Tag Archives: Critique

My State of Writing

I’ve struggled a lot these past few months to blog consistently. So often, that’s the writing I push to the back burner when life pops up with tedious little requirements like grocery shopping and feeding the family. 😉  It’s a bummer, putting it off, because while blogging isn’t my favorite form of writing, overall I enjoy it when I’ve had time to think over what I want to say. And like most things, I’m better at blogging when I practice more.

One decent side effect is that though blogging took a back seat, the editing on Treasure Bound continues on a semi-regular basis. I feel slow as a sloth at that, but I can honestly say I’ve kept up with the edits for the last few weeks. I wish I could work faster, but at least I feel the changes are substantial and accurate. I know someone will find fault with something in the book—maybe a detail about the Puente Map, or a liberty I took with the Castillo—but I’m trying hard to make my story as correct and entertaining as possible.

With all this said, then, I decided my December blog would be sort of a year-end recap of me and my writing life, along with a little progress report on Treasure Bound. So here goes.

Some of you may recall I started out on a good writing note this year. I had my blog up and running and produced two pieces a month (my 2017 New Year’s Writing Resolution) for a couple early months. I’m sad my resolution was shorter-lived than I’d hoped for. I’d tried something new this year, a formal editorial calendar and a social-media-post suggestion list. They both worked very well … to the extent I used them. Agh. After a short time, the printed lists became buried on my desk, only to be seen when I remembered to shuffle through the piles of paper.

Still, I have to say the quantity and quality of much of my writing (and marketing) has improved over last year. For that, I’m truly happy and glad. And along the way, I’ve had some fantastic experiences, too. This was a year of fun writing firsts: I guest spoke at a local book club where I discussed Emerald Obsession, answered questions, and read an excerpt from Treasure Bound; I hosted my first EO author signing in downtown Saint Augustine. I’m honored to say my signing was the best they’d hosted, despite being set up on short notice. Thanks again, AnaRosa Burke, for your incredible support! Also, this year saw me make new writer friends when asked to participate in my first Flash Fiction Blast hosted by my friend, fellow author Rita Henuber. Positive reviews and comments on my short, “Bitter,” gave me a lift, especially during the ongoing TB edit process.

And in between that, our Irma-extended trip to the Czech Republic, an extreme poison ivy allergic reaction, Thanksgiving week in a Georgia mountains cabin, still sticking with the crazy-but-interesting part-time job, freelancing here and there for NY, trying to finish the detail work and décor on our house, and taking care of the household and my hub, I’ve squeezed in time for editing Treasure Bound.

CZ Dad Garden
Blood Mountain, GA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you remember, I had that big ol’ cow in June when I realized I’d only half-written the story on my computer and had the other half scribbled longhand in my notebook. In mish-mash pieces, no less. Boy, was that a kick in the butt. But I’m happy to report progress!

Not that I have an updated word count to give you…yet. I’m still working through the whole story, adding scenes and transitions to the original “half” I’d keyed into my laptop. Right now, I’m only three-quarters of the way through. But, I’m fleshing out the secondary characters and subplots, and my critique group’s feedback is very positive. Yay.

Those of you familiar with the “exciting” ways of editing know that once I finish this second editing round, I’ll go through everything again. And again, and likely again. During each round of edits you read for something different. Though this stage can be draining, I sort of enjoy it, because that’s where I polish the story to a hopefully brilliant shine.

I’ll be excited to finish this round, though, because then I’ll reprint the entire manuscript and will read through all the additions in as few sittings as possible to check for flow and consistency. I’m prepared for the likelihood I’ll still need to write more, too. Not crazy about the possibility, but that’ll be an update for next year…hopefully early next year!

So that’s about it from my end. Crazy life, crazy book status, but s’all good. And all manageable.

Before I sign off for this year, I’d like to thank you all once more for traveling this sometimes-bumpy path with me. The company sure helps keep me sane. 🙂

And I wish you and your families, friends, loved ones a wonderfully Merry Christmas and a joyous, festive, peaceful, and loving New Year. May the best spirit of the holiday season stay with you year-round!

Christmas St. Aug

Hugs from me……….

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It’s True, I Do Exist. But TB Is Half Missing.

The pinned post on my Twitter page is a photo of my first printed copies of Emerald Obsession with the comment: “It’s true, they do exist!”

That sentiment feels applicable to me today as I sit at my computer and—once again—attempt to finish my (one and only) June Blog. I started this post earlier in the month, and it had an entirely different vibe. I’m a little sad to say it was a better vibe then than now, though the change in vibration is not permanent nor completely overwhelming.

Here’s the gist: my original plan for this post was a progress update on Book Two of my series. I had completed the first draft of Treasure Bound, TB, as I still call it, and had in mind to scoop you on a few of the next steps: first-round edits, adding in a few transition scenes, prelim brainstorming for cover design and final title. Yeah, I was being optimistic; I liked how TB had wrapped up.

But no. That is not happening.

I began writing the blog while still organizing my electronic files and before I finished my critique-group edits. For your laughter and entertainment, check out these photos of my initial pile of work:

Once I made those edits, I printed the hardcopy files again and did a word count. That’s when I had a minor (okay, not-so-minor) cow.

Turns out, my much-loved (by me) sequel is not nearly as long as I thought it was. More to the point, it’s only about half the length of Emerald Obsession. OMG. I’m still uncertain as to how that happened, since the story feels much fuller even now. But I digress.

Now, since this is a sequel, and there’s a third (and final) book still to come, it’s not a problem that TB is shorter, but that was quite a helluva lot shorter than I’d expected. My plan for the editing stage had always been to write additional scenes to smooth out a couple of plot points, but this will require a chunk more writing. Ugh.

Well, not necessarily “ugh.” I do love writing, after all, and really, this is just more writing on a story I already really enjoy. The “ugh” comes into play because I’d anticipated publishing either end of this year or early next. See this photo? Notice the deadline I’d given myself?

Now that’s questionable. Not impossible, but questionable.

So, dear readers and friends, there you have it. Partly I’ve been MIA as I’ve tried to cope with this writing setback, partly because I’ve already begun work to flush out certain aspects of the storyline (yay), and partly because I’m still working ri-donk-ulous shifts at the “day” job, which severely interferes with my creative brain power and awakeness. Ah, the joy. Wink, wink. But I do exist!

To think, this month started with so much promise. I’d just held my first book signing for Emerald Obsession, courtesy of the fab folks at The Starving Artist Gallery, and was high as a kite over the response—I sold all but two books! Their best signing!!

And now this. Guess it’s back to reality and back to work for me.

Thanks for sticking by me through the mayhem. Oh, did I mention that in between, the hub and I managed to buy a couch and a bedroom set and mattress? Yay!! We’re finally living in almost-adulthood, like the real people do! So, it’s been a wild ride these past two months, as per usual. Guess some things don’t change.

Thoughts? Share a laugh? Cringe at the delay in TB? Please feel free to share your comments below or by email. I really do like to hear from you. Thanks and wish me luck on the additions. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

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Book Club Brilliance

Every year, February’s brevity catches up with me, no matter how many times I remind myself it’s a short month. In my effort to keep on schedule, I’m squeaking in my second February blog with a few hours to spare. Whee! I’m lucky, though, because I have a fun topic for this post: book clubs. More specifically, my first invitation to attend a book club and to join the discussion as the author of the group’s chosen monthly read! What a freaking treat for me. : )

Through the most excellent graces of my friend Monika—she talked me up to her friend Melissa who’s part of this club—I was introduced to a wonderful group of authentic, candid readers who are in love with books.

As much as I appreciate book clubs, I haven’t participated in one before, even as a reader. And it hadn’t occurred to me to offer to speak to or participate in a book club discussion as a writer. Those of you who’ve followed my blog from the onset know I feel challenged by marketing and putting myself out there as an author.

And I’ll share this: discussing books and telling stories to friends is one thing, but stepping into the spotlight of this group felt so intimidating. It’s an entirely different experience to sit before a group of intelligent, time-pressed individuals who purchased your book on someone’s recommendation and then be held accountable for your words, creativity and entertainment value. I mean, what if these people hated my book? Or found inconsistencies? Or thought it too simplistic? I’ll say again, a tad bit intimidating.

That was, until I met this group of lovely people. Well-read, well-traveled, outspoken and outgoing, these women welcomed me and treated me like a friend while being honored I, “a local author,” joined their discussion.

And let me tell you, these guys do Book Club right: their once-a-month evening meeting begins with catch-up chats over a welcoming glass of vino and simple starters, is followed by a delicious, no-fuss meal (we enjoyed chicken chili, salad and fresh fruit; I’m hoping Natalie will hook me up with that recipe!), and culminates in the discussion of that month’s selected title. Their discussion format is straightforward and begins with the host opening with a book-related question or discussion topic to get the ball rolling. The conversation is free-form, with members commenting and asking additional questions until by consensus the evening ends. Simple, fun, effective, entertaining.

Vino
Cheese Platter

 

 

 

 

 

Every writer I know struggles with the desire to share stories but not to feel rejected by those who dislike, don’t understand or fear them. And we struggle with how to tell those stories the best we possibly can. The club’s questions were engaging and thought-provoking and even gave me ideas for a couple points I plan to work into the sequel I’m writing now, TB. Though a bit unnerving in the anticipation, in all ways, this experience was fantastic: the welcome, the interest, the engagement, the thoughtful and valuable questions and comments.

Bunch of Books

Though the group said they felt honored by my presence, I have to say I’m the one who was pleased and humbled by their invitation. They welcomed me and my story, Emerald Obsession, into their lives for a time; they allowed themselves to be carried away by my characters’ antics and transported to unfamiliar locales where they feasted on exotic fare. How fortunate am I?

Special thanks to: Melissa, Natalie, Leslie, Carolyn, Sarah, Kathy, Eleanor, Maggie, the fab ladies of (mostly) Davis Shores for their warmth, interest and welcome. Also, for your encouraging response to the vignette I read from Treasure Bound, my work-in-progress sequel.

You guys rock. Read on, ladies!

So, readers, do you belong to a book club? How does yours work? As I mentioned, I haven’t been in one before, but this experience really made me want to start. How about you? Let me know below or by email (carolyn@carolyngreeley.com). Thanks!

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An Editing Trick for World Read Aloud Day

I’m still writing the first draft of TB, Emerald Obsession’s sequel, which is great and frustrating at the same time. I’d hoped to be finished with this first run-through by now, but no dice. When I set writing goals, I like to think they’re realistic, but somehow I can’t always make them happen on schedule. That said, when I look back to where the time has been spent otherwise (whole-house reno!!), I’m not too disappointed that this first round is taking longer than I’d hoped.

But as I near the writing end, I’m beginning to think about the edits I know I’ll need to incorporate in order to improve the flow and arc of the story. That’s kind of cool for me. Editing is a challenge that requires different creativity, different vision and different skills. I edit my manuscripts at least four or five times, looking for specific elements on each revision. For example, here’s a sheet of proofreader symbols. One of my review rounds focuses entirely on this level of editing:

Proofreading marks

Today is World Read Aloud Day, so I wanted to share my take on how this helps during early-stage editing. You may already know it’s smart to read your work out loud. Reading, either to yourself in an empty room or to some sort of audience (cat, hub, writing buddy, etc.), allows you to focus on how the language sounds, whether you’ve chosen the best words, whether the story flow is natural and realistic. And a biggie: whether the tone and voice are consistent.

Reciting your story is a crucial part of editing and one I enjoy. I admit I read out loud frequently, sometimes unconsciously, which makes my hub laugh (I suspect this’ll happen a lot more now that we’ve moved into to our renovated office, yay!). I just tell him geniuses often talk to themselves, so he’s lucky he married up. ; ) ; ) Hahaha. Yeah, he laughs at me for that. And if you don’t want to go the “genius route,” you could read to your neighbor cats; here’s a photo of mine who randomly travel through our yard:

Neighbor cats sneaking in for a listen

So, while reading your own material is a great idea, how about next time you try this trick with your critique group or a writing partner: swap stories and read each other’s piece out loud. Not only will you focus and hear the words differently, you’ll hear how someone else interprets your words. Did the story flow naturally? Did the reader stumble over words or ideas? Did the plot progress realistically and believably? Hearing your words in someone else’s voice will give you a whole other level of insight about how readers might experience your story.

And you know me, I hope my stories sell, but first and foremost, I really want to tell my stories in a good, logical, fun, exciting way. This you-read-me, me-read-you technique can help build a great story. It’s super helpful to receive feedback from other readers, too, but I digress. Finding beta readers can be a topic for another blog. : )

As much as I love a good writing tip, I’m sure you guys know reading aloud has more benefits than simply helping you edit. I’m no expert, but do a search online and you’ll uncover many more pluses to reading for an audience, especially to kids. Think of the impact on imagination and vocabulary! Love that. <3

Tell me, readers, writers and friends, do you read your work aloud when you edit? Or just for fun? ; ) What other benefits do you find to reading out loud? Do you read to yourself or to others, like your critique group or writing partners? Me? Definitely a combo of both. Boy, my hub’s gonna get an earful!

I’d love to hear your answers. Let me know in the comments section below or by email at carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Thanks for hanging out.

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3 Reasons to Find Your Writing Mentor

I discovered an interesting tidbit the other day as I scanned an online calendar of fun facts: January is National Mentoring Month. Okay, maybe you take that sort of online info with a grain of salt, as I do (Really, National Crown of Roast Pork Day? It’s March 7, according to some.), but now and then I run across a factoid that stays with me and spins the gears.

Such is the case with National Mentoring Month. This struck me because I’m an advocate of mentors (and not just recognizing their usefulness for a month). This past year, I’ve been talking about their importance with my husband, whose business is expanding. As it grows, I’ve encouraged him to reach out to friends and colleagues who’ve already traveled similar paths, so he might learn from their experiences.

Why take this path:

Foggy path

When you can travel a clear path with a trusted advisor and friend:

Path to follow

But to be honest, I hadn’t thought of a mentor for myself as an author before now. I don’t know why. It took that chance mention to make me look at my career and realize how critical a mentor could be for a writer. And many of the ways in which a mentor helps say, an entrepreneur, are the same ways one would help a writer.

So, as ever on my kick about continuing to learn and grow, I searched around for more information. 🙂

Here are three ways a writing mentor can help you:

1—Experience. One of the best things a mentor can do is share the wisdom of their experience. I love the expression “work smarter, not harder.” By finding someone who’s attained the goal you’re aiming for and having them mentor you, you’ll benefit from their knowledge and hopefully will avoid their mistakes. An established writer will counsel you on both creative and business aspects of writing and will guide you along your specific career path.

2—Connection. Another benefit of your mentor will be access to their broader network of contacts. Though writing is usually a solitary effort, if publication is one of your goals, then connecting with others—readers, publishers, agents, editors, other writers—is essential. As an author looking to grow and reach an audience, having a mentor to open doors and offer ways to connect with people will be invaluable.

3—Inspiration and Input. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but for me, it doesn’t happen on a consistent basis. With a mentor, though, you may be only a call, text or coffee chat away from the butt-kick motivation you need to flush out that sketchy scene that’s vexed you for a week. The right writing mentor will offer creative support and unbiased, constructively critical insights. And that’s huge for gaining confidence and thickening the skin to the rejection prevalent in the writing world.

So, readers, what do you think about writing mentors? I believe engaging with one is a great idea for anyone looking to grow their career or passion. Do you have one? Or would you consider mentoring someone less experienced? What would you hope or expect to gain from that association? Please let me know in the comments section. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Or feel free to email me at carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Thanks!

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