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

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Fabulous BECKY LEVINE - Interview & Giveaway!

So in case you haven't heard, awesome blogger pal Becky Levine has a way cool book coming out from Writer's Digest. It's official name is THE WRITING & CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE: HOW TO MAKE REVISIONS, SELF-EDIT, AND GIVE AND RECEIVE FEEDBACK but I'm just going to call it the CRITIQUE GROUP SURVIVAL GUIDE for short.

In case you don't read Becky's blog, now is a great time to start.

And in case you want to win a copy of her awesome new book (scheduled for publication January 15th, 2010), simply leave a comment on this post. The winner will get to choose between a print copy or an electronic copy.

And now, I have the honor to interview Becky right here on my blog!


PJH: So why critiquing? What sparked the initial idea of “I could write a book about critiquing?” It seems a perfect book filling a spot previously empty and will be a great addition to writer’s books on craft.

BDL: I “discovered” critiquing decades ago when I was at UC Irvine for college. My writing instructor, Oakley Hall, taught his workshops on a critique basis, and I was hooked. I loved that I could have someone other than my mother read my writing, and I loved finding out that critiquing was seeing potential in another person’s manuscript and working to help them turn that potential into the work they wanted it to be. Ever since I got serious again about writing, I have participated in one or more groups. The motivation and encouragement I’ve received, and the growth I’ve seen in my writing, is beyond description.

I was speaking at some conferences as a freelance editor, and I had a chance to pitch a book to an editor from Writer’s Digest. I’d originally planned to pitch a different idea, and I did—but it wasn’t something she was interested in. People had been talking about critique groups and, as usual, I’d had a lot to say about them. :) In about a split second, I decided to try that idea on her. She gave me the okay to send her a TOC, which I wrote the next day in my hotel room and at the airport before I got on my plane home. Everything I’d been thinking and shoving down other writers’ throats talking to other writers about for years just came pouring out. It became pretty obvious that this was a book I really wanted to write!

PJH: Tell us five things you collect.

BDL: I’m not really much of a collector, but...

1. I’ve just started this, but have decided to collect cloth toys/dolls from books, etc, that I love. So far I have a Wild Thing and a Jane Addams doll. (I know, she’s not fictional, but she’s one of the inspirations for my historical YA, so she more than qualifies!)

2. Favorite books from my childhood.

3. Agatha Christie’s mysteries.

4. Books.

5. More books.

PJH: What does your current critique group (or non-group) look like? Give us the scoop! Are you online only? In person? Do you bicker? Do you read aloud? We want to know all!

BDL: I have one main in-person group that I meet with regularly. We started out as a mystery-writing group, but many of us have changed direction, so we’re now a mix of mystery, literary, kids, nonfiction, you name it. The core is that we’ve been critiquing together long enough, are all strong critiquers, and have built an absolute trust between ourselves. No bickering, but definitely the occasional exchange of stubborn glances! We do not read aloud. We shoot for getting our submissions to each other a week ahead, so we have time to read carefully and closely and think about our critiques. At the meetings, we present our critiques out loud & brainstorm as needed. I also have various writing friends with whom I spend writing time, and I’ve started exchanging non-regular critiques with a few local and online children’s/YA writers.

PJH: What are three books you are looking forward to the release of in 2010 (not including mine)?

1. Heidi R. Kling’s SEA
2. Jennifer R. Hubbard’s THE SECRET YEAR
3. Anything new in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series, and S.J. Rozan’s Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series!
4. Yours!
(PJH: *blush*)

PJH: If an apocalypse came, would you still find a way to write (even if this meant paper and pen)?

BDL: Yes. Luckily, my son is BIG into reading post-apocalypse fiction, and both he and my husband have engineering brains, plus they need to write/draw themselves. They’d have some new writing instruments and surfaces invented on the second day, and they’d be sending me off to barter for coffee and donuts.

PJH: OK, now the fast part. Keep your answers as short as possible!

PJH: Fantasy Island or Love Boat?

BDL: Can’t I just be cool and say M*A*S*H? Okay, if I must...Love Boat. I always worried just a little too much about some of those people on the island!

PJH: Guilty Pleasure?

BDL: Solitary road trips.
(PJH: OMG, me, too! Can we take a solitary road trip together?)

PJH: Favorite Scooby Doo character?

BDL: Definitely, Velma. I have none of her math/logic skills, but she and I are kindred spirits in without-glasses blindness.
(PJH: Hmmm...)

PJH: Computer or hand written?

BDL: Computer! I do make myself get away from it for thinking/brainstorming sessions, but I have to type up my scribbled ideas afterward if I want to be able to read them later.

PJH: First Draft: Revise as you go or just get it down?

BDL: Get it down. Print out chapters and apply revision ideas with sticky notes, as needed.

PJH: Favorite natural wonder?

BDL: Frozen dew on a bare tree branch in the morning.

PJH: Favorite myth?

BDL: I’m not sure it qualifies as a myth, but I’ve been intrigued by the idea of the golem lately. No, not the guy in LOTR! :)
(PJH: Though Gollum is cool, too)
PJH: Thank you so much, Becky! I loved having you here!

And now for your chance to win either a paper or PDF copy of Becky's awesome new book, simply leave a comment before the end of day Sunday 1/10/2010!


Vivian said...

I can't believe I get to leave the first comment! Thanks for a fun and informative interview, Becky and PJ!

Kelly H-Y said...

I always love your interviews ... you ask such great questions!

Sheryl said...

Nice interview and great idea for a book!

Keri Mikulski said...

Love the interview! :)

Congrats, Becky!! Sounds like a great book.

Kelly said...

Great interview! That sounds like a great resource for writers and critique groups!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, everyone! The book does sound awesome, doesn't it?

jama said...

Just started reading Becky's book last night. It's WONDERFUL. Wish I had it ten years ago! Would love to win a copy to pass on to a writer friend :). Thanks for the nice interview!

lotusgirl said...

I love her favorite natural wonder. That's the sort of thing that like to notice too.

ElanaJ said...

Excellent interview. Her crit group sounds like mine. I love those gals!

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, everyone! I loved the natural wonder, too! Very unique and cool.

Trisha Pearson said...

Great interview! I love the mix of serious and fun questions. The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide sounds like a must read.

mindy said...

fabulous interview this sounds wonderful thanks minsthins at optonline dot net

Sharon Lippincott said...

I love reading these written interviews. You both have such a great sense of humor. Can't wait to read Becky's book.

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, guys! I ordered the book today (since I can't win :) )!

Anonymous said...

Hey, everybody, thanks so much for the nice comments! This was a seriously fun interview, from MY pov. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

What a fun interview!
Don't enter me - I preordered my book from Amazon and I'm already reading it :)

Jason said...

Hmm...Velma, eh? I was always more of a Shaggy person. He was just so laid back.

Lynn said...

Great questions; great answers. I can't wait to read the book. Thanks to both of you.

B. Lynn Goodwin
Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

Kate said...

Nice interview and can't wait to get the book. I have been helped by critiquing in the past, but don't belong to a critiquing group, but would like to be.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read this!

sundaygirl at gmail dot com