Necessary Evil

Until two weeks ago, I had been running from critique groups like they were the villain in my first book coming to pillage, mar and finish me off by hanging. Scary stuff, right!

A writer’s manuscript is like a mother’s child. We know they’re not perfect, BUT don’t you dare talk bad about my baby.

We pour our heart and soul into our manuscripts. Spend our days, hours, months, even years building a world outside the one we live in. The characters we create become people with emotions and pasts. People who grow a voice and demand the story be written the way they want. They care not about the writer’s storyline. It’s their life on the page, the only one they may ever get.

In the last three months, I’ve learned SOOO much about writing through the self-editing class I took, reading published novels like a writer, and my DSRA author friends. This is a good thing! But the novel I wrote a year and a half ago, the one I’d “edited” twelve times over when I didn’t know squat, needed work. I knew this, but I needed a kick in the behind to get me going.

Critique group to the rescue. I worked up the courage, registered, held my breath and submitted the first fifteen pages of my first novel manuscript, a.k.a. my baby on Thursday. The moderator collected all submissions and divided them up among the participants; some seasoned authors, some new authors, some newbies. Each participant critiqued three works and received three critiques on their work by Sunday.

The process was painless. Reading the critiques on my work was not. The poor thing dripped red with suggestions and corrections. BUT (there’s the but again) they were supremely helpful. I didn’t get shipped off the island, booed off the bus or laughed off the stage. Quite the opposite. My story was, “compelling and chilling” and they were ready to read more. My writing was amazing, for a beginner.

So, in the warmth of a critique group as opposed to the darkness of a trashcan in a publisher’s office, I found the things I need to correct and remember for future writing.

My advice to you writers: Find a critique group. Critique with people better than you. Intimidating? Yes, but it will make you a better writer.

Question: Do you use a critique group? If yes, what has been your experience? If no, why not? 

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Besides Books

Perusing my past posts, looking for something to spark a new post topic, I found little to nothing under the heading My Life. It made me think. There’s more to my life than reading and writing, right?

Of course, there is. So much more, I’ve hardly got room to fit it all into a single post.

First and always foremost, there’s my precious family. My hottie husband, Jonathan, who’s both a genius (engineer) and too athletic for words (former college pitcher), is my wingman on this crazy ride called life. My three year old son, Summit, is the life of the party, always keeping us on our toes or on our backs rolling with laughter. Next are our furry children, an allergic to everything german shepherd, River, and play obsessed labrador, Lincoln, who keep it real.

Then, there’s Mom, Dad, and my brother, the best anyone could ask for! (Warning: We can’t take a serious picture to save anyone’s life.) And don’t get me started on the extended family with twenty seven first cousins on one side. My family is massive and Catholic, and I love them!

If you couldn’t guess from my blog and website pics, I love the outdoors!!! Hiking, biking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, running, camping, swimming, wake boarding, sailing, mud running and even a little mountain climbing. If it’s outside, I’ll probably do it!

Twenty seven miles in and around the Grand Canyon with a forty pound pack. Oh yeah, I’m hard core!

Seven degrees and a foot of snow, not what we had in mind when we planned this trip.

Tango, the best horse in the world!

Our first Mud Run! We’re doing our fourth this weekend!

I also love Halloween!!

By the way, it’s really hard to hold your golfball baby when you have an alligator head on and your golfer husband is missing an arm! And I couldn’t find the picture of Summit’s first Halloween. 😦 He was a, one week old, Dalmatian sitting with our two other dogs.

There you have it, a little glimpse into my life. It’s pretty darn good!!

What are your non-book hobbies?

Inspiration

In the early morning hours, caught between dream and sleep, inspiration struck. I let it simmer for a while, wondering where it would lead. The trash bin? The you’re really not right in the head section of the brain, where you hide the real crazy? Or miracle of miracles, would it bloom into a workable story?

This morning, the inspiration morphed into the story I’d been scrounging around my brain in a desperate search for over the last week. Yay!

For me, inspiration strikes when my brain has time to idle. My first, ever, story idea came to me while, glamour of glamours, I folded a load of laundry. The second came while I dried my hair. The third, while chopping summer squash. Apparently, mundane tasks do it for me. And on occasion, those wee morning hours.

I’m curious when and where does inspiration strike you? Is it random or set like clockwork?

Out of the Bog

Last week, I had a minor case of writer’s block. Frustrating. Cursed. Writer’s block. I likened it to being stuck in the mud.

I knew where I wanted to go, but had trouble getting my character there. I started and stopped a hundred different ways and in the end deleted all the mess known as dreaded Chapter 19. The mud got so thick and annoying I decided to blog about it because, as unique as we like to think we are, I’m surely not the first or last person to ever have writer’s block.

The comments rolled in! I took each one, read it several times and committed it to memory. The suggestions were vast and varied, like the authors who suggested them. And above all, massively helpful! They were so helpful, the next day I gave Chapter 19 a kick in the pants and swiftly wrote through Chapter 20.

The things I learned: Sometimes you have to let it rest a minute. Sometimes you have to regroup. But most importantly, you have to write! Because as Elle James said, “You can’t revise a blank page. You can revise crap!”

A million thanks to all my author friends for helping me get out of the bog!