Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Advice from Agent Cherry Weiner

Yesterday at critique group, we had a special visitor--literary agent Cherry Weiner. I met Cherry about eight years ago at an OWL meeting in Branson.

Cherry represents some of my writing friends including Dusty Richards and Lou Turner. The photo on the left is of Lou, Cherry, and me, taken by Bea Siros after lunch. Note to self: lay off the fatty foods, lace up those tennis shoes, and start walking.

Anyway, Cherry's plane arrived from NYC late yesterday morning, and Lou brought her straight to our critique group at the Rendezvous Cafe in O'Fallon. Cherry is visiting with Lou and another client before taking off to be a speaker at a conference.

We were just about finished with critiques when they arrived, but Cherry patiently listened to us critique one manuscript, followed by a reading and critique of a second. I didn't take notes, but here are a few comments I remember about what she had to say:

* In a critique group, it is important that someone else read your work. That way the focus will be on the writing rather than the reading.

* Grammar, punctuation, spelling and anything technical must be perfect before submitting. An agent or editor does not have time to correct your mistakes. Chances are if your manuscript or query letter have mistakes in the opening, they will automatically get placed in the NO pile. If you aren't proficient in grammar, etc. find someone who is, and don't rely on spell check.

* Less is more. Details add to the story, but too many details, unnecessary details and repetition slow down the work.

* Endings are important. Watch the endings of chapters, paragraphs--even sentences. The example used was: "The next day Frank was gone and so were his clothes." Revise to: "The next day Frank was gone."

* It's about the writing and the story. When asked the question, "What are you looking for?" Cherry answered, "Whatever I can sell." She added that the market for Westerns is soft, even for established writers. Her advice was to write a great book.

Cherry will be in OKC at OWFI this weekend speaking on a panel and taking pitches from attendees. If you're headed that way, good luck, and if you talk to Cherry, tell her Lou's friend Donna says "Hi!" And if you see Lou, tell her I said "Hi!" too.


  1. Donna, thanks for posting this. I was disappointed I didn't make it to critique and lunch, but reading this made me almost feel as if I was there!

  2. Hi Becky,
    We missed you yesterday! Hope everything went well with the doctor.
    One other item I forgot to mention was, of all things-- COMMAS. Cherry talked at length about how misplaced commas can change the meaning of a sentence.

  3. Here's a comment I received via e-mail from Bea:

    "I think others should know you do a great job zeroing in on the important points. Your words are informative and precise. You are not only a talented writer but a master at the computer.

    "Your last two interviews with Cherry and Jen were interesting and down to earth. That makes you connect with your readers.

    "Hoping you will continue to have the energy to accomplish all that you do. Bea"

  4. Sounds like a wonderful critique session. Wish I could be there!


  5. Hi Pat,
    We're saving a chair for you whenever you can get off work.

  6. Was another fun day at C&C. Thanks for posting Cherry's comments.

  7. thanks for sharing those wonderful tips!

  8. You look terrific! I love the advice about having someone else read your work in a crit group. I wouldn't have thought of that, but it's a great point!

  9. Donna,
    What a gift to enjoy a visit from Cherry Weiner. Great advice, and terrific reporting on your part. I too, am lacing up my tennis shoes and heading to the mall.

  10. Oh, how I wish I could have seen Cherry again. I love her straight-forward, no-nonsense advice. Thanks for posting this!



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