Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Critique Partnership

I put it off for years --- having a critique partnership with a group of writers. Writing has been a solitary experience, that is until I began making connections through groups like ACFW and His Writers Yahoo Group. I tried once before, and was assigned to a group through ACFW. It didn't work. The apsiring writers in the group all wrote contemporary fiction, and had difficulty connecting to the historical genre.

Last week, I did connect with two fantastic writers and I am blessed to have them as critique partners. I am halfway finished writing Beside Two Rivers, and recently went back through a hard copy and worked on revisions. My partners have critiqued through the first 3 chapters, and their insight has been incredibly helpful, and the novel is now emerging into a polished piece of quality fiction.

If you do not have a couple critique partners, consider it. You want critique partners you really knit with and that write in your genre. Sooner of later you will find each other. Before jumping into it, get to know the writers, consider the quality of their work, if they are published or not.

My critique partners have:

1. Motivated me

2. Helped me work every day

3. Helped me write faster and tighter

4. Challenged me to bring out my characters

5. Motivated me to write in deep pov

Side note: I joined Facebook last week, and I'm a little sceptical of the whole thing, especially with the media attention that has been out their the last few days.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Here are three music video montages from three of my favorite historical romance movies.

Jane Eyre


Pride & Prejudice

Sense & Sensibility

Enjoy and be inspired.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More On Marketing

(What's outside my window: one of the bluest skies I've seen in a long time.)

This post is not in any way to discourage writers from pursuing book signings. I have begun contacting book stores in the area, and so far an independent store in the little town of Brunswick, Maryland is more than happy to have me. We haven't set a date yet, but will come spring. One of the library book clubs is going to have me visit one night in the fall.
I have had book signings, the last one in 2003. So, it's been a while. The library system was the biggest supporter of my writing, and I was invited to book clubs and author events that were great fun.

However, a week ago I went to local chain bookstore and asked to speak with the manager. I was escorted to the desk and a formidable-looking woman standing behind it glared down at me when I introduced myself. You would have thought the word 'author' sounded like 'plague' to her. She reluctantly shook my hand and when I told her I was a local author, she huffed at me. Yes, huffed!

I was polite and professional, and inquired about book signings. She then handed me a piece of paper, told me to fill it out and send it to a person in Washington, D.C. I reviewed this paper later sitting in the car, and it read like a job application.

Of course this is one person, among a slue of bookstores managers. Most are very receptive to author events. Back in 2003 I helped the manager of a large chain store put together an Authorsfest. It was a blast. The store was located in the mall, but we had the event outside under white bigtop tents. About fifty authors were in attendance, all given a table to sign books from. I'd love to see this event again.

Have you scheduled book signings? If you have please share with me and my readers how you went about it and what your experience was.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Copy Edit, Website, Photography, and Music

(Outside my window sunset is falling over the mountains. A horizon of magenta is fading upwards into soft blue. Another day is drawing to a close.)

Copy edits are finished and have gone back to my publisher. The next phase is the manuscript will be 'flowed' into what it will look like in print. Galleys will be proofed. After corrections are made, the novel will be proofed in-house once more before going to print. It's been so exciting to see the evolution of a novel.

I've been updating my website. I have a page for my Novel In Progress entitled Beside Two Rivers. Not only do works of historical fiction inspire me, but images, whether paintings or photographs, as well as music. Today, I bought the soundtrack to 'Braveheart'. It's so inspiring that my brain is filled with images of this novel. Music of this kind helps me break out of writers block. So, if you are in that frame of mind, I recommend you listen to some inspiring music.

Through an Internet search I found a talented English photographer, Keith Naylor. He has a photography training business called 'Going Digital', and his website has some of the most beautiful photographs I've ever seen. With his kind permission I am able to use his photograph entitled, Youlgreave. Youlgreave is an ancient village in Derbyshire, where my novel is set. This image holds tremendous meaning to me. It is a place I envision where my heroine, Darcy, first sets her feet outside a coach, on the road to a place called Havendale.

Last but not least, there is a new issue of Stepping Stones for Writers and Readers up. The link is on the sidebar.

Keith Naylor's websites:
His Photos www.pbase.com/falcn

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Top Ten Humanitarian Crises in 2008

This is off track from my normal postings, but I feel it is extremely important to get this out. Author and journalist Bonnie Toews has a moving piece on her blog Heart Tugs . . . At the Crossroads of Humanity. We need to be praying for the people of these countries, especially for the starving children that are suffering. We complain in America that the value of our homes has gone down, that food prices are high, etc. Yet for the majority of us we have roofs over our heads, food on our tables, gas in our cars, and our children are healthy and not starving to death. We should be thankful.

Please pray for those who are truly suffering, and pray for Doctors Without Borders.

Please read Bonnie's article at http://bonnie-toews.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Phase 3 - Copy-Edit

(Outside my window: Another cold day. Gray skies. Snow fell during the night. My bird feeders gently move in the breeze, absent of visitors.)

Last night the copy-edit arrived in my email box. Copy-editing is what an editor does to make formatting changes and
improvements to a manuscript, such as spelling, punctuation, grammar, catching redundancies, or simplifying complicated words or phrases.

Copy-editing is to ensure that the writing flows. After a good copy-edit, the text should be tight. Then it goes back to the acquisitions editor for approval. I have a few days to read through the manuscript, and answer some of the comments in the comment boxes.

Last night, before I slipped under the down comforter exhausted from a long day, I took a quick look. My editor, Barbara Scott, is one sharp lady. There is a scene where my hero looks up into the night sky and sees the constellations of Leo and Orion. She asked me if indeed he would have seen these constellations in the month of October in the northern hemisphere. Lucky me, my husband is an amateur astronomer. Not only does he have a knowledge of space science, but he has a knowledge of Biblical astronomy, i.e. the biblical names of the constellations and their meanings. It's a fascinating topic.

Anyway, I asked him to research it for me. He showed me a star chart by the months of the year and the position of the constellations for October. One constellation that my he
ro Seth would see, while looking heavenward in the Virginia wilderness, would be Lyra, referred to in biblical times as 'The Song in the Night'. How befitting this is for my hero, as he sits against a tree, tied at wrist and ankle, in a British camp with the threat of being hung at dawn.

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent search. Psalm 77:6

A Lyra is a stringed instrument that originated in the Middle East.