Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Word Count Wednesday

Well, things are moving fast for me now. I wrote 4268 words this week and am knee-deep in revisions. This story is really shaping up and as I near the end, I'm getting excited to have a finished product in front of me. I'm so grateful to my critique partner and critique group for motivating me to get this done and for all their suggestions on making it better. I think this is my best story yet and I can't wait to share it all with you.

How did you do this week? Did you find something or someone to motivate you?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Targets in Ties

I'm so happy to be part of Tristi Pinkston's blog tour for her new novel Targets in Ties. She's offering a fun prize that I'll tell you about at the end. But before I get started, can I just say how full of awesomeness last night's Castle and Hawaii Five-O were? I loved both shows! Castle went back to it's roots with funny banter, a twisty murder to solve, and a little hand-holding. Hawaii Five-O had James Caan sharing the screen with his son, series regular Scott Caan, and some of his one-liners had me laughing out loud. Loved it all.

I also enjoyed Tristi's book. (See how I used a segue there?) I hadn't read any of the other Secret Sisters mysteries and apparently this is the fourth book in the series. It didn't bother me much, though, because it was easy to pick up who the characters were and their endearing quirks that totally made the story. It probably would have been a richer reading experience had I known all the history between these characters, but I don't know that for sure, since, of course, I haven't read the others. How's that for logic?

The story begins with three little old ladies, Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy getting ready to take a trip south of the border. While they're there, they'll also pick up Ida Mae's nephew, Ren, from his mission. Before they can do that, however, Ida Mae gets caught up in the intrigue surrounding an antiquities thief who claims he's innocent and needs the three ladies' help. As they all fall deeper and deeper into this web, the ladies don't know who to trust and where to turn for help, but they sure got themselves in a lot of trouble trying to get themselves out of trouble. If you know what I mean. It's a cozy mystery done well.

I liked the straightforward feel of the book---both in the characters and in the plot. It was an afternoon read with a lot of fun one-liners that made me laugh. I think I'm going to pick up the other three mysteries in the series so I can catch up, and, of course, wait for the next adventure to come out!

Since I am part of Tristi's blog tour, she is offering a contest in conjunction with it. Here's what you have to do:

Leave a comment on this blog post, and go visit Tristi's blog here and become a follower. You will then be entered to win this fun scrapbooking pack, including paper, tags, two decals, and metal tag frames. You have until midnight Mountain time on March 3rd to enter to win.

And here is the back copy of her book, Targets in Ties.

After two long years, Ren’s mission is finally over, and it’s time for Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy to travel to Mexico to pick him up. They have their itinerary all planned out—visiting the ruins in the Yucatan, shopping, playing in the sand and surf—and then they’ll head to Ren’s mission home and be reunited with that dear boy.

But a wanted antiquities thief crosses their path, and soon the ladies find themselves tangled up in a web of lies, intrigue, and costly jewelry. Held hostage by men desperate for riches, they do what only they can do—keep their heads about them, plan their escape, and discuss the proper making of tortillas. Will they survive their most harrowing adventure yet?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Are You Having a Wilbur Day? Getting Out of a Rut

So yesterday we were discussing the part in Charlotte's Web where Wilbur is bemoaning his life---how hard it is to watch someone else eat his meal and how he doesn't know how his life is going to turn out. He's so despondent that he throws himself in a pile of manure. Then the question was put to us, "Have you ever had a Wilbur day?"

And all I could think of was, "I've never had such a bad day that it made me want to throw myself in a pile of manure."

I have had bad days, however. It's easy for me to fall into ruts and yes, sometimes I take a moment to feel a little self-pity. I think that it's okay to take a moment to feel sorry for yourself, but the trick is not to stay in that moment. If you are in a rut and thinking your life stinks, here are three things to try that have worked for me.

1. Change up your routine. If you have young children at home, do something different with them. Go to the park or library. Make up a game to play with them. Go sit on your porch and sing. Do something messy like fingerpainting.

2. Pamper yourself a bit. I find when I get in a rut, I've usually let taking care of myself slide. Go take a hot bubble bath. Give yourself a manicure. Take an hour for yourself to read or just rest. Grab a friend and go out to lunch. Tell your family you need this and you need their support.

3. Take a walk. I can't count how many times that doing a bit of exercise has improved my mood. Playing a basketball game with the kids or just walking around my neighborhood always gives me a lift.

Of course the best way to pull me out of a rut is for me to sit down and write. It is my biggest stress reliever.

Do you have a lot of Wilbur days? How do you pull yourself out of a rut?

Friday, February 24, 2012

First Page Friday

We have some really interesting comments about present tense in today's critique. I know you'll find it as enlightening as I did! Remember, if you would like your first page critiqued, please submit it to with First Page Friday in the subject line. We have a March spot open, first-come, first-served!

The Submission
Not Me

by Anonymous


Again with the yelling. My sister seriously doesn’t get the idea of sleeping in. Or how mornings should be enjoyed in peace and—

“You said you’d drive today!”

Yeah. Yeah.

I glance at the digital Mickey clock and groan; I could have slept in twenty more minutes.

I woke all twisted up in my sheets. Norma came to me last night in my dreams. My shrink told me to write down any memories that surface. Dreams included. But what if
I don’t like what I remember?

My stomach grumbles, and I decide it’s okay to get up now. My computer desk is a mess. I put away the scissors and newspaper from yesterday. The obituaries can wait. One clipping falls. I pick it up and see me. John Birch’s trench coat is thrown over me and my little sister. He’s trying to shield us from the snooping cameras. The caption reads “Teen Serial Killer or Innocent Bystander?”

I throw the paper in the red shoebox and stuff it in the closet before I slide on my cleanest jeans from off the floor. One quick check in the mirror tells me my hair is its usual mess. I flip my head over, rub my hands through and straighten up. That’s how I roll.

Angela's Comments

A Good Hook

In today’s fast-paced world of instant messaging and speed dating, a good story has a very limited time to convince a reader to stay and get to know it better. A writer usually has five pages or less (think of how many books you’ve browsed through at the library or book store, and set down after less than a page) to sell the reader on what a fantastic adventure awaits them if they will commit to the relationship and read the book. This story grabs the reader’s attention right away with the main character’s unique voice and with the dreams of Norma and the obituaries on the desk. Why would a teenage girl (we assume the narrative protagonist is a girl based on the sister calling her name, and teenage based on the character’s sarcasm) be clipping obituaries?

And a Promise

A good hook contains an unspoken promise that the story will continue to shed light on the mysterious, marvelous, or magical things that have been only hinted at. Let’s take a look at one of these:

Norma came to me last night in my dreams. My shrink told me to write down any memories that surface. Dreams included.

This is intriguing. Especially the name Norma, which wouldn’t seem to belong to a friend her age or anything. It’s ok to leave this a little mystery for the moment, but you’ll want to make sure there’s some follow-up explanation pretty quickly after the first page, maybe like in dialogue between the sisters as they talk about the Norma dreams or something.

Regarding the Norma paragraph and the obituary/serial killer paragraph: These add a good deal of mystery to your first page, and make some solid hooks, but you don’t want to leave the reader hanging too long wondering what this is all about. Make sure this is a real hook, immediately connected to the story, and not a smokescreen hook designed to pique our interest and then avoid answering these questions for pages on end.

Thoughts on Present Tense

Present tense is one of the least used tenses for fiction writing. Recently, there have been several books, especially in the literary and YA genres that have employed this tense, but it has some definite drawbacks, so use it with caution and know why you are using it. For instance, many writers, editors, and readers do not like this style. Obviously that doesn’t mean all editors or you wouldn’t see it in print. Does this mean you should never do it? In the craft of writing, there are exceptions to every rule. Present tense may end up being a workable choice for your story (I feel it’s generally working for these first few pages because you have a lot of internal dialogue, so the flow between external and internal isn’t interrupted as much as it would be in other books trying to use this tense ineffectively, and because your character has strong voice within both the internal and external parameters); but you shouldn’t select it simply because it feels edgy or trendy.

In English, past tense is the accepted form for most narrative, whether we are writing the Great American Novel or filling out the accident report on our fender bender. It is the style people slip into most often when recounting their own personal stories. Think about it: We say “Guess what I did?” not “Guess what I do?” We’ve been unconsciously trained our entire lives to feel comfortable with past tense, and that is still the rule, even though television and film have probably played a role in the increased use of present tense these past few years (in terms of the speed at which the narrative unfolds).

One reason writers use present tense is they think it will help keep the story very immediate for the reader, thereby increasing suspense. Handled with care, present tense can accomplish that. At the same time, the majority of books ever written have employed past tense, and many of those have masterfully kept the suspense high and the reader hanging on every word and scene, proving that present tense isn’t a requirement for maximizing tension and keeping the suspense cranked. Even keeping a main character’s life-or-death outcome a mystery can be done in past tense. But let’s face it: most readers are going to assume that the main character lives, regardless of which tense you are employing, so writing in present tense isn’t going to make a big dent in the readers’ assumptions. (As for actually killing the main character off and keeping it hidden from the readers – well, that’s a move you do at your own risk. Think readers with pitchforks and torches, coming to get their vengeance on your word-processor).

In addition, present tense limits perspective opportunities in the story. Award-winning author Philip Pullman has this advice for writers considering present tense:

“I want all the young present-tense storytellers (the old ones have won prizes and are incorrigible) to allow themselves to stand back and show me a wider temporal perspective. I want them to feel able to say what happened, what usually happened, what sometimes happened, what had happened before something else happened, what might happen later, what actually did happen later, and so on: to use the full range of English tenses.” (“Philip Pullman Calls Time on the Present Tense,” The Guardian, September 17, 2010).

So while you have creative license to use any tense you want, consider using the tense that will appeal to the greatest number of readers, and give you the most freedom in developing your story. One option you may consider is to use present tense for things such as a prologue/character introduction (Dean Koontz does this nice segue from first person present to first person past in the introductory chapter of Odd Thomas; Night Circus effectively does this with 2nd person), or for a dream sequence.

In short, if you find (through professional-esque feedback as well as your own opinion) that you are using present tense effectively and with good reason, go for it; but if you are limiting the narrative just to be trendy, reconsider.

Curiouser and Curiouser: Making sure intriguing doesn’t become confusing
The caption reads “Teen Serial Killer or Innocent Bystander?”

This is all interesting, but this clipping obviously isn’t an obituary, so it would be helpful to clarify (“A clipping from another section of the paper falls”) because readers are trying to figure out how that would be in the obituary section. The headline pulls the reader in with unanswered questions – is it referring to our narrator? If so, a potential killer named Angelica? Her sister? Someone else? And who is John Birch and what is his relationship to the sisters? This paragraph does a great job at packing a lot of fascinating information into a short space (which is just what you want for a first page.) At this point, I am definitely curious. Just make sure that you don’t put in intrigue that is too much for the space allotted, making it confusing instead. Confusing a reader in the first pages is a very bad idea.

That’s how I roll.

The narrator has a great voice, with an assurance that is unusual for someone her age. Definitely a captivating beginning. Angelica is interesting, her background is interesting, and we’re intrigued to see where the sisters are going and what their lives are all about. At this point there’s nothing clear at stake for the character, but your hook with the background makes up for that, I think. Just make sure to have the “what’s at stake” part of the hook come up pretty soon after the first page. But overall, if I were an agent, I would definitely turn the page to see what’s next.
Best of luck!

Thank you to Angela and our submitter. I learned a ton today about present tense and I really appreciate everyone's time and effort. See you next week!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Getting To Know Author and Book Reviewer Jennie Hansen

I am so excited today to introduce you to Jennie Hansen. Not only is she one of my favorite authors who writes in several genres--suspense, historical, and western to name a few, she is also the LDS fiction book reviewer at Meridian Magazine. Thousands of subscribers look to her in recommending good books and where to spend their precious book money. But there's more to her than just reviewing books and writing, so I thought I'd take today to interview her so you can all get to know her better.


Jennie, if you could be one of your characters from your books, who would you be?

Hard question. I've never wanted to be any of my characters, certainly not the historical ones--I'm far too enamored with indoor plumbing to want to trade places with any of them. Each of my heroines has qualities I hope I share, but I don't want to deal with their problems or already have. The one character I sort of modeled after myself, most of my readers disliked, so I won't even mention her. I think I bombed on this question. Let's try the next one.

Okay, now I'm dying to know which character you modeled after yourself! I might have to offer a bribe of some sort to get you to share. Can you tell us what your writing process is? Do you write daily? Morning? Evening?

I used to have a strict schedule, two hours before work every morning, another two hours in the evening. Now I write every Monday morning and the rest of the week I sandwich in whatever time I can. I thought when I retired from the library I'd have lots of time to write, all day every day, if I wanted. But life had other ideas and now I wonder when I had time to go to work five days a week.

I can definitely relate to trying to sandwich writing in. What do you think is the best writing tip you ever received?

Read something every day; write something every day.

Excellent advice. I always need an excuse to read and write more. Where do you get ideas for your books?

Some of my ideas came from newspaper stories during my reporter days, some came from issues that are important to me, some just popped into my head from who-knows-where.

What are you working on now?

I have a new book Heirs of Southbridge that will be released in a couple of weeks and I just turned in a rewrite for an untitled book featuring a character from that book. It will be a stand alone, not really a sequel.

Who is your favorite author?

I don't have a favorite author; I have lots of favorite authors, past and present. Perhaps the one I like the most is Janice Sperry, my daughter, who just signed her first contract for a Christmas book. Moms are supposed to like their own kids best, aren't they?

Well, if they're Janice Sperry, then of course! We love Janice on my blog. Let's talk about your reviewing process for a moment. When you are reviewing books, what are you looking for that would make you give it five stars?

I want characters I can believe in and who show growth through the experiences they face; I want a strong, well-paced plot; I want a beginning that intrigues me and an ending that is both satisfying and realistic. I want attention given to grammar, a setting that blends into the story well without taking over the story, and when I've finished reading I want to feel I haven't wasted my time, but am glad I read the book. Learning something new is a bonus.

Is that all? Well, no problem then. :) Really, that is something I think every writer should print out and shoot for. I know I am! Tell me, if you weren't a writer, what would you be instead?

When I was little I planned to be a sheep herder when I grew up. I always liked sheep and thought those little wagons the sheepherders lived in were cool. Later I set my sights on becoming an FBI agent. I tried a variety of things: receptionist, legislative page, model, librarian, reporter, editor (oops! I guess those last two are writers too). I love being a wife, mother, and grandmother, and I'm glad for the opportunities I've had to try other careers, but I can't imagine not writing.

Awww, a sheep herder. They do look like cute little animals. What is something unique about you that your readers don't know?

At this point in my life and writing career, to borrow a cliche, my life is pretty much an open book. Perhaps I've never mentioned that I once lived in a cemetery (caretaker's house), I've broken my nose twice; the first time I was kicked by a cow, the second time one of my kids banged my nose with her head. I won a marble tournament in the fifth grade. The principal made me give the boys back all of their marbles and declared me ineligible for the contest because I was a girl.

Oh wow. You have led an interesting life! What was the last book you read?

It was either First Nephi by Nephi or Funeral Potatoes by Joni Hilton. I'm half way through Slayers by C.J. Hill, whom everyone knows is someone else. Does that count?

Of course it counts! Thank you so much for the interview and for some really great insights into the life of a writer/reviewer. I also like to learn new things and I'm appreciative of all the time you've spent in your life helping writers become better at their craft.

If you'd like to read more about Jennie you can go to her blog here. You can also read her reviews every Thursday at Meridian Magazine here. As she mentioned, she has a new book coming out, Heirs of Southbridge, and I, for one, can't wait to read it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Word Count Wednesday

So I made it through the door just before 1:00 a.m. this morning from my critique group. By the end I was a little punchy and laughing at things that probably weren't really funny but seemed so at the time. (Does that ever happen to you? It happens to me a lot lately.)

But the best part of last night besides the cake and the laughs, was the suggestions I got on my manuscript. My mind could hardly stop thinking long enough to sleep and I got up this morning totally motivated to revise. I love that feeling.

My word count this past week wasn't that great. But I think with my critique group comments and my beta reader comments coming in, I will totally ramp that up this week as I make my story better and stronger. It also takes me one step closer to submission, which is always a cause for celebration.

How did you do this week?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Castle, Hawaii Five-O and What's Clean Romance to You?

Hawaii Five-O had a lot of banter last night with Steve and Danny that was nice. I'd been missing that. And Apollo Anton Ohno as a guest star, so yeah, that was awesome. He does do "bad guy" quite well. (I voted for him on Dancing With the Stars. I miss Julianne Hough. But I digress.) And even though the case itself wasn't that stellar, the scenery was gorgeous. Yes, Hawaii, I want to come and visit you personally, but at least I can live somewhat vicariously every Monday night.

To tell you the truth, I watched Castle before H50 last night for the first time in ages. The storyline was so good from last week I had high hopes for the conclusion this week, both plot-wise and relationship-wise. Unfortunately, it was the same old bait and switch on the relationship front. (The plot wasn't half-bad, though, since you know how much I love the spy stuff). Last week left us hanging, with Castle and Beckett about to drown in the Hudson. This week, we see Beckett who looks like she's drowning, Castle is desperately trying to come to her aid and he does so at the last minute. But instead of even a hug after this near death experience, once again we get a brother/sisterly sort of "thanks" and then a shoulder bump at the end of the eppy after they almost die a couple more times.

At this point I don't think the writers know how to write romance because they've certainly lost me with what they're trying to do---besides frustrate viewers. Castle and Beckett absolutely had the tension, the looks, the flirting in the first three seasons and that was a large part of what drew me into the characters. Castle was must-see TV for me. But then they had Castle declare his love at the end of last season and then they've pretty much acted like best friends/brother & sister types ever since. It's too bad, really. I hope it gets better.

But that got me thinking about romance last night. Romantic suspense is my favorite genre, but lately I've been reading a lot of historical romance. I belong to a "Clean Romance" group on Goodreads for those of us who like romance without explicit intimacy. There was a book recommended on the site as a clean romance, With His Lady's Assistance by Cheryl Bolen, and since it was regency I decided to buy it. It started out with a British spy, Captain Jack Dryden, being called back from the Peninsula to help find the assassin who was targeting the Prince Regent. Of course, the spy couldn't function among the ton without someone to smooth the way, so the Prince Regent suggests a woman who has all the connections, but is sort of unattractive and thus unmarried. (Sounds like something right up my alley, right? Spy stuff, I love you.)

Daphne Chalmers is smart and educated, but she also has to wear spectacles and doesn't care about fashion. She makes others feel at ease, and is discreet about indiscretions among those of her class. She finds Captain Dryden extremely attractive and is happy to play his faux-fiancee until they find out who is plotting to kill the Prince Regent. Of course, she's actually got really pretty eyes behind the spectacles (but no one really sees them except Captain Jack) and is almost beautiful when she tries to dress up and actually does something with her hair. But that's a given in these romances is it not?

There are some funny moments as they try to keep up their facade to be engaged and uncover the nefarious assassin. The author writes the main characters well. I did guess who was behind the plot quite early on, but there was a little twist at the end that surprised me. But all's well that ends well, if you know what I mean.

The thing that I wanted to discuss today was what you think of "clean romance" or as this book is billed on Goodreads as a "sweet romance." For me, clean or sweet implies that there isn't any sexual relations or anything that implies it. So, With His Lady's Assistance could technically be categorized as clean, since the main characters remain chaste throughout, however, there is quite a bit of discussion about adultery and certain acts that are committed in an opera box no less, which is apparently okay because it's just what rich people do. There is some discussion of what happens during sexual intimacy, and a conversation between our hero and heroine about certain parts of the anatomy and what happens when you are physically intimate. (And those things could have totally been left out and weren't integral to the story. As is usually the case.) But because of the inclusion of these things, for me, I can't say this book is "clean" romance and wouldn't recommend it as such. But where do you draw the line? And do you tell the others in your clean romance group your thoughts on whether you consider this book "clean" or not?

I know this is a matter of taste, but I'm interested to know, what do you consider clean romance? And do you read or like clean romances?

Also, here is the back copy of With His Lady's Assistance:

To help him mingle in the highest echelons of English society to investigate threats on the Prince Regent's life, super spy Captain Jack Dryden must feign an engagement to the exceedingly plain spinster, Lady Daphne Chalmers. Together they embark on an investigation which brings them into grave peril – and makes the captain reevaluate the skinny maiden who has a most amorous effect upon him

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Would You Do? Africa or Bust . . .

My daughter has the opportunity to spend two and a half weeks in Gabarone, Botswana this summer. I know, awesome, right?

Well, except for the fact that it's halfway around the world. And she's my little girl (who, you know, is an adult, but still, she'll always be my baby girl).

Now, when I was younger I traveled to Greece alone and thought nothing of it. I had a great time exploring Athens and the islands. But there were a few incidences that made me nervous and when I think back on them now I see how naive I was and how those situations could have turned ugly fast. And that was quite a few years back. So I'm a little nervous about her going to Africa.

Of course when she shows me the map and all the amazing things she could do and see, I think to myself it would be a once in a lifetime experience that she would always remember. And it's not like she hasn't traveled before. She's been to Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, but she was with a tour group then. This time, she would be traveling alone (or maybe with her brother if he can get the money).

So, if you were me, and your daughter wanted to go to Africa and went around singing Africa by Toto,(so much so I sort of hate that song now) (oh, and she's saved every penny she's earned in the last few months so she can go) what would you do?

Friday, February 17, 2012

First Page Friday

I am so appreciative to all the brave authors who submit their work for critique and for our two editors who take the time to help us. If you have a first page you would like to see shredded, we have openings in March. Please submit your work to with First Page Friday in the subject line. It's such a valuable resource to writers to have an honest review from experienced national editors, especially when we've been told that agents/editors usually read the first page or two and if you haven't caught their attention by then, they reject your manuscript. So this is obviously a great way to start polishing your pages.

On to this week's submission.

The Entry
Evangeline's Miracle

by Lisa Buie-Collard

If I asked if you believe in ghosts would you say “yes”, or perhaps admit to believing in the idea of them, or would you flat out say they don’t exist? I thought I knew my answer, until I met one…

The beginning of the end of the life I lived dressed for the occasion, but I didn’t see it for what it was. In fact the day began clear and beautiful in May, full of Texas sunshine. I awoke to slender dark-green oleander leaves waving in a gentle breeze across my freshly cleaned bedroom windows. But the brightness of the day didn’t dispel the emotional storm left inside me from the previous night, from the argument with Christian, which burned on the surface of my mind as lit gas on water. He’d never pushed so far before. Yelling at him hadn’t helped, “Babies, children! That’s all you talk about now.”

“And why not, Evie? We’ve been married three years—”

“I want time to finish this book, Christian.”

“That’s what you said during the last one—”

“I’m not ready yet!”

“When will you be ready, Evangeline? When?”

I glanced at Christian still asleep beside me now, dying to touch him, to erase last night’s ugly words, to have him hold me like he used to when wanting only me had been enough for him. I slipped from the bed, shouldered on my robe and tiptoed to the kitchen. A few minutes later, and with a mug of hot tea in hand, I stared out the kitchen’s also sparkling window and wondered why, when we had almost everything we’d said we’d wanted did he have to start talking about children. Why wasn’t the “we” of the two of us enough?

Outside on the other side of the window, two small birds, brown and yellow with slashes of black on their wings, hopped about on the pyracantha shrubs. Their tiny beaks stabbed at the profusion of insects on the mass of aging white blossoms. The fluttery birds were busy with existence, not thinking about wants or dislikes, not thinking about any bigger picture. I shivered. They were blessedly free from deep thought of any kind. It was their mission in life to procreate, not mine.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

This story draws upon a very timely issue: the decision whether or not to have children. A few years ago, chick lit author Emily Giffin wrote Baby Proof, a bestseller about a young woman whose husband, like her, never wanted children. However, several years into their marriage, he changed his mind and marital chaos ensued. The book raised a lot of thought-provoking questions about the decision not to procreate.

This first page raises a thought-provoking question of its own: “Why wasn’t the ‘we’ of the two of us enough?” It tells us a lot about Evie’s relationship with Christian. I also like that she watches the birds and differentiates herself from them. Unlike those birds, for whom reproduction is a biological imperative, Evie can choose not to have children. But, as we see on this first page, it’s not an easy choice to make, particularly when her husband is so eager to have children.

I think it’s important that, regardless of whether or not Evie decides to have children by story’s end, the narrative doesn’t oversimplify her. I’ve read stories about childless-by-choice women who experience a change of heart in the eleventh hour (i.e., the last chapter of the book), and the women either dismiss an entire book’s worth of doubt in a single paragraph or are portrayed as selfish and immature throughout the book until they amend for the “error of their ways” by having children. Try to transcend either of these simplistic scenarios.

There are some sentences and passages that could use some tightening up for clarity. For instance: “The beginning of the end of the life I lived dressed for the occasion, but I didn’t see it for what it was.” The sentence is a bit cloudy and could use some revision to clarify meaning. There are also some extraneous words/phrases throughout that impede flow.

Otherwise, keep digging away at the big questions as you’ve done here. This sample has depth, and the subject matter is really compelling. There’s a lot of potential here to break new ground and get readers talking.

Thank you so much to Lisa and Ms. Shreditor. See you next week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today's Writing Tip Brought To You by Hawaii Five-O

Last Monday on Hawaii Five-O, we started out with one of the team members washing blood off her hands and then asking a nurse for an update on the main character Steve McGarrett. She looks over to a gurney and I think the entire audience's heart stopped because well, the man is Steve McGarrett. If something happened to him, it must be pretty bad because he's a Navy freaking Seal who has a bit of Superman in him. So, you get the picture. The story is going to be good because it's starting out bad.

But then we do a time jump to eighteen hours earlier. Which would be okay, but the show didn't leave it there. We jumped back to the hospital, then back to the story, then forward to the hospital. I was seriously getting whiplash and was confused a lot of the time about the sequence of events. I couldn't understand why the writers were being so lazy. But, you see, book writers do that, too.

A lot of times writers are tempted to put a flashback at the first of their story because something really awesome happened and they use that technique to draw the readers in. Just like on Hawaii Five-O. But, the thing is, flashbacks and dreams are really hard to do well. It's too easily spotted as writerly laziness and readers feel like you've pulled a bait and switch on them when they realize that wasn't the true beginning to the story. Hawaii Five-O not only did this once, but many times, because they were using the technique to highlight all the exciting parts of the story and it ended up being more confusing than anything else.

A better technique is to use the "exciting event" you are trying to highlight in your flashback and make that the starting event of your story. Or, if it's too far in the past, drop little hints and pieces of it into the story, unrolling it as part of your character's makeup as well as to keep the reader guessing as to why your character is behaving this way and how he's grown or regressed since the event happened.

The key is to keep your readers with your characters---feeling what they feel as the story unfolds and letting them experience the events vicariously through your character's eyes. If you're constantly going back in time or using dreams to further your plot, then you're taking the easy way out and agents and editors will know. Use your imagination and your skills to keep your story present and real. Drop the hints, play the story out, and keep your characters relatable.

You won't be sorry. And you won't have people shaking their heads and saying, "What? I'm so confused . . ." (Hawaii Five-O writers I'm looking at you.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Word Count Wednesday

I had a pretty awesome week. I decided to just go for it and get on with writing the ending of my work in progress. I've been procrastinating it, partly because I wasn't sure how I wanted to end it and partially because I just didn't want to end it. (Does that ever happen to you?)

But this week I sat down and plotted out the end of the big bad conspiracy in my book and then I bit the bullet and wrote 3000 words. And I'm *thisclose* to writing those magic words of The End.

It feels good.

How did you do this week?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day and a Book Review: Before I Say Goodbye

I hope you are having a wonderful Valentines Day with your valentine. Or, at least with a book and something yummy to eat. That would be my perfect day.

Happy Valentines Day!

The book I want to review today, Before I Say Goodbye, isn't a romance, but it is still all about love--family love, friendship love, and the relationships that mean the most to us. I have to warn you, though, it's a tear-jerker. It's been years since I cried over a book and I pretty much cried non-stop through the last two chapters of this book.

The author, Rachel Nunes, introduces us to Rikki, who has sworn she'd never move back to her hometown in Utah. She had a horrible childhood and got away as soon as she could. She's come home after two divorces with her two children in tow, and she has a plan for looking up her old friend Dante.

She doesn't realize that Dante is now bishop of his Utah ward and has a wife and four kids. Dante is surprised to see Rikki show up in his ward and wonders what she's doing back here. They hadn't parted on the best of terms and it seems odd that Rikki would show up after twenty years.

Rikki's troubled daughter Kyle is befriended by Dante's daughter and Dante's wife, Becca, tries to clamp down on her jealousy by trying to help Rikki settle in. She becomes attached to Rikki's small son (whose real name is Dante but they call him by his middle name James.) Becca is struggling with some issues of her own---her husband being gone a lot, her unfulfilled dreams, trying to be a good mother. And she adds Rikki to her list of concerns.

I think what I loved most about this book was how real it is. The author doesn't sugar-coat anything. She presents a realistic picture of a ward family, warts and all, and how past relationships can affect one's future.

I think this book for me will become sort of like my Beaches video. When I need a good cry and a good message about the bonds of friendship, I will get this book out. I highly recommend it, but only if have a BOX of Kleenex nearby.

Here's the back copy:

After a twenty-year absence, Rikki Crockett has come home. When she left, she was young, hurt, and angry—betrayed by her parents and abandoned by her best friend, Dante Rushton. She vowed never to return, but when life takes a sudden and unexpected turn, home may be the only place to find a future for her two children.

Dante Rushton also endured a difficult childhood. Yet he found a safe-haven in his LDS ward who surrounded him with love and helped him grow to be a man of faith. Now a happily married father of four, he serves as bishop to the people who once shaped his future.

The old-timers in the ward are thrilled to welcome Rikki home, but Dante’s wife, Becca, is torn between wanting to befriend Rikki and wanting her and her rebellious teenage daughter as far away from her family as possible. Why has Rikki returned now, and what does she want from Becca and Dante?

Before I Say Goodbye is the compelling story of two families helping each other face an uncertain future, and of a woman who makes peace with her past to discover the last and greatest love of all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston's Death

I was so surprised to hear about Whitney Houston's death on Saturday. She seemed to be on the road to recovery and really starting to make a comeback. A lot of my teen years had her music in the background, and I have some wonderful memories dancing to her songs.

And, of course, who could forget The Bodyguard movie she starred in with Kevin Costner. I have to admit one of my favorite lines from that show was, "Are you afraid I'm going to get picked off in my snazzy running suit?" And Kevin Costner deadpans, "No, I'm afraid I'll have to go running with you." Haha! Don't you think at some point Secret Service agents actually think that?

(As an aside, there was a really interesting documentary on Secret Service agents broadcast this past weekend. It was a peek into their procedures and some of the stuff they talked about was writer's GOLD! I know I'm going to use it in a book someday.)

But after listening to all the reports on Whitney's untimely death, I feel so sorry for her daughter and her family. I can't imagine the pain of losing someone so suddenly like that and my heart goes out to them. Such a great talent and definitely gone too soon. It really drives home the fact that we don't know when our time is up and we should definitely make the most of every moment of life that we are given.

Anyway, in light of the tragedy, I wanted to know if you had a favorite Whitney Houston song. I think mine was I'm Every Woman for the beat and Greatest Love of All for the message. What about you?

Friday, February 10, 2012

First Page Friday

Today is the last day to vote for your favorite cover over at LDS Publisher. Don't forget to take a few moments and vote for the cover that is most visually appealing to you by clicking here

On to First Page Friday!

The Entry

by Bob Muench

I’d been floating in that stinking life pod for weeks. Trapped, bored, going crazy until I saw it. How long was it flashing before that? I don’t know, but there it was. And I was glued to it. There shouldn’t have been able to see a pulsar here.

My escape pod allowed only a small course change but I wanted to see it. I hated what father did to me. It stopped me from rescuing them. My mind floated back.

“But Papi, I’m accurate at 160 KPH,” I said. “I’m the best in the league, and Coach Murillo says that when I graduate I might make the nationals. It’s my life, and I want to play!”

“No Ridley,” he snapped. “I have decided. I know that you throw well, but you will work with me during the summer. You’ll start in the business, and some day it will be yours. Construction is good work, honest work. You’re done with high school in two years and nearly a man. It’s time to act like one. Begin taking some responsibility for your future. It’s decided.”

“But I don’t want to work in labor. I want to play béisbol. I’m good.”

“No more silly games. Play during the school year, but in the summer you work. Come. We’re late for dinner.”

“But, Papi.”

“No!” he shouted. “I’ve heard enou—”

Sirens cut him off, and the floor shuddered beneath our feet. Speakers blared overhead, “Explosion in Engineering. Explosive decompression in sections twenty seven and twenty nine, decks five and six. All passengers report to Emergency Stations.”

“Rápido, vamos!” He grabbed my wrist, and ran.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

The strength of this piece is its central conflict. You can’t go wrong with a classic—i.e., a teenager whose ambitions are at odds with his parents’ plans for him. There are countless possible variations of the father-son struggle.

This page, however, needs some work. I found the story difficult to follow. First Ridley is floating in his life pod, then he sees the pulsar, then he laments not being able to save “them” (we’re not told who “they” are), and then his mind floats back to the conversation at hand with his father. Mid-conversation, something explodes. Does this have anything to do with the pulsar from the beginning of the chapter?

The root of the confusion lies in the structure of the excerpt. Things seem to be happening out of sequence. If I’ve interpreted the text correctly, the story begins with a flashback, and the conversation with Ridley’s father takes place in the present. It’s difficult to get our bearings. We don’t even know what a life pod is or why Ridley has been floating in it for weeks. And, while there are clues, we’re not even told explicitly which sport he’s playing. (I’m assuming baseball, given the references to Ridley’s 160 KPH pitching speed. Quite an arm on that young man.)

The last sentence of the first paragraph needs some tweaking. “There shouldn’t have been able to see a pulsar here” doesn’t quite make sense. I suspect that it should read something like: “He shouldn’t have been able to see a pulsar from here.”

I have some concerns regarding ethnicity in this piece. We have a character from a Spanish-speaking family, but this element feels gratuitous as presented here. The dialogue is peppered randomly with Spanish phrases, yet the character’s name is Ridley. This is a distinctly English name, and it’s not immediately clear why the apparent disconnect between his name and his ethnic background. It would be one thing if his name were something generic like John or Mark, but Ridley is a more unusual name. Be careful not to “apologize” for his minority status by toning it down too much. I love that you’re introducing a Spanish-speaking character; just make sure to do his ethnicity justice. There may be a story behind his name that we simply don't know yet, but since I'm only assessing the first page, I wanted to mention it.

To illustrate my point about toning down ethnicity: Several years ago, I read a book about a boy from the South. The author reminded us often that he didn’t have an accent. At every turn was another stereotype about southern people and lifestyles, and the story established the hero as somehow superior to his fellow southerners because he behaved and sounded more like a northerner. It would have felt more authentic to just let him be southern, accent and all. As written, the book read like an indictment of southern people. This is just food for thought as you develop a character with a distinctive cultural identity. We can learn something from the mistakes in the story I read.

The bottom line: There is the potential for a meaty story here. Think some more about structure and pacing, particularly if you want to switch between the past and the present throughout the story. There needs to be some kind of delineation between flashbacks and present action. The clearer the progression, the better your chances of sustaining your readers’ attention.

A big thank you to Bob and to Ms. Shreditor for their time and effort. See you next week!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writing Tip---Be An Observer

Yesterday, I was at the orthodontist office with my son. We followed the normal protocol when we came in by going to the desk, signing my son's name, then sitting down to wait our turn. I stuck my nose in my reading material (hello, I have a ton of Whitney reading to do!) but my attention quickly turned to a lady who was upset with the staff behind the desk.

You see, she had noticed that the boy who had come in after her had been taken back BEFORE her and she was upset about it. She felt like she had been there on time and the children should have been taken back in the order in which they arrived.

As I watched the exchange I noticed how the secretary behind the desk immediately squared her shoulders and pasted on a fake smile. I noticed that she put her hands in her lap as she waited for the upset lady to make her point. Then she patiently explained that some children are seen by the staff first, where others have to be seen by the orthodontist first and that is why there was a longer wait for her son, because he needed the orthodontist first. Her voice was calm the entire time, with almost a lilting quality to it that seemed to soothe the mother in front of her.

The mother was dressed in jeans and a button-up shirt and while she had been making her complaint, a flush of red had crept up her neck. But as she listened to the secretary you could almost see her release a deep breath and let her shoulders fall. She rolled her neck and ended up apologizing for her earlier words.

Yes, I had shamelessly watched the entire exchange and I know I can use some of my observations in a book. I love watching people, seeing their reactions, and looking at their body language. I think humans give off so much more communication through their body and demeanor than words could ever say and I love trying to incorporate that in my writing.

I find inspiration for characters in almost every place I go. The grocery store with the woman in six-inch heels and a floor-length fur coat cruising the dairy aisle, the hairdressers who always seems to have someone sharing their life story with everyone in the shop, and the mall with the hordes of teenagers trying to impress. As an observer, this is my chance to breathe realism into my characters by basing them off of people and things I've observed.

Be aware of the people around you. Watch them (not creepily and definitely don't stalk them) but casually observe and you may find that missing piece to your character that helps them relate to your reader. After all, as writers, aren't we making a small statement on the world around us with our stories? Why not be authentic in our efforts.

Do you people-watch?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Word Count Wednesday

Well, with the amount of deleting and adding and revising I've done, my word count didn't amount to much. I think I'm addicted to revising this manuscript. I know I should stop, but I just can't. I tell myself this will be the last time, but the next day I'm there again, with that handy delete key and another idea for how things should go.


The good news is I still like my story. Sometimes after I've revised it to death I start to hate the story and all its characters, so maybe that's a sign that I'm still okay.

My word count for this week sure wasn't okay, though, and I'm hoping to do better next week.

How did you do?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Review: Venom

Want a great romantic suspense to make your toes curl in deliciously suspenseful fright and delight? Then, Venom by K.C. Grant is the book for you.

Honestly, I loved this book from start to finish. Samantha is trying to get ahead at her advertising agency and is offered a chance to go to Mexico City to join the team that doing a major ad campaign there. She meets this moody photographer, David Ayala, who seems to have a few secrets to keep, her boss and half the team are acting all weird, and these strange little "accidents" keep happening. It's enough to keep me turning pages, just to see if Samantha's going to survive both physically and emotionally!

The majority of the action takes place in Mexico City and the author does a phenomenal job in the setting. I have never been there, yet after reading this book I felt like I had. I was completely immersed in it, and with the way it's woven into the story, it becomes an integral part of it. It just adds that extra oomph to the mystery/suspense.

I think that K.C. Grant will fast become an author in the suspense world whose fans are anxiously awaiting her next book so they can snatch it off the shelves. She's just that good. She has two other historicals, (which were also good) but I believe she's found her forte in suspense.

Here is the back copy:

Samantha Evans is determined to make a name for herself in the cutthroat world of advertising. Newly hired by a prestigious ad agency, she volunteers to work on location in Mexico City as a personal assistant to the beautiful and driven creative director Katrina Edwards.

At first the association seems promising. But Ms. Edwards seems preoccupied in a way that makes Samantha increasingly uneasy. In fact, many in the group seem like they are not being completely open about the project including David Ayala, the mysterious and moody photographer for whose attention the two women find themselves competing.

After several strange accidents and numerous appearances by an unknown man, Samantha discovers the truth: not everyone on the team is in Mexico to create a stellar advertising pitch. When her sleuthing leads to her abduction, she is brought to the pyramids of Teotihuacán and comes face-to-face with the venomous evil of the South American crime boss known as “The Serpent.” Now Samantha must not only fight for her life, but she must also discover if she can trust the man she’s come to love.

K.C. Grant has been a freelance writer for over eight years. Much of her work appears in family-oriented magazines such as LDSLiving, Back Home, Parents & Kids, and Natural Life. She has also written for the Deseret News and KSL news/radio. When she decided it was time to "tackle" the novel, she became involved with writer's groups that helped her network with other writers and learn the business of writing a little more. She has been the president of a local chapter of the League of Utah Writers and is a member of the Association for Mormon Letters and LDStorymakers. Her novels include "Abish: Daughter of God," and a sequel, "Abish: Mother of Faith". A suspense novel, "Venom", is scheduled for January 2012.

You can find more about K.C. here

Castle and Hawaii Five-O--They're Back!

Last night I was excited because both of my favorite shows were new episodes and we've had a boatload of repeats lately. Of course, the previews for Hawaii Five-O looked intense so I watched that one first, and boy, was I glad I did.

The main character, Danny Williams, is trying to unravel the mystery of why a U.S. Marshal was killed on an airplane, when his daughter is kidnapped by his old partner who has just spent ten years in prison because Danny testified against him. (The partner was dirty.) So he's had ten years to plan his revenge on Danny, and since he lost his family while he was in prison, he wants Danny to lose his family as well.

Scott Caan did an amazing job with this episode. His anger and fear are so readily apparent, I honestly was completely pulled in. The emotion was high for the entire episode and even down to the last few minutes I didn't really know what was going to happen. And yes, there were some aspects that required I suspend a little reality, but it was still really well done. Loved it.

Then I turned to watch my old favorite, Castle. We've sort of been stuck in a bit of a mire with Castle, with no forward movement on the character front and not much banter to be found. But last night was a tribute to film noir, and it was funny and romantic and even a little flirty and I thought it was great. The 40s costumes, the singing, the mystery, it was all fun and had enough twists to keep me interested and surprised. I sort of miss that Castle, when you finished the episode with a smile. Hopefully we'll get more of that before the season is over.

So, last night was a good mix of romance and suspense for me. Just the way I like it. Have you watched any good TV lately?

(I just started Rachelle Christensen's book Caller ID and it promises a bit of romance and suspense as well. I'll let you know what I think of it!)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mom Minute--Dealing With Hurt Feelings

As a mother of eight children, it still never ceases to amaze me that my children are so different. You know, since they have the same parents and all. But they are very different and that makes me stretch as a person in order to try and meet their individual needs and help them grow as people.

Yesterday we had an incident in which angry words were exchanged and one of my children's feelings were really hurt. For me, when I have hurt feelings, I usually like to talk things out. You know, get it all on the table, air the feelings, then kiss and make up. This certain child withdraws. They don't talk to anyone and try to avoid the situation, which drives me a little crazy.

So, today I am waiting. Waiting for the right moment to see if this can't be worked out and talked out.

But, for those of you who know me, waiting isn't my strong suit. Probably because when I wait for things, my imagination kicks into overdrive and I imagine different scenarios, (okay, worst case scenarios) and then things get crazy in my head. So, I'm really hoping that the timing will be right and this brouhaha can be smoothed over today. And it truly is all about timing with children, don't you think?

I am definitely crossing my fingers that perhaps being at school today, and a bit of time away from each other, will give the time and distance needed for this particular situation. I think it will.

How do you deal with your children when there's something that needs to be talked out, but they would rather withdraw?

Friday, February 3, 2012

First Page Friday

Hey, guess what? My latest novel, Ribbon of Darkness, made it into the finals for LDSPublisher's favorite cover contest. You can go here to vote, even if you don't vote for mine, (but secretly I hope you do.)

On to First Page Friday!

The Entry
A Ghost of a Second Chance

by K. Tate

The Chinook wind stirred the fallen leaves and tossed them around the deserted street. An eastern wind carries more than dust and ashes, Laine’s mother had told her; it uproots secrets. And everyone knows once one secret is told, no secret is safe.

Hers included.

Laine paused in front of the Queen Anne Hill Chapel doors. The sun, a faint pink glow over the eastern hills had yet to shine, but Laine hadn’t any doubt that it would rise to another scorching Indian summer day. She looked out over sleeping Seattle. The dark gray Puget Sound stretched away from her. On the horizon, distant ships bobbed and sent quivering beams of light over the water.

She turned her back on the ships, on any dream of sailing away and inserted the key into the heavily carved wooden doors. They slid open before Laine turned the key. Odd. The chapel, built in the 1930s, had a musty, empty smell. She stepped into the cool shade of the foyer and the door swung shut, closing with a click that echoed through the cavernous room. The morning sounds--birds, crickets and insects--disappeared when the doors closed. Laine’s sneakers padded across the terracotta tile, her footsteps loud.

She had thought she’d be alone, which is exactly why she’d chosen to come at near dawn. Not that she’d been able to sleep. She hadn’t slept for weeks. Which may explain why at first she’d thought the girl standing in the nave, facing the pulpit, her face lifted to the stain glass window, might be a ghost, or even, given her surroundings, an angel.

Although Laine couldn’t see her face, the way the child’s head moved, it looked as if she was having a conversation with the Lord trapped in the glass, or one of the sheep milling about His feet, giving Laine the uncomfortable sense of interrupting. The meager morning sun lit the glass and multi-colored reflections fell on the girl, giving her an iridescent glow. Slowly, she turned and Laine realized she wasn’t a child, but a young woman, around twenty, wearing vintage clothing.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

I like that this chapter begins with a secret, because it gives the reader immediate motivation to keep reading. After all, there are few things more compelling in a story than untold secrets. The eastern wind carries with it the threat/promise that Laine’s will come to light at some point in this story.

The Seattle setting feels authentic because the author gives us just enough (but not too much) detail. Establishing setting in a specific geographic location can be tricky; you want to root the reader in the narrator’s environs without sounding touristy. I assess setting in a book the way a psychologist might assess a lie: Just as a psychologist suspects a lie if a person offers too many details, I suspect that an author is writing about a place he or she has never actually visited if the descriptions are too flowery or the story is full of regional clichés. There's nothing wrong, of course, with writing about a place you've never been; you just have to go about it carefully. If you pepper a story that takes place in, say, San Francisco, with sightings of the Golden Gate Bridge, trolley cars, and Rice-A-Roni, the reader is going to see through it. So make sure to do your research and establish setting with a light hand, as this author has done. Give readers enough to go on without turning it into a travelogue.

The writing in general is quite vivid. The author taps into multiple senses to engage the reader in the unfolding scene, and the story takes on an eerie quality when the iridescent girl appears.

One thing to watch for in this sample: verb tense inconsistency. In the first sentence, we have an observation from Laine’s mother in the present tense. It might read more smoothly if it went something like this: “According to Laine’s mother, an eastern wind carried more than dust and ashes; it uprooted secrets.” The first sentence of the fifth paragraph also shifts from past to present tense. You might also try to eliminate the “is” from that sentence by recasting: “She’d chosen to come at dawn so that she could be alone. Later in the paragraph, we switch again to the present with “Which may explain why…” Make sure to pick one tense and stick with it.

This chapter could also benefit from some light copyediting to resolve minor mechanical issues (e.g., “come at near dawn”) and some clunky syntax here and there. But the author does an excellent job of setting the scene, making it vivid, and leaving the reader with enough unanswered questions to keep the reader turning the pages.

Thank you so much for our submitters and for the time and effort our wonderful editors put in to help us. See you next week!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Writing Tip---Critique Groups

I just have to tell you that last night, for the first time in a decade, I slept in a paper-free bedroom. It took me exactly one month, but I purged all the papers from my room and it feels good. Thank you for bearing with me through that!

Today I'd like to talk to you about critique groups. As I've taught at different conferences over the years and spoken about critique groups, I inevitably get at least one person who says, "oh I don't need that," and "I could never let someone else read my writing before it's published."

And every time I hear it I want to shake my head because they are missing out on something that is incredibly helpful to a writer.

Critique groups can give your writing a polish that it wouldn't have otherwise. For example, I met with my critique group last Tuesday and we were critiquing chapters of mine that I'd already edited. I thought I was going to cruise through, but then one of the group pointed out a spot where the heroine's reaction was totally out of character, and another pointed out where the technology wasn't correct and would need to be changed. Was it make or break it for my book? No. But readers and editors and agents are looking for polished books without those sorts of minor mistakes and smooth writing. And that's the goal I'm shooting for. I want my writing to be the best it can be and I know that my critique group is helping me with that.

It took me a while to find a group, but I am so glad I never gave up looking. Making the right fit is important, because you want to have other writers who are about at the same level as you or a little higher, so you can all help each other and get the most out of it. You also want to make sure that you are ready for a good critique. My chapters have been shredded before,(quite recently, actually!) but as I sit there looking at all the red marks and notes in the margin, I know that it's going to make it a stronger story and I'm grateful for people who are willing to read my manuscript and help me make it better.

(I also am glad to have people who get me as a person and a writer, who know where I'm going with the story and characters and can help me get where I want to be. Plus, the group I'm with has a wicked sense of humor and we end up laughing through most of the evening.)

So, while I know some don't feel critique groups are needed or worth it, for me, they are worth their weight in gold. Editing mistakes, plot holes, and mischaracterization all come out in the pre-submit period, so that when you are ready to submit, you know it's really ready, if you get my drift. Your writing has that extra pair of eyes that have gone over it and you have the benefit of knowing you have fixed everything you could and done your best with the help of great critiques.

(And just to clarify, I'm not saying you have to have a traditional critique group that meets every week or anything. There are plenty of authors I know that do online critique groups.)

What do you think of critique groups? Do you have one? Why or why not?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Word Count Wednesday

I think I'm going to print out this quote and put it next to my desk because it totally describes where I am at in finding balance with my writing and other responsibilties.

"Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces, and which most men throw away." - Charles Colton

Yeah, I have to write in shreds and patches of time, but I'm doing it and trying hard not to throw any opportunity away. Each week I'm moving forward, not quite at a snail's pace, just at my own pace, and I'm so grateful to have the support of all of you.

This week my critique group shredded my work in progress, so I've gone back to the drawing board in revising. All told, even with the deleting and adding and then deleting again, I wrote about 1800 words. So, overall, I'm feeling pretty good about that.

How did you do this week?