Judith Graves, member of the debut authors Class of 2K10 joins us today for a guest post. Judith is doing a blog tour this week for her upcoming YA novel Under My Skin, which will be released March 27. Welcome!
I'm an author who started out as a singer/songwriter. I grew up writing tunes and playing them for friends/family. I became a regular at open mics, doing the circuit, appearing in a few venues each weekend, and then joined various indie bands to play pubs, music festivals, weddings, you name it. In that time, I learned how to read a crowd. Through them I learned what made a tune a train wreck and what made a crowd pleaser. They gave me instant feedback, and it wasn't always pretty, especially in the beginning.
When I started writing fiction, I felt lost. I had no faces to scan, no tapping toes or swaying bodies to judge if I was getting through. A computer screen doesn't applaud or sneer in disgust as you type your heart out. I didn't know anyone actively writing (although everyone I knew said they'd like to write a book one day). By then I'd moved to a small northern Alberta community, and my band hosted the only open mic in town. There were no writers' groups, so I did what I had to.
I found some online.
I started off with small, but loyal, critique groups I found by searching Yahoo Groups. Then I branched off into the world of Critique Circle. www.critiquecircle.com.
CC is possibly the best online site for a newbie author. There are set rules for critiquing, you can crit for credits (more credits=more chapters/stories you can post to be critted) and stay with the masses or form your own mini-crit groups, skip the credit system, and progress through novels and longer works much faster.
Something told me there could be more than just crit and be critted, however. I think I was looking for the right combination of personalities. I sent an all-call out on an author group, asking for a few loyal critters interested in edgy YA. And, success! That one message became the foundation of my current critique group consisting of Tami Klockau and fellow Leap Books author, Kitty Keswick. Not only do we critique together, we co-write blogs together: http://yadedge.blogspot.com/ and www.wolfychicks.com. Kitty and I are even collaborating on a YA paranormal series. So has this critique group had an impact on my writing?
And we do all this online. I live in Alberta, Tami in San Diego, and Kitty's just outside Philadelphia, PA. Kitty and I will meet in person for the first time as part of a mini-tour of NYC during Book Expo America in May and organized with the class of 2k10 (we're co-presidents of the Class). The dream woudl be to have Tami with us...hint, hint, Tam!
YAedge, the critique group, has been working together for three years and have a great system. We file share through a private Yahoo group. We each post a new chapter of our current WIP on Monday and have until Sunday to critique each other and post our next chapter. We also believe in the "call a friend" method of plotting. We'll often chat via Skype and brainstorm ourselves and our characters out of plot corners. We host periodic writing challenges on our YAedge blog to inspire ourselves and others to get through first drafts. We commiserate when queries are rejected and celebrate when the fates align. We tell it like it is, though; our crits aren't always polite and friendly. If a tomato needs to be thrown, believe me, someone's ducking.
One of the challenges to our group, I have to admit, has been that Kitty and I are both launching debut novels this year. Our critiquing has been overwhelmed by book promotional stuff. But we've recently started to get back on track and just in time to start revising those sequels.
Find out more about Judith Graves and Under My Skin at:
Wolfy Chicks Blog http://wolfychicks.blogspot.com/
Book Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s3kQ4nnSEk
Publisher's Website http://www.leapbks.com/index.html
Class of 2k10 website www.classof2k10.com
Class of 2k10 trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0H79WFPYpc
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