Qualities of a Good Critique Partner

I’ve heard a lot of comments by many in the publishing industry that the occupation of a writer is a lonely one. You sit at the computer (typewriter or yellow legal pad, for you nostalgic types), alone with your thoughts and the voices you hear, crafting your tales. Though that part of the process may be a solitary experience, there’s a bigger picture. I’ve been writing for many years and along the journey, there are many people a writer needs to further their career along: beta readers, critique partners, editors, publishers, cheering section, readers and more. The journey to getting published is rarely done without others and they all have their place and importance. Since I recently found my critique partner, that’s the one I’ll focus on today. (Click on the links above if you’re interested in learning more about the other people that contribute to a writer’s journey.) Continue reading

Writing Updates

Eternal Conquest - by Arial BurnzEternal Conquest – Revisions Finished

Taking a break from the horrible situation happening in Egypt and from my Twitter and Facebook pages, I’m happy to say that my major revisions for ETERNAL CONQUEST are finished! These were the revisions I needed to make AFTER I was offered the contract from The Wild Rose Press in their Black Rose line. I met my deadline and had the changes into my editor before the end of December 2010. However, my editor had an unfortunate accident with her computer, and though she thankfully recovered, she is a little behind schedule. Which means she won’t be able to get to ETERNAL CONQUEST until the end of this month. That’s okay! I have lots of other books to write! Continue reading

Novel Updates for MIDNIGHT CONQUEST (ETERNAL CONQUEST)

Whew! Been busy and haven’t had time to do much of anything but working. So much for writing, huh? As promised, here’s an update to what’s going on with my book – MIDNIGHT CONQUEST. Continue reading

Book Review – “Siren’s Song” by Trish Albright

Again, I am blessed to have such amazingly talented friends!!! I met Trish Albright about 2 years ago at an RWA meeting and purchased her first book, and over the last couple of years, we only met on one or two other occasions. I had the pleasure of spending a lot more time with her at the recent RT convention and she is just a joy to be around…truly a kindred spirit.

Having a little more time on my hands recently, I was able to DEVOUR her romantic adventure, “Siren’s Song” and could not put the book down! Wow! What a page-turner! No exaggeration here, it was a fabulous adventure! Continue reading

RT Convention Update: “Pants-ing” vs. Plotting…The Debate

Continuing my blogs on my experience at the Romantic Times Book Lover’s Convention 2009 (in Orlando, FL), it was my greatest pleasure to speak with so many writers about the craft and the process in which people craft their own stories. I LOVE to hear all the ways that people come up with their story ideas and what brings them to that last page where they type our favorite words….THE END.

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Broderick MacDougal – IN COLOR!

Robert Quill - Artist for Hire

I had the pleasure of meeting a profound artist at the Romantic Times Book Lover’s Convention by the name of Robert Quill. Charming, witty, talented and downright hilarious, Robert was a joy to meet and converse with. I loved hearing his voice – a kind of cross between rogue and tv announcer.

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Write Anything: Fiction Friday Post

writeanythingclipFiction Friday Challenge

I’ve been out of the circuit for a little while due to how busy I’ve been, but I’m going to try to get back into it. Here’s the Fiction Friday challenge for May 1st:

A secondary character says this somewhere in your story; “He’s the cutest little boy. Makes it that much sadder, doesn’t it?” Continue reading

Ever Try To Interview Your Characters?

As a writer, I’ve come across those times when I just can’t seem to get past a certain issue with a character or my story seems to have stopped. I’ve tried my usual solo-brainstorming where I type away on the computer talking myself through an issue; I’ve put the writing aside and tried to let things take seed and revisited it later; tried to fill in any blanks in the Character Profile Sheet* that I may have missed or didn’t elaborate on…but to no avail. It’s at times like these that I interview my own characters.

The first rule about this is LET YOUR IMAGINATION GO! Don’t censor anything. Don’t rewrite anything. Don’t direct your characters to go in a certain direction. Just let it flow. Here’s how it works…at least this is how I conduct an interview with my characters.

  1. Sit down at the computer and in your mind, picture yourself in a setting…whatever setting comes to mind. You could find yourself in a park, on a subway train, at your old desk you wrote your first book/article/poem at, your bedroom you had when you were five years old…whatever. Let your mind take you to the first place that enters your mind. Write this down. Start typing what you’re seeing, how you feel, your thoughts on why you think you’re mind went here or what you’re thoughts are about the place. Don’t go into a major analysis here. Just make a light comment and then move on.
  2. Imagine your character, now, coming onto the scene. You don’t have to picture them in any great detail, but if it helps to do that, knock yourself out! The important thing is to bring your character onto the scene as if you were going to interact with him/her. Write all of this down.
  3. Let the exchange happen. This is the part where you kinda sit back and watch how you and your character interact. Who is the first one to speak? What do they say? What do you say? Are you both sitting there in uncomfortable silence? Are you at a loss for words? Then tell your character you’re not sure what you two should talk about. They may surprise you. Write all of this down.

This is a free-flowing form of brainstorming that allows you to see your characters the way you’ve created them in your subconscious. I’ve had characters come into a room or setting and they won’t sit down. I’ve asked them to relax and they either tell me why they’re agitated; or they say they didn’t realize it; or they tell me to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine and that they’re going to continue to pace.

The fun part about this is your characters will sometimes do things you didn’t expect them to do. I have a vampire character that has lit up a cigarette while we were interviewing. I asked, “Excuse me, but why do you smoke? You’re immortal…drugs have no affect on you, no addiction, no real satisfaction as far as I can see.” He told me, “I do it because I can. I get satisfaction out of the fact that I AM immortal and it won’t hurt me. It reminds me of my invincibility.” Well, there you have it! And his answer was as unexpected as the habit of smoking! Let your characters come alive here and you might end up developing traits about your character that you never dreamed of on your own.

Where you have your setting, what your characters say and how you interact with them has its own hidden meanings. Re-read your interview when you’re done and examine what those might be. What do these pieces of the setting and interview say to you about your character or what you think about your character? If you DID have the setting in your bedroom when you were five and you’re meeting with a male character in his 40s, this might say something about how you see him. Is he childish? Would he be comfortable in a room like this? If he is UNcomfortable, what does that say about you putting your character in an uncomfortable setting? Did you WANT him to be uncomfortable? Did you think he would be at home only to find out he wasn’t? Things like this reveal hidden meanings about your characters and/or story.

Finishing the conversation isn’t necessary, either. The point of this exercise is to move forward on your story and/or your character development. If you wish to conclude the meeting politely, then by all means, do so. Once you get those juices flowing, you’ve accomplished your goal! Hope this helps!!