A Critique Group Can Help Improve Your Writing Immensely

Just ask me, a critique group can help you improve your writing immensely. Initially, it’s a difficult thing to do because our manuscript is our baby and any criticism can cut deep. But we cannot better our writing if we remain in a vacuum. As the kitten in the photo knows: “Everything is sweetened by risk.”

That’s not to say, you must change your text to comply with every comment or suggestion. You will know in your gut if the advice rings true or not. Also, if more than one person in your writers group, has the same input, it’s a good idea to consider those comments more closely.

So, how does one find a critique group? There are online groups if it’s difficult for you to leave home. But personally, I prefer face to face interaction. Libraries often host these groups, as well as various writers associations. A good start would be to Google critique groups for your area.

You may have to try a few before you discover the right fit. Some of the things you’ll need to check out are:

  1. How many members are there? A good ballpark amount is six, but it really depends on how serious the writers are. Do they bring pages to every meeting or just occasionally? If they all participate every time, the meeting could go over, or some writers could miss out on feedback.
  2. How often does the group meet? How long are the meetings?
  3. Is the group open to all genres or more narrowly focused?
  4. How is the group set up? Do they email their pages in advance so members can print out and make comments ahead of time? Or, do members brings printed copies of their work to read aloud and obtain feedback at that time?
  5. Does someone keep time so each person is ensured an equal time slot?
  6. Is there a limit on number of pages a writer can bring?
  7. Where does the group meet? Some meet in homes. Some get together in a public place.

Usually, there’s a facilitator and I’m a big believer in that. Besides tasks like sending meeting reminders and keeping a waiting list, the leader should ensure constructive feedback is given. We learn nothing from harsh comments. We are hard enough on ourselves as it is.

If you have further questions about writers groups, leave a comment on my Contact Form and I’ll get back to you promptly. Happy Writing!

Join Me At Half Price Books For A Book Signing This Saturday, May 6th!

Join me at Half Price Books for a book signing this Saturday, May 6th!

I’ll be signing books from my Kendra Morgan mystery series from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Half Price Books has reinstated book signings for Arizona authors. A great move on their part! The store sits on the northern perimeter of Superstition Mall in Mesa. Address is: 6339 E Southern Avenue. The strip mall also features a Best Buy, Ross, and other big box stores. If you haven’t been to a Half Price Books, you’re in for a treat. There’s a vast array of fiction and non-fiction books, as well as magazines, DVD’s, music, games, and electronic devices. Also, you can sell books you’ve finished reading. Just leave them with the Buy Guy and check back with him before you leave.

Check out Half Price Books on their website at http://www.hpb.com

I look forward to seeing you there!

Language Exerts Hidden Power

The quote by Rita Mae Brown, “Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides,” is spot on.

When we look upon the moon at night, we seldom think of its influence on the tides. The same can be said of language, oral or written. Words inform, persuade, comfort, warn and entertain. And so much more!

Being a writer, I want to point out that when we read a good book, we may not think of how it’s affecting us. Perhaps after we’ve finished it, the import of the story may crash upon us like a wave. Maybe not even then. Maybe not until days, months, or years later. Or maybe not ever in our conscious mind, but make no mistake, if it’s a well done book, it will have soaked into your subconscious. And perhaps even changed your world view.

A good book engages all the senses. You see the horrific car crash, you taste the maple praline ice cream cone, you hear the din of war, you smell the sour sweat of fear, you feel the hate of prejudice. Writers like Rita Mae Brown have this gift to the nth degree. They deserve to be acknowledged for the gifts they give the world. We are so fortunate to have such word smiths amongst us!

To learn more about Rita Mae Brown, visit http://ritamaebrownbooks.com

Book Review of A Hologram For The King

Book Review of A Hologram For The King

Finally, I checked out an author I’ve heard great things about…Dave Eggers. The reports were not exaggerated. Evidenced in this book, this man knows his stuff!

The main character is Alan Clay, an American businessman sent to Saudi Arabia to close a huge deal for his IT company. It is his last chance to resurrect his failing career and provide the financial assistance his college-age daughter sorely needs.

But he makes one foolish decision after another. Following his struggles was like watching a train wreck. I wanted to take my eyes away from what resembled a modern Shakespearian tragedy, but Eggers pulled me into the story from the very first page. I was hooked.

There were some light moments, like the friendship he formed with his Saudi taxi driver, Yousef. Their dialogue was so honest and entertaining. It was one of the few places in the tale where I laughed out loud. And there were other scenes providing comic relief, but overall, Alan sabotages himself in ever more new and alarming ways.

Even though the main character’s track record indicated otherwise, I kept hoping for a miracle. You must read this book, which gained enough attention from Hollywood, to be made into a movie. I promise you’ll be pulled into the story just as I was.

The writer’s prose is at times concise, almost spare, and at other times more detailed, but always, stunningly eloquent. With A Hologram For The King, Eggers has gifted us with a gut-wrenchingly sad, yet beautiful, story.

 

Another Successful Red Mountain Library Local Authors Book Fair

Another Successful Red Mountain Library Local Authors Book Fair

The Red Mountain branch of the Mesa Public Library once again hosted approximately 40 talented Arizona authors, featuring many genres from mysteries to memoirs at its Annual Local Authors Book Fair. As always, it was so much fun for me to talk with the other authors there, as well as the amazing readers.

Thank you, Stephanie Foster, Events Planner, for all the hard work you did to make the day a smashing success! Having been a volunteer at Red Mountain, it was especially great to catch up with Stephanie and Michele Sheppard. Previously, I helped Michele when she was the Children’s Librarian by assisting with Baby Lap Sit through Toddler Time. Her title has changed and she’s now in charge of the Think Spot. The library offers numerous events. Check them out at http://www.mesalibrary.org

I’m pleased to announce that Janet C. won my drawing for a free signed copy of Clipped! Congratulations, Janet!

 

Red Mountain Library Author Book Fair

To my way of thinking, we need to add another “C” to Arizona’s famous 5 “C’s”, which are cattle, climate, cotton, copper, and citrus. It is:  CREATIVITY! You will see what I mean when you attend the Red Mountain Library Author Book Fair this Saturday, March 3rd. There will be many talented writers showcasing their work and eager to visit with you. I can’t wait to be a part of it. It runs from 1 to 5 p.m. The address is:  635 North Power Road, Mesa AZ, 85205.

You can go to:  http://www.mesalibrary.org to check out the many wonderful and informative events the Mesa Library offers.

Here’s a photo from one of Red Mountain Library’s previous annual book fairs. I hope to see you there!

Be All You Can Be – Consequences Be Damned! – Nelson Mandela

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Nelson Mandela 

As Nelson Mandela says in this quote, we have to be willing to live life on the edge if we want to make a difference in the world. That’s what I’ve tried to portray through Kendra Morgan, the main character, in my murder mystery series. In the first book, Clipped!, after her friend is brutally murdered, Kendra is rebuffed by authority figures when she sees a man with material evidence. So, even though she is young in years, she summons the courage to pursue the killer herself. In the end, she realizes she made the right decision, even though she nearly lost her life in the process. Her efforts got the maniac off the streets and her small Nebraska town is safe once again.

In the sequel, Cornered!, Kendra is once again drawn into a murder investigation because she feels her boyfriend, Johnny, is in danger. She is already aware of the horrible ways people think of to maim and kill, and she can’t bear the thought of something happening to him. In this story she not only discovers new investigative techniques, but unfortunately, she also finds out how bigotry can tear a community apart.

My next story is a work in process and centers on Kendra leaving the safety of her small town existence to join her aunt, who is a detective in Phoenix, Arizona. The drama ramps up in this book as our female sleuth helps solve two murder cases. The first victim is killed by a misguided sense of love and the other as a result of greed. True, she misleads her aunt at times, and therefore puts herself in danger, but as she learned early on, there are no rewards for those who risk nothing.

I don’t want to encourage my readers to do anything quite a crazy as Kendra. After all, she is a fictional character. But I do want to urge you to follow your dreams, even if it seems extremely dangerous to you! Go for it!

SoWest: Killer Nights Anthology

Hey Readers,

If you enjoy mystery short stories, delve into the anthology by twenty talented Arizona writers, entitled SoWest:  Killer Nights.

Against the backdrop of Arizona’s metropolitan areas, to the Grand Canyon, to the breathtaking beauty of the deserts, you will be mesmerized by the many ways people are driven to torture and murder their perceived enemies. The story lines and characters are so real, you’ll find yourself looking over your shoulder.

We are so fortunate to have so many talented mystery writers in our midst!

 

Reading Is One of Life’s Greatest Pleasures

Hello Readers,

I hope you all have your Christmas preparations under control so you can enjoy stress-free holidays.

Now that the weather is chilly, yes even in Arizona, we look to indoor activities. One of the best is of course, reading.

The message on the kitty photo says it beautifully. The print’s a bit small. It reads:

“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.”

Mary Wortley Montagu