One of Those Critiques.

Ever get a critique back (in this case, a partial critique) that makes your eyes bobble out?  Not in a bad way.  In a good way.  My little sister (Psst...update your tumblr, Sara), her roommate, and her roommate's sister have read/are reading my second draft.  And they have caught so much.  So.  Much.  I won't get into the plot details, but I feel like they just get my story and my characters.  They also caught what isn't working and, more importantly, why it doesn't seem to be working.

The feedback that left me squeeing in my chair?  My sister's roommate's sister Erika of the Awesome who is right at my target reader age said that the book sucked her in and that she read the first half in one sitting.  Squee!

But my favorite part of the critique?  At the end, they each gave me a detailed physical description of how they pictured the characters, including actors they'd choose to play them.  How fun is that?


Oh, the dreaded "?????"

On the face of it, it might seem like the least helpful critique comment you can receive.  But I disagree.

So many other areas of feedback can be a matter of taste.  One time, I got two different critiques back at the same time.  One highlighted a section and wrote, "Pick up the pace here."  The other marked the same section, "S-l-o-o-w down."

But if I see "?????", I know an area needs a major overhaul.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Because I'd rather have a crit partner say it than an agent.

Things I Heart Right Now

-I quadruple heart Janice Hardy's blog, so I know what you're thinking.  What took me so flippin' long to start reading the Healing Wars series?  I have a little secret for you.  I have an intentional bad habit of starting series late in the game.  Because I'm impatient.  And whiny.  And impatient.  Once I know how good a book is, I have a very hard time waiting for the sequels.
But do yourself a favor and go pick up this book.  Now.

-Anything by Amy's Organics.  The Pea was recently diagnosed with a peanut allergy, and we've known of his egg allergy for more than a year now.  Until you've had a child with a food allergy, you don't know how nice it is to be able to pick up a brand and not have to scour the back for evidence of egg and peanut/tree nut.  Plus, all their stuff is yummy.  Especially their bean burritos and mattar paneer.

-No one ruining HP7 part 1 for me with spoilers.  Hubbykins was out of town last week, so we decided we'll see it over Thanksgiving when my parents can watch the Pea.  Free babysitting probably deserves its own "heart" category.

-Hrmmm...okay, this is a tough one.  I want to put this in the heart category: snuggling on the couch last night with Hubbykins.  But we were watching Star Trek V: The Final Craptier, which should land it in the "not heart" category.  Please don't send me any "How can you be anti-Star Trek?" hate comments.  I love Star Trek.  As a whole, it deserves its own heart category.  But this movie stinks.  But there was much amiable snarking, which was fun.  So I'm going to stick with hearting it.

-White Fudge-Covered Oreos.
It will make my heart cry if I find out you've never had these.

-The overwhelming sense of thankfulness I feel for every breath given me, for every moment with Hubbykins and the Pea, for every word I've been able to write.  God has blessed me more than I can fathom.  I'm so glad I have an entire day to celebrate it!  And eat turkey.  And white fudge-covered Oreos.

Little White Socks

The Pea has learned the mysterious art of shoe stripping.  (If you have never had a two year-old, "mysterious shoe stripping" refers to the paradoxical phenomenon that if I ask him to remove his shoes, it takes no less than 17 minutes for him to do so.  Yet somehow, if we are in the car for more than 30 seconds, he manages to always arrive at our destination barefoot.)

There are little white socks everywhere.  Everywhere.  Under couch cushions, lodged in the corners of his crib, stuck in kitchen drawers.  Pretty much every place you can dream up other than the hamper.

It's gotten to the point that I no longer see them.  At the end of the day, when it's clean-up time before bed, I'll have him pick up his toys, books, puzzles.  Then, an hour later, I'll sit down on the couch and lo and behold.  Socks.

I have little white socks in my WIP.  I didn't realize it until I started the read-aloud.  The usual suspects: just, only, but, got, some, a few...and, ironically, little.  All I can say is, "Thank goodness for find in Word."

Now, if only there were a find button for those socks.

Talking to Myself (alternate title: In Which Hubbykins Looks Over the Fact That He's Married to a Loon)

I've started my read-aloud edit on my manuscript.  I'd been putting if off and putting it off for some reason.  That reason being the fact that I hate my reading-aloud voice.  I'm actually surprised by  how much I'm enjoying it (and by how many little problems I find when I can hear my own words).  

Hubbykins is reading it (not aloud) for the first time right now as well.  He claims that he loves to hear me read it out loud, but put up a fuss the other day when he overheard a section he hadn't reached yet and accused me of "spoiling it."

Which makes me smile.

Mary Sue

Ever have a character who's impossible to nail down?  I have a minor character right now who is giving me fits.  Her voice isn't the problem.  I just can't figure out what her "thing" is.  Her defining characteristic.  Her deepest need.  Right now, she feels kind of scattered.  I know all these different aspects of her personality, but they don't feel cohesive yet.

I think J.K. Rowling is a master at this.  Name any Harry Potter character, I can probably tell you what his or her "thing" is.

Hagrid?  Gruff teddy bear.  Molly Weasley?  Worrywart mom.  Fred and George Weasley?  Troublemaking jokesters.

Yet, not a single one of her characters, even the most minor, feels one-dimensional.

Yep.  I've got a Mary Sue on my hands.

What's a nice, mean tic I could give her?

"This is a great post," she said enthusiastically

Don't know if you caught Nathan Bransford's 5 Writing Tips From Reading J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, but it's a gem.

When Bad Covers Happen to Good Books

Let me preface this post by saying, "No.  I am not going to tell you the book to which I'm referring."  I will say that it is not a recent release.  At all.  Like not in the last ten years.  The author is one I respect and admire.  She's a fabulous writer.  It's a great book.

It's a horrible cover.  (Like, cheesetastically bad.  Even ten years ago.)

I picked the book up this week in the library because I've enjoyed some of her more recent work.  And I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  But it pains me.  To the point that I lay the book on my nightstand facedown.  How many people passed this book over because of its dust jacket?  It looks like an afternoon special exploded all over it.  

Oh, but the story!  It's wonderful.  Hooked me from the first page and never let go.

I don't really have a point to this post today.  But I am curious ***without naming any titles or authors*** have you ever almost walked away from a treasured book based on an ugly cover?

Logline Blogfest

What a great idea Steena Holmes had!  A logline blogfest so we can help each other out and give feedback on our critiques.  And as of right now, it's still open for joining.

Here's mine!

When jaded time-traveler Bree encounters a boy from the distant past who claims to be both crazy for her and on a mission to protect her, she realizes that her worst enemy may be none other than her future self.