On Critique Partners Part 2

As previously mentioned, we’ve all heard the horror stories that can happen when youcrit partners graphic 2 get mixed up with the wrong critique partner. Everything from hurt feelings to making changes on a story you probably shouldn’t have made. The question is how do you find the right one?

There are multiple websites and groups via Yahoo, Facebook, and a simple search can set you on the right track.

What are you looking for? Depends on what you want, a one-on-one partner or a group. For a one-on-one partner, you’re looking for someone with similar goals, career, and writing, to your own. Reason being, you’ll both be working towards a similar path and help support one another to get there. It’s as simple as asking the potential partner what they want out of the relationship. If they just want someone to bounce ideas off of, but you’re looking for a partner to help you get ready for publication, then this may not be your person.

Additionally, you want a person whose strengths will build on your weaknesses.  An example: One of my writing weaknesses is writing dialogue. I found a partner who excels at it, through this, I learn from her.

For a group of partners, you want to seek a balanced environment. Look for a group with published and unpublished authors.  This means you’re getting a wealth of knowledge from those who’ve been at this a little longer than others. The success of a group is based on the diversity of the authors. Similar rules to the ones above apply. Within a group, you should find authors with similar goals to your own and those with strengths that will help you shore up your own weaknesses.

You found your potential partner/group how do you get started?

For individuals, do a trial run. Test out a couple chapters, set expectations, and discuss them at length. Schedule chats to review feedback and ask questions. Critique partners are supposed to be your best friend, your confidant, and the person who helps you work out all those pesky problems. Mine talks me back from ledges, a lot.

For groups, apply (if it’s necessary), follow the rules, and as Lori mentioned in her first post, be respectful. Crits are about the positive and negative. It’s constructive criticism, not tearing someone apart either.

What if I disagree with the feedback? It happens. The best part about crits is that partners (good ones) will tell you to use what you think applies and ditch the rest. It’s universally known that not all feedback may apply. Additionally, don’t dismiss anyone’s feedback. I personally, follow the rule of 2. If 2 critique partners call out the same thing then it’s something that needs to be fixed, hands down. Otherwise, a good tip is to follow your gut, but it’s also highly recommended you let those crit comments marinate for a few days before taking action.

Here’s to the search for the partner and the group. I recommend both and, in most cases, more than one. To find those gems is like having a personal treasure chest.

Missed part 1 – Check out Lori Sizemore’s original post from earlier this month.

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

The Writing Blahs

I had a rough January. My grandmother passed away after a long battle with dementia, my mother was in the hospital for the first 25 days (she’s doing much better now), and my daughter had her baby 8 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia (mama and baby are also doing very well). My brain, my energy, my heart–it was elsewhere.

And I had self-imposed deadlines to meet. Those may seem unimportant, but they’re just as important (to me) as “real” deadlines. I suspect many of you understand. Unfortunately, my writing output began to slow to a trickle. I was in that dreaded middle of a story, before you top the hill, when it seems like there are a million bad words behind you and a million new words to go. I had the writing blahs.

I asked the wonderful ladies here at HSG for advice and they, to a one, suggested reading a good book. I haven’t taken their advice yet, though I tried, because I just can’t seem to turn my brain off. When I do read, I have writer-brain. “Oh, nice hook,” or “I see what you did there.” I’m going to persevere, even as I try to reach my writing goals daily.

I did some research (because I certainly wasn’t writing) and came up with some great quotes and articles I thought I’d share with you.

From Lydia Sharp on Writer Unboxed:

There are times I must immerse myself in research, or pull out an old story and do line edits, in order to refresh. This is the result of a right brain/left brain imbalance. The scales are tipped, and equilibrium can only be achieved by adding to our noncreative side. Fact begets fiction.

From Carly Sandifer on One Wild Word:

If you’re tapping out your sentences on your computer, pick up a pen or pencil and write by hand in a notebook. For that matter, some people enjoy typing on an actual typewriter.

I’ve done this plenty of times in the past, but deemed it too slow for my higher output. I’d cut out the middle man (I thought), but maybe sometimes you need the middle man to negotiate a treaty between you and your brain.

This great post (which is more about writing blogs) from Henneke Duistermaat at Smart Blogger:

Feeling a little frustrated?

Well, let it out.

Before you start writing, curse like a sailor. Get angry. Be emotional.

Write something you’re passionate about. Have a good rant. Don’t worry about going too far.

There’s worse advice out there. After all, if you’re writing flat, your reader will be able to tell. Maybe move on to a particularly moving scene?

What’s you best writing advice for defeating the writing blahs and getting past a block?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Goals for 2017

In the past, my January posts have generally been about how to accomplish as much as possible in the new year. I hate resolutions. In this post, in which I detailed how important it is to set a measurable goal, I said:

[Resolutions] tend to mask a lot of self-hate pretending to be good for you.

I’ll never not feel that way, I think. However, as I said previously, I do believe in commitments and measurable goals.

I have lots of writing goals for this year. I’m writing a 40k novella in January, a full-length from March-July, and finishing a partially complete full-length from August to November. I’ve learned over the last two years of increased productivity that I need December off. Not just because life is so busy, but because I need a break. I’ll be doing lots of editing over the coming year, as well. All those first drafts have to be shaped into something useful.

Personally, I have two main goals. One, I’m giving up my beloved sweet tea. I’m going to miss it–a lot. But, I’m going to replace it with water to make a healthier choice.

Second, I’m going to Dirty Dance. Yes, you read that right. I bought this DVD from Amazon and plan to use it every day, slowly increasing my exercise time over the months ahead, to rebuild the muscles that have stagnated over the last few years of my illness (I have fibromyalgia).

I’m excited to start getting healthier and I believe if I apply the methods I’ve used to increase my writing productivity, I’ll have a lot of success.

Tell me all about your New Year commitments. You can even use that horrible “R” word (resolution).

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Elves vs. Grinches

There are two types of people during Christmas, excluding those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Which is totally cool, they just aren’t part of this dataset.

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  • The happy, warm-fuzzy Christmas people we’ll call Elves. Elves have their tree up before Thanksgiving, all their shopping is done, and their gifts are already wrapped with perfect, real ribbons and handmade bows.
  • The so-it-begins people we’ll call Grinches. Grinches put their tree up when (if) they think of it. They see the Christmas decor go up in the stores in September and think, “Seriously?” They practice the giving of gift cards because they can’t choose a gift.

elves-vs-grinchesI am a Grinch. I used to be an elf. I would decorate the tree (by myself, because my family likes it done but doesn’t like to do it) and look at each ornament before placing it on the tree. Every year, for 20 years, I’ve bought each of my kids an ornament a year, so that when they started out Christmas in their own homes, they’d have a box full of special ornaments. I loved wrapping presents so much my uncle would pay me to wrap his wife’s gifts. I’d have done it for free (I was a teen and needed the pocket change). I adored Christmas.

I’m not even sure what changed, or more specifically, why it changed. One year, my old artificial tree was in need of replacement. I didn’t feel like looking for the perfect tree, so I bought a four-foot collapsable circle tree. You couldn’t call it anything like a tree, except it was vaguely triangle shaped. It was made of circles of wire (covered in silver tinsel) that got bigger the lower the tree went. I bought a handful of cheap ornaments, all in teal (because teal screams Christmas, right?), and called it done. I think my parents and brother felt sad for me. And the kids. God bless the kids at Christmas.

This was when I became a Grinch, when I finally crossed over to the Dark Side. That year, Christmas was just too much. Too much work, too much effort, too much caring. I don’t remember it being a bad year–I don’t think I was depressed. I was just… done being an elf.

Now, I’m not a full-on Grinch. I like sitting in the dark with the tree lights on. I like seeing the presents, quickly covered in paper and that’s it, pile up under the tree. I love picking out those yearly ornaments. But, I hate the commercialism of Christmas.

This year, I’m making my family’s gifts. Food for my brother, a lapghan for my dad, a scarf for my mom, and cat-butt coasters for my aunt (she requested them–she’s weird). It’s my way of bringing back what Christmas is supposed to be about.

What’s your favorite part of Christmas (you elves, you) or (if you’re a Grinch, like me) your least favorite part?

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P.S. Don’t forget my novel, Infamous, is releasing in one week. Buy links and a blurb to follow:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
All Romance | BookStrand | Goodreads

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

It Takes a Village: The Benefits of Writing Groups

it-takes-a-villageHere at Heart-Shaped Glasses, we’re not just authors who blog together, we’re family.

We started as a private online critique group which has evolved into so much more. Yes, there’s critiquing, which is invaluable. Especially when it’s from people who focus just as much with what’s right as what’s not working. I trust these ladies with my precious stories, I trust their experience, which probably (added together) is a lifetime of writing.

I love that we all bring something different to the table. We each have strengths and weaknesses, not only in our writing but in our critique styles. I’m constantly learning. 

The next best thing about being part of a great writer’s group? The cheerleading. We’re all at different places in our careers, going down different paths of publishing, writing different genres. But the support we give each other transcends all those things. 

I get hurrahs when I succeed at something, even if it’s meeting my wordcount, and sympathy when things are going rough.

Which brings me to my next point on why writer’s groups (the right ones) are awesome: trust. It takes trust to upload a first draft for critique. It requires trust to say, “Hey, I’m having a rough time in my life right now, and this is why.” And I’ve never, ever seen anything shared in that private group shared anywhere else. It’s like a vault. A vault of caring, kindness, and support.

We’re not accepting new members right now, but don’t worry. Your perfect writing group is out there somewhere. Here are some articles on finding and getting the most from writing groups. Read all about them, then find your perfect writing home.

Tell us about your experience in writer’s groups. Has it been more positive, like mine, or do you have horror stories?

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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

Happy Fall, Y’all

Happy FallThe kiddos (for those of us that have said children) are back in school, the air is beginning to cool off (finally), and the leaves are starting to fall.

It’s that time of year, again, to snuggle up inside with a good book and the hot drink of your choice.

Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. More so than spring, fall reminds me of new beginnings (all those new school years for me and then the kids) meant possibility. Anything could happen, there were fresh books to be read, and new fall fashion to wear. I loved the start of a school year. I’d make new friends (I told myself), have a makeover (this never actually happened), and find a new boy (I was not the many-boyfriends type). I was, and am, a nerd.

I live in West Virginia; four season country I’ve heard it called. We have beautiful fall foliage at the end of September through October. I love all those colors. Even though I know it means the leaves will all fall off and the trees will look depressingly naked by winter, I can’t not revel in the reds, oranges, yellows, and purples. It’s like someone got creative with one of those coloring book apps, the ones designed to relax you. Autumn colors are my zen.

Finally, my favorite part–the staying inside and reading part. No one’s telling you that you should be outside, enjoying the hotter than Hades weather (not a summer person, here). It’s perfectly acceptable to get a coffee, cocoa, or whatever your Keurig can dream up and settle in with a book. I’ve got Susan Elizabeth’s Phillips‘ new one (First Star I See Tonight) resting on my e-reader now, just waiting for me to open it up. At the moment, I’m reading (and enjoying) Lover’s Leap by Kimberly Keyes.

What’s your favorite part of fall? And, by the way, what book would you recommend?

I need more books, people. Fall lasts for three months, you know.

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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.