Earlier this year, I went to a ANWA writing workshop (read the blog post about that here). It consisted of a four-hour class with author Janette Rallison, and then finished off with a writing critique group, led by Rallison.
During the class, Rallison handed out free copies of one of her books, My Fair Godmother. I'll never refuse a free book, but I'll be honest, I didn't think I'd like it that much. I love YA literature, but from what I understood about the book, it seemed a little too high school to me. I've never gotten into that genre, except maybe when I was an actual teenager.
But because I took the free book, I figured I should just get through it so I could leave a review and complete my end of things.
Within the first couple pages, I was hooked. The story was so much better than I expected. I loved how it wasn't completely set in the real world, and how there was a magical element. It incorporated classic fairy tales, and Rallison had a lot of great humor in there. In one word - fantastic. I couldn't wait to keep reading this book, and I was bummed whenever I had to stop.
Her story's concept is very clever, and definitely not what I expected. Think about it; what would happen if your fairy godmother was only an average student? What kind of trouble could you get into if she didn't ace her godmother classes or even pass her tests? I love that idea!
Here's what I learned. Not everyone has to like every genre, but you can't judge a genre if you've never read it. But most importantly, you can't judge a book by its genre.
I also realized that I have a lot I can learn from Rallison. She's a solid writer, and she knows what she's doing.
You can find her book here:
Every day I struggle with figuring out how to move forward with getting some of my books published. I've tried to get in through traditional publishing, but I haven't had success yet. I'm still not sure self-publishing is for me, but I like the idea of beta readers to help perfect a book. And that's how I'm using WattPad.
WattPad is a content-sharing site. It's free to post and to read the stories of others. If you like e-books and you like free, then this site is for you! I've had great feedback so far on my book, but I'm hoping to extend my reach a bit more to get additional feedback from readers.
I'm still undecided if I'll post the entire book for free on WattPad. I have a hard time giving up my dream of traditional publishing. Even so, I still have high hopes that WattPad can be a useful tool in improving my work and helping through the revision process.
A Little About My Book
The Belles-Lettres Curse is about a teenager whose family is cursed. On her eighteenth birthday, she is trapped inside a classic novel. To return home, she must make it through five classic books, finding the portal in each land before moving on. Gwendi's journey isn't about enjoying some of her favorite novels; it's to survive along the way.
Click here to start reading.
Another WattPad Book You Might Be Interested In
A writer-friend of mine, A.S. Creasey, has some of her book on WattPad, too. She's a fabulous writer. And she has a writing blog, too, and I just love her posts. Check out her blog here.
Here's the synopsis from her book:
"In a novel that asks readers to re-imagine the traditional beliefs regarding life, death, the afterlife, and our choices regarding these inevitables, the experiences of two families, the Donnoways and the Wilders, will become forever intertwined."
Click here to start reading.
Having your writing critiqued isn't always easy. And for some of us, giving feedback on someone else's writing is just as difficult. But there is an art to it, no matter if you're giving or receiving. And as a writer, you'll find yourself on both sides at some point.
The good news? Gracefully giving and receiving writing critiques are skills that can be developed, and you can start today.
Tips for Giving Writing Critiques
Tips for Gracefully Receiving Writing Critiques
Personal Experience - Both Sides of the Line
With two creative writing degrees, my work was critiqued over and over and over. Even though I’ve had my work critiqued a lot, by both people I knew and total strangers, I haven’t always taken the critiques as gracefully as I should have. While working on my master’s capstone (thesis), I spent countless hours on my 20-30 page proposal. My advisor told me I had to redo it all. It wasn’t what she was looking for, and I had followed the wrong template. I didn’t say anything to her, but my husband got an earful. Even with just a few months left of graduate school, I thought about dropping out, which was a first for me. I was embarrassed and humiliated, and I was tired. But I did finish and I used the rest of her brutally honest critiques to better my own writing. Since then, I've worked hard to develop a thicker skin when it comes to my writing.
The most important thing I learned was that a writing critique isn’t a personal attack.
As a college professor myself now, I’ve had a lot of students in my classes who didn’t take critiques well at all. I’ve had them drop the class after one graded assignment because they were embarrassed themselves. Some students have a difficult time understanding that my critiques are meant to help, to better their writing. That’s why they’re taking writing classes, right? If I didn't give honest feedback, they would never reach their writing goals. Sometimes writers need a little tough love to help them see their work objectively, enabling them to make it even better.
What's been your experience with giving or receiving feedback on your writing?
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.