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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I owe, I owe...

...................It's off to write I go

A few weeks ago I won a hook contest and since then my obligations have been piling up like cordwood. The requested manuscript had to take priority. It's done and thanks to some remarkable crit partners, it looks pretty darn good. One more CP has kindly offered to review it.
--this despite her hectic schedule. As soon as she's done, I'll give it one last careful proofing before I submit it to the editor.

I had an interesting experience recently. One of my networking partners has a series of five books and she needed to come up with blurbs for the series as well as each book. It was kind of fun brainstorming the blurbs. It's one of my favorite things to do.

I think it's easier to work on somebody else's blurb rather than your own. An outside reader usually focuses on the things that piqued her interest, while the author is stuck on every little piece of minutia she went through to create a finished book. It’s the forest for the trees scenario.

The next time you're stuck on a blurb or a query hook, send it off to writing peers who haven't read the manuscript. The more virgin their eyes, the better the feedback. And you're assured an even cleaner response if you submit it to people who don't normally crit you at all.

This goes double for whole manuscripts. Critters who have read your novel too many times have one fatal drawback. They are too used to your style and forgive grammar and story problems that an agent or publisher won't.

One thing I should address is that you have to cultivate successful critique relationships. I realize I preach as if all reviewers are the best things since sliced bread, but that's not always the case. I'm at a point in my career where I've developed very strong relationships with people who happen to be phenomenal reviewers. But when you're starting out, it's dicey out there.

There's the friendly reviewer who wouldn't dream of hurting your feelings and wants to be liked. And there's the space cadet reviewer who doesn't have a lot of real world experience so doesn't understand a lot of what she reads. Then there's the antagonistic reviewer who acts as if you slept with her husband and now she's out to get even.

Believe me, you find them all out there in various degrees. I read about someone recently who'd been writing for several years and had yet to find even one reviewer who could help him get to the next level. It's like finding a spouse. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right one. Unlike spouses, we can have several crit partners.

Lots of critique partners are great. But one spouse is more than enough.

Good reviewers are out there so don't give up. I found my first set of reviewers after six months of reviewing heavily. These people analyzed the story down to its buttons and were able to articulate their reactions in an easy to understand manner. Bingo! That's exactly what I needed.

Crit relationships are by their nature very dynamic and organic. They feed off each other, so don't put your work out and expect people to take care of you like a hothouse tomato. You have to get out there and earn your keep.

Off with you now. Go forth and do good.