Posts Tagged ‘critiques’

So, I seem to have mostly gotten over my New Years’ cold. And I’ve started to get back to work on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm I haven’t gotten much further on it, yet. But at least I am working on it.

I’ve also gotten some feedback on the early chapters that gives me some good ideas about what I need to do to make it even better. That’s energizing in its own way. It’s the new ideas that make this writing thing fun and, since MAGE STORM isn’t new, that may have been responsible for some of my lack of enthusiasm. An infusion of new ideas may be exactly what I needed.

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I’ve reached the midpoint of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM in this first pass of the final revisions.


Happily for the pacing, it falls at just about the half-way point of the manuscript, too. As a discovery writer, I like to check things like that as I go through the manuscript. The midpoint is usually where some revelation changes the direction of the story. Most commonly it’s where the characters learn something that allows them to move from reaction to action, from defense to offense.

This is also the place one of my beta readers flagged as needing a bigger emotional reaction to that revelation. Since that character is also being hit with a different emotional upheaval at the same time, that’s going to need a good bit of planning. (He’s young enough to think he can hide it from the girl, because he doesn’t want to appear weak to her. Too bad she won’t be fooled. Or, maybe not bad at all, in the long run. 🙂 )

Therefore, I won’t be making that change–or at least not completing it–in this pass. I will be looking for the places where I can bring it out and possibly laying the framework for it. If I want this to really bring this character to his knees–temporarily–and all while he’s trying not to let it show, I’ll need to weave it in seamlessly. If I can make that work, though . . . .

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I’ve finished what I do with the revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.


Now it’s time to see what my critique partners can find that I just didn’t see. And then revise for the problems they found. I’m thinking this one might get published as early as December. If not, January.

And, while I wait to hear back from them, I need to restart work on MAGE STORM, including deciding if it will be epic fantasy or sword and sorcery.  And take care of some housekeeping things, like getting my print books moved from CreateSpace to KDP Print.

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I’ve started back to work on the sequel to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING,




Switching gears, even to a sequel always takes a few days–even without life interrupting. And plumbing issues–one of the joys of an old house–have definitely interrupted.

However, one of the first things I’ve done is to review the comments on the first five chapters by an alpha reader. And, based on that, I’ve decided to add a new first chapter, from the perspective of one of the primary characters from the BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, just to give readers a quick grounding in WHERE and especially WHEN this story takes place.

I’ve decided this because otherwise the story starts with an entirely new character who wasn’t even referenced in the first book. And also because the sequel takes place about eighteen years after the first book. Hopefully, this will ease readers in a little more gently, even if it appears to be a somewhat slow beginning. It’ll be a very short chapter, at least. So that’s what I’m doing now.

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Today it’s Merlanan’s turn to be introduced. Well, reintroduced. He first appears, briefly, at the end of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.


But, of course he was much younger, then.

Here’s his first scene in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM:


Margan patted Sunbeam’s shoulder as he finished up brushing the palomino warhorse down. The palomino had been a birthday gift, three years ago, brought all the way over the mountains from Versenna by Uncle Alander on one of his regular trips as private courier for secure messages between Mother and her family. The gift had only made Margan more restless.

As long as he could remember, Margan had known that he didn’t belong in Khatar. There was something he was meant to be doing and it wasn’t on this side of the mountains. That feeling had been growing stronger the last couple of years. Well, probably it would have grown stronger anyway, but having his own horse to make the journey with hadn’t done anything to lessen it, certainly. Probably neither Mother, Uncle Alander, nor Grandfather had really expected it to.

He desperately wanted to go visit the place where his father had died, too. Just to feel some connection with the man he’d never had a chance to meet. Not that he was expecting to find anything but the cairn, but . . . .

The spring equinox—and his birthday—was in three days. He’d be eighteen. Margan meant to leave soon after, but he still needed to persuade Mother and the others that he was old enough to undertake this journey. Finally. With the king on their side, they had the power—if not the right—to stop him.

He lifted his face briefly to the sky, feeling for the currents of weather, and smiled. Yes, he was certain the weather would remain good for at least that long.

He gave Sunbeam another pat. “Wish me luck, boy.” Margan’s cat, Mrow, followed, tail high.

As is hinted at the end, there, he does have an ability to sense changes in the weather that will play an important part later on.

In other news, the first of the critiques of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING has come back. I plan to get the next two chapters of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM done before going back to revisions. I can see those chapters in my head, so now’s the time to get them out.

Based on that critique, though, I’m also going to have some thinking to do about how to publish these two stories. They’re very closely tied together. And I hate cliff hangers. But it was unavoidable in this case. So, I need to figure out how I’m going to handle that.

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Hip, hip, hooray!

I finished the initial revisions to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING!


It’s ready to go out to my critique partners! Woo hoo!

Now for a brief respite and then to plunge back into the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.



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Even while I was working on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, readers from my critique group were reading small batches of two or three chapters.


One of them gave me a fairly harsh critique on one chapter. I did what you do with harsh critiques–set is aside to look at more closely later. Then, when I did the read-through, I incorporated the comments into the manuscript. Over the last two days, I’ve basically completely rewritten that chapter and it is so much better.

That’s what a good critique can do for you. Make you take a harder look at something that may be adequate, but isn’t anywhere near what it needs to be. And again, I say thank you.

I don’t ever want anyone to hold back from telling me what isn’t working, what needs more work, what just needs to be cut and forgotten about. Of course, it’s nice to hear what is working well, too. But that’s not the stuff I need to work on.


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My rule about first drafts is that they only go in one direction–forward. Creating the first draft and revising/editing it in subsequent drafts are two very different tasks that each require a very different frame of mind. Writing a first draft all the way to “The End” requires that I resist the urge to let myself get into the editor frame of mind.

That doesn’t, of course, mean that I can’t go back and make a note. I almost have to since I discovery write and sometimes I discover something that will require a change to something I wrote earlier or, more often, something that will need at least a touch of foreshadowing–you know, like the fact that dragons exist in this world if a dragon or two are suddenly going to show up in, like, Chapter 30. (That’s a reference to another story I need to circle back to sometime, MAGE STORM.)

I also belong to one writing group that reads a few chapters at a time every month or so. This works really well. It lets me know what aspects of the story are working and which need a bit more work. As per the rule above, I incorporate ideas from these critiques as notes and move on–usually.

However, right now, as I’m trying to rebuild momentum after a couple of unplanned stops pauses, I’m thinking this might be a good time to break that rule.

In this particular case, my critique partner wanted more emotion about a particular past event that isn’t directly shown, but only referred to. I agree, in general. Particularly because this event is the cause of one of my main characters . . . what K. M. Weiland would refer to as his “ghost”. Something he believes, that isn’t really true, that holds him back, at least temporarily.

The problem is that this particular place in the story–at the start of a battle–isn’t the place for soul searching or a lot of emotion that doesn’t have to do with not getting killed or letting too many of his men get killed, either. I had actually toyed with the idea of deleting that paragraph or two for just that reason. But I need to get the information in somewhere and I’m not sure where else to put it. Plus, it ties into his motivation in that moment.

What I can do is have him firmly repress that emotion and memory because this is not the time or place for it. But then I still have to figure out how to get that emotion in somewhere else. And I can see pretty clearly how and where to do exactly that. And it would be adding not editing.

So, this feels like a good time to break that first draft rule, just a little. Hopefully, it’ll even help me build momentum for the story as a whole.


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BECOME: BROTHERS finally has a cover:


Ta da!

Also, that new scene I was working on has been finished. (I teared up a little when writing it, so at least I think it’s good.) My critique partner was so right about needing that scene.

Now, it’s on to:

  1. Tthe blurb, which I’ve started.
  2. Finish the revisions.
  3. I might need to write one other new scene.
  4. Polishing edit
  5. And publish!

Then, I can get back to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

Also, I’ve finished going through the spring refresh of my novels and boxed sets. There’s a handful of short stories and one novella still to go, but I can take those at my leisure. Though two of them may need some remedial work on the covers, too.

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Well, I re-enabled page flip on my DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

Page reads are still zero. Wide distribution is starting to look more and more likely for me. Getting everything out of Kindle Select to allow that to happen may be a bit tricky. I need to look at the term end dates and make a schedule.

Meanwhile, in better news, I think I’ve finally got a good demo for the cover of BECOME: BROTHERS. One step closer. Also, I’ve started that scene I decided I needed to show the main character’s vulnerability. By started, I mean I’ve written one sentence, but I do have a pretty clear idea of how the scene needs to go. I’ve just been busy with other things.

And I’m also working on getting the new covers up for the Chimeria series.


That involves changing them for the paperbacks, too.

So, yeah, busy. But mostly in a good way.

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