A Blog of Writing Tips, Interviews, Thoughts on the Writing Process, Book Reviews, Blog Hops, and Things NESCBWI Conference Related.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why a Trusted Beta Reader is a Valuable Addition to Your Toolbox!

You’ve completed your manuscript, edited and revised, read it aloud, and now you want to have a trusted reader complete a beta read.

As a writer, I crave feedback from my peers. I want honesty. I want to know what works and what doesn’t. Which all boils down to having another writer to be my beta reader.

Most writers understands that criticism isn’t about the person, but the manuscript. But, sometimes getting criticism is painful (I remember one very specific occasion where I cried) and can be very difficult to hear. Even for a seasoned, well-critiqued writer.

I want honest and well thought out feedback from someone who recognizes structure, story arc, dialogue, developing characters, plot, and who the intended audience is. Their constructive criticism will empower my creativity and bring with it a desire to continue revising until I get it right.

There are numerous ways to find a trusted reader. Recently, I found a writer who does all of this for me. We’ve swapped manuscripts a few times now. I have learned so much about my writing by reading and offering feedback to her about her work.

I have known her for several years and we first met as members of a critique group. I contacted a critique group that was listed on the NESCBWI.com critique group page. They were looking to grow the group but after a short time the group disbanded. To this day, she and I laugh about it. What I ended up with was a wonderful beta reader and a super writer friend. A girl can get lucky!

You might already be a member of a writer's group. But a fresh reader, someone who hasn't heard all about your struggles with the story is essential when you are preparing for a final round of revision before sending your manuscript to agents or editors.

Do you have a beta reader? if so, how did you find them? I'd love to hear you suggestions and tips.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What Are You Waiting For? NESCBWI 2012 Conference

If you were in attendance at last weekend’s NESCBWI 2011 Conference in Fitchburg, MA., I want to hear from you!

  • Tell me what you loved.
  • Tell me what you didn’t love.
  • Did you step our of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to someone new?

The NESCBWI 2012 Conference - Keeping it Real: reality and world building in nonfiction, fiction, and illustration is all set for April 20-21, 2012 and will take place at the Sheraton Hotel of Springfield, MA, so mark your calendars.

Tell me what you would like to see at next year’s conference.

Now think about this.
Do you have what it takes to be a workshop presenter? Start putting your proposal together. The call for proposals will go out sometime mid to late June. Be ready to submit, because we want you!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What To Bring To The NESCBWI 2011 Conference

I'm packing for the #NESCBWI11 conference. Packing always stresses me out. Every year, I swear I will not forget my business cards. Did I mention, I hate packing? I can never decide what to bring to wear for the weekend. So, rummaging through the closets began last night. I am almost over-packed, I might just have to stop somewhere on the way to Fitchburg to go shopping. Just in case.

In the meantime, I have to start my list. Every year I forget my business cards. So they are at the top this year. (I just ran out to the car and put them on the front seat.)

  • Business Cards
  • AQQ Schedule
  • Copies of AQQ letters
  • Copy of Manuscript Critique Submission
  • Questions for Critiquer (I wonder who it is?) :)
  • Laptop
  • Phone
  • Power cords
  • Camera
  • My Own Pillow (Because you just never know where hotel pillows have been!)
  • A bottle of wine to share
  • Something Silver to wear to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of this conference
  • Clothes that I feel Comfortable Wearing!
  • Comfortable Shoes
  • A SMILE!

I’m sure I forgot something.

What do you usually forget? Tell me. I’ll add it to the list.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Voice or Tone - How to Tell the Difference

What's voice?
What's tone?
In writing, it is often confused.

Grammar Girl did a great post about this on July 1, 2010, called Understanding Voice and Tone in Writing. It was explained by Julie Wildhaber who is a trainer at Yahoo for writers and editors.

I think Julie explains it so well, even I can't improve upon it. So click on the link, and read away!


To be a true writer, you have to get to the end — it’s unavoidable. The best advise I've ever received, this from a well published writer, was to write the whole thing. Don’t stop to “polish” any chapters until your entire manuscript is written.

If you polish, you never finish.

Another great unavoidable for me — the outline. I find that an outline, even one as simple as:

Chapter 1 — Hero breaks leg, can’t save the world.
Chapter 2 — Hero wallows in self pity.
Chapter 3 — world falls apart because hero, isn’t.

Gives me something follow. If I don’t have it, I end up polishing.

The final unavoidable — the rejection. Everyone gets them. I read them, work with them, and move forward.

What are your “Unavoidables” when writing?