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Posts Tagged ‘Critiques’

A note from the Admin: Funny story. This landed in my inbox and got lost in the shuffle, but here is our Writer’s Mail from the second half of September. Thank you all for you patience and understanding. Without further ado:

Tuesdays with Story
September 15, 2020

The first word . . .

The great realities are far beyond words. Love… light…life…

–Witomzil in real life

And they gathered once more . . .

Zoom and a Tuesday evening. Here is some of what was said:

Kashmira submitted two chapters of her novel Journey to Swaraj. The main concerns were using metaphor and smiles that readers are not familiar with. Other concern was making things more clear between the servant and Mrs. Bibra. Otherwise, the chapters were well received.

Thanks!

–Amber Boudreau ( Second Nature) . . . The next two chapters of Amber’s urban fantasy Secod Nature were pretty well received. The group seemed to speed through these chapters without difficulty. However, they did note some slowing down of the tension with exposition when things should have been off and rolling. Amber learned that not only should chapters end with a hook, but they should start with a hook as well. As someone pointed out, just make it all hooks and then people won’t want to put it down.

Larry Sommers . . . Dizzy, Chapters 21-23:  Mom was too laid back about the arrival of Izzy’s chem lab equipment, opportunities for further conflict missed. A dress form would be too lightweight to need three people, even kids, to move. The point of the whole church scene, especially the Jonah story, mystified more than one reader–and somewhat mystifies the author also. Yet another mystery of the faith. Amber reminded me of the excellent coming-of-age books by Gary D. Schmidt–one of which I have read and the other will look up. Thanks all for valuable insights.

— John Schneller (chapter 26, Broken) . . .Training of mind and spirit slowed down the action but found appreciation by most readers. Details of the shooting star was the highlight for those who recognized the flower. It was interesting that Witomzil’s six sentences of teaching at the close of the lesson came across as much too long. 

Who’s up next . . . 

October 6

 List of submissions is incomplete. If you know you are on schedule, please submit.

Mike Austin (short story)

Huckle  chapter Wolf Healer

John Schneller (chapter, Broken rewrite)

Jamie chapter Outsleep chapter

  • Amber held a successful virtual book launch at A Room if One’s Own on September 22nd. Along with writer Tracey S. Phillips, she talked about her fond bond with Moria, The Dragoneer, and all things dragon. A great evening.

Our editor . . .

John Schneller continues this month as our editor for Writer’s Mail. You have something you’d like him to include in the next issue, please email it to him.

Writer House Rules: Questions in Publishing . . .

Q: Should I self-publish?

A: Everybody has their opinion, and mine is certainly biased, but I invite you to ask just one question:

Do I care about distribution? If you want your book in national bookstores like B&N or BAM, and you want a shot at getting it into Walmart/Target/Costco, you need someone who knows the buyer at each franchise in your genre. That is, you’ll probably need a sales rep for each of those accounts. If you want to get your book into indie bookshops nationwide, it’s going to be a beast unless you have a field sales team who can pitch each one. However, if you are content with posting your book to Amazon–because most of your sales are going to come through Amazon anyway–and you’re not so concerned about having your book in stores (unless you’re able to do considerable legwork), consider self publishing. To me, distribution is everything, but you may have different priorities.

Beware of scammers: Do not settle for one of these clowns who pretends to be a publisher but all they do is handle production and then post it to Amazon. You could do that and not have to give anyone a cut.

Promotion: You may have heard that you should only self-publish if you’re willing to put the time and energy into promoting the book all yourself. Yes, you should promote it like crazy–why waste time writing, editing, getting it copyedited, designed, and produced if it’s just going to sit there?–but you need to do that if you are published by a traditional publisher, too. Some perfectly reputable houses don’t have much budget for promotion. Some may not even assign you a publicist. Be prepared to wear your marketing hat for a few months no matter what route you go with.

Self-publish = Self-sabotage: When self-publishing started taking off, publishing gurus warned writers that if they self-published a book, traditional publishers would not be interested in publishing their books in the future. This is mostly not true. If your self-published book flops, they’ll ask you to publish your next book under a different name so that you don’t have a bad sales track. If your self-published book succeeds, it could actually help you get a publishing contract. I have an author now whose first three books were self-published and they did really well, so we’re publishing his fourth.

The last word . . .

Passive voice from Bob Hostetler at Steve Laube Agency newsletter

Another client asked me to define passive writing and establish some boundaries. Sure, okay. Here’s the short version: “passive” is; “active” does. See how easy that was? “It was a dark and stormy night” is passive writing. “Thunder rolled and lightning split the sky” is active. It’s all in the verb choices. As far as boundaries, you don’t need to use only active verbs; the words is, was, and so on are in our language for a reason. But in my writing classes and coaching, I’ve found that most writers, once they identify their passive verbs in a first draft, can enliven their writing by replacing 50-75% with action verbs.

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Tuesdays with Story
November 14, 2019

The first word . . .

“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially on some piece of writing or paperwork, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work, the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp gives the cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impeded your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough.”

― Muriel Spark (1918-2006), Scottish novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist

Tuesday evening at B&N Westside . . .

A small group gathered, six of our regular writers plus a guest, Huckleberry Rahr, a math prof at UW/Whitewater and write of YA novels looking for help in getting published. She joined the group and is on the schedule for November 19 (more…)

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