The Results Are In! How Did Others Do With Their Breathless Critiques?

The results are in, and here’s how things panned out…

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7.12% – “Other”

7.14% – Received few/unhelpful comments. They did not mention anything about submitting again

21.43% – Received useful comments, but they did not mention anything about submitting again

28.57% – Received comments and an invitation to send a query once they were done.

35.71% – Fast tracked – asked to send in the full manuscript as soon as it is complete.

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Interesting.  It seems a lot of people were fast tracked.  That means there must be some sparkly manuscripts out there.  I wonder what the stats are of “fast tracked” manuscripts that actually end up published?

The world may never know.

Thanks for contributing!

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If I wrote this into a novel, people would say it was unrealistic. What’s your worst commuter story?

Have you ever had “one of those days”? Well, the other day I had “one of those” mornings. Have you ever had a day when you just couldn’t get in to work?

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No, it was not the black ice. Yeah, I slipped a bit… but I listened to the news and avoided the roads that were closed or otherwise backed up.

Oh, by the way, that picture shows how people save their parking spaces after they “dig out” They put folding chairs (usually plastic lawn chairs) in the spaces so no one steals their hard-earned spot.

I was actually having an enjoyable ride in— until I got into the city.

City driving is never fun, even on the best day. I’ve run into trash trucks, handicapped busses, pot holes, school busses, double parked cars, and poorly-timed lights— but never at the SAME TIME.

Today I was cruising into the city, doing fine, until I made a right turn into a big pile of poop.  If you have never driven in the outskirts of Philadelphia, imagine rows and rows of houses glued together sprawling down the street on both sides… like one continuous townhome that is only cut apart by side streets. You are on a two-way road that is barely passable in both directions because the plows have mounded snow around the cars that are parked on the side of the streets. (Where are the owners of these cars, anyway? Do they take public transit until the snow thaws or something)

Anyway… Up ahead, on the other side of the road in a trash truck heading toward me.  No problem, right? He’s on the other side of the road.

Enter problem number two

On my side, one car ahead of me, a handicapped bus stops and opens his doors. Again, no biggie. Someone will get on the bus, and then we will start moving again.  Well, he closed the doors, and started moving. A guy comes running down the road, and the bus opens his doors, and the guy jumps on.  Great, right?  He should start moving now.

Ah, no.

The bus sat there for at least five minutes with the door open. Mind you, traffic has now piled up behind me. I can also see traffic piling up behind the trash truck that moves about a foot a minute toward me.

Eventually, the guy jumps off the bus. Good. We should start moving now, right? No. We still sat. Trash truck is still just inching toward me. Eventually, someone goes by me on the sidewalk, pushing a wheelchair.

Now, I have nothing against this person in a wheelchair at all… but did the driver need the wheelchair to get all the way down the street, and have to talk to him before he thought to open the handicapped doors and let down that insanely slow ramp?

The trash truck is still inching toward me. I’m trapped, and I realize that there is not enough room for me and that trash truck between the piles of snow.

Please get that bus moving!

About twenty minutes into this whole escapade, I had to pull up onto the snow bank in order to not get squished, and the bus then started to move.  Whew!

Then I turned down pothole alley.

Let me tell you, if you are tired, nothing wakes you up like a pothole that goes all the way to China… and this guy was having a party because 15 or so of his friends were lined up behind him ready to eat unsuspecting tires.

Okay, great. I’m through that mess. That’s when I hit the miss-timed lights.

Come on!

All this traffic cannot get through a light that is only green for thirty seconds!  Geesh!

Finally, I turn on to The Boulevard. The main road through this part of the city.

Dead stop.

Grrrrr. As soon as I made it to a side street that I knew would bring me to the back of the building where I work, I took it. Hurrah!  Way off in the distance I can see the sparkling water tower and brick walls of my office.

That’s when I hit the school bus.

Now, I don’t know what it was like when you were a kid, but where I grew up, if you were not at the bus stop on time you were toast. Even if the driver saw you running for the bus, they would not stop.

What’s with this sitting in front of a house with a closed door waiting for a kid to come out?

Are you kidding me?

Now, I have hit this before, but the drivers are at least nice enough to put on their yellow lights as a warning, and all the drivers can still pass until the lights turn red. Makes sense, right?  Well, this driver DID have his yellow lights flashing, but he was PARKED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.  And I am not exaggerating on that.  You know that little dotted line that divides the road? HE WAS STRADDLING IT. And not by accident. That line was dead center between his tires. And we waited… and waited… and the traffic piled up on both sides.

Anything else?

When we start moving, I hit a car double parked, running, with no driver in it right in front of a traffic light— the same traffic light that was getting backed up by the school bus. So I had to wait for the entire light to funnel through before I could get around him (took two lights of waiting).

Great! Home free!  I can see the security fence around my building. I am almost there!

But first, I had to maneuver through what felt like a Super Mario Bros. game.  In the space of one block… Three more double parked cars, and two more “see all the way to China” pot holes.


Can I ask anyone who lives in the city… Why do you have to pull your cars out into the middle of the road before you clean off the snow?  Sorry, I don’t get it. Don’t you see or care that you are stopping traffic?

On the other side of the bridge, where I live, you’d get a ticket for half the offenses I went through this morning.

I guess to put a positive spin on it… There was a lot of black ice. For those of you who do not know what that is, imagine driving, and then suddenly for no apparent reason your car turns into a spinning whirly-wheel of a car. You have absolutely no control and there is not a darn thing you can do about it until you hit something to make you stop. Not fun.

Anyway… All this nonsense FORCED me to go slow. So thank you, God, for getting me here safely today.

And thanks for reading.

No. I will not be putting all of that in a novel to “torture my characters”.  No one would believe it, anyway.

What’s your worst commute story?

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Raising The Bar-learning from your everyday read

This is a great article about learning from what you read, and working hard to make your writing dreams come true.

It is also one of the nicest reviews I have ever received.   Thank you JM!

Raising The Bar.

Telling tales – Burlington County Times: Medford

There is a really nice write-up in the Burlington County Times today on a charity event I will be speaking at this coming Saturday.

There’s even a few very unflattering photos. [Hits head on desk] Note to self: Next time think twice about agreeing to have your picture taken after a long day at work.

This is promoting Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.

Tickets are still on sale if you’d like to come out and support a great cause.

I’ll be hanging with Dawn Byrne, Joanne Costantino and Maria Gilbert March first, speaking to the Medford branch of the AAUW, the American Association of University Women, at Medford Leas on Route 70 at 11:30 a.m. Tickets for the champagne brunch are $30 with proceeds going to a scholarship fund for women returning to college. Contact Mary Ann Brookes at or 609-953-4035. Visit

Here’s the article if you’d like to take a look.

Telling tales – Burlington County Times: Medford.


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Did you send your first five pages to Breathless Press for critique?

It seems like all or most of the critiques are back now. Everyone is a flurry about the responses, and many who have never submitted anything before are scratching their heads thinking: “What does this mean?”

It all has me a little curious.  And I’d love it if you’d participate in a little survey. If you submitted two selections, please answer twice.  (Once  for each story) Of course, I’ll post the results in case anyone else is curious. Please choose only one response for each critique you received.

However it all played out, I hope it was an enlightening experience.

I’m wondering… Would you do this again if you had the chance?

Am I a Real Person? I’m not sure.

Hmm, am I a real person?


*Please wait while I hum the Jeopardy theme song in my head for 30 seconds while flying around the room on my unicorn*


The answer is . . . no.

I am a robot: eat, sleep, write, eat, sleep, write, eat, sleep, write.


Hello, I’m Jamie Ayres, and the truth is, I wish I were a robot. I’m more real than I care to admit. If real means being a frustrated, insecure, hot mess. Yeah, the past month has been crazy.

If I was a robot, I could accept or refuse thoughts from bullies without getting upset. I could wire my brain and abilities any way I wanted. I could program myself to be happy no matter whom or what surrounded me each day.

But that’s not the mark of a real person. And as my second novel, 18 Truths, was being released and attacks were coming from all sides, I recognized God was showing me my own personal truth in the midst of it. He allows bad days to happen to make us aware of how much we need help.

My definition of a real person is one who tells the truth, means what they say but doesn’t say it mean, and has a good heart. From that perspective, I rather like the label of being a “real” person, even as I listen to the voices of my characters whispering in the dark corners of my mind.

Alien PKO_0003410That doesn’t mean I’m not opposed to the Little Blue Lady abducting me

*puts on foil hat and chants, “Take me to your leader.”

Together, we will rule the Earth!!! 

Be careful what

you wish for!

Want to know more about Jamie Ayres? Hop on over to her website (Quick, before the Little Blue Lady does)

Check out Jamie’s book HERE. The paperback is on sale. Wahoo!

You can also feed your ereader, cause they need a little love, too.

(Tissues sold separately)

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Great opportunity! Get your first five pages critiqued by a professional editor

Dont forget!  today is the big day. Get those pages out there!

Great opportunity! Get your first five pages critiqued by a professional editor.

How a simple change of attitude can change your life. You cannot change others, but you can change YOU

I came across this training session today. Most of these things I roll my eyes at, but this one I thought was particularly good.  This is a segment of a seminar given by Zig Ziglar, who I’d heard of, but never listened too.

Now, to be honest, his method of presentation is a bit off-putting to me, so if the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, I suggest just closing your eyes and concentrating on what he says.

This is not targeted at authors. I think this can benefit many people in many ways.  The last 45 seconds or so, in particular, packs an extra-special punch.

This is about nine minutes long. I suggest taking a minute to listen. People spend big bucks to hear seminars like this, and here you have it for free.

In general, I am a huge optimist. I’m glad I can smile at how wonderful the world is when people around me are hemming and hawing over their rejections and writer’s block. Negativity loves company, but that’s not the company I want to keep. It sucks creative energy.

If I ever start to get negative, I’m coming back to this post to give a listen.

A positive attitude can snowball into positive results.

Give it a try. You may be surprised.

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Write a Story with Me #76: When the Sparkle Fades by Danielle Ackley McPhail

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each time.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

76 – Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Morath settled the babe in the crook of the Gleaming Tree. She watched him, her brow furrowed but her lips tipping upward in a faint smile stronger than even her worry. He was a bonny boy and deserved a life of joy and discovery, not intrigue and deceit, and yet her farsight revealed much turmoil ahead for them all, and most assuredly for the son of Yoran and Natalia.

“Feel your power, little one, know it in your heart,” she murmured over his fretting form. “Mother’s arms will wrap around you soon, but first you must take this step to safeguard yourself.” Morath regretted the need to spark the little one’s magic at so young an age, but she could do little else to ensure he come to no harm in the days to come. The Gleaming Tree now recognized him as one of its own and no matter how far events might take him away, the seat of all magic would rally in his defense should any raise force against him.

With an amused burble, the child thrashed his legs and stared in wonder as the swirls of magic swaddled him, nuzzled his cheek, and settled a fae sparkle deep within is babe-blue eyes. When all but the sparkle faded, the Fae Queen swept the boy into her arms and descended from the Tree’s branches, taking the boy to her chambers to await the arrival of his frantic mother.

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Part Seventy-One – Vanessa Jane Chapman

Part Seventy-Two – Susan Rocan

Part Seventy-three – Kate Johnston

Part Seventy-Four – Richard Leonard

Part Seventy-Five – Kai Damian

Part Seventy-Six – Danielle Ackley McPhail

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Norah Jansen — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

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Great opportunity! Get your first five pages critiqued by a professional editor

I’ve missed this opportunity the last two times this call opened up because I was on vacation. Boy was I mad!  But this time I’m all ready to go. Yay!

Breathless Press (Adult) and Lycaon Press (YA) are opening up for a “Tender Love Critique Session” on February 14th (Valentine’s Day) until midnight EST Sunday, February 16th.

Send your first five pages **Times New Roman, 12 pt font, double spaced** in .rtf or .doc format (no .docx) to

The cool thing is that you don’t have to be one of the first 10 or even the first 100 to enter. EVERYONE who submits gets a critique. (I don’t think they are giving a turnaround time, though)

Another cool thing is your manuscript DOES NOT need to be complete, and it is not even a formal submission. They are critiquing everything.

Why would they do this?

They are pretty smart, actually.  Most editors know if they want a book within the first few pages.  If they like what they see, they will ask to see your manuscript when it is complete. (This happened with a friend of mine)

My question for you…

What do you have to lose?  Send in your first five, even if Breathless/Lycaon are not on your radar, your first five pages are the most important pages of your book.  Why not get an educated opinion of how good they are?

Who’s going for it?


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