Tag Archives: online classes

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.