Sorry I’ve been off-line for the holidays. I contemplated taking the week off but decided not to, then my server was getting work done and I couldn’t get a post up. After that, I had family in, kids sick and lets just face it, I spent some extra time reading. I remember the first Christmas (1999) in my current home. My brother bought me the first Harry Potter book. I was teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at the time and I kept seeing all these kids carrying around these Harry Potter books but I hadn’t actually started reading them yet. I can remember opening up the book on Christmas morning and thinking how much I love it when a gift giver knows you better than you know yourself.
I had no children at the time, so I settled into a comfy chair by the fireplace, eating clementines and reading HP1. Of course, then I had to run out to the store to grab the rest of the HP’s that were already in publication. This year, since I had sick kids on the couch for a few days, I pulled up the same chair in front of the fire, put in ear plugs and read, read, read. It was blissful. Sometimes it’s nice to be forced to slow down a little.
You can see how I got distracted from my blog, right? *grin*
But I’m back!!!! Woot!!!! And isn’t that what a new year is all about? Reflecting and making some resolutions…
Last year at this time, I was biting my nails in anticipation of 2012–the year my book would be published. I can remember my husband leaning over as the ball dropped and saying…”this is your year!” And it was. It was amazing. So many wonderful things happened to me in 2012. What am I the most grateful for? I have a huge list, but for here, I thought I’d focus on a few of my favorite things involving my publishing journey. Here’s the format: What I’m grateful for, plus a tip or two for the aspiring or newly minted author.
*The first two things I’m grateful for aren’t things–they are very special people–my agent Michelle Wolfson and my former, but always editor, Anica Rissi.
Tip: This triangular relationship is more important than any book you write. Why? Because people are always more important than things. The book will be a common ground that you all share, but books happen in peaks and valleys. One day you are at the top of the world and the very next you are old bubble gum on someone’s shoe–it’s inevitable. But, you should never be old bubble gum to your editor and agent. They should be the type of people who love you for yourself–who see all the books that live in your soul–whether you write them or not. I’m so grateful–that’s exactly what I was blessed with.
*I’m also grateful for two very amazing groups of people–my debut author siblings–The Class of 2k12 and the Apocalypsies.
Tip: Do you remember the Who’s down in Whoville and how they needed each little voice just to be heard? That’s how it works. It is hard to stand alone in a sea of books and get noticed. It was awful nice to have friends to “amplify the noise.” But more importantly, it’s just lonely being all by yourself. It was such a wonderful thing to be surrounded by friends who knew exactly what you were going through. Prior to February 2011, I spent a huge amount of time dreaming of the moment when someone would buy my book. And of course I had day dreams of covers and book signings, but I never really had a clear picture of what happens behind the scenes and neither did any of my debut author friends. Honestly, it can be very overwhelming at times. We made ourselves a support group–a kind of family. We shared the bits and pieces of the things we did know. And we worked together to figure out the rest. It helped–it helped a lot. These are the people who I cried to when things felt bad. These are the people who prevented me from doing stupid things. These are the people who laughed with me and cheered for me. I love these people and I will be friends with this amazing group of authors for the rest of my days. Don’t pass up a chance to have a group of friends like this.
*I’m really grateful for my family and friends–my community.
Tip: This isn’t really a tip–just a joyful observation. My local book launch was a huge success. I felt like a rockstar. In the middle of Hurricane Sandy, my community came out to both of my book launch events. They came and they came and they came. And what touches my heart and always will–was that they didn’t come for my book–they came for me. I could have written a huge pile of poo and they would have come and given me that moment of joy. At that point, they had no idea if I’d written anything good. They just came and with their actions they said…you are one of us and we are proud of you. I’ve since gotten lots of wonderful feedback about TOUCHING THE SURFACE. Phew–most people seem to love it. I hoped they would. I dreamed that my book could be something that they were proud to share. I cherish every text message, every FB post, every comment that I get. It means the world to me, but I’ll always know–that even if they weren’t going to like my book–they came. They came for me. Priceless.
What were some of the best moments of your 2012? Did you have a wonderful holiday? Did you know I missed you while I was reading?
I went running this morning. (Thursday) I needed to be connected to the earth again after yesterday’s overwhelming cover reveal. I spent Wednesday glued to my seat, in front of my lap top, amazed at the outpouring of love and support. I smiled non-stop for over twelve straight hours and I shall cherish the wrinkles that I earned from that experience.
As I pounded the pavement, I felt sure that I would be writing a post today that would thank everyone who was so kind. But I can’t. One foot after the other, this post started to take shape in my head–my footfalls like my fingers on the keys. And like most of my writing–I start in one place and then let go–allowing my inner compass to take me home.
But before I write that post, I still need to say a quick thank you to Anica Rissi and everyone at Simon Pulse, to Michelle Wolfson, to the Class of 2k12, to the Apocalypsies, to all my writer buds and most of all…to the local friends in my life. I know, that for me, the term local has changed and expanded as I’ve traveled. But no matter where you are, you all have stayed in my heart. I consider you part of my home–the place I love most. To all of you…
I need you to know that I was moved by your generosity and support. You make me want to write better books and be a better person.
* * *
So, today’s blog post IS about thanking people, but it’s about giving a shout out to the people in my life who have hurt me. I’m not going to name names. *cackles and rubs hands together* Yeah, it might be a little fun, but seriously it doesn’t matter. What matters, is that while I was running, I was thinking about what comes next after the cover reveal. After the love and support. After the fan fair and joyous celebration.
Comes the smack down!!!!!! *dum, dum, dum, dum*
Sure–I’m still expecting lots and lots of good things to happen with TOUCHING THE SURFACE. Sheesh, I’ve spent years of my life working on this book, pouring my heart and soul into it and I think it will be good. I know it will make a difference in someones life. I believe it will matter. But, just like in my own life (the freaky place where not everyone likes me) there will be people who are vocal about not liking my book and perhaps…even it’s author. *gasp* I won’t lie, the thought of that made my steps falter while I was running. It made my stomach clench. But then I remembered–I have good training for this.
I can handle being wounded because people in my life have hurt me.
I don’t get over it easily. Usually it takes me at least a novel and one or two blog posts to work through a problem in a semi-satisfactory manner. And even then, there are no guarantees. But I survive. And more important, I suck the freaking essence from the haters’ mean asses and use it to become a better person.
(There might be a little residual anger involved, but I’m working on that.)
What I’m trying to say is that I believe our life prepares us for our life. If someone had handed me a newborn, without allowing me to carry the little critter in utero for nine months, I never would have made it. I slowly built up to the level of sleep deprivation, poor grooming skills and weeping that I needed in order to be a successful mother. Without the inability to touch my toes for weeks at a time, I never would have had the proper perspective that I needed for when the baby came along. The universe has a built in training program to help us survive. It’s the equivalent of a GOOD parent guiding a teenager. The teenager CAN NOT see the forrest through the trees. Later they understand. In life…we are that teenager. More often than not…oblivious.
Okay…it’s only a theory and the next person to hurt me will make all of these larger than life thoughts fly right out of my head. I’ll curl up in a little ball and lick my wounds until I can start the healing process. You know how it goes… two steps forward–one step back. But I’m a big-picture girl at heart. And it’s good to know that at the end of each bump in my road, I can always get to that spot where I believe that the people who hurt me the most–give me the greatest gift off all–strength.
If it had been up to my parents, you’d soon be reading a novel called TOUCHING THE SURFACE by an author named Kelly Sabatini. Now–all you girls named Kelly out there–it’s a great name. Wear it with pride. I love the name for YOU–it’s just not the right name for me. Now granted, if the neighbors who lived in our apartment building when I was born, had had a dog named Bruno, instead of a German Shepard named Kelly then I’d likely be a Kelly and be none the wiser. Odds are, that I would have led a well adjusted life, completely oblivious to the fact that I’d be short a Wednesday blog post forty something years later. *grin*
But… even when I was a little kid and my parents told me the whole dog/name story, I always breathed a little sigh of relief. I couldn’t help but think that I’d been a little too close to spending my whole life with the wrong name. I’m sensitive that way and Kellypoppins just doesn’t have the same effect as Kimmiepoppins. *Phew*
My name had other benefits too. Growing up, I always classified other people by the name that they called me by. If someone walked up and addressed me Kimmie–I just figured that we were related. My family called me Kimmie–they still do. And the rest of the world just called me Kim. I’ve always liked both names so, it’s never been an issue. The only problem was that I also secretly liked my other name–Kimberly–but no one ever used it. I guess I’m just surrounded by nick-namey people. But I like that. It makes me feel loved. Even so, it never stopped me from also wanting to use my “full title”, so to speak. At one point in elementary school, I thought about making a public announcement that everyone should call me by Kimberly, but honestly I wasn’t that gutsy. Or convinced that I could handle a more “sophisticated” name. So, I came up with a plan. I decided that I would sign all my writing with the name Kimberly. It would be my author name and someday I would use it on the cover of the book I would write. I started to address myself as Kimberly in my diary and I began to sign all my writing the same way…
You can really see where my tendency to write dark, dramatic material started. *snicker*
It wasn’t too long ago when my agent, Michelle Wolfson and my editor Anica Rissi asked me if I would be using Kim or Kimberly on the cover of my book. For just the briefest minute, I thought about using Kim, because I’ll be honest, I’m still not used to people calling me Kimberly out loud. Sometimes I even look over my shoulder to see if they’re talking to me LOL! But then I remembered my dreams and I figure they were big enough to carry me along during those years when I forgot what I was wishing for…
What name would you put on the cover of your book?
I’ve been thinking about manuscript critiques a lot lately. This might be because I’m evaluating the manuscripts of two different friends. It’s a ton of fun, but so much work. It is a time consuming process, but if you do it right, it can be as beneficial to you as it is for the person you’re helping.
Have you ever critiqued someone else’s writing?
It is scary (or at least it was for me) the first couple times I did it. I second guessed everything I commented on. Then I expended just as much energy worrying about what I had missed. I was convinced that I was an idiot who lacked the magic editorial gene. I KNEW I was doing it wrong.
What I didn’t realize is that critiquing is a lot like writing. It’s a muscle that gets stronger when it’s flexed. Or to make it easier to visualize–it’s just like running. The more you do the activity, the better you become at it. You get faster and go further. But running doesn’t just make you a better runner, as you become stronger, you become a better athlete. The benefits carry over.
So how does this translate to writing? Sometimes it’s hard to practice the things that we’re learning (about writing) in our own writing. We have so many balls up in the air at one time, some days we’re just lucky not to knock ourself unconscious trying to keep them all aloft. CLONK! When we work on someone else’s manuscript, we have the distance needed to safely practice using the tools in our bag of tricks. And the beauty of this, is that our critique partner wants the exact same skill-set we’re bringing to the table. They want fresh eyes. It’s win-win for everyone.
Now, I freely admit that over time, I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in my ability to make suggestions in a manuscript. The very fact that I’ve been through several rounds of edits with my brilliant editor, Anica Rissi of Simon Pulse, has given me the equivalent of a master class in critiquing. And I won’t lie–I’m a lot more helpful now than I ever was. Do I still have a long way to go? You betcha! But, even when I started critiquing and didn’t really know my ass from my elbow–you know what? I was still giving a good and helpful critique.
Seriously–I was–because I cared. I read the manuscript with the same attention that I would want for my own book. I commented with praise for the things that I thought were well done. I tried to be honest in a kind way. My suggestions for improvement were not attacks. I gave a good critique because, at the core, I’m an avid reader. I might not have been able to point out the same details I know today, but I could give an honest evaluation of when I was confused and state why. I could tell you why character A made me swoon and why character B infuriated me. In the margins, I carefully logged my organic responses as a reader. And even though a question I raised, might get clarified two sentences later, the author now had a running record of my thoughts and how I processed their writing. This is valuable.
If you are a writer, you should have your work critiqued. You’ll learn a tremendous amount from the experience. You should also evaluate the writing of your peers. It is an equally powerful exercise. In the video below, Jackson Pearce gives a visual guide of how to work with a critique partner. She gives great advice.
Take it a step further if you must… There are lots of things that you can do to enhance the critique experience. There are a million blogs and books and videos that will give you wonderful advice on how to do it better. Or even how to survive a bad critique partner. *shudders*
But in my opinion, if you’re a kind and thoughtful person, the only way you can really mess up a critique, is by being too afraid to try. So get out there and throw on those scarves, hats and gloves. Pull the skirt out of your Buddy’s underwear. We are a tribe. We work together to up the quality of everyones writing. And equally as important, to ensure that no one gets picked to star in the show What Not to Wear. Team work is excellent!
What is your favorite tip for critiquing or being critiqued?
Today I’m going to talk a little bit about how to market your book before you get a publishing deal or possibly before you even finish writing it. It’s a little like preparing for the birth of an unborn child but without the shower. There are a ton of great similarities but not everything is sugar and spice or puppy dog tails. You are going to get the same funny looks from people when you start marketing yourself as a “pre-published” author, as you will when you announce that your top baby name choices are Petunia and Atlas.
But, if you’re serious about being a professional writer, you have to develop your platform at the same rate that you are developing your writing. This is not you being vain. It’s a vital component to being a successful writer in today’s day and age. You work to improve your writing without a guarantee of publication–you must also grow your knowledge and presence in social media the same way.
A lot of people cringe at the thought. I know, it seems pretentious. But I promise, it’s only awkward if you’re attempting to act like you’re JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer. Yes, this will be a turn off to–everyone. What I’m asking you to do is to build a platform a group of friends, peers and resources. You are working to become a vital part of a community of your peers, your future employers, your friends and your potential readers. The way that you go about this is actually by being a genuine friend to people. Here is a real life example of what I mean.
Several years ago I attended a SCBWI Conference and met the uber amazing Molly O’Neill from Harper Collins. I really wanted to submit TOUCHING THE SURFACE to her, so I came home and immediately started to stalk follow her on FB. In the process of watching and listening to the information that Molly provided to her followers, I noticed that a colleague of hers was a debut MG novelist. Molly raved about this author and her book. So I bought it. I loved the book and became a fan. Then this author had a second book come out. Just a tiny little book called…
I was already a fan and a cyber friend. I talked to Nova across multiple forms of on-line media. I was excited for her next book and shared my excitement with my friends and family. I loved the book when I read it and continued to support Nova. Then I got a chance to attend my very first LA SCBWI Conference. Guess who I got to meet in person…
That’s Mike Dangerpants Jung, Nova and myself. Mike is another one of my amazing cyber friendships, but I’ll save that story for another day. And by the way–it was awesome to meet them both. I now consider them “real” friends, not just cyber friends.
Right after I got home from the conference, Nova was scheduled to have an IMAGINARY GIRLS book signing at one of my local indie bookstores–Oblong Books. I packed up the hubby and the kids and we went up for the book signing. I was so excited to let my family meet Nova. It was such a wonderful experience. One giant love fest–books, author, friends, family, indie and mini-cupcakes.
I continue to support Nova because I’m a fan and because I’m a friend. I can’t say if or how Nova will support me and my book in the future. And I can honestly say it doesn’t matter. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time with her. I learned a ton, enjoyed myself and felt great along the way. I didn’t do it to get something out of it. I did it to get someone out of it. And she was worth the time and effort it took to build the friendship.
What I will tell you is that when my editor at Simon Pulse, Anica Rissi, officially announced my book in her Fall 2012 line-up, Nova tweeted to Anica and myself that she was so excited to read it. And that felt like winning a million bucks.
Have I spent years marketing my unborn book? Absolutely. But, I’d like to think I’ve gone about it in a way that has been not only painless for everyone involved, but beneficial and even fun. You don’t have to be a spam bot to market your book. You have to be the same kind of emotionally connected person that it took to write the book in the first place.
I’m going to take back my earlier statement about an unborn book not getting a shower. If you are the kind of person who is a good friend to those around you, I have a feeling you will get showered with love, attention and support. And really, there is no better way to bring your new “baby” into the world.
If you have any specific questions I’d be more than happy to try and answer them. And if you have any great tips on marketing your book that you’d love to share I would love to hear them. Success stories and marketing bloopers welcome. :o)
Just wanted to give you some quick pointers that I’ve picked up as I’ve been revising. Here are some random things that have popped out at me while I’ve been working and learning.
*Although an author’s job is to be artistic and unique. There are certain things that I say that make no sense…
ME: ”I could feel the ugly desire like a stench that hung in the room.”
ANICA: “But you can’t feel a stench.”
There were more, but I don’t love you that much.
*Everyone in my manuscript…
-rolls their eyes…a lot. -grins, giggles, laughs, chuckles and smiles…a lot. -has very expressive eyebrows.
*When I like a word, I really like it…
-Look and it’s many deviations may be one of my favorite words in the english language. -This would be closely followed by my affection for the word voice. -On the other hand, I think you can’t use snarky too many times in one manuscript. Seriously. Anica is sooo wrong about this one!
*I have obviously not effectively mastered the use of…
- Commas. I believe that a good reader should just “know” where I need to take a breather. - Semi-colons and colons. *shudders* But I blame that on A DASH OF STYLE: THE ART AND MASTERY OF PUNCTUATION By Noah Lukeman. (Which I was reading while revising for my agent Michelle Wolfson)
“Which brings us to the underuse (or absence) of the colon. The colon is a mark that never truly needs to appear in a work, and thus it is hard to criticize a text bereft of them. Nonetheless, there will inevitably be at least a few instances when a colon can be used to enhance, and thus its absence (when needed) might indicate a writer who, at the most basic level is less seasoned, unable or unwilling to experiment with nuances. He is also less likely to use other sophisticated marks such as semicolons.” Noah Lukeman
In retrospect, I suppose that this was not a punctuation dare. In the future I shall keep my less seasoned, unable, and unwilling experimental nuances under control.
-If I wrote a very pithy phrase, I repeated it some place in the next three pages. I’m not sure why I did that so much. My best guess is that I was so mesmerized by my own writing technique I got distracted. -I’ll use two or more words to describe something when one would be effective. -I like retro references from the 70′s and 80′s that today’s teen might not even understand. Wow, I should have had a V-8!
-DASHES–I put them everywhere. When I’m in the throes of writing–I kid you not–dashes are my favorite punctation–besides colons and semicolons–of course.
*I find it really annoying…
-That when you make up an imaginary world, all the rules have to be consistent. Someone is always pulling a fast one on me in my world! Maybea little inconstancy keeps everyone on their toes. Roll with it folks. No? All right, I’ll work on that. *head thunk*
*EVERYTHING about revision is better when…
-Your editor is a flagrant user of hearts and smiley faces. -Your editor doesn’t pull out her hair and fire you because of all of the things mentioned above. -Your editor admits that you made her cry, which makes you cry too. -Your editor writes on the last page, next to the final word…beautiful. And this gives you enough courage to keep believing in yourself.
As you know, I turned in my first round of revisions on TOUCHING THE SURFACE and I’m not expecting to hear back from my made-of-awesome editor, Anica Rissi until mid-June. While I’ve been waiting biting my nails, I’ve done some yard work and laundry, caught up on some assignments for my debut authors groups and peered into the woods. Not the actual woods–the proverbial one. I’ve been peeking down the path of the unknown and dancing around my work in progress THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY.
Back in the good old days, before WICKED became my favorite Broadway play (rivaled by RENT, LE MIS, CHORUS LINE and MISS SAIGON) there was another favorite. You can ask my college roommate because she’s probably still sick of hearing the soundtrack. I was obsessed with INTO THE WOODS.
How are the two connected? The play is about a fairy tale, which is exactly what getting your first book published feels like. But it’s also about what happens after you get the fairy tail when you forget, in the glow of your debut novel, that you have to write a second book.
I’m just kidding, I love my second book. Even though I haven’t been “actively” working on it while I’ve been doing revisions, it’s ALWAYS in my thoughts. I do a lot of my early writing in my head–that’s my process. So, on Monday I transferred what I’ve written into Scrivener. Yesterday I read what had been in my “drawer” for so long. Then I started adding new material. Of course, I lost some time searching for the perfect song to drum into my head for this new chapter. Without a doubt I erased what I’d written a dozen times and in the end, I had a whopping 350 new words.
I know that my methods for drafting are way different from revision. I’m also aware that I love things about both of these phases of the process. I just need to remember to switch hats. At the end of the day what matters is that I feel very deeply about this story, the way I always have about SURFACE. This doesn’t stop me from wondering if it’s a piece of crap. Yeah, that’s what I think about, if I allow myself into the dark corners of my mind. But I also know, without a doubt, that it’s the right story for me to explore. I’ve simply forgotten how much raw me went into my first book. How scary it is to go to those unknown places. I’ve traveled so far with SURFACE that like giving birth to a real child, I’ve forgotten how hard the labor is. All I seem to remember is the pure, unadulterated joy of holding that baby.
But now it’s time to be brave again. Because if I could give you one tip, it would be to write your truth. To be afraid, but to do it anyway. I’m never going to stop being frightened of my potential to fail. NEVER. But I also know that I’m more afraid of having no potential. What’s the worst thing that can happen to me? I could be a hypocrite. SURFACE could hit the shelves and readers could take that journey with me–only to discover that I didn’t learn anything from my own writing. I don’t want that. Instead I’m packing up my heart and my cheese grater (so I have something to rub it against) and I’m heading off into the woods…
“Into the woods to find the thing that makes it worth the journeying…
…because children will look to you, for which way to turn–to learn what to be. Careful before you say listen to me. Children will listen…”
If you’ve seen the movie Freaky Friday, you know that its premise is about change and growth through role reversal. For my Friday Blog entry I thought it would be interesting to interview aspiring authors–writers who spend lots of time reading the interviews of published authors and dreaming of the day when they might get their book on the shelves..
But often an aspiring author can wear more than one hat. (Use your imagination-I didn’t make Roxanne put on two for the picture.) Roxanne and I met through our local Eastern NY SCBWI. It would be fair to say that she was invaluable in my growth as a writer. I learned more from her critiques of my work than I can adequately express. Fortunately for me, she is part of my Crit Crew and continues to help me grow. As you’ll see below–it’s your lucky day because she has her own editing business. But I won’t jump the gun, let’s get this interview started…
Roxanne, can you give me a little bit of your background in the world of children’s writing?
Sure Kim. I loved reading as a child and that inspired me to write my own stories. My mom saved some of those vintage attempts. I looked at them recently and have to admit I was not a child prodigy. I continued writing for myself for many years. About five years ago, I decided to pursue writing for publication. I began taking courses and attending conferences. I joined SCBWI and made many wonderful friends. Gradually, my writing skills improved and I started to make sales to online magazines. My first sale was for $9.00. I celebrated by taking my husband out for a $20.00 pizza dinner. I was already in the red. But I was hooked on writing and there was no turning back. Since then I’ve had pieces published in Turtle, Know and Highlights. This year I began working as an editor for Stories for Children Magazine and that has given me a feel for the other side of the writing desk. It helps me look at my own writing with an editor’s critical eye.
Since we know each other from our local SCBWI I’m going to start out by telling everyone that you’re modest and to please tell us more about your piece in Highlights.
First let me elaborate on our local SCBWI. I remember the first time I went to our local chapter meeting. I had just started writing with the intent to publish and I had no idea what to expect. I’m a very shy person, so I sat on the edge and tried to disappear. It only took one meeting for me to feel I was at the right place. Everyone was incredibly supportive of each other and even a shy person like me soon felt at home. It was through that group that I met my critique partners. And it was there that I first read my Highlights contest-winning story, Snow day in Space, before an audience. Winning the Highlights contest was an amazing experience. I had no idea I would win and when I got the call I put my foot in my mouth by saying, “Oh, I thought you were calling about the rebus I submitted.” As though, I would rather have my rebus accepted than win the contest. Writing is so much better than speaking because you can revise before stupidity comes out. It took four years before I was able to see the story in print. It just came out this February. The artwork was superb and I received the additional honor of being selected author of the month. The story, without the beautiful artwork, is actually available online, but if anyone has access to a library, I’d recommend reading it in the magazine.
Could I have you share a tip or two that you’ve picked up as a writer wearing an editorial hat?
Well being on the other side of the desk has been an eye opener. I now understand that editors have other things to do than respond immediately to my submissions. I try to respond as soon as possible, but I do get backlogged. I also realize the importance of proof reading and having another pair of eyes go over your work. I’m amazed at the number of submissions I receive that have errors in them. Another thing that I find is so many submissions are unoriginal. If a writer really wants to get my attention, they should try thinking outside the box. Find that fresh twist on an old theme. So be patient, revise, proof-read and try looking at things from a new perspective.
Because were buds, I’m privy to insider information and I’m too excited to wait any longer. Can you tell everyone about your newest project? *squee*
Well I actually have two new projects, one as an editor and one as a writer. As an editor, I am now offering a critique service on my website. www.roxannewerner.com. I am very excited about the opportunity to help writers bring out the best in their stories. I’m sure you know from working with your editor at Simon Pulse that editors get just as excited about stories as writers do.
Your *squee* I assume was meant for my writing project. I’m very excited about that too. This is the first time I’m attempting to write a YA novel. The working title is The Pain Eater. It’s a subject close to home. Although it is a paranormal novel, it deals with what happens when a person tries to take on or ‘fix’ everyone else’s emotional pain. If you let yourself become the ‘fixer’, the emotional burden can end up destroying you.
You get a *squee* for both. You were my first writer friend helping me to edit my writing and I will recommend you to anyone! I learned so much from your knowledge and your detailed approach. I can safely say I’m a much better writer today because of you. I’ve also taken a sneak peek at the help you’re offering with your critique service and I think it’s amazing. I’ve also gotten a chance to reverse our roles and critique some of The Pain Eater. I think you’re thinking outside the box and I want to read more of it ASAP!!!
Can you give us some more information about your service in case someone is looking to get a paid critique? And who would benefit from hiring this kind of help?
Information about my critique service is posted on my website www.roxannewerner.com. I am offering critiques on magazine stories, picture books and mid-grade or YA novels. It is all done via email which allows anyone to send in their manuscript quickly and easily. Flat fees are posted on my site and the cost of any additional pages can be discussed with me via email.
Any writer can benefit from having a fresh pair of eyes look over their work. Even the most experienced writer needs to have their work edited. I would say people who are serious about their work and want to move on to the next stage with their writing would benefit the most. Many of today’s writers are self-taught. They manage to get so far on their own, but may be unable to break into getting published. Having someone go over their work with a practiced eye will be beneficial to them. I can point out strengths and weaknesses in their writing and make suggestions to help them reach the next stage on their writing journey. We are often too close to our own work to see what needs to be done. A professional critique is sometimes all it takes to get a manuscript moving in the right direction.
I think you’re very right about needing outside eyes on your work. May I also suggest, whether you have a paid critique and/or you’ve found a critique group to work with that you keep and open mind about the thoughts and recommendations that are given to you. I think our first instinct is to defend what we’ve created and that is counter productive to growing. Having said that, once you’ve allowed the suggestions to sink in and played with your writing, you alone have to be the judge of what works for you.
Earlier you talked about how awesome the SCBWI is and we just got back from the SCBWI Eastern PA Pocono Mt. Retreat. Membership and conferences cost money and the economy is tight. Why should people spend their hard earned cash when there is so much free info on the internet?
I know all about the economy. I just lost my job after working at a company for 34 years. I did a lot of soul searching before going to the SCBWI Eastern PA Conference. Everyone’s situation is different. Only they can tell if their budget will allow them to join SCBWI or attend conferences. However, I do believe that if you are serious about writing, they are worth the investment. The internet is an invaluable source of ‘free’ information, networking and support. But there is only so far that you can go on your own. Conference workshops with editors and accomplished authors are inspiring and take your writing to a completely new level. Conferences open up doors to closed houses. If you don’t have an agent and want to submit to a closed house, a conference lets you get a foot in the door. You hear first hand from editors what they are looking for. If you can afford to get a critique from one of them, you will learn exactly what you are doing right or wrong with your manuscript. Immersing yourself for a weekend in the writing community is an experience every writer should have at least once. Consider the money spent as an investment in yourself and your writing career.
It was a great weekend and I’m so glad you came. (((hugs)))
I know you have an amazing MG novel and you’re WIP has me very intrigued. Care to share a little bit about your writing?
It’s hard to analyze your own writing. I think we’re too close to our works. My stories are very character driven. I always have the emotional plot arc worked out early on. The action plot line gives me trouble. My MG in particular was hard because I needed to write a battle scene. I ended up writing the aftermath first because that was the emotional part. Picking up the pieces after the battle was easier for me to write than the actual battle. My WIP is paranormal, but it is really about the emotional relationships of the characters. I think one of the reasons you and I connect with our writing is because your writing is also very much about the characters and their emotional development. We also both enjoy adding a touch of fantasy to our worlds.
Yes, we do! I won’t keep you too much longer, but I always like to ask about your top five books. I think it says so much about a person.
That’s a tough one. I love reading and it’s hard to pick out favorites. It depends so much on my mood and what I want from a book at a particular time. I will say…
The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien is my all time favorite book. I’ve read it so many times. And read it aloud to my son and husband. It’s hard for me to imagine how Tolkien created such a detailed world. I first read it in seventh grade and even learned the elvish alphabet. I can write notes in elf. Anyone who can read elf is an instant friend. I had ‘speak friend and enter’ in elf on my college dorm room and when someone actually understood it, we clicked immediately. Not too long ago, I unearthed a fantasy I wrote in college. As I read it over, I realized it was written in Tolkien’s voice not mine.
I also love classics like Jane Eyre. There’s nothing like a good romance story, mix in a bit of fantasy with it and I’m in heaven.
Who could resist Jamie Frasier from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander?
I love the voice of Angela’s Ashes. It makes me remember my father, who is of Irish descent.
I’ll end with another trilogy. Trilogy’s let you cheat and have more than five favorites. Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy. The Arthur legend has been told so many times, but this is my favorite version. She makes Merlin a person that you can feel for, not just a legendary magician. For me characters are always the most important part of any book. The really well done ones become friends and how can you choose which of your friends is your favorite?
I agree completely!!!! Besides it never hurts to have more books AND more friends. Thank you so much for taking the time to get a little freaky with me. Having just spent the conference weekend together, I’m sure you’ve hit your “Kim Saturation Point.” *grin* Don’t forget, if you’re looking for someone with amazing editorial skills to help you out with your manuscript, you should check out Roxanne Werner. You can find her on her blog…The Write Word Paints a Thousand Pictures.