Archive for ‘Blogging’

May 19, 2013

Are You Sure You Want to Know?

by Lorna's Voice
Nobody said dis was gonna be easy.

Nobody said dis was gonna be easy.

Critiquing is a tough business.

How do you know if what you write is any good?

If you’re like me, and why wouldn’t you want to be, you have a few options:

My gut's telling me this is going to be one belly flop that won't soon be forgotten.

My gut’s telling me this is going to be one belly flop that won’t soon be forgotten.

Trust your gut.  Guts are great for processing all kinds of things: food, whether that person at work is really just interested in you or is a psychopath (I suppose the two aren’t mutually exclusive), and if you should trust your GPS or unplug the thing before you end up driving 90 miles out of your way. But when it comes to your own writing, guts are funny things. It’s hard to discern the Pulitzer Prize winning stuff from the What-Was-This Writer-Thinking stuff. Why? Because we worked hard getting those words out of us and we are generally attached to them in the way that super glue gets attached to skin.

Go ahead and eat up! We wouldn't steer you wrong. Ice cream is good for you. It's only fattening when you eat it alone.

Go ahead and eat up! We wouldn’t steer you wrong. Ice cream is good for you. It’s only fattening when you eat it alone.

Trust your family and friends. Totally bad idea. Unless you want only positive feedback (assuming your family and friends like you and encourage your writing). Remember, these are the people who tell you, after you’ve been a complete jerk for [fill in the reason], that the other person was the real problem. The same people who told me I should publish my short stories also told me (after my head was shaved for my brain surgery) that I look awesome in a buzz cut. I didn’t.

Good example of something that would get lots of "likes" and comments, but probably not too many people will actually read.

Good example of something that would get lots of “likes” and comments, but probably not too many people would read to the end.

Trust your blog readers. “Readers” is the critical word here. I wonder how many people who press the “like” button, or even comment, actually read every word we write and process it enough to have an opinion about how we wrote it (not just what we wrote about). Plus, in this bloggity-blog world, most people want to be nice to each other for any number of reasons. For some reason, telling people how to improve their writing, even when they specifically ask for a critique, is seen as a bad thing. So many bloggers play it safe and act like family and friends–they love everything you write.

Of course, if you have extra cash lying around, you can always pay a professional to look over your work and give you pointers. These editors don’t give their skills and talents away, nor should they.

And it’s hard work to thoroughly critique any piece of writing.

Okay, maybe not THAT hard...

Okay, maybe not THAT hard…

I’ve done a fair amount of critiquing (all for free), both as a college professor and as an aspiring author with an online group called the Critique Circle. It’s free to join, but (of course) the upgraded paid membership offers more benefits. I learned a lot during my two-year association with this group. Let me share some critiquing guidelines that work for me:

1. Always include what the author did well along with what needs improvement.

2. Remind the author that you are only offering your suggestions and that, in the end, s/he needs to evaluate what works best for the piece.

3. If a section needs improvement, offer an example of what you think would improve it. (Don’t just say, “this section is confusing.”)

4. When you see technical problems (typos, grammar issues, etc,) highlight them or fix them, don’t just tell the author that you found a lot of mistakes. Critiquing should be a helpful process, not an exercise in frustration.

5. Ask questions if you are confused. You are a reader. If you have a question about an element of the story, other readers will, too.

6. I always found it easiest to copy and paste the manuscript and comment where the issues are–an in-line critique (rather than make a list, then the author has to search the document to find the problem area). Make sure the author is okay with this.

7. Either begin or end with a summary of what you believe are the author’s and the manuscript’s general strengths and weaknesses. Give the author a platform on which to build, not just a list of “dos and don’ts.”


Notice the difference in these two questions: "Honey, what do you like best about me in this dress?" versus "Honey, what do you think about this dress?" Oh, never mind, "Honey" is stuck either way.

Notice the difference in these two questions: “Honey, what do you like best about this dress?” versus “Honey, what do you think about this dress?” Oh, never mind, “Honey” is stuck either way.

And for those seeking critiques of your work, a few words of advice:

1. Please consider carefully whether or not you want a real critique. Some writers don’t. That’s okay. Just don’t ask someone to spend a long time pouring over your work just to ignore their efforts because all you wanted was praise.

2. Please parse your work out in small segments–no more than 1000-1,200 words. You can learn a great deal from having even a part of a larger piece critiqued.

3. Be willing to return the favor.

Because this is a post on critiquing, I will share with you a resource I find useful. It helps you evaluate your writing, not for the ever-present typo or grammar gaffe, but for style, pacing, cliches, use of repetitive words, and the like. If you want to tighten up and clean up your manuscript, this little gem is wonderful. It is also free, but has enticing upgrades that allow you access to more reports and more flexibility. AutoCrit is an online service and I am using it now to help me evaluate chapters in my new book. I swear I get nothing for promoting this tool except the good feeling of helping other writers.

Happy writing!

Happy writing!

March 17, 2013

Taking my own advice for once

by Lorna's Voice
Hey, You! Yup, I'm talking to You, You! You better start listening to me. I'm pretty smart for a kid who talks to herself in a mirror.

Hey, You! Yup, I’m talking to You, You! You better start listening to me. I’m pretty smart for a kid who talks to herself in a mirror.

I posted something extra-special on my blog yesterday. In it, I asked my readers to spread the word about something important by rebloging or posting it their blogs.

Mmmm. She has piqued our interest, hasn't she, Bitzie-Pookums?

Mmmm. She has piqued our interest, hasn’t she, Miss Bitzie-Pookums?

Well, you know what? I read that post. It was Classic Lorna and it contained some valuable information you might really want to know about. See? Classic Lorna–redundant and all!

I would be selfish if I didn’t share that post with you today. And when I think I’m selfish, you know I have trouble sleeping and that’s never good for me.

I told you.

I told you I need my rest.

So hop on over to my blog. I You won’t be sorry! And when you’re over there, if you feel compelled to spread the word, please do. News like the news that’s over there right now really shouldn’t be smushed.

Certain information just need to be shared.

Certain information just needs to be shared.

March 2, 2013

Liebster Award

by darkjade68

liebsterLiebster Award

First of all I’d like to Thank Alina @ Blackrooster’s Stories for Nominating “Legends Undying” for The Liebster Award.

Usually I accept Awards on Behalf of Our Blog, but in this particular case she specifically aimed it at both me, and the Site.

That being the case, I’ll go ahead and Answer her Questions Below directly from myself.

But I have to say, though I may be the Captain of this Ship, the Site’s Life and Anima is based on all of the Writer’s Associated with the Site Combined… We are a Team… But I thank you none the less Alina. Alina has also been a Backup Writer for “Legends Undying”.

The rules:

  • When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award on to 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the bloggers that you nominated them!)
  • You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blogger who nominated your blog!
  • You paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image; there are plenty of them!)

Because we are a Multi-Writer Site, I won’t be passing this Award Along.

11 Facts About Me:

1) I pursued Film Making From 2000-2003, Screenplay Writing from 2003-2005, and began pursuing Writing Books in August, 2011, through the Present

2) I am a Huge Yankees Fan

3) I have a Cat Named Baron (Named after Timothy Dalton’s Character in the 80’s “Flash Gordon” Film, Lol

4) My First Car was a 1980 Chevy Monza, which originally was owned by my Grandpa who had passed away, and left it to my Uncle

5) Favorite Color Blue

6) Favorite Number 7

7) I was Married once for a year

8) Favorite Fast Food is Taco Bell (Eating it now, oh yeah, Lol)

9) Favorite Actress is Maggie Smith

10) First Dream was to be a Professional Baseball Pitcher (Thanks to Nolan Ryan), Second Dream to be a Movie Director (Thanks to George Lucas)

11) Favorite Food as a kid, Chicken and Dumplings

Answers to Alina’s Questions:

1 ) Your favorite book is…

“Hamlet… Though I guess that is Technically a Play, so I’ll also say “The Sword Of Shannara”.

2) What bugs you the most about the times we live in?

“Lies… The Truth is kind of a big deal to me”

3) What do you love the most about the times we live in?

“Freedom… And Medicine is a hell of a lot better these days as well”

4) Do you have a nickname, if yes, what it is?

“Argh, where do I begin, Lol Jimmy was what I was called until I was like 10 or 11… Mom also called me JP (James Patrick). Then I was Jim until I was like 31, now I go by my Birth name of James, which I prefer. Some do call me Jade these days as well, which I like”

Do you have a pen name, if yes, what it is?

“Well, I have an Internet Pseudo-name, DarkJade… But I decided to stick with my Real Name on my Published Work”

When did you start writing?

“Wow… Young… I always Loved Creative Writing… My first actual Book Effort was when I was somewhere between the age of 9 and 11 I believe.”

Is computer your friend?

“Yes… I’ve always Loved Computers… Ever since Apple way back when… Though I’ve never owned an Apple, mainly because of the price. My first Computer was a Commodore 64, Lol I took typing at the age of 15, because I felt Computers were the way of the future… And so since then I’ve always been able to type at least 50 to 60 words a minute… Which helped with Data Entry Jobs many years ago, but makes Writing a Breeze. Computers Kick A$$, Lol”

What’s your most pronounced personality trait?

“Wow, that’s tough picking one about yourself… I’d say my ‘Shyness’ was definitely it up until I was maybe 19, after I had done several years of Theater Acting. That opened me up to people at least, which helped me ever since in my being able to communicate and relate to people. Now though? I’d like to hope my Kindness, or maybe my Ability to Communicate. Not sure, hard to say about myself these days.”

When do you think robots will be “smart” enough to do our dirty work for us?

“Well, I suspect they already do some of it for us… But I hope never much more than it is now… Have you seen “IRobot”? Bad stuff, Lol Or “Stealth”? Not much better… Then there’s always “Terminator”, Lol BOOM!!”

Who’s the funniest person you know?

“My Brother… Without a doubt… When I don’t reach the phone in time, there’s hell to pay on that Answering Machine, Lol And it Echoes all through the house, Lol”

Horror or comedy?

“Comedy… But more specifically, ‘Romantic Comedy’… “Sleepless In Seattle” is probably my Favorite Romantic Comedy. I’m not big on Pig’s Blood as far as Horror, Lol. Though I do like Suspense, like “Silence of the Lamb”.”


After Reading Alina’s Great Questions, if any of Our Writers would Like to Post Answers to those same Questions, consider them passed on to you from me. You can Post them whenever you’d like. Very Cool Questions.

Thanks again Alina for Nominating both “Legends Undying”, and myself.