Monday, September 15, 2014

Reasons to Mark a Manuscript

Yep, I'm guilty. I just made critique comments for my fabulous new critique group and found myself inserting a few suggestions of another way I would have worded a phrase or sentence. This got me thinking about how often we change another person's words. Sometimes critiquers slip their preferences into the story. Ideas just pop into our heads. If a phrase here or there doesn't feel right, we often want to put our own word choice in. Is it an improvement? Hard to say. I ask myself why I like it better?
TIP: If you can't name a reason, leave it alone. A few specific suggestions can show/teach, but 90% of your markings/comments should suggest reasons rather than making the actual fix.
The pen is a mighty instrument. Be wise.
Add clarity, emotion, tension, description, or information. Replace weak verbs, unnatural dialogue, setting or character inconsistencies. Delete filler words and redundancy. Reword awkward phrases and sentence structure that doesn't vary, pacing that is too fast or slow. You can probably think of more.

Depending on the writer's skill level, you might need to teach with an EXAMPLE. Someone new to critiquing might not 'get it' when a marking says, "Tighten here." You might leave an example and add the reason.
Original: One of us is going to have to go home. Change: One of us needs to go home.
Reasons: Eliminates filler words and the weak To Be verb, same message.

DO mark those extra nice passages with smiley faces, stars, or words. We like to see positive markings too. Interestingly, the reasons you like them are the correct implementation of the reasons above. You might mark, "Good clarification" or "Nice description". Some writers need more positive feedback than others. Be kind. Hopefully we get to the point of understanding that a marked up manuscript means someone took the time to be helpful--if they know their reasons, that is.

Have you had a good or bad critique experience? Did their comments include reasons?
Keep writing and have a great week!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Release, Book Trailer, and Giveaway

Today I'm featuring a new book for your reading pleasure, the trailer, and a giveaway. Enjoy!

The Watchers Book 1: Knight of Light
 In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.
The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Traditional Apocrypha, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Kabbalah. “The Watchers” are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad. Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s The Watcher’s Series is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions Amazon  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Wattpad  Pinterest
About the Author
"My goal in writing is to saturate my books with intrigue, mystery, romance, and plot twists that will keep my readers in suspense. I want to see fingerprints on the front and back covers where readers have gripped the novel with white knuckles! Aside from writing, I enjoy jousting in arenas, planning invasions, horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, and going on adventures." -Deirdra Eden Find Deirdra Eden and The Watchers Series online on AmazonDeirdra's websiteFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Pinterest. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Triple Book Launch, Building Tension Through Questions, and Giveaway

Party Time! Three books launched at once? I think it's a great marketing ploy. Hm. I might consider something like this for myself. Anyway, it couldn't have happened to a nicer author, er pair of authors. 

Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains. Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.

And the 3 books are:
Damnation: Cassie is going to heaven—if she can get amnesty from hell in the next twenty days. 
Newbie: The housing market is crashing, and Sophie’s life is crashing with it. 
Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life: Falling in love is easy in fiction--in high school, not so much.

I picked to focus on Damnation because I was lucky enough to critique several chapters and found it intriguing. I didn't get to read it yet but when I do, you'll find my Goodreads rating on the sidebar below.
The Spotlight for Damnation:
   Cassie is going to heaven—if she can get amnesty from hell in the next twenty days.  Her assignment is to change the eternal destination of a girl in Albuquerque to earn admittance into heaven.            No sweat.
   But when Cassie returns to earth during her three-week, mostly-mortal assignment, her old habits get in the way, (apparently habits don’t die when you do), the partners assigned to help her are anything but helpful, and it turns out the girl she is supposed to help is the only enemy she made on her first day of school.            Oh, I’m so going to hell.

   Things aren’t all bad—it helps to have a hot angel on your side. Mmm-Marc. Even though he’s all about heavenly business, Cassie would like to make it personal.            Assignment with benefits.

Jo Noelle has provided us with the following guest post and giveaway:
Building Tension Through Questions
We’re looking at some ways to build tension in our stories and decided to ask a lot of questions to get us started.
Decide what the overall book question is going to be for your story. This is the overall premise you are writing to achieve. For Damnation it is:

v Will 17 yo Cassie Witlon earn amnesty from Hell in the next 20 days?

Then as you plan or revise each scene decide what questions you can plant for the readers to be motivated to learn the answer to. Here are some more we used:

v Will Cassie beat the deadline?
v Will Cassie escape?
v Will Cassie get distracted from her purpose?
These are a little cryptic but they become more detailed as we wrote the scenes. We need one question for each scene. Some authors describe this step as making sure your scenes have a "purpose" or a "goal." It's just a little easier for us to think in terms of answering a question.
Possible Sources of Conflict
v Incompatible values
v Grown up issues v. kid issues
v Competition
v Role definitions
v Different relationship needs
v Personality conflict (motives and styles for dealing with people)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summarize to Soothe that Dreaded F-Word: FEEDBACK

Will the day ever come that I don't need more than one set of eyes on my work? I don't think so. I dare say that best-selling authors have had at least one editor's pair of eyes to scour over their work. Novice's like me need much more than that. Writers need feedback before publishing. Both the dreaded and loved kind. Dreaded because they take your precious baby and tell you things that are wrong with it. Loved because they praise the choices that work and are beautiful. Feedback should include both.

This past week my new critique group gave my first submission--the sequel to my Book of Mormon fiction--the once over via ooVoo. Three faces on my screen told me lots of specifics that needed fixing. While I trusted that they new better, especially where all three agreed, I couldn't help feeling a small stab wound on my baby. It was a lot to take in. It's been a while since I've taken live feedback, but I'm certain my skin will quickly toughen up like it has in the past. Then I did something that made sense and made a difference to how I felt. I summarized.

When my time was about up, I said, "So this is what I'm hearing: My beginning is confusing, I need to start with the second scene, and my character needs more personality. Right?" Okay. I could handle that. I summarized the multiple markings down to three main issues. I'm not sure if I've ever handled it this way before, but I like it.

In reading my partners' second submissions, I read through, marking little things I noticed--good and bad. Then I wrote a short summary of the main issue(s). I plan to use this summary in opposite order with my partners when we meet. They can take the specific markings at their own pace later. If the discussion leads away from the summary, no problem. It's a great place to start when giving or receiving feedback. 

In other words:
To critique: mark passages first, summarize second. To give feedback: summarize first, review marked passages second. 
If you try "The Summary Method", please let me know how it worked for you. Happy critiquing!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Writer's Summertime Musings & Book Releases

For a few more days, I'm leaving up a quick survey from the previous post (scroll below) in case you didn't get a chance to VOTE for my book title. My thanks to those of you who did (or will). did your summer go? Hopefully you enjoyed a few seasonal activities or a vacation. I enjoyed relaxing reunions o both sides of the family, seeing all my siblings at once. Fun stuff.
I'm wondering how many writers or readers out there keep up on their goals during the summer or if the kids being out of school make you put off those plans. Also, do you venture more into the pool-side light reads during summer and something more academic or substantial during autumn? How did summertime affect your habits and goals?

I took some vacation time, but apparently my muse did not. Writing went well for me this summer, jump-started with the fabulous LDStorymaker conference. I've been working on the sequel to my Book of Mormon fiction--the one where you can vote for the title--and gathering/completing stories for my narrative non-fiction, Missionary Stories. Having my adult son home for the summer made for a few adjustments--especially because I like silence when I write. Sometimes I reordered my priorities, sometimes I shut the office door. It all worked out.

Okay Jane Austen and romance fans, look for Rebecca Jamison's latest book out now! Click for her blog tour schedule.
From the back blurb: As if it wasn't bad enough to be getting food from Church welfare, I had to meet one of the Ferreros--a good-looking Ferrero, at that.
   Elly Goodwin, a brilliant programmer, is so desperate for a job that she takes one from her ex-boyfriend--the same man who put her family out of business. Then she meets Ethan Ferrero, who seems too good to be true--especially for her ex's brother-in-law. At the same time, she must help her sister Maren recover from a severe case of depression. Elly is far too busy for love, especially not with Ethan Ferrero.
   Meanwhile, Elly’s dramatic sister, Maren, has recovered enough to fall in love, and when she falls, she falls hard. Elly must intercede before Maren's passion clouds her common sense. Together, Elly and Maren must learn that a mixture of sense and sensibility is the perfect recipe for love.
Fans of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility will love this modern retelling of the classic romance novel.

Another great romance is coming our way. Lisa Swinton's Ring On Her Finger will release September 3rd. Here is the cover reveal and tagline: What happened in Vegas should stay there,not follow Amanda home wedded to the man who broke her heart.
The Blurb: After celebrating college graduation with her friends in Las Vegas, Amanda St. Claire wakes up with a terrible hangover and a ring on her finger. Her day gets worse when she finds out she's married to rich playboy Blake Worthington--the guy she loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to legally termintate the marriage and they both return home like nothing ever happened. That is, until Blake shows up on her doorstep and Amanda has to come clean with her family.
Together for better or worse while the legalities are cleared, Amanda reluctantly plays along, but then the unthinkable happens--she finds herself falling in love with Blake.
Can they overcome the past? Or will it end their future before it even starts?

The new-to-me website of the week is You can easily lose yourself in looking through their tools and resources for writers. Wonderful stuff from the authors of several good thesaurus books.