Thursday, September 10, 2009

Got an Opinion? Bring it on, Babe!

Got an opinion?

Get in line, Toots.

You too, Bud?

Right over here, Sir.

Join the club.

Bill O’Reilly fans are familiar with the phrase “if you wish to opine…”

Who doesn’t wish to opine? Whether your opinion weighs value vs. outcome, great hairstyles of the 1980’s, (GAG) Oprah by the decade,

grits vs. potatoes, pink vs. pink (I mean, come on… You ladies understand this. Nothing outweighs pink in its multiple shades. Are ya’ kiddin’ me???) fall vs. spring, cold vs. hot, Jeter vs. …

Okay, well that’s just silly. No one compares to Jeter. I mean, let’s stay serious here.

Whatever the subject, everyone has an opinion. Some are informed, some are just heels-dug-in stubborn, but the equalizer is simple: They’re all valuable.

Potential, guys. Come on, work with me. Follow along.

They’re all potential customers or editors or agents. This is it, in a nutshell. Ya’ ain’t gonna please ‘em all, so figure out WHO to please and then do it.

Sound too simple to be true?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Are you wringing your hands and exclaiming you can’t modify your work to fit X, Y or Z market???

You might want to take up macramé. Or crocheting. Knitting is nice. Soothing. Therapeutic. Gardening, too.

Because the fact is, you will have to adjust at some point to either editor, agent, audience and hopefully to all three. Why?
Because they control a portion of the market you desire. So here’s where we get to opinions, i.e. contest judges.

An example:
“While your writing is very nice and I found your hero and heroine to be engaging, I just can’t believe in the whole idea of her sister coming into town and him having a history with her. It just seems too coincidental. Your story lost plausibility for me there.”

“I love the way you threaded the sister’s story into the heroine’s back story because it added a degree of realism I find lacking so many romances. I’ve seen this situation time and again and you captured it beautifully.”

Two mutually exclusive points of view, both thoughtful and well-written. Who should I believe?

Both. They were both right.

Because a year later two editors looked at the very same story. One said, “Ruth, I love this story, love the plot line, and this seems so workable, but the sister’s former presence seems a little too coincidental to me. Could we rewrite this using a different thread that brings the hero and heroine together under the same circumstances without the sister’s history?”

Sure I can. I have a keyboard. I can rewrite anything they want. Are ya’ kiddin’ me? I wasn’t married to the sister, right? It’s not like they’re asking me to offer one of my children as a virgin sacrifice to the volcanic goddess Pele. She just wanted a story edited and there’s the ticket: It’s a STORY. Not perfect, not universal, not To Kill a Mockingbird profound, but a delightful little romance that needs an audience and we need to trust editors to know their audience, their line, their job.

The other editor said, “Ruth this is delightful and engaging, a thoroughly wonderful piece of work and I love how you drew me into the story with the plausibility of the back story, so real, something I could genuinely identify with. Readers will love this.”

So there you have it. Two strong, well-respected, savvy editors with opposing viewpoints on one book.

(FYI: Although this did happen, I’ve taken poetic license and changed the book layout because I really want you guys to read Winter’s End and tell me what you think… Without ‘seeing’ the plotline ahead of time, LOL!)

Contest judges have a tough job. We know that. Been there, done that. Imagine being the editor and bearing the responsibility to develop a team or stable of writers who follow the pragmatics of the line, engage the readers time and again, work hard without making excuses or whining, deliver work in a timely fashion, stay upbeat and positive (because although you work alone in your home or office, you deal with an editorial team, marketing team, art team, etc. and other writers for that house) and take advice well.

It’s a story. If we can remember that, bear that in mind, we’ll all be better off when we read those judges’ and editors’ comments. It’s changeable, adaptable, editable and workable as long as you, the writer, allow it to be.

As I ran the contest circuit, I found judge’s comments like the ones above way more helpful than the sweet newbie cheerleaders who thought I was the cat’s pajamas and the dyed-in-the-wool miserable snarks who told me not to quit my day job.

Oh, yeah, dyed-in-the-wool snarks???? HA! Who’s got a book coming out in five months, huh??? Oh, wait, make that TWO books!!!! Yeah, that’s right!!! Bring it, baby! I’m here and I’m ready to rumble! Who’s da man, now????

Oops, sorry, that was alter-ego Ruthy sneaking in. I thought I had her under lock and key but she's got a way of sneaking out like a teen on the party circuit. Back! Back, you!

Opinions are part and parcel of our job as writers. Dealing with the negative and positive feedback helps us build grit and muscle, strength and panache. If you’re sincerely in this for the long run, keep your chin up and value each and every opinion that comes your way. If nothing else, some of them will remind you how not to act or react to another person’s work, LOL!
And now to the important segment of the day.



Need some. Now. Wait. Before now, actually. Grinning here.

I brought a catering van loaded with breakfast goodies. Pastries… Stuffed cheese croissant puffs and almond crescent croissants. White-cream stuffed donuts with chocolate glaze. Apple kuchen (did you know most dictionaries don’t even list the word ‘kuchen’ any more???? Kuchens were a huge part of Western New York bakeries when I was a kid and dinosaurs roamed. I love making kuchen. Feel free to ask me about kuchens.

And raspberry cheesecake, sided with slivered almonds and topped with a sour cream chocolate ganache.

Grab some coffee and a plate. Eat hearty because there’s little shelf-life for good pastries! Let’s talk opinions and how to sort the good from the bad. And how to bulk up our self-esteem so we can handle those opinions with God-given grace and dignity.

In public, anyway!



Jessica said...

Oh thank you, thank you! I need this lesson on subjectivity, thanks to my recent contest results. One said I did great with the inspirational element. The other judge said she didn't see the story as being an inspirational one. Sigh.

Love your editor comments! :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jess, good morning, Sweet Thang!!!


Oh, kid, we all identify with that scenario.

And the editors??? Both totally on target, just like the judges, just coming from slightly different points of view and ya' gotta respect that.

My inspirational novels are lighter than a lot you see out there, Jessica, and I got comments like yours ALL THE TIME...

Oy vey. I seriously knew that if I got strong, fundamentalist judges they were not going to love my tongue-in-cheek characters, or my casual way of having the Holy Spirit smack people upside the head with everyday circumstances. No lightning bolts or burning bushes.

Some of those comments weren't very nice, either, but I'm not a huge fan of slap-me-upside-the-head-repeatedly Christian fiction... I want to find an audience that isn't in the choir, in the front pew, in the church at all, necessarily. Give 'em a chance to just celebrate their God-given gifts without me preachin' up a storm. Plenty of preachers around to do that already. I just want to make them smile and think. A tear or two is never a bad thing, either, right???? Very cleansing and therapeutic!

Keep rockin', Jessica. You've got it goin' on.


Lisa said...

Oh, Ruthy, one of my favorite people on the planet!!! You taught me how to whine for five, and then pull up my big girl panties and move past it.

When I learned I finaled in the Genesis contest this year, I received my feedback and had 48 hours to revise before the entries were submitted to the final round judges.( Oh, might I add that was the weekend my FIL decided to have a seizure due to a brain tumor and I submitted my revised entry with SIX minutes to spare. Poor Camy...she's awesome. :) )

Anyway, my point is when it came time for revisions, I listened to the judge who gave me a low score out of the three and TONS of usable feedback. That 70 hurt, but her feedback rocked because she used a velvet-covered hammer to explain why something didn't work. Even if my entry doesn't win, which is fine with me because finaling was a thrill all on its own, I know the writing is stronger because of her suggestions.

We need to realize the industry is subjective and we're not going to please everyone. But if we write with our passions for the story, it will resonate with readers.

By the way, I tried to email you when I learned of your first sale but didn't get a response. I'd love to interview you for Afictionado's My First Sale. Let's talk in Denver!

Lisa Jordan said...

Oh, I hate when I make dumb mistakes. I signed into Blogger with the wrong ID...sigh.

Debra E Marvin said...

I don't want opposing opinions. I want things to be easier. Sniff Sniff. I can change my story. Sure. I just haven't built up the brain muscle that knows what trail to follow when great minds point me in two opposite directions!

All I know is that I love kuchen. Grew up on it. (I gotta get out my dictionary, Ruthy.)
I might have to make a Wegmans run for Manhattan Pecan Kuchen, eh?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Lisa, super congrats on your Genesis final. I love that contest. It brought me great feedback and some strong connections. And wonderful friends, LOL! And Camster is the queen of coordinators. No one crosses the Camster. I repeat: No one. But that big heart of hers probably would have gotten you in under the wire even if you were two minutes late.

But not three. :)

And you're so right. Sometimes the low score is the one to go by. That subjectivity is one of the toughest things we learn to live with, isn't it? And you do great with your big girl panties now!!!


So e-mail me again at either g.mail or yahoo. I don't know why I didn't get the first one, but that was when I was in between computers at my daughter's and my computer couldn't tap into their internet server, so I was working on a diplodocus-slow machine. Weird things kept happening as I jumped back and forth, so I'm not surprised.

And your six minutes to spare? Oh, Lisa, that's so 'life'. Stuff happens, things get interrupted...

And we march on.

Hey, did you try some cheesecake? It's really good.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb, good morning!

I stopped by Inkwell on my way to Seekerville this morning. Brought coffee for you gals.


Hey, the choosing is part of the process. If the choices are in opposition to each other (she's a total whack-out, frizz-haired dork OR she's a totally self-composed grammar fanatic) then you've got to choose.

But if it's more subtle (and it usually is), then sometimes it's something you can thread in alongside as a plot builder or sub-plot. Or you can take one 'road' and strengthen it by leaving bits of the other as backstory, strengthening your characterization or plot.

Do you want to share the choices? I mean girlfriend, we love tossing out ideas in Seekerville. Having fun with them. We won't tell anyone where they came from.

Snicker, snicker.

No doubt no one will notice the bold-face name or the great pic.


Audra Harders said...

Recipe please, for your kuchen!! I love the stuff!

Ruthy great reminder to view our work as a commodity. If I were selling jewelry and someone asked me to include a bizarre color I'd never considered, would I do it?

Of course! If they want to purchase the piece, they are entitled their suggestions.

I think we writers become too attached to the *your baby* aspect of writing. We coddle, we soothe, we coo to raise our pride and joy from infancy to adulthood.

But what about discipline?

Why in the world waste your hard earn dollars on contests and postage if you're not going to consider the opinions received??

Oh for heaven sakes!

I agree with you,Ruth. Some of the best contest feedback I've ever received was in the form of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Don't tell me my work stinks unless you tell me why you think so!!

Let me decide whether your opinion has merit, LOL! You may have brought something to mind I hadn't considered.

Good stuff Ruthy!! I see you took this opportunity to sneak in some of YOUR favortie photos, too, HA!

Pass the kuchen, please...

Melanie Dickerson said...

Yes, everyone has an opinion. Sometimes they're exact opposites. I've experienced this, too. It just goes to show that not everyone is going to like my books. I know that. I can accept that.

I try to keep my opinions to myself, when they're not favorable to the other person. Like, it's probably best if I don't say that I'm really not into Derek Jeter or the Yankees. I'm actually a Red Sox fan. But nobody really needs to know that, do they? It just has the potential to cause hard feelings.

And whether or not I like Jeter, I LOVE Ruthy! Can't wait to read your books! :-) (Don't hate me.)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Audra, speaking of my favorite photos and my favorite baseball player ever (who had the most delightfully natural and wonderful family, btw) do you all know that my pal DEREK JETER broke Lou Gehrig's all time NY Yankees hit record last night????

And so nice about the whole thing. He doesn't thrive on the fanfare, the nonsense. He just loves baseball. Playing well. Playing hard.

Oh, wait, we're talking WRITING opinions??? Big laugh here.

Baseball opinions are welcome as well. In fact Nanny Girl and her husband are heading to New York City tonight to pester Lawyer Boy and go to Ground Zero tomorrow and a Yankees game tomorrow night.

Back to writing:

Audra, what a great analogy to jewelry. Yes, we craft what the audience reads in our own special way.

It takes a bit of humility to realize that's not only okay, it's a good choice.

Ah, humility.

Dagnabbit, a big downfall around here!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Melanie, MBA Boy in Boston is dating a Red Sox gal. A sweetheart, just a touch misguided by proximity to Fenway!!!


We don't hate Boston here. Are you kidding? Great Irish area, that would be like hating my roots... And what a beautiful city to visit??? Oh my stars, I love it.

I'm heading there later this fall to see Luke and pester him, and scout out book locations. Love that city.

And when I was at Fenway earlier this year, while the fans really hate the Yankees as a whole, no one hates Jeter. And the Sox fans were really nice to us...

Seriously nice.

Gotta respect that totally.

And Mel I'd love you even if you were a Cubbies fan.


Poor Cubs.


Julie Lessman said...

Mornin' Ruthy ... not a favorite subject of mine, as you know. Ahem ... I'm not real good at smiling through those opposing opinions ... uh, especially when they belong to my editor, so I have to tell you that I truly admire your stance on this. It's the right thing to do, of course, and I'm trying, I really am. I'm usually better the 2nd week after, after LOTS of prayer and repentence ... and, of course, a few hard whacks from a really good friend ... :)


Cathy Shouse said...

This was a great post. I have always taken every criticism seriously, which I don't think it necessarily good. A few years back, one judge really liked my character's attempt at humor and the other one said it wasn't Christian and she hoped the character would grow by the end. I ended up trying to please both, watering it down so it wasn't really very funny but wouldn't offend anyone either :(

I've also recently learned that all judge's comments can be taken several ways. I kept the judge's comments from a few years ago. One said my character reminded her of Blair in Linda Howard's book. I thought that was cool at the time (although I didn't know that character and hadn't read Linda Howard).

After judging for the first time, I dug up those comments and saw that judge had given me all threes on my character. I guess it wasn't a compliment. Who knows!

Just thought I'd share and let me know what you think of the comment and the score, if anyone has thoughts on that. Was it a good comment or bad?!

Lisa Karon Richardson said...

I have the same sort of contest stories. In two contests the same ms got a perfect score and a score around 80%. Judges pointed out my use of the pronoun she. One wanted me to use the character's name more, one wanted me to use the pronoun more. in truth, we agonize over things like that, but most readers who aren't writers aren't going to notice or care. Especially when the 'expert' opinions are split.

I judged a contest for the first time this year. So I know how hard judges work to try to give the most valuable advice they can. Its YOUR story and you get to decide how to tell it. Other opinions are only important if you want to see the story published!

Thanks for stopping by Inkwell today Ruthy. We needed that coffee. I might swipe some of this exotic 'kuchen' stuff I keep hearing about too.

In my opinion, the world can't have too many kinds of pastry.

Keli Gwyn said...

Good morning, Ruthy. What a feast you have for us today. Choice cyber fare and a meaty topic. I snagged one of the stuffed cheese croissant puffs. Yum!

Conflicting feedback. Yikes! We all receive it, right? But what to do with it. Hmm?

I'm doing my best to learn to deal with it big-girl style. Subjectivity is a huge part of this business. Now it's contest judge comments that may make little sense, but that's training for the day I'm published and receive reviews. Some people will enjoy my stories and please me with a profusion of praise. Others will delight in pointing out my stories' failings--publicly and painfully. I gotta learn to take it all, cuz it's gonna happen. If I can't, I'd better consider another profession pronto.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i had this experience in the genesis contest. two judges loved it, one apparently hated (thus a low score from that one)...and it happened to revolve around a secondary character. it's hard to read the opposing views, but i ultimately did what i thought was right about it. i suppose if i had an editor who stood in as the speedbump to publication who was telling me to do certain things, that would change everything. :)

The Character Therapist

Glynna Kaye said...

great post, Ruthy. Oh, so true. And how do you always manage to weave Jeter into the mix :)

Mary Connealy said...

The best thing about contest judges comments is that we learn to make our own decisions, take what works and helps and ignore the rest. But it's good practice making judgements.

Tara said...

I'll take a cup of coffee. :] I've always got an opinion, but I at least try to make it an educated one. And in this case, we really are talking educated opines. Editors have the education/experience to make suggestions to a story where others opines may have the value of a penny.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


You know one of the things I love most about you (of the myriad) is your unbridled honesty and enthusiasm.

You're never afraid to flog yourself in public and so many of us are super-careful with our 'public' image while being ridiculously normal behind the scenes.

I love that you're normal, that you struggle and identify those struggles.

Being a little bone-headed gives people like you and me plenty of room for growth, LOL! We're God's canvas, in need of a finishing touch!

Back to humility again, dagnabbit!

Love you, kid.

And there's nothing wrong with a little venting, right? That's what friends are for????

Amen, Sistah!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cathy, that's an interesting smackdown, honey.

Reminds you of Linda Howard but no hint whether or not that's like the judge's new bff author, like, 'oh my gosh, I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that Ruthy or that Cheryl or that Julie or that Linda...'

And since she gave you threes, she was kind of saying...


That's from some movie or something.




I loved how Deb did her plotstorm a few weeks back, and that works for character deepening too. So if that person thought it wasn't strong enough, Cath, the first question is: Is he/she right?

Because she might not be. You already experienced that with watering down the other plot and thinning important aspects of it. Sometimes that works, sometimes it's an exercise in futility.


How do I fix it?

I look at books/shows I love or relate to. NCIS. Love the characters, the snappy reparte. House. That's obviously a huge favorite among Seekervillians...


When I see these characters, I want to create characters that reflect that depth in a story, so I emulate them. (Copy sounds so cheesy, don't you think???)

Give 'em a reason to be who they are.

And I don't always know that reason when I start a book. The original beginning of Winter's End has the heroine noticing a dirty window, smudged and high, unreachable, light straining through the glass...

That scene came to me and I wrote the book around that. All I knew at the time was I wanted a hospice experience...

A book of love. Of life. Of loss.

But those original pages morphed as the characters developed over the writing and the scenes changed but the end product was exactly what I aimed for.

And all from that dirty window.

Cathy, do you plot and plan or go SOTP?


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Lisa, I just brought more kuchen. Help yourself!

There's apple and peach and a delicious cheese/strawberry variety. So good. Nice, bread/cake type bottom, thick with filling, topped with streusel....



And I loved stopping by! Lovely, lovely blogsite with beautiful people. Blessed. Absolutely.

So grab some kuchen honey, and feel free to grab more coffee too.

Mi casa es su casa.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Ah, my little friend Keli sounds like a recent graduate of the Ruthy-smackdown-pull-up-your-big-girl-panties-school, doesn't she????


Good job!

Go you!

Because, yeah, we're a different strokes society. Can't please 'em all, but if we can make some smile, some yearn, some recognize the face of God in a dirty child or an angry teen, or the really smelly bearded guy panhandling on Broadway.

We did good, my friend.

And aren't those cheese/strawberry croissants to die for??? Almost literally?

I refuse to contemplate the calories in pastry that good.


Pepper Basham said...

HA!! Reading your stream of conscience is like jumping inside my head.LOL.

Great post and oh, so true. It really helps me remember how I'm supposed to keep things in balanced (as balanced as I ever get) perspective.

I had one editor tell me "The premise is great, but your heroine is somewhat annoying."
Another said, "I loved your heroine. She's so engaging."

Like you said, I had to choose between the two, so I turned the amp down just a little bit on my friendly southern girl, but kept her basic personality and it seems to be working :-)

The comments the judges gave me on my WIP for the BRMCWC have been huge- changed the whole dynamic of my WIP and made it a much stronger story. I still write what I love, but modifying it has made me love it even's much more 3-dimensional.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jeannie, you made a great point.

When the editor signing the check offers direction, it's not exactly a bad idea to take it, right?

I mean, seriously... :)

But, even before that, we all encounter this and I remember scratching my head, wondering which way to go, discussing it with Seekers and local writing buds...

And we came to the conclusion that we need to be our own best/worst critics. And that entails critical thinking and analysis.

I think that's tough for most of us, especially when we're the creator... But I also think it's a really good step toward professionalism.

After the hissy fit, of course!!!



Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pepper, that totally rocks.

And the weird thing about being in your head, besides the overstock of gray matter because you're that smart, and the slime factor I attribute to spinal/cerebral fluid, is that it's actually quite comfortable there, thank you very much!!!

A home away from home, LOL!

I love it when depth we thought we had, actually goes deeper.


PatriciaW said...

Hilarious, especially if one reads all the comment responses too.

Ruthy, what would we aspiring authors do without your wit and wisdom? I got some of that type of feedback from Genesis this year too. I frowned, put it away, and then read the feeback again a few days later. Focused on what the judges said in common. Figured if I could incorporate that into my writing, I'll be a few steps ahead next year. Then we'll see about those opposing opinions...

Hey, gotta start somewhere, right?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

God Bless Tina for fixing my pic today...

Oh my stars, mylanta and my everything else you can think of...

I couldn't make it smaller. It was HUGE...

And lots of teeth.

And Ruthy hair everywhere.

Thank you Tina!!!

I look somewhat normal now. As if!



Pepper Basham said...

Great teeth, Ruthy. Very straight. :-)

Comfortable? In my head? Ah, I know what it have 6 kids - that explains it ;-)...and the stream of conscience issues

I dont' have an editor paying 'big bucks' for my manuscripts...yet, but I also see myself and a perpetual student with gobs and gobs to learn.

Taking that perspective has helped (though I still get hurt, frustrated, annoyed...even a tad bit angry, but I blame that on hormones - not really me. Anger should always be blamed on other things besides oneself, you know)

I've just learned so much from commenters and if I consider that most of them are really trying to 'help' me - that's an added 'perspective bonus'.

I think the variety of 'inspirational' books offered in the market contests to the mass 'opinions' and interests out there - so writing what we love is vital, but experienced guidance within that realm is also vital. "Just sayin..." ;-)

Tina M. Russo said...

Great post, Ruth. I think it is exciting to see where each of our stories find their home. Right where they are supposed to be.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Patricia, thank you, beautiful!

I love that I get thanked for smacking people around.

In their own best interests, of course!


Patricia, that's it exactly. We start somewhere. And if you stop learning and stretching in this business, you can get stale way too easily. We've all lamented that often enough, haven't we? Authors that lose us do to repetivity, lack of 'gloss', same old, same old...

And yet...

And yet......

There's something to be said for niche writing as well.

I firmly believe God shifts us one way or the other and that it's often our bullheadedness and fear that impedes our progress.

You rock, woman. Begin at the beginning, which is...

Write the book.

Then re-write the book.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pep, thanks for noticing my teeth.


Dear me, it takes a double dose of whitener to keep these babies smile-able.



Oh one who saved us all from the blinding glare of that 8 x 10 pic of me...

And the TEETH!!!

Right where they should be.

Yes, I love that. Believe that. And as long as that sweet Melissa Endlich doesn't figure out what she's done and snatch those contracts back, running screaming for the hills, we're all set.


I got a perfect fortune cookie...

oh my stars...

It said: "Change isn't a part of life. Change IS life..."

Jules, you got that, honey????



Missy Tippens said...

Hey, Ruthy! I just thought you'd misspelled kitchen, and couldn't figure out why kitchen wouldn't be in the dictionary! So I had to go look up kuchen. Never ever heard of it! Sounds yummy!

Great post! And so true. And as someone else mentioned, I'm wondering how you manage to get Derek in every single post!! He should pay you a PR fee. :)


Cathy Shouse said...

Ruthy, I appreciate your thoughts on the judge's comments about Linda Howard.

I wrote that story as a pantser. I THINK I'm becoming a little more of a plotter, or at least a "What are the conflicts and high points?" person.

Frankly, all those comments and mixed messages were a bit stifling and I haven't been quite the same wrier since, for better or worse :)

Wait, now that I think about it, I think you were my judge in the Barclay, was it? And you were encouraging enough to help me keep on keeping on. Yes, I do have a handwritten page here somewhere from you!


Project Journal said...

Hey Ruthy!
Great post! In the weekend edition, it said that you were going to be posting today...all day at school I was waiting to come on(after school) and see what you wrote about! Lol....I liked it alot(except the Derek Jeter part : / Red Sox fan all the way, baby!!) You are always so interesting to hear from!

Ok, I have to go try get some homework done before I go to physical therapy, then to grandparent's farm to watch my sister practice driving the steers for the fair next week, grab a quick bite to eat, and head to musical practice!! Just a peek into my hectic schedule for you : ) But you provided just the break I needed!

Gina Welborn said...






Umm, I elect to censor my opinion.

A. A. Stone said...

Thanks, Ruthy. It's just awesome that all those judges' comments carried your stories to publication. What a thrill to know all the sacrifices and hard work is starting to pay off!

Helen Gray said...


I think I'm a voyeur. I read this blog regularly, and comment on occasion, but mostly I just read and learn. Most of the time I just don't feel that I have anything of value to add to what's been said.

But today's comments on contest results kind of struck a nerve. I've gotten results from two contests in the past month.

For the most part, I've incorporated the adivce of the judges into revisions. But on one entry I had to make those CHOICES some of you spoke of. The two published judges indicated that the inspirational element in my story was okay and gave me perfect scores in that area. The unpublished judge knocked my teeth out. ('Course, I didn't have any poly-grip on'em.) She took of several points. That unpublished judge also criticized my transitions, while the two published judges made no mention of such a problem. When I evaluated those differing opinions, I decided to leave those aspects of the story as they are. Made me feel like I had grown big and tough.

Now Ruthie, I just gotta let you know my position on baseball. I am a dedicated fan. Derek Jeter is a nice guy, but I'm a National Leaguer and an Albert Pujols fan. I am particularly proud of Albert because of the way he always gives God credit for everything and is so open about his Christianity.

Helen Gray

P.S. I have a non-related question. How do you guys get your pictures into this site?

Ruth Logan Herne said...


You had me in the Barclay and didn't quit????

Oh my stars, woman, you're TOUGH!

That's how I weed out the competition, Cupcake...


Smack 'em.... Only the strong survive a Ruthy judging. Good job, girlfriend!!!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy, isn't it amazing how I can weave Jeter into almost any conversational setting?

"Would you like cream with your coffee, Ma'am?"

"Yes, please, and didn't Derek Jeter look wonderful last night?"

"Did you want the blue or the black cross trainer, Ma'am?"

"The blue, please, it reminds me of Yankee blue and doesn't that particular shade of navy just look great on Derek Jeter?"

Missy, it's a practiced art. :)

I can teach you but you're Southern, honey, you come by it natural!


Oh, and kuchen....

So yummy. One of those things you grow up with and miss when they change things over to Americanized bakery stuff and lingo.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Oh my stars, girl, you are my kind of young woman. The very kind I write about.

In Waiting Out the Storm, my heroine is a Shepherd. A woman farmer, on her own, working the accelerated STAR program to push lambing numbers up. Not exactly what many consider a politically correct or feminine pasttime, but I loved writing her because I LOVE women that get dirty and clean up well.

A quality my husband values too, Hannah!

Real men aren't afraid to let their women get dirty.

:) Grinning here.

Hannah, I love hearing from you. And I understand love of Red Sox...

See my response to Melanie above. The Red Sox rock. Seriously. What a great organization in a great city, but...


I married a Yankee fan, studied baseball stats when I was 15 years old to IMPRESS him (LOL!!!) and became a fan by default.

And then throw Jete into the mix.

Oh my stars. :)

But that Dustin Pedroia is one tough little player and he and Derek got friendly at the World Baseball Classic.

What would you think of Dustin in pinstripes, cutie???



Ruth Logan Herne said...



You don't have to love my team to love me, Baby!

Love you.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, A. A.!!!


Love those initials, Sweets!

And what I loved about those early judge's comments was that I couldn't do anything to make both happy.

In the end I didn't have to. It was a matter of who grabbed it first. Or nobody, but it was strong enough to garner interest and that's a wonderful thing, right?

It's so hard to sort through the comments and get 'er done!


Ruth Logan Herne said...


Pujols is an amazing player. Totally. And the National League has its share of greats. And baseball fans stick together, right, for the good of the country????


I've got to head to work, so I'm going to come back to your contest results later. We'll chat it up.

And I love your name. Totally strong, beautiful name, Helen.

And sometimes those judges, Helen???

Umm, not so much!

We've all had that happen where the discordant judge is either GREAT in their help or totally clueless.

And it's possible yours falls into the latter category, but it's hard to know from here.

And sometimes they say just enough to almost make sense and disrupt our self-esteem, then zing us.


But like Pepper said, it gets us ready because there's an international audience out there that may or may not like us.

And they not only know how to read, they write reviews, LOL!

We'll hang tough together, Helen.


Janet Dean said...

Great post, Ruthy! You're so right. We aren't married to our words. If it eases the pain to cut them, stick them in a file. :-)

I'd never heard of kuchens. Someone ate them all. Please describe them for this midwesterner.

I'm whispering here. We're Cubs fans.


Ann said...

I can so relate to Helen's experiences with results. I entered more contests this year than last, so I've had to practice setting aside the ol' pouty lip.

I'm trying to learn from the results. In some areas, my scores have definitely improved. In others ... well ... like a good Cubs fan I keep telling myself "Next year ..."

Debby Giusti said...

Hey Ruthy,
Great chatter today! Bottom line, you go with the one who wants to buy the book. Right?

Whoo-hoo!!! Can't wait to read your debut!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Oh mylanta, I'm so proud of you girls for owning up!!!

Seriously proud.

Go Cubbies!!!

Hugs and kisses for both of you for being true to your team. And those cute Red Sox gals, too!

Janet, amen, sister. Can't be afraid to cut. Or hurt. Or disillusioned.



Work some more.

And Deb, yes!

Goin' with the one that wants the book is NEVER bad advice, LOL!

Because there can be other books, other chances and doors crack open once you've proved yourself, which you have.

Loved Protecting Her Child. Beautiful book.

And Ann, it's like that with contests. You guys know we're always available to help sort through stuff, right? Offer sage advice?

Or horrible advice, it all comes down to opinion! :)


Kathleen L. said...

I thought this quote apropos:
"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help." Abraham Lincoln

If we take our critiques as the help they are intended to be for our writing, its a win-win situation. No judge signs up to donate his/her time just to be mean. At the heart is a desire to be helpful. That takes the sting away from hard edits.
Oh, and hate to say it, but I'm totally not a baseball fan. Jeter is a cutie, but I much prefer Heinz Ward of the Steelers. He should do Orbit gum commercials with that smile!
; )