Special Meeting Notes – April 24, 2016 – by Tosh McIntosh


From an average of under 10 members per session late last year, we’re seeing upwards of about 15 in attendance with a combination of members and guests. I don’t think it’s time to begin setting up more tables, but we’ll wait to see if the trend continues.

As attendance increases, timing awareness during Roundtable becomes more important. In a typical session, when we account for the icebreaker, announcements, group business, the break, and a minimum of 15 minutes to end the meeting with the open discussion free-for-all, we have a maximum of 80 minutes for individual verbal critiques. I say “maximum” because the 30-second-each icebreaker period is usually infected with a disease called “time-warp-itis.”

I would prefer not acting as time-sheriff, and ask for your cooperation in taking responsibility for limiting your comments to the allotted time. The keys to that are using a real clock (not the slow one in your head), and organizing your verbal comments in advance with the following considerations in mind:

  1. You don’t have time to offer every comment you inserted into the submission.
  2. Over the years, an effective approach has been to divide your verbal comments into three categories: a general overview; a summary list of items you found that repeated often enough to warrant noting as issues to consider; and offering more detail about a limited number of issues (typically no more than three) that you think would be of the most interest to the group as a whole.
  3. From my personal experience, here are some warning signs of impending time-warp-itis:
  4. Reading narrative or dialogue as an illustration of how you think it should be written.
  5. Using the intensity of how you present your critique as a tool for convincing the recipient to implement your suggestions. Hannah Whitall Smith said it best: “The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.”
  6. Commenting in detail about the findings of your line/copy editing and proofreading of a first-draft submission. This often results from an author’s comment in the cover sheet that “Any and all comments are welcome.” To summarize them in your written critique is one thing, but to give examples at this stage of the author’s journey to publication is not the best use of our communal time in Roundtable.


Our meeting handout sheets provide an overview of the submission format, which is presented in expanded form on a dedicated page on our website. The format works for both hard-copy and e-submissions. Please refer to the information there and comply.

To avoid unnecessary consumption of ink and paper in printing hard-copy submissions, I try to keep track of how many members prefer, or are willing to accept, electronic versions. The effect of that is reflected in the submission format notes on the meeting handout, where I indicate how many hard-copies to bring. The recent increase in attendance and the number of new members has rendered inaccurate my previous information, and I need to update my list.

To that end, I’m passing out a sheet with the names, email addresses, and a column on the right in which I’d like you to indicate a Yes or No as to whether you will accept e-submissions. If you don’t see an email address by your name, please enter it.

At the meeting prior to your Roundtable, you bring hard copies to hand out. NOTE: Today, Leanna and I will both hand out our submissions because she will not be attending the meeting on May 8th. You also are asked to send me a copy of your electronic submission on or prior to the day of the meeting at which you hand out hard copies.

E-submissions are distributed in two ways:

  1. I send a blast email with the e-submission attached to all active members whether or not you have indicated a willingness to accept them. This ensures that you receive the submission for our next Roundtable if you don’t attend the meeting prior to it.
  2. I also upload the e-submission to our Yahoo Group. Click on the “Files” item in the menu bar on the Home page and select it from the list to download to your computer.


To join NIP-Austin requires membership in our Yahoo Group. That said, you are welcome to attend as a guest for as long as you want. As a guest, you can receive hard-copy or electronic submissions and participate in critique sessions, but you may not submit your own work to Roundtable.

The reason for this restriction goes hand-in-hand with our requirement that new members must attend a minimum of five meetings prior to signing up for an open slot in the schedule, and meetings attended as a guest prior to joining the Yahoo Group do count toward the minimum.

For those of you on the membership list who have not joined the Yahoo Group, please do so if you intend to fully participate.


A few years ago, the ARC began requiring that we take roll, and that all members of any group that meets there fill out and sign a Waiver Form. The primary purpose appears to be for parents of minor children to indicate acceptance of the liability waiver and list emergency contact information. We have no choice but to submit one for each of us. If you have not done so, see me or the front desk to obtain the form, fill it out, sign and return it. Thank you for your cooperation.

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