Tuesday, December 27

A critter crisis...

ningmilo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ok, well, it's not that bad. I'm pretty decent at self-editing and only getting better workshop by workshop. But we all hit that point where our manuscripts need fresh sets of eyes and minds.

A critique group is a great thing. It’s a fantastic way to get outside eyes on your manuscript and help you polish your work. You can find areas of weakness and mistakes you might not have seen on your own. You learn how to better critique others’ work. You have a ready-made support group to identify with the trials you go through as a writer.

Despite the benefits, I’ve decided to opt out. If I’d found a good for me group, I might feel different. I’ve tried several, giving each plenty of time and taking my feedback with a grain of salt. Still I choose to opt out. I didn’t get bad feedback (mostly—someone did tell me not to use fragments in dialogue and another said no contractions in writing ever). No one offended me. The fact is when I submitted, I received a virtually clean copy back. I got a few suggestions, some of it positive feedback. While that’s great for my ego, it does nothing to polish my writing.

I ran into two basic problems. First, I was at a different writing level than most members. Second, the other writers didn’t write or read my genre. So what now? The image of the solitary writer makes me laugh. IMHO, it takes a village to produce a great book.

I tried out Writer’s Digest Community, but ran into problematic feedback from writers outside of the romance genre. Plus not enough writers use the site so the crits are few. I registered for Critique Circle but haven’t used it yet. Anyone tried it? If so, how was it? Pros? Cons? I dabbled with Book Country, but I have to admit it made me nervous. You don’t have to be a registered user to view large portions of an author’s posted work. Would a publisher have a problem with so much of your unedited manuscript openly displayed to the public? And if you had some pretty original concepts, aren’t you then wide-open to giving them to other writers?

I have a few beta readers who aren’t writers but read romance, and aren't afraid to tell me when something's jacked up. For my first manuscript, I had one fantastic critter, Sondrae Bennett, who was amazing at helping me shape up my writing skills. If I had two or three critters as skilled, I’d be set.

Where have you found your outside eyes? Tried any critique sites? Have a critique group story, good, bad or ugly? How do you feel about publishers building their own critique sites, like Book Country? Who else is game to try it out?

Friday, December 23

Slowing down to live life

As you may have noticed, I've been MIA and the blog has been on hiatus for over a year. There are many reasons, but for simplicity's sake, I'll just say a lot of things have changed for me over that time. Now I'm ready to slow down, get healthy, enjoy life and stay for good. I won't deploy again, and I cannot come close to expressing my relief at having that part of my life over. I loved the company of my fellow sailors, and that's what I'll miss. For those who continue to stick with me: a heartfelt Thank You!

One very important topic I left off: the results of the Madlib Contest. And the winner was *drum rooooooooollll* Nate Wilson. If you don't know him yet, please visit his blog. Bring friends, family and your sense of humor because you're all going to have fun there. Here's his winning entry (his words are highlighted):

A Personal Ad

I enjoy long, scintillating walks on the beach, getting undulated in the rain and serendipitous encounters with Presbyterians. I really like pina coladas mixed with Ecto-Cooler and romantic, candle-lit wombats. I am well-read from Dr. Seuss to the Dalai Lama. I travel frequently, especially to a Kiss concert, when I'm not busy with work (I am a Roomba repairman). I am looking for haberdashery and beauty in the form of a Uzbekistani goddess. She should have the physique of Angela Lansbury and the rapscallion of Jezebel, the kindhearted stripper. I would prefer if she knew how to cook, clean, and wash my dirigibles. I know I'm not very attractive in my picture, but it was taken 73 1/2 days ago, and I have since become more cantankerous.

An entertaining personal ad, Nate! I'll be on the lookout for a cross between Angela Lansbury and Jezebel, the kindhearted stripper. Thanks to all who played.

I'll post here regularly every Tuesday and Friday. I might occasionally post more if I'm dying to share something like a friend's new release or book cover, a contest, or a blog shout out I can't pass up. Stay safe over the holidays, and I hope everyone has a Very Merry Christmas.