Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting... A Crit: Pt 1

So I may not be an expert or nuthin', but I have received my fair share of criticism. I finally finished my rewrite of Evangeline (which changed things so much I had to rewrite my blurb and synopsis! :P ) and have sent it out to betas to read.

How did I find said readers? you may ask, as you are wont to do. You really are quite inquisitive, you know. Well, one reader has been with me for a long time, and has read Evangeline in nearly all of its recent incarnations.

We "met" at the most-awesome QueryTracker Forum, which I find to be an excellent place not to only to post your work, but to foster relationships with other writers. (Of course, QueryTracker itself is the perfect tool to keep track of your queries and tidbits about agents, but that's another post. Can't query without getting feedback first. That's rule #1 of querying. Rule #2 is you don't talk about QueryTracker... Wait, that's not right...).

At a forum like QueryTracker's, you can "test-drive" crit partners or betas with a sample of your work before you commit. But, you may be saying—always interrupting, you are—how do I make the leap from getting a single crit from someone to becoming crit partners? The simple answer is: ASK. The worst thing they can say is no. (And I know, from experience, that anyone who has to say no is usually VERY apologetic about it, so it will be a nice no, if you get one)

Too afraid to just shoot off a pm willy-nilly? Take some time to find out a little more about your potential crit partner. Follow their blog. See what they write about revisions. See what they say about crit buddies. Even though they may already have a devoted crit group, that doesn't mean they won't need a fresh eye for a project that their crit buddies have read so many times it makes their head spin. My crit buddy has been reading Evangeline in various forms for well over a year, which means she'll have a different reaction to the manuscript—especially the changes I made—than someone new.

Which brings me to how I found a second reader for the current version of Evangeline, one who had never read any of the novel before. Ever. Since I'm not on QueryTracker enough these days to find a reader I can trust, I turned to the blogosphere, and my "friends" there. Is there anyone whose blog you follow who writes reviews? A blogger who is not only someone that you respect, but someone you are comfortable enough with/have had enough conversations with to ask for help? Just for the record, if someone has just posted like eight straight posts about how busy they are they barely have time to blog, maybe they shouldn't be at the top of your list. ;)

In conclusion, if you have a blog, interact with your peers, and have what you can confidently call "writing buddies" (whether you've actually met them IRL or not), you should have a good-sized pool of critters to draw on for help. No writer is an island, and no writer's spouse/sibling/parent/boyfriend/bff can give enough of the right sort of constructive criticism needed to properly revise a novel. I need at least two people for a decent crit, one of them having never seen the work before. I've been working on Evangeline since November 2008, so it sometimes feels like I'm starting to run out of fresh eyes, lol!

Any other questions about finding crit partners?

Tune in next week for a post on critters, and what you should expect (and not expect) from them.

Thanks, y'all!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Neverending Story

No, I don't mean the classic fantasy by Michael Ende—though that is one of my favorites—I mean my agented manuscript.

I'm thiiiis close to finally finishing the tenth version—say the nine old versions in my old versions folder—of this manuscript. Some changes have been minor, bits of dialog removed here, pieces of voice added there. Other versions, like the one I just finished, have sweeping plot changes, with characters and settings removed and added. I even have a third person version rattling around in there.

Each version has been a learning lesson, helping me figure out what works, and—through sometimes painful experience—what doesn't.

One thing that's been the same since the very first draft, however, is the ending. Because of a bit of a bloated word-count that fluttered anywhere from 97 to 103,000, I'd written a pretty brisk ending. It was gritty and realistic, even despite the happily-ever-after feel to it.

Now that I've shaved a good 10K off my lowest word-count, I can afford a longer ending, a more satisfying one that the reader can savor. But I don't want to go on too long. Though all of my major plot points are tied up, there are some teeny threads I could pull to unravel a mystery for a second book, but I'm not sure if I want to go there. So I thought I'd put it to the readers.

How do you like your books to end?

One solid happily-ever-after moment? (It is a paranormal romance.)

Do you prefer your books to end? Or do you like the sense of something more to come? I'm not talking about the super-cliffhanger sequels that some books need in order to tell a story. I'm talking about a self-contained story, but one that hints at a story that's yet to occur.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I Love It, But I'm Biased...

Morning, y'all! It's already hot as blazes in the Deep South this morning, and I've already been almost killed on my scooter on the way to work, and my cat—the outside cat, who has already had about a grand's worth of doctor visits—is back in the vet to treat an abscess on her tail. Yeesh.

On mornings like this one, how do you even know where to start? Can you trust your emotions, your decisions? Most importantly—to us writer folk—can you be be a true judge of your own work?

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but when I'm having a bad day, eventually I start to feel bad about everything: myself, my writing, etc. Whereas when I'm feeling good about myself, looking over the same writing brings me a sense of joy and accomplishment. Maybe I'm a little moodier than the average person (I am a cancer, we can be crabby, lol!), but I know there are times when I can't trust my own opinion, and that usually has something to do with my ego.

I'll let you in on a little secret, though. Come closer. I won't bite. (Although I didn't eat breakfast this morning, so if you have any granola in your pockets or anything, that would be magical!)

Since I stopped comparing myself to other writers/authors/NYT Bestselling authors, my bad days seem to be fewer and farther between. At least, the days where I've deflated my own ego with jealousy and feelings of inadequacy, anyway. Now if I could just get traffic and the heat and my cat to cooperate!

There's still one problem, though. Sometimes, when I'm reading this new stuff I've been writing (42K words, woohoo!), I start to get excited. Like, heart pounding-pulse racing-butterflies-in-the-stomach-OMGWTFBBQ-THISISTHEBESTTHINGSINCEHARRRYPOTTERMWAHAHAHAHA!!!


What I mean to say is, is feeling too good about your work a bad thing? As long as I've got betas to bring me back down again, I'm not sure it is. I love that sense of being in love with a manuscript, particularly one I've read, re-read, edited and revised so many times. It's a little magic of it's own, that writer's high, that elusive feeling that this time will be the one!

So what do you all think? Can being too in-love with your manuscript be a detriment? Or is it a moot point, since the honeymoon never lasts that long anyway? ;)

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Liar Society Winner!

Hey, y'all! Sorry if you were waiting for this post yesterday, but I hurt my knee on Sunday and was out of commission most of the day yesterday. Would you believe it was a bocce ball injury? More like a "my yard has a lot of holes in it and isn't a good place to play bocce ball" injury. Anywho, no one cares about that (I am feeling much better, thanks, no one. ;D), so on to the main event!

And the winner of the signed copy of The Liar Society, with additional swag, is:

The Lovely Getaway!

Diana, I will try to email you before the end of the day, but if you see this, please get back to me with your mailing address!