Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Critique Group

Jennifer went to her first critique session...

Last week I talked about a new critique group in which I was invited to participate. I went to the first meeting this past Friday. All I can say is my brain hurts!

I arrived at the house of the hostess, and was the first one there. She is the only member of the group whom I don’t know, so we had about five minutes to introduce ourselves before the other two women arrived. Once everyone arrived, we had dinner and schmoozed. We talked about the industry, our families and they also asked questions about me.

Then we moved onto the critique. During the week, everyone had emailed their 15-20 pages to each other and we’d all read and marked up the copies. The host gets critiqued first. The rules are that you critique as a reader, meaning you don’t know what’s going to happen in the book beyond the pages you’re currently reading. The person being critiqued doesn’t respond and all critiques have to be constructive and positively framed. We each took turns critiquing the work and there could be no interruptions from anyone else.

We critiqued two people, took a break for dessert, and critiqued the other two. I expected to be embarrassed, with three people telling me what was wrong with my story. It was so much better than that, though! There definitely are stronger writers in the group than I am, but everyone had interesting perspectives and very good suggestions. Everything was framed very kindly and no one was embarrassed. There were many good things pointed out as well.


I came home with pages and pages of suggestions, as well as many, many things that they liked. As I’ve been going through the suggestions, I agree with some and disagree with others. But the changes I’m making will make my story stronger and I can’t wait for the next time!

Monday, July 21, 2014

2014 Author Earnings Report



Ana just read the report from 2014 Author Earnings.
It was well worth her time

They offer a link to their statistics. Here's the link:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest author Cynthia Owens


Show Don’t Tell

Thanks so much for having me here at Heroines With Hearts. I’m thrilled to announce the release of My Dark Rose, Book III of my Wild Geese Series.
Writing is something I’ve done since I was in first grade. I’ve always thought of writing as a sort of magic, putting words down on paper to make words, sentences, paragraphs, and eventually stories. I always thought it was something that came naturally.
Until I started writing not just for pleasure, but with an eye to eventually becoming published. That’s when I learned that the first rule in romance was “Show, don’t tell.”
“Showing” a story was one of the hardest things for me to learn. It took a little while before I fully understood what it meant. “Telling” a story is just that: telling the events that happened. Think of reading a story to a child—you’re telling him or her the story. But when you show a story, you put the reader into the story. Rather than describing the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and sensations, you make you reader experience all these things.
Here are a few examples:
Telling:  Shannon took one look at Grainne Donavan’s face and knew disaster had struck.
Showing: Shannon looked at Grainne Donavan’s face and saw disaster.
Telling: She inhaled deeply and coughed because of the smoke. Laughter came from a corner of the room.
Showing: She drew a deep breath and sucked in a lungful of acrid cigar smoke. A fit of coughing seized her, and her face burned at the sound of a drunken hoot of laughter from a corner of the room.
It takes practice to show your reader what your characters are experiencing. But using active verbs and the five senses will help make your story that much more memorable.

 I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three.

I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure. 

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.



…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…

He was the lucky one…
Dary Greely is the only one of his brothers and sisters to survive the hunger in Ireland and the coffin ship to America. He was the one whose parents made a bit of money, the one who emerged from the war virtually unscathed. He was the lucky one…but when the war ended, his luck ran out.
She was burdened by too many responsibilities…
Róisín Donavan is an Irish girl who lives in a Five Points tenement room. She dreams of a future as a great diva and sings Irish songs at Paddy Ryan's Pub. But her stubborn Irish pride won't allow her to abandon her family, even if it means sacrificing everything for them.
Can Dary make Róisín see her true worth? Can Róisín heal the festering wounds that tear at Dary’s soul? And can love truly mend their grieving hearts?
The Sally Malone, Black ‘47
On the Atlantic Ocean

They slid into the water with scarcely a sound.

Dary Greely clung to his father’s hand, watching as the bodies, clad in little more than rags, were tossed over the side of the ship. The children first: his little brother and two sisters. Then Mrs. Morrissey, his new friend Declan’s ma. Shane MacDermott’s da, and the twins’ ma and their granny.

His ma’s thin fingers bit into his shoulder. She was sobbing into a threadbare handkerchief, her eyes red and swollen from crying. He looked up at her, then at Da. A shudder ran through him that had nothing to do with the cold wind blowing in from the sea.

Da’s eyes were dead. Their bright green was dimmed with sorrow. His dark-red hair blew across his face, but he made no move to shove it back with his big, callused workman’s hand. He stared out to sea, a muscle in his jaw jerking rhythmically.

Dary swallowed hard, glancing around him. He saw Shane, clutching his wee brother’s hand, one arm about his ma’s shoulders as she tried to soothe the fussy gossoon in her arms. Kieran and Cathal Donnelly stood close together, drawing silent comfort from each other as tears ran down their da’s face. Declan, self-controlled as always, stared into the water, his face full of sorrow, tears in his eyes that he refused to shed.

When the last victim of the ship’s fever sank to the bottom of the sea, the steerage passengers turned away, their muffled sobs and soft keening carried away on the rising wind. They’d left Ireland for a better life in America, but would any of them survive to see that land of promise?

As they turned to go, his father suddenly knelt before him, clutching Dary’s shoulders and staring into his eyes. “Ye are the last one, Dary.” His deep voice shook with the intensity of his grief. “The last o’ the Greelys. ’Tis ye will live on to tell the stories o’ us all. Ye’re the lucky lad, Dary, so ye are. Always remember that.”

The words rang bitter in Dary’s ears. The urge to vomit clutched at his throat with ruthless fingers. But he managed a nod. “Aye, Da. I’ll always remember, I promise. I’m the lucky one.”

At that moment, Dary made a fierce, silent vow to himself. He would survive to see America. He would go to school in America, make something of himself, just as Da had told him he could. He’d learn to read and write and do sums. He’d make his parents proud.

He was the lucky one.





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

Debra celebrates completing her WIP!

I was a day behind schedule, but it's official. The first draft of my WIP, "One Great Night" is complete!

Now I'll admit, there are a couple of places I used stand-in phrases and highlighted them to show I needed to go back and make them better, but that will happen during the revising process. But for intents and purposes, the story is complete from beginning to end.

This stage of a story is so, so fun. Now I'll let it sit for a couple of days and then do a read-through. Since I'd been writing in such a piece-meal fashion, this will be the first time I'll be reading the story from start to finish. How exciting is that?! From there I'll begin revising and tweaking and rewriting until it sounds the way I want it to. After that it will be 'search' edits where I use the find function in Word and look for specific words to eliminate or change. Then I'll go through and do manuscript formatting to make sure everything is aligned the way my publisher prefers.

The last step will of course be to submit it to my editor. The goal is to have it to her by the middle of August when I go back to school. Right now I'm feeling pretty good about my plan and my timeline.

In the meantime, I have a book coming out August 1 that I haven't even thought about promotion for. Yikes.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Family Secrets - coming August 1 from The Wild Rose Press. Paperback available now!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Missing Boyfriend

 
Evidently this notice appeared in various places in London last week. Crowdwish is an online website which invites people to submit their 'wishes'. Every day they take the most popular wish, and try to action it. In this case, the wish for the 'half-decent boyfriend' was fastened to almost every lamp post in one area of London. I haven't heard whether this particular 'wisher' got the man of her dreams, but it seems many other girls have approached the group, also asking for a 'half decent boyfriend'.
 
It's an interesting story in itself, but what fascinated me more was the list of requirements for the boyfriend. Women (well, some of them!) may like to read about the arrogant, domineering alpha-man, the super-stud, or the billionaire play-boy - but in real life, they want something very different. This description fits what I consider as the alpha-minus, beta-plus man - and they're the ones I like to write about.
 
It's seems quite significant that physical attributes, although listed first, are minimal - tall, and with own hair and teeth. When we get to the 'real' needs, in every case the A-/B+ attributes are preferred to either the Alpha Plus type or Beta Minus type of male. It seems the Alpha males are going out of fashion, at least in the real world - which makes me wonder just why some women still like reading about them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A New Opportunity

Jennifer has a new opportunity...

I got the most amazing phone call on Sunday. No, Stephen Spielberg is not making my books into a movie, although that would be amazing! An acquaintance from my local RWA chapter asked me to join their critique group.

What’s amazing about it is the caliber of writers in the group. One is nominated for a Rita award, which is the equivalent of an Edgar in mystery writing, an Oscar in movies, etc. Another is a very successful published writer—not quite Nora Roberts, but pretty far up there. They were looking for someone to join them, they read my work, and they want to give me a try and see how well I fit in with their group.

I felt like Sally Fields—they like me, they really like me!

It was one of those moments professionally where I had to say yes and I have to try to make it work. The growth potential for me is huge!

What makes their critique group interesting, and what attracts me to it, in addition to the authors, of course, is that they have regularly scheduled, in-person meetings; they email 15-20 pages to the group a week prior to the meetings; and they rotate people’s houses, with the host being the first that month to be critiqued. It’s a very formal process and treats writing like a profession, rather than a hobby. It will give me discipline, because barring some weird circumstance, I have to have 15-20 pages ready each month for them. And I really have to develop a thick skin and self-confidence, even though they’ve assured me that they are constructive and nice in their comments.


If this opportunity works out, I’m looking forward to growing as a writer and as a critic.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dedication to one's art


After huge success with his first book of poetry, John Clare subsequent books were less successful. The Writer's Almanac says he "drank too much, started to lose his mind, and was sent to an insane asylum. In 1841 he escaped and walked 80 miles back to his home, eating grass by the roadside along the way because he was so hungry. Eventually he was sent back to another asylum, where he spent the last 23 years of his life, believing he was Lord Byron or Robert Burns, and writing some of his best work." 
           
Summer
Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come,

For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom,

And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest,

And love is burning diamonds in my true lover's breast;

She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair,

And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair;

I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest,

And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast.



The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May,

The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day,

And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest

In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover's breast;

I'll lean upon her breast and I'll whisper in her ear

That I cannot get a wink o'sleep for thinking of my dear;

I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away

Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day.