Sunday, March 28, 2010

SECRETS OF THE SLUSH PILE ... and Giveaway!


Groan ... The dreaded slush pile -- that black hole in editors' offices where all the missing socks in the world can be found.

Julie here, and I ask you -- wouldn't it be wonderful if we could scale that paper mountain and get our manuscripts to the top of an editor's "to do" list?

Well ... today is your lucky day, because we have as our guest a bona fide "reader" for Harlequin who is ready and willing to let you in on a few of the secrets of that notorious slush pile.

So without further ado, please welcome my very good friend, Patty Smith Hall, a Southern gal with a riverboat-load of charm and a genuine drawl that takes me back to the Old South. Take it away, Patty ...

Thanks, ladies for having me on Seekerville today. I’ve got to tell you; I’m a little in awe of this group of talented ladies. Their morning posts always leave me thinking of how I can improve as a writer while making me grin at the start of my day.

Today, I want to share some tips I’ve learned while working as a first reader for Harlequin over the past three years. If you’re not sure what a first reader is, I’m one of the people who help editors weed through those legendary slush piles by reading a manuscript and evaluating it for further consideration.

Being a first reader is a wonderful learning opportunity, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Making the decision to reject someone’s work is extremely difficult, so I approach each manuscript I’m assigned with a prayerful heart.
So what are a few of the biggest problems in manuscripts I see as a first reader?

1) Conflict:

‘Dramatic conflict is the stuff of a good story.’
Ron Benrey, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Christian Fiction

Everyone loves a happy ending, especially in a romance. And I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s that much sweeter when the hero and heroine both go through an emotionally charged situation that tests their ideas of who they truly are. As they fall in love with each other, we, as readers, enjoy ‘falling in love’ with them. We become invested in their particular story.
In the manuscripts I’ve evaluated and had to eventually reject, the conflict hasn’t been properly developed or in a few cases, not developed at all.

The first example of this is when a story is built around an external conflict. For example, let’s take a hero from the wrong side of the railroad tracks while the heroine is a sheltered young woman from a ‘good’ family. While this is a tried and true plot line, if the only thing keeping this couple apart is the 12:30 Amtrak rolling through town, the reader is going to be yelling “MOVE THAT TRAIN!”

In cases like this, the author didn’t get to the character’s motivation or the hero/heroines ‘why’ as Laurie Schnebly calls in her class, Plot via Motivation. Why is the hero letting the train tracks keep him from the girl of his dreams? Is it because he feels inferior socially? Or does he know that his father is a member of the heroine’s social structure and is holding true to his mother’s memory by staying away from 'those people?' Or does he feel responsible for his father’s money woes because of his wild teenage ways? When a writer gets to the last 'why' question and can’t come up with an answer, that’s the beginning of understanding your character’s internal motivation that will unlock the real conflict of your story.

Another problem I’ve seen in submissions is the failure to introduce any conflict until the last half of the book. In several manuscripts I evaluated, everything would be going along at a slow, sunshine and roses pace when BAM! A conflict would pop up in the last fifty pages almost like an afterthought. Sorry, but that thing doesn’t cut it with most readers(or editors for that matter). Conflict should be on that first page if possible, or at least, by the end of the first chapter.

A situation that comes up less frequently is the inclusion of several conflicts that muddy the waters of the story. In one story I read, the heroine had five competing struggles. Any one of them would have made for a compelling story, but five! Maybe I’m not that bright, but when a writer pushes five conflicts together in a 250-300 page novel, it just made me want to cry, “Pick one! Just one!”

A few other thoughts on conflict:
a) Every scene should build on the conflict to reach its satisfying ending. If it doesn’t, it’s time to consider the delete key, no matter how painful it may be.

b) The conflict in your story should last to the very last page. I’ve read several great manuscripts that I’ve had to reject because the conflict was resolved at the 2/3rd point. If the last 75-100 pages don’t build to the conflict, delete, delete, delete!

c) If a conflict can be cleared up with one conversation, then it’s not enough to carry a 250-300 page book.

Finally—never, ever, EVER end your story without resolving the conflict. I don’t know about you, but nothing frustrates me more that getting to the end of a book, waiting for that happy ending and having the author leave me hanging. When a writer leaves the conflict unresolved, they’ve broken a trust with their readers. Like most broken relationships, it takes a lot of work to build up that bond up again.

2) Characterization:
“You have one major and overriding goal when it comes to characterization: Make the reader fall in love with your hero and heroine.” Julie Beard, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Your Romance Published.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Jo and Laurie. Rhett and Scarlett. Timeless couples that most of us know and love. As writers, we want to create characters that stay with our readers long after they’ve finished that last page.

Characterization is a big problem in manuscripts I’ve evaluated. One of the most common situations is allowing your character to keep the reader at arms’ length. Readers have to have an emotional connection with your characters, but that’s difficult to do if the writer isn’t quite sure of what emotion their hero/heroine is feeling in any given situation. Characterization charts are great tools to use because the more you know your character, the more your reader will.

Speaking about characterization charts—it’s a good idea to do one on all the characters in your book. Secondary characters need to be fleshed out. Think of it this way—when my kids were growing up, I always knew how things were going for my girls by looking at the people they hung out with. Same thing goes for our characters. Secondary characters add flavor to a story, and you never know when one of them might yell for a plotline of their own.

Another thing—don’t make your characters too good or too bad to be believable. We’ve all got flaws, and our characters should have them too. Enough said!

3) Passive Writing:

"Active Writing minces no words. It calls attention directly to responsible agents, stating clearly what they do and how they affect their surroundings. Passive writing wastes words." Peter Denning, On Active and Passive Writing

Passive writing is a huge problem in rejected manuscripts because the writer is telling their story rather than showing it happening in real time. It’s like comparing a movie to photographs—a movie draws you into the action, gets you involved, while pictures may need an explanation. Make your story into a movie with a private showing in your reader’s head.

What are the two biggest symptoms of passive writing?

a) The use of words like was, were, had, have, is, are.

b) Adverbs that end in ly like hopefully, gracefully, peevishly, scornfully.

Strong verbs make for more active writing. A great tool for finding strong verbs is a Flip Dictionary which you can find on Amazon for as little as $3.

There is a time and place for passive writing because let’s face it, if we didn’t use it, our books would be the size of ‘War and Peace.’ But in action scenes, use active words.

4) Inconsistencies/Following Publisher Guidelines:

"Guidelines are not merely suggestions." Patty Smith Hall

Okay, so I threw in this last quote, but it’s true. Publisher’s guidelines can be found on every single publisher’s website and should be read before submitting. You can have a great manuscript, but if it’s single-spaced and written in 8 font script, the eyestrain may cause the editor or first reader to put it down. Most publishing houses require Times New Roman or Courier New in an 11 point font, double spaced. In the header, remember to put your last name, title of your manuscript and page number.

Nothing can take me out of a story quicker than an event or a plot point that I know isn’t possible. For example, if you’re writing a World War II story about female pilots, you’d better know that they were considered civilian volunteers and weren’t given military rank. Our readers come from all walks of life with experiences in everything under the sun. They KNOW when the writer gets something wrong. The Internet has made research a snap. So check your facts because if you don’t, someone else will.

I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have or just leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win a May online class with Laurie Schnebly, Revision Heaven.

And good luck ... both in this giveaway contest AND with your escape from that pesky slush pile!

71 comments :

  1. Good morning all, and no, I am not normally up this early in the morning, but I just found out that my son is having surgery for a broken leg Monday morning VERY early, so I wanted to welcome Patty and get the buffet set up because I will be out of commission for a while.

    Now, this is a woman who spends a lot of her time wading through the proverbial slush pile, so don't be afraid to ask her the tough questions -- like are there really dirty socks in that mountain of papers???

    We've got lots of hot coffee on, cinnamon hazelnut along with traditional brews and a Southern buffet that would make Scarlett proud (and I hope, Patty!). So dig in and have fun, and I hope to check in later this afternoon.

    Thanks SO much, Patty, for a great blog today.
    Hugs,
    Julie

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  2. Hi Julie I hope everything goes well for yoour son tomorrow!!

    Hi Patty! :-)

    Sorry I haven't been around for a few days everyone, I was in Ohio visiting my cousin's new twin baby girls.

    That said I haven't been able to read AT ALL these past 4 or 5 days and the book I just picked up seems to have too much going on as far as conflict goes! So Patty, as a reader I can totally agree if there are too many things happening or even a lot of drama and it's supposed to be a "light" romance I won't really enjoy the story.

    Please don't enter me, I'm not a writer just had to stop by and give my two cents. :-P

    XOXO~ Renee

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  3. Julie,
    Prayers for your son! Keep us posted!

    Patty, thanks for the great insights into getting an editor's attention.

    Would you tell us more information about the actual reader process? How long do you have to read the manuscripts? Do you write a critique of the submissions or give them a point rating? Are you the first and only reader before the story goes back to the editor? We'd be interesting in knowing how it all works. Thanks!

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  4. BTW, I just watched Titanic on TV. Lots of great conflict and wonderful characters! If only all our stories could be so compelling.

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  5. Hi Patty:

    I am curious about “Revision Heaven”. Is this title meant to be an oxymoron -- because if they are still doing revisions in Heaven, what chance do we have here on earth?

    I have four short questions:

    What percentage of manuscripts do you reject within the first ten pages?

    What percentage of manuscripts are in the first person POV?

    Will you even consider a manuscript that does not have a synopsis?

    Do you ever reject a manuscript based simply on the synopsis? (Without reading a word of the story.)

    Thanks,

    Vince

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  6. Hi Julie:

    My prayers are with your son tonight. I had a tib-fib break in three places and know what it is like. The good thing is they have the pain management thing down real well and PT people are the most wonderful people in the medical profession. Please keep us updated.

    Vince

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  7. Great post. I will add your suggestions to my revision's checklist that I read before I start my own edit. I am also interested in the answers to the already asked questions. Thank you!

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  8. That picture is downright SCARY!!!

    I am also interested in answers to the questions that have already been asked.

    Helen

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  9. Well, I'm on the going-to-bed end of the clock! So I'll say great post, Patty!! And I look forward to all the discussion TOMORROW after I sleep for, oh, 5 hours. :)

    Julie, I'll be praying for your son's surgery!

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  10. Julie-first let me tell you how much I love that new book cover.

    Great questions this morning (last night), but to dig deeper Patty, do you read the synopsis first, or after, or during?

    Have a wonderful week everyone. Julie you'll really have to let us know how your son is doing later this week!

    my word verification is Sucksess.
    Seems like it's own oxymoron.

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  11. Julie, I'm adding my prayers for your son.

    Patty, thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience. I'm interested in finding out the answers to all the previously asked questions and would also like to know how you became a reader for a publishing house. Thanks!

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  12. Julie, I'll be praying for your son's successful surgery and quick/complete healing today.

    Patty, I agree with you about this group of blogging ladies. I don't get to visit everyday, but when I do I always come away with something that helps my writing while making me laugh. Thanks for sharing the information. Those were points I needed to hear.

    diannashuford(at)gmail(dot)com

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  13. Can't believe it ... I got ready in record time (a first, believe me), so I have exactly six minutes before my husband yells, "the bus is leaving!"

    My thanks to everyone who is praying for my son's surgery today. He is 26 and broke his right lower leg in two places in a hockey game, so please pray for total healing because this kid would die if he couldn't play sports again!

    And, WHOA, you guys have some great questions, all of which I want to know myself, so looks like we'll be keeping Patty hopping today. I think she's limited to how often she can drop by, but she will be buy several times, so hang in there.

    And, Deb, thanks for the compliment on my new cover. I love it, too, because it is SO Katie O'Connor!!

    Hugs to all,
    Julie

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  14. Julie, praying for your son. Hope he heals completely.

    Patty, terrific post. Thanks so much. As one who is submitting to Steeple Hill, this post is a great reminder about what my manuscript needs.

    Which imprint do you read for?

    Do you see the same plots over and over again? Is that a good or bad thing?

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  15. Wow, you guys are up and at it this morning! Thanks for the great reception!

    Debby, When I receive a manuscript, I have 3 weeks from the day it was sent to return it. I don't receive a synopsis so I read the complete story, making notes along the way about any problems I might see. Then I write a synopsis of the story, and evaluate plot/conflict, pacing, characterization, inconsistencies, writing style and voice. Most of the time, I'm the only person who reads it before I return it to the editor, but sometimes, I'm asked to give a second opinion on a previously evaluated manuscript.

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  16. Welcome Patty, and WOWZA all this insider information.

    We are so blessed.

    Second round of coffee coming through ladies, and gents.

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  17. Patty, do you ever find yourself in the position of fighting for a manuscript you believe in?

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  18. Vince,
    Thanks for the questions.

    I don't get a synopsis with any of the manuscripts I receive so I read each one from cover to cover. About 10% are recommended to the editor for either acceptance or resubmission with changes. As far as POV, I haven't received any manuscripts in first person in the three years I've been doing this.

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  19. ooooh and what happens when you find the msc is by someone you KNOW??

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  20. Patty you are killing me. I have to get ready for work but questions, so many questions.

    Do you read across imprints?

    Do you read published author's manuscripts for various reasons?

    Is this a conflict of interest for you since you are an aspiring author?

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  21. My last peep in here as I head out the door...btw whoever brought the mini cinnamon rolls..YUMMY.

    Patty, thank you for being a reader.If not for brave and discerning folks like you there would not be a slush pile and that would not be a good thing.

    I sold thanks to the slush pile.

    So a big hug and kiss from me to you.

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  22. Praying Jules,

    Welcome to Seekerville Patty,

    Some of the info I already knew but as Tina said, Wowza. What a wealth of great info and it sure explains a lot of the business of submitting.

    It sounds like you have the complete manuscript. If so, then someone saw the proposal and requested the complete for you to read. Is that right?

    Are there readers who sift through the proposals or are the editors doing that?

    Thanks for the info.

    I brought some southwest chorizo and egg burros if anyone is hungry yet. Some bagels and cream cheese if you're not into spicy. smile

    Thanks again, Patty.

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  23. Kav, thanks for dropping by the morning.

    I became a first reader the Spring of 2008 after one of the editors at Harlequin posted a call-out on the American Christian Fiction Writers loop. I had heard about reading for publishing houses but thought it was an urban legend until then.

    Anywho, I replied(along with about 200 others.) Harlequin sent me a test mansucript along with a ten page guideline with very specific instructions on evaluating manuscripts. I must have done something right because they offered me the position a few days after I returned the test.

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  24. Lisa, good to have you here at Seekerville this morning!

    I read all the Steeple Hill imprints along with the more conservative lines. In other words, no vampires, werewolfs or exotic for me.

    You know, in the three years that I've been doing this, I haven't seen one repeated plotline.

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  25. Julie - we'll be praying for your son!!! Gracious. And you thought of breakfast??

    Welcome Patty!!

    These are great questions!

    Does the author see any of your notes?

    How many manuscripts do you work on at a time?

    What are a few other lessons you have learned from reading the work of others?

    How were you selected to become a reader? Do you envision doing this for many years to come?

    Do other imprints use this method? Is this a trend others are considering to help with acquisitions?

    Inquiring minds want to know. You are so gracious to share. :)

    ksf895 at citlink dot net

    Thank you for your time and... happy reading!!

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  26. Patty,

    Are the guidelines for evaluation proprietary? If not, may we see? It seems to me that might be helpful in a general way.

    Congratulations on answering that call-out!

    God has a plan!

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  27. This post was incredibly helpful! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    edwina.cowgill[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  28. Wow, Tina, you're just full of questions this morning! LOL

    I'm not high enough in the food chain to 'fight for a manuscript.' But I do try to make it clear in my evaluation when I feel that a story is something special. Usually these are the ones that make me forget I'm doing a job because I'm enjoying the read so much.

    If I get a manuscript by someone I know, I recluse myself. It's the only fair way to handle it for the publisher and for me.

    I don't read any manuscripts for an already published author. I only get those by hopefuls in the slush pile.

    As far as the conflict of interest question, Harlequin posted this job on a writing loop so they were aware they would be getting a writer that might be targeting Steeple Hill. I think that's how it is in most publishing houses, at least that's what my understanding is.

    The way I look at it is Harlequin is giving me an education that very few writers get. I'm just thankful for the opportunity.

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  29. Vince,
    Loved you comment about Revision Heaven! I was in deep edits last week and it didn't feel like heaven to me!

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  30. Good Morning Sandra,
    Generally what happens is an editor will read a proposal or hear a pitch at a conference and request a full. When the full arrives, it is logged into the system and assigned to a reader. Once the editor received the evaluation from the reader, they will either reject it, citing the reader's report to pinpoint problems or if it comes back with a recommended acceptance, they will read the manuscript.

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  31. That was a great post of info! It brought some sunshine on this dreary rainy New England day!

    Julie hope your son has a speedy recovery.

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  32. K C, thanks for dropping by this morning.

    The author doesn't see my evaluation notes, though they can be used to pinpoint problems in rejected manuscripts.

    When I started as a reader, it wasn't unusually for me to do 3-4 evaluations a month. But about a year ago, I ask to be cut back to 1-2 a month so that I would have time for my own writing. Evaluations take up a good bit of time and I don't take the task lightly.

    I guess the one thing I've learned from this that has had an effect on my writing is to never rush a project. So many of the manuscript I seen reads like first drafts rather than a revised and edited product. So now, I work hard to finish but I work even harder to edit and send out the very best I can.

    Do I see myself being a reader for years to come? Maybe. I enjoy the work and even when I get the call(you'll notice I said when and not if!) there is still so much to learn about writing. It would be hard to give up such a wonderful learning opportunity.

    As far as first readers becoming a part of the publishing team, I think they already are. I know several writers who have been reading for various houses for a number of years. So first readers aren't the urban legend I once thought they were.

    Most of the guidelines I received are the same ones that are posted on the Harlequin website so your best bet would be to study them.

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  33. Thanks Patty ~
    Really appreciate you!

    And now, back to revising the revised revisions. :)

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  34. Wow! Patti! Your post was so helpful it has given a lot to think about, I may print it out for future reference!

    And I understand what you mean by to much conflict I picked up a book the other day by an author which I had very much enjoyed her work previously, but when I picked up her last book there was so much conflict, and the outcome was terrible, with all the conflict I was really anticipating a happy ending, and was very upset when that was not the case

    Please enter me in the contest I always love any opportunity, and chance to better my writing:)
    Lindsey
    lindseypa89(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  35. Hey Mrs.Lessman I am praying for your son.
    I hope his surgery goes well and he recovers quickly!

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  36. Hi Patty:
    Your answers are very enlightening because these are not the answers I expected.

    It would seem that you are not the first step in the process of evaluating a book. Do you know how many steps the manuscript goes through before you get it?

    It also seems that at least some of the ‘slush’ pile books were actually requested. Do you consider a request for a ‘full’ to still be a slush pile book?

    Here’s a hard question: Have you ever critiqued a problem with a manuscript that was the same mistake made in your current WIP? That is, you could see the problem in someone else’s work but not your own.

    Thanks,

    Vince

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  37. Patty, great post. I love this kind of information and everyone has asked such great questions already.
    Thanks for sharing with us!

    Julie, praying for your son's operation, doctors, and his healing.

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  38. Great articale and just what I need to really work and improve my writing. Thank you!!

    caseymh18(at)gmail(dot)com

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  39. Great blog post, Patty!

    Laura

    vernetlh(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  40. PATTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HI!!!!!!!!!!!
    Patty hung around with me in Michigan a year ago. Thank you so much for being nice to four lonely, confused author wandering the country side.

    This post is so good I need to read it ten times, a day, forever.

    Every word was making me think through my own book and weigh all the possibilities.

    You should teach a class at ACFW on this, girl

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  41. Patty,

    I knew publishing companies hired "readers" but this is the first I've gotten to hear details of the job!

    How do you receive the manuscripts? Electronically? If so, was this always the case?

    Have you ever had a hand in "discovering" a first time author, who now is very established in their career?

    Thanks!

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  42. Oh my word, Patty, this is such good stuff, again and again and again.

    Thank you for being here. For sharing. For answering questions. For dealing with slush piles and authors.

    And I love, love, love how you got your job. And I totally respect the sensibility behind it.

    I'm printing and posting this stuff because it's so important to be able to pinpoint things whether you're on the unpubbed-as-yet side of the divide or the published corner, table for two side...

    And your comment about too much conflict. This is me raising my hand and revisiting manuscripts to tone it down a notch. I overcrowd and that's not good. I forget that in sales they had a KISS acronym...

    Keep It Simple, Sister!!!

    And it works for writing like it does for sales.

    Bless you, kid. So much.

    And Jules, praying for your son! For steady hands and a surgeon that doesn't do cocktail hour until oh, gosh... mid-day at least.

    ;)

    I understand sons and sports. Pain-in-the-neck boys with lots of laundry issues. Thank God for Tide.

    Ruthy

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  43. Great post, Patty and wonderful suggestions.
    And I loved the quote "Never rush a project". Wow, I needed to hear that one!
    I can't imagine how much your writing must improve by reviewing other people's writing. Just over the few contests I've judged, I was amazed how much I learned by reviewing authors' works.

    Blessings,

    Pepper

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  44. Thanks so much, Patty. I needed to hear this. My book is contracted, but there's still time to make necessary changes. Don't want to lose a readership before I've had a chance to develop one! I have a lot of thinking to do.
    A million thanks.

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  45. Julie,

    Hope your son's surgery goes well. Sorry to hear about his broken leg.

    Patty,

    Have you ever run across manuscripts that may have been submitted more than once and did you see improvement?

    Also, when you read, do you know the date the manuscript was actually submitted? Do the dates run from one week old to over a year old (or something like that)?

    Regards,

    Walt (who was in Einstein's this morning picking up a baker's dozen of bagles).

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  46. Thanks, Patty. I've learned a lot from your post and from the questions and answers here.

    Would it be OK if I pointed out that Jo did not actually end up with Laurie?

    ~mary

    jprivette1(at)roadrunner(dot)com

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  47. Good post, Patty! I so agree about submission guidelines not being suggestions. The same goes for good writing guidelines. :) You have to learn those first before you know when and how to "break the rules."

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  48. Forgot my e-mail for the giveaway.

    wmussell[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  49. What a great post! Every time I check in here, I feel as though I've attended a writing conference! As I thought through questions, then read through everyone's comments, I found most of them answered, so I'll just add my thanks to Patty for sharing with us!

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing for "Revision Heaven." Am I a glutton for punishment? ;)

    Also, prayers for your son, Julie! I have a daughter who lost a season of soccer due to an auto accident and a fractured pelvis. She was back at it last season, her nickname of "the Beast" intact! I pray that all goes well!

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  50. Ooops! I forgot to leave my email, too!

    trmerrick@bellsouth.net

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  51. Patty, great post. I love the depth of care and consideration you take with each submission. Thanks for sharing about the process.

    Julie, hope your son's surgery went well.

    Waving to everyone else. Have a great week all.

    Cheryl

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  52. Vince,
    My understanding of the evaluation process is that once a manuscript has been logged into the system, an editor will assign it to a reader depending on the imprint.

    Because all fulls have to be requested, it would safe to say that the slush pile is actually the 'requested slush pile.' These are most likely from unagented writers.

    You know, every time I evaluate a manuscript, I learn something new. One thing that this job really impressed upon me was the need to understand plot and conflict. So for the first nine months of 2009, I took online classes on plotting. Though I still like to write a chapter by the seat of my pants, I've learned to outline the story before I get started. It saves time and gives me a clear idea of which way the story is going.

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  53. Rose, thanks for dropping by.

    A hard copy of each manuscript is UPS to me. I never mark them up and always return them with my evaluation to be returned to the author.

    As far as discovering someone, I haven't been a reader long enough to have read someone who is firmly established in their career, but I keep an eye out for those manuscripts that I recommended and have noticed on several author websites that they were contracted. There's something quite satisfying in that.

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  54. Walt, glad to have you here today.

    I have yet to run across a manuscript that has been rejected with the opportunity to resubmit. I have been asked to give a second oppinion but that's about it.

    As I've mentioned before, each manuscript is logged into the system on the date they arrived then immediately assigned to a first reader. At Harlequin, they work extremely hard to not keep a manuscript for more than ninety days from login to either rejection letter or contract.

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  55. Mary,
    I know that Laurie didn't end up with Jo, but I can always dream! LOL I'm a Lousia May Alcott fanatic!

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  56. Patty,
    Since you're an Louisa May Alcott fanatic, have you read The Inheritance?
    I found a GREAT hard copy of LMA's mysteries last summer. I had no idea she wrote mysteries and they are sort of dark. A very different side to her writing - definitely not Little Women material ;-)

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  57. Pepper, I have read The Inheritance and saw the movie on Hallmark. LOVED IT!

    A few years ago, someone found an old LMA manuscript and published it--I was tickled silly when I read it and found that heroine's name was Patty!

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  58. Patty,
    The Inheritance was a great movie. SOOO sweet! It's one of those I just had to purchase, ya know? ;-)

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  59. Mary C,
    I LOVED hanging out with you guys last year. Y'all were so encouraging and just a ray of sunshine in a bleak Michigan spring.

    If you ever want to do a book tour in good ole Atlanta, you know who to call!

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  60. Hi Patty! I think of you often and hope to one day be reading YOUR book :o)

    I feel that I learned so much about the slush pile. I love all the new things I have learned on this site and the comments always help too.

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  61. I pray all goes well for your son not only in surgery but during the recovery process too. As a former Surgical Tech I know that modern medicine is wonderful especially when God is in the equation.

    Thank you for such a wonderful posting...so much information.

    Please enter me into your giveaway & thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  62. Folks, I just want to say thank you for your thoughful questions-it felt like I was at a writer's conference all day long!

    I'll be checking in later tonight for any late comers. But once again thank you for the lovely reception.

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  63. Terrific analysis and advice. Thanks.

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  64. WOW, you guys sure kept Patty hopping today, so THANK YOU for your positive response!

    And especially THANK YOU for praying for my son and your kind comments and well wishes -- blessings, all!

    Patty, you did a WONDERFUL job and gave us such great insight into something we had NO idea about. I do believe yours was the first blog we have ever had on the inner workings of the slush pile in three years of Seekerville, so THANK YOU for coming and enlightening us.

    My son came through surgery beautifully and even survived his klutzy mom jolting his bed when I moved a chair in his hospital room. Scared the heck out of him and me, although my husband and daughter-in-law just shook their heads and smiled.

    Hugs to all!
    Julie

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  65. Patty,
    Thanks for all the great info today. You've given us a wonderful look behind the scenes and provided excellent tips on how to ensure our manuscripts are ready to submit.

    I hope we meet soon since we're both in the ATL area. Hugs for sure!

    Keep up the good work you're doing...and remember BUY SEEKER STORIES and all those written by SEEKER FRIENDS!!! Pretty please!

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  66. Patty, I can't believe no one asked you the question I'm going to ask you:

    Do you need a critique partner???

    :)

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  67. Julie, I'm glad surgery and recovery went well despite a careless, meddling mom! :)

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  68. Great information and analysis.
    Thanks so much!
    Janet Kerr

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  69. Enjoyed the interview & loved the comments! Thanks all. I'd love to win the book.

    browncarole212@yahoo.com

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  70. Wow, that was an insightful post. Thank you so much. Please enter me. valerie at valeriecomer dot com

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