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When Critique Goes Wrong: Crit Group Calamities | With Janice Hardy

When Critique Goes Wrong: Crit Group Calamities | With Janice Hardy


Janice Hardy writes fantasy and science fiction for teens. She also blogs about ‘taking your story from idea to novel’ over at The Other Side of the Story. Today she is guest posting about what happens when critique goes wrong, and what writers can do about it.

 

I’m very pro critique group, so folks often ask me to write about them. This time, I was asked to write about any negative experiences I’ve had. While I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid truly horrible critique experiences, I have had some situations that were less than ideal. Even in a great crit group, problems can arise, and how you handle then can mean the difference between fixing an issue and moving on, or a group falling apart.

 

Getting Personal

My worst experience was actually my fault. (more…)

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“Having Your Book Read By Someone Else Is Terrifying” | Guest Post from Samantha March, Chick Lit Plus

“Having Your Book Read By Someone Else Is Terrifying” | Guest Post from Samantha March, Chick Lit Plus

Having your book read by someone else is terrifying. When Destined to Fail was still in its very early stages, I was the only one who had read it. I worked on writing it for one year––tweaked the characters, created new conflicts, deleted whole chapters and started new ones, and did a lot of editing and revising along the way. After about a year had passed, I thought “now what?” My manuscript was near completion, but what was the next step? The answer was terrifying––have someone else read it.

Writing is such a personal journey, whether you are writing in reflection to your own life, or created your characters and story out of only your imagination. Books are published and judged, rated and commented on, and everyone wants to leave their opinion. It was overwhelming after I finished Destined and realized that now I was going to have to let others read it. Rate it. Comment on it. I would be lying if I said I was a cool cucumber when those thoughts were running through my mind. I wanted to throw my manuscript in a drawer and forget all about it, never have to worry about getting a bad review. But of course––I didn’t choose that route.

One of my first critique partners was a fellow author, Cathleen Holst. She actually found me through my book blog, ChickLitPlus.com, and sought me out to review her debut novel Everleigh in NYC. I started chatting with her about my manuscript, my fears, and my journey so far into the writing world. She offered to help me by reading through my first chapters and giving me her feedback. I sent her the first few chapters, crossed my fingers for the best, and waited anxiously for her email.  When I received her reply, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Cathleen really took me under her wing and gave me great advice––as a writer, a self-editor, and a reader. Little tips and tricks, recommendations on reading material, and a whole lot of enthusiasm and encouragement on my work really boosted my confidence in becoming a writer. I took everything Cathleen had said, and got to work with my revisions.

I later worked with Cathleen again, but I also expanded on critique partners. I have been so lucky through ChickLitPlus to have met some fantastic women and avid readers who jumped at the chance to get an early read of Destined to Fail. Jenn from Booksessed and Michelle from Just Jump both signed on to give my MS a read and give me early reviews, as well as any other feedback they had. Both women gave me extremely valuable thoughts, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the time and energy they spent on me and my book.

Critique partners are something every author needs. I read and re-read, edited, and edited again while I was working on Destined. I could recite the book in my sleep. I knew my characters inside and out, how they would react in certain situations, what one wanted for breakfast each day, how they spoke and carried themselves. But I could never have gotten my final piece, my final final proof copy if it hadn’t been for my critique partners. And simply put––my story would not have been as good. You need different opinions, you need to see how readers accept your story and your characters, and you need to make sure your vision plays out with your readers. I loved reading my critique partners early thoughts, what they took away from Jasmine and Nate and how they reacted to the ending. Without them, I would be blindly putting my work out to the public, not having a clue how it would be received. I’m not saying that everyone will love my book, or everyone will have the same opinions as my critique partners. That’s impossible. But I do have a better insight, better knowledge on the subject. And I was able to make some changes based on their feedback, and like I said earlier: change the book to be even better.

Critique partners are truly invaluable to authors. A big thing to consider when finding your partners is making sure you find someone who enjoys your genre. I think Ladies Who Critique is a fantastic idea, and will get you matched up with a perfect partner to make your experience with publishing the best it can be. If you are a first-timer, this process can be daunting. But in the end, you will see the benefits and be thankful for the work of your critique partner.  

Samantha March currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her boyfriend and crazy cast of friends. She also runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and celebrity related. Destined to Fail is her first novel and is out November 8th.

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Doing the Critique |  MAKE SURE YOU HIGHLIGHT THE POSITIVE

Doing the Critique | MAKE SURE YOU HIGHLIGHT THE POSITIVE

This is a guest post from the wonderful Jolene Perry, whose writing blog can be found at www.jolenesbeenwriting.blogspot.com and author’s website is at www.jolenebperry.com.
You can find her young adult novel, The Next Door Boys here. It’s Out Today!!! Go check it out 😀
 
Doing the Critique|  MAKE SURE YOU HIGHLIGHT THE POSITIVE

 

When I offer critique for anyone I’ve never done a crit for before, or even for long-time friends, I’m always a little nervous.

 

I SHOULD be nervous. Someone’s gong to be on the other end of this giving serious consideration to what boils down to MY OPINION on their words, their story, and possibly their chances for publication.

 

Now, I feel fairly confident when critiquing for beginner writers, but the longer I write, the more published authors I’m doing critiques for – and let me tell you, it’s intimidating. And I think it should be. Always.

 

Something that struck me recently is that highlighting the positive is just as helpful as pointing out where we need to improve.

 

I recently read an amazing manuscript. There was a lot of good stuff in there, and some things I wanted explained more fully, a few parts I ADORED that she was thinking of cutting. She was thrilled, because that’s the angle she’d wanted to take initially. I can’t wait to read it again and see what she’s come up with.

 

I’ve made comments on how things made me laugh, or how one simple phrase made me feel and understand the character better. This is SO helpful for me to see when other people make notes in my WIP. I want to know what makes people laugh, what makes them cry, the parts that touch them, because I’ve been surprised more than once.

 

And when a scene isn’t working, but something in there IS working, it might be able to be used somewhere else. This is good stuff to know.

So, just remember that it’s not just the corrections that help us become more publishable, it’s also highlighting and learning where our writing is the strongest.

 

And that’s my random bit of happy to share with you today.

 

How does positive feedback help you?

Or are you one of those who just wants to see what they need to fix?

 

 

 

 Jolene’s Next Door Boys is out TODAY!!

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Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Critique Group | Interview with Gabriela Lessa

Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Critique Group | Interview with Gabriela Lessa

Gabriela Lessa is the founder of a critique group of six wonderful women. She tells us a little about how she has kept the group thriving for almost a year, and how she couldn’t do this writing thing without them.

 

Can you tell us a little about your critique group?

 

My critique group started in August of 2010, so we’ve been together for a year now. Back then, I decided I couldn’t do this alone, and I needed support if I was ever going to finish my manuscript.

(more…)

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How Does Writing a Book with Two Authors Work? | Liz & Lisa of Chick Lit is Not Dead Explain

How Does Writing a Book with Two Authors Work? | Liz & Lisa of Chick Lit is Not Dead Explain

Happy Saturday!

Saturday has always been my favorite day of the week. In school it meant gymnastics and trampolining all day, in college it meant a lie in. In my 20’s it has meant allowing myself to veer from my usual schedule, which I have a hard time allowing myself to do (some sort of OCD). Now my Saturdays allow me some ‘me’ time – these days that means reading, writing and generally indulging in some good old fashioned fun – friends, food and family. What do you love to do on a Saturday?

Today’s post comes from two of my favorite writing BFF’s – Liz and Lisa of ChickLitisNotDead.com who are keeping Chick Lit well and truly alive. (Thank goodness for that.)These two have been friends since college, co-run a blog, and have recently released their second book which they scribed together. The concept blows my mind. Below, the two of them – together, naturally – explain how writing a book together works.

 

“Writing with your BFF can have a lot of advantages. She knows not to email you before your Starbucks run and you know that she loves to put winking emoticons at the end of every email.”

 

We’ve had a blast writing our blog (Chick Lit Is Not Dead) and two books together (our latest, The D Word, just came out this summer!) But writing with anyone, let alone someone who knows you better than you know yourself can be tricky. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the ups and downs of writing with a partner.

1. Set your expectations up front Make sure you and your partner are on the same page. If she wants to finish the first draft of your manuscript in six weeks and you were thinking six months, you have a problem on your hands. Since many of us juggle full-time jobs and kids along with writing, make sure your timeline makes sense for your lifestyle.

 

2. Play to each other’s strengths If you are a perpetual skimmer and your partner reads each line three times, I think you know who’s going to making most of your copy edits. Never let your ego get in the way of making the right decision for your book.

 

3. TRY not take it personally We can’t tell you how many times we’ve sent a chapter to the other that we thought was fabulous, only to have it demolished. We’ve even had a few catfights over it. *meow* It’s hard to have anyone critique your work, let alone a friend. But just try to take a step back and remove the emotion to understand where the feedback is coming from-you’ll have a much better manuscript if you do!

 

4. Be honest, but kind Even if your writing partner send you the biggest piece of crap you ever seen, be careful how you communicate edits to her. Make sure to tell her what you loved first (there had to be something you loved, right?!) before tearing into it. But if you find yourself censoring your edits because you’re afraid of her reaction, it’s time to sit down and have an honest discussion about your writing partnership.

 

5. Have FUN! Hopefully you’ve chosen to write a book with someone who’s writing you love. (Maybe that should have been #1 on this list?) Have fun and don’t get too caught up in petty things that don’t matter. You’ll have plenty of time to do that when it comes time to write the dreaded query letter. =)

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Getting Your Book Critiqued, Edited and Proofread: Why You Should | With Catherine Ryan Howard

Getting Your Book Critiqued, Edited and Proofread: Why You Should | With Catherine Ryan Howard

Catherine Ryan Howard (author of Mousetrapped, Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing & Backpacked) as well as all round hilarious writer and self-publishing guru, talks about the importance of quality control – critiquing, editing and proofreading – in your writing.

Many times when I tell writers that under absolutely no circumstances should they release their work into the world without getting qualified, professional feedback on it first, they smile and nod in the same way I do when I receive advice I have no intention of taking. They think that since they’ve been working on it for a long time and read over it on numerous occasions, both on screen and on paper, it’s in good enough shape. But getting your book (1) critiqued, (2) professionally edited and (3) proofread are crucial steps that cannot be omitted when it comes to self-publishing your book.

(more…)

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Critiquing Advice | An Interview with Natalie Whipple of Between Fact and Fiction

Critiquing Advice | An Interview with Natalie Whipple of Between Fact and Fiction


Natalie Whipple is a YA writer and author of TRANSPARENT, which will be out Summer 2013 from HarperTeen. She writes great stuff over at Between Fact and Fiction, where she has a ton of useful advice and references for writers of all levels. I interviewed Natalie about her experience with critique partners and why she loves ’em.

 

Can you tell us 3 things that you look for in a good critique partner?

Honesty first. Mixed with a heavy helping of tact. Then sprinkled with encouragement. (more…)

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Why My Novel is Dedicated to My Critique Group | With Caryn Rose

Why My Novel is Dedicated to My Critique Group | With Caryn Rose

 

Today’s guest post comes from Author Caryn Rose, author of B-Sides & Broken Hearts. Caryn tells us how her writing group won her over!

For years, I went to writing groups, and thought that something was wrong with me: it seemed like all anyone wanted to do was talk about why they weren’t writing, and get permission from the group to not write. I had already wasted enough time making excuses for not writing, and now that I was writing, this was not helpful. So I swore off writing groups.

 

But my best friend was one of those people who, through her line of work, knew many smart and interesting people, and she told me about a friend of hers who had a writing group. I told her the story. She’s one of those people who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She insisted that this particular friend wasn’t lame. I agreed to go to a meeting just to make her shut the hell up and prove her wrong.

 

And then I met the women of the Seattle Writer’s Bloc and I had to eat copious amounts of crow.

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Critty Girls Are Made of Awesome  | With Julie Anne Lindsey

Critty Girls Are Made of Awesome | With Julie Anne Lindsey

Guest post by Author Julie Ann Lindsey on what her Critique Girls mean to her!

I can thank twitter for my critique group. (This awesome site wouldn’t appear for another year.) One day a gorgeous Brazilian bombshell by the name of Gabriela Lessa sent me a DM asking if I wanted to join a crit group. She was looking for ladies to trade some chic lit pages with. I’ve never written chic lit, so I promptly lied and have since turned in every genre but chic lit without her complaining once. I had to take drastic measures. No way was I missing an opportunity to join a crit group!

 

I’m so glad she kept me. Gabi has led our group for about a year now, and she’s as amazing as ever. She’s recruited some girls who’ve come to be my closest friends. Today our group includes Christie Koester, Alaina Byers, Stephanie Campbell and Meredith Jaeger. I can’t imagine writing anything without them.

 

What began as a couple girls trading pages has grown into something amazing.

 

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