  But there is something to be said for a well crafted first sentence.

Here are the guidelines:

  • Submissions will open at noon EDT (NYC) tomorrow, and will close at 7 pm EDT.
  • Enter HERE.
  • Your entry must include your TITLE, GENRE, and the FIRST SENTENCE of your novel.
  • This will be a LOTTERY.  The bot will choose 50 entries and 2 alternates after the submission window closes.  Winners will be notified by email.  (Please make sure you have authoress.submissions(at) in your address book.)
  • All genres except erotica and erotic romance are welcomed.
  • Your novel does not have to be finished in order to enter this critique round.
  • CRITIQUE will consist of a YES (with a brief reason) or a NO (with a brief reason) as to whether or not the sentence "hooked" you.  Easy-peasy.
  • If you choose to submit via email (really, the online form is easier), send your submission to authoress.submissions(at) in the following format:
SCREEN NAME:  Typity-type
TITLE:  Typity-type
GENRE:  Typity-type

And your amazing sentence goes right here.

Oh, and if you think there's a sneaky reason for my choosing to do this right now, YOU ARE RIGHT. The sneaky reason might have something to do with a contest.  And it might have something to do with editors.  And first sentences.  And prizes.

I'll tell you about that another day.

Ask your questions below!  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Fricassee

Hello, dear ones!

I'm taking another week off.  This week has been a bust; I have been admittedly lousy at giving myself a FULL break, as Josh would attest to.  So I'm going to try to do better next week.

I've got "stuff" in the works for MSFV, though!  Things will get rolling again quickly once I return.

Two quick things:

1.  AGENT:DEMISTIFIED, my eBook-for-all-aspiring-authors, is now only $5.99.

2.  Despite my vacation, AUTHORESS EDITS remains open for business.  If you are considering hiring me to edit your partial, don't feel like you have to wait until I'm back in the blog-o-sphere.  I place projects in my spreadsheet in the order in which they are received, so go ahead and get in the queue.

And that's all for now.

Are you writing?  Are you finding balance?  Are you keeping your dreams alive?

Hope so.  I'll see you when I get back.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Fricassee

Let this be my official announcement:  I'm going dark.

Normally, June is vacation month for us (which is why I never schedule Secret Agent contests in June).    If not vacation, then at least a trip to my parents' home.  This year, though, we're not going anywhere.

Long story, but we're just not.

So I'm longing for a break that I'm simply not getting, and it's not feeling too good.  Which is why I came to the conclusion that the least I could do is to give myself a PUBLISHING INDUSTRY BREAK.

For at least next week, I won't be on my blog, my Authoress gmails, or Twitter.  At the end of the week, I'll see how chipper I'm feeling; I may need a second week.  (I'll let you know.)

Important:  AUTHORESS EDITS clients:  I will be editing, and I will be checking my editing business account.  I can't afford to fall behind!

You all know that I have recently attempted to recapture my JOY of writing by returning to my trunk novel for a complete rewrite.  At first, it was wonderful.  But it hasn't lasted.

I'm going to keep writing it, but it's more of a do-it-when-you-feel-like-it project for me, to remove the relentless pressure I always foist upon myself (it's how I get things done).  Frankly, I'm in a hard place that isn't getting easier.  I've hit my 8-year mark, and it feels like such a big number.

That's right.  I started sending my first, tentative queries to agents eight years ago.

Eight years.

(Okay.  I'm a little stuck on how long I've been at this thing.)

And right now I need to get away from the internet's "OMG-I'm-17-and-I-just-signed-a-huge-book-deal" and the "Ever since the crash, agents are only selling one out of ten projects...projects......projects.........projects...........projects............".

*cue dramatic music*

Anyway.  I need to soul-search and regroup and find whatever it is I need to find within myself to push through.  No one promised me this would be easy, so I'm not going to whine about it.  It's just the facts.

Honestly, I'm okay.  I AM!  I'm sharing my journey with you--being as transparent as I can be while still maintaining anonymity--so that you will be encouraged to KEEP GOING WHEN THINGS GET REALLY HARD.

So press on while I'm away.  Remind yourself why you're doing this thing (because you love it, right?).  And if you're in a good place right now, SPREAD THE GOOD.  Positive attitudes are infectious!

Love and hugs to you all.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The 2013 Baker's Dozen Earliest Info Ever

Six months may SEEM like a long time, but...we'll blink and it'll be September, right?

So for those of you who are already counting the days, and for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I give you THE 2013 BAKER'S DOZEN EARLIEST INFO EVER!


October 29 and 31 -- Adult fiction (all genres except erotica and erotic romance)*

November 5 and 7 -- Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction (all genres)


Now, there will be lots of other dates nestled in there as well, such as our logline critique rounds (3 of them), winner notification dates, and so on.  But the above dates are THE BIG ONES.  So mark your calendars!


The Baker's Dozen Agent Auction is MSFV's biggest event of the year. 60 250-word entries, hand-picked by Jodi Meadows and Authoress, will be placed on the auction block for agents to bid on (with requests for pages, up to a full manuscript request). It bears the name "Baker's Dozen" because the original auction in 2010 included 13 agents--a baker's dozen.

(Well, it deserved a bigger font, right?)

Here's the thing:  Though participation was comparable last year (as in, actual number of entrants), our audience on the actual day of the auction was slightly smaller than the previous year.  I COULD NOT ACCOUNT FOR THIS.

So do this, if you will:  Take a moment to share this link on your blog.  Or swipe the info and include a link back here.  If we're going to do this thing, we want people to KNOW, right?  The bidding is always fast and furious (I seriously have to clear my calendar that morning); too much fun to risk missing.

If you're new to the Baker's Dozen, you can learn more by perusing past contests.  Just click on the "Baker's Dozen" tag in the archives (on the side bar).

Oh, and now's your chance to ask questions and get generally chatty in the comment box.  No question is too stupid (well, unless 5 people have already asked the same thing, in which case it's a matter of YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION), so ask away.

* I've been asked about the inclusion of NA fiction.  Please know that the genres represented reflect the tastes of the agents who agree to participate.  If there is a fair showing of agents who accept NA, I will include it with the adult submissions (because NA is not children's literature).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Super Critique!

First of all, bravo!  The EXPLOSIONS round offered some excellent critique to its participants.  To all of you who took the time to leave feedback--thank you.

We've chatted in the past about the participation in critique rounds and the ratio of people-who-critique to people-who-don't.  Here are some stats for you to chew on:

  • 49 people critiqued during this round.
  • The breakdown of the critiques is as follows:
    • 28 - 1  (Thank you,  Leah Petersen!)
    • 24 - 1  (Thank you, sbibb!)
    • 20 - 1  (Thank you, Michael Wulf!)
    • 15 - 1  (Thank you, Barbara!)
    • 14 - 2  (Thank you, MMChandler and Rebecca M!)
    • 13 - 1  (Thank you, Anonymous!) (Grr.)
    • 9 - 1  (Thank you, Jodi Meadows!)
    • 8 - 1  (Thank you, Danielle La Paglia!)
    • 7 - 4
    • 6 - 5
    • 5 - 7
    • 4 - 8
    • 3 - 3
    • 2 - 2
    • 1 - 11
  • The total number of unique visitors during the peak critique days was 1,295.
  • Which means that not-quite-4% of the total number of viewers over those 3 days actually left a critique.  (And since several critiques continued to filter in over the weekend, the actual percentage is smaller than that.)
Taking into account the fact that it's perfectly okay for people to read our critique rounds without participating every single time, I am admittedly discouraged by such a low percentage of participants.  What I haven't done (because, seriously, who has the time?) is to cross-reference the screen names of the critiques with the screen names of the 30 participants.  Because, without taking the time to make a detailed comparison, I don't know how many of the 49 critters were participants in the round.

(Who, as you know, are politely requested to leave critique for a minimum of 5 other entries.  In order to give back.)

Anyway, it's on the table now.  What I really want to say is this:  If you are not critiquing because you are afraid you have nothing positive to offer, please think again.  Critiquing is a LEARNED SKILL.  You will not learn how to do it--and learn to be confident in your ability--if you don't try.  And I would hope that this blog, above all, would be a safe place for you to flex your critiquing muscles.

The first manuscript I ever critiqued belonged to Jodi Meadows.  TALK ABOUT SCARY.  The gal was lightyears ahead of me in just about everything, and she had recently pulverized-I-mean-critiqued one of my manuscripts, which had left me feeling a bit "I Suck At This".  But if I hadn't jumped in, offering my critique as though it mattered, I wouldn't have begun to grow my wings.  I did have something to offer.  It was a start, at any rate.  And we all need a start.

Let MSFV be your starting place.  A wing factory, as it were.

And, full disclosure:  This critique round was peppered with at least 3 published authors and 2 of my beloved critique partners.  And me.  (If you received critique from "Just Me", that was me.  I didn't play favorites; I chose 5 entries that had fewer critiques than some of the others.)

So there you have it -- dissection of a critique round!  There were fewer entries, so it was a good time to do this.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!  The quality of the critiques was high; I hope that the participants have found it helpful.

Love you guys!  (Truly!)