• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Critique Groups

critique group

A critique group can be defined as a lot of things, but to me, it’s simply a group of people who get together to go over their writing. If you are a writer and you aren’t in one, I highly recommend either joining one or creating one. I spent years writing on my own, working my hardest to reach my goal of becoming a published author. Yet, it wasn’t until I joined a critique group that I not only grew a lot as a writer, but had the confidence and knowledge to become a published author.

But what makes a successful critique group?

  • The most important thing is that all the members have personalities that work well together. If everyone can’t get along, they can’t work together.
  • Trust is equally important. If you don’t trust the members of the group, it’s hard to accept and give critiques. The whole experience leaves you pretty vulnerable, which means you need people there you know want the best for you.
  • Depending on your groups goals, the members should always be thinking, “what can we do to improve their story so it can be published?” If the members are just trying to tear apart your work, the group isn’t helpful for anyone.
  • Keep the group small. More than ten members would make it very difficult to have time to read and review people’s work (well). I actually think five or so members is plenty.
  • Meet regularly. Every two weeks seems to work well for me, but each group will have different needs.
  • Submit each meeting. The only way you’ll see a lot of growth is if you have regular feedback. Each meeting you’ll try to apply the comments from the last meeting so that your problems change and minimize. This really helps your growth as an author.

I asked my fellow critique group member and friend Aeon Igni her thoughts about the benefits of a critique group, and I think her response was brilliant:

“If you’ve ever read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, you know that much of business success comes from individuals grouping together to accomplish greater tasks than any one person could accomplish alone. A good writing group gives an author this power. With several minds focusing on their process, product, and career rather than their single mind, it is almost assured that the end product will be exponentially greater than what the author could create without this feedback.

Critique groups share information, techniques, tips and tools of the trade, as well as powerful brainstorming sessions and constructive criticism. We can see the power of critique partners and critique groups among published authors today – many authors I follow reference each other on social media and post pictures of themselves dining out or taking cruises together. 

For me personally, it is comforting to know that I don’t have to go it alone – that there are others to turn to when I am struggling or need advice. Even a simple text with an article to read or asking how my writing is coming along can be powerful motivation to keep moving forward. I expect that I will always be part of a critique group, and I can’t imagine a writing life without one.”

So if you aren’t in a critique group yet, find one or created one. It may be the single most important thing you do as a writer.

To Each Their Own

Distraction

As I was writing the blog post for my personal website this week, it struck me that one of my favorite quotes, “There is always more than one right answer,” also applies to writing.

This was never clearer to me than during last week’s write-in with Kinetic and Dreary dwarf. At one point, I asked what software they were using. Surprisingly enough, it turned out that we were all writing in Scrivener.

We flipped around our laptops and showed each other how we use the program.

Kinetic was rocking the meta data features and demonstrated how she used cork boarding to help her in her process.

Dreary had designed a comprehensive Scrivener template with two chapters per act that he applied to all his novels. Having this structure was critical to his process.

I showed them how I use the color-coding features in organizing my scenes and the research folders for storing images of places/people and cover ideas. Being a visual person (and a nonlinear writer), these features were key to my writing process.

The take home message was even though we were using the same software to write novels, we were using it completely differently. We also had divergent processes that were working for each of us.

I found this discovery affirming.

Over the years, I’ve been to countless writing classes and some of those instructors have touted that their way was THE WAY.

Bull.

There are no absolutes in this business other than you must write. We all have to discover the unique process that works best for us. Learning what works for other authors, especially successful ones, can be enlightening and another tool you can add to your arsenal. On the other hand, it may not jive with your style of writing.

Maybe you need to write outdoors. Maybe you need to shorthand everything on yellow legal paper. Maybe you can’t write until your novel has first been dictated to you by your cat. Whatever floats your boat and gets the story written.

What’s unique about your writing process?

The Ego and the Edits… #editing

Much like my fellow dwarves, I’m in the midst of one final round of personal edits of SHADOW’S CURSE, the fourth book in the Kyn Kronicles. Ok, stop panicking, it’s already in my editors’ hands, promise. This is the personal read through I do before my fantastically talented editors hand back my baby liberally drenched in red.

It’s a quickie, not a detailed edit (those were done BEFORE I gingerly handed the book off). I do this to myself and my books for a couple of reasons:

1.  I need some time away from the story from when I finish it to right before final edits make their way back to me. This is me needing space.

It’s vital to have this space because it gives my ego time to come out of hiding. Generally when I finish a book, besides the big huge sigh of relief that can be heard miles away, I go through this strange well of insecurity. It’s ugly, peeps. There’s whining, a few harsh sobs, a little derisive anger. even some real childish pouting and ignoring going on. After five books, I think I finally figured out why this happens–my creative child has sunk deep into the stygian depths of doubt, and creativity is battered and bleeding. My ego is flatlining at this point. They need recuperative time. So, I add a buffer of space. This time it’s been two months (a month longer than normal–see previous post on why).

2.  I realize all my worries about the story not working can now be validated or negated.

Luckily, most of the time its negated. All those horrible nightmares I had of the story lines being trite, or characters being flat, are calmed, because look, I got so caught up in reading, I forgot to edit those last 2, maybe 5, pages. That’s a good sign, right?

3.  I want to write a kick ass blurb.

This can’t be accomplished when I’m spending 24/7 with the story. I need to be able to see it as a reader. I get way too close to the story and there’s a lot in my head that doesn’t get to the paper. I have to make sure that the back blurb fits the story. That the tag line nails it. And, trust me, trying to put a 300+ page book into less than 15 words–yeah, that’s like 3rd level of hell type torture.

And lastly, because without this sitting down to tackle the next story could be traumatizing–

4.  My creative child and ego get on the same page.

Being able to take a deep breath before diving back in means my creative kiddo has a chance to become excited, once again, about spending time with our worlds and characters. My ego decides, “Ahhh, that last one wasn’t soooo bad. Hey, I have an idea, how about this time, we step up the challenge level and (insert challenge here).”

I will admit, I have always been one of those readers–you know the type, the one who is practically dancing in place, chanting “can’t you write any faster? Pluuuuzzzzzeeee? I really need your next book.”

After seeing the process from the other end for last few years, may I offer all my favorite authors a sincere apology. I’m so sorry, I promise I’ll wait patiently for your next book and stop stalking pestering you.

 

Manipulation or Creativity?

I’m struggling along with Book 3, manipulating plots and running my characters through various emotional/physical guantlets because, hey, I’m a writer. Being a Master of Pain (physcial, emotional, slight or devasting) is in our DNA. So here’s my question for the week…as writers or creators (depending on your POV) are you manipulating your characters to get what you want or are the manipulating you? And is manipulation the right word or is it another aspect of creativity?

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a complete pantser–I shuddered at the concept of an outline, but I do have to have major plot points like massive “You are going in the right direction” signposts. Here’s the probelm…the journey between signposts can be a well delinated path or a big black hole of chaos. I’ve found over the years that I’m a character driven writer–they are the ones who direct the story, drive the plots and are the basis for the horrific twists and turns they encounter.

My characters do not always like me and I’m pretty sure both Raine and Xander have a photo of me somwhere where in they practice various throwing skills with lethally sharp implements. I’m okay with that (most of the time) but sometimes I think they get their own back by jerking me around on a creative leash. I shouldn’t complain, because I love writing my stories. But some days it makes me want to pull out my hair and chase them down with my own sharp pointy weapon (a huge fountain pen dipped in red!).

My point to ponder this week: who’s manipulating who in the creative process and is it really such a bad thing?’

Wicked

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