Illusion and Critique

A bit of news in today’s post. First, since I told you all that my novel An Illusion of Trust was a finalist for a 2014 Best of the Independents eBook Award, I thought I should post an update. As you can see from the graphic, the book won in the General Fiction category!

2014win2If you voted, thank you. If you didn’t vote, maybe you’ll consider reading it. You can use the Look Inside feature or download the Kindle sample here.

This is also the day I submitted my first pages to a new critique group. I believe I mentioned, almost a year ago, that I was taking a Women’s Fiction Writers Association workshop on critique to be placed in a group. Unfortunately, that first group didn’t work out. But now I’m in another group which looks promising.

I’ve worked in live critique groups before, so this online group will be a new experience. We’ve proposed to have discussions via video chat though, so I guess it’s sort of a hybrid. Of course, you know from my last post that I’ll be anxious about the chat thing, but I’m determined to do it.

I’ve now produced three and a third novels without benefit of feedback throughout the writing process, and I’m not in favor of that. I’d prefer to have confidence that when I send my work to my beta readers, it’s nearly polished not something that might need major revision.

To me, it makes sense to have a problem pointed out before it’s been multiplied throughout an entire novel. If several writers agree that there’s a problem with voice or tone or plot, I’d rather consider that change early on.

Speaking of critique, my romantic comedy is out for feedback from a friend and former critique partner. I planned this to be a shorter novel than my first two, but the word count ended up less than I intended, so maybe she’ll be able to point out ways to add length. I don’t want to pad it with filler, of course, but I sometimes forget to put everything I “see” on the page. Then again, maybe it’s meant to be a short, fun read.

As I wait for feedback on my paranormal and my rom-com novels, I’ll continue my women’s fiction WIP. Next year is going to be BIG for me.

Whatever you’re doing this week, I wish you well.

 

Linda

Skype with me at your risk!

Okay, so I asked James Garcia, Jr., a nice guy and accomplished writer, to read and give me feedback on one of my projects. Jimmy, as he’ll ask you to call him, is an extrovert. I am not. Though I would have been satisfied with an email exchange, he wanted to discuss his feedback in person. As it turned out, he didn’t get his way—but neither did I.

James Garcia, Jr.We arranged a Skype session on Saturday night. I’m not much of a Skype person. Previously, I’d used it only to talk to my son and grandchildren who live in a different state. But I combed my hair and showed up. He said he thought I might chicken out and not hit the video call button when he rang me. But hit it I did. Jimmy is used to doing podcasts for his readers to enjoy, so he was relaxed. I drank a glass of wine. And then I babbled, like I always do when I’m nervous.

But we talked about writing in general and we talked about my project specifically. And it made me realize how much I miss being a member of a live writers’ group where you can brainstorm and get immediate answers to questions about feedback and all that good writerly stuff.  I think Jimmy would have ended the call at least thirty minutes earlier than we did, but he couldn’t shut me up.

I ended up with some ideas on how to improve my manuscript and little more social confidence. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to Skype with another writer, but I know I could and survive the experience. And if I do it again, I’ll warn the other participant they might need to set a time limit.

So thank you for “pushing” me, Jimmy.

Visit Jimmy’s blog and check out his books.

 

Linda

Mélange à trois … encore!

Good things come in threes, right? Well, today I’m sharing three little good things in this short post because I’ve started about five other posts since I published the last one and abandoned them all for one reason or another. By the way, if you misread the title* of this post you’re going to be disappointed. 😉

*The encore appears in the title because I used this silly bit of titillation once before.

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troisScrivener Update:  Recently, I blogged about my first week’s experience with using Scrivener to write and organize all the files associated with a novel. I still love it. I now have projects set up for three novels. It makes me laugh to remember that I didn’t care for the program the first time I tried it. And I expect I’ll be even more pleased with it after I learn all the ins and outs.

Download the free trial, for Mac or Windows, and try it for 30 days!

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Book Covers:  My books are printed by Createspace and, at the time they were published, a glossy cover was my only choice. Now, Createspace offers matte finish as an option. Since, in my opinion, glossy covers are more appropriate for non-fiction or children’s books, I switched to matte and ordered copies for myself. They arrived this past Saturday, and I’m very pleased. For the first time the colors are accurate.

I was never happy with the printed cover of The Brevity of Roses because it had a yellow tint, edging the pink letters of the title toward salmon. Apparently, that was caused by the glossy film overlay because the title appears in a true pink with the matte finish.

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Alpha, beta, critique:  Actually, the correct order is critique, alpha, beta, but it sounds better in A-B-C order. I’m talking about stages of feedback on your writing. One of the reasons I joined Women’s Fiction Writers Association was to find critique partners who write what I write. My first attempt didn’t work out. Of course, since the novel I was working on at that time is now waiting in line and the one I’m currently working on is not women’s fiction, I guess that failed attempt doesn’t matter.

So, again, I’m working without in-progress critique, which means the first person who reads “Forever” will be my alpha reader. I think I have one lined up—she’s a very busy lady, so her availability probably depends on when I have an alpha-ready draft completed. After the alpha edit, I’ll call for betas. But first, I’m writing, writing, writing.

Question of the day: Do you seek A-B-C feedback on your work?

Linda

And Suddenly, It’s Fall

Where I live, it rarely rains from April to October and the summer temperatures hover around 102° F, so about mid-July we start longing for the arrival of Fall. Just when it seems summer will never let go, we wake up to a change in the air. Even if the days still heat up, we sense Fall’s presence.

oct_sceneThis past week, I woke to hardwood floors chilly enough to break out the fuzzy socks. Yay! Maybe it’s because I was born in October that I feel the energy of a beginning more than an ending.  And a boost is surely what I need now. I just finished the critique training workshop though WFWA and soon will be sorted into an online critique group. Egads! What was I thinking?

I participated in the workshop because I’m anxious to work exclusively with other women’s fiction writers. But how can I be a member of a critique group with nothing to submit? I have no choice, now, but to wake that Muse and get back to work.  Shut the doors, put in the earbuds, and start up the Bach cello suites.

So yes, I welcome the energy of Fall. Of course, it also shines a spotlight on the many other jobs I need to tackle. Maybe I’ll get a few chapters written and then switch to the mad house cleaning I used to do in November. Any long-time readers remember my NAHOCLEMO (National House Cleaning Month) challenge?

For me, these cool days present another challenge. I’ve finally decided to get serious about losing the pounds I’ve added during these last five years of sitting, sitting, sitting as I worked on this serious writing business. It’s hard to eat salad when your body’s chilled and begging for hot chocolate and cream soups and hearty casseroles. And I can’t even think about the temptations of the upcoming holidays.

Okay, as long as I keep my fingers on the keyboard, I can’t eat. Well, I could, but …

Linda

Image courtesy of Karpati Gabor / Morguefile.com

A letter from my Muse

Listen up, Linda!

I’ve taken all I can take these last three weeks. Your emotional roller coaster is making me sick. Chill the heck out. You’re a writer. Writers write. And writers, if they’re smart, let trusted writers read their work and give them feedback. And if those writers are any help at all, they give you honest critique. Got it?

So they told you the book isn’t done. So they suggested more than a few little tweaks. Get over it. Stop this rush to worst case scenario. You are not a fake. You are not the worst writer in the world. You are not too stupid or too old to learn (though you just might be too stubborn). And you are not going to delete your blog, your Facebook page, and your Twitter account.

And, above all else, you are not going to throw this book out and start another one.

Get a grip. Quit your whining. Stop your bellyaching.  Walk out on the pity party and lock the door behind you.

GET TO WORK.

You have a good story, but we’re about to make it fantastic. Got it? Okay. Let’s go.

Signed, Your wise and patient Muse

Geez, the stuff a Muse has to put up with.