Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Best of Seekerville from the Archives and First Five Pages Critique

Got an Opinion? Bring it on, Babe!

by Ruth Logan Herne

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 macrame. 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 plot line 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!

This post first appeared 9/10/209

Ruth Logan Herne likes to be called “Ruthy.”She loves God, her family, her country, coffee and chocolate, thinks snakes should always live outside, possums should leave cat food alone and all grandchildren should be named for her. A mother and grandmother to seriously smart (read: know-it-all) young people, she writes stories of humor, hope and faith, embracing God’s love and life’s opportunities.

Now an established author with Love Inspired Books, all three books of her North Country books secured the coveted 4 ½ Star Romantic Times rating which only means that some reviewers CAN be bought. 4-Star rated "Reunited Hearts" the first book of her "Men of Allegany County" series is on shelves now and available at Amazon or e-Harlequin. Ruthy loves to entertain guests here in Seekerville, at her fun, food-friendly blogsite "Ruthy's Place" on her website or come visit Ruthy and the totally hot "GUYS" HERE.

Don't forget...

Today is the last day to be considered for our weekly critique.
More info here.


  1. I'm finishing up judging a contest right now. It's not the easiest thing to do. I end up reading things more than one to make sure that, when I make a comment, it's well thought out and specific.

    Yes on the critique. I have new WIPs.

    Blown away by Kentucky's win over Ohio State,

  2. Oh, I loved the alter-ego Ruthie. I think it is okay to let her out once in awhile. We all have some of her in us.
    Thanks for a great post.

  3. Glad you brought breakfast, Ruthy. All I got are the mini donuts - chocolate and powdered. Your stuff is much much better.

    Except that thing about gardening. Relaxing? Honey, the only thing I can grow is hair.

    /makes note to get a haircut/

    But right. Opinions. Did horribly in NTRWA's Great Expectations. I'm in Genesis [twice, Women's Fiction]. I'm looking at Frasier. I'm both dreading and looking forward to hearing from them.

    I've not made it to editors yet - not really. But I've had more than one CP who absolutely hated the overall premise of the MS - or rather the format in which it was told. Finally had to say 'okay, I get that you don't like this part of it, but it's staying so you can stop harping on it'. They didn't, but I said it. ;)

    Now... if some bigwig at Revell or Bethany or someone said it... well, that might be something different =D.

    I would love to get the opinions of one of these fabulous ladies on 5 of my pages!

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  4. Oprah's fine but I wish we'd done Ruthy by the decade instead.

    Where's that nun picture.

    I could almost feel you smacking my knuckles with a ruler.

  5. And let's face it, that knuckle smacking thing would make you really happy.

  6. Hi Ruth:

    I believe that a novel only exists, in a meaningful sense, when it is being ‘played’ in a reader’s mind. The novel does not really exit as a book on a shelf anymore than sheet music is really music. Like the sheet music, a book is just ink on a page.

    This leads to the observation that a novel is different for each person who reads it.

    Imagine a person reading her first romance novel and a romance author reading her 3,000th romance: both being the same book. The novice may think it is the best book she ever read and the author think it is about the worst.

    Given this POV, it’s a wonder that there is as much commonality on the books we read as it is.


    Please put me in for a critique: vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

    P.S. Mary: my nuns used yardsticks and they were almost 1/2 inch think. That's why I turned out so well. : )

  7. Oh, yeah, contest feedback. Sometimes it's so conflicting it's impossible to interpret. Sometimes it's over-the=top flattering. Other times it's a total train wreck.

    But we look for the gems of helpful advice and keep on truckin'.

    Since Ruthy's already taken care of the coffee, I've set up the tea dispenser.


  8. P.P.S. Those yardsticks did cause me to have confusion over the words ‘thick’ and ‘think’ but otherwise, they worked fine. Besides, I always ‘offered it up’..


  9. It took me a while to read through this post. I had to wait for the laughter to calm down enough so I could see!

    Thanks for putting it all into perspective. I struggle with all the advice I'm given, trying to make sense of it all. The moral of the story is exactly what you said. It's a story. When I find the person who's going to publish my book, I'll know exactly what to tweak.

    Thanks for the great post. I needed that laugh (and the coffee) this early morning. It's 2:00 AM and my neighbors are partying like it's midday. So much for sleeping! Guess I should be working.

  10. HAHAHAHAHA! Oh my gosh, I have GOT TO STOP reading these after the baby goes to sleep! All the snorting and chuckling and cheering (so there, snarks) is too much for him to sleep through...

    p.s. I LOVE the new picture! So pretty!

  11. Oh, and can I be entered in the first five again, if I've won before, but have a new WIP? Pretty please? :)

  12. Walt, I am SO OUT of my bracket that it's just pathetic. I think I started crashing in round 2 (which was really ROUND ONE!!!!) and the debacle simply continued its downward spiral since.

    But Jeter looks good, doesn't he??? ;)

    And I hear ya on the contest thing. I love that you're thoughtful with it. It's the right thing to do.


    OH MY STARS! Unfortunately, I don't keep HER under lock and key often enough, but she's hysterical, isn't she???? ;)

    Thanks, sweetie, and yeah: adaptability is the name of the game. Talent takes you so far... and then work and adjustments step in for the rest.

  14. Carol, you raised a really good point.


    For years Sandra and I critiqued together. Just the two of us. That worked well. Three tends to become either the triangle trade of Bermuda, Charleston and Boston.... (no one agrees on anything) or a gang-up on the poor author.... two on one.

    One on one worked well for us and since we were both new and both dedicated toward publication (it was never a good ol' girls club thing) we were able to work hard and produce quite a bit. I tried local groups. Didn't work. And I work very well on my own, well, me and alter-ego Ruthy.... ;)

    Once The Seekers were formed, several of us send things back and forth now and again, but there's little time for that now. Now it's me, my gut (often wrong, THANK YOU SO MUCH, GUT!!!!!) and my editor.

    But in all honesty I didn't get to the 'not listening' phase until I was in the winner's chair OFTEN. And finaling all the time. Once the wins and finals became steady, then I knew that an editor's or agent's opinion was the next step.

    This is a tough road, but a good one. Such a fun one. I mean, seriously, I am LIVING MY DREAM. But I changed an awful lot of stuff over the years to get here!!!

    And still do.

  15. AND THERE SHE IS!!!!



    I MEAN, REALLY????? REALLY????

    Although thinking back to the puppy picture, a lot has changed. AND it wasn't a NUN picture. It just looked like a "NUN" picture.

    Crap, I'm going to do a Ruthy-by-the-decade thing someday. Oh, that would be fun. And frightening!

    I'm guessing our gal Mary had a rough time sleeping last night, LOL! And our PAMMERS!!!!!


    Connealy, did you love this post? Me being bossy???? Like: pshaw.

  16. Vince, I offer things up, too! :)

    That's such a fun, Catholic thing to do.

    And Vince, you're absolutely right, and that's why when I enter contests I consider it a donation to the cause.

    There is a basic commonality in what we all 'know' of as a good book, but what grabs a judge is usually that little extra that either reflects their life and brings up additional emotion OR reflects their life and makes them mad....

    If you have a whiny sister that always got Mom's attention because she 'needed' it more, a book with a needy heroine who suffers loud and long might get a lower score because it touches the wrong buttons.

    Whereas a book that reflects our perspective of a positive, a school experience, fighting our way into the Ivy League, working through illness to achieve an NCAA scholarship, etc....

    And we had a brother do the very same thing, emotionally we invest in that story a little bit more because of its meaning. And so that 1/2 point or point higher we give the book that touched our positive notes is justified but not because one book is essentially better.

    It just 'fit' better.

    And this is my way of justifying NO PHONE CALL FOR RUTHY yesterday, so just hang with me while I justify away! ;)

  17. Ah, Christine, if only we had that luxury of knowing 'who' will publish and 'which' one they will publish.

    Tough read there, because editors are just like us. DIFFERENT.

    My biggest, bestest, hugest Ruthy-advice to you (which you do not want to hear because you'll say: WHAT?????) is to create different versions of your story. Tweak, and re-tweak. Read. Study. Read some more.

    Copy. Imitate. Re-tweak. And then write more stories. And then more. And that advice came from both Madelyn Hunter (NYT bestselling author who I met when she was still somewhat new, amazing writer of ABA historicals.) and Karen White (another NYT bestselling author who I met through a contest years back, gifted, gifted woman) who both said to me: Your stuff is great, keep writing. Develop a backlog. Develop a cache of stories in your computer. BE READY. And we're told that in the Bible too, to be ready.

    Mary follows this mantra and when that first call came it was followed by many others because she had a bunch of books written, like butt-zillion. It took two hard drives and three flash drives to HOLD THEM ALL.

    Maybe a slight exaggeration there.

    I look back at what I sent editors 8 years ago and gulp. Wince. Shudder. And I am not kidding. Oh my stars, God bless those men and women. Really.

    My one word this year is: FORGE

    I love it.

    But my phrase would be: "Embrace Change" because that's hard for everyone, and yet, didn't Jesus institute great change? Shake people out of their ordinary expectations? Rumble the world?

    Embrace change. Doing that is a ginormous step forward for us simple humans.

  18. Virginia, of course you can be in again, and DO NOT WAKE THAT BABY!!!!

    Oh my stars, that is a Ruthy-rule.

    You wake him/her, you take care of him/her.


    Glad you liked it, chickie!

  19. Great pep talk, Ruthy. Contests can mess with your head but they're a great reminder that opinions vary.

    Love the new photo too!

    The first Allegheny Man is in the house. I felt much safer last night.

    I'm not going anywhere near that breakfast bar but I can smell SUGAR from here. I must lose the two pounds that I'll gain back on vacation next month...

  20. Fun post, Ruthy! And so true! Fiction is fixable. Soon as I grab dessert I'm off to fix mine.

    This buffet is amazing! I'm celebrating this morning with a bite of everything. Wahoo Rita finalist Mary Connealy!!!! Way to go Golden Heart finalist Pam Hillman!!!!



    Seriously, it's VERY pretty, my friend and reminds me that I need a new picture that's from this century ...

    GREAT POST!! LOVE your comment:
    "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."

    Oh, honey, AMEN to that!! I have adjusted to two of the three, but come my next series, I plan to make it to third base and beyond because you are SO right!! Diva down, W.W. up, and no, I will not divulge the Seeker-coined acronym because I'm sworn to secrecy ... alas, readers will have to use their imaginations ...

    Imagine a person reading her first romance novel and a romance author reading her 3,000th romance: both being the same book. The novice may think it is the best book she ever read and the author think it is about the worst.

    Never thought of it that way, Vince, but you are SOOO right!! What a clever perspective, my friend, and unfortunately, I no longer "offer things up" unless it's a silent groan ...


  22. This is VERY important advice:

    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.

    I know so many writer's who refuse to change or adjust their work and then they wonder why they aren't published. So the above advice can't be stressed often enough...IMO.

    Love your new picture!

    I'm up for a critque.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  23. Julie, you really think she has a new hair-do? I figured she just brushed the one she already has.


  24. And I knew you weren't a real nun, Ruthy. The six kids was a huge clue.

  25. Slept like a LOG, Ruthy. Better than usual, actually...

    Maybe a contest final or a contract every day would help me sleep better. Hmmm, something to ponder.... lol

    My boss has a saying on his door:

    The customer is always right.

    I know we can split hairs with that statement, but in the end, it's something to keep in mind.

    Satisfy your editor, and the majority of your readers, and you're on the right track.

  26. Ruthy,

    Great advice!

    Congrats to Mary and Pam! And all our other pals who made the finalist lists yesterday!!

    Still cheering!


  27. CONGRATULATIONS ON THE RWA FINALS, MARY & PAM! You make the Seekers proud!! Happy dancin' in Arizona! :)

    VINCE -- Love the comparison between music on the page and MUSIC.

    And oh my stars! Both a Ruth Logan Herne & a Missy Tippens book out the same month! I hear Walmart calling my name! We had a double-header in January, too, with Audra & Tina, too. This gets more and more fun!

  28. Relate to this so much, Ruthy! You go, girl! :-)

  29. Congrats again to Pam and Mary! So proud/happy of you guys!

    Ruthy - yeah - that CP and I are no longer working together.

    And I'm not saying I'm not willing to consider changing things, but it would have fundamentally altered the book in so very many ways.

    I have a new CP /waves to her ;)/. Now if we can just get together and I can get the hard copy of my second MS back from her... =D

    What I should really be doing is working on the unrelated MS but instead I'm, well, not... =D

  30. Great post.
    And I can't believe the dictionary doesn't list kuchen. I love kuchen!
    Where I live it is the state sweet, so I can't imagine people not knowing what kuchen is. I'm glad you know what it is!


    P.S. Oh, don't worry I'm not scared of alter-ego Ruthy;)

  31. Trent is there??? With you, Debster????

    He's adorable. You just cannot help but fall in love with this guy. I mean really, truly, he just seems so...

    delightfully military normal guy-next-door-to-die-for-good-looking-wonderful.

    I'm so bad with words.


    Fank you, Deb!!!!

  32. This is how Janet stays a stinkin' size like -2... A bite of everything.

    A tiny, little, itsy-bitsy nibble.

    I'm so glad she did not see me shove half that cranberry orange muffin in my mouth straight from the plastic 4-pack the grocer packed. I must not appall our Janet!

    Jules, I'm spewing here, because you are soooo...... you. I would not trade you for a boat-load of prim and propers because you're just amazingly and wonderfully real. And talented. And your hair is gorgeous. As are you.

    I love using sentences like that:

    As am I.

    As are you.

    Diane, from "Cheers"... So funny.

  33. Rose, you're in sweet cheeks, and yeah, change is the name of the game.

    And it is, after all, a book....

    Not your child's mental and moral health.

    A book.

    Although I TRIED To change my children but they are resistant creatures.

    Go figure.

  34. Connealy, you're actually correct. Although I think the current terminology is 'styled'...

    I did not brush, I 'styled'....

    (gagging just a little, a smidge, right now)

    And it sure did look like a nun picture, but my friend Jim Millet took it and he was working with, well... me. The whole turtleneck, blazer and crucifix... Yup. Nun.



    Welcome, chickie! Still happy dancin' for you and the Connealy girl. Loving this!!!!!

  36. Okay, this is what you do if the phone DOES NOT RING ON RITA/GH DAY:

    Start a new book.

    A delightful book. A book about a widower with two tomboy soccer-playing little girls who drive their grandmother crazy and the spa owner who lipsticks her way into their hearts...

    And souls.

    This poor guy has no idea what's in store for him.


    I'd almost feel sorry for him, but he IS a man.

    Ergo: no.

  37. Carol, you're a hoot!

    And Faye, my young friend, hey, girl! I love it when you stop by, oh my stars I got to work with a whole bunch of high school kids the other day and it was


    I cannot remember the last time I had that much fun at a writer's workshop.

    I threatened their lives, I threw candy at them, I made them work and....

    They asked to have me back.

    C-R-A-Z-Y kids!!!!

    Hugs to you, Miss Faye, and I'm pretty sure alter-ego Ruthy has more bark than bite.

    Most days. (evil laugh inserted for everyone's benefit)

  38. Ahh, breakfast at Seekerville! Now my Saturday is complete!

    Thanks so much for the reminder that critiques are critiques, and just because someone doesn't like your work doesn't mean that no one will like it...although I'm such a newbie that I still have no idea if ANYONE will like my work!!

    Waiting for the Genesis contest results, and hoping for some thoughtful comments from the judges!

    BTW, Ruthy - have to say it again: I loved Reunited Hearts! Can't wait for the next Allegany man to show up!

  39. /glares at Jan for having read it already and seriously reconsiders the budding friendship until she realizes that Jan is one of her few FB fans.../

  40. Just stopping by to say CONGRATS TO MARY!! I was at the RWA site and saw your name on the list. Way to go, and good luck in the finals :)

    Then I saw Pam Hillman's name on the GH list. Fabulous! Here's hoping you come home from NYC with one of those pretty necklaces. And a contract.

    btw-no need to enter me for a critique. I get Ruthy's opinion all the time. Interpret that however you like ;)

  41. I just finished 3 weeks of rating 'potential' grad students for the upcoming school year.
    Some things are facts. Scores. Rec letters, GPA.
    Some things are feelings. - They're personal essays, the 'feel' of the rec letters.
    It's a TOUGH, TOUGH job.

    Writing is the same way. Facts & opinions mingled together.
    I've gotten so many mixed up opinions, sometimes it's laughable - sometimes it's cry-able, but it's all part of the writing gig, right?

    And, btw, Ruthy
    You give some of THE BEST crits out there, just because they're so daggone funny (ruthless with a dash of humor) LOVE IT!

    YES- on the Critique. Certainly can't hurt.

    Have a wonderful weekend, SEekers.

  42. Congrats, CONGRATS - Pam
    Saw the news flash this morning. SOOOO excited for you!!

  43. Ruthy
    For the second year in a row, I'm judging four contests, and as Walt said, it's not the easiest thing to do. I want to be encouraging, but still point out the problems so the writer can learn and grow.

    PS: Hand over the recipe for kuchen - sounds yummy!

  44. Thanks, Pep and Andrea!

    I'm trying to find the food....

    What's left?

  45. For those of you who judge contests, do you ever sign your name to the scoresheet?

    I can see this might cause trouble if the author doesn't like your comments, but I just hate writing thank you letters beginning with, Dear J117. Or should I simply say J117. I always sign my name to the thank you note and am afraid someone I know might be the judge.

    I used to hang onto every word a judge would say and apply every suggestion. That didn't last long. The next contest judge would rip apart the new changes and add more of her own. Now, I just accept the advice that makes sense to me.

    And Ruthy I love your ego trip. I think everyone have people we would like to chant our success to.


  46. Carol, have you friended me on Facebook? Or me you? I always feel like a beggar to ask for friends.

    I'm a dweeb.

    JAN!!!! :) Thanks for repeating it, because I love Reunited Hearts. I know I'm a sap, I know it's probably goonie to say this about your own story, but I love Trent and Alyssa. I love those kids.

    And "Cat" the waitress? I spent eleven years waitressing at a Greek family restaurant. I know a lot of "CATS", women that have made it in a world by faith, guts and determination.

  47. HA HA HA, ANDREA... ;)

    This poor girl gets my opinion whether she asks or not.

    "That's what friends are for..."

    But she's hung in there as my friend through thick and thin over the years, and you KNOW that's not what we call easy.

    Adventurous, maybe.

    Easy? Mmm.... not so much!

  48. Aw, Pepper, thanks, honey. What are you buttering me up for? I have no money.

    Well, wait. There's a dollar in my purse. It's yours.


    Love it. But nicely ruthless like:

    "So were you trying to make him seem like an indecisive lout that can't get out of his own way to help a woman? Because if THAT was the goal, you're quite successful."

    Okay, I never really said that. But close.

    Connie, I've signed my name often. Some people like what I say. I'm sure others buy a frizzy-haired doll they name "Ruthy" and stick hat pins in it.

    But since I don't believe in that stuff, it doesn't even hardly hurt. ;)

    I make sure to sign my name if the work shows promise. That way I can ride the author's coat-tails to fame and fortune and claim a portion of their first contract. ;)

    But there have been a few times I've regretted it, where I could tell later (like at a conference or something like that) that an author took a burn.

    And that's never the intention, but this is a tough, tough business. I won't sugar coat that to anyone and self-discipline and adaptability are a huge part of that.

    My daughter in law does the 'smile and nod'.

    She's EXCELLENT at it, and it's a tried and true technique. Easy, too.

    Be quiet.

    Smile and nod.

    It's like being the groom's mother at the wedding only you're not required to wear beige. :)

    And I've learned from Lacey that it's really easier than arguing and promotes good oral health because people notice your teeth.

    So there.

  49. Edwina, you've nailed it. I scaled back this year to stay on top of family health issues and writing, but helping with contests is a great 'give-back' thing to do.

    And I was SO BAD when I was new. Oh my stars, I was every contestants worst nightmare and let me just say:

    I'M SORRY!!!!!


    Oh mylanta, that's what kept me grounded when I'd get the occasional over-the-top by the rule book judge....

    I'd see myself in his/her shoes.

    Yup. Bossy and know-it-all even though I was wet behind the years. Goofy.

    Now I'm just bossy and know-it-all!!!

  50. Great advice about story editing! Please put my name in for the story critique...
    travelingstacey at bellsouth dot net

  51. WOW! This was a great post Ruthy- - and I have to admit, I LOVE the way you "tell it like it is" (seriously--sometimes I wish I could be more like that *sigh*). And your sense of humor ALWAYS makes me smile (and laugh out loud too). Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)
    P.S. Am finally finishing up that YUMMY chocolate basket I won from you - - Oh my!!! Sooooo delicious! Thank you again!!! :)

  52. I am late to the game but, like Walt, I too have just finished judging a writing contest. I was thankful the coordinator said she appreciated the detailed comments I provided to help the writers in their work. There is a way to be positive and provide critical feedback at the same time.

    We will also get feedback on what other judges thought of the same work so WE can improve as well.

    As always, thanks for a great post.

    Peace, Julie

  53. Yep, Ruthy Darling. I think I friend requested you a couple weeks ago. Heart in my throat I'm sure. Because you're like famous author-y and all. And you might throw peanut M&Ms at me and they would hurt and I don't like them [if they were peanut butter it'd be a little more worth it].

    And I'm totally the same way about asking to friend people. PLEEEEEEEASE be my friend! It's like I'm transported back to jr. high when my dad was the math and science and pe teacher no one liked and I bore the brunt [sometimes] of being the teacher's kid.

    I'm over it.

    No really.

    I am.


    And my 'fan' page [I use that term loosely] did tag you today ;).

    It's hit me that if I'd just ordered them off the LI site, I'd have them already, but now it's a mission...


  54. I had lunch with a friend today and she told me I needed to get my hair done.

    I said, "In what way?"
    She said, "You know, cut and styled and colored, highlighted?"

    We both stared at each other, clearly not speaking the same language.
    I finally said, "Can you tell I cut my own bangs? Is that it?"

    She seemed to find my confusion bothersome and we changed the subject.

  55. Isn't that slightly off topic, Mary?

    But since you brought it up...don't you think now that you are a star you have an obligation to your fans to step it up?

    I mean there is a prize to pay. You have a global responsibility that you should take very seriously and that includes low lights, a cut and blow out.

  56. oops that should have read price. Not prize.

    Not that I don't think you're a prize.

  57. Oh, Connealy.


    Change nothing. Your eclectic look has brought you thus far.

    In baseball the very IDEA of changing something when you're on a winning streak is anathema.

    That means don't do it.

    Like, oh my stars, the world does NOT NEED to be tipped any further out of its orbit. That would be BAD.

    CATMOM!!! Ah. Chocolate. Bliss. Yes! Nibble away, dearheart. 's good stuff.

    And "Carol-on-a-mission" Scouting out WalMarts everywhere for Reunited Hearts....

    But be sure to ask, even though I know your life is crrrrrazy busy....

    Because if people (real people, like paying customer people) ask their WalMart managers to please carry all six books, they'll do it.

    They like keeping customers happy. It's like in the 'code'. And it's very Biblical: ask and ye shall receive.

    I think that might refer specifically to Ruthy-books, but that might be stretching things a bit. A tiny bit...

  58. Rule 1

    Do not take hair advice from a nun.

    Rule 2

    Do not take underwear advice from a nun.

  59. Oh My, that cheesecake was scrumptious!

    As for critique groups, I have one. Two guys and three gals. I have noticed that the guys are very tuned in to wanting "more action scenes," while the gals like the slow, descriptive scenes. I take them all in and muddle them over, then go with what I feel works best for what I'm trying to say.

    All feedback is valuable. But in the end, you have the final say...until you find an editor that is. Then it's...Ya want me to extinguish that character?...there she blows!