Round of Words in 80 Days Writing Challenge Update

Have a good wordcount ticker to recommend? I’d like to add one , and I have looked at TickerFactory’s site, but nothing’s sparked my interest yet.
It’s not very Jane Jetsonesque to be without a wordcount ticker during a writing challenge, so if you love one, please share. 

You know how your stomach plummets to your ankles when you come home from vacay to find that email you’ve dreaded? The one you’re afraid to click… the one you cross your fingers when you download its attachments?
That’s what was in my inbox last week.
The crit from a published author  for Georgia Romance Writers’ Gin Ellis Workshop.
The workshop pairs a published author with an unpublished one, to offer feedback and improve their entries for the Maggies Writing Contest, sponsored by GRW and awarded in October at the Moonlight and Magnolias Writers’ Conference. (Interested? Check out information here and sign up!)
It’s the Karma thing, where published authors pay it forward and help us unpub’d along….
Well, I really really really did not want to do this. Criticism isn’t my thing (is it anybody’s?) and besides, I’m so new at writng– larva actually, in the gestation phase — that I knew it would be a waste of the published author’s time, energy, and efforts.
But, due to the prodding (read: ass kicking) from my crit partners Lindy Chaffin Start and Pam Asberry, I entered my synopsis, prologue, and chapter (up to 30 pages) to the coordinator with twenty minutes to spare before the deadline.

A month passed, and there it was: the judge’s email.
With four (!) attachments.

So, I held my breath and downloaded them.
 I clicked open, clapped my hand over my eyes, and squinted at the comments.
Red ink never looks friendly. Never.
 Why isn’t purple the default color on MS Word? 

But, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles… guess what?
Well, no, it really did bleed red ink, so not that….

Maureen.Hardgree, author of Haint Misbehavin’ was pretty encouraging. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she was impressed with my writing, but she had some nice things to say.
Some very nice, encouraging things….
She liked that I had put in the time on world building (why yes, yes I have…) and that I threw lots of conflict at my hero, which is good (why thank you!). She thought the premise was interesting (I’ll take that as a compliment) and that it had possibilities.

So. Okay. I can exhale now.

Really, I’m pretty happy with that. Bloody red ink and all.

I  wrote her a  thank you email  to say how grateful I was that she took the time  to point out my areas for improvement .
And she was kind enough to respond that it was her pleasure to help me, and we’ll make an appointment to meet face to face to discuss things like
 my bad HeadHoppingHabit … and Too Much Back Story… and One Big Character Mistake I Wish I Had Caught  (whoops!).

Surprisingly, from this big wimpy crit wuss, this wasn’t a bad experience. Now, later in my career, as I grow and  improve, it will get tough, tougher, toughest. Probably soak the page in red ink.
But I have to get tough too.
Judges can be tough, but readers — particularly readers who review and blog and tweet and facebook share–
They’re the toughest.

 Okay… Update: 1281 words. I’ll keep about 399 of them. 

Here are 104 other challenge takers you can follow here.

Maureen Hardegree’s book is available on Kindle. Check it out!

A Bientot!

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13 thoughts on “Round of Words in 80 Days Writing Challenge Update

  1. Congrats Pam! I am so happy for you. I wish I could find a group like that to join. But, with moving back and forth from Idaho to California, its going to be hard. I love the larva stage: soon you will be a beautiful butterfly!If you get a nice counter let me know, in the ROWo8 also!Take care and congrats again,Shellie

  2. Being fairly new to this myself, I've wondered if paying for these critiques is worth it. Sounds like it would be. Although "critique" always strikes me as a word that sounds too lovely for what it really is. Shouldn't it be called something like "heart-ripping" or "soul-sucking"? Okay, maybe not that bad. But you fall in love with your baby (I mean, book), and it's not always easy to hear what you NEED to hear. Still, if you want to be your best…Best wishes on the ROW80 challenge!

  3. What an great opportunity to get feedback from a published writer! The best thing about criticism (versus reader reviews) is that nothing is set in stone yet. There is still room to make the work better and to become a better writer. It can be painful, but it's a good pain. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Shellie, http://www.rwa.org/ is the home for Romance Writers of America. There are several subgroups under this umbrella if you're a different genre. It is well worth the membership dues for the wealth of information, support, and news you get. I hope you find a home like this somewhere! I know where to reach you if I find a counter…

  5. Hahaha! Julie! Soul sucking and heart ripping… LOL! Nobody likes to hear your baby's ugly, you look chubby in that dress, or your book is landfill. Just to clarify, this critique is a service offered by GeorgiaRomanceWriters, my local chapter of RWA, as a way for the published author members to pay it forward. Good Karma to share.

  6. Ha Julie! Nobody wants to hear you look chubby in that dress, or told your book's landfill! Yes, I need to grow thicker skin to improve. And buy stock in paper products.

  7. Pam… yes, just keep kicking…!Katherine,Much better to receive the crit in private from one or a few trusted people, than to publish the work on the 'net and suffer the mob mentality that happened last week. My heart goes out to that writer; she could have saved herself much, much grief.

  8. "larva actually, in the gestation phase" You silly goose! Love this. It's good — I think the hardest part is the ambiguity of what "they" want. Once I got some guidance I was off and running, but the initial wondering if you were even on the right track, was hard.

  9. C.G., Thanks for the offer. I'm on my way, and I may need that help. Thanks!P.W., Good point there about the ambiguity and initial wondering. Plus, it's most important to have an author with a matching genre for your critique. Considering my wip doesn't have a genre identity yet, one Major point she kindly pointed out, with ways to tweak that….

  10. I love that you did this, Pam! Very inspiring. I'm nervous, yet excited for the day where our work gets critiqued. Sounds like this was a very good thing for you to overcome, now that you've done it, it will be easier the next time…or maybe not ๐Ÿ˜‰ Either way, congratulations, and good luck!

  11. It's always scarey getting a critique back and I'll be the first to admit that I didn't handle a couple of them well, but now I crave feedback. It will become addicting.

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