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 Look for a group with published and unpublished authors.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.

Writer’s Meh

The other day one of the Passionate Critters said she was having trouble getting motivated to get any writing work done. She knew what she wanted to write, knew she had some edits to do, but her heart wasn’t in it. Other things were just more interesting. Six of us responded that we felt the exact same way, including me. It’s not writer’s block–which I don’t really believe in, anyway–but it is a writer’s meh, which totally exists.

I have two books in various stages of completion, and while I have a third out on submission I should be working on them. One is so close to being done it’s practically taunting me. I was a bit stuck on where I was going with it, but last week I had a brainstorming session with a friend and I realized exactly what I needed to do. But I still haven’t been able to keep my butt in the chair, and some days I can’t even get it there at all.

It’s very easy to blame writer’s meh on lack of time or  life stress–especially during tax season, which is particularly painful when one is self-employed–but that’s really just an excuse. There’s always time to write, even when life is being persnickety.

I think writer’s meh stems from a need to check out for a while. To take stock of where you are as a person, writer, mom, wife, worker, whatever. To clear the brain of cobwebs, I suppose. (I’m thinking a lot about spiders today–I found FOUR in my house this morning. *shudder*) Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure how to get rid of it. The meh, I mean, not the spiders. I’m pretty clear on how to get rid of those.

Perhaps just a little time is the answer, although a writer friend suggested a meditation exercise that might help. In any case, I think I’m close to getting the cobwebs out, to getting the brain ready to get back to work, and to pushing the writer’s meh away, at least until next time.

How about you? What do you call this weird period of non-productivity? How do you get through and out of it? All of us critters could use your suggestions. 🙂

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Revolving the Plot

Easter got me thinking about holidays. I love holidays. Mostly because of days off work, special food, and time spent with family and good friends. And I’ve also used them in my writing a time or two. One book took place in the fall so Thanksgiving seemed a natural fit.

And of course, there was a marriage at Christmas. They are just as popular in real life as they are in romance. Who doesn’t love all the decorations? Especially in fiction because we don’t have to clean them up after? I’m on board.

Plus the fact that holidays seem to come with built in conflict in so many directions. Crazy relatives, sulky relatives, controlling relatives, you name it. And a whole host of behaviors that only seem to come out during times of stress. In-laws and outlaws are all great fodder for fiction.

We can’t always use holidays as a plot device, but I think there’s a place for them if they are used as an accessory to great characters who drive the story forward. They can also add interest to the setting, which is one of my favorite things.

I confess, I do love a good holiday read.

Do you like writing or reading holiday stories?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

On Critique Partners, Part 1

I’ve seen people say some pretty harsh things about crit partners. Yes, when you have crit partners that are a bad fit, they can damage your story and your writing. You don’t want those and if you feel stifled, move on.

However, if you think all crits are bad or unhelpful, then you don’t know the purpose of critiques or how to accept them. That sounds harsh. Sorry, not sorry.

The first rule is that you will have CPs you trust implicitly and you will have CPs that you take some of their advice and discard the rest. However, you never argue with a critique. If more than one person says there is an element to your story that isn’t working, you should look at it with a critical eye. Either way, you thank them for their feedback and then you move on.

The problem with arguing with a critique, that something is explained later or it’s really okay because their motivation is real and true, is that you can’t argue with a reader. Best-case scenario, they get to that section of your novel and they’re pulled out of the story. You do not want that. Worst-case? Your book becomes a wallbanger.

If there are questions the CP is asking or suggesting, then maybe you’re not giving enough information at the right time. That’s an easy fix. A few lines peppered in. It is not a reason to have a meltdown.

Bottom line, there are some bad crit groups out there. We’ve all been part of them. The vibe is off, people are mean with their feedback, or they start lecturing you about writing rules. Leave those groups because you can’t grow as a writer there.

There are also awesome groups that encourage you and help you become a better writer. Is it easy? Hell no. Does the feedback hurt sometimes? Yes. This is your beloved story and it’s no fun when someone says it isn’t working for them. But if it’s a solid group with good writers who build you up? Don’t run. Do some introspection and ask yourself why you’re so afraid to change your story. You know what they say—you have to murder your darlings. Sadly, they don’t lie.

Come read Landra Graf on April 29th for part two!

P.S. Be sure to check out our Heart-Shaped Glasses Facebook group because today I’m giving away a free book from my to-be-read pile. You have to comment to win, so come join us on Facebook!

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.

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever – @oddlynn3 #LynnCrain #HSGBlog

Bet you’re wondering where I’m going with this…aren’t you?

First, let me apologize for this being late but to be honest from the title, you can probably tell where I was at. The weekend before this one was beautiful here in New Mexico. We were getting temperatures up to 80 degrees and were spending more time outside. Unfortunately for me, being outside means I have to deal with allergies. Since I’ve done that for twenty years, not problem. Except this time, it wouldn’t go away.

Matter of fact, I found myself feeling worse and worse every day. This is bad since my husband is on chemo and supposed to stay away from people like me. So, by mid-week, I was feeling horrid and started sleeping in the guest room and downing cold remedies night and day. The weather had also took a turn and on Thursday this past week, we had four inches of snow.

I know that was part of why I got ill as I always do with drastic weather changes. Whenever, I’d go from the desert to Austria, I’d get a slight cold. Anytime I was in a place with more humidity, I’d come back to the desert and get a cold. It was just part of me being me.

However, this time, I told my husband I was going to feed my cold because I didn’t have a fever. Or at least, I thought not. Still, it got me wondering about some of the clichés we use when talking about specific things. Here are just a few that I seem to use a lot.

  1. Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever – This can be traced to John Withals in 1574, who noted that ‘fasting was a great remedy of fever.’ The original thought was that when you had a cold, if you ate you generated warmth thus avoiding your body overheating. Recent science however, refutes the fact and says that you should actually feed both.
  2. Hell in a handbasket – This basically means heading for a course of disaster. It’s really unknown where this comes from but it is thought that it refers to the handbaskets used under a guillotine where the head drops. It was first noted in Samuel Sewall’s Diary in 1714. Another euphemism was ‘Going to heaven in a wheelbarrow’ which actually meant ‘going to hell’ in the 17th The handbasket version came about in 19th century American
  3. Eggs in one basket – This is something many parents tell their kids, financial advisors tell there clients and so on. It’s a piece of advice meant to dissuade us from concentrating all our efforts and resources in one area. But did you know that the phrase actually came from the novel Don Quixote? Here’s the quote, written by Miguel Cervantes in 1605 “It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.”
  4. A piece of cake – This is often used to describe an easy situation. The idea originated in 1870s America when cakes were given out as prizes for winning a competition. There was a tradition in slave states where the slaves would circle around a cake in the middle and the pair who danced in the most graceful manner would be awarded the cake. From that period, the terms ‘cake walk’ and ‘piece of cake’ originated.
  5. Let sleeping dogs lie – This idiom is derived from a long-standing observations that dogs are often unpredictable when suddenly disturbed. Chaucer was one of the first to put the notion in print in Troilus and Criseyde, circa 1380, though the belief is said to be much older: “It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.” However, the phrase became more associated with 18th century British politician Sir Robert Walpole and was his motto. It also should be noted, that this may have started in the Bible itself with this quote from Proverbs 26:17: He that passes by, and meddles with strife belonging not to him, is like one that takes a dog by the ears.
  6. Take it with a grain of salt – This comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if a small amount of salt is added to the mixture. In 77 A.D., Pliny the Elder translated an ancient antidote for poison that had the words ‘be taken fasting, plus a grain of salt’ thus giving the suggestion that an injurious effect can be moderated with just a grain of salt. It has been in the English speaking world since 1647 when John Trapp wrote the Commentary on the Old and New Testaments where he stated: This is to be taken with a grain of salt. More recently, the phrase has become ‘pinch of salt’ and was noted in Cicero & the Roman Republic, written in 1948 by F.R. Cowell.

I can go on all day with idioms and finding their meanings. They are one things they tell us writers not to use but in all honesty, it says a lot about where a character comes from and their state of mind.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this little foray into the idiom world. See you all next month!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Novel Settings

At the moment, I am plotting a book. If you’ve read my books, you know I don’t get excited about the typical setting for historical romance, the London ballroom. I love the lesser known places, the slightly wild and occasionally remote–Durham, Northumberland, the Lake District, Yorkshire, the northern coast of Maine. That’s where my heart lies.

The first book in my new series is set in the 1850s in Kendal, Cumbria, the southernmost gateway to what is now Lake District National Park.

Kendal Castle, which I visited in October. (HSG’s very own Nina Croft used to play in these ruins when she was a child.)

So when plotting the second book, it’s been fun to peruse maps and the web for an even wilder and more remote spot, isolated, in a crumbling castle within which is hidden treasure beyond price. These are my contenders:

The Isle of Skye (off the west coast of Scotland):

Isle of Skye. By John Allan [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

An as-yet-undetermined location near Hadrian’s Wall:

Hadrian’s Wall between Housesteads and Once Brewed (fabulous name!). By Michael Hanselmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 County Powys, Wales:

Looking through one of the remaining walls of Castell Dinas Brân towards the north east. Source: Wikipedia.

Lundy Island, off the coast of Devon:

Four Celtic inscribed stones from Beacon Hill cemetery, Lundy. By Grantus4504 [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons.

The Yorkshire Dales:

Swaledale. By Kreuzschnabel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, GFDL or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons.

I might come up with something entirely different in the end–it’s often more fun (and okay, easier) to look for settings than to actually write the book. 🙂

Writers: how do you come up with your settings?

Readers: What kinds of settings do you like the most? Civilized cities, or natural places? Glittery ballrooms or spooky castles?

And which one do you think I should choose? I’ll give away an ecopy of one of my books–your choice–to a randomly selected commenter!

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

  • 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.