Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good-bye: Bernardine Hagan at 100

Good-byes

Last week Uniontown lost a wonderful woman, Mrs. Bernardine Hagan, the former owner of Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob. Even at 100, she remained involved in the community through various clubs and organizations.

She was my neighbor and I would like to think my friend. I had the honor to work closely with her on official Kentuck Knob business as well as the casual neighborhood happenings.

An inspiration with her truly brimming life, I could only hope to be as fulfilled during my lifetime.


Bernardine Hagan
1909 - 2010

Bernardine Hagan by Monica Jackson

Photo by Monica Jackson

Sunday, January 17, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#1)

News

And finally, the #1 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: camaraderie.

Camaraderie is something all writers can spell but many of us lack. Writing is a solitary job. Spending a weekend at a writers conference will help you build new friendships and renew old ones.

Just for Fun
Saturday night's dinner hour is traditionally left open so conference attendees can relax with friends or schmooze with agents and editors. After hours, however, is always filled with some sort of activity that has nothing to do with the nuts and bolts of writing and everything to do with simple socializing. We hope you'll join us for a masquerade and open mic party. Here's the deal:

• Dress as your favorite author or book/movie character. In 2008, Marilyn Monroe showed up, and Agent 007, and the Tin Man (or something that sort of, kind of, maybe resembled him), and Scarlet O'Hara... This year, why not dress as Edgar Allen Poe, a zombie, Indiana Jones, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Wolverine...?

• Costumes are encouraged but optional. Since we're all authors, every single one of us can get away with coming as we are. Costumes are not a requirement.

• Be prepared to relax and socialize. We've lined up an amazing acoustic duo to provide some rocking tunes, and the hotel staff will be serving up free munchies and pouring drinks at a cash bar.

• Look for some awesome prizes. Your applause will determine who wins when it comes to most realistic costume, most original, and more.

• Bring a reading to share—if you're in the mood. Between sets we'll open the microphone to the audience in hopes of hearing some great poetry, a few paragraphs from your WIP, or even some writer-related jokes.

• Sign up on the registration form. We've dropped the cost this year. Just $10 gets you in the door for an evening of camaraderie.


To learn more and register, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Saturday, January 16, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#2)

News

The #2 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: a weekend of networking.

Business cards. Don't leave home without them. Believe it or not, you'll have plenty of opportunities to hand them out at a writers conference. Scribble your "elevator pitch" (now sometimes called a "Twitter pitch" – how's that for new lingo?) on the back of your card and give it to the agent or editor at the end of your pitch session. Hand one to someone you think will make an excellent critique partner. Pass one to the person sitting next to you in a workshop. It's all part of networking. And you never know… somewhere down the line you might need the expertise of someone you met during the conference.

Take stock of your writing goals before you get to the conference. A little networking with a specific outcome in mind can help you get to where you need to be. For example, is your goal for the year to pick up a freelance writing job? Talk to a few of the other Pennwriters who are stringing for newspapers or pitching feature articles to regional magazines. Are you hoping to get a short story published? Sit in on the short story class and introduce yourself to the instructor at the end. He or she may have some advice about the literary magazine you're targeting. In short, know what you want to accomplish at the conference; then take steps to make it happen.

Networking Lunch
Here's an opportunity to put your networking skills to the test. We've set up an all you can eat deli buffet for Friday's optional lunch choice. Seating is by genre. Our intent is to get romance writers talking about heroes and heroines, horror writers discussing their best scare tactics, mystery writers chatting about red herrings…

Saturday Breakfast
The cost of Saturday's breakfast is included in the base conference price, and it will give you another chance to network. Seating here is by area. Pennwriters is divided into seven areas. We're hoping you'll discover a writers group that meets nearby or uncover news about a local coffee house with a great writing atmosphere.

To learn more and register, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Friday, January 15, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#3)

News

The #3 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: inspiration.

Worried that your opening hook is a sinker? Stumped by a sagging middle? Laid low by a plot twist that just came untangled? Can't seem to find the momentum to get those last several thousand words on the page?

One of the great things about attending a writers conference is the energy that flows from one attendee to another. Listening to a workshop instructor could give you the solution to your pacing problems. Rubbing elbows with an agent or editor might give you the confidence to submit. Taking part in the late night conversations at the bar could give you an idea for your next book. Inspiration abounds.

A Hefty Dose of Inspiration
This year, Liz Scheier's address at the Published Penns luncheon promises to be exceptionally inspirational. Liz was a former editor at Random House and Penguin. She is now the director of publisher relations of ScrollMotion, the company that makes the Iceberg e-reader for the iPhone. During the Published Author Luncheon on Friday, Liz will present a speech entitled "Glass Half Full."

Here's her description: "With the economy in freefall, massive layoffs at traditional publishing houses, doomsday rumors on the blogosphere, and price wars raging, it's easy to get swept up in fears that the publishing sky is falling. Don't believe it! This is a time of great change and innovation, and there are opportunities for writers both new and long-published that didn't exist even five years ago. Sweeping changes in the way books are conceived, written, published, marketed, and delivered to their audiences give writers new ways to tell their stories—and readers new ways to find them. I'll talk about all the reasons why this is an a opportune time to finally finish a novel, tackle a series, re-launch a stalled career, or start over."

Not a Published Penn?
You can attain Published Author Status by being published in book-length fiction or nonfiction, magazine or newspaper articles, short stories, poetry, or business writing. Certain restrictions apply. Log in as a member at www.pennwriters.com, then click Published Criteria on the left.


To learn more and register, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#4)

News

The #4 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: a wide variety of classes.

At the 2010 conference, we've got about 40 one-hour workshops for you to choose from. They are grouped loosely into four categories—Perfect Your Craft, Know the Business, Branch Out, and Get Specific—so you can more easily find the best classes for you. Another great thing about our workshops is that they are "open enrollment." That means you don't have to preregister for any of our one-hour workshops; simply decide what you'd like to attend while you're at the conference.

Here's a sampling of some of our classes:

For those new to publishing, consider The Publishing Labyrinth with author Maria V. Snyder, Submission Tips: Before and After with agent Miriam Kriss, or Inside Children's Publishing with editor Barbara Lalicki.

For those who want to polish their prose, try Getting Conflict on the Page with professor and author Tim Esaias, Say What? (Dialogue Help) with Marta Perry, or Write Better Beginnings with author and writing coach Ramona DeFelice Long.

For those who need pointers on marketing, think about attending Effective Social Networking with agent Janet Reid or Marketing Made Easy with business coach Nate Hardy.

For those who are ready to submit, attend Tossing the Literary Dice with agent Alex Glass, No One Ever Died Writing a Synopsis with author Loree Lough, Pitch Perfect with author CJ Lyons, or Ins and Outs of Contracts with agent Jenny Bent.

To read individual class descriptions and teacher bios, visit http://tiny.cc/WvBnW.


To learn more and register, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#5)

News

The #5 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: top-notch workshop teachers.

We've invited a long list of well-published authors, well-known agents, and highly qualified editors to teach the 35-plus one-hour workshops that will be held during the conference.

Some of the names you'll recognize as Published Penns:

- Martha Johnson (Marta Perry) has written for Steeple Hill's Love Inspired for years and just signed a three-book contract with Berkley for her Pleasant Valley Amish series

- Jonathan Maberry is following up his success with Patient Zero with book two of his Joe Ledger series

- New York Times Bestselling Author Maria V. Snyder is a graduate of Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction program and is writing her second series of fantasy books for MIRA

- Loree Lough continues to write romance for Summerside Press

- Cyn Balog joins us after writing her debut YA fantasy for Delacourte

- Timons Esaias is adjunct faculty at Seton Hill in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA program

Our guest authors are:

- Donna Fletcher now writes romance for Avon and has 18 novels to her name

- CJ Lyons writes medical thrillers for Berkley

- Ramona DeFelice Long is a professional writing coach and writes short stories and nonfiction

- Pam Jenoff writes historical fiction for MIRA

We've also invited a handful of industry professionals: Barbara Lalicki, David Pomerico, and Leis Pederson are editors; Jenny Bent, Janet Reid, Jennifer Jackson, Miriam Kriss, and Alex Glass are literary agents; Nancy Daversa is an executive producer for a local television station in Philadelphia, and Anita Nolan edits Sprouts for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

To learn more and register, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#6)

News

The #6 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: intense preconference classes.

The #6 reason actually comprises four reasons: two full day and two half day preconference seminars on May 13, the day before the conference. Our goal with these classes is to provide writers who are a little farther along in their "journey" with an intense, personal experience that includes direct feedback on their work from the instructor. Registration for these classes opens January 11, class sizes are limited, and in three of the four classes, participants are chosen by the instructors. Application materials must be received by February 11.

Visit the individual links at www.pennwriters.com to learn more.

Two Full-Day Seminars
Fiction Writing with Timons Esaias. Join Tim, an instructor in Seton Hill's MFA program, for a full day of instruction on how to make your manuscript shine.

Requirements: Must have a finished first draft of a novel; instructor will be
critiquing your first three chapters prior to class. Limited to 15 writers.

Nonfiction Writing with Jonathan Maberry. Multi-published in fiction and nonfiction, Jonathan will help you fine-tune your outline and idea, and delve into the whys and hows of nonfiction publishing.

Requirements: Just a killer idea for a nonfiction book. Limited to 15 writers.


Two Half-Day Seminars
Crafting Your Fiction Query Package with CJ Lyons. This class is designed to help you get your work in front of an agent or editor. CJ, an award-winning and best-selling author, will critique your query letter and focus in class on blurbs, high concepts, pitches, and long and short synopses.

Requirements: Must have a finished first draft of a novel. Limited to 16 writers.

Plotting and Subplotting with Loree Lough. Want to know more about plotting before you get started on your work of fiction? Stuck in the middle of your current WIP? Join Loree as she walks you through all you need to know about plots and subplots and their job in your manuscript.

Requirements: An idea for a fiction book. No class limit.

Note: Fees for these four workshops are not included in the weekend workshop price. Acceptance into classes with limits is based on the instructors' choices. Full application instructions are included in the individual listings.

To learn more, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Monday, January 11, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#7)

News

The #7 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: great value for your money.

At $225 for members for three days of programming, Pennwriters still has one of the most reasonable fees for writers conferences nationwide. We also allow conference goers to pick and choose from a variety of extras so they can tailor their costs to their wallets. The base price of $225 includes breakfast Saturday, the keynote lunch Saturday, 10 workshops (we've got about 40 to choose from), agent/editor pitch appointments and read-and-critiques (available on a first-registered, first-assigned basis), author tea and book signing, and of course all the coffee you care to drink.

Optional add-ons for Friday include your choice of a networking lunch or the Published Author's Luncheon with special guest former Random House editor Liz Scheier, the Friday keynote dinner with James Rollins, Saturday night's masquerade "Heroes and Villians," and a breakfast buffet on Sunday.

However, it's those intangibles—connections with a top-notch agent, the possibility of avoiding the slush pile, finding the perfect critique partner, discovering a writers group that meets near your home, learning whether an MFA is for you—that are priceless.

To learn more, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Sunday, January 10, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#8)

News

The #8 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: knowledgeable editors.

We've invited three editors this year to hear pitches, teach classes, and participate in read and critiques: Barbara Lalicki is senior vice president and editorial director at HarperCollins Children. She is our keynote James Rollins' editor and also worked with Beverly Cleary and Dan Gutman. David Pomerico is assistant editor at Del Rey Spectra where he focuses on fantasies of all sorts, dystopian literature, and near-future sci-fi thrillers, and works with the Star Wars program. Leis Pederson is associate editor at Berkley Publishing Group where she acquires commercial fiction including romance, urban fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, and general fiction. Find more information about each of them at www.pennwriters.com.

Get Great Feedback
Our visiting editors will be critiquing at the Friday night read and critique sessions, an excellent spot to seek feedback on the opening pages of your current WIP (work in progress). The critiques are available free of charge on a first-registered, first-assigned basis; space is limited, and first and second choices can be made on your registration form. To give you an idea of the process… Bring 10 copies of your first two pages and your half-page synopsis—don't include your name. A moderator will read your submission out loud, and you'll receive comments from the agents, editors, and/or published writers assigned to your group.

To learn more, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Saturday, January 09, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#9)

News

The #9 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: dinner with a bestselling author.

We're pleased to welcome James Rollins — bestselling author of science-adventure thrillers, a movie novelization, and a newly launched series of young adult thrillers—as our dinner keynote on May 13. Jim's first novel, Subterranean, was published in 1999 by Harper and will be rereleased in 2010. To date, he has six individual thrillers, six books in the Sigma Force series, the movie novelization of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and a thriller for young adults to his name.

Jim's presentation Friday night will focus on his 10 years in the publishing industry and the changes he's seen, and will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. Visit his website at www.jamesrollins.com or stop by Jonathan Maberry's big scary blog (http://jonathanmaberry.com/a-conversation-with-james-rollins) to learn more. And to see why we think he'll be a fantastic keynote for the 2010 conference check out http://cbs13.com/entertainment/james.rollins.author.2.1400686.html for a clip from a CBS-TV affiliate and behind the scenes interviews. If you're on Twitter, definitely be one of his followers. Not only does he tweet about his writing, he also forwards lots of interesting articles and web sites that catch his writer's imagination.

We've reserved the hotel's courtyard for the evening and dinner entrees include a choice of New York strip steak, chicken Chardonnay, or a vegetarian Chef's choice, plus appetizer, salad, and dessert. Jim's presentation will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. Tickets for the dinner are not included in the base price of the conference (but we're happy to be able to offer the same member price that we had in 2009): $49 members, $65 nonmembers.

In Addition…
Barbara Lalicki, senior vice president and editorial director at HarperCollins Children's Books, edits James Rollins' Jake Ransom books and will be attending the 2010 conference. (She has also worked with children's authors Beverly Cleary and Dan Gutman.) Barbara plans to lead a workshop, hear pitches, and take part in our Friday night read and critiques.

To learn more, visit www.pennwriters.com, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or send a blank e-mail to PennwritersConference-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Friday, January 08, 2010

News: Top Ten Reasons to Attend 2010 Pennwriters Conference (#10)

News

Registration for the 2010 Pennwriters Conference, May 14–16 in Lancaster, PA, opens Jan. 11, and with apologies to a certain late night host, we'd like to present the top ten reasons to attend this year's conference — in reverse order, of course.

The #10 reason to attend the 2010 Pennwriters Conference: approachable agents.

The line between a good conference and a great conference (in our humble opinion) lies in how much face-to-face time you can get with an agent. Some conferences only offer 10-minute pitch sessions—and that's all you see of an agent for the rest of the weekend. All five of our guest agents at the 2010 conference will be available to hear your pitches (whether you take advantage of the official pitch sessions or hit them up with an idea after hours), to teach classes, to take part in Q&A sessions, and to comment on first pages during the Friday night read and critiques. Make time to talk with them about pitching, querying, common mistakes, contracts, or just publishing in general.

Find more information on each of the following at www.pennwriters.com:

- Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Literary Agency
- Janet Reid, Fine Print Literary
- Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
- Alex Glass, Trident Media
- Miriam Kriss, Irene Goodman Literary Agency

About Our Pitch Sessions
Ten-minute pitch sessions are scheduled at no extra charge on a first-registered, first-assigned basis. Availability is limited. Please make your first and second choices on the registration form. An appointment time will be e-mailed to you prior to the conference. Writers pitching fiction must have a finished manuscript but should not bring it to the pitch session.

Nervous About Pitching?
Plan to attend CJ Lyons' workshop, Pitch Perfect. It's the first session on Friday morning, and CJ will help you work out all your jitters. Learn what makes a perfect pitch, then test it out on CJ. She'll be gentle but honest. We promise.


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2010 Pennwriters Conference
May 14 – 16, 2010
Eden Resort, Lancaster, PA
www.pennwriters.com
Ayleen Stellhorn, conference coordinator
ayleen@embarqmail.com

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Interview: Jenny Bent Interviews Mandy Hubbard

Interviews

If you have ever felt that your years of writing and those millions of words you've written will never be enough to push you to your dream, READ THIS!

Mandy Hubbard aka Amanda Grace reminds me why I haven't quit after three unpublished novels and a graduate degree in writing, and assures me it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Interview: The Eight Writing Questions

Interviews

Well, since V. R. Barkowski tagged me for The Eight Writing Questions, I'll say she was the one conducting the interview.

Instead of tagging others, however, I've set up a Mr. Linky at the bottom of the post for those of you who want to participate or have already done so because you have been tagged and would like to share it with others.

This reminds me that I haven't done a HEIDI'S PICK SIX or PATHS TO PUBLICATION in a while, so here's an all-call for any writer who would like to participate. You can see what these interviews are all about by clicking on the links above, then just email me or leave a comment asking to participate.

Now, back to my questions...

1) Do you type or write by hand?
I usually type, but still enjoy writing in my notebooks, then transferring everything later.

2) Do you save everything you write?
I suppose I do since I create backup copies of my novels every week as I'm working on them. That certainly doesn't mean I will be using everything. Some of it is just vile.

3) What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
There is a scene in my current novel ATOMIC ZION where an Israeli Secret Policeman is shaving and cutting his hair, and as he sees the changes to his appearance slowly come into focus in the mirror with each snip of the scissors or swipe of the razor, he recalls memories of the woman he loved, including her murder. It becomes a reawakening scene, and its tenderness stayed with me long after I wrote it.

4) What character have you written that’s most like yourself?
There is an aspect of me in every character I write, whether I like to face that or not.

5) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
My characters are a conglomeration of traits from characters in literature, TV, and film, from people I know, and from myself.

6) Do you ever write based on your dreams?
All of my short stories are from dreams, including The Surrender, Mr. Johnson's Boy, Mara's Jellyfish, and The Islands of Hope, among those that have been published.

I have also dreamt two entire novels: one steampunk, one space opera, which are completely outlined and about a quarter of the way through a rough draft. They'll have to wait until my current spy thriller is polished, though.


7) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
It goes without saying....

8) Does music help you write?
Yes, I either have to have music I enjoy on in the background or one of my favorite TV shows or films.



Please post a comment after you've signed up.

Have fun!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Submissions: 2009 Submissions and Responses

Submissions

It's time to look back on my submissions record for the previous year once again. Those of you who have followed these submissions over the years know I try for the Buckell 150 and each subsequent year I've submitted less and less. This is my lowest submission year since I started tracking my submissions in 2003. Am I discouraged? Not so much because I've managed to finish the first draft of a new novel (my third) this year while pouring a majority of my time and energy into a brand new position at work.

That being said, I'm hoping the submissions for 2010 are the ones which take my writing career to the next level. I guess we'll have to wait a whole year to find out.

2009 SUBMISSIONS AND RESPONSES:
12 total submissions
*The total is 56 less than 2008.

4 rejections
*These are from various sources for a variety of projects, some agented, some freelance (mags, agents, online media, editors).

4 non-responders
*This isn't as cut and dry as it would seem because either my agent or me are still in direct contact, negotiations, etc. with 3 of these sources.

4 acceptances
*Not bad. I broke pretty even.

2009 RESPONSES FROM 2008 SUBMISSIONS:
1 acceptance - 29 days

1 withdrawal - 285 days
*As usual, the withdrawal was due to questionable circumstances regarding the editor/publisher.

2 rejections - 314 days; 111 days

2009 RESPONSES FROM 2007 SUBMISSIONS:
1 rejection - 547 days
*So the longer they have it doesn't necessarily mean the better your chances! Didn't I say that last year, too? But, at least they got back to me, right?