The time comes with every manuscript when you need to share it with someone else before publishing it. That someone could be your spouse, best friend, writing group, beta reader, a pitch with an editor or agent, or a first chapter contest judge. There will be times when one of these critique partners makes a suggestion that doesn't sit well with you. You'll be left with a bucket of insecurity, wondering whether to make changes based on the suggestions or to keep the manuscript as-is. It can be especially crippling when the person commenting is close to you, like a family member, or someone you perceive as having authority in the writing profession, like an editor or already-published author.
Receiving critiques is difficult. No one enjoys hearing they have more work to do, especially after doing something that took a lot of work. But we all have something to learn and improve on, whether it's our first manuscript or our fifteenth, whether we are published or not.
We don't improve when we ignore everything our critique partners tell us. They can be incredibly valuable, teaching us more than we could ever learn otherwise. Even unhelpful comments can teach us things like who isn't our niche reader, or if a part of the story is not quite right (even if their wrong about why). Get multiple critique partners (or, better yet, a writing group), and take their comments with a fat grain of salt.
This article will discuss what makes a critique “wrong” or unhelpful, what to do when you realize a critique isn't right for you, how to respond to a critique partner who frequently gives unhelpful feedback, and how know when to follow a critique.
If you want something, it’s up to you to figure out how to get it.
This idea sounds overly simple, and yet, it took a mini life crisis at thirty for me to consider it. Up to that point, I’d been waiting for two specific things to happen before I dared even think about my dream of authoring a book. Those two things? Permission and ideal timing.
Let’s back up a bit. I grew up in a home full of expectations. Some were exerted by my family, some I created on my own. Those expectations included such things as being a good daughter, a good student and a good employee. After I got married, the idea that certain expectations must be upheld pushed me into pouring all my energy into being a good mom, spouse, and housekeeper. None of these expectations were well defined. I had no way of knowing if I was doing it “good” enough. I exhausted myself with worry, thinking I’d never get it right.
A week before my thirtieth birthday I was struck with the significance of another decade of my life slipping by. My dream of becoming an author hadn’t amounted to anything. The reality I had created for myself as a parent didn’t include me in it anywhere. I had invented this expectation that motherhood was an endless cycle of caring for everyone else first and my dreams could wait until the timing was better, until my first baby slept through the night, until the next baby slept through the night, until they napped at the same time, until they started school, until, until, until.
It’s November, everybody! This is one of my favorite months of all time. There’s plenty of candy leftover from Halloween, fall is in full swing, and Thanksgiving promises a whole day full of delicious food, warmth, and fun. In my family, while we’re all too full to get up, we have a tradition where we go around the table and take turns talking about what we’re grateful for.
For the longest time, I considered myself a hopeful hobby writer. This year, though, I’ve claimed writing as my official career! When people ask me if I have a job, I say, “Yes! I’m an author,” and I don’t feel like an imposter. I’m finally on the road to becoming the sort of writer I’ve wanted to be for as long as I can remember, and now there are so many more things to be grateful for! This month I want to talk about a few of those things. Beyond that, I want to encourage you to think about things that you’re grateful for. I hope you enjoy this list!:
Cover design by Ashley Literski
The cover for Shattered Snow has finally arrived! Last week, I held a facebook live event on my facebook author page revealing this beautiful piece of art by Ashley Literski. I can't believe that in just a few short weeks I'll be able to hold this book in my hands! Everything comes at me so quickly these days, (pre-sale starts this week) and the learning curve is steeper than ever. Immortal Works has been an amazing publisher, and I've appreciated every step of this journey with them.
Handing over the concept to a graphic designer and seeing her visually interpret my story is amazing. Ashley asked about my characters, common visual themes, preferences, etc. She took everything I gave her and compiled it into this beautiful cover that subtly represents all three of my POV characters. It's the kind of thing I expect people to turn back after the story and go "ooooh! It's even more meaningful now!". She did a wonderful job.
Next, I am working with the illustrator for interior art that is absolutely breathtaking. While I can't show you it yet---I can show you some of her concept art...
There are many things that parents have to overcome when it comes to writing and publishing during the early years of parenting. As a stay-at-home mother of four kids, and being pregnant with number five, I have learned a lot about how to maintain a good writing habit in the chaos of the early years. For some perspective:
I've had four kids in five years, all singleton pregnancies., I'm now pregnant with #5. I finally feel like I can breathe a little as my oldest has begun to be more independent and helpful. But the past six years have been a whirlwind of diapers, tantrums, breaking up fights, and long, sleepless nights feeding new babies. None of my children are in public school, either, since we've decided to home school them. Where in the world did I find time to write and publish two full-length novels and a short story? Am I insane to even consider my newest goal to write and publish an urban fantasy trilogy in just 12 months?
Most of my friends will tell you that, yes, I am insane. But insane works for me! I love staying busy, I love having babies, and I love being at home as a mom. It takes a lot of creativity and motivation to find the right balance between home life and writer's life. Hopefully, some of what I share today will help you find that creativity and motivation. I know you can find the time in your unique schedule and lifestyle for writing if you want it enough, but it will take adjusting your expectations, setting realistic goals, and finding the right kind of support.
Writing is amazing! There is nothing quite like piecing together details and stringing them into a successful story that draws readers in. Writing is such a wonderful way to hone creativity and add beauty and understanding to the world. I LOVE to write! And most of the time, I feel like I’m pretty good at it. It can be hard for me to get started, but I love the times when I get lost in my work.
Unfortunately, I am also very, VERY insecure, both about myself and my writing.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.