A Writer’s Group Roast

Ode to the writer’s group whose hearts yearn to help.

Although their comments may make your nose hairs stand on end,

And their constant debating gives you an earache.

In the end, we writers are all but lost without our dear group,

For who else can truly understand our sacrifice?

As we all know, a writer’s group is one of the most important factors in the world of the written pen.  For myself, I belong to a wonderful writer’s group that only has the best intentions for its members. However, I have been at the other end of the stick, where the comments and critiques were more critical than necessary.

There are signs of a good writer’s group. One is if they give positive critiques. Instead of always telling you what’s wrong with your writing, they should also be telling you what’s right with it. Another sign is if the group supports each other. Do they celebrate the accomplishments of their members? Do they cheer you on or listen to your problems? Finally, it’s all about respect. We as writers have to respect each other no matter if opinions differ. A good writer’s group does just that.

However, there is no perfect group. They’re run by humans for Pete’s sake, humans that have emotions (probably strong emotions if they are writers) and desires. Feathers will be ruffled every now and then.

So what are some negative things that can happen within a writer’s group? One is when a member becomes bothered with the critiques they are given. Usually they disagree with them, especially if they are too negative. This is understandable because we all want our work to succeed, and having someone point out its negatives can makes us worry our story is going to come crashing down. We pour a lot of our time and soul into writing. When people tear it down, we tend to sometimes feel we are being torn down and not the story.

First, you will never get anywhere in the writer’s business if you can’t take a negative critique. They are bound to happen. Why, because not everyone will agree with or like everything you write. That’s just the law of the land. Second, it’s how you handle what you think is negative. I’m a passionate person, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m well aware that I worry over things too much, but that is what I do. To compensate for this, I allow myself a little “worry” time and then, “Bam!” I’m over it. It becomes small potatoes to me. If this is you, my suggestion is to get a trusted friend and “vent” to them. One that you believe will understand where you’re coming from, (hopefully, this can be a fellow writer). Also, be aware of how things affect you and make an effort to change those feelings for the better. It’s not a good feeling to be upset or worried.

Now sometimes, the person critiquing can get upset when they believe the author doesn’t agree to their suggestions. I’ve seen this more than once. The person giving the critique gets so involved with trying to “fix” the story that they don’t understand why the author doesn’t agree with them. The good news is this usually stems from wanting the best for that author, at least that’s my opinion. So the point is, all members need to accept the fact that their suggestions aren’t always going to be used, but are well appreciated. If they don’t, then the critiquing group can quickly become a debating team where the members feel as if they have to prove their comments are correct.

So if you haven’t yet, and I believe most of you have, go join a writer’s group, but make sure to go in with an open heart and mind. Just remember, your story is…YOUR STORY, and no one can change that. It’s up to you to decide to take or leave a critique, which is, after all, just somebody’s suggestion. In time, you will discover your fellow writers are gold, and they will become your second family.

The Review That Got Me Blackballed Out of the Service, (media service that is)

This review is about the book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimah. It’s the story of a mouse, Mrs. Frisby, who needs help moving her house before the farmer destroys it with his plow.

Although I’ve seen the movie, I’ve never read the actual story, up until now. I am sorry to disappoint my fellow bloggers and blog readers but this review didn’t get me “blackballed” or fired from any job. However, it will probably turn an eyebrow or two since I didn’t favor the book. Here’s why…

I know Robert O’Brien’s 1971 story is a beloved classic and who wouldn’t like those adorable animals and their human like traits. The setting is well described for the most part, and as a reader, you feel for Mrs. Frisby and her plight to save her son, Timothy.

But that might be it for me. It’s a classic tale of “don’t watch the movie before reading the book,” and in this case, I did. I prefer the story changes in the Hollywood version more than the original work itself. For instance, I guess it’s the romantic in me, but I liked how Mrs. Frisby and Justin’s relationship was insinuated in the movie. (I know this is a children’s story, but I can’t help what I like). “Spolier” Plus, it annoyed me how I still don’t know for sure if Justin died in the book or if it was another rat who went back to save Brutus.

Justin wasn’t the only character I had a problem with. I enjoyed the movie’s version of Jenner more as the big bad villain than how O’Brien portrayed him. In the book, Jenner came across as just a rat with an independent streak. (Blah, I like them bad to the bone.) Finally, the scene where Mrs. Frisby goes down to see the rats just doesn’t excite me like it does in the movie where I have no trouble visualizing the awesome beauty.

Robert O’Brien did a good job writing this classic story, but the movie takes the chocolate in this case.

This book receives three out of five chocolate bars. 

Rating = Go see the movie.

Book ‘Em Conference and Book Fair in Lumberton, 2013

I am writing this post to let all my fellow writers and book lovers know about this great event. This past February, I had the pleasure of attending the very first Book ‘Em Conference with my good friend, Sharon. The Book ‘Em Writers Conference was held in Lumberton, North Carolina back in February and the foundation is already planning a second annual conference February 23 of next year. Now I know what you are thinking, February, why that’s seven months away! But I didn’t have a blog back then to write how great the first one was, and I didn’t want to forget to share this excellent event with all of my friends.

There are several things I found wonderful about this conference. For one, the conference is a perfect place if you are just beginning to write. You will be surrounded by other new writers all with like minds and eager hearts. There are seminars and classes offered ranging from character development, settings, to getting published the easy way. Mostly small and medium publishing houses attend conferences like these. But smaller publishing companies are a great way to get your foot in the door and some authors prefer them to big house names. The publishers attending usually hold a Q and A session where the audience can ask questions. This is invaluable to an author because you receive first hand information about the business and create those much needed contacts.

Hold the back button, I’m not done yet! The Book ‘Em Conference isn’t just for writers, it’s for book lovers as well. Along with the conference, there is a book fair featuring local authors from North Carolina and the surrounding states. What reader doesn’t like to be among rising talent, and with all the new authors featuring their work, your chances of running into the next C.L. Lewis, Beatrix Potter, or Nora Roberts is high. Plus, the Book ‘Em foundation always features a “big wig” author or guest speaker/s. This past year it was Carla Neggers and Michael Palmer, Michael Palmer, please! The movie, Extreme Measures, is based off of his book with the same name. I remember watching that movie with Gene Hackman, Hugh Grant, and Sara Jessica Parker, and it was good. This year’s guest speakers are Chuck Williams, who was in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and Mary Alice Monroe, whose romantic books are published all over the world.

Most importantly, the conference is FREE. So please pull out your calendars, your phones, your sticky notes, and mark the date, February 23, 2013. This author will see you there!


Book Review

The Lemonade War

When I first set out to read this book, I had my doubts. I don’t read a lot of realistic stories, especially ones about little kids, and so I thought I would never end up liking this book. Boy, was I wrong.

The story revolves around Evan Treski and his sister, Jessi, as they battle it out one hot summer to see who can earn one hundred dollars first by selling, you guessed it, lemonade! It’s not without a few comedic episodes as both brother and sister try to sabotage the other from winning. Their antics will keep any child entertained, but as an adult, I really enjoyed reading about the two main characters’ thoughts and feelings. Especially those I have personally experienced. The narrator keeps an omniscient view point, but jumps back and forth between the two siblings letting the reader get to know both of them on a personal level. This creates real, meaningful characters, a quality not always found in adult books.

The Lemonade War is the first of a series of three books by Jacqueline Davies. It’s classified as realistic fiction and is a good read for grades 3rd through 5th.

This reader gives the book four out of five chocolate bars.  Rating = Yum

Hello world!

Well, I finally decided to start my personal blog. I’m so excited!!! This blog will consist of my writings as well as anything else I find interesting or amusing. I’m trying to figure out all the cool stuff you can do with a blog so you’ll have to work with me folks. Never knew how much time is put into one of these things. I hope all my friends will appreciate the site and find it interesting. As for all my buddies that already have blogs up and running, I plan to be showing you some love soon too and I hope you will return the favor.   🙂