Zen and the art of Taking Critiques

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Even the most well meaning and helpful critique can hit us as hard as a strike from a prize fighter.

Think about it. When you ask for a critique, you’re asking to get your heart pulled out of your chest, you are requesting to be belittled, and you are opening yourself up to insult.

You hand over your hard work. Something you have invested blood, sweat, and tears in. You tell the person not to hold back. You ask them to find every fault your work might have.

So with all that in mind, knowing you asked for this, why is taking a hard critique so difficult?

It's because no matter how thick you say your skin is, it's not.

Your work, your short story, novella, or novel is a part of you. Any fault found with it, is the same as finding fault with you.

Or at least that is how we might take it.

Stop right there.

Your work is your creation but it is not you.

It's that kind of thinking; taking anything negative as a personal attack. That's what makes us too pig-headed to accept the help behind what we perceive as scathing words in a critique.

I'm talking real critiques here, not just random opinions on your work. Remember opinions are like A... er, well you know the saying.

A true critique that is meant to help, will be both hard hitting and truthful. It's not a compliment session, it's a "here is what you did wrong," session. It is going to point out every flaw that particular person finds in your writing and it will hurt.

So how do you deal with it?



First... Breath

Find your happy place and calm down. Silence your instinct to defend your work. Shut out the negative thoughts about the person who has just wounded your pride.

Never respond immediately to any critique you are given. Your likely to lash out like a wild jungle cat defending its offspring and that's not going to be a pretty site.

It takes time for you to accept what is being said and to filter out what is actually helpful and what is not.

Think about what has been said or written to you. Look for the positive message.

Are they really telling you they hate your story or are they telling you that your writing is too passive and you need to fix that?

Did they say your character sucked or did they say they needed more information to better understand your character?

Did they say your dialogue is not worth the paper it's written on or did they suggest you might freshen it up a bit?

Critiques always sound hard the first time you read them. You have to really let the words sink in so that you recognize what is being said and what it means.

Only then can you use the critique and improve your work.

So remember, the next time you recieve a particularly harsh critique on your work.

Take a step back,
Breathe,
and really look at what is being said.

Liana Brooks wrote a blog this week along the same subject. She points out what to do after you have gotten a critique, editing letter, or rejection. Definitely worth a look.

Don't talk about it, write it!

I was at a housewarming party this weekend, drinking way too much, and somehow managing to get the title of "intellectual drunk."

Apparently chatting about book writing, even if it is vampires, makes you an intellectual. LoL. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Anyway. Another attendee of the party was also attempting to write her first book. Some kind of inspirational memoir about surviving mental and physical abuse.

Upon hearing this I was excited for this woman, until I found out she isn't really writing it.

She's at the talking stage. The, I have an idea stage. She's not writing a book, she's thinking about it.

Now, there is nothing wrong with that stage, unless that's all you do. Eventually, you have to get the idea down on paper.

She told me she didn't know how to do it.

"Who cares," I said. "You have an idea, write it. Get the idea on paper. First drafts are meant to be crappy, that's why they are first drafts. If you never get the idea on paper, you will never write your book."

Writing a book is not like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, anyone can do it. What sets writers apart from the wanabies, is the actual act. If you want to write a story, then do it. Sit down and write. Forget who will read and who won't. Forget your fears about not knowing when to use a comma, or a semi-colon. Step one is to Write. Get the idea out there on paper. If you can't get past step one, you will never write.

You know, on second thought, maybe that’s why I got labeled the intellectual drunk. I did kind of go off on a tangent there. LoL. Happy Writing.

Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.

Available exclusively on Kindle!

Aww, Thanks!!!



Susan over at A Walk in My Shoes, passed on this cute award to me. I feel so honored. I love all of these cute awards that float around in the blog world. So thanks Susan, you made my day today!


The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit This Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Now that the official business is over with, I get to make someone elses day and give them an award too.

Yay.

But how do I pick from such a vast list of great bloggers out there. I want to nominate you all. Everyone here is so wonderful. You all have great blogs with great advice and input. I love reading my blog list every day. I may not always comment, but I am there reading. I guess, since I can't nominate all of you, I'm just going to pick at random.

1) Jenna - Turn The Page

2) D.L. Strange - Ranch Girl Ramblings

3) Fiction Groupie

4) Danyelle - Myth-Takes

5) Karen Amanda Hooper

The Waiting Game



The road to publication is an exercise in patience.

Ever feel like this? Waiting on a response on your most recent submission to agents or editors?

What do you do to stop yourself from checking your in-box like a mad man/woman?

It's hard, when you anticipate something good. It's human nature to want instant gratification. You could sit there, clicking away on your email's send/receive button, like Mr. Skelly.

Or

You can find ways to pass the time.

Some of the best advice out there tells us, to get cracking on that second book. Don't sit around waiting for your first book to do anything. Get out there and create something new.

Writing will help get your mind off of the waiting game and it will also help you in your journey to publication.

The more you write, the better at it you will be. It's a fact.

Most of our first attempts at writing will probably go the way of the shoe-box under the bed. Many of us already have those dusty manuscripts. If you are among those that have this, you know what I am saying. Compare your writing now with what you have written in the past.

No doubt you are a better writer today compared to, back then.

I have many, many, stories and drafts of old work sitting on my hard drive. I go back to them from time to time and see how different my writing is.

So the more we write the more we improve our writing. So taking time to write, while waiting serves duel purposes. It takes your mind off of the long wait that is the submissions process, and helps you learn how to create more and potentially better things for your next venture in publishing.

So, taking my own advice (and the advice of many people out there who are much smarter than me), I'm going to get back to work on book 2. I've got a partial out that I am hoping to hear back on. I need to break myself away from checking my email. I'm still holding to my end of August deadline, and if I get my butt back to work on it, I might hit that mark.

Harry Potter Movie Review - Possible Spoilers

We saw the Midnight showing and I am working on 3 hours of sleep. It was worth it though. I love the Harry Potter books. I really enjoy seeing them adapted to film. I've seen almost all of them at the midnight show and I will continue until they have finished.

Now, let me take a sip of RedBull, rub my tired red eyes, and get started with my review...

My first thought after watching this movie was, "well this was certainly made for people who know what's going on."

What I mean by this is, if you haven't read the books you might get a little lost. I don't think I blame them much at this point. By book/movie 6 you should be pretty familiar with this world and its inhabitants. My husband however, was a little bit confused. He buzzed in my ear a few times asking, who so-and-so was and what they were doing.

I don't mind that so much, but when it comes to things that are specific to the book they are adapting to film, there are somet things that need to be explained. The movie makers forgot this it seemed. For example; Dumbledore does not tell Harry the reason behind the specific cave they chose to visit. They just show up and Dumbledore says something to the effect of, "this cave has known magic." That of course could have been shown in the memories of Tom Riddle's youth, had they chosen to give us more of those.

That brings me to my main gripe of this movie. Based on the previews I was assuming we would be getting a great look back at, "he who must not be named." In the books if you remember, (Yes I am running off of the idea that most people to have read the books) a great deal of time was spent flashing back as they viewed the memories of Tom Riddle's life. I remember being fascinated by the back-story. I loved learning about Tom's mom and dad and how they came together and eventually separated. I wanted to see Tom's dysfunctional wizarding family. I wanted the question of the Half blood prince, out there. Remember Harry thinking he had Tom's old school book? How interesting a twist was it when you found out who the book really belonged to?

Needless to say, I was very disappointed that they chose only 2 memories to visit and if you've seen the previews, then you already know one of those. Very Disappointing there.

Yes I know film is limited by time, but if they have chosen to spit apart book 7 into two films, they could have done something similar to this one. Tom Riddle's history is key to knowing how to defeat Voldemorte, remember? If you recall they did push back the original release date from fall 08 to summer 09. That additional time could have been spent making sure they covered all the bases.

Spoiler Alert... Read on at your own risk.

Back on track here. Another disappointment was the anti climatic climax. I can remember reading of Dumbledore's death. Emotions ran deep. There was anger, confusion, resentment, and a need to make Snape pay! I can remember all of the guessing that was left after reading book 6. Is Snape good or evil? Did he kill Dumbledore because he had to or because he was an agent of Voldemorte?

I can tell you this, Snape does not come across with any ambiguity (at least in my opinion).

The movie makers really played that down and made him off to be just your average undercover agent doing what he has to do.

Snape, shushes Harry just before he goes off to kill Dumbledore, so that Harry will not be discovered. Dumbledore's, "please," comes out as an order to Snape, rather than the ambiguous pleading it was supposed to be. When Harry chases Snape down calling him a coward, Snape barely blinks an eye. Where was the anger, where was the loathing for this boy who he has to protect but despises with every ounce of his person? How about the revelation that he was the half blood prince? That seemed tossed in their at the last second.

I felt the climax fell short of the depth it was supposed to have. It was like they rushed to get to the end and once they got there they set up for the next movie, rather than making you sick with grief and anger. Part of the anticipation between book 6 and 7 was the question as to Snape's allegiance. It helped keep curiosity piqued and made you salivate for any information. I remember wanting book 7 so badly I bought 2 copies. LoL. The movie failed to hit that note. Yes I know we all know what happens. We've all read book 7, but does that mean we can't still make you loathe Snape at the end of this movie, does it? If you are holding true to the book then you would have to.

I'm getting a little off point now.

I did feel a small tug at my heart watching the lifeless body of Dumbledore plummet to the ground, but that wasn't enough for me. I wanted more. I think the whole ending could have been played up. You get my point? Ok, I'll stop harping on this now.

Some positives.

I feel as if I am being overly negative. The movie was not bad. In fact, I enjoyed it as much as some of the earlier offerings. I felt they lost the "feel" of the books somewhere around move 3 and 4. This one certainly had the "feel" right, just not the depth.

I loved the transformation Draco took. He really looked like the troubled youth he was. You could feel the pain radiating from that character. His character has come such a long way from the standard cocky rich boy.

I loved watching Hermione and Ron's love blossom. The bit with Lavender was a little over the top, but I still thought it cute.

Harry and Ginny's love was sweet, but not given enough attention when compared to Ron/Hermione.

It was nice to see Tonks and Lupin together.

The Weasely twins were entertaining as always.

Slughorn's character was exactly as I imagined (minus a few lbs. I thought he was supposed to be a heavier set man). He was fun to watch.


Overall I enjoyed the movie. I wish they had spent more time focusing on Tom Riddle's history, as well as the climactic ending, and a little less on teenage love.

How did you feel after watching the movie? Did you enjoy it?

Songs that Inspire - Linkspam

I was chatting with a blogging and critiquing buddy the other day. We were discussing the songs that help us or inspire our writing.

I tend to have YouTube running while I write. I call up a lot of my favorite songs and let them play as I sit and stare at the computer screen, trying to figure out what to write.

Here is a little taste of what helps me write.





Lyrics

First time I heard this song, this caught my attention;

You know the one thing you're fighting to hold
Will be the one thing you've got to let go
And when you feel the wall cannot be burned
You're gonna die to try what can't be done
Gonna stay stay out but you don't care
Now is there nothing like the inside of you anywhere?

Oh just take the fall
You're one of us
The spotlight is on
(Ahh ahh)
Oh the spotlight is on, yeah it's on


I instantly thought of Alyssa and the way she has to come to accept her new life.




This song just makes me think Vampire. LoL

Lyrics

And our appetite's careless and menacing
It humbles me
We breath softly on with it's predator
Such is a sight to see








I love Incubus. I have all of their albums. This song has such a primal and sensual feel to it. Great for writing romance scenes.

Lyrics

In my fantasy
You look good entwined
In my hair and skin and spit and sweat and spilled red wine
You're my deep secret
I'm your pantomime
I'll just move my hands
I promise You'll see what I mean








Pay no attention to the actual video, it's some x-men thing. It's the song that inspires. I couldn't find a link with the real video.

This is Santino's song

Lyrics

you're keeping in step
in the line
got your chin held high and you feel just fine
because you do
what you're told
but inside your heart it is black and it's hollow and it's cold

just how deep do you believe?
will you bite the hand that feeds?
will you chew until it bleeds?
can you get up off your knees?
are you brave enough to see?
do you want to change it?

what if this whole crusade's
a charade
and behind it all there's a price to be paid
for the blood
on which we dine
justified in the name of the holy and the divine







Lyrics

So don't let the world bring you down.
Not everyone here is that f ked up and cold.


If that doesn't help pull you up by your boot straps after a string of rejections, I don't know what will. =p




Lyrics



Lyrics

And you know that accidents can happen
And it's okay,
We all fall off the wagon sometimes
It's not your whole life
It's only one day
You haven't thrown everything away


This one makes me think of Alyssa's first accidental kill as a new vampire.

And finally....


This is the stuff my husband plays while I am trying to write... Watch at your own risk... Seriously. He made me link this here.




So now that I have linkspammed you with my inspirational playlist. Tell me, what songs work their magic on you?

Vampire News

I've just been made aware of a new vampire movie. You know how I love my vampires.



Information taken from IMDB

In the year 2019, a plague has transformed most every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind

This is set to hit theaters in early 2010. I can tell you right now, I will be waiting in line to see this. Ethan Hawke as a vampire...Yummy. *giggle*

I love the fresh approach here. Vampires are the majority and Humans are the ones having to hide and fight an almost overwhelming battle.

Oh and on a related note, the song in that trailer is just awesome. I have to link it too.

Opinion time

I've been wracking my brain to write the perfect query and the string of rejections tell me, I still haven't gotten it quite right.

I'll say it. I hate Queries. LoL.

Here are the two most current versions of my query. Which one sounds better to you?

V1

Thrust into a dark world filled with bloodlust, religious fanaticism, and thousand-year old vendettas, Alyssa will have to find the strength to accept her terrifying new reality or submit to final death.

Bleeding to death after brutal mugging on the campus of UNLV, Twenty-five year old Alyssa, is rescued by beguiling and immortal Lysander. He gives her the gift, and curse, of immortality. Awakening as a vampire, Alyssa is soon devastated by harsh realities of her new way of life: the loss of her friends, her independence, and her humanity.

Alyssa’s “turning,” did not go unnoticed by other members of the immortal world. Now, both of them have been targeted for final death. An ancient sect of Catholic vampire hunters, known as the Acta Sanctorum, begins their hunt, vowing to destroy all vampires, in God’s name. Meanwhile, a vengeful lover from Lysander’s past seeks to exact her revenge, citing ancient vampire law, as a reason to kill them both. Only by letting go of her old self and accepting that she is a vampire, can Alyssa hope to survive. She will have to stand alongside of Lysander and fight, against two enemies who will stop at nothing to destroy them both.


V2

Alyssa, a lonely, headstrong young woman, is left bleeding to death after a brutal mugging. Help comes in the most unlikely fashion; Lysander, a vampire, an ancient and cursed creature. After centuries of trying to escape the pain and torment of his past love, he had shunned all emotions, locking all feelings deep inside himself. The sight of Alyssa’s mangled body awakens those feelings and he is compelled to save her life. Doing it the only way he can, Lysander sinks his teeth into Alyssa’s soft neck and gives her his gift, and curse, immortality.

But by saving her, he’s awakened the wrath of his old lover, and she makes it known she is coming for revenge. She wants to see final death come to them both, and she is not above alerting the ruthless hunters of the Acta Sanctorum.

Now that he has brought her into his dark world filled with bloodlust and thousand-year old vendettas, he must find a way to protect her, the woman who’s allowed him to feel again. Alyssa too, must learn to accept the new life she has been given and the potential for love and companionship. Together, Alyssa and Lysander must fight against an enemy who will stop at nothing to see them both destroyed.

Deadlines

I've been lazy. I've played on the internet. I've written blogs where I should have been writing chapters. I've made excuses. I've blamed writers block. I've said my muse has gone on vacation. I've done everything possible to avoid finishing my second book.

That has to stop.

I can do this. I can finish the rough draft of book two. I need to put a fire under my ass and get this thing written.

Taking from old advice, I need to let myself write badly. This is just a rough draft. It doesn't have to be perfect.

I can't make excuses any longer.

I think what I need is a deadline. A firm goal to help push me to get this book done. I'm going to have to work with deadlines if/when I land that agent or editor who will get my first book published, so why not start now.

I'm giving myself until the end of august to finish the rough draft. I am writing this here so I have you all to hold me accountable. I must meet this goal. I will meet this goal. I can do this... I hope.

Wish me luck.

Vampire News

OMG! Vampire Diaries

Way back when, as other little girls were reading the Babisitters Club and Sweet Valley High, I was reading The Vampire Diaries. Now, many many years later, they are making it a TV series, and there is word that the Author is writing more books. WoW!!!!




I'm hoping the TV show will be interesting. I'm not a big CW watcher, and I feel I am not the target age group for this series. I do have to at least give it a shot, since these were the start of my love of reading vampire fantasy.

Thanks for playing

I wanted to say thank you to all of the people who participated in my character interviews.

I really enjoyed letting Santino, Lysander, and Alyssa chat with you. I even learned a thing or two about them, thanks to some of your excellent questions.

I hope you too enjoyed the chat.

Eventually, I'll get the rest of my characters to come stop in and say hi. Alyssa has already offered to come back and do a, vampires review, of the upcoming movie, New Moon.

Until then, it's back to just me here on the blog.

Now, a little challenge for you.... Muahahahaha

If you have time, why not try this for yourself. Next week, pull out one of your favorite character and let the internet void take shots at questioning them. I bet you learn something new about your beloved character too.

Meet the Character - Santino Vitale

A large man walks heavily across the room. He carries with him a large-looking tank-like backpack. Attached to it is a rifle sized gun connected to the backpack with a hose. At the tip of the rifle is a small flame. The large man grunts a greeting to the crowd as he approaches the podium, walking as if the flamethrower he carries is a normal accessory.

“The name’s Santino.” His voice is low and gravely. “I’m here to talk to you today about vampires.” He looks up from the podium, twilight, blue-grey eyes scanning the audience. His face is frightening, scarred and wrinkled with age. His hair is a mess of salt and pepper strands set wild about his head like a lion’s mane. He sneers, flashing a quick hint of his fangs behind his dry lips.

“You can forget the shit you’ve been told about garlic and holy water. Stakes through the heart won’t get you anything but dead. You see a vampire. You run, plain and simple. There is no fighting one of these creatures. And there is only one sure fire way to kill’em.” He pats the weapon in his hands.

“Fire.” He growls. “It’s the only thing that will send these beast back to our holy lord for judgment.” He makes the sign of the cross with his right hand, kisses his knuckle, and returns to patting his weapon.

“Now, I don’t normally like to deal with the public, but Katie here has told me she will give me the location of Lysanders home. Natually that’s a place I’d like to… clean up, so I’m going to play nice and answer some questions." He looks back towards Katie and smiles, trying his best to look nice, before returning his attention back to the crowd.

"I don’t want any of you pansy-assed, vampire sympathizers out there asking me cry baby questions. Vampires are monsters, plain and simple, you understand? They may lure you in with their mind control, they may make you think they are nice and sweet, but all they want is your blood. They need to be put down like the rabid dogs they are! If you’ve got some serious questions for me, then let’s get this show moving.”

Jessica says, “You think of yourself this way? Interesting....perhaps this is how you justify your actions? Are you seriously suggesting I could outrun you, btw?”

“I don’t need to justify my actions to anyone; my orders come from God and his holy Church.”

Santino takes out a large dagger from his vest. With one flick of his wrist, he throws the dagger across the room. It flies in a blur, burying its self to the hilt, into the wall.

“No ma’am, I’m not suggesting you can outrun me, and neither can they. At least in running, you give yourself a chance at survival, something you have none of by standing and waiting for your death.”

Robyn says, “Is this how you get your way? Sneering and growling at folks?
Should I feel threatened?”

Santino straightens up and glares at the audience. “I’m not here to make friends. And your feelings are not my concern.”

Jenna Alexander says, “You say you take your orders from the church and God...? Isn't killing a sin?

Maybe they (whoever 'they' really are) are telling you to do their dirty work so you go to hell for conducting their dirty work. You burn, they laugh down at you from the pearly gates.

A raspy, gravely, laugh erupts from Santino’s mouth. “You sound like Lysander now.” He tries to mimic a high pitched, nagging voice. “God wouldn’t condone murder in his name. You’re going to hell.”

A stone cold expression crosses his face. “Can you tell me, you wouldn’t want me to put down a monster, when he has you by the throat?" His voice rises to a yell as he speaks. "Are you that self righteous? Would you nag at me then about commandments and dirty work.”

A silence fills the room. Santino waits, daring someone to speak.

After a few moments, Santino nods and grunts, satisfied he has made his point. His voice returns to normal. “Human history has shown us plenty of war’s fought in God’s name. I destroy evil. God condemns those who have turned away from him, not those who do work in his name. I’m quite comfortable with my position and my immortal soul.”

Scott Free says, “Hey, Santino, you're cool. Had a question about superstitions; if they're not true, how did it happen that people started believing them?”

“Now, there’s a question worth answering.” Santino smiles. “How old are you boy? You have any interest in killing vampires?” He grunts. “Were always looking for a few more, mortal soldiers, they don’t seem to last long in the order.”

“Superstitions, are a good word for them, another word is bullshit! It’s the oldest trick in the book boy. Let a human see what they want to see; something hurting you. Let the rumor spread. People want to believe they can fight and win. It makes them easier prey. You think a crucifix is going to hurt a vampire? You think garlic is going to damage them? They heal instantly; you think a stake through the heart will take them down permanently? If you believe that garbage, you might as well walk out into the night and yell, ‘come get me.’ I’ll say it again. Fire, that’s your only weapon against them. You’ll never get close enough to remove their head, so you have to burn them down.”

Scott Free says, "Cool. Thanks for the answer. Hope you don't mind my asking one more question; ever fought a werewolf?"

"Well, now you do have a head for the hunt, don't you, boy? Sure, we took out a pack up near Boulder Colorado. Wolves are easy to kill but hard to spot. Only way to be sure, is to see them transform. Most of those beast will hold off until the moon is full if they know their being watched. Nothing can stop them from transforming during the full moon."