Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Recommendation: Bleeding Violet

My latest stack of library books was a random assortment of titles that had been on my tbr list for a while and all happened to be available at the same time. Included in that stack was Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, which I had seen mentioned a few times in various places but didn't know much about. The blurb didn't particularly grab me, so I was surprised—in a good way—when the book turned out to be something different from the usual urban fantasy.

Bleeding Violet is a quirky book, a bit off center from normal. It's about a girl named Hanna, who wears only purple and whose flavor-of-the-month mental diagnosis is manic-depression. She hallucinates, she's occasionally violent, and she's the most emotionally needy main character I've ever read. But the funny thing is, she's one of the most enjoyable characters I've ever read, too. Despite the above, she comes across as sane, sweet and self-confident.

On the surface the plot sounds pretty typical: outcast girl moves to a new town where she doesn't fit in until crazy things start happening and she turns out to be just what the town needed. But that's just the framework. Even if you've read that story line a hundred times, you've never read anything like this book.

For one thing, the town of Portero isn't normal. It's got monsters and mayhem, and strangers usually don't survive past the first few weeks. Whereas in most towns ordinary is good and freak is bad, in Portero freak is average and ordinary gets you killed.

Fortunately Hanna's used to weird. She's grown so accustomed to her hallucinations that at first she doesn't even realize there's something different about Portero. And when she does, she's still determined to stay. Her only desire in life is to make her mother love her, and if that means becoming the baddest monster-hunter in town to impress the woman, then that's what she'll do. (Her mother, incidentally, is her own brand of crazy, and just as interesting.)

The secondary characters were excellent as well. I would highly recommend this book as a study on “characters that work.” While the plot was fun, the relationships and flawed personalities were really what kept me turning pages. Brilliantly handled, with a satisfying ending. I really enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Good Days and Bad Days

Anyone who has been writing for more than a day knows that sometimes writing is wonderful and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's fun and sometimes it's not.

The bad days can come at the slightest provocation: a discouraging critique, a rejection, a negative review. Even going through the motions of surviving the social media circus can throw an entire writing day off kilter.

For me, yesterday was one of the bad days. By trying to do everything, I was effectively doing nothing, and to complicate matters, real life got in the way as well. I woke up fully intending to dive into chapter six of Unmade, but by the end of the day I hadn't written a single word.

Are any of you ever paralyzed by days like that? Sometimes during this time of year I'm seized by writing mania, and I can't stop working without feeling like the whole world will end. So when I get a day like yesterday and I don't write anything at all, the guilt starts clawing its way down my throat to my belly.

Those are the times when I really need to remember why I'm writing in the first place. For every negative there are a half dozen positives: the joy of discovery, the feel of accomplishment, the thrill of improving bit by bit; the characters who teach us about ourselves, the worlds that spark our creativity, the plots that draw us deeper and deeper; meeting someone else who loves to write, hearing back from someone who loved our work, connecting to people through words in ways were weren't able to before. All that and more.

Today was a good writing day. Today I wrote a lot of words (and some of them were even good). Today I'm thinking about all the reasons I keep pressing on.

How are you today? Are you caught up in the excitement of writing or are you in that moment when you need to remember why you keep coming back, day after day? Whichever place you're in, take a moment to celebrate the reasons you love to write.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Description Journey

Once, way back in middle school, as I was talking to a good friend of mine, I brought up a girl I had introduced to her a few months before. “Oh!” she said. “You mean the girl in the yellow dress?” I frowned. Did she actually remember other people by what they were wearing? I never noticed anyone's clothes!

(As I realized later, that was probably why I had such horrible fashion sense.)

My lack of observational skills didn't end with clothing, though. To this day I will often go into the grocery store looking for one particular item, and I can find the right aisle and stare at the item for ten minutes without seeing it. I've come to accept my blindness to the world around me (a feature, not a bug, I tell myself, because if I weren't so much in my own head I wouldn't be making up stories). But the one downside for writing is that I struggle with description.

For a long, long time description has been my sore spot, the part of writing that I detested. The setting didn't matter to me. I was so much more interested in the people and what they were doing. My first novels had only the barest mentions of the characters' surroundings, and only when the outside world intruded on the action. In later novels I sketched out a little more, if only because I knew I had to, but most of the details were of the dreary, expected variety: everyday furniture in an everyday room, repetitive features on a repetitive face.

But finally in the past year I've begun to enjoy description. I love picking out the unique details that bring a setting to life. Description has become a hunt for the unexpected and a personal challenge to find the one piece that says more than a hundred other words could.

So when one of my critique partners wrote the following about chapter one of Unmade, I was pretty excited: “I thoroughly enjoyed your initial descriptions of the neighborhood... the fact that you used more than one sense to describe her surroundings... Deftly done and all good stuff.” Yay! If I'm finally learning to put these things in the first draft, I must be making progress.

How about you? Do you love description? Hate it? What are your tricks for making it pop?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Recommendation: The Goddess Test

Ever since buzz started circling about The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, I knew it was something I had to read. I preordered the book for my Kindle and read it all in one day as soon as it came out on Tuesday.

The book had a lot of hype and the premise sounded interesting, but plenty of other such books had turned out to be duds for me, so I didn't know what to expect. Fortunately, The Goddess Test was as good as I hoped.

Kate has just moved from New York City to rural Michigan so that her mother can die in peace in her hometown. Kate isn't expecting to put down any roots, but right away she catches the attention of several of her classmates, who aren't so keen on letting her fade into the background.

Then she meets Henry, a mysterious boy who has an impossible talent for bringing the dead back to life. He claims he can save Kate's mother too, if Kate will only agree to spend the next six months in his closed-off estate. But there's more to the bargain than Kate knows. She has seven tests ahead of her, plus one major problem—the previous eleven girls who accepted Henry's bargain are all dead, and she could be next.

The first third of the book was good enough to keep me reading, and then the next two thirds I couldn't put down. The plot was as interesting as it had sounded and delivered on all the points that had attracted me to the story. I enjoyed the twists and the new look at some very old gods. The story comes from the Persephone myth, which is one of my favorites, but tells it in a slightly different light.

I found Kate's character to be compelling. I had a real sense of who she was by the end of the story, and I think this is one of the major strengths of the book. Some of the secondary characters drew me in as well, particularly Ava and James, who are part of the story from the beginning.

I had a few minor issues with the seven tests (they didn't fit the Greek theme and thus felt out of place) and the identities of the gods (many weren't obvious until the note at the end, and some of the names were misleading). Nevertheless, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the book, particularly to anyone interested in mythology.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crutch Words

Two great blog posts showed up in my google reader today, Scott Westerfeld's on Word Clouds and one on words that tell instead of show over at The Other Side of the Story. These both touch on a topic that has been casting its shadow over my mind lately: the overuse and abuse of crutch words.

I have them. I know I have them, both the kind that go completely unnoticed by me and the kind that even as I'm writing the word I think “I sure have been typing this a lot.” Some of the known crutches I'm trying to eradicate are:

Just. Everyone is always “just” doing something. “She just wondered...” “If he could just go...” “I should just ask...”

But note to self: unless there's some justice going on, this is a four-letter word I could probably forgo.

Gestures. Particularly those having to do with the eyes. Though eyes may be the windows to the soul, describing the windows doesn't always say enough about the building. My personal vices: “look,” “gaze,” “stare,” and “focus.”

But other common gestures crop up as well. My characters give out a lot of shrugs and smiles. But do I really want them to bounce between nonchalant and happy all the time? Surely human expression covers a far greater range of emotion.

Seemed. This one was recently pointed out to me in a critique of chapter one of the new novel. It's a guilt-laden word, and I knew I was using it, but I didn't realize how much. Oops!

Good thing the first draft doesn't have to be perfect. Three cheers for the power of revision!

Monday, April 18, 2011


In other news, there are some fantastic contests happening right now:

1. Natalie Fischer pitch contest over at YAtopia!  I've seen a lot of pitch contests lately, and they're all great opportunities (particularly when the agent in question is otherwise closed to queries, as is the case here).  If you're in the querying stage, don't miss out!  You can find more info about Natalie Fischer here.

2. For those not yet querying, The Strangest Situation is having a fun ink blot contest with some really fabulous prizes including a three-chapter critique!  Here's some information on what's included in the critique.  Looks like a really great opportunity to get some feedback!

Research Notes

Every book requires research of some kind... some more than others, though it's rare for me to go through an entire writing session without looking up one thing or another. Even an autobiography will probably need research, if only for various dates and locations.

Some research is huge (I read book after book on ancient Rome while preparing to write Olympus Gate), and some is easy (like checking urban dictionary to make sure that made-up name I've been thinking of using isn't actually slang for something dirty).

Here's some of the research I've been doing lately:

On First Aid

First Aid comes up a few times in the new book. I've learned some useful information from my research. This is one case where research could actually help save a life in reality.

So, do you know what to do if you are the first on the scene of an accident? Do you know what not to do?

Quick PSA for anyone who doesn't happen to know: Unless the victim of an accident is in immediate danger (e.g. a car fire), don't move the victim. The person could have a spinal cord injury, which could be made worse by movement.

Do check for breathing, and clear the victim's airway if breathing is obstructed. Do cover the victim with something warm to help prevent shock. Do keep the victim talking.

I hope that I never need to use this information, but if I do, it's good to have.

How much do you know about first aid, and have you ever needed to use it?

On Guitars

I love music and I know a lot about music, but my knowledge is really detailed in some areas and really blank in others. One of my new characters is a musician, and it just so happens that his areas of knowledge fit right into my areas of ignorance. So in order to make him believable I have to fill in the gaps.

Luckily I have a younger brother whose music interests overlap the character's pretty well, so I got a whole playlist of bands to listen to from him.

But I still needed to do a little research on guitars, so recently I've been going through the Fender and Gibson websites, looking for the right ones. The unintended consequence? Now I want a shiny new guitar. Fortunately the fact that I would have no idea what to do with it has been a convincing reason not to get one.

Do any of you play guitar (or another instrument)?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Recent Reads

Two of the books I have finished lately:

SHIP BREAKER (Paolo Bacigalupi) – I really resisted reading this book. From the description it sounded like the kind of book that wouldn't be particularly interesting to me—one full of metal and oil and engines and rust. And to a large extent it was that. But it was also exciting and very well written. I enjoyed it despite myself.

THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN (Susan Beth Pfeffer) – I've mentioned before how much I love this series. I believe it has truly ruined me for all other post-apocalyptic books. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the series is about what happens after an asteroid knocks the moon closer to earth. I don't think this final book in the series hit me quite as hard as the other two did, but the ending was still quite a blow.

I'm also currently reading:

IF I STAY (Gayle Forman) – I'm not all that far into it yet, but it's a good story so far. I'm curious to see what direction it will go.

THE CITY & THE CITY (China Mieville) – I'm reading this one on my kindle, and my one comment on that is the absence of those helpful little dots marking each chapter—meaning I have no sense of how long the chapters are, or even the book. Anyway, the whole concept of the book is just fascinating. I'm totally caught up in the premise (which I never really understood, no matter how many times people described it to me, until I started reading it).

THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS (N.K. Jemisin) – The first few pages were hard for me to get through, but by the end of the chapter I was willing to keep reading, and after chapter two I was totally hooked. I love the fantasy world in this book, particularly the gods. The whole setup really works.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lessons from Groundhog Day

So Groundhog Day is long past and spring is (kind of) here now, BUT... as anyone who has a cat probably knows, sometimes the little rats keep you up for an hour in the middle of the night. The one upside is that occasionally while lying awake and wondering how you'll ever get back to sleep, you get a random idea for a blog post.

Or is that just me?

So the other night after turning on all the lights to clean up the little terror's mess (and really, why does she think she can inhale her food and then tear around the house without getting sick?) I suddenly recalled—for no apparent reason—the movie Groundhog Day. And, in what seemed like an obvious sequence of thoughts at the time, I began to realize the ways in which the plot is a little like writing.

If there aren't any consequences, you're free to experiment

In the movie, Bill Murray's character Phil lives the same day over and over and over. Once Phil gets over being completely unnerved by this development, he realizes that he can do whatever he wants. Some of the most entertaining moments of the movie are while he's doing completely outrageous things because there are no permanent consequences.

The same thing is true for us when writing first drafts. Now I've heard that in the time of type-writers, this wasn't so much the case. But I'm firmly part of the computer generation, and there's nothing to stop me from typing as many words that will never be used as I please. A new blank page is only a click away.

So don't be afraid to try something new! Experiment with a new voice, a risky plot line or a troublesome character. At best you'll add something exciting to your work; at worst you'll have practiced something different.

A string of facts do not make a character

Eventually Phil comes to realize that what he really wants is Andie MacDowell's character Rita. So he sets about memorizing every single fact about her that he possibly can. Then with each repeated day he comes closer and closer to winning her over by pretending to be everything she's looking for. But the plan never works. Why? Because Rita isn't just a long string of memorized facts. Really knowing her doesn't mean knowing a list of things about her.

We can run into the same problem with our characters. Sometimes we might have the temptation to jot down a bunch of character traits and “favorites” (favorite color, favorite food, favorite flower) and think they fully describe a character. But in order to understand our characters more fully we need to dive deep into their needs, their desires and the mindsets that inform the ways they see the world.

Revise, revise, revise

Finally Phil discovers that his greatest personal need is to make Groundhog Day the very best day that he is capable of making it. But he doesn't succeed right away! Perfecting that one day is a loooooong process. Even once he has the outline of the day right, he still has to refine the details.

And writing is the same way for us. First drafts aren't perfect. We can only achieve our best work with focused editing.

But if Phil could do it, so can we! And maybe that's the biggest lesson from the movie: if a stuck-in-a-rut weatherman can have one perfect day, what might we accomplish?

Monday, April 11, 2011

News Update

Last Week on the Blog

Thank you to everyone who made Critique Week such a success! In case you missed it, the winner of last week's contest is up, along with some love for everyone else who participated. Because of you I may consider making this an annual thing!

This Week on the Blog

The Critique Sisters Corner just gave me a “One Lovely Blog Award”!  Thank you, Linda, for thinking of me.  I'm enchanted to know that you find my blog useful. You've made today a wonderful start to the new week.

And to pass along the “loveliness” I'd like to recognize a few of the blogs I follow:

Three blogs I wouldn't want to do without

Elena Solodow – You're Write. Except when you're Rong. She has a fantastic sense of humor and is always able to put a lighthearted spin on the ups and downs of writing.

Amie Kaufman. She's a wealth of great advice, useful links, and interesting discussion starters.

Lydia Sharp – The Sharp Angle. Always up-to-date on the latest in the publishing world. (Follow her on twitter too!)

Three bloggers who are very friendly people

Jamie Grey. A fabulous writer, plus she has become a personal blessing to me in my own writing journey.

Deborah Burns. She always has wonderfully thought-provoking posts.

PK Hrezo. A lovely blogger and a lovely person.

Three friends who have become bloggers

Kendra Mareva. One of my fabulous critique partners with a grounded perspective on life.

Marshall Maresca. A con buddy and sci fi/fantasy writer.

Leticia – Ramblings of an Aspiring Novelist. A new writer, so go show her some encouragement!

What I'm Writing

For those following the progress of Olympus Gate, I am currently looking for an agent. I've had some positive things happen lately in that process, but it is a process, so there's no news yet to share.

In the meantime I've started a new book! The working title is Unmade, which comes from a tag line that hit me one morning a few weeks ago: A wish, once made, cannot be unmade. The book is about wishes and gargoyles, jujutsu black belts and punk rockers, a wheelchair, a girl who makes things real, and a boy who tears things apart.

I've written the first chapter (and trembled as I sent it to a couple advance readers, who I must say both did quite well in their cheerleader roles). I still have a lot of research to do for the middle section of the book, but I should be able to get through at least chapter two this week.

Other News

ArmadilloCon registration is open! I've gone the past two years and LOVED it. The writers' workshop is particularly good. If you're looking for a con to try, this one is well worth checking out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Critique Week Contest Results!

Good morning and TGIF! It's the moment you've been waiting for: the contest results are in! But please read all the way through or you might miss out on something...

First—and I've seen this said so many times in other contests, but until now I never thought I would be saying it—this was a tough choice! Every entry made me smile, and I want to know more about all of them.

But I have chosen a winner, and that is...




Vie flamethrowers swallowed flailing movements.

Congratulations! I'm looking forward to seeing your first five pages. Please email me at writerlockwood (at) gmail (dot) com with your five words in the subject line and the five pages in the body of the email.

I loved this entry because it is almost a sentence in itself, and the image it put in my mind stayed there for a long time.

But! As I said above I really enjoyed all the entries, so I'd like to offer another opportunity for everyone else. I would be very happy to critique the first THREE pages for all those who entered the contest and didn't win. If you'd like to take me up on the offer, email me at the address above, again with your five words in the subject line and the first three pages of your story in the body of the email.

Thank you to everyone who participated! I had a great time running the contest!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Critique Week Book Recommendation

Most of the recommendations I do here are for YA books that I love, but in keeping with the Critique Week theme, I decided to make today's recommendation something to do with editing.

Writers: do you have a favorite book on writing? Next to my desk I have a shelf of books that are specifically on the craft of writing. These range from Stephen King's On Writing to the wickedly hilarious Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. But the most worn and re-read is The First Five Pages.

For me personally, this book is the most useful of them all for editing and critiquing. In it, literary agent Noah Lukeman address the most common pitfalls of the manuscripts he's seen over the years. Each chapter has both “aha!” moments and “yes, that's exactly how I wanted to put it” moments, so for that reason it's perfect both as a personal tool to use on your own book and as a resource for figuring out how to word a critique.

And one of the wonderful things about the book is that no matter where you are in your writing journey, you can learn from it. My writing has improved a lot since the first time I read The First Five Pages, but I get just as much out of it now as I did then.

But beware! This book also has a tendency to make a writer itch to get back to composition. Often I can only manage a few pages of it before I go racing off to work on my manuscript, inspired to write the very best words I can.

And how about you? Do you have a favorite book on the craft?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting the Most out of a Bad Critique

Reminder: the Critique Contest is open until tonight! We've had some very exciting entries so far... it's going to be a tough choice! In the meantime, back to Critique Week:

So yesterday I talked about good critiques, but unfortunately not all critiques are good. Today I want to talk a little bit about bad critiques, both how to receive them and how to avoid giving them.

Vague Critiques

These kinds of critiques are frustrating to receive. How can we know what we need to fix if we don't understand the comments? Critiques we can't follow aren't helpful. But the good news is that these critiques are often quite possible to resolve.

It's always okay to ask for clarity. Part of learning to give critiques is learning how to explain a concept in more than one way. If you ask for clarification, chances are you're doing your critique partner a favor in disguise! Be willing to dig around a bit and ask questions to uncover the root issue.

And if talking to your critique partner doesn't help, find another reader for a second opinion. Try explaining the comments you received and ask your second reader if he or she has any insight about what the original critique might have meant.

On the other side, if you're giving a critique, think hard about what isn't working for you. Saying “I don't like this character” is a lot less helpful than saying “this character's voice sounds flat to me.” If you tend to have trouble pointing out what is bothering you in a piece, consider reading up on editing books. (More on that tomorrow.) And keep practicing! Learning to give good critiques is a process.

Disparaging Critiques

Negative critiques can be very disheartening. I've had my share of them, and they certainly don't feel good. Nobody likes being told that their work is trash. But what do you do when you get one of these critiques?

First, take a deep breath and center yourself. Negativity happens to everybody. That's part of the process of developing that thick skin everyone always talks about. Your story isn't all bad—that's almost guaranteed. The person writing your critique may not have had the decency to bother pointing out the good parts, but that doesn't mean there weren't any or that you're doomed to failure.

But once you've dealt with the sting of negativity, look back at the comments and try to glean something from them. The critique may have been worded badly, but it might still have some good points. Can you learn anything from it? Can you make any positive changes to your writing. If so, focus on the positive aspects of learning from the critique.

And if you're the one writing the critique, remember that the person on the other end might have delicate feelings. Until you've developed a relationship of trust, brutally honest critiques might cause more harm than good. That doesn't mean you need to lie! But remember to word your comments carefully. And always sandwich your critiques with praise. Pointing out the good in a story gives the writer enthusiasm to keep working.

Conflicting Critiques

But what happens when a critique that gets everything else right also says something that feels completely wrong? These critiques can sometimes be the hardest of all. Once in a while our critique partners might have suggestions that we just don't agree with. They leave us with the feeling of “now what?”

Well, don't panic! It's not the end of the world. It's okay to disagree. What appeals to one person won't always appeal to another, and sometimes those differences in preference show up in critiques. But do ask yourself why you don't agree with the critique. Is it because the person giving the critique didn't understand the vision of the story? Or is it because you're afraid of “murdering your darlings”? Be honest with yourself—that's the only way to move forward.

And again, you are free to ask for another opinion! Give the story to another reader you trust and see where that person stands on the issue. Herein lies the value of a strong critique group. Trust among critique partners is priceless, and each person brings different strengths. Knowing your critique partners' strengths can help you determine the best course of action when you receive conflicting advice.

As the person putting together a critique, one of the most difficult things to accept is that the person receiving the critique won't always follow every suggestion. But remember, the story isn't yours. The dreams you have for it aren't necessarily the writer's dreams for it. Of ten we can get wrapped up in a story we're critiquing, particularly if we're putting a lot of effort into our critiques. But remember, even if our comments are ignored, we're becoming better critique partners with every critique we write. And our own books will improve in the process.

What challenging experiences have you faced in giving or receiving critiques?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting the Most out of a Good Critique

I've had the good fortune of being part of a fantastic critique group for about five years now. When we first started I had no idea how rare a thing I had found—a group that meshed well, had similar goals, and all genuinely wanted to help each other. Over time we've come to appreciate—and more than that, to trust—one another.

But the excellent critiques that my group gives me would be completely useless if I didn't know how to apply them. And that's something I'm still learning. With each critique I get better at putting the comments to work to elevate the story above what I could make it on my own. And for me, the biggest key to that is...


Checklist vs. Springboard

How do you view your critiques? When I first started, I thought of them as a checklist. I gave myself a gold star for every positive thing said, and I put all the negatives into a to-do list. Each point on the list got the minimum of attention necessary in order to satisfy me that it had been addressed, and then it got crossed out.

But that wasn't a good attitude. The critiques I received weren't meant to be tackled with the bare minimum of effort. Yes, there were typos and poorly worded sentences that were easy fixes, but the big picture critiques deserved more than a little airbrushing. They were meant to be treated as a springboard to catapult me into a new level of looking at my work.


Sometimes the springboard pushes us into a complete rewrite of some or all of the story. Facing a rewrite can be disheartening. All those words that we wrote took time and energy and passion. Knowing that all that effort has to be redone is sometimes heartbreaking.

So how can we have the right attitude? First, remember that the ideas that got you this far were good. A rewrite isn't a scrapping of the old to be replaced with the new; rather it's an acknowledgment that the new wouldn't be possible without the old. The old brought clarity in order to give the new excellence. Be grateful for the time taken to get this far, because without it you wouldn't be able to take the next step.

Finding the Pattern

While rewrites can be tricky, sometimes nitpicky critiques can be more of a challenge. Why? Because they often include suggestions that apply to the writing style as a whole. Sometimes what seems like a small problem at first may be part of a larger problem that will take concentrated focus to fix. In fact, we might even need to read through the entire draft with only this one type of edit in mind.

So what kind of attitude do we need? Keep in mind that what might seem like a “fix it and forget it” edit at first could be an indication of a larger problem. Look for similar nitpicky comments. If you see the same idea repeated a few times, take a deep breath and accept that you have a habit you need to break (or form). Then give the issue the full attention it needs.

Changing the Vision

Sometimes the hardest critiques of all are the ones that make us rethink the way we view the writing process. We all have areas we excel in and areas we prefer to avoid. Some people are great at snappy dialog but don't know how to ground a story. Others write powerful description but can't get the pacing right during the action scenes. Critiques are good for pointing out the aspects we need to work on, and usually they apply to our writing as a whole, not just to a particular passage.

But finding the attitude adjustment to deal with these critiques is tough. By nature we perfect the things we're good at and ignore the things we don't do well. In order to strengthen the areas that need work, we have to overcome our natural inclinations. And sometimes that means changing our vision for our writing. If we can inspire ourselves with a new vision to dig deep into the kinds of writing we used to dislike, we have a better chance of becoming more well-rounded and showing our critique partners that we know how to listen to their great advice.

So what's the hardest part of applying critiques for you?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Critique Week Contest!

Gooood morning and happy Monday!

What's that? Not a fan of Mondays? Well, I have something a bit different for today, so hopefully we can start this week off with a little more excitement than usual. The blog's birthday was last month, so to celebrate I've decided to make this week Critique Week. And to get the theme rolling, I'm opening today with... a contest!

That's right, YOU could win a critique of your first five pages!


1. For the purposes of this contest, five pages means “five pages, double spaced in Times New Roman or Courier font.” Fiction of any length (so long as it is at least five pages) is eligible.

2. To enter, add your name in the comment section of this post along with one word from each of the first five pages of the work you want critiqued.

3. The entry with the five words I find most intriguing will win a full critique of the five pages represented by those words.

4. The contest will be open until 9pm EST on Wednesday, April 6th. The winner will be announced on Friday, April 8th.

No other requirements. Following the blog, following me on twitter, and tweeting about the contest are optional. Doing so won't sway the results; however, there might be other future rewards for those who do, so comment/show links to let me know if you do.

The contest is now open. Ready... GO!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Quick Announcement

Hey everyone!  No book recommendation for today, but I did want to come by and announce that I'll be doing a "Critique Week" starting on Monday, which will include a contest!  So come back next week to check it out.  In the meantime, have a fantastic weekend!