Monday, June 24, 2013

When It's Not Okay To Share

by Susan J. Berger

I’ve belonged to several critique groups and I have learned and grown in each of them. I’ve  been present at the birth of wonderful stories and seen them bloom.

Susan, Kris, Hilde and Lupe sharing Hilde's COOKIES!
Since 2009 I have been with Pen and Ink and I LOVE my critique partners’ work. I love it so much that I wanted to share their brilliance with my friends.  In 2010 Lupe was revising Medicine Boy and the writing was so great that I shared it with a member of Lupe’s target audience .
My thirteen year old friend, Donovan, thought the opening chapter was great and wanted to read more. I jubilantly reported that fact to Lupe.
Lupe’s response was “Who is Donovan?”
I chilled when I read that because I suddenly realized I’d stepped over a boundary. I’d shared his work without his permission.
In the same case, I wouldn’t have minded a bit, but not everyone is like me. Big surprise.  Most writers prefer to choose what they share.  Perhaps some of you are like me and didn’t realize that sharing your delight in another writer’s unpublished work and or ideas is not a good thing to do.
So here is a revised Critique Group Manners list.

What happens in Critique Group stays in Critique Group.
Don’t share your fellow writer or illustrator’s ideas with your friends, or, on any internet forum.  This doesn’t mean you can’t share your own work, if you are so minded.

Giving a critique:

Kindness and Honesty are the key words.  The ability to say things in a constructive, positive manner is as important as honest feedback to improve a story.
  • Use the Critique Sandwich

  •  Tell the author what he has done really well.  Be concrete and specific.   Comments such as “This is a nice story ”  don’t help an author revise. Give the author an idea of what is really working for you as a reader. If there are lines you specially love, mention or highlight  them in the text.
  • Follow that up with suggestions on where you think the story might be improved.  Again - Be as specific as possible. It’s good to give an overall critique of a story, but marking areas within the body of the text that are confusing to you or that you feel may benefit from revision, allows the author to hone in on weak passages. (Especially if two people mark the same thing.)
  • End on a good note.  Reiterate what you loved. Encourage and support your fellow author.

Receiving a critique.

  • Listen!
  •  Sort through the comments, think deeply, and make decisions on how to revise your story.  You do not have to, nor is it wise, to take every piece of advice.  It’s your privilege to pick and choose from the suggestions offered.
  • You will probably want to explain why you did what you did, when receiving feedback.  Try to keep that behavior to a minimum. You will not get to explain to readers or reviewers why you wrote a particular sentence. The members of your group are your first reader/reviewers.
I welcome any suggestions to add to this manners list. I am sure there are things I haven't thought of. I mean, I am the one who didn't know it wasn't okay to share.

Happy Writing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Today's Hot Links: Fictional Maps

by Kris Kahrs

     Are you ready to take a fantasy vacation?  The kind you can only get from a good book?  Good, because we here at The Pen and Ink Blog have your map.  

  Feel like fighting some crime with the likes of Batman, then a trip to Gotham city might be right up your alley.  
 Or get your geek on and visit the LOTR project for an interactive experience with a map of Middle Earth.  It has a timeline and statistics of Middle Earth and a continuously updating genealogy.

A trip back in time will get you to Sherlock Holmes London and his rooms at 221B Baker St. has a delightful recreation of the layout of Sherlock Holmes' rooms, but if you want to go further and travel in his footsteps, then check out which uses Google maps to map out the London locations mentioned in Conan Doyle's novels.

For your trip to Oz, Hungry Tiger Press has a wonderful map of Oz wallpaper for your computer desktop.  As the website says, "this map of the marvelous land of Oz was drawn by Professor H.M. Wogglebug, T.E. back in 1914. The most curious aspect of this map is the little known fact that East and West are reversed in Oz."

We hope our links have given you some ideas for your summer vacation as well as a good tip for your manuscript. If you're having trouble with the timeline in your story, it can sometimes help to map it out. Try it. It works.

Keep on writing!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dispatch #8 Why Ray Harryhausen
Matters to Me

by Lupe Fernandez

"From the Land Beyond, Beyond/From the World pass Hope and Fear..." thus are the secret words to summon the genie of the lamp in the 1958 film 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

When I was in the fifth grade, my brothers introduced me to a book called Film Fantasy Scrapbook by Ray Harryhausen, courtesy of the Hayward Public Library.

Mr. Harryhausen was "stop-motion animator." He brought to life a giant gorilla (no not King Kong, that was Harryhausen's mentor Willis O'Brien), a Rhedosaurus, a giant octopus, flying saucers, the Ymir from Venus, a one-eyed cyclops, a sword-wielding skeleton, a giant crab, a bronze giant, a pteranodon, a tyrannosaurus rex, a statue of Kali, a saber-tooth tiger and the Kraken.

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers 1956
I couldn't stop looking at the photos of movies I'd never seen, but dreamed out. In the good old days, there was no internet, no video stores. I had to wait until his films appearing on UHF Channels 44 or 36, until Saturday's Creature Features with host Bob Wilkins.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad 1958
But it was the orange, one-eyed cyclops from 7th Voyage of Sinbad that sealed the deal for me. This table-top model creature of foam latex and metal armature burst out of a cave with an angry growl and hooves stomping and claws clutching at hapless sailors, accompanied to the thunderous strains of film composer Bernard Hermann's music.

I bought magazines and books celebrating Mr. Harryhausen's work.

But don't take my word for it.

Mysterious Island 1961
“Without Ray Harryhausen’s influence, Lord of the Rings would never have been made, not by me at least.” – Peter Jackson

“Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no STAR WARS” - George Lucas.

"If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are." - James Cameron
Patrick Wayne (Sinbad & Eye of the Tiger 1977)
is about as Arabic as I am.

If I sing his praises to highly, I am aware that some of his films often lacked brilliant acting, that his plots were derivative, that his mattes lines bled, that his last animated film suffered from poor background plates, that no Mexicans appeared in any of his films.

And yet without Harryhausen's films, I wouldn't have the imagination to write Children's Literature.

King Kong 1933
Harryhausen's Inspiration

Monday, June 3, 2013

In Love with Editing, Except When I Hate It

Kai Strand
by Kai Strand, Guest Blogger

Pen and Ink is delighted to welcome Guest blogger Kai Strand as part of her blog tour for her new book. Beware of the White

Slouching in front of the computer, you run a hand through your hair and stare blankly at your novel.

You’ve revised it numerous times. Critiquers have dissected it until you had to blink back tears and step away from the screen. You’ve read it aloud. You even read it backward. This book is ready!

Blowing a kiss and a muttering a plea, you hit the enter button and send your submission. THREE days later you get an acceptance. Yes, this happened to me. After nine years of working on my novel, the last submission (of many) was the charm. I explained the inspiration behind the book on Mayra Calvani’s blog and talked about my love/hate relationship during the journey to publication on Nancy Stewart’s blog and how when I hit the send button I was in love with the story.

As you can imagine, getting an acceptance kept me in love with my book. FINALLY people saw what I’ve always seen about this story. And imagine how crazy it was to receive an introduction email from my content editor two weeks later. I was thrilled to be working with a company that moved so fast. Except, then I got the first editorial letter one week later.

Before I submitted I had majorly overhauled the book and then went through it again with a fine-tooth comb. So that means I’d just finished two complete passes of the book and was asked to do a major edit three weeks later. I’d been expecting months to pass before I had to go into the book again. Guess how I felt about the book then? Right – I was a hater.

But the questions my editor asked in that first pass really inspired me to dig deep. I thought I’d already done that! Yet she asked for more compelling character motivations and more distinct descriptions. She pointed out where I still need more varied sentence structure or less passive voice (Jeez, I thought I’d caught all of that!) She appreciated my use of metaphor to the point where she asked me to tone it down a bit.

I used every moment of the time she’d given me to do that first round of edits. Seriously. My husband shopped, cooked and ran the kids around. I just sat and edited and edited and edited. Even then I was rather worried that I didn’t have a chance to do a read through before I returned it to her. I felt good about the work I’d done, though, and was cautiously in love with my book again. But I’d made some pretty big changes, so I was a bit worried I would receive an email that said, “Whoa! Slow down there cowboy.” Or something.

But I didn’t. As a matter of fact she was just as happy with the changes as I was and the next couple rounds of edits were basically mopping up sessions. I loved working with Katie Carroll on the content edits of Beware of the White. It is so good for your book when you and your editor ‘click.’

After my final read-through before publication…I was IN LOVE! Thank you to MuseItUp for such a great publication experience.

I hope you’ll be IN LOVE too! I’m celebrating the launch of BEWARE OF THE WHITE with a blog tour and an epic prize package giveaway. GFC followers of the Pen & Ink blog even get an easy entry in the big giveaway.

Tour Schedule and Prize Packages Giveaway can be found HERE:

But wait! There’s more!!!!! SPONTANEOUS GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GFC followers of the Pen & Ink blog get double bonus! I’m giving away one ecopy of BEWARE OF THE WHITE to a lucky reader. But this is a fast and furious giveaway, so be quick about your entries. Enter below and then hop over to my blog to enter that giveaway of book related prizes.

About the book

As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?

Buy It:
Or look for it on iTunes
About the author

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.

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