Here We Are!

Welcome to our new home!

Here's a link to the old blog, in case you want to re-read any old favorites

Tomorrow begins a new blogging season, so be sure to stop by. We're going to be doing some exciting new things this year.

It should be easier to leave comments. I apologize for the glitch. I didn't realize what was happening until it was too late.

I can't wait to get re-connected with all of you. Buckle your seatbelts!

Get out Your Brooms! We're moving!

We're moving the blog. Due to some admininstrative issues, our new blog home will be

I'll post a link on the new blog that will bring you back here in case you want to re-read any of your old favorites.

Please feel free to send suggestions on blogs you'd like to see. As always, I'm open to suggestions.

I have some VERY EXCITING things planned for the blog! I know I said I was taking all of November off, but I'm ready to get started again!

A new Quill will be in your inbox soon. It will contain a link to a survey. This is a yearly thing that really helps us, the Board, understand what we're doing right and what needs improvement. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and submit. We've made it much shorter this year, so it should only take a few minutes.

Cosmic Karma: How The Mice Got the Better of Me and How it Applies to Writing

I live in an old house. A very old, lovingly semi-restored (we're working on it! :-)) house. What that means is this: lots of problems pop up with little or no warning and there are often few solutions. It is what it is:  OLD.

My house is bordered on three sides with agricultural land. When the farmers harvested their peanuts this year, a contigent of homeless mice decided to move into my house. Mr Husband and I searched out  and repaired dozens of holes, cracks and other places where a mouse could potentially slip through undetected. We screened all the vents, put that weird foam around all the pipes, and still the little boogers got into the house. My paranoia and frustration increased exponentially every twenty-four hours.

After about a week of this, I started saying, "I wish I could just line them up and hit them with a hammer."

I should NOT have said that. Carrie told me I should NOT say that. But I did. Repeatedly.

On Sunday afternoon I dropped a two-pound hammer, from counter height, on my foot. I was barefoot. OUCH. In all likelihood, Mr Husband learned some new vocabulary words.

It occured to me, sometime late Sunday night, when my foot was roughly the size of watermelon, and I was swearing the injury hurt more than childbirth, that we have to be careful what we say and what we visualize. I jinxed myself. I saw one solution to the rodent problem:  paranoia-driven violence.

Here's how it applies to writing:
If you have a hole in your manuscript a mile wide, and you say, "There's only one way to fix it." You don't listen to anyone else's input. You don't give your brain time to sift through possibillities. Instead you rush to fix it your way and you end up making things much worse.

On the other hand, if you say, "I know I have this hole, and it needs to be fixed. What are the possible solutions?" The solutions will begin to trickle into your brain. You listen to others, read books that are similar to yours and assimilate all the ideas. Then, after careful consideration, you fix it and it's perfect.

I should have listened to Mr Husband who said, "Let's shore up all the holes, trap them with those humane traps and release them in the woods where they'll have food and cover." (Did I mention he has some genius moments?) But I didn't. The reason the hammer fell on my foot was because I left it on the counter, just in case, instead of in the cabinet where it belongs.

So here's my advice: Think smart. Be careful what images you load into your brain. And be careful where you leave your hammer.

BTW, the foot is going to be fine. There are no longer any mice in my house. And none of them came to a violent end via hammer.

Bummer! or What to Do if You Had a Rough Critique

I know I promised to take the month off but I miss you guys! I've had several calls from attendees who had a rough critique and I wanted to give you a few tips on how to handle the disappointment.

First, we have to look at WHY the critique didn't go so well. There are several reasons for this: the material was not a good match for your faculty member, the material wasn't ready for the eyes of an editor, agent or publisher, or you just didn't like what the faculty member had to say.

Once you've decided the WHY, you need to figure out your next step.

If the problem is only that it wasn't the right faculty member, this is an easy one to fix. Do a little more comprehensive research on who's right for your manuscript. What agents and editors want changes all the time so be sure to keep a constant pulse of market to make sure you're targeting the right folks.

If the material wasn't ready for the eyes of your faculty member, you need to figure out precisely where you stand. Are you capable of the required edits and revisions yourself or do you need to hire a freelance editor to help you make the most of your manuscript? There are lots of professionals out there who can really help you to see what needs improvement. If you think you're past the point of needing a freelance editor, you can always find a critique group --- real or online --- to help you iron out the wrinkles.

Now, if you just didn't like what the faculty member had to say, that's a little more problematic. Again, you have to discover the WHY. Did you feel the person was flat wrong? Did he or she just "not get" your submission? Are you being pig-headed and not taking responsibility for the flaws in your work? Were you overconfident? Was the faculty member just having a hard time understanding your angle? Think long and hard about this. Talk to others who are familiar with your work AND the industry.

At some point in this business, you have to develop a thick skin. You have to understand there are all kinds of people and viewpoints. Maybe your faculty member was right. Maybe not. But don't be so overconfident in your work that you refuse to change, revise or edit. Flexibility is key.

A small word to the wise: No matter how vehemently you disagree with the faculty member who performed your critique, don't blast them on the web or in any other public forum. Word gets around in publishing circles very quickly.