Saturday, April 26, 2008

Guide for Critique Groups

I ran across an interesting "manual" on the web for critique groups written by C. Shawn McDonald called the The Critique Group Manifesto. Interesting reading and great tips for all those would be and wanna be critiquers. Shawn is a member of St. Louis Writers' Guild.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Got a Tough Skin?

Agent Janet Reid is accepting queries on her blog Query Shark for critique.. Are you brave enough to dangle your query in her fish tank?

Email your query to janet at fineprintlit dot com (replace the at with @ and the dot with .) You MUST put Query Shark in the subject line to have it be considered for the blog.

Good luck...and stop back by and let us know how it went.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Grammar Got You Down

My new favorite website is Grammar Girl. Grammar gives me a headache. Personally, it has been too many years since I conjugated a verb or did sentence diagrams. And I wasn't very good. I had more important things on my mind--like painting my fingernails, listening to the Beach Boys and talking on the phone to my best friend for hours on end. Thanks goodness for someone who (or is it whom--just kidding) will take time to refresh my rusty memory about all that is grammatically correct.

Are you confused about when to use lay and when to use lie or sat and set? My personal favorite is who vs. whom. I almost always screw it up. How about that and who and which? Grammar Girl will set (not sat) you on the straight and narrow.

While you're over there check out her pals Legal Lad, Mighty Mommy,Money Girl and several others. Hats off to all you who help all of us.

How about you? What's your most favorite website? (I know that sentence wasn't gramatically correct, but I like it that way, so tough cookies.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Conference Buzz

Wow! The Missouri Writer's Guild just wrapped up. I'm pumped. There's nothing like a conference to get the ink flowing in my veins. I don't know if it's the speakers, rubbing elbows with agents and editors or the alcohol, but I always come away from a conference motivated.

I have to give a shout to NAOMI SHIHAB NYE. When I first saw in the conference brochure that our keynote speaker was a poet, I thought Arrrrrgh. I'm not a poet, don't want to write poetry and don't read poerty. Well, guess what. She's an amazing speaker and her poetry is awesome. So, if you don't write poetry, don't shy away from listening to poets. Naomi blew away all my misconceptions about poets and poetry. She was a delightful speaker, and I would go back just to hear her.

Now go buy her book Honeybee and you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I'm editing. It's a dreaded task, but something I need to do. My critique group is only about 60 pages into my novel, but I keep going back and layering in description, tightening dialog and searching for those terrible words that I have a tendency to sprinkle in my manuscript.

Here's my formula for editing.

The list of words I tend to overuse is posted by my computer. I do a search on those words, highlight them, then go through and tighten the writing by eliminating them. It's a long process, but I love the search feature. It's so much easier than printing the thing out and trying to find them manually.

Once in a while I'll change a character's name after I've started the manuscript, so I'll do a search on any names I may have changed just to make sure John is still John and not Bill or Harry. I've seen names change in novels I've read and it always leaves me scratching my head.

I'll also highlight all my beats and make sure I'm not overusing actions--like always having someone hike their eyebrows. Unless, of course, they are an eyebrow hiker by nature.

Adverbs and adjectives get the hairy eyeball, too. Are they justified? If not, out they go.

How about you? What's your process for editing your manuscript?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Book Signing

Book Signing this Saturday, April 12 at the Borders in St. Peters, MO. It starts at 2:00 p.m.

These authors will be signing their books.

Laura Bradford
Heather Webber
Shelley Galloway
Judy Merrill Larsen
Melanie Lynn Hauser

Come out and meet these ladies.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Agent Interview

I'm approaching my agent search much like I'd search for a doctor. It's as much an interview for them as it is for me. I wouldn't open the phone book and just grab just any doctor. Maybe in the old days, but not now. There is just too much information available to help me make a decision. The same goes for agents. There are tons of websites you can use to start your search.

Here's a list of Suggested Questions I found on Novelists Inc.. You can bet I will be asking these questions when the time comes. I think it will make my life and my future agent's life a lot easier.

What do you look for in an agent?