What I Do
What Your Critique Will Look Like
How to Submit
Notice of Receipt
The Critique Process
Sometimes I critique, sometimes I story doctor, sometimes I’ll just give you a general opinion, but above all, I teach. It all depends on what you need. I have done novels, children’s and YA stories, articles, poetry, and websites. I am strongest in Speculative Fiction, but I'm willing to give anything a try.
I do not expect a fee at this time for my services. Perhaps in the future The Zen Pen will go commercial, but right now I just don't have enough time. Until then, I ask only for your gratitude and advertising. If you think I did a good job, please recommend me to others. If you feel I was integral to a sale, please let me know. If you have a website, give me a link. I will be more than happy to return the favor.
Critiques are broken down into four major sections:
- Running Commentary
- Title (first impression)
- While Reading the Story
- Right After Reading the Story
- Your World
- Average Reader
There are two ways to submit to The Zen Pen: email, or by sharing a google doc.
The google docs option is brand new to The Zen Pen. It allows me to access and critique stories anywhere that has internet access. If you have a gmail account and would like to collaborate on a submission via google docs, just let me know with your submission.
My favorites are .rtf., .doc, or of course as a shared google doc. You can also of course just paste the story into the body of your email. I no longer accept mailed submissions as not one person has ever taken me up on the offer.
Please also include such information on the first page of your manuscript as your name, pen name, address, phone number, email address, word count, and the title of your submission.
If I do not receive an email submission that's easy for me to read, I will change it and return it to you in the correct format.
Along with your submission, please let me know anything specific you would like me to address in your piece. Be as detailed as you can. The more you tell me, the more I can help you.
After your submission arrives, I will email you that the story arrived safe and sound. I will then provide you with a queue # so you have an idea as to what the response time is going to be. At any time, you can check the home page of my site to see what stories I am currently working on.
You email me your story, resume, URL, etc. I read it and jot down notes, not only directly into your story as reactions, but in a more formal document which is detailed above. I will tell you if and when I lost interest, what the marketability of the piece is, if I personally liked it, and what personality the piece has if you’re looking for a publication match. I will answer direct questions that you presented to me in your email and address any concerns, fears, or ideas. I will offer ideas of my own which you are more than welcome to take with a grain of salt. I will be honest, humorous, serious, concerned, encouraging, helpful, and eager all in the same critique.
The Zen Pen is not a business, nor are there employees, besides me. This is a labor of love, one I unfortunately have little time for. I can in no way ever guarantee a response time. Ideally I check my TZP email once a week, but frankly response times haven't been ideal in over a year. For a more accurate idea of what the current response times are, visit the TZP blog.
The greatest discoveries my authors have made during the critique process has been during the dialogue bonus. Receiving a critique can generate even more questions than when the process started. TZP contributors are encouraged to maintain a dialogue with me about their critique asking any questions they like, no matter how small. Please only speak to me about the story that you submitted to The Zen Pen. If you would like another critique, I would be more than happy to look at the same story again, but you have to wait in line like everybody else. Keeping this service is VERY important to me as I think it’s integral to really digging deep and finding out what you need to do to make yourself the best writer you can be, and to make this story get where you want it to go. Please help me keep it available for everybody.
If there is something I can do for you that was not detailed above, please don’t hesitate to email me. I may be willing, and able, to give you just what you need.