Why It’s Important to Read Other Blogs

Due to couple of technical glitches on my end of things, this post apparently didn’t run on Monday as I’d intended. Enjoy!

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If you’re like me, you watch your fair share of crime dramas on TV. I love Bones, Castle, and NCIS immensely.

But, if I’m not careful, I can allow them to color what I interpret as correct where police procedure is concerned.

This is why it’s important that I–and you as a writer–read non-fiction, whether in blog form or in book form.

I love Lee Lofland’s book, Police Procedure and Investigation, and his blog, The Graveyard Shift. With Castle in particular, he blogs about what the writers/actors did wrong where police procedure is concerned, and praises them when they get it correct. By reading this blog, I learn a lot, and that colors my view of other shows when I watch them. TMOTH is probably getting a little tired of hearing me go “They wouldn’t really do that in real life” or Oh, boy, I can’t wait to see what Lee Lofland has to say about that tomorrow.”

The same holds true for reading blogs by writers and agents. Lately, with having a little one in and out of the hospital, and being a busy mom, I don’t have a lot of time to read lengthy books on the topic of writing. Truth be told, since I got my Kindle a couple months ago, I haven’t cracked open a real book other than review copies for Christian Children’s Book Review. So, for the writer in me, blogs are the best way to stay current with my craft.

I almost always try to stay up with three blogs a week: AuthorCulture, Wordplay, and Rants & Ramblings. If I have time, I usually like to check in with several others, but these are the ones I’ll read while eating breakfast or lunch, or if I have a quick ten minutes where the kids are being good.

Sure, the four I’ve mentioned today are probably not the most comprehensive, although I feel they’re pretty good. Heck, Rants & Ramblings has been on the Writer’s Digest list of best sites for writers several years in a row. But, the important thing for me is that I stay connected. If I were to say “Chuck it. I’ve got too many irons in the fire. I’ll pick my writing back up when the baby’s better,” I’d lose my grip on the market, on what’s good writing, on my passion for doing what I want to do.

By staying active on the blogs, I’m also keeping my name out there. I don’t comment on every post, but I comment frequently enough. And that, as a writer desiring to be published, is an important thing.

So, you tell me: What blogs do you make sure you read frequently? Maybe I’ll have to add a few more to my “must read” list.

Until next time,

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My Favorite Resources

I thought today I’d share with you some of my favorite places on the web that have really made me think about my writing and how to improve it. While this list is nowhere near comprehensive, I hope the sampling provides you with some new places to visit frequently.

Agent/Editor Blogs

The Rejectionist — This isn’t an agent/editor blog per se, however this person is an assistant to what I suspect is a major NY agent. His/her rants are quite comical at times, but usually right on the mark, especially if they share any quotes from queries they’ve received. This person does seem to be mildly obsessed with Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, and will occasionally go into spurts of talking like him. (One of the categories that they regularly post in is We hates it precioussss.)

Evil Editor — I haven’t quite cracked the nut on this one yet. It seems most of the time, the posts break down a persons plot and explains why it won’t work. Other times, it’s a query letter. A few comics are spread throughout. Regardless, I usually get some nugget from reading the posts.

Query Shark — In my opinion, this is one of the best teaching tools for wannabe published writers. As she receives worthy queries, Janet Reid critiques submitted queries and explains why they don’t work–or why they do and why she’d request additional chapters. If you want to put your query through the ringer, though, be sure to read EVERYTHING that’s been posted, or you’ll quickly be rejected! And, read the rules, too. It gets you into good practice for when you start submitting your work.

Miss Snark’s First Victim — If you’re not familiar with Miss Snark, and admittedly, I’m not, you may find the title of this blog a bit odd. However, when you get into the meat of this blog, you’ll find it very helpful–I have. Once a month, this blog hosts a ‘mystery guest’, which is a literary agent. You’re invited to submit the first 250 words +/- of your completed, polished novel if you fit the requirements. Then everyone can critique your work–including the mystery agent. At the end, the agent is revealed, and s/he selects a few works they want to see more of, so you have an opportunity if you’re one of the lucky few to pitch your book. If you don’t get picked, you still get some good advice. I put Homebody through the paces there in November.

Rachelle Gardner — Okay, I’ll admit it. At the moment, I think Rachelle Gardner is my dream agent. Of all the agent blogs I follow, and the agents I follow on Twitter, I think she’s probably one of the classiest. Reading her blog posts, you can really tell that she truly cares about the people she represents, and respects authors in general (not that other agents don’t). Her blog is always helpful and thought provoking. Now if I can just craft or edit a book that she may be interested in! Homebody and Cora’s Song are too rough around the edges, and I think Beyond Dead, once it’s edited, will contain too many sci-fi elements. *sigh*

Author Blogs

K.M. Weiland’s Wordplay — K.M. has become a good cyber-friend, so I may be a little biased, but I truly think her blog Wordplay is fabulous. Each Sunday, she posts on a topic pertinent to becoming a better writer. Regardless of the topic, she makes you think, even if you don’t think the topic is applicable to your particular style of writing. Her companion podcast is also superb, and you can find it (and subscribe!) on iTunes, or listen to it on her site. She’s also begun a new Wednesday feature with a video podcast.

AuthorCulture — Along with Linda Yezak and Lynnette Bonner, K.M. Weiland also writes for AuthorCulture. These three ladies always have something interesting to say, and frequently use examples from their own projects. At the end of the month, they share a roundup of resources they’ve uncovered over the month that may help you, and you sure don’t want to miss Fabulously Fun Fridays at AuthorCulture–it’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’ll get!

777 Peppermint Place — Linda Yezak, pre-published author, shares about personal goings-on, but most often about her writing life. Whether it’s regarding her adventures of rewriting her book, finding an agent, or mulling over her diet, her posts are always fun.

The Graveyard Shift — Non-fiction author and former cop Lee Lofland’s blog is always informative, especially if you’re writing crime fiction. He reviews episodes of ABC’s Castle, detailing why things wouldn’t work from a cop’s perspective, but also details topics pertinent to those writing crime fiction, or are even just curious about how things work. His book, Police Procedure & Investigation was published through Writer’s Digest Books, and is extremely helpful. He also is a member of a Yahoo! group on writing crime fiction, crimescenewriter.

Miscellaneous Blogs

The Character Therapist — Writer and Licensed Therapist Jeannie Campbell has one of the most unique blogs for writers out there. She posts twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every Tuesday, she selects a character sketch or outline from her readers and puts the characters on the couch, so to speak. She takes your premise as a guide, then tells you from a psychological point of view why your characters would or wouldn’t work. She’ll also give you ideas to tweak your characters to bring them in line with what would be acceptable behavior if they’re way out of line. Thursdays, Jeannie tends to go through various psychological maladies and how you could use them in your writing. Like Query Shark, be sure to read the rules, though there aren’t as many and they aren’t as strict as The Shark.

Twitter

Some may say that Twitter isn’t worth the time, however I’ve found that I learn a lot from following agents and authors on Twitter. Some of the time it’s just a nodding, ‘I’m going to file that away’. Other times, it’s an aghast open mouth thinking ‘what where they thinking?’ (These are usually from seeing something marked #queryquotes — a very good search to save!)

Since time is running short, here’s just my top 10. You can find more by following me, @righter1 and either my list ‘Important Folks’ or ‘Agents’.

@RachelleGardner
@Agentgame
@WolfsonLiterary (she may not have started #queryquotes, but I think she’s the queen now!)
@WritersDigest
@BostonBookGirl
@LeeLofland
@KMWeiland
@pprmint777
@Brandilyn
@Bradfordlit

So, I’ve shared mine. How about you? What are some of the resources you couldn’t live without online?

Until next time,

Guest Blogger: Lynnette Bonner!

Please join me today in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Lynnette Bonner! Lynnette is the author of the newly released book, Rocky Mountain Oasis. You can purchase a copy through Amazon or CBD. To get it for free, check out the guidelines for an e-copy at the end of the post! Welcome, Lynnette!

The Importance of a Good Critique Group

First I want to say thanks to Liberty for allowing me to guest post here today. What a privilege.

Jumping right into our topic…. I’d like to address the importance of good critique partners today.

Let’s face it. As writers, we are surrounded by people who often don’t get the process of writing. Many people think you write a book, send it to your editor, (who promptly writes you a 6 figure check – ha! wouldn’t THAT be nice) and then it gets published a couple weeks later. Right? When I tell people that it took me 10 years to finally get my book published, they angle me “that” look – the one that says, “Is she any good if it took her that long to get published?”

This is the first reason why it is important to surround yourself with good critique partners. As writers, we are all in the same boat and can understand and sympathize with each other. I can’t tell you the number of times that my crit partners have been an encouragement to me to keep pressing forward.

The second reason is, of course, for technical errors, grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. – all that editing junk we need to do. My two biggest areas of weakness are spelling and grammar, but I have several critique partners who are strong in those areas. I recommend you surround yourself with people who are strong in areas where you are weak.

Also, often I get so close to the story that I miss technical details that either should be included or should be excluded. Or I can’t tell if I’ve made my point clearly enough and I rely on my critique partners to let me know if I’ve come across clearly, or if I need to say more on that particular subject. Having another person’s perspective on my story is invaluable to me.

If you aren’t in a critique group and you want to be a serious writer you need to get into one right away. Larger cities often have critique groups that meet monthly. And if yours doesn’t have one that you think would work for you, why not start one? Some of you may live in small towns where you are the only writer for miles around. For you, there are lots of online critique groups you can join. ChristianWriters is a free one that has a lot of wonderful resources. There are others like ACFW that cost some to join but have lots of helpful classes and information by email. You can find people through the blogosphere and email your critiques back and forth to each other. There really are no excuses for not having a critique partner.

Let me quickly mention my book because I’m offering a free e-copy to a lucky winner drawn from the commenters on this post. Rocky Mountain Oasis is a Christian historical romance. To read more about it and see the first few chapters you can go to lynnettebonner.com. If it sounds interesting to you, leave a comment and Liberty and I will put your name into the hat for the drawing.

So, what is your critique group like? How often do you meet? What do you do at your meetings?

Lynnette Bonner ~ Inspirational Romance Author


Thanks, Lynnette!

As she said, we’re giving away a free copy to one lucky person. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 14th! Please leave a comment on this post to register, or if you become a follower of Word Wanderings between now and Sunday, September 13th (cutoff time 6 PM, Central Time), you will also be entered. If you leave a comment and become a follower, you’ll get your name put in the drawing twice! Good luck to everyone!

Until next time,