Share Your Writing for Review

Today I’m going to conduct an experiment. My husband Pete has been telling me about this idea of his for quite some time and I have ignored him…until now.

How about if we, as writers (and aspiring writers) in an internet community, post various things we have written so that we can critique each other? I am thinking of posting the first chapter of the manuscript I just completed. If we open ourselves to helpful criticism, who knows? We might get the input we need to polish our work, get it submitted, and actually get it published. Wouldn’t that be a novel idea? (Pun intended.)

So, I invite you to post your manuscript’s opening paragraphs as a way to get started. (Anything more than that is too long to really edit in a comment line.)

I’m looking forward to reading other people’s chapters or sections…or whatever happens to show up on this site. Of course, if there’s anything horribly inappropriate, I will not allow it to post here. I am a Christian writer, after all…and, although I do believe we should be writing for the general public, as well as the Christian market, I don’t want anything in poor taste to be posted on this site.

Thanks for…whatever may happen here!

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An Update on my (mis)Adventures in Writing

As an aspiring author, I thought I would add a page regarding my own writing progress. Hopefully, the information here will help other writers as they encounter the numerous blocks, pitfalls and challenges that I have experienced over the years.

In order to explain my journey thus far, I will need to back up a few years. No, several years. No, a decade or more, really. I started writing “seriously” about twenty years ago. Was it really seriously? Well, I put that word in quotes because it was the first time I decided to actually attempt to send off some of my writing for publication. I decided to start with a children’s story, thinking that would be an easier niche to break into. I was wrong. I bought the Writer’s Market Guide for that particular year and sent off my query to all sorts of possible publishers. I received a few rejections but, mainly, no one even bothered to write back. I was completely ignored.

Unfortunately, I’m not one who handled rejection well at the time. (I hope I’m stronger now.) A decade later, I tried again.I wrote a few magazine articles. Again, I was rejected. I tried writing an article for an online interior decorating publication and, voila, it was published! No money involved, but at least I had finally gotten some of my writing out there for the public. I wrote again and again, trying my hand at more children’s stories and failing. Again, I was discouraged. Again, I laid down my pen (or computer, as it was), and quit writing for a few more years.

Finally, I could contain myself no longer. I had dozens of stories in my head and I had the itch to write. I decided to research the market, find out what was selling, what types of books were in top demand, and just write a full-length manuscript for the sake of practice–just to see if I could complete an entire novel. I did. Last year, I completed three entire manuscripts and I submitted two for publication. Again I was ignored. No rejections, no letters of “We regret to inform you,” just nothing.

I read somewhere that the best way to stave off the weight of failure and rejection in writing is to just keep writing. So, as soon as I completed one manuscript and submit it for publication, I would begin another. I had all those ideas constantly spinning around in my head, after all; I might as well put them on paper.

Then something miraculous happened. A friend of mine was going to attend the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference in Santa Cruz, California. I asked if she wanted a roommate and the two of us made the trip to this very expensive conference. Now, normally, I regret to admit that I would not have valued myself highly enough to spend the money on such a conference. The truth is, I save up money and spend it on more practical things, like home repairs, clothing for kids, and anything but myself. However, I had the opportunity to attend this conference for a discounted price and, although I did not believe the talk I had heard about the importance of writer’s conferences, I went anyhow. I had a discount, so how could I pass up the chance?

I know it sounds crazy, but that Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference changed my life significantly. Not only was it very spiritually focused and encouraging in that way, but the other authors, publishers and agents who led classes and seminars on a variety of topics opened my eyes to a whole new world–a world I formerly did not even come close to comprehending. I learned exactly what publishers and agents are looking for, the format and style of writing they want, why they reject certain writing and why they accept other types of writing. I learned for the first time the tremendous value of attending a writer’s conference.

At the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference, I made some bold and out of character efforts to meet with publishers and agents and talk with them about my manuscripts. In essence, I found that my manuscripts were total junk as written. That would have been discouraging if I hadn’t been so encouraged by one agent’s love for one of my stories. Instead of offering a total rejection, she asked me to rewrite my manuscript in the style and format her publishers desire. She asked me to cut out certain parts and add certain ideas and encouraged me to get the manuscript rewritten and submitted in three months.

Well, I rewrote my manuscript and got it all completed according to publisher guidelines. It didn’t get done by the deadline; nevertheless it was completed. I sent it off to my agent and received an email back from her saying she no longer worked for that particular agency; she referred me to another agent. Well, that was a new and disappointing twist of events. So, I sent off my manuscript to this new agent at the same agency and now I wait….

Will I receive another rejection letter? Will I be ignored? Or will I finally be published? I’ll let you know!