Running A Marathon, Not A Sprint

It’s dawned on me that I haven’t been posting about my writing experience lately. If I don’t talk about myself, who will? I’m still working on short stories. Right now, I have 5 that I submitted to magazines/online journals. I’m still editing my 6th one, so I can add it to the list.

I’m happy to announce–One By One is officially off hiatus!!! I found an editor. Correction. An editor found me; my author friend offered to look over my manuscript. I’m very grateful that he helped me out. Not only did he volunteer his time, but he delivered his feedback in a timely manner. Jim did a line by line edit as well as pointed out ways to improve some scenes. Thankfully, there’s no massive rewriting that I have to do on my part.

  • Thank you Jim. You have no idea how much your help meant to me 🙂 I also want to thank Monica. She gave me a step by step guide on formatting a Word document to Amazon’s Kindle format. Her instructions are easy to understand and way more helpful than those “helpful guides” online. Learning how to do this myself is a huge investment where I can cut down on expenses. I have to think like a businesswoman.
  • Last year, I wanted to publish One By One in March, but something came up (a.k.a. having to save money for a new apartment). As long as nothing awful happens during the formatting stage (a.k.a. I can’t figure it out and would have to hire someone, possibly being on a waiting list), I plan on having my book out mid-to-late April. One month behind schedule isn’t too bad.

For a long time, it was hard for me to find anyone interested in reading Something’s Amiss as a beta-reader. I don’t know why the romance genre gets a bad rep. I kept hearing, “Ew, I don’t want to read anything corny.” Thankfully, I found writers willing to look over my story now. So far they’re enjoying it! Instead of a romance, I’m re-tweaking some story elements to make it women fiction instead. I’d rather it be a drama instead of a straight up love story. So the feedback I’m receiving is helping me see what works and what doesn’t.

  • I contacted Sandra Giles, who was my cover design artist before, to see if she was willing to work with me again. She said “yes”! You have no idea how happy I was to hear that. She’s still free; however, I’m going to donate money through PayPal for her services. Having a cover produced has motivated me to release this book at the end of the year. I love that it conveys the book as a drama, and that it’s a nice shout-out to Jenna (the deceased character everyone bonds over). Here’s my cover:

As you can see, I’ve been a busy bee. Sorry that I’ve been working behind the scenes without revealing anything until now. I’ll try not to do that again. Between book reviewing, writing and editing my own stuff, being critique partners/beta-readers for other writers, blogging, and attempting to have a social life, there’s not enough hours in the day. I haven’t had time for any social media–the only Facebook and Twitter posts have been connected to this blog. And I haven’t had time to read other blogs like I love to do. Hopefully, when I finish book reviewing, I’ll have more free time.

***I’m not quitting book reviewing for good. It’s just I’d like to work on my own pace, so I want to go back to my reading challenge (finding books on my own from authors’ blogs and forums), especially focusing on my favorite genres: thriller, mystery, horror, women’s fiction, romance.***

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

On Receiving Critique

Found a cool blog post on successful ways to interpret critiques from writing groups or book reviews.

Live to Write - Write to Live

In a recent post, I blogged about offering critique. When I asked fellow writers for their thoughts about giving and receiving critiques, I got some great feedback, but there was so much, I needed to divide the posts. Here is what my fellow authors had to say about receiving critiques.

“For the writer, don’t take it personally. Don’t defend your work. Take the advice that works, and use it. Disregard the rest, but if you hear the same suggestions more than once, listen. The best workshops I have been in have required the writer to be silent during the process. Very hard, but keeps you open.” – Julie Hennrikus

“Don’t jump to any conclusions – make notes so you will remember later what was said, but then put it out of your mind. Sit with it. Mull it over. Leave some time between the initial hearing and the actual…

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Short Story Challenge

Instead of participating in NaNo during November, my writing buddy and I gave ourselves a short story writing challenge. We spent six weeks creating three stories (two weeks to write and edit each one). I’m happy that we have a new addition to “The Procrastinators.” Pam was cool enough to write a short story too.

I was happy to get back to my roots–short stories are my favorite things to write. There’s something about getting straight to the point that I enjoy. As you guys probably know, I like options. If things aren’t flexible, then I feel funny inside. Before the challenge, I made a list of the plot points I would use. Of course, I tweaked some idea concepts. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. A boy meets a girl at a pizzeria. Love at first sight? Lust? Either way, he has a crush on her and he’s trying to determine if she feels the same way about him. He’s afraid to make a move because of mixed signals. I wanted to challenge myself, seeing if I’m capable of writing happy stories. This is the very first one that wasn’t depressing or had a shock value (and I’ve been writing since the age of eleven. Who knows what that says about me hee hee). It was fun writing in only the guy’s point-of-view.
  2. A prank goes deadly wrong. I wanted to play on the fear of meeting a creepy stranger who you can’t get away from. With no doing on your part, the stranger is obsessed with you. And there’s nothing you could’ve done to prevent it. I wanted the story to be creepy and suspenseful. I wanted things to build slowly with a mystery element before all hell breaks loose. I enjoyed writing the twist at the end; it gave me chills writing only in the women’s point-of-view.
  3. A separated couple meet at a hotel. I wanted to write my favorite thing–a drama. What’s the biggest fear of parents? I’m not a mother, but I assume it’s to outlive your child. This story was written with my favorite approach of rotating point-of-views with scene breaks. I was hoping that readers could feel their pain.

Today at Jumpin’ Java (who have the best breakfast sandwiches ever!), we swapped our stories so we can critique. With the feedback I received so far, it looks like I accomplished what I wanted with how the readers should feel. After revisions, the second part of the short story challenge is to submit to magazines or journals. Hopefully, these stories will find a home. If not, Trapped could always use some company on my blog.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“One By One” Second Draft Completed!!!

On July 1st, I completed my second draft of One By One with a total of 57,619 words (told you guys I’d cut a lot out), Calibri 12 point, single-spaced, 101 pages. Woo hoo!

It dawned on me that if I have the majority of my characters saying they didn’t murder anyone during their narration–or interior monologue–then it wouldn’t be hard for readers to figure out who the killer(s) is. Process of elimination.

  • So, I had to go back and delete those type of phrases. Now, of course, the characters can shout that to the rooftops, doesn’t mean they aren’t lying 🙂
  • Another thing I tackled was I knew who the killer(s) is since the very beginning, so I had to add motives, suspicions for the other characters as well, providing red herrings if you will. These were fun to plant throughout the story.

I’ve stuck to my word so far of not changing any characters’ names; I’m pretty satisfied on that end. Plus, there were no major changes to the plot. I’ll see what my writing buddies say to see if I should delete or add some scenes.

Melissa, Robin, and I have already started swapping chapters to critique; we do two at a time, preferably twice a week. Since I only have 12 chapters with an Epilogue, time should go by fast. Keeping my fingers crossed (I already have two beta-readers lined up).

  • Agatha Christie is my favorite author. It was a huge compliment when Robin said she noticed the author’s influence in my writing. I couldn’t stop smiling. Plus, she and Melissa both agreed that the nine characters have very distinct personalities and clear motives, that it’s not confusing. Each narration sounds different instead of a carbon copy. That’s cool because I was afraid they’d say they couldn’t keep up due to too much going on at one time.
  • Most importantly, Melissa has been trying to guess who the killer(s) is. She already has a suspect in mind 🙂 You have to know how hard it is not to blurt out if she’s right or wrong! But I can’t spoil the ending for her. We’ve already reached Chapter 4, so not much longer.

I’m so excited to share my story with my writing buddies. Ever since we began our NaNo challenge, I’ve wanted to describe the mystery, plot, characters, setting, etc. to them. Finally, I get to hear their opinions–made everything worthwhile.

Through email, we swap two chapters at a time, then send it back to the original owner with our comments, suggestions using track changes. I’m thrilled to be reading their stories. I hate mystery and surprises–says the girl who wrote a mystery thriller hee hee–I hate being in the dark; I have to know now, now, now. There were many days during NaNo when we met at Jumpin’ Java that I wanted to sneak a peek at their laptop screen. Good thing I have self-control.

It feels good to contribute to their novels as well as they contribute to mine. For writers who work alone, its a bonus to get more opinions about your story, especially an objective eye. The things a critique partner/writing buddy catches, you may not pick up on if you’re too close to your story.

Depending on what Melissa and Robin comment on, I may have a lot more editing to do, or only need to make minor changes. Either way, I can’t wait to have a final product in my hand.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby