Tag Archives: critique partners

Hello, World, Cami’s back!

1 Feb

Let me just start by saying it was not easy. As I mentioned in my last post, for the entire month of January I went off the social media radar. Part of me wanted to see how much I really spent on it and why. Was I wasting time watching too many puppies playing the piano? Was I letting all that hype about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest get to me? Was I letting the pressure of being visible as a writer taking priority over what I was really supposed to do, which is writing?

I had to find out.

For the first few days it was really hard, so hard that I deleted all the social media apps off my phone. I was at a point were I reached for my phone during commercials, when carpooling, when brushing teeth, when petting the dog, when cooking, you name it. I always struggled to understand how addiction works, but now it was my time to admit I was OD’d on likes and the pressure that came with that thumb up button.

So, what did I accomplish away from the media? First of all I had to retrain my brain to shift focus. No more liking what others did, but rather liking what I did. I sat in front of the computer and begun writing all those stories that I had started or wanted to write but was too busy socializing. I took a short story that I had enough material to make it into a novella and finished it. I had a second story that I begun after my trip to Europe last summer and finished it as well. I begun edits for two of my critique partners. I began working out again. I’m spending more time with my family.

Bottom line, I’m doing what I was supposed to do. The pressure of being visible is still pretty heavy, but as this experiment proved, if I put my mind to something, I will eventually achieve it.

What is the one thing you wish you could do but are afraid you might fail at it?

The good, the bad and the secrets of Arizona Dreamin’ Convention

5 Jun

It’s been a week since the Arizona Dreamin’ Convention and, as much as I’m still recovering, I want to write about my experience, now when all the memories are so fresh in my mind.

Before I give you the good, the bad and the secrets I want to take a moment to thank the organizing committee, especially to Kris Tualla–my Momma Bear–, Morgan Kearns, Deena Remiel, Rhonda Conrad-Plumhoff. Let me tell you, these fabulous ladies are not only author extraordinare, they work their b*** off to put on a show. 

Arizona Dreamin’ Convention is a two part event:

1. Building the Dream (May 28 -May 29) it’s a 27 author-focused seminar sessions following 3 tracks: Honing your Craft / Publishing / The Business of Being an Author. It also includes: event bookstore, and FREE goody bag. Pitch your book to publishers and award-winning and bestselling authors critique your work & lunch. I taught a workshop about how to find the right critique group and I was thrilled to have a class full of people interested in my workshop, me the girl that dreaded public speaking.

2. Arizona’s First Romance Reader Event (May 29- May 31). This event is (as the title mentions) an event where readers meet and spend time with authors. From speed-meet, to dinner, to book club you get the one in a lifetime chance to know the person behind your favorite books or meet your next favorite author. This year’s treat? I was one of the featured authors and met in person three of my critique group members and amazing authors: Cindy C Bennett, Juli Caldwell and Shantal Sessions. We had a blast celebrating Juli’s 21-errrr birthday and hanging out long past bedtime. About that later.

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I’m a veteran at participating in both events, as a reader mostly. I remember my first participation, the nerves of being there alone among strangers, the train-wreck I was because I had no idea what to expect. And here I am four years later, excited to rekindle with old friends and make new ones. 

Highlights of the event: meeting old friends and making new ones. So many names, so many amazing people I hope to keep in touch with: Beth and Tim–thanks for sharing your breakfast with me and for being so amazing supporters. Jody, Shelley, James, Ashley, Rhonda, Erika, Shannon, Gloria Tony, Darrance to name a few. I hope this was not the last I’ve seen of you, but rather time and life will bring us back together.

Another fave moment worth mentioning: dinner with readers. Throughout the years I’ve met people who became dear friends. Some of them joined me for dinner Saturday night and we had a blast. Izzy, Fae and Nancy–thank you for believing in me and joining me at the conference.

I had a blast during the four book clubs I was scheduled for. Talking about my books and my journey through the maze of publishing and having people actually interested in what I had to say it was thrilling and scary at the same time. Yup, childhood dreams do come true 😉

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I got to see again several of my fave authors: Susan Squires, Sharon Hamilton and Shelley Corriell. In fact I did crafts with Shelley and got her to sign a bookmark for me.

I couldn’t end the good part of this post without talking a little about the Men Of Our Dream Contest. Let me tell you: Chippendales have nothing on us. Every year the contestants are better and better, entertaining us to tears–tears of joy, I assure you. It’s great to see Antonio coming back and winning this time, three years later since he first became one of the contestants. 

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Now moving onto to the bad of the event, shall we? Sleep depravation. During the five days I went to bed loooooong after midnight, and woke up around six the next morning. By the second night you think you’ve reached your max but you’re so, so wrong. IF by the third night you aren’t an owl yet, I guarantee you, you’ll become one. Concelear helps somewhat, but I wish someone invented IV line with coffee (Starbuck, do you hear me?). Which makes for the second bad of the event: coffee overdose. Even for me, which I’m a coffee addict, the amount of coffee I consumed during the event was too much, so goodbye coffee hello detox (only for a day ;).

And last but not least: the secrets:

1. Arizona Dreamin Convention will be back in 2017, same location (Embassy Suites in Phoenix, AZ). If you haven’t ever attend this event, I encourage you to do it, reader, writer and anything in between. The energy in, out and around it’s just contagious and you feel so inspired to tackle your next goal or dream. 

2. Look out for the event’s next announcement because they’ll have a discounted price for it. 

Is it 2017 yet?

P.S: I have more photos on my Fan Page on Facebook 😉

The Curtain is down–Last Day of A WORLD APART Virtual Book Tour

29 Mar

Today is the last day of my virtual book tour and I can’t help but feel a bitter-sweet emotion as I’m ending this incredible journey.

Bitter because, like all good things, it comes to an end. Sweet because I had a tremendous experience, met some amazing people and most importantly–made lots of friends: Liz Velez who worked really hard at organizing my tour. Deb, Holly, Amanda, Carly, Ing, Ruth, Calum, to name a few as well as my critique partners Cindy, Sherry and Jeff. 

Thank you all for helping me make the virtual book tour of my newest release A World Apart a tremendous success. Chin-chin!

Why Do You Write? Guest blog with Author Jeffery Moore

5 Nov

I think it’s time for me to introduce my fellow critique partners or peeps as I like to call them.

With two of them I’ve been for almost two years, Cindy C Bennett and Jeffery Moore. We met during an online class and stayed in contact even after. We began exchanging chapters for reviews and eight books later (between the three of us) we are still together. A few months ago we added a third member, Sherry Gammon, who has one book published and a second one soon to be released.

I decided to interview Jeff first since he’s the only man in our group (not sure how he manages to handle three chicks J) and today’s prompt is “Why do you write?”

Why do I write?

This is a core question for all writers and each writer will have a different response. The more you try to answer this question the deeper into your psyche you may go…maybe even places you don’t want to visit. For instance, what does it say about a person who is writing for money? Who is writing for fame? Is writing to fill a void in their life?

Following is a quick write-up about me. Obviously, I didn’t explore that deeply, fearing release of a horror show that is best kept locked up.

I consider myself a calm, easygoing person by nature. I’m not outgoing and have only a few friends outside of our little writing group. I keep to myself and pay my bills. I know this sounds like a profile for a serial killer. I am unemotional to the point of wondering if I am a borderline sociopath, but I’m not cold or distant. I am affectionate to my family members. I take pleasure in helping others and being generous…sometime I even hold a door open for other people…only sometimes.

Many times I wonder what makes me this way. Nurture versus nature? My brother is the opposite from me. He surrounds himself with many friends and is very outgoing. He has a jovial nature about him I envy.

I doubt my personality is what makes me want to write. I seriously doubt this a template for a writer.

So why do I write? And given today’s environment, why would anyone want to write? I guess that’s why they call it zeal.

One thing that may help me answer this question is that I am passionate to a fault. When there is something I want to do or want to achieve, it becomes an obsession. I don’t know where this comes from. I don’t recall my mother or father having such a strong compulsion toward something that everything around them—people and environment—became a cardboard backdrop to life. This is what happens to me when I’m “in the zone”. God bless Cathy for loving me for only love can tolerate my selfishness when I’m in the zone. I’m certain I appear as a manikin to her, and I may as well be for all the attention I give her.

I think writing exaggerates that zeal…that drive and desire in me, but this is only one element of the formula. The second part is my near rabid imagination. Hell, I’ll see a perfume add in one of Cathy’s magazines and begin to formulate a story around it. Who knew the thing that hampered my education would become so rewarding later in life. Third is motivation, which is probably the most difficult part of the formula to define. The motivation has to come from somewhere. Motivation is not finding, but making the time to put pen to paper…to edit and try to better learn the craft…to scrap, rewrite, scrap, rewrite until I feel it’s the best I can create. I only wish I had combined my predisposition to zeal, imagination, and motivation earlier in life.

Yet, this does not explain why I write. This may give insight to what makes me write, but not why.

It wasn’t until I was on a long deployment when in the military that I actually began writing. I wrote hundreds of little snippets of stories in verse. Being separated from my family for eighteen months was a trial for both me and my family. It was and has been the hardest thing I’ve ever endured. The loneliness crushed me so much so that I resigned my commission and began a new career. That’s how my zeal began…borne from deprivation of those I love. From there, it just seemed to evolve into wanting to become a better writer. I attribute the full manifestation of my zeal and passion for writing to the first story I formulated as a result of those verse snippets—an epic adventure—and thought it was good.

For a list, link, and description of Jeffery’s titles, visit: http://www.jefferyemoore.com

Self-publishing. My journey–Chapter 2

28 Sep

As I promised last week in my post about self-publishing, we are going to discuss each subject individually. Today’s pick is Critique Partners or CPs as authors refer to.

I doubt there are any authors out there that don’t have a group of CPs. And if they don’t it’s because they are established authors with dozens of novels under their belt, experienced, and so forth. But we aren’t talking about those authors. We are talking about the ones like you and I, starting on our own down the road to publishing.
If you didn’t find your CPs yet, stop writing and go out and find them. Your work will improve drastically. The more you critique their work, the better you’ll become at yours, recognizing weak plots, boring characters and the ability to strengthen your voice. The best places to find CPs are online, on any sites for authors as well as your local book club if you have any in your area.
After I finished my first novel—the first draft of it—I set it aside, spending lot of time on the internet looking for ways to publish it. I found out about the (in)famous query letter, agents, writer loops, critique partners, editors, publishing houses, blogging, creating your own webpage, networking—you name it. My head spun form so much information, which I wanted to absorb all at once.
I tried my hand at writing query letters and each one of them landed in the trash. Nothing I wrote was good enough. Think about it, you write 80,000 words novel that you have to summarize into a paragraph or so. Catch the agent’s attention with your first phrase. How can one do it, beats me, but…
Desperate I couldn’t write a query to save my life, I turned to Writer’s Digest online and found out they offer various classes, including one that helped aspiring authors on how to write a query letter. I was on cloud nine, thinking there was my chance at becoming one of the most famous authors in the world, right? The key to success was only a click away and … you guessed it, I signed up immediately.
The class lasted for a whole month with one assignment per week. If I remember correctly we were five people in that class. Never met in person, knew them only by their screen name. We each submitted our QL and had to critique each other’s work. Well, there is the critique part coming into play. Up until then I have never told anyone what I thought about their work. Had no idea what to look for. I was shy, afraid to say much, for fear to hurt someone’s feelings.
As the class progressed, we became more comfortable with each other’s style. I got two amazing things from that class:

At the end of the class we had the choice of remaining in contact with one another, exchanging emails. I asked everyone, nervous to see if they were interested. I got two people responding that turned out to become incredible assets for my writing, trusting work partners and most of all—friends forever. They are Cindy and Jeff.
Our critique was quite shy in the beginning, exchanging chapters one at the time, critiquing then sending back along with one of our chapters. For each chapter I sent, I critiqued two. Not overwhelming, not hard to do when your heart is in the right place.
Two years later and a total of nine books written in our group, I can’t imagine my work without the input of my peeps, as I like to call them. We reward one another for well-done scenes but we also argue, we point out what works and why, where there are holes in our plots visible from a mile away, characters that are so boring they put us asleep, speed up the pace, too many / too little details, whatever we need help with, we count on each other’s review.
We all write different genres, but that’s exactly why it works for us. We see in each other’s work what other writers from the same genre don’t. Sometime we send chapters on a daily basis, sometime weeks pass before one of us has a chapter ready. We do what works for us.
Cindy writes incredible YA and is really good with grammar. I call her the “Comma Queen.” She’s kind in her reviews, like a mother hen, but points us in the right direction with only one word.
Jeff writes a combination of dystopian/sci-fi, and he’s creative, and very poetic in his writing. He’ll tell me where my hero sucks (“No real man thinks like that, Cami”, he’d say), or if my heroine should put her big-girl panties on and stop whining.
Recently we added another member to our group, Sherry. She’s too kind for now, reminding me of myself in the beginning, when I was too nervous to point out Jeff’s scene drove me crazy, or Cindy’s heroine came across as a spoiled brat. I laugh at those memories…. I hope Sherry will stick around long enough to feel comfortable with us and kick our butts when we deserve it.
I’ve heard stories of people that have tried several CPs until they found the right ones. I’ve heard stories of people frustrated with their CPs because they gave everything and they received nothing.
The main point in this story is, you have to find the right people for yourself. You have to try and try and if it doesn’t work for you, say it and move on. Don’t give up and trust your instinct that you will find the right CPs, the people that will bring so much joy to your life, and so much growth to you as a writer.