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Showing posts from September, 2010

The 7 Different Kinds of Crit Partners

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Remember my post on Mixed-Up Files a while back? Of the biggest writing mistakes, I primarily focused on taking a crit and applying it successfully.

As I've had lots of different critiques on my manuscript,I've come to learn one thing: There are as many varied critters as there are writers.

But what if you have a crit partner that isn't good? They seem to be stuck on one type of crit and one type of crit only.

In good fun, I've highlighted my favorites. (Warning: if you have absolutely no sense of humor, please do not read any further)

THE GRAMMAR QUEEN: this person is insistent on following every single grammar rule even if it means you loose your writing voice. run on sentences and fragments will cause convulsions of the writing kind.

THE KISS UP: this person (usually a friend or family member) finds absolutely nothing wrong with your manuscript. not one single flaw! they believe your writing is perfect and that any attempt at revision is a complete waste of …

Why Writing is Like a Piece of Cake - Literally

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This past week I didn't write at all. There was a pretty good reason for it though. I was busy making a cake for a baby shower that I co-hosted with my BFF.

Yes, it took nearly all week to make the cake. I started Tuesday night and just minutes before the shower on Friday evening I completed the final assembly.

As far as cake decorating is concerned I took one class with my mom as a teenager. But I've never taken any classes in fondant - I'm entirely self-taught.

So you probably think the cake is pretty amazing, right?

Well, the guests did too.

But you know what?

All I saw were the imperfections. Everything I could have done differently. The things I could have changed to improve it.

As I pondered this, it made me think of the writing process. Why can't we writers just be proud of our hard work and effort? Why must we always look at the errors?

We're so focused on fixing what is wrong that we loose sight of what's right.

Maybe, just maybe, if we focused on the positiv…

Query Critique Friday - Jane Still

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Last week I promised free query critique fridays....well, here it is!

Each week I'll post one query in its original form and below it, the revision.

Jane Still was brave enough to be my very first volunteer. In her defense, she wrote her query very quickly so she could be part of my original contest.

The Original

Taking six children to see Santa every year and watching them go from screaming in horror one year to complete adulation the next prompted me to write Santa Claws where humorous childish fears are conquered.

The young child in this story lives in a world where Christmas is bright colored lights and choo-choo trains that chase round each Christmas tree. He walks down the street in wonder as sweet white and bright red candy canes are stuck to every smile.

As he enters a department store, a mean old man ho-ho-hoes right up to him and scares the tears right from his eyes.

Later that night as his Dad explains the wonder of Santa Claus he has his own questions. What kind of claws do…

Gerunds and Passive Voice - Two Rules You Must Break

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Recently I had some crits done on my manuscript and was told not to use any gerunds.

(In case you don't know what a gerund is...it's those pesky little "ing" words. However not all "ing" words are gerunds. A simple test is this: let's say we're using the word swimming - if you can replace it with to swim, you know you've got a gerund.)

And - gulp - yes, I was guilty of doing it....a lot! I'm SOOOOO glad it was pointed out to me!

So why should we avoid these "ing" words? Well, because they make our writing passive. {I like swimming = passive. I like to swim = active.} :)

It really is good advice.

Avoid those gerunds when you can.

So, I've run passivity checks on my manuscripts before and even though I have those gerunds, my passivity score is at 1%. I kid you not. ONE PERCENT.

I think that's pretty good. Actually, I'd wager to day it's darned good. Because the rule of thumb is aim to be less than 5%.

Altho…

Announcing Free Query Critique Friday

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As many of you know, last month I held a pretty fab contest (at least I like to think so). The contest included some awesome prizes. For me though, the coolest prize was what I learned about YOU!

I've realized that there is a really big need for critiques. Whether its because many of you don't have your own crit groups, or because you're just looking for someone else's opinion, the demand was high all around.

That got me thinking....

The one thing I needed most (and still do) is help and critiques! I really wish I'd had that help early on because I think it would have made all the difference.

Plus one of my favorite things to do is help others. I know, it sounds like a silly hobby, but for me, it's really rewarding.

So this is what I've decided....

Starting September 24th, every Friday will be Free Query Critique Friday!

Yep - you heard me. I"m crazy.

How to enter:

Each Friday (excluding today) all you will have to do is post your query letter in the co…

Not Here....Again

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I'm at The Mixed-Up Files blogging about learning disabilities and middle-grade books. I hope you'll check it out. It will definately be well worth your time.

I'd also like to apologize for my lack of attention to your blogs this week. I feel so out of the loop. Really - I wasn't kidding the other day when I said its been one of those months. But I hope to get back into the groove of things real soon. Cause I can't wait to hear what's been going on with you!

One of Those Months...

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I'm kinda having one of those months where every day is going by in a blur and I can't find a single moment to accomplish any of my goals.

Like today for instance - I'm so busy, so entirely overwhelmed and wrapped-up in day-to-day living that this post published without a title. Oy.

Then there's my to do list. Todays list includes cleaning 3 of my 5 bathrooms, doing laundry, changing bed linens, cleaning out closets, straightening up bedrooms, critting 2 query letters, shipping off 2 packages,squeezing in a 3 mile walk/run, making dinner, helping kids with projects/homework, finishing my blog post for The Mixed-Up Files, and if I'm lucky....EDITING. (that's just the stuff I can remember)

Yes, the blog post and editing should be at the top of my list....but somehow life always pushes the things I really want to do to the bottom of the pile.

Is that maybe like an agent's slush pile? They have the stuff they have to get done every day - including working w…

Guest Post

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I'm not here today. Nope. You don't see me. And you're not really reading these words. *Waves hand slowly using The Force* These are not the droids you are looking for.

I'm at C.K. BRYANT'S Blog. So, please, please visit me there. I promise it will be well worth your time.

*whispers* There might just be a contest, but you never heard that from me. Nope. Not from me. ;)

Trying to Get an Agent is Like...

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* Searching for a needle in a haystack.

* A dog chasing its own tail, going round and round in circles.

* Waiting to be picked for a team in gym class - and then being called last.

* Going to the mailbox and realizing there are only bills.

* Pouring a bowl of cereal and realizing someone drank the last of the milk.

* Putting bread in a toaster, walking away and when you come back the bread is burnt.

* Going to a party in jeans and everyone else is dressed-up.

* That dream where you go to school in your underwear, forgot to study for a test, are trying to run away from something or are flying.

* Digging for dinosaur bones.

* Starting your favorite project and halfway through you run out of the most important item - like tape or glue.

* Trying to grow crops in a drought.

* Baking cookies and not having any chocolate chips.

* Your first kiss - messy. (c'mon you know it was)

* Printing off your manuscript and running out of ink.

* "A box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.…

Have You Held a Hummingbird?

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Last week, after school, my 7th grade daughter came running through the door. Completely out of breath, she said, "Mom, there's a hummingbird trapped in our garage!"

I thought her concern was precious, and as a parent, I was grateful I had raised her with compassion - that she could see the bird's need and wanted to help.

So, I went into the garage and sure enough, there was that poor little bird trying to escape through one of the windows. Because I knew I'd never be able to reach him on my own, I looked around for something to help me pursuade the little bird down and out the garage door. I grabbed a badmitten racket and very slowly and carefully brought the bird to a safe corner of the window. The poor thing was terrified. His little body trembled, but his wings were as still as could be. Have you ever seen a hummingbird not buzzing his wings? Me either. At least, not until that moment.

Once I had him positioned, I gently scooped him into my hand be…

Winners Announced!

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Many thanks to each of you for your excitement about my contest! I was aware of every tweet, blog post and kind words. So thank you for helping me make this contest a success!

Now for our winners...

I - very scientifically - wrote each name on a slip of paper (if you had multiple entries, you had multiple slips of paper) and let my 6 year old draw the names from a Tupperware container (actually it wasn't even tupperware - it was just a plastic container). The names drawn that were drawn are....

#1 Katharine Owens
#2 Casey Griffin
#3 Erinn
#4 Tania McCue
#5 Christina Ferko
#6 Jaydee Morgan

If you haven't stopped by these ladies' blogs, you're missing out! So make sure you visit them today and send them a congratulations!

Now for prizes...

Since I figure not everyone will need everything that's being given away, I've decided that the winners will get to choose their prize instead of being given the coordinating prize! I mean, if you're agented what good would a q…