"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What is the best Critique Group?

There are all sorts and styles.
  • Meet in person and read aloud with no take home work;
  • Meet in person, but only discuss; read outside of the meeting time;
  • Online critique group;
  • All writers in the group are in the same general genre;
  • Writers in the group are in various and diverse genres;
  • Groups meet once per week;
  • Groups meet once per month;
  • Writers are diverse in gender and race;
Any thoughts on what has worked well or not worked at all? How long have you been in a critique group? I've been in two. We read in the meeting at one, and outside the meeting at another. Although it's super helpful to hear your work read aloud, I think reading outside the meeting time works better. I also think joining a group where entire manuscripts are read initially and then critiqued would be helpful. Sometimes it seems so painful to go through chapter at a time (or 5 pages at a time) only to totally throw out those chapters when doing a full manuscript revision. I've thought about joining a genre specific online critque group, but have no experience with the online meeting thing.

Just Started The Secret

Any thoughts on this oh-so-popular book/DVD?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How many revisions do you do?

I laugh (internally) when I hear authors speak, and they mention how they revise their work two, maybe even three, times. I laugh because I'm thinking that I revise twenty-five times, and then keep on at it. Maybe this is something I will get better at as I write more? Less revisions? Or maybe I should just take more time between revisions. And sometimes I feel I could spend my whole life revising just one work.
But I have to ask - are these authors really telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Are they revising while they write their first draft? Does their work only really require two or three revisions? Or is this the point at which they feel it is submission-worthy (which is still way off from mine)?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I love Spring Cleaning

I love the feeling of being able to go back through a manuscript and send so much stuff to the virtual Goodwill of the writing world.
I've just started another revision of the second book in my series. It's been probably three months since I finished the last revision. Enter the Goodwill run. First three chapters? Gone (with the very minor exception of a couple key sentences).
It's so hard to realize what is backstory when I first start writing something. So much of it seems so necessary at the time. Even months later on a fifth rewrite, it's hard. Maybe because I get so close to what I write, and even a couple weeks between rewrites isn't enough. But now it's crystal clear.
(OK, in all fairness, a little pointer from a qualified editor certainly helps in pointing me in the right direction).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Recent Author Signings

Two book signings in a week. OK, not mine, but I attended two, which is the next best thing.
Last Saturday was Cynthia Leitich Smith at Barnes & Noble (Round Rock) signing her latest YA book, Tantalize. This will be my weekend read if I'm not too scared.
Wednesday at 10 am (strange time - especially during the school year) was Jeff Stone at Book People, signing his latest Kung Fu children's book, Crane. This is the fourth in a series of what will be seven books featuring the world of Kung Fu. I haven't read any in the series yet, but plan to as soon as I can wrestle the first book, Tiger, away from my son. For during the day when school is in session, the event was well attended with what looked like at least two classes taking field trips to the store. Jeff had volunteers come up and learn various Kung Fu poses.
The Flood Myth

My current writing research involves reading Don't Know Much About Mythology. I have to admit, I've always been fascinated by mythology and history in general. This fascination even caused me to hang out at college another year to get my history degree. You see, I was convinced I wanted to be an archaeologist. I soon saw the light, and realized engineering paid far better. But the interest never went away.
This book has brought back the interest like a flood of rushing water. Literally.
I find it just so cool how nearly every ancient civilization has a flood myth. Sure, they're all approximated to be at different times, but the theory of the earth flooding is just far too consistent to be ignored. And I love how the book draws as much geological history into the story as it can. Did you know the Black Sea flooded at one point, bringing tons of salt water to rest on top of the fresh water already contained there? Some theorize this event was actually the great flood.
Whatever the truth, it sure makes for good research.